"They're my friends," he says coldly.

She's not listening, not really. Friends from long ago fill the space behind her, and at his pronouncement they stop giggling and begin to file out, leaving her alone, standing in the center of the compartment. Her mouth forms an 'o' as she takes in the sight before her, and for a moment she can't believe that she's here. Yes, it's the right day, but it's the worst possible moment.

She leaves without saying a word, and with small nimble fingers – dressed in pink polish and a unicorn that leaps from one fingernail to the next - reaches inside her robes.

"It's open," comes his voice from behind the door.

She gives the girls – Jane and Irene and... Emily, or was it Elizabeth? Doesn't matter – she gives them a glare, warning them not to titter. She knows it won't stick.

"Hi, I'm Romilda," she announces, willing herself not to stare, but also look at the other two people in the compartment. "Do you mind if we join you?"

Harry and Longbottom and Lovegood exchange a quick glance, and it's odd to think that she's the odd one out.

"Erm, alright." Harry says a moment later. She gives him her best beautiful smile, and hopes he notices her eyes more than her chin, and sends a silent prayer as she sits down next to Harry Potter, the Man-Who-Vanquished.

They're all so young! Not that she was old or is old or will be old when she comes here, but... Lovegood sits in the corner reading The Quibbler and Longbottom looks like he's terrified to even say two words, and keeps twisting himself to shield the odd plant he's holding – what he calls a Mimbu-something or other – every time one of the other girls so much as looks in his direction.

She can see Harry is getting annoyed with them. And with her, for disturbing his space. She tries to engage him, talk to him – but it's fruitless, and every time she tries he gives her the most short and simple answers he possibly could. He looks relieved when word comes that Professor Slughorn wants to see him.

This time, she sends them away before she even knocks, promising she'll catch up with them later. But they're so loud that she's sure he's going to see straight through it when she enters alone. Not that that really matters, but she still feels like she's wasting time, even if that's absurd.

"Hi," she says, giving them a small wave and doing her best to look demure and shy. She's thought about it a lot, trying to remember what the Weasley girl was like before she dated Harry. It's not a look that comes easy to her. One hand combs through her hair – it's her best feature, although she knows without false modesty that though her breasts won't ever rival Cecilia Boote's in size they'll hold their own in terms of grabbing a boy's attention, in another year or so.

"Do you, um, do you mind if I sit with you?"

This time they don't share a private vote on the matter – interesting, though maybe it was only because there were so many people when she brought her friends, and nothing to do with her, personally (she hopes so!). Harry just shrugs and says 'okay', and holding in her scream of victory she sits down meekly beside him, pulling out a copy of Witch Weekly while engaging in a bit of smalltalk as she fumbles for it within her trunk. She ends up keeping that part, doing it time and time again until it feels like she's learning lines for an audition, like she's trying for a leading spot in Professor Flitwick's winter choir. And in a way she is, though the part of Mrs. Potter is worth a bit more than a solo in 'They Came by Thestral One Solstice Clear'! One time, she makes note not to mock The Quibbler. She forgets Lovegood's father writes it. If she even remembers it in the first place.

The compartment empties as they arrive at Hogsmeade, although Harry never really stays after Professor Slughorn summons him – he only comes in for a minute to say a few words, rummages in his trunk and then leaves for the remainder of the trip. His friends don't really talk about it, speaking only in broad terms as they communicate around her. The train is empty now, and from her lips she lets out a scream of utter frustration, and blasts a hole in the carriage upholstery for good measure.

She grips her wand, taking a deep breath before taking a moment to think. Perhaps it was silly, to think she could just appear at this moment and with one small change show Harry the truth. She needed something else. Somewhen else.

A time when he is not surrounded by jealous people who have already closed ranks around him, stealing him away from everybody else. From her.

She smiles – she knows just the time.

"Hi, Harry?" she whispers, careful not to disturb Madam Pince. He doesn't look up from the small mountain of books he's arranged, with titles ranging from So You Don't Want to Die! to 1001 Charms to Potions of Anatolia.

"Can I help?" she asks, sitting down next to him.

He looks at her as if he's never seen her before. Which, she reminds herself, he probably hasn't. Not really.

"Romilda Vane, second year." She adds, grabbing for the nearest book in his stack as he's still not talking. "I know you're going to win," she gushes. "You're so brave, entering a –"

"Oh for-! I didn't. I didn't do a bloody thing!"

