Colours of Obsession

A story of how the meeting of three colours finally manages to bring together an unknown romance between an obsessed, in-denial Daphne Greengrass and an equally obsessed, and less in-denial, Harry Potter.

*O*O*O*

"Through drought and famine, natural disasters,

My baby has been around for me.

Kingdoms have fallen, angels be callin'

None of that could ever make me leave."

*O*O*O*

Harry swore that someone had plunged an icy dagger into his gut.

At least, that's what it felt like as Harry took in his surroundings.

Silence had fallen across the room as every single head in the room swivelled about, locking onto him after a moment of searching.

Moments passed, and no one moved. Not even the one who had been called upon by the Goblet.

Dumbledore looked back down at the slip of paper he held in his wrinkled fingers, before uttering Harry's name once more.

"Harry Potter…"

It sounded like he was reading out a death sentence.

Harry had finally been ushered up and out of his seat by Daphne and Hermione. He had stood and given the people around him a look.

The words "I didn't put my name in the Goblet" had left his mouth, but everything was such a blur that he could barely even remember if he had said it or not. He only remembered their faces.

Hermione had one hand on her mouth as if to stop herself from screaming. Her hand barely hid the horrified look on her face.

Ron's mouth was a thin line, and his eyes were wide open while he stared silently at Harry, his thoughts unknown to his best friend.

Tracey looked like she had just witnessed a vehicular accident occur in front of her. Even Astoria and her gaggle of followers were staring at him with eyes as wide as saucers.

Daphne, on the other hand, showed her emotions through her eyes instead of her face. Those wide baby blues looked as shocked as he did, but they told him they'd have to speak about this later. It was clear she believed he had nothing to do with this, but there would be no possibility for any discussion now — not with every single eye in the room on him.

She imperceptibly nodded her head towards the door the champions had all vanished behind, and Harry began to move.

He had made his way down the steps and had been barely aware of the looks the rest of the students were casting at him as he passed them.

The Hufflepuffs looked very angry with Harry after he ripped the spotlight away from them when Cedric had been crowned Hogwarts' champion.

The Slytherins, and even the Ravenclaws, were giving him icy glares, likely furious that a Gryffindor had still somehow slipped into the competition through some underhanded means. After all, they had all watched as Fred and George tried and failed earlier. What was stopping another one from trying, but succeeding?

Much like Harry, even the Gryffindors were dumbfounded with the sudden twist, and were all watching, stunned, as their sudden champion came down the steps.

Each step he took down the creaky wooden steps resounded through the silent room. It felt like forever before he touched the stone floors again.

Dumbledore exchanged a look with Harry, his face worried, but kind.

The man held an arm out and gently grasped the teen's shoulder as if to comfort him, before directing him towards the door.

Harry felt his stomach dropping with each heavy step he took towards the door.

With no idea of the certainty of his future, and what fate would await him in the coming times, it felt like he was being marched off towards the gallows — to his death.

The fact that it was also going to be a public spectacle only made it slightly worse.

With his back now towards the rest of the room, a twisted smile fraught with frustration and disbelief had formed on his face from the situation.

Trouble really did seem to follow Harry Potter, and his hopes of a quiet year with Daphne were dashed on the rocks.

God. He really just couldn't catch a break.

*O*O*O*

Harry had been sitting silently on the floor after he had entered, completely lost in his thoughts and feeling very worn out.

The room was filled with massive shelves. Each one was stacked from top to bottom with shining gold, silver, and bronze trophies of all sorts.

Amongst the shelves were each of the selected champions. They seemed to have been busy steeling their nerves, each mentally preparing themselves for the upcoming challenges ahead.

None of them even sparing a glance at the other, up until Harry strode in and dropped himself onto the floor, his back bumping hard against one of the wooden shelves.

The neatly arranged trophies rattled on the shelf, disturbed from their spots.

He was so tired from the lack of sleep and the sudden revelation that he was going to be in the games that he couldn't even muster up the energy to even think of being excited that Krum was there.

But despite his outward demeanour, thoughts were running rampant in his head.

He never put his name in the Goblet. That he was a hundred percent certain of. Not unless someone had obliviated him to forget that.

Whoever framed him and got him into this mess managed to get past the Age Line. Perhaps an older student then? Surely Dumbledore's other security measures accounted for an older student putting a younger one's name into the Goblet on their behalf.

But they'd likely have to bypass whatever other magic was involved in stopping such a predictable thing from happening.

Whatever this was… it was obvious it was not a coincidence.

Someone had deliberately put his name into the Goblet, and, in turn, royally fucked his plans for the year over.

And while Harry was expecting to get into trouble this year too, this went a little over his expectations. It was likely one of the worst 'worst case' scenarios he had dreamt of.

So to say he was incredibly frustrated and worried was putting it lightly.

He was fucking livid.

Harry shut his eyes and sighed, trying to get some semblance of rest amidst the turbulent thoughts.

It wasn't too long later that Fleur and Cedric had come up to ask him if he was here to assist them, while Krum had stood back and watched.

Harry had told them that he was now the fourth person selected to be in the games but noted that he was an unwilling participant who didn't even put his name into the Goblet.

The news that there would be a fourth competitor in the tournament rightly shocked all of them.

Krum was the first to break the silence.

"How iz that possible?" He asked, walking forward as his usual frown deepened, "Why four? Iz this not the 'Tri'-wizard Tournament?"

Fleur had held her tongue, feeling rather conflicted now. Her new friend's secret boyfriend, who she had hit on just yesterday, was now going to be one of her competitors, giving Hogwarts an unfair advantage. It was a complex and confusing situation, that much was certain.

"I wish I could tell you, Viktor." Harry said, a little despondent from his seat on the floor, "None of this is making any sense to me."

"Not to mention that you're not even of age." Cedric frowned, adding yet another question for all of them to consider.

"What?" Krum and Fleur turned to look at Cedric, now even more surprised.

"He doesn't look like it, but he's only fourteen." Cedric informed them, and Harry nodded.

Of course, with the size and muscle that Harry had packed on, it was easy for those who were not familiar with him to mistake him as an older student. Neither of the foreign students had any idea that the young teen in front of him was younger than them by a few years.

Looking more mature than the rest of the students he usually mingled with certainly didn't help dispel any illusions either.

Fleur herself had mistakenly assumed that both Daphne and Harry were a year below her, hence why she even tried to court him in the first place. She blanched, wondering if she had unknowingly appeared a little too interested in a fourteen year old.

She'd probably have to apologise to them for that.

Cedric stared at Harry's sullen form for a moment and considered the situation realistically.

Had it been any other student, he likely would've thought them to be lying. After all, the glory and alleged wealth that came with being the champion was alluring to most.

But what would Harry have needed for any of that? As far as he knew, the Potters had been relatively well off and must have left quite a fortune to Harry as their sole heir.

Plus he was already plenty famous, attention which Harry never seemed to enjoy. Understandable, of course, considering his fame and the deaths of his family were tightly intertwined.

And while he wasn't close to Harry, he had observed and interacted with the younger teen enough over the years to consider himself a decent judge of his character. Since they first played against each other in Quidditch, Cedric found him to be quite an honest, likeable, and upstanding person — if only a little brash, thick-headed, and mischievous.

While he often got in trouble, he never really seemed to be the one who sought it out.

Well, not all the time at least.

And with how shaken he seemed, Cedric could tell that Harry didn't want to be there. To Cedric, this was just some unintentional magical mishap that screwed Harry over. And for the friendly Hufflepuff, that was enough proof for him to treat Harry no differently than usual.

Plus, Cedric would rather have Harry Potter as one of Hogwarts' champions instead of someone like Draco Malfoy. At least he knew Harry had the school's best interests at heart, even if he didn't necessarily want to be in the tournament.

Standing before him, he reached an open hand out to Harry.

"C'mon Harry. Chin up. Like it or not, the Goblet chose you. You're a champion of Hogwarts now." The supportive smile he flashed at Harry made the younger teen feel a little better, "And us champions need to show everyone else why they were picked over the rest. So stand tall, my friend."

Harry considered Cedric's hand for a moment before they grasped each other's wrists. The older teen leaned back and helped pull the younger one up off the ground.

Harry stood with a sigh, admittedly feeling slightly better from receiving support from Cedric.

"Thanks, Cedric." Harry brushed his bum down, joking with the older boy, "Your peptalk's not bad. No wonder you're the Puff's captain."

"Hey, my Quidditch isn't too far off either." Cedric joked back with a laugh.

After dismissing the rest of the students, the rest of the adults had come swarming into the room. From professors to judges, all were now present. It was clear that the addition of Harry Potter had stirred up quite a bit of controversy, as evident by all the shouting and the looks on some of their faces. Some bore misplaced anger, faulting him for this mishap, while others maintained a level of professional stoicism, though it was clear that they did have a bit of apprehension in their eyes.

Like Dumbledore, who strode in leading the pack with a calm demeanour.

Others were voicing their displeasure at Hogwarts having two champions, namely Madam Maxime and Karkaroff, while the others followed silently.

The four champions stood together in the centre of the room as the adults drew nearer.

"This is outrageous!" Karkaroff's frustrations were visible not only by the throbbing veins in his neck, but also the spittle that escaped his mouth as he hollered his complaints to the rest. "How is this remotely fair?!"

"I am in agreement!" Maxime declared, her booming voice echoing off the stone walls. Each stride the massive woman took sent her further and further ahead of her fellow witches and wizards, "This is simply too advantageous for Hogwarts!"

"I understand your frustrations and grievances, Maxime, Igor." Dumbledore spoke with a level tone in his voice, "But please, allow me to speak with Harry first."

Sensing the question that was coming, Harry responded before Dumbledore even got the chance to ask it.

"I didn't do it, professor." He said, "I didn't put my name in the Goblet. And I didn't get someone else to do it for me. I just… I just wanted a year without any trouble."

Snape sneered at him as if he were lying, and his Head of House gave Harry a rather worried look.

