Disclaimer: It's JKR's world and I will be using it heavily this time around. Enjoy. It's J.K Rowling's stable of characters, settings, and ideas; not mine. I've never profited from my writings and frankly never plan to.
The next morning as Harry and Hermione ate breakfast together, they took advantage of the quiet in the great hall early in the morning to sit up their schedule for studying and working on the first task. In the quiet of the morning an unusual owl flew into the still fairly empty great hall, and dropped a letter in Harry's lap.
Your letter about your entry in the tournament is bothersome, especially when put into consideration with your visions and the events at the world cup. I can't risk being seen with you in public but meet me in the common room at midnight on November 22nd and we can talk about everything. I have spoken to Dumbledore and he has recommended a spot where I can be closer to you. Keep me up to date if you have any more visions.
Harry and Hermione read the letter together and after some discussion decided they would both meet Sirius the night of the twenty-second. The next several days went by quickly as Harry patiently waited until the night he could see Sirius again and filled his days with vast amounts of studying and practicing spells for the first task.
Harry had found himself pleasantly surprised as to how much he enjoyed the time he spent with Hermione; in fact he enjoyed it much more than he ever had in the past. Harry found out that Hermione had a much better sense of humor then he ever would have thought, as they shared many quiet laughs about all things magic and muggle alike, in the library. The training for the first task often involved sessions that lasted well into the night allowing both Harry and Hermione to see a side of the other they never would have expected. Hermione found that Harry was almost a genius as to how he used magic and was surprisingly gentle, while Harry found that Hermione was a far gentler and feminine person than she normally let on in class or in the common room.
They also both noticed that Viktor Krum had begun to spend a lot of time in the library with the girls from his fan club, as he would steal glances at Hermione and alternate in some scowls for Harry. Hermione was smart enough to understand that Viktor was interested in her but she was holding out hope that Harry would ask her to the ball and with each passing day she felt her wish might come true.
Finally one day Hermione had seen enough of Viktor in her sanctuary, and she whispered angrily to Harry, "That's it Harry, I can't stand that stupid brute and his staring anymore. I don't even see what girls see in him anyways. I mean he isn't that handsome, and all he is famous for is that stupid wonky faint."
Harry began to laugh softly, which in turn caused Hermione to turn at him and glare. Harry's smile evaporated, before he said, "It's called the Wronski Feint Hermione, but I think the wonky faint sounds much funnier."
Hermione began to giggle quietly as she said, "Yeah I guess it does, doesn't it?" Harry nodded as his smile returned before she conversationally said, "I bet you'd rather be talking Quiditch with Ron right now, than talking with me in the library wouldn't you?"
Harry suddenly felt a voice in his head telling him to tell her how he felt as he said, "Hermione, I've realized since my name came out of the goblet that you are much more important to me than Ron has ever been. Don't get me wrong Hermione, I enjoy talking with Ron; but when things get serious, he tends to flake out a little. Hermione, you on the other hand, you have always been there for me, even if I have been too thick to realize it in the past." Harry took Hermione's warm hand into his own as he looked into her bright brown eyes and said, "Hermione you are my best friend by far, never doubt that, because I never will."
Hermione blushed and could only reply, "Thanks Harry, you have no idea how much that means to me." Harry smiled at Hermione brightly and they both went back into their homework ignoring Krum the rest of the day.
Finally, the day of Sirius' meeting had arrived, and after breakfast Harry and Hermione walked together to class. Transfiguration went very well that day and Professor McGonagall held Harry after class to discuss something of interest.
McGonagall's face appeared softer than normal as she said, "Well Mr. Potter, I see your work has been improving lately, am I to guess that you have finally begun to take Ms. Grangers advice in applying yourself more to your studies?' Harry nodded and she continued, "Very good Mr. Potter. The other thing I wished to speak to you about, is, that as a Tri-wizard champion, you are required to have a date for the Yule ball. Each champion is also required to take part in the ceremonial first dance with his or her dates. Mr. Potter, I suggest you get a date soon Mr. Potter, typically the best dates are gone quickly."
Harry immediately began thinking of what girl he could take to the ball. Earlier in the year Harry had wanted to ask Cho Chang to the ball, but since the fateful day outside of Snape's class, he had found himself thinking more and more about Hermione in a way beyond friendship. In fact on occasion he had even started stealing glances at her while she read in the common room at night. Harry found the entire experience of falling for his best friend to be both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. It was thrilling because he had never really experienced similar feelings before and it led him to the same conclusion over and over again, he was in love with Hermione. He knew what a crush felt like because he had suffered through one with Cho for the first couple of months of the school year. The thing with how he felt about Hermione was that he didn't feel out of control like he had with Cho. In fact, every ounce of his being told him that it was right and the little voice in his head made sure to chime in its approval of the idea as well. The part that terrified him was that if Hermione didn't share his feelings he ran the risk of potentially ruining his one constant friend with any residual awkwardness that would be sure to follow. In the end, Harry mentally decided that he would have to be honest with himself and take a chance or he would regret it for the rest of his life.