"That's not what I –"

"Never mind," he waves her attempt to explain and apologize away, but he's standing up now, choosing a handful of books to throw into his bag and it's as clear as the Sleekshine potion she uses every morning that he wants nothing to do with her.

"Hi... Harry?"

He doesn't look up and Romilda isn't sure why it's different this time, but oddly enough Potions of Anatolia is conspicuous in its absence.

"I just wanted to let you know that I know you didn't put your own name in but um... I think you're going to win anyway and I want to help."

"I didn-, oh." Harry pauses, looks at her for a moment, and she takes this for a good sign. He looks annoyed for a moment but that quickly changes to wary confusion. Better, but not good – that seems to be a common theme for her, she thinks, suppressing a sigh.

"Romilda," she says. And in for the knut, in for the galleon, she curtseys. She'll offer a handshake next time.

"Right. Harry Potter. Um... obviously."

She giggles at that, and it's out of genuine giddiness, for once.

"So, what can I do?" she asks, and gestures towards the books.

"Oh... well, I don't know really. I have no idea what I'm up against, so I'm looking for anything at all that could be useful."

She nods, wracking her brain for the bits and pieces she remembers from the Triwizard Tournament, being only a second-year spectator at the time. She smiles at Harry, grateful that her thirteen year-old self had the sense to keep a tube of Diedre's Dimples Draught in her dormitory, and that she has the wherewithal to remember it before she comes to the library.

"I'll start with this one then," she chirps, picking up 1001 Charms. She sits down next to him, sliding her chair slightly towards him as she does, and opens to the index. She's a second-year, after all – she can't just start throwing out suggestions about summoning charms like she's discussing the latest fashions according to Witch Weekly. Which, she realizes, she's probably not really capable of discussing, in the here and now.

She wants to scream. He asks Chang. He always asks Chang. And he always comes in second to Diggory, which makes her think that if she weren't so busy with the mission, she'd be tempted to find some way to save him from You-Know-Who, a sort of 'thank you'. Another weird quirk she can't quite understand, Harry ends up going with Parvati and Weasley goes with Padma, but every now and then it flips and they go the other way round. It doesn't really matter – by the end of the night neither of the twins are on speaking terms with the boys anyway.

She might be the oldest in her year. By a lot, if one's counting from her point of view, but even on paper she's thirteen, being born on September second. But she's still a second year – it's not like she can just order Harry to take her!

Doesn't stop her from considering it, every time she hears about it the next day, when Weasley and Granger blow up in the common room.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

He looks at her oddly.

"You don't have to ask, you know. You're a friend." He scoots over, inviting her to take a seat.

Well, it's progress, at least.

She's on unfamiliar ground now: nobody ever really talks about the ins and outs of Harry's secret group, no matter what year it is. She doesn't know what to expect, what dynamics she's to operate. The fact that Ginny Weasley and Cho Chang are both here never makes her any happier.

She's invited this time. And she makes a point of sticking up for him when they all meet at the grimy little pub in Hogsmeade. His eyes seek her out when she does. She likes his eyes, and thinks that one day she'll have beautiful children with dark hair but wavy and tidy like hers, and her little nose. And her hands, she adds, looking down at them, palms down nails up. But definitely his eyes.

Of course, she knows what's going to happen, or what might happen, when what might happen... but she isn't privy to the details. The wait is agonizing. And the more she sees the more she's confused. Chang just looks... weepy. All the time.

But yet, every time, she eavesdrops, and every time, it's the same old story. It's masochistic is what it is.

"Brilliant! Well mate, how was it?"


In the end though, she decides that she can work with that. It certainly beats what happens at the end of next year. But – hopefully – never will.

She hasn't done anything about Diggory yet, but after how brilliantly Granger wrecks things for Chang – even if it is an accident – she promises to do something nice for her as well. It's so perfectly and plausibly done she considers for a moment that Granger might be a time traveler herself. In which case, she won't.

"There you are!" Harry says, waving her in as she opens the compartment door. "Nev's just showing me his um, sorry Nev, I forget the name." He gives Longbottom a self-depreciating grin as he gets up to help Romilda with her trunk.

Weasley runs straight into Harry, and he snogs her senseless, right there in the common room. She could spit dungbombs.