"I see." Dumbledore said curtly after a moment of consideration, then he turned to the rest of the judges who had yet to lose their tempers, "Mr Crouch, Mr Bagman... is there anything we can do to rectify this very obvious mistake?"

Mr Crouch spoke up first, his voice as cold and hard as steel.

"The rules state that those the Goblet of Fire chooses are bound to compete in the tournament." The man glanced from Dumbledore to the young teen, "Unfortunately, Mr Potter will have to see this through."

Harry hadn't even bothered to hear what Mr Bagman had added on after that, knowing that it was pointless. His focus was already drifting away from the conversation.

It was clear that his fate was sealed. There would be no arguing against that. He would have no choice but to play in the games, or suffer the unknown consequences of breaking a magical oath he hadn't even made. He wasn't even going to try and test it. For all he knew, whoever submitted his name may still have found some way to ensure it was tied to him.

Fine. If they, whoever they were, wanted him to be in the tournament, he'd have no choice but to oblige.

But Harry wasn't the same scrawny boy that simply sat idle and waited for the danger to come to him anymore.

He had prepared for this. So if he was going to go down in this tournament, he'd at least go down swinging.

Still, even with this newfound resolve, he had no grand plans of dying for something he didn't even sign up for. With this in consideration, there was only one thought he had in his mind. The last thing on his list.

He needed to get his portkey project working. Fast.

The adults had started to bicker like children again. Complaints came from the other two headmasters about the integrity of the games being broken with the addition of Harry. There were also threats of returning back to their schools, which was actually impossible now that their champions were also oath-bound till the tournament was completed.

The conversation was also now steering towards a fourth school… or something, and how a potentially powerful wizard or witch could have confundus'd the powerful magical artifact into accepting his name, all with ill intention of course.

He sighed, tuning the rest of the unnecessary voices out as he began to plan out the rest of the coming days. He had to scrap what few plans he had come up with to spend time with Daphne, now rerouting them to further his needs with creating the portkey.

As unfortunate as that was, he was sure Daphne would understand.

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose, failing to ward off the headache that was emerging.

This was going to be a long week.

*O*O*O*

Tracey and Daphne had made their way back to the dorm on their own. Most other Slytherins had rushed back earlier, leaving the two behind.

The two had said nothing on the way back, walking silently to the room they shared with Pansy Parkinson.

Tracey had cast curious glances Daphne's way throughout the journey, but she had remained impassive. Her eyes appeared calm and disinterested, but her mouth was set in a thin, firm line. Even if it didn't seem like it, Tracey could tell Daphne's head was racing with thoughts, trying to make sense of tonight's debacle.

When they entered the dungeon, the common room was filled with green robes and sneering faces, all crowded around the main table.

They noted that Pansy was already with the rest at the table, far too deep in conversation with Theodore Nott to even notice that they had returned. She was likely discussing the events that had unfolded tonight with the rest of the Slytherins there and wouldn't return anytime soon.

That'd give them plenty of privacy.

Daphne and Tracey didn't know where Astoria was at the moment, but that was good. Neither of the girls knew if they could handle the barrage of questions that the younger Slytherin likely had. Questions that they were wondering themselves.

Daphne and Tracey didn't even bother glancing at any of the rest and had made a beeline back to their room, not showing the slightest bit of interest in gossiping with their peers.

As soon as the doors were closed and locked, and a muffliato was cast by Tracey, Daphne's neutral facade slipped instantly.

Her impassive face immediately flashed into a visage of sheer anger that sent a chill down Tracey's spine.

Tracey often saw Daphne get annoyed, and sometimes frustrated too. She had even seen her lose her temper one time long ago when a younger Astoria had caused her to be in an accident.

But not once in her life had Tracey ever seen Daphne this angry.

"This was a set-up." Daphne snarled, fury brimming in her features. Perfectly plucked brows furrowed atop stormy eyes, which raged behind narrowed slits. Her breathing was heavy, and a vein popped from her temple.

The cold air of the dungeons seemed to plummet further in temperature, and an icy chill gripped Tracey. It felt similar to last year when Dementors had come to guard the grounds of their school against Sirius Black. She swore that an invisible layer of ice was starting to envelop the room, growing with Daphne's chilling anger.

Yet another reason for her 'Ice Queen' title.

Tracey would've chuckled were it not for the situation.

"Someone put his name into the Goblet… They want everyone to turn on him." Her voice dripped with venom as her tone dropped low, "They want him to get hurt…"

Most of the students in Hogwarts couldn't even fathom a fraction of the hardship and pain that Harry had to endure growing up with those abusive muggles, let alone the dangers that plagued him since starting his schooling here. And they still dared to gossip about him?! Had he not been through enough?

Now, against his will, he had to participate in games that were only just brought back after centuries due to their high mortality rates.

So much for those useless safety precautions that were set in place to stop this exact thing from happening.

The idea that someone was now blatantly trying to drag her beloved boyfriend into life-threatening danger, all while their peers whispered all sorts of malicious lies about him to each other, filled her with so much malevolence that it was almost palpable, radiating off of her in waves. The cold air was starting to get thick with a choking tension, one that even Tracey was starting to sweat from despite it feeling so cold.

"If anything happens to Harry…" She snarled, the storms she held in her eyes still raging fiercely.

Daphne had clenched one of her fists so hard that she drove her manicured nails straight into the skin of her palms. So caught up in her fury, Daphne didn't even wince as they broke skin and met bare flesh.

"I'll find them, and then I'll flay them from head to toe." The threatening promise that she forced through her clenched teeth was as sharp as an actual dagger.

Tracey continued to stare at her best friend with uncertainty.

Had this version of Daphne been bubbling under the surface this whole time?

After four years of constant observance, Daphne had become a little more than obsessed, even if she didn't necessarily know it herself.

It was like a hidden aspect of herself had become straight-up fanatical over Harry. But though obsessed, she never had a reason to be truly jealous thus far.

Daphne knew well that any attempts from other girls to try and flirt with Harry would not ever change his mind. They'd try, and they'd fail, and Daphne would joke about and derive amusement from seeing how popular her handsome boyfriend now was with girls.

Even if the time they had spent together had not been for long, Daphne would have put her life in Harry's hands. And him, vice versa. Both were so hopelessly in love with the other, on top of having reasonable senses, that they knew they would never betray, nor be betrayed, by the other.

This much was obvious from how Harry was unaffected by Fleur's Veela heritage. His own love and obsession for Daphne simply outweighed any unintentional magical effects the French girl had over most boys and men.

On the other hand, when it came to danger, the idea of Harry seriously getting harmed or killed was, well, pretty evident. And Tracey was sure that if Daphne was in his place, Harry would be causing quite the ruckus too.

Beads of blood began to seep out from between Daphne's fingers and dripped onto the stone floor at a steady pace. Daphne seemed not to have noticed, the adrenaline and focus likely fogging up her nerves.

If Tracey needed a reason not to ever make Daphne mad in the future, this would be it.

Because, truly, Hell hath no fury like an obsessed woman scorned.

Finally taking a step forward, it was clear that Daphne was having some kind of intense freakout over Harry's predicament, and Tracey refused to sit idly by while her best friend hurt herself senselessly.

"Stop that. Please, ya hurtin' yourself, Daph." She frowned, standing in front of Daphne, "Harry wouldn't want ya to hurt yourself over something neither of you could control."

Bringing Harry's name up seemed to do the trick, and Daphne blinked before her stiff frame softened. Her rage was tapering off now thanks to Tracey intervening, and the dull pain from her wounds was now becoming more and more apparent as the adrenaline faded.

Gingerly reaching forward, Tracey took her friend's injured hand into her own. Feeling no resistance from Daphne, she knew that she was clear to proceed. Thus, she waved her wand over the bleeding fist.

"Episkey." There was a brief gentle glow that enveloped her fist.

The blood was still wet and fresh when the blonde released her fist to inspect her palm, but the puncture marks her nails had made in her palms were no more.

Daphne winced a little from the dull pain, which was now fading slowly alongside her subsiding anger.

Tracey waved it once more, and a blue glimmer washed over her hand, cleaning it. The fresh blood slowly faded from the surface of Daphne's pale skin, drying up instantly and flaking right off into the air. The blood on the floor vanished much the same way.

Then Tracey took her best friend's wrists into her hands. Daphne looked exhausted after her little meltdown, but her eyes still brimmed with a subdued frustration.

"Look at me, Daph." Tracey shook her lightly, "Daphne. please look me in the eyes." It was rare that Tracey would be the responsible one out of the two, but when she was, Daphne always seemed to listen.

The blonde seemed reluctant but did as she was told.

Glancing into Tracey's eyes, Daphne could see just how worried the brunette was for her.

"I know you're angry right now, Daphne. But hurtin' yourself isn't gonna help anything." Tracey drew small circles onto her wrists with her thumbs, guiding her over to Daphne's bed so that they could both take a seat, "So I need ya to breathe deep and relax, alright?"

Daphne did as she was told as she sat with Tracey on the edge of her bed, shutting her eyes for a moment. Then she leaned into her best friend and pulled her fellow Slytherin in for an appreciative hug, burying her face in the space between Tracey's neck and shoulder.

"I know you're worried about Harry," Tracey stroked the back of Daphne's head, "He's a tough nut to crack. If anyone can handle this, it's him."

"Thanks, Tracey… I'm sorry about earlier… all of this just sucks." Daphne quietly muttered, sighing deeply.

"I know, It's alright. About time I was the responsible one out of the two of us, anyway." Tracey rubbed Daphne's back comfortingly, "Look. Let's meet up with Harry tomorrow to see what we can do to help."

The two would spend the night sleeping in the same bed again, with Daphne holding onto her best friend's hand for reassurance all throughout.

*O*O*O*

Harry was in a particularly sour mood today as he strode down the halls and past students, very aware of all the eyes on him.

Not only was he incredibly tired, but he had found out last night that he had been forced into being part of the Triwizard Tournament by an unknown force, one who was clearly out to get him.