As Harry had his mental struggle and reached his conclusion, he didn't even notice when McGonagall had stopped talking about his responsibilities for the ball, but he did finally realize it when she had started to look at him strangely, before she said, "Are you ok Mr. Potter?"
Harry nodded and his face broke out into a big genuine smile thankful that he had found the answer to Professor McGonagall's challenge. Professor McGonagall responded with a smile and a nod, as she dismissed Harry. Of course, Hermione had patiently waited for Harry as had become their mutual custom of late, before they went to their next class.
Hermione looked at Harry's nervous countenance concernedly before she softly asked, "What did she want, Harry?"
Harry sighed and said, "She told me she was happy that my work has improved in her class, and I told her it was largely thanks to your help." Hermione blushed at the praise but Harry ignored it because he needed to keep his nerve for his potentially daring gambit ahead.
Harry then forlornly added with a small frown, "She also reminded me that I still need to get a date for the Yule Ball. I need to have a date for the ceremonial first dance and I have no bloody clue how to even begin to dance."
Hermione looked at Harry strangely for a second before she said, "Harry, as much as you don't want to deal with either of those things you really need to as an ambassador of the school." Hermione's expression became guarded before she asked, "Do you still plan on asking Cho Chang to the ball?"
Harry looked Hermione in the eye and replied, "No Hermione, I don't think I will. I've realized lately there are more important things about a person than just being pretty. In fact, I think I've begun to fall for someone far prettier and nicer than Cho ever will be. She is smart and funny and when she smiles she makes me feel warm all over. The only problem is that now I have to stop being such a bloody coward and ask her before she gets a date herself."
Hermione looked extremely disappointed for a fleeting moment, before she attempted to mask it, which didn't go unnoticed by Harry. Sensing his moment to ask her, Harry dropped to his knee and pleaded with puppy dog eyes, "Hermione, will you please go to the Yule Ball with me?"
Hermione flushed and looked around to see if anyone else was watching, before she smiled prettily and said, "Of course I'd love to go to the ball with you Harry."
Harry hopped up off his knee and gave Hermione a kiss on the cheek which caused her to flush even more. After a moment of some deep breathing, she gathered herself before she said, "But, I don't think it would be wise to tell everyone about it. Just tell anyone who asks who your date is, that they date specifically asked you not to tell anyone and I'll do the same. I know I'd never live down the harassment from the other girls, if they knew I was going with you, because truthfully a lot of girls want to go with you."
Harry nodded and they walked down to the great hall for lunch hand in hand. Harry asked one more question before they entered the hall. He whispered in her ear, "Hermione I've never really danced before. It wasn't the kind of thing the Dursleys ever would have wanted me to learn, because it meant they might have to let me out of the cupboard and out into public." Hermione scowled before Harry continued apparently oblivious to Hermione's reaction, "Could you help me learn before the ball?" Hermione's frown dissipated as she smiled and nodded and they walked into the great hall. When they entered Harry and Hermione could see several scowling faces, including the scowling presence of Ron, greet them as they walked past.
Harry and Hermione shared a look with each other as their hands imperceptibly were unlinked before they noticed that several others in the hall were looking at them menacingly, before they sat down, and Hermione borrowed Neville's paper to see what the fuss was all about. It was the Prophet and had been a late edition with an exclusive cover story. The cover story featured a picture of Harry and Hermione as they walked along the lake one-day after they had finished in the library a week earlier.
Harry Potter's Secret Heartbreak By: Rita Skeeter
Life as the boy-who-lived has been one tragedy after another. Now Harry Potter is experiencing a new heartbreak in the form of a cheating girlfriend. Hermione Granger a friend of Potter's and also a pretty muggleborn student has been rumored to be Potter's girlfriend since his name was unexpectedly drawn from the Goblet of Fire.
My sources however indicate that Granger had been secretly in a tryst with fellow tri-wizard champion Viktor Krum. This Reporter hopes that Mr. Potter can end his relationship with Granger before the savior of the wizarding world suffers too much needlessly.
Krum has also been romantically linked with several influential pureblood witches, which makes this reporter wonder if Krum is doing nothing more than distracting Potter by stealing his girlfriend; especially at a time when the boy-who-lived needs all of the support he can get.