It's funny to think that she could run out of time, but she has, only in the wrong direction. After first year – his third – what's left? It's not like Harry's going to realize how perfect they are together while he's at Hogwarts and she's living with her mum and dad outside of Bath, still waiting for her Hogwarts' owl! This is almost it, and she spends daysfull days – doing nothing but making sure she's in the right place. Then she goes all the way to the third week of term to make sure her alibi isn't just perfect, it's historically true.

If anything, she's worries that she's over-thought this. In some ways she knows Harry better than anyone – even Granger and Weasley – and though he misses some things he's awfully good at piercing through a person, and not for the first time she's sure she's gotten this far only because some part of him can see just how much she loves him, that he can trust her with anything, even if he doesn't know it yet.

"Harry, there you are!" She stumbles through the portrait-hole and into the common room in time to catch him. She has no idea where he goes, but she knows that in the time between saying goodbye to Granger and Weasley as they go to Hogsmeade and returning to the Gryffindor common room, she has a two minute window before he just... disappears. Not once has she found him.

He looks annoyed. Clearly he doesn't just disappear to nowhere.

"Hi um – I'm a little busy at the moment, actually," he says, brushing her off.

"Oh." She pauses, nibbling at her lip. "I'll go tell Hagrid you're busy then... he sounded like he really wanted to see you."

Game, Set, Gobstone! He's still frustrated – and she really wants to know where it is he goes - but now that's clearly guilt running across his face.

"No, that's alright," he replies at last, more to himself than to her. "I'll head down and see him right away. They'll understand. Thanks...?"

"Romilda," she introduces herself again.

"You don't have to come with me," he says as they're half-way down the slope to Hagrid's hut on the edge of the forbidden forest.

"I like Hagrid, too, you know," she does her best to sound affronted. And she does, now. She has since the third week of September, ever since she visits to say she's sorry to hear about his Hippogriff.

He stops, green eyes appraising her for a moment, and she gives him another smile. She knows exactly the sort of smile that affects him most now, and today is no exception.

"Right then," he says. Without thinking about it, she grabs his wrist and with a giggle, she half-drags, half-runs with him the remainder of the way to Hagrid's hut. He only tenses a little.

"Hagrid was the first wizard I ever met – he took me to Diagon Alley and showed me magic..." Harry's voice trails off at the memory, and she's ecstatic. They're sitting by the lake, just the two of them, and Harry's elf – though she's not clear on that no matter that she's asked – brings them two piping hot mugs of molten chocolate.

She doesn't want him to stop talking to her. Not now.

"What's it like, growing up with Muggles?"

She instantly regrets it, watching his face cloud over. He shrugs, and his voice is flat. "Boring, really."

"He took me to Diagon Alley and showed me magic..."

"So when did you meet Ron and Hermione, then?"

It pains her that that's the correct answer.

But his face brightens at that. "The Hogwarts Express. Of course, Ron and I didn't really become friends with Hermione until Halloween, when we muddled our way into rescuing her from a troll."

Granted, she's not Granger but even so, she swoons a little inside at the thought.

As an experiment, she enters the compartment without knocking.

"Hi, Romilda," Harry replies without missing a beat, moving over to make room for her, patting the space next to him – but not next, next to him, she notes. "Thanks again for the cauldron cakes, by the way."

"You're welcome," she gives him her 'Harry' smile, and sits down, a little closer than he had indicated. He freezes a bit for just a moment, but doesn't move away.

At least not until Slughorn summons him, that thrice-be-damned grubby-fingered bastard of a potions professor.

"We did it!"

If she has to witness Harry snogging Weasley one more time she's tempted to find out what curse it is that Harry uses on Malfoy, and hit Ginevra with it when nobody's around. Twice for good measure.

She's been going at it all wrong, she realizes. Sirius is the key. Not that she really knows who Sirius is, except that he escapes from Azkaban and wants Harry dead, but something happens at the end of fifth year at the Ministry of Magic, and afterward you're either in, or you're out. Lovegood, Longbottom, Granger, and the Weasleys. In. Her, Chang – though there's the Edgecomb business there, as well – and the rest of Dumbledore's Army (and she's only too happy to let Weasley get stuck with that choice of name when it bites them in the bum); they're all on the outside, from then on.

She has to be the girl that Harry can trust. That Harry needs. That's what Granger has, and Weasley will by the end of Harry's fifth year, Weasley's fourth, her third.

Thankfully, whatever it is that Harry does that involves Sirius Black, she knows it starts first year. Even now she shivers. Dementors, it's not likely she'll ever forget that!