After he had returned to the Gryffindor common room, he had then been mobbed by the rest of his peers, who refused to listen to his protests and celebrated his new title as the second Hogwarts Champion.

And to top the night off, he had gotten into a particularly heated argument with Ron after he had returned to the dorm. Much like the rest, Ron hadn't seemed to believe him, even after a very compelling and comprehensive list of reasons that Harry had detailed for him.

He didn't know which was worse.

The fact that his best friend didn't believe him, or that Ron thought he was the sort of person to try and enter the tournament after all the trouble they had been dragged through over the last four years together.

When Harry was still met with Ron's scepticism and disbelief after that, delivered to him in an annoying tone of voice, it culminated in Harry losing his temper with him and snapping at his best friend, essentially calling him an idiot for failing to see sense.

While slaying a massive basilisk and fighting off Dementors looked great on his resume, it was not something Harry did 'willingly' or 'for attention'. These were things that were mostly forced upon him against his will too, which he had to deal with to the best of his abilities. Much like the upcoming games, of which he had zero options to opt out of, and had about a month or so left to prepare for.

What he had to prepare for, he didn't know, but boy was Harry glad that he had already worked on his magic and his physical body in his spare time. Besides trying to impress Daphne at the time, it was also exactly for a moment like this.

He had mostly levelled the playing field for himself with the rest of the older champions, and would not be rolling over and dying for the asshole that got him into this mess.

If they wanted him dead, then they would have to be trying their goddamn best.

Harry finally made it out of view from any other students and began to head towards the usual classroom.

While they hadn't made any kind of signal yesterday night, it was pretty clear that an event as significant as last night's warranted a discussion.

Pushing the door open, he was immediately greeted by the worried voice of his girlfriend.

"Harry!" The blonde rushed over in a blur as Harry shut the door behind him.

As he turned back to face her, he barely had any time to catch her in his arms as she came soaring at him in a very Astoria-esque manner.

"Whoa!"

Her arms were immediately locked around his neck, and the two spun in circles for a moment as Harry's feet tried to maintain his balance with his girlfriend's added weight and momentum being thrown at him.

After a moment he finally regained his bearings, wrapping his own arms around her waist and holding her tightly against himself. The two stood in an embrace, taking deep breaths against each other silently.

From her seat at one of the many tables, Tracey smiled. Daphne's freakout last night had been particularly worrying, so it was good to see her happy again.

"Alright, lovebirds. Save the hugs and kisses for later." Tracey remarked loudly, finally snapping the two out of their embrace, "What happened last night, Potter?"

Harry took Daphne's hand and guided her towards the chair opposite Tracey, all the while repeating last night's meeting. He summarized it quickly as they sat down. He included his argument with Ron, as well as how he had to spend another hour after that penning a letter to Sirius, keeping him informed as well.

He had already sent the letter off earlier in the day with the same parrot that was still hanging around the owlery. He made sure to bring some seeds along as payment this time.

Daphne and Tracey shared a look of disbelief on their faces at the end of Harry's briefing.

"What a blithering idiot." Tracey groaned as she slapped her forehead.

"I know he's slow, but Weasley does know the games are dangerous, right?" Daphne remarked with a shake of her head.

Harry sunk into his chair.

"I don't know why he's so convinced that I put my name in."

"Probably just jealous that the spotlight's back on ya again. What an insecure whelp." Tracey muttered, disgusted at Ron's behaviour and his lack of loyalty. It was very un-Gryffindor-like.

As someone who cherished her best friend, it sounded like she had been the one who had been wronged by Ron instead.

Tracey genuinely did not see any redeeming qualities in the youngest Weasley brother. Unlike the twins she had befriended, those two showed loyalty when it mattered. When one went down for trouble, so would the other. Not that it was any easy to even catch them in the first place.

Then again, she was pretty biased against him. From the moment she had heard words spill out of his mouth back in the first year, she had never disliked a Gryffindor as much as Ron. It definitely didn't help that he had a staunch distaste for Slytherins too.

Why Harry kept him around as a friend, she'd never really know.

"Ron's… Well, he's stubborn. Like me, I suppose. But he has to come around eventually, right?" Harry pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes, leaning his head back in hopes of stemming the headache he was getting just thinking about how frustrating the conversation with Ron had been yesterday.

"I'd hate to imagine breaking the news of our relationship to him now." On top of his jealousy and his lack of faith in Harry, finding out that he had been secretly dating one of the top female students in Slytherin would likely send Ron mad.

Harry only sighed at that. Ron would probably go nuclear and throw a fit in a blind rage. He didn't even know what he could say to convince him otherwise when he couldn't even get the redhead to believe that he didn't enter into the tournament.

Daphne also looked like she wanted to say more choice words about Ron, who she, much like Tracey, had never really liked all that much. But, seeing that Harry was still upset by it, she chose to hold her tongue.

He was still kind of Harry's friend after all.

Though, if Ron had been privy to their relationship, Daphne would've given him a verbal lashing in private that was so bad it would've made his mother's Howlers look like a joke.

Instead, she took one of his hands into both of hers and began massaging it gently, like Tracey had done for her last night, to help ease his nerves.

"Cut him loose and save ya breath. If he doesn't even believe ya now, I doubt there's any point in trying ta convince him further down the line."

With his friendship with Ron now fractured, Harry had sleeplessly spent the night wondering if things could even go back to the way they were. The lack of faith and trust Ron had shown when Harry really needed someone in his corner last night had really dealt a serious blow to Harry's impression of his best friend.

The black-haired teen just couldn't wrap his head around why Ron, of all the people in Hogwarts, would rather believe that Harry secretly entered the competition on his own volition than believe that someone was trying to set him up to die.

Honestly, with the way things were right now, the Gryffindor didn't know if their friendship was still salvageable.

Seeing that Harry was still conflicted, Daphne cut back in.

"Forget about him right now. Are you doing alright, Harry?"

With his body and mind exhausted, he unintentionally sighed before he spared his girlfriend a smile that took quite a bit of his energy to muster up.

"Sorry. Yeah, I will be… Just that… between the tournament and the stuff with Ron, I'm pretty worn out at the moment. Forgive me if I'm a tad bit too moody, or sound a little unenthusiastic."

Seeing the weariness in his eyes, Daphne smiled softly at him and grasped his hand tighter.

"I know it's not much but… If you need it, you know I'll be here for you." She leaned in and placed a gentle, soothing kiss on his cheek.

And it did. Harry felt his burdens grow lighter ever so slightly with her actions, and returned the gesture with a faint smile.

"That's more than I could ask for."

Tracey gave the two another moment before speaking up.

"So what's next then, Potter?"

"In about two weeks, we'll have a wand-weighing ceremony, to make sure all of our wands are working. Then, sometime around the end of the month, we'll be playing in the first of the games. No clue what it's about yet though. But as one of the champions, I'm excused from year-end exams, so I'll have plenty of time to tinker with the portkey before the first trial."

Daphne was slightly relieved at that last part. If it was as easy as Harry believed it to be, then it would at least reassure Daphne that he'd have some form of instant escape ready by the time the first games rolled around.

"Good thing you've been workin' ya arse off." Tracey said as she stood, walking over to the two of them. Standing in front of them, she placed a hand on both of their shoulders and looked between them.

"I know I'm not as reliable as ol' Queen Green here…"

"Merlin, not you too." Daphne groaned at the terrible title that her best friend had also started to use.

"…but if you ever need a hand, just say the word, Potter!" Tracey flexed her thin arms in a rather unimpressive display of strength.

"Thanks, Tracey." Harry said with a humorous smile, "Something tells me I'll need all the support I can get in the coming months."

*O*O*O*

Hours later, he was still in the abandoned classroom, albeit alone this time. He had returned shortly after dinner to officially start work on the portkey, to little success.

For the last time of the night, Harry raised his wand and pointed it towards the object in front of him. It was a frayed, old shoe he had pulled out from under his bed. It had been used for Quidditch in his second year and had lay forgotten under his bed for the last few years.

Surrounding it was a circle of cooking salt, which he had procured from the kitchens. It was a component of the ritual to create a portkey, so said the book.

However, having been following the book's instructions for the last few hours seemed to have been met with nothing but a frustrating amount of failure.

The shoe took on a bright blue glow for a moment before it began to flicker rapidly. Then it dispersed in a silent explosion of white and blue, sending the lights scattering across the entire surface of the dimly lit room like massive shards of shattered glass.

It spilled across the floor, climbed up the walls, and ended on the ceiling.

Then, moments later, it was dark again.

All in all, it made for a fantastic light show.

Well, if he was trying to make this room Hogwarts' hottest spot for raves, it was definitely working. Coupled with the colourful walls, all they needed now was music and a disco ball, and they were good to go. But that was, unfortunately, not his main objective.

Okay… maybe he had been a little too overconfident in his estimations on how easy making a portkey was.

It had been over two and a half hours and he still had yet to properly grasp the issues he was facing with instructions that had been written down in the musty book borrowed from the Greengrass' estate.

Even the simple task of drawing his wand and gesturing it around the object was starting to take a toll on his patience after being met with persistent failure.

He glanced over his shoulder and across the room, on the stone floor, was a spot that had been marked with an 'X' using a pair of old socks. It was meant to indicate where he'd supposedly end up once he had properly set up the spell and used the portkey.

Still, even as he was giving up, a part of him fought back, unwilling to let him leave when it felt like he was likely this close to figuring it out.

Harry put his hands on his hips and glanced up to the ceiling, sighing. He recalled the words in the book aloud once more, his foot tapping against the cobbled floors impatiently.

"Alright. 'Circle of salt'? Got it." He began to tick off the mental checklist in his head, "Next is to 'place the desired object inside'. Check. Then I need to 'ensure that no other objects are within the zone', uh huh… 'Run a wand over the chosen object, drawing a circle around it as you recite the spell in a single breath', which is 'Partum Patet Portus'. Yup, yup, yup."