Harry finished reading the paper and feeling none of the previous need to protect the secret they shared, he twined his fingers with Hermione's and gave her a peck on the cheek. Hermione smiled and have him an equally warm kiss. By the way many of the girls in the great hall reacted; a casual observer would think Harry was cheating on every single one of them. In fact many of the witches glared even more at Hermione than Harry, although she calmly shrugged in response as Ron stormed up to them.
Ron bellowed, "So this is how it's going to be. Harry lies about putting his name in the goblet and then you run to him and start snogging him like there is no tomorrow. I mean, come on Harry, you can do a lot better than her even if you are a massive lying git."
Harry and Hermione were both extremely startled by Ron's outburst as Hermione began crying into Harry's shoulder. Harry could only sputter, "Ron I'll talk to you in the common room tonight at 10 so we can help you get over your stupidity."
Ron appeared outraged and punched Harry in the jaw causing Harry to spit some blood out. Then Ron punched his stunned friend in the temple causing Harry to see stars and stare at his former friend in sad puzzlement. Finally, Ron punched Harry in the nose effectively breaking it and sending more of Harry's blood across the hall.
McGonagall broke up Ron's beating upon Harry after the third punch was thrown as she authoritatively said, "Mr. Weasley you are to be given two months detention with Professor Snape, and you will be lucky if you aren't expelled."
Ron's face immediately went from red to pale as he looked at the now battered Harry stagger up and walk out of the great hall with Hermione on his arm. Ron immediately began to feel terrible about everything he had done and said, and he remembered the sadness on Harry and Hermione's faces as Ron hit Harry unprovoked. Ron suddenly felt like he had ruined two friendships because of his own jealousy, and he even deserved to get expelled because of his temper.
Hermione led the still staggering and most likely concussed Harry to the hospital wing. Harry was treated, by a fussing Madam Pomfrey, in a couple of minutes and after the shock of the moment had worn off he appeared to be fine. They went through the rest of their classes for the day as many students whispered and pointed as the new couple walked by.
That night Harry hoped he could talk to Ron in the common room and end the friendship they had shared for 3 years, because he could no longer stand the pettiness from Ron anymore. Harry waited alone in the common room as he had begged Hermione to go up to the girl's dorms, and perhaps do some damage control amongst the Gryffindor girls as Harry dealt with Ron by himself.
Ron came down the stairs of the boy's dormitory looking quite pale and quite remorseful as he took a seat across from the still bruised but healed Harry. Ron went to start but Harry cut him off and asked, "Ron, why is it that after 3 years of friendship you suddenly feel the urge to become extremely jealous of me and find it fit to beat me up because you believe every rumor you hear?" The question being rhetorical he continued, "I might not be an expert in friendships, but even I know that isn't how you treat your friends even if you are a jealous twit."
Ron gaped for a second before he turned his eyes down towards his feet and said, "Harry, I am really sorry for everything and I already apologized to Hermione earlier saying the same thing. I don't really have an excuse for my behavior, other than to say everything I have done since your name came out of the goblet was extremely childish; and I will work hard to never do it again if you'll have me back as your friend."
Harry sighed and tiredly put his face in his hands before he said, "Ron, why do you think I should have you back as my friend again?"
Ron looked down at his hands too and quietly said, "Well Harry, we have been friends for 3 years and I hate to throw that away if there is anyway I can help it."
Harry looked up at his friend and said, "Ok Ron, I'll tell you what. I'll start talking to you again if you can admit that you will get some help from your family about your silly inadequacy issues. I can't deal with your poor sob story about your brothers being so great and that you are such a disappointment in comparison. Ron, I have been so envious of you because you have a big family that loves you a lot." Harry sighed and ran his hands through his hair distractedly before he continued, "I can't remember once in my life when someone told me they loved me. Do you have any idea how that feels?"
Ron shook his head and softly said, "I am truly sorry mate. I doubt I can ever say it enough. I'll work as hard as I can to make it up to you."
Harry nodded minutely sighed deeply and resignedly said, "Fine Ron, but now Hermione and I need to work on the first task, despite the fact that we don't know what the bloody hell it is."
Ron smiled and said, "What if I told you that I know what it is?"
Harry looked at Ron expectantly and said, "I'd say it would be brilliant."
Ron smiled and said, "My brother Charlie got here the other night, and he brought dragons for the first task. There are a Welsh Green, Swedish Short-snout, Chinese Fireball, and a nasty Hungarian Horntail."