She learns a very valuable lesson then; it turns out you can screw up time travel. And like everything else the question isn't how, it's when.

"Can I join you?" she asks, and goodness, Granger's hair. She doesn't mention it.

They slide down a bit, and Romilda takes the spot next to Granger, across from Professor Lupin who looks to be asleep.

"First year?" Granger asks.

"Yes. Romilda Vane," she replies, but she's elsewhere. The dementors are going to come, and she remembers how horrifying that had been the first time round. It's almost worse, thinking about them now.

"Hermione Granger," Granger continues without a care, which of course is normal because she doesn't know what's coming – ha! She knows so much more than Granger about everything the older, younger girl wouldn't be able to stand it if she only knew!

"... we're in Gryffindor..." she trails off when it's clear that Romilda's not listening. She thinks at the last moment she doesn't want to be thought of as rude on the first impression on the train ride – that's how this whole problem started.

"Sorry," she says. "Just... a little nervous."

"That's alright," Granger says, "All the houses have their good points and the sorting isn't at all dangerous."

Romilda frowns at that for a second – that's an oddly specific way of putting it. "I'm sure I'll end up in Gryffindor," she says with her Harry smile. Only Harry isn't at all interested in a first year girl and is talking about quidditch with Weasley.

Not that it matters anyway as the train stops and the lights flicker, and five minutes later she's once more terrified out her wits only it's even worse this time when Harry falls unconscious.

That's not the worst part though, hard as that is to comprehend. No, the worst part is when the Sorting Hat is placed upon her head and bursts out in a great roar of uncontrollable laughter that fills and booms and echoes through the great hall.

Thank Merlin that Harry isn't around to see this, as she sits on a stool wearing that ridiculous hat that laughs at her before the rotten thing plays the greatest joke of all and puts her in Slytherin.

"Can I join you?"

They're doing that thing again where they all share a quick look. She shouldn't have come here yet, but she had to know.

"Sure, yeah," Harry says, though his face is closed off to her and he makes no move towards her to help her with her trunk or invite her to sit down next to him.

"Romilda Vane," she says and for once her boldness leaves her and she's actually shy, a little embarrassed. "Fourth Year."

Harry frowns at her. "I think I remember you," he says at last. "You sat with us on the train, back when um.."

She nods. "That's right." Where she once giggles now she laughs nervously.

"You're a Slytherin."

She flinches at that, and he stammers an apology that even sounds like it's made more for appearance's sake.

She's determined to see this ride through though, but this time, she's the one that's grateful when Slughorn's invitation comes and Harry leaves with Longbottom.

"I'm surprised that a Slytherin is friends with Hagrid, to be honest." Harry pauses, taking a sip of his hot chocolate as they sit by the lake. "No offense or anything, but..."

"But Malfoy's a git," she finishes for him.

Harry nods, looking out over the lake as the Giant Squid swims in lazy circles. "That's about right."

"I think Hagrid thought the same thing, at first," she confesses. "About me, I mean. But... I think he's been really lonely, he was willing to give me a chance."

Harry looks at her, looks at her, in a way that he hasn't since the Triwizard Tournament.

"You're odd for a firstie, you know that?" He says at last with an amused grin.

She pushes his arm and gives him her Harry smile. "I'm not Odd, I'm Vane!" She jokes.

"We should go back up – Ron and Hermione should be back soon and I better explain um... why I couldn't research something we had talked about."

Scratch what she says once, she's never doing anything nice for Granger. Not without a really good reason, at any rate.

"Can I join you?"

"Hi, Vane," Harry replies, and she's never seen him keeping his face so... controlled.

"Have a seat," he says, giving Longbottom a look as he does.

"Thanks, Harry," she answers, and Longbottom looks like he's trying hard to swallow something bitter as she plops down next to Harry, taking the time to fiddle with the hem of her shirt and stretch her legs. She smiles to herself – she's really good at keeping track of those green eyes, no matter how formal and sparse his words might be.

Harry talks to Longbottom but he makes an honest effort to include her, all the way up until Slughorn requests his presence in the front of the train.

"Hi, Harry."

"Did Malfoy send you? Here to have a joke at my expense?"

"I thought you knew me better than that."

"I do. Sorry. What do you want, Vane?"

"I know you didn't put your name in the Goblet," she says, and he looks up at her, putting down Potions of Anatolia, an utterly useless book for the tasks at hand.