Seeing that the checklist was all checked off, Harry shrugged and, for the last, last time of the night, he raised his wand and did the same as before.

"Partum Patet Portus." He declared at the shoe, hovering his wand over the object in the circle of salt.

The blue glow returned, and Harry struggled to maintain it as he began to draw a circle over the shoe. Once again, the spell didn't seem to have been any different.

As expected, the light began to ebb away once more.

Harry, thinking that he was going to fail again and a little more than frustrated at this point, jabbed his wand right into the top of the shoe. The tip of the wand stabbed the roof of the shoe, and the light stopped flickering. It stabilised at where his wand met it, growing stronger instead.

Harry's eyes widened at the new accidental development.

"What the…?" Still holding his wand against the shoe, Harry dragged it up and saw that blue light was far more concentrated now, tracing his wand's movements. He continued to move his wand, drawing a circle all around the shoe's circumference as per the instructions he had committed to memory.

As soon as he was done, the shoe glowed brightly once more before it faded gently, leaving it in a state no different than before. There were no physical changes to the shoe at all.

"Huh. Well, alright." Harry reached his hand out and placed his fingers on the shoe, "That should be—"

As soon as he touched the shoe, Harry felt something sink deep in the pit of his stomach. It was the same sensation he had felt when he first learned to fly on a broom.

It was the unnatural feeling of a complete and utter lack of control over his body as he defied the laws of gravity.

Harry couldn't see it, but a small, whirling vacuum had formed above his head, and his body was tugged and stretched to unbelievably comical proportions as he was yanked headfirst into it.

Then, like someone had judo-flipped him from the collar of his shirt, Harry felt like he was launched into the air and tossed head-over-heels forward. The world swirled, blurred, and spun like he was in a washing machine, and Harry let loose a cry of surprise before everything reoriented violently.

Suddenly popping into existence high above his makeshift landing spot, Harry's arms flailed wildly as he careened back towards the floor, gravity gripping him once more. It was then, in that brief moment he was in the air, that Harry was very much aware of how woefully unprepared he had been for his landing.

He hadn't been expecting to appear so high up in the air, close enough that he could touch the ceiling if he wanted to.

The worn socks on the floor, obviously, provided no help.

Then the Gryffindor careened back to the floor, slamming into it with such force that he felt himself bounce ever so slightly. He felt his bones creak as he hit the floor, and pain filled his senses.

"Ugh!"

Then the shoe followed soon after, appearing above him and dropping right onto his head with a 'plonk'. Of course, being in as much pain as he was right now, Harry hadn't really noticed.

Thankfully he had managed to land on his side instead of on his neck. But while most of the impact had been evenly dispersed, the wind had still been knocked right out of him. The pain was shooting throughout his body, and he writhed on his side as he struggled to turn himself onto his back.

Harry rolled onto his back, silently gasping but feeling no air enter his lungs. It felt like he had just been slapped aside by the school's Whomping Willow. He gagged painfully, scrambling backwards with his aching arms until he dragged himself onto one of the chairs and tables he had shifted aside.

Harry did his best to relax in order to catch his breath, only managing to do so after a few more moments of quiet choking.

"Urkkk… Damn…" He croaked, rubbing his chest as he regulated his ragged breaths, "I'm going to have to work… on that landing a bit more… Ugh..."

His body still hurt from the impact, but Harry was far too focused on the portkey actually working now that he was breathing again. He began to analyse what he had been doing differently the past few hours when compared to this attempt, which had clearly worked.

What had he done differently this time?

It was the moment he had lost his patience and touched the imbued object with his wand. It was then that it had produced a significantly different outcome than the failures before.

Then he thought over the words in the book once more, before it finally dawned on him.

When the book said 'run a wand over the chosen object', they had meant it literally. Like, to literally press a wand and drag it against the object, instead of hovering above it like he had been doing for all the other attempts.

Harry sighed. He would've palmed his face too, had it not been for the pain. Instead, he silently chalked this up as a win, having succeeded in the initial stages of his escape plan. But he couldn't celebrate just yet. There were still plenty of test runs to do, much to improve upon, and plenty more he could probably iron out, much like the landing stage.

And arguably the most important part - making sure that it worked during the trials.

Thankfully, with about a month left to go, he had plenty of time to do all of that.

That was enough time, right?

…Right?

*O*O*O*

The girls were gathered together in front of Harry the next day during their free period right before lunch, all watching as he explained the steps to them.

"Oooh… How far can ya go with it?" Tracey asked as she watched the Gryffindor set up the other half of his worn shoes as the portkey.

"If it's anything like an ordinary portkey, it should take you as far as you want it to go, no?" Hermione asked Harry as the blue glow of the spell's activation washed over him.

"Yes, but it doesn't actually work like that," Harry clarified with a big yawn, "...First, before you even set up the actual portkey, you need to physically be where you want to end up. You can't imagine it. You need to actually be there in person, then you bind the location to the object, and then you can create the portkey."

He paused to yawn again, continuing as he wiped a tear from his tired eyes.

"Or you can bind the location to the object first, and then create the portkey later when you want to… But obviously creating the portkey takes a lot of time since you need to set up the salt circle. Alright… any questions?"

"Unrelated, but… late night again?" Daphne suddenly asked. Harry simply spared her a weak smile and a nod. Daphne shot him a worried look but said nothing.

"So does that mean you can only do it once?" Hermione clarified again.

"I suppose so." Harry walked away from the shoe and back to the three girls, rubbing his forehead from the headache that had built up over the days. "You could enchant more than one item to do the same if you needed to make multiple trips."

"That sounds convenient." Tracey added. Despite hailing from a magical heritage herself, Tracey had never used a portkey before.

"It is. But it's also not exactly a comfortable feeling, is it?" He glanced towards Daphne and Hermione, who both shook their heads.

Having tried it out herself at the Quidditch World Cup, Hermione was shaking her head a little harder in agreement. It was a terrible sensation, being tossed into the air and dropped from the sky, even if convenient.

"So I'm also guessing the longer the distance, the longer that nauseating sensation of weightlessness feels for the user." Harry assumed.

Such a great method for crossing massive distances in a short period of time was bound to have its drawbacks. But if what Hermione mentioned a while ago about Mr Weasley, Cedric, and Mr Diggory was right, then one could learn how to land safely from a portkey landing.

He supposed it was only a matter of practice. Perhaps he'd ask Cedric for advice on that.

"So what's the plan? Ya plan to carry the shoe around in ya robes during the trials?" Tracey asked with a cocked brow.

"It's still in development…" Harry sighed and scratched the back of his head as he made his way back to the shoe, "But right now, I just plan to make the portkey out of something small enough to fit in my pockets. Then I'll have it wrapped so that I don't accidentally activate it. When needed, I just rip the paper or whatever, and I'll be transported back to someplace safe, likely in the school."

Daphne looked curiously at the shoe, then at her boyfriend.

"So we're about to watch Harry break the law and use one of the Ministry's most well-guarded spells?"

"You're about to watch me break the law again." He clarified, an amused glint in his weary eyes.

"Delightful." She held both her hands in front of her and stuck her index fingers and thumbs out, mimicking a camera's viewfinder. She levelled it at Harry, getting both him and the shoe that sat in the back in the frame, before snapping an imaginary picture of the two.

Daphne then dropped her hands, looking slightly disappointed. She shook her head.

"You were right, Tracey. I should have asked Creevey for his camera. This would've made a great picture."

"I'd rather not have incriminating pictures of me openly going behind the Ministry's back. Thank you very much."

"Uh-huh…" Daphne said in a less-than-impressed tone, though her smirk showed she found it humorous. "And did you think no one was going to ask about how you suddenly vanished in the middle of the tournament if you needed to use it?"

"I… uh… Hm…" Harry was stumped at that, before he ultimately shrugged, "Ah, it's better than dying, I guess. Who knows. I might not even need to use it. I suppose I'll worry about that when it comes to it."

"I thought so too." She smiled before gesturing back at the shoe, "So you've got this down to a 'T' overnight?"

"Unfortunately not. I've only tried it once. So that's what those are here for." He gestured to the mattresses that had been laid out on the floor to prevent another painful incident.

It'd help cushion his fall, while also helping him to learn to perform a combat roll as he landed. He believed it was a valuable skill to pick up, even if it was a bit niche. He already knew how to do one with his feet on the ground. Now it was a matter of applying it while falling.

Getting the wind knocked out of him had shown Harry that he was incredibly vulnerable in such a position. At that point, he was basically free pickings for any would-be Dark Wizard to blast dead.

If he was in a situation where he was going to be practising how to land while being dropped out of the air, he might as well have taken the opportunity to pick up a new skill.

"Are you guys ready?" Harry asked as he held his hand over the shoe.

Tracey held her hands out defensively, shaking them at Harry.

"Don't ask us. We're not the ones taking it." Her words were said with a grin that looked a little too happy at the prospect of seeing Harry get tossed around.

"Best of luck, Harry. You've got this!" Hermione cheered him on, giving him two thumbs-up. Though it seemed she had taken quite a few steps back from where she had originally been standing. The look on her face now could only be described as 'uncertain reassurance'.

"Safe landings." Daphne said as she elegantly lowered herself down onto the stack of spare mattresses. It was just across from where he was expecting to end up. She patted the top of the mattresses as if to encourage him on where to land, "Try not to land on that cute face of yours."

Harry, amused by their responses, smiled at the three girls before he took a deep breath.

Closing his eyes, he pictured himself going through the same sensations, but this time, trying to land on his feet.

With that in mind, Harry opened his eyes and lowered his hand onto the shoe.

Once more, he felt his stomach drop and a sense of weightlessness engulfed his body.

Then he was picked up by his collar and lifted up, up, and away.

*O*O*O*

Harry Potter was asleep. Or at least, it seemed like he was.

He hadn't planned to, mind you. But after he had touched the portkey, he couldn't really remember what had happened after.