Harry smiled genuinely before he rolled his eyes and muttered to no one in particular, "I'll put money down that I'll get the horntail." Harry then looked at Ron and said, "Well, why don't we start our friendship over? But seriously mate, I won't just drop and forgive like I did in the past if you are a prat. Is that fine with you?
Ron smiled and said, "That's more than perfect mate. I swear you won't regret it. I'll just leave now so you can prepare for the first task with Hermione."
Around 11:30 Hermione came down the stairs and saw Harry sitting in the chair facing the fireplace in deep thought. She went up to him and softly asked, "So, how did the talk with Ron go?"
Harry sighed and replied, "As good as it possibly could have. I really have no clue how one person can be so bloody immature one minute and normal the next." Still looking at the fire even though his voice relayed his amusement as he added, "He did tell me what the first task was though."
Hermione scoffed and said, "So he knew and he never told you until now?"
Harry put his hand up to calm Hermione and said, "Hermione relax, his brother Charlie just came the other day and told Ron about it. We have to deal with a dragon for the first task."
Hermione gasped and the said, "So, what can we do against dragons?"
Harry sighed and said, "I need to find a way that I can outmaneuver them."
Hermione's face lit up as she said, "Oh, of course, you can use the firebolt."
Harry shook his head and said, "I can only bring my wand."
Hermione looked at Harry skeptically for a second and then said, "Harry, you can use a summoning charm."
Harry crooked his eyebrow and said, "Hermione, I'd have to summon my broom a mile. Do you know how much power that takes?"
Hermione scoffed and said, "Yes Harry I do. I also know that you are one of those rare wizards that can do it too."
Harry still had his eyebrow crooked as he said, "And tell me exactly how you would know that?"
Hermione smiled and replied, "Harry, with the patronus you made last year by the lake I made some approximations of the power needed to drive away 200 dementors and found that you are probably the most powerful student in the school already."
Harry sighed and said, "Great, another reason people can point at me and whisper"
Hermione crouched down on the floor and looked up into Harry's eyes before she said, "Harry, I know how much you hate attention but the more you fight it the worse it will get. Don't go out of your way to call attention to yourself and it will get better in time."
Harry nodded and pulled Hermione up into his lap. Hermione indignantly screamed, "Harry what do you think you are doing?"
Harry smiled and said, "I thought you might want a more comfortable place to sit. Is it wrong that I want to do that for my girlfriend? That is if she'll have me."
Hermione gaped for a moment before she stuttered out, "G-girlfriend?"
Harry's face fell and he quietly replied, "Yes, but it appears you don't want that.
Hermione shook her head quickly and said, "No Harry, it's not that, it's just that you surprised me is all. I mean, you just asked me to the ball today, and now you want me to be your girlfriend." She noticed Harry's expression hadn't changed at all, so she added, "I'd love to be your girlfriend by the way."
Harry face brightened as he pushed his glasses back up his nose and excitedly said, "That's great, w-would you like to sit in my lap for a little while here, before Sirius comes?"
Hermione smiled prettily and said, "Yes Harry, I suppose that would be fine, as long as you understand that we have to keep this relationship discrete for awhile. I love spending time with you, but I know that several girls will make things ugly for me, unless we put out the proper signals during the Yule Ball. Also, for other obvious reasons, we really shouldn't be found like this when Sirius comes."
Harry nodded and at midnight the fire began to crackle as Hermione and Harry got out of the chair and were surprised to see Sirius's face in the fire. Sirius looked startled and asked, "Harry, might I ask why Hermione is here?"
Harry smiled and said, "Sirius, I just thought my girlfriend, who is also incidentally my number one supporter for the tournament, should have the right to share in this conversation."
Sirius smiled and replied, "Oh, well then I suppose congratulations are in order for you two. You make a lovely couple. But for now we need to talk about who put you into the cup. I have suspicions that it might be Igor Karkaroff or Snape. Both were deatheaters and both got away with it after Voldemort's downfall."
Hermione said, "But Sirius, Snape has saved Harry in the past why would he start now?"
Sirius grimly said, "Well, I think that if Harry's visions are correct having his master back would motivate him to pick up his work again. The same goes for Karkaroff. Of course there could be someone else at Hogwarts too, or someone could be under the imperius curse. What I am saying, Harry and Hermione, is that you both must be careful now. I fear the times of Voldemort and his deatheaters are about to begin again."
There was a sudden noise from up in the dorms as Harry and Hermione glanced up nervously. By the time they both looked back down at the fire Sirius was gone, but he had spoken clearly and had left fear in their hearts."
A/N: Please Review. Next chapter is the first task. Keep reading and reviewing and tell me what you think of how I dealt with Ron.