"And I don't care what the rest of my house says or thinks. You didn't ask for it but you're going to win anyway. You're the Hogwarts Champion!"

"Well, not really – the whole school thinks Cedric's the proper champion and that-"

"Then you're my champion."

He blushes at that, and she takes the time to seat herself next to him, scooting until their chairs are practically touching.

"So!" She exclaims, reaching for the tried-and-true 1001 Charms and letting her hand accidentally brush for a few moments against his. "What are we looking for?" She does her best to look haphazard as she turns to page one-hundred-and-twenty-four.

"Dunno really, just anything that might be useful."

"Hmm... oh! Hey, this looks neat. The Summoning Charm..."

Next week she sends an owl.

The first task is Dragons. ~RV

It turns out you don't need to be in Gryffindor to get a front row seat to the Yule Ball aftermath between Granger and Weasley.

And as infuriating as it is, she idly wonders whether Harry went with Parvati or Padma.

"You're letting a Slytherin into the study group?" one of the Ravenclaws asks, sneering at her.

"No," Harry says, firmly. She looks up, fear and doubt creeping up her spine.

"I'm letting in a friend."

She doesn't care if she's surrounded by twenty faces that range from doubtful and untrusting to angry to hostile; she gives him the smile that by now she reserves for Harry and him alone.

It turns out Sirius isn't trying to kill Harry at all.

It turns out Sirius dies trying to save Harry.

She never meets him, no matter how hard she tries. She sees him though, in the Department of Mysteries, but by that point they're always in a fight for their lives and it's not like she's ever able to do anything more than try not to die.

She thinks about telling Harry that Sirius isn't even in danger, but Granger does that and that turns out so well, so in the end she stops worrying about it. For Sirius's sake, at least – for Harry's she keeps trying to find a way.

She fails.

It's funny how something like Harry's dance partner to the Yule Ball can change without her doing anything, but this is something she can't ever alter even a tiny bit. It's always LeStrange, and it's always the veil.

Sometimes though, Harry succeeds in crucifying LeStrange. It doesn't matter that the spell is dark, has no purpose but to unleash unspeakable pain – she shivers to see Harry cast something so powerful.

"Can I join you?"

He rolls his eyes at that as if the question is absurd, which of course it is, because of course she can. He helps her with her garishly pink trunk and Lovegood says she's looking particularly Nargle-free at the moment and Longbottom doesn't give her funny looks when he gushes about boring things until as always Harry and Longbottom get whisked away by Professor Slughorn.

"He's definitely up to something," Romilda agrees, sitting in one of the overstuffed seats that the Room of Requirement summons, across from Harry as she sips her tea. She's wearing her cutest pleated skirt and she's taken off her robes because the roaring fire makes them too hot. Harry's doing an admirable if ultimately unsuccessful job of keeping his eyes up and she smiles into her cup.

"I just don't know what," Harry finishes the thought, and Romilda has no clue although she knows it ends in Death Eaters inside Hogwarts but they still have time. "I'm glad you at least believe me," he finishes, sounding tired.

"I always believe in you," she promises.

"Are you – are you doing alright?" He asks, rather bluntly changing the subject. "Things aren't too hard in Slytherin when we're – even though I see less of you..."

"It's fine," she says quickly. "To be honest, most of the Slytherins are anxious, they don't want to be seen going too far in Malfoy's camp, not while Dumbledore is still in charge." She wonders what she'll do next year. "I think they think of me as as a bezoar, in case things get too dangerous. It doesn't hurt that the Daily Prophet keeps calling you The Chosen One and Slughorn can't go a single lesson without praising how wonderful Harry Potter is at Potions and we should all aspire to be such diligent brewers," she teases.

Harry almost spits out his tea at that.

They leave the Room of Requirements soon after. Or almost. As they reach the door, Harry stops and gently grabs her arm, turning her towards him. Her heart beats a little faster.

"Actually... Professor Slughorn is throwing a Christmas party, and I can't get out of going," he says quickly, like he's in a hurry. "Do you want to go with me?"

She squeals. "I would love to!" She continues, knowing she can always take it back if she goes too far. "I've been waiting for you to ask me for a dance ever since the Yule Ball, to be honest."

Harry snorts at that. "That was a bloody dreadful night, count yourself lucky. Parvati still hasn't forgiven me."

That answers that question this time through, at any rate.