All he could remember was darkness.

And, now, well… he felt the softness of a bed.

Had he stuck his landing?

Surely he must have.

But… that didn't explain why he was asleep… nor why there were sheets from his chest down.

Wait… Was he tucked in?

He tried to open his eyes, to sit up, to move even a muscle. All attempts failed. It seemed his mind was awake, but not his body.

Though he wasn't fully conscious, he was starting to hear familiar voices talking around him.

Though deep in his sleep, Harry heard her worried sigh and felt his hair being gently brushed back by a warm, caring hand.

The first one that he could make sense of, Harry immediately recognised was Daphne's.

"...didn't think he'd actually land on his face."

Oh.

Well, that answered his question.

"The two of ya had matching broken noses. It was cute." Madame Pomfrey must've fixed whatever damage he did to his face, because he couldn't sense any sort of pain at all, "But all things considered, I thought that was a fantastic landing."

"This isn't the time for jokes, Davis."

"Relax, Granger. Ya heard Madam Pomfrey. She said it wasn't anything that serious."

"But he's still unconscious. I think we should be a little worried. Don't you think so too, Daphne?"

"I am… but I think he's just sleeping off all the fatigue." The warm hand gently caressed his forehead, gently tracing the scar etched into his skin. It tickled. "He's been running himself ragged since the night they drew his name. I don't think he's gotten a good night's rest since, or amy sleep fot that matter."

"He has been looking extra exhausted recently..." Hermione admitted, having also noticed the signs.

That was true. He had been spending so much time awake at night, lost in his thoughts over the very messy situation he was caught up in that he was struggling to find any sleep.

He'd been kept up till the wee hours of the morning by his thoughts, and when he finally shut his eyes out of sheer exhaustion, the few hours of sleep he got before he was required in classes only felt like mere minutes.

"...I heard from Seamus that he and Ron haven't spoken a word to each other since that night. Their fight must have been eating away at him."

"Weasley? Blech. The very mention of him is making me sick. I know we're in the infirmary, but let's not talk about him right now."

Before any other words on the matter could be traded…

"Ahem."

Someone else had cleared their throat suddenly. It was a new, much stricter voice, joining in on top of the others.

"Oh, Madam Pomfrey!" Hermione chirped in surprise at her intrusion.

"Excuse me, ladies. While your… friendship with Mr Potter is commendable, I would advise you to let him get his due rest. Besides, I'm sure your teacher would like to know that he's not going to be attending any classes today."

The implication of being asked to leave was not lost on them.

"Aw… Do we really have to, Madam Pomfrey?"

"Don't argue, Miss Davis." The older voice cut their protests off.

There was some mild-mannered grumbling from three separate voices, and Harry felt the weight around him shift as three weights lifted themselves off of the bed he was resting on.

Then the older woman's voice spoke up again.

"But you, Miss Greengrass…" There was a pause, "...You're looking rather pale. Perhaps you should stay a while too. Miss Granger and Miss Davis can inform your professor that you're feeling under the weather and will be staying here until you're right as rain. Healer's orders."

There was another pause as the words were considered.

"Sure thing, Madam Pomfrey. Thank you very much."

And just like that, Tracey and Hermione were ushered out by Madam Pomfrey, leaving Daphne alone with her boyfriend.

The healer spoke over her shoulder as she left the room with the two girls.

"Feel free to stay as long as you like, dear. I've given him a sleeping draught, but I think some company would do him some good too."

The older woman's parting remark was met with a thankful silence from Daphne. Harry assumed she had given their school's healer an appreciative smile.

He could hear the door to the infirmary swing shut, and, after a moment, Harry felt Daphne's form settling back down by his side.

He tried to open his mouth in an attempt to reach out but found that he really had no control of any part of himself.

Unaware that he was semi-conscious, Daphne began to softly inspect his face with her hands.

"How are you still so cute even while you're asleep?"

Moments passed, and then Harry felt a distinct sensation press up against his cheek.

It was Daphne… And she was giving him a very big kiss!

"That's me giving you some of my energy… But these ones are just for fun." A sly smile was evident in the naughty tone she wielded.

Pillow-soft lips began to lightly pepper his face with kisses as delicate as snowflakes, each one as sweet as honey as she did her best to impart as much as her love with each action.

Again and again, they kissed him all over. From the top of his forehead to the tip of his nose. Everywhere, sans his lips.

Even asleep, Harry felt like he was in heaven.

But despite being a happy recipient of his girlfriend's kisses, Harry desperately wanted to kiss her back. He was surprised he hadn't woken his body up from the sheer will of wanting to fulfil that desire.

He must've been even more tired than he thought.

After a few more kisses, she pulled away, and he felt her thumb carefully run itself over his lips as if inspecting them for the future.

She laughed.

"I can't kiss you there. Not yet at least. You'll have to earn that one." Daphne giggled, "It'll have to be romantic and…" Her voice was starting to warble and fade out, and it was clear he was falling back into being fully unconscious.

Harry did his best to fight against it, struggling fruitlessly to make sense of Daphne's muffled words.

But the overwhelming urge to sleep swallowed him, and he quickly fell back asleep.

*O*O*O*

Poppy Pomfrey returned to the infirmary an hour later to check up on the two students she had been housing, having intentionally given Miss Greengrass a pass to skip classes she knew the intelligent Slytherin girl didn't need.

After she had caught sight of the blonde girl gently brushing his hair as he slumbered, Poppy knew she had to let her stay by his side. So she had very obviously implied to the Slytherin to play along with faking a sickness in order for her to spend more time with the sleeping Gryffindor.

She might have been biased when it came to the two as the older witch had been expecting the two to have started dating sometime after the day Mr Potter had delivered Miss Greengrass to her office. She easily deduced it was her from reports of Mr Potter ferrying a mysterious blonde on his back that day.

From the way they playfully teased each other, it was crystal clear to Poppy, who had seen her fair share of couples in the decades she had served in Hogwarts, that the two had an underlying romantic interest in each other.

She hadn't the slightest clue whether the two had ended up together just yet, but she had also caught words from other students that the two had been spotted together at various places during their most recent trip to Hogsmeade. While the word of an immature student was about as flimsy as her faith in the Ministry, she did believe that this particular rumour may have had an inkling of truth to it.

It reminded the old witch of two particular students over a decade ago. Two students who just so happened to be Harry's parents.

Though seeing as Lily had only started giving James the time of day once he started to clean up his act, it seemed as though Harry was having far more luck with Daphne than his father did with his mother,

She could only assume they were seeing each other in secret given the clashing nature of their respective houses. If all that was true, and her intuition that they were already dating was to be believed, then she was more than happy to lend them a hand.

To Poppy, she was pleased by all this as it meant she would get to watch these two young lovers develop earlier and flourish over the years, eventually overcoming the divide between their two houses.

Or so she hoped, though rather dramatically.

Could you blame her? As a lonely old lady, who waited around all day for patients to treat, there wasn't really much else the witch could do to pass the time besides dream up intricate romantic scenarios for the couples in the school. And currently, Mr Potter and Miss Greengrass' relationship was the one she was most invested in.

In any case, she opened the door quietly and entered, only to find that all the curtains had been moved. They now surrounded the bed Harry had been using, shrouding it with privacy.

Curiously, she cocked a brow. Just what were they up to that required the use of a curtain?

Her mind thought back to catching dozens of older students red-handed over the years, lecturing their ears off for misusing the infirmary's beds as a private escape in Hogwarts to kiss or get frisky.

The sick bay was exclusively for the sick and unwell!

…And, well, sometimes they were also for students she favoured, like these two. Still, it didn't mean she approved of them using her beds to make out!

But surely they weren't that sort, were they?

The healer witch hastily made her way over on the tips of her toes, already readying up an earful for the two if they were using her infirmary to snog.

As she prepared herself to push the standing curtains aside, she realised that they weren't making any notable sounds…

In fact… taking a closer gander and peering through the crack of the curtains, she was met with an adorable sight.

Daphne had taken up residence on the same bed as Harry. She was curled up into his side like an affectionate cat would with their owner, while Harry's muscular arm had been draped behind her shoulder and protectively around her form.

Daphne had a very satisfied smile on her sleeping features, while the previously neutral look on the Gryffindor teen's face had been replaced by a look of pure bliss. Even in his unconscious state, seemingly spurred on by Daphne's physical affections, Harry seemed to know that she was by his side.

Poppy shook her head, smiling as she took a step back from the curtains with a pleased smile. She was incredibly delighted that she was correct in her assumptions.

Fine. She'd let them stay for as long as they needed.

*O*O*O*

Harry finally woke sometime later to the smell of chicken.

As his eyes fluttered open, the first thing he noted from his position on the bed was the sea of enchanted, floating candles high above him, illuminating the infirmary's ceiling with a dim glow.

Given how dark the sky was, as well as the soft white glow that emanated from the windows, Harry guessed it was sometime late at night.

Had he really slept through the whole day? Damn.

Then his stomach grumbled, reminding him that he had not only missed lunch but dinner too.

But then why was there the smell of food?

He sat up slowly, his body stiff from a full day of sleeping in. But he was feeling a lot better like the fatigue had been washed off him. And his head felt like it had been emptied out and cleaned thoroughly.

The headache that had been plaguing him over the last few days was now gone. Even if he was still a bit foggy at the moment from the deep sleep, Harry hadn't felt this good in the last week.

He noted that his robes and tie had been removed and were set aside neatly, but they had opted to leave his glasses on since he hadn't shifted around in his sleep.

"Good 'night', sleeping beauty." Daphne suddenly greeted her boyfriend, who turned to the sound of her voice instantly. "Glad you're finally up."

Lit up by the waning moon and the orange glow of the lamp that sat on the nightstand, he could see that she was smiling at him from her seat on the bed next to his. She had been reading in the dark, and had only just noticed he had woken up.

Much like himself, she had shed her robes and tie, comfortable with simply wearing the school's white collared tee and shin-length skirt. Even with such casual wear, Daphne still managed to effortlessly look like a sophisticated aristocrat.

"Hey, Daphne." Harry lifted the glasses to rest on the top of his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose, which was starting to ache, "You're a sight for sore eyes."

"You too." Her radiant smile turned sly. Snapping the book shut, she set it aside on the corner of the bed by the pillow, "And just when I was starting to get lonely."

"Surely you jest." Harry lowered his glasses back down and returned the smile, his eyes twinkling with a surprising sharpness. "I think I make for great company — even when I'm asleep."

"Don't give yourself too much credit, Harry. You're a lot more boring when that witty mouth of yours isn't open." Daphne gave him a cheeky grin and stuck her tongue out at him playfully.

Even with the fog in his head, Harry was still quick to reply.

"Oh really? You didn't seem that bored when you were showering me with kisses." Harry stuck his tongue back out at her in return, watching as his girlfriend's jaw dropped.

Even under the dim lighting, Harry could tell Daphne's face had quickly been awash with red, her eyes widening.

"You were awake for that?!"

"Sort of. But I sure am glad I was." Harry laughed, a sound that Daphne found she had missed quite dearly over the last few days, "Some fun you were having, huh? You'll get what you deserve soon enough."

Daphne covered her face with her hands at Harry's threat of punishment and from having been caught red-handed. She looked like a child who had just been spotted by their parent with their hand in the cookie jar.

"It was just a little… 'motivation' for you to get better." The words motivation were punctuated with her fingers doing air quotes.

Harry waggled a finger at Daphne for getting caught. She looked like she wanted the Earth to open up and swallow her whole.

"Trust me, I tried my best to get up then. You have no idea how badly I wanted to kiss you right back."

Daphne lowered her hands, her embarrassment seemingly shoved aside. She gave Harry a taunting smirk accompanied by a challenging gaze, the blush still heavy on her face.

"Ha! You're more than welcome to try, Potter." She paused, her face slipping into a small frown, "...But it'll have to wait."

"What?! Why?" Harry looked aghast at her response.

"Don't be silly." She glanced over to the nightstand between them. A plate of food sat on the short table that flanked each patient's bed, "You have dinner to eat. Well, I suppose it's technically 'supper' now."

Oh. That explained the smell.

The plate was filled with half a roasted chicken, accompanied by an ear of corn, which sat on a bed of mashed potatoes with a bundle of green beans on the side. It was all doused with a light layer of savoury, brown gravy.

The food had clearly been sitting there for a while and was subsequently cold, but to a starving Harry, it still looked as good as it had been hours ago.

He snapped his head back at Daphne, appreciation visible in his features. He was staring at her like he would a goddess.

"You stayed with me the whole day, kissed me loads in my sleep, and you got me dinner?" Harry asked as he smiled, "Could a guy ask for a better girl to call 'his'?"

"Either boys are surprisingly easy to please, or you have terribly low standards, Harry. But—"

"—I think it's a bit of both—"

"—you are correct nonetheless." Daphne ignored his grinning face, gesturing to her chest grandly and with a level of faux-arrogance befitting Slytherin's top student, "I'm as good as they get. Crème de la crème."

"Cram bella cram?" He repeated in a terrible imitation of Daphne's French accent, which his obvious English accent easily shone through.

"Close enough." The two shared a laugh at that before Harry returned back to what she had been saying.

"You're the best, Daphne. Seriously. Don't know what I'd be doing now without you. I'd probably only have Hermione to rely on." Harry's tone sounded a lot more sincere as if his appreciation of her wasn't already obvious enough. "But now, I've got Tracey, and even Astoria there too. Thank you, Daphne."

"It takes a village to raise a child. Or in this case, an unwitting hero. Besides, someone's got to look after you. I'm just happy it's me." Daphne was very, very pleased that Harry was relying on her and was voicing his appreciation for her efforts.

Hearing how appreciative he was of her delighted Daphne endlessly. Not that it changed anything, but it made it all the more worthwhile to have been looking after him in his time of need.

"Now, you better get to eating. You must be starving."

"I am." He admitted. Even without having eaten for the entire day, at least he seemed far more energized than he had been in the past week.

Not the least bit surprising to either of them considering he had missed both lunch and dinner. Then he bore a look that seemed like something had come to mind, before sighing.

"Alright, I suppose I'll postpone your punishment until after dinner." He relented, sounding disappointed at having to wait. It was as if Daphne had given him no choice in this matter.

She scoffed in response.

"Oh no, Mister." Daphne stopped his idea with a shake of her head, "You are not going to be kissing me tonight with chicken breath!"

A look of conflict flickered across his face for the briefest of moments before he shrugged and gave her his most mischievous grin.

"I guess I'll have to do it now then!"

"Uwwaahh!"

An unprepared Daphne uncharacteristically squealed with surprise as Harry leapt out from under the covers at her like he was the Big Bad Wolf, and her, Red Riding Hood.

She barely had any time to react as he lunged at her, intending to reciprocate the action she had done to him in his sleep by at least twofold.

As lightly as he could, Harry tackled his girlfriend down. The bed bounced and creaked loudly as both sank back into the cushy mattress she was seated on. Harry had managed to wrap one arm around Daphne's head to prevent it from whipping back as they fell onto the bed and used the other next to her shoulder to prop himself up.

Her hands automatically moved to Harry's chest and his waist, as if she were trying to help keep him from falling onto her.

With their eyes now peering into each other's, Daphne couldn't help but recall the memory of the first time they had come into the infirmary two months ago. The moment she had accidentally yanked him on top of her when insisting for him to take a seat.

It had played out similarly enough, with Harry on top of her once again.

She distinctly remembered trying her best not to blink when he had been staring down into her eyes, oddly worried that he'd devour her up right there and then.

Well… now here she was excitedly anticipating it.

It was clear Harry was too, based on the growing eagerness in those sharp green eyes of his.

Pressed up against the left side of his chest, she could feel his relaxed heart rate ramping up. Her own heart was starting to beat faster too at the coming prospect of being kissed, hammering away in her chest with rapid thumps.

The intimate tension that had been building up between the two was sliced with their hushed whispers.

"...We end up in this position a lot, huh, Greengrass?"

"...I'm not complaining, Potter..."

Seeing that she shared the same yearning in her voice, Harry dropped all pretence of self-control and, without waiting for a second longer, began his siege on her defences.

He started from the corner of her jaw, making his way across. Daphne couldn't help but draw in a sharp breath at the tender sensation and the influence Harry seemed to have over her.

Like a woodpecker drilling through the trunk of a tree, Harry lightly bobbed his head back and forth with a big smile on his face as he planted a trail of kisses along Daphne's sharp jawline. It was a silly look, one that Daphne thought to be extremely funny, though any attempts made to voice her opinions were stopped by her own giggles and gasps.

She squirmed happily under him as she felt him trace the line between her neck and her lower jaw with gentle pecks. Her hands dropped back to the bed, grabbing a handful of sheets in an attempt to control herself.

"Oh, Harry! What about —HA!— the —HAHA!— food?" Daphne protested through her fit of uncontrolled laughter. It was a mixture of amusement at her boyfriend's enthusiasm, the ridiculousness of the situation, and the way his lips brushed up against and tickled her skin.

"The —HA! HAHA!— food's going to —HAHAHA!— it's going to get cold!" Daphne was completely helpless as she was smothered in his kisses, melting like warmed butter from Harry's fiery-hot ministrations.

Between smouldering kisses and through grinning teeth, Harry barely managed to get his own words out.

"It's already… cold… I'm sure… it can wait… a little longer…"

Pressed up against her sensitive skin, his murmurs only served to tickle her more, eliciting more laughter from the girl whose peers had considered to be emotionally frigid.

If only they saw her now.

Her eyes were cast to the ceiling in a half-lidded daze, a giddy smile on her face, struggling to find breath as Harry buried her in an avalanche of his love.

The hand that had protected her head moments ago also began to gently scratch at her scalp, sending even more pleasurable sensations to her brain and making her skin tingle.

Daphne appreciated that she was lying down for this experience. If she had been standing, Harry's actions would've sent her teetering and collapsing from wobbly knees a long time ago. Everything he was doing in combination was draining her strength.

Not that Daphne was complaining. She was loving every bit of love and attention her handsome, loving boyfriend was giving her.

Was this how he had felt earlier? It probably felt better now while she was fully conscious to enjoy it. No wonder he was so happy about returning the favour.

Daphne now understood what Harry meant when he said he wanted to kiss her back desperately. Being forced to lie there and not kiss him back was almost akin to torture!

A very ticklish torture!

Moments later, he stopped and lowered himself down beside her.

"W—Wait… Heheh… I need—need a second… I'm laughing… Heh… way too much…" Daphne held her hands out and begged, all while snickering tiredly.

Harry had the biggest smile on his face as he obliged and gave Daphne a moment to catch her shuddering breath.

The poor Slytherin looked like she had just run a mile in a minute even though all she was doing was lying there and receiving his kisses and tickles.

In her defence, it was hard, overwhelming work! She didn't think she had ever laughed this much in her life!

Leave it to the boy she loved so dearly to bring this level of joy out of her.

"It's nice seeing you cut back like this." Harry commented, gently brushing the loose hairs out of her face as they lay facing each other.

"What can I… say? No boy makes me this happy… but you're one of my biggest weaknesses…" She wheezily whispered.

"I'm one of your weaknesses? What other weaknesses does one of the brightest witches in Hogwarts have?"

"Surely you must have noticed by now." Having gotten most of her breathing under control, Daphne replied back with a chortle, all while moving her arms up and wrapping them around Harry's neck to bring them closer to each other.

"Noticed what?" He whispered, now practically nose to nose with her.

"That I have a penchant for being surrounded by idiots." Her mumbled comment had no spite in it, merely teasing her boyfriend, "I swear. You, Tracey, and Astoria all share the same brain cell."