"Why didn't you ask me... or Hermione?" she adds, feigning nonchalance. Damned if she's throwing Weasley's name in the ring as an alternative, though.

Harry shrugs. "I was just panicking over it to be honest, and then I got it in my head that I really wanted to go with Cho... which obviously didn't work out."

"To be honest, a few girls did ask me first but, I dunno – I didn't know them. If you or Hermione had asked me, I probably would have been so relieved I would have said yes."

"Even though I was only a second year?" She asks, and she's proud at how she manages to keep her voice even.

"Well, you're only a year younger than I am, pretty much," he says. And isn't that a joke. "A second year did ask me but that wasn't why I said no. Like I said, you and Hermione are friends."

She stays long enough to attend the Professor Slughorn's party, because after all this time she's not going to miss out on that.

"Harry, there you are!"

"Wha- Oh. Hi, Vane." Harry replies, visibly deep in unhappy thoughts.

"So, we just heard about the Yule Ball," Romilda begins, stepping in front of Harry. "And..."

She hops a little on her feet, and it's not entirely rehearsed. She knows from experience that every time has its quirks, and just because Harry said he would have said yes, two years down the road, doesn't mean he will.

"Harry? Are you listening? I asked if you wouldn't mind taking me to the ball. It would be fun."

He pauses, looking a bit shocked, and even though she can either ask him again or never ask him in the first place she holds her breath, bracing for his response.

"Yeah," he says at last, sounding like he's been relieved of a great burden. He smiles slightly. "I'd like that."

"Me too," she sings, and she gives him a hug and before he can respond, she pecks his cheek.

In a flash of brilliance, she sends Weasley an anonymous note that Granger is waiting for him to ask her to the Ball. The first time she times it too late and the fireworks are spectacular, but even when she acts before Krum it takes a half-dozen attempts before it gets through Weasley's head.

Chang is still in the DA, but she's just another member.

She's not even the slightest bit ashamed when she steals an idea from Granger and enchants a sickle and manages to sneak it into Weasley's robes when she 'trips' while they're practicing the jelly-legs jinx.

"Harry, do you have a minute?"

"You guys go ahead, I'll catch up in a bit."

"Right – Romilda, what do you –"

She doesn't say anything, just jumps into his arms and wraps her own around his neck and snogs him.

Those beautiful green eyes widen in shock.

Then he's snogging her back.

"Good on you, mate!... How was it?"

Romilda has the curtains closed to her bed in the Slytherin dormitories, but their voices come loud and clear through the sickle, even though they're up in Gryffindor Tower and she's all the way down in the dungeons.


He breaks up with her twenty-two times at Dumbledore's funeral, but in the end she gets it right. Sure, Weasley managed to patch it up after the fact, but she's not willing to take the chance.

"Can I join you?"

She looks up where Harry stands at the door, green eyes sparkling with just a hint of mischief that makes her feel all warm inside.

"If you like," she replies, smile beaming and eyes begging him to hold her.

There's lots of very satisfying moments, but nothing like snogging the living daylights out of Harry Potter in front of the whole school while Weasley watches on looking like she's been forced to swallow broken glass.

"You know," Harry says as he sits down heavily in an otherwise unused classroom, too tired to try the Summoning Spell one more time. "Sometimes I think you're a Slytherin who should have been in Gryffindor."

She laughs at that, because it really is funny.

"You have no idea," she says.

"Oh, I think I do," he quips, and she looks at him, eyes narrowed.

"Keep it a secret," he says, voice quiet as she leans in, eager to having him confide a secret. "But I'm a Gryffindor who's supposed to be in Slytherin."

She giggles at that, though the summer after Sirius dies he tells her the full story and she understands.

"Can I join you?"

She doesn't have to say it, but it's become something of a habit. Harry just scoots over and she sits down, leaning into him as his arm pulls her close and then settles into the small of her back. She folds her legs up on the seat and looks up at him through a curtain of black hair, her eyes big and his smile just for her as she cuddles closer, content.

Just before Slughorn takes Harry and Longbottom away, she pulls out her Witch Weekly, and turns to a random page.

"Question," she says, at least making a show of including Longbottom and Lovegood but she's looking nowhere but Harry. "What are your three favorite smells," she pretends to read.

Harry thinks for a minute. "Treacle tart. Freshly cleaned brooms. Hot Chocolate."

It doesn't take Romilda nineteen years to know that she's won.