"Okay. First of all: ouch." He suppressed his laughter, "Third of all, we have at least two brain cells amongst the three of us."

"And what's the second one?" She asked, chuckling.

Harry put on a silly face, his mouth ajar and his eyes glazed over, much like a dullard's.

"What second one?" He said in a mocking drawl, pretending to have no clue what she was talking about.

The sheets ruffled further as Daphne threw her head back and laughed.

"You're so stupid!" She lightly shoved him in the chest, and his face snapped back to normal.

"We're both in agreement then. Besides, Daphne, your theory isn't technically true if you count Hermione."

"There's always an exception to the rule." She shrugged, "The statistics still show that my friends are 75% 'dummies'."

"And yet, it's always the dummies that seem to make you laugh."

"God," Daphne sounded astonished for a second, "I don't know how you people do it. I might be turning into one of you idiots too."

"The more the merrier." Then Harry smirked before he tenderly stroked the back of her head, absently playing with her golden locks, "You know, I could get used to hearing you giggle. It's a lovely sound."

At that, Daphne's eyes narrowed further. She matched him with an equally coy smirk, choosing to egg him on further despite the situation she was in.

"You're going to have to kiss me more then."

"Now that — I'm more than happy to oblige."

Seeing that her breathing was regulated, he mercilessly pulled her back in and picked up from where he left off.

The infirmary was once again filled with the sounds of laughter and shrill shrieks as Daphne received a dozen more smooches.

"Wait! T—The curtains… Hah!" Daphne said exhaustedly, her hands tiredly gesturing to the space beside them.

"...What about them?" Harry looked at the area around them as per her gesture, temporarily halting the flurry that pinned Daphne down.

The standing curtains had been set aside by Daphne earlier when she had gone to get dinner for herself and Harry. If anyone walked into the infirmary, they'd see the two on the bed clear as day.

"Someone might see…"

"At this time? Unlikely." Harry brushed aside her concerns, "You should be more worried about yourself, Greengrass. You still got plenty more kisses to go through before we're through here."

Daphne had bravely tried to tell Harry to 'Do your worst, Potter', but it had unfortunately come out of her mouth as nothing more than mumbled gibberish.

It was almost as if she was getting intoxicated from his lips making contact with her skin.

Could one get drunk off of love?

If so, this was what it probably felt like.

And they hadn't even kissed each other on the lips yet.

She wanted their first real kiss to be a romantic one, which she was thankful that Harry seemed to be aware of, and respected.

She understood that it was a bit silly considering the rather raunchy situation she was in now, but Daphne wanted it to be a memory that would brand itself into her brain forever. One that would stick to her so well that she couldn't even choose to ever forget — even if she was obliviated.

Not that she had any plans to lose her memories, of course.

Their first real kiss… If both of them were reacting like this now, it'd probably blow both their minds when they finally got around to it. Daphne couldn't even imagine what sort of state she'd be left in if they had been making out mouth-to-mouth all this time.

Still, Daphne briefly wondered if one could get addicted to kisses, which she was sure she had after this session.

But it wouldn't take long before she lost her train of thought as Harry delivered a few more pecks to her cheek.

*O*O*O*

From her personal room next to her office in the infirmary, Madam Pomfrey could hear the faint sounds emanating from two rooms over.

It seemed the two students she still housed in her infirmary were finally both up and about. And they were making enough noise that she could hear it past the walls of her office.

Currently dressed in a comfy set of baggy pyjamas and a sleeping cap, fitting for a woman her age, Poppy had half a mind to step out and reprimand the two for the racket they were making.

But she stopped herself as she gripped the doorknob that led out to her office, which would have led to the infirmary.

Did she really want to interrupt the time the two were spending clearly having fun together?

Even with the reassurances made by Dumbledore about the new safety measures they had installed for the new tournament, Poppy had a gut feeling that it was still going to be deadly and dangerous. After all, Harry had already been unexpectedly called upon as one of Hogwarts' champions, even when he wasn't supposed to have been able to compete.

Rumours of tampering by a potentially malicious third party were already being shared around by the rest of the staff, which was even less reassuring to Hogwarts' healer.

Having tended to the boy's many injuries and wounds over the course of the last four years, Poppy knew that the chance of death always seemed to loom over Harry Potter, and this year seemed no different.

Poppy sighed with a smile as she released her grip on the door and returned to her bed.

Tucking herself in, she supposed she could give them a pass tonight.

Young love was a pure, beautiful, and very fleeting thing. And if this was one of the few bright spots for the boy before he had to tackle the trials, then who was she to take it away from him?

She could afford to let them have their fun for now.

After all, Harry Potter deserved to catch a break once in a while.

*O*O*O*

By the time the early morning had rolled around, Harry's internal alarm clock sounded exactly one and a half hours before classes would start for the day.

He had developed it as part of his routine back when he was still consistently exercising, and never really got rid of it as it helped with basic levels of discipline.

He yawned, feeling his jaw click as it stretched. Green eyes opened drearily, staring up into the ceiling that now had a lot fewer candles than before.

It was clearly still dark out as the sun still had not yet risen, but what few candles overhead provided enough light for him to see.

Having slept all of yesterday, Harry hadn't slept much last night.

After his punishment for Daphne, he proceeded to polish off the cold, yet delicious, meal that she had brought him.

When she had sufficiently recovered from the onslaught of kisses sent her way, the two had spent the time leisurely chatting while lounging together on his bed.

While Daphne eventually fell back asleep beside him, Harry spent the rest of the time that he was awake gently caressing his girlfriend's hair as he enjoyed the warmth she provided.

Ultimately though, he dozed off, taking a short nap until his internal alarm sounded.

Today was a Saturday, and being a student of Hogwarts meant that there were still half a day's worth of classes, unless there was a special occasion. Even as a champion of Hogwarts, Harry was still expected to attend classes even if he wasn't going to be tested on any of them.

Briefly, Harry wondered about last night's events. It had been so wonderful he was almost afraid it had been all but a dream.

From the way his lips still felt a little sore, it was obvious that it was very much real.

Plus, the feeling of pins and needles in his numb arm told him Daphne was still resting on it.

Still on his back, Harry tilted his head over to the right and broke out into a wide, sleepy grin as he took in the sight before him.

Sharing the same small bed, he had Daphne wrapped around the shoulder in one arm while the pretty Slytherin had one of hers thrown over his chest, resting her head against his shoulder whilst hugging him. She was basically using him as her bolster.

Much like himself, Daphne was still dressed in her uniform from last night, though it was a little dishevelled from their little romp. One of the buttons from the top had been undone by accident, something neither of them had noticed until now.

With a button undone and at the angle she lay against him, Harry accidentally realized that he could see down her blouse with ease.

In the few seconds it took for him to fully realise what he was looking at, he had caught sight of some of the facets of Daphne's body that made his breath hitch.

First was her slender neckline and the set of delicate collarbones, which jutted out from under her pale skin like snowy, rolling hills.

When thinking back to this moment, Harry didn't know why he felt the indescribable urge to nibble on and kiss her collarbone.

Perhaps some of the canine aspects from Sirius were rubbing off on him.

There was also a barely visible scar just under her right collarbone where a deep gash seemed to have healed some time ago. It was a patch of ever-so slightly discoloured skin. If he hadn't been looking so intensely, he likely would've missed it. Harry wondered what had caused that, but he couldn't exactly ask and find out.

The next thing he saw was the olive-coloured bra that clung tightly to her chest, which was currently pressed into his ribs. Having just woken up, Harry hadn't really registered the soft sensations of Daphne's breasts up until now, but suddenly found his face burning once he finally noticed.

Suddenly, he was feeling a little more… awake.

It wasn't the first time he had felt them press up against him, but in this situation, it was a lot different! And it being his first time actually seeing a girl's bra and cleavage in person, he was becoming a little stunned at the sight.

Especially when it was Daphne of all people.

Much like any other teen his age, Harry's reaction was not unsurprising. He couldn't explain it but, as a hot-blooded male, there was something entrancing to him about the valley that formed between her budding bosom.

After a few seconds more, Harry quickly averted his eyes away from her vulnerable figure when he finally realised what he was doing. Breathing out a heavy sigh, he shut his eyes and silently reprimanded himself for staring as long as he had.

Even if they were dating, it didn't feel right to the teen to be looking without Daphne's knowledge.

Perhaps when they grew more intimate in the future, that'd be acceptable, but right now Harry was feeling bad, and even a little embarrassed. It felt like he was breaching the trust and security Daphne put in him.

It definitely didn't help that Daphne was still very much unaware and asleep.

Then, doing his best not to look, he gingerly reached his free arm over and pinched her undone button with his index finger and thumb. Using a great deal of care and pin-point precision, as if he were defusing a bomb, Harry slowly assisted her by buttoning it back into place, covering her chest back up.

Wiping the sweat off his brow, Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he willed his excited heart to settle back down.

Warm green eyes returned to the sleeping girl's face, watching her sleep peacefully for a few more moments.

He wished things could stay like this.

Just him and Daphne, cuddling without a care in the world.

Though he'd like to continue lying in bed with her, every second they stayed put increased the likelihood of someone just walking in and catching them.

Plus, they ought to put everything back the way it was before Madam Pomfrey bore witness to the small mess they had made.

So, rather reluctantly, it was time for him to wake her.

"Rise and shine, Daphne." Harry leaned in and gave her a short peck on her forehead, giving her a light shake as he pulled away.

At that, the blonde began to stir from her sleep, groaning as she peeled herself off of Harry.

As she sat up, Harry could see that her straight blonde hair which was usually kept in a pristine, combed condition, even in her sleep, was a mess. It stood up, frizzy and frazzled like she had been zapped by a bolt of lightning, a result of a night's worth of kissing, cuddling, and sleeping against him.

Daphne raised her hands to the skies and stretched, releasing a strained moan as she did.

Harry, once again, found his eyes moving on their own accord over to her waist, where her shirt was now riding up her lower back.

"Wow…" Harry's words were pulled from his mouth at the sight.

He had an ample view of her slim midriff from behind, as well as her dimples of Venus, which were the two small indentations in her lower back, right above her butt.

A few seconds later, she dropped her hands back down to her face and rubbed the remaining sleep out of her eyes. Her lips smacked together, and she made a scrunched face at the foul taste in her mouth.

"How was the sleep?" Harry asked.

She grunted in response as she dropped her hands to her side, staring grumpily at her boyfriend.

"…You make for a terrible pillow, Harry. It's like sleeping on a bag of rocks." Voicing her complaints, she began prodding him in the chest with a finger. As much as she liked the feeling of the dense muscles he concealed under his shirt, it certainly did not make for a good place to rest for hours.

Harry looked overly bemused at her statement, sarcastically rubbing his chin and pretending to look at the ceiling, deep in thought.

"I distinctly remember offering you the pillow last night, but you were too busy slobbering over the idea of sleeping on me to take up my offer."

At that, Daphne seemed to shed all the sleepiness in an instant.

"I did not slobb—!" She exclaimed in a burst of defensive embarrassment, but she stopped short, sighed deeply, and composed herself.

She knew that she had indeed been a little too… excited the night before at the prospect.

And yes, perhaps it may have had to do with fulfilling recent dreams she had of sharing a bed with him. While it wasn't as comfy as she hoped, it was still a lovely experience in her books.

Still, Daphne didn't want to give Harry that satisfaction of being right. She knew he'd tease her endlessly for it, and it was a little too early in the morning for that.

And… not that it mattered… but if she really had to pick a word, Daphne thought that the term 'relishing' was far more akin to what she had done last night.

'Slobbering' sounded far too uncouth…

…Again, not that it mattered.

"...I recall no such thing." She vehemently denied with a harrumph, throwing her nose up in the air with playful indignance, much to Harry's amusement.

"As you say, 'Your Majesty'." Harry remarked with a grin, "Rest assured that I will promptly be filing your complaints with Supervisor Davis."

Daphne gave a single mirthless chuckle at that idea as she hopped off the bed, all the while using her fingers to comb her messy hair back. Then, seemingly out of thin air, she produced a rubber band and after a moment of fiddling, tied her hair up into a loose and messy ponytail.

"Don't even get Tracey started on what happened last night. She'd never let me hear the end of it." She didn't know if she could survive another interrogation from her best friend.

Still, Daphne was going to privately enjoy reliving the memories in her dreams. Just thinking back to said events was already making her face heat up.

Harry copied his girlfriend and lifted himself off the bed, stretching and dusting himself off.

"In any case, we better put everything back before Madam Pomfrey wakes up." He suggested, to which Daphne nodded.

They set to work, moving the curtains back to their original locations in tandem, and using their wands to clean the place up. Daphne settled the floors, while Harry cleaned the bed and the nightstand.

After a moment, the two beds and their sheets were cleaned, straightened out, and impeccable as per the standards expected by Madam Pomfrey in her infirmary.

Satisfied with the bed, Harry looked over to the nightstand.

There, Daphne's book and his supper plate, now just filled with bones and his used cutlery, sat on the nightstand next to their neatly folded robes, each topped with their respective ties.

Harry simply cast a quick scourgify, and the bones were banished. Waving his wand over the oily plate and dirty cutleries once more, it quickly bathed them in a wave of invisible soap. They were immediately washed and dried, now sitting squeaky clean as if they were never touched.

When Daphne was done with the floors, she walked over to Harry, who was leaning lazily on the nightstand with his arms across his chest.

"We make a pretty good team." Harry whistled as he looked at the place around them. It was spotless.

"Only realising that now, Potter?" Daphne laughed as she stood beside him. She plucked their ties off of the robes they sat on, and handed him the silver-green one.

Harry gave her a curious look, but still took the Slytherin tie without question.

"Here. You help me and I'll help you."

Harry was about to mention that they didn't need to put their ties on just yet but quickly shut his mouth when he realised it was just one last excuse for them to be physically intimate with each other.

He wasn't about to pass up on the opportunity for one last excuse to get handsy with her.

They slipped the ties around the back of each other's necks and began to help the other tie the slip of cloth to the best of their abilities.

Throughout the process, they giggled and squirmed as tickles and pokes were traded with each other. Harry had gotten so distracted that he had even accidentally tied Daphne's tie wrongly.

Eventually, though, they got it right and separated.

By his estimations, there was about slightly over an hour before classes would start for the day. And they still had to shower and eat breakfast. He was planning to do the latter first, returning the utensils back to the kitchens at the same time.

He held Daphne's open robes behind her. Daphne thanked him and slipped into it effortlessly, buttoning the top shut while Harry threw his on.

"Alright, I'm going to go get showered..." She gave herself a quick sniff, and then she sniffed Harry before she crinkled her nose ever so slightly.

"Do I smell bad?" He pulled his collar forward and gave himself a check too.

"No… it's… actually it's not bad."

Harry had an earthy musk to him, smelling like a forest after the rain. Mossy trees with wet mud and grass came to her mind.

It was a nice, refreshing smell.

"Still, it's no excuse to not take a shower." Daphne reminded him as they started to walk out of the infirmary, the plate and cutlery in Harry's hand and the book she was reading last night in hers.

"A hot shower does sound good right now..."

"I'm sure you're just raring to go after a whole day of sleeping."

Harry opened his mouth as if to say something, but seemed to consider his words before shutting it.

After another moment, he smiled warmly at her, reaching out to take her hands into his.

"This was nice… I really needed this." He leaned in and gave her one final, passionate kiss right between her brow, "Thank you again for sticking around for me, Daphne."

When he leaned back out, he saw that she was biting her lower lip, looking rather demure with a soft pink hue in her cheeks.

"You're welcome. I know you'd have done the same for me." Daphne returned the peck at his jaw, giving him an earnest smile as she leaned back out of it.

That much she was correct about. Harry would have undoubtedly found some way to have spent the whole day in the infirmary — though with how often he got injured, it wasn't like he had to try very hard to accomplish that.

Letting her go, he waved her goodbye as she started moving off.

"I'll see you later in class then, Daphne."

Her feet were already carrying her towards the Slytherin dungeons, but she spun around and gave him a big wave as she continued to walk backwards.

"See you then, Harry!"

Harry watched her disappear down the turn of the corridor before he shut his eyes and took a deep breath.

It had taken less than a few seconds, but Harry assessed the state of his body in that time. He tried and sensed for any sort of issues, but found that he was right as rain.

He breathed out.

Opening his eyes slowly, Harry hummed contently.

He really was feeling a lot better than before.

It really was as though the pressure that had been weighing down around his shoulders had just rolled right off. While it likely had to do with the sleep, the time he had spent with Daphne had also been plenty rejuvenating.

Despite knocking himself out for the better part of yesterday, it still somehow turned out to have been a great day. After a full day's rest and plenty of time spent in the company of his beloved girlfriend, Harry was feeling like his usual self again.

Harry was feeling good. Really good. Good enough that it felt like he could take on any problem, short of a Dark Lord, head-on now.

Sure, there were still loads of things to be worried about, and he still had to work on his landing using the portkey, but now that his head was cleared, Harry only had one thing on his mind.

Breakfast.

He had a million galleon grin as he stepped out of the infirmary. Whistling a cheerful tune, he slowly strolled towards the hall, eager to fill his belly up with a hearty breakfast.

Today was already shaping up to be a good day too.

*O*O*O*

Chapter 9: End

*O*O*O*

Important A/N:

Hello dear readers.

I was planning to have Daphne settle the issue with Viktor in the chapter but figured it couldn't really fit in well with what it turned out to be. No promises, but we'll probably see it in the next.

But yeah, if it wasn't obvious enough in this chapter, I don't intend on having anyone come between the main two. So you honestly don't need to worry.

Do expect some minor Ron bashing though. Nothing egregious, I don't think. Just some minor stuff.

I've also received feedback about my use of italics to identify flashbacks, so I might be switching it up in the future. Do let me know your thoughts on that if you have any.

Also, I hope the whole portkey-making process makes sense. I don't think it's fleshed out at all in canon, and I'm not exactly the most creative when it comes to the whole magic stuff, but I figured whatever I came up with was suitable enough.

Edit: I've been reminded that Dumbledore created a portkey very easily in canon, which I did know through researching it about a month and a half ago (though I forgot about it after), but I changed it because... well, it just seemed a little too convenient that an extremely useful but highly regulated Ministry spell could be so easily cast and used, but was not done so in canon. Just wanted to make it a bit more challenging than just casting 'portus' on an object and working.

Less Important A/N:

Apologies for taking so long with this current chapter, which is my longest unbroken chapter thus far.

Even though I've got the main plans and outlines written down, I've been getting quite a lot of Writer's Block when it comes to the stuff that I'm winging, which is like 80% of my chapters most of the time. But it's been particularly bad this time around, hence the late update.

I've been forcing myself to pen down whatever comes to mind before coming back for lots and lots of revisions. Lots of bad writing and lots of revisions.

Sorry for rehashing the infirmary setting. I wanted to do a follow-up to the start of the story. I'll definitely try to do better and incorporate different parts of the school in the next one.

I don't know if I'm just being critical of my own writing, but I don't think that my writing is satisfactory in this chapter (especially in the latter half), and I'm not entirely pleased with it myself but I figured I just needed to get this out there because if not I'll just be hung up over it doing revisions endlessly.

I wouldn't say I'm burnt out as I still really enjoy writing, but I think my lack of creativity is likely also due to the fact that I've stopped reading fics since I started writing, which might have contributed to my Block. I'm looking to going back to reading after this chapter gets uploaded.

Anyway, sorry for the spiel. This is mostly just me penning down my thoughts at the time of uploading this chapter, and mostly for self-reflection. I'm looking forward to improving and doing better for the future chapters.

As always, your honest feedback is always appreciated.

Thanks, and have a great week ahead.