A/N: This is my take on the traditional Sibling-Who-Lived fic. This AU takes place in the time of GOF, though Moody/Crouch isn't the DADA teacher. This fic should not be read by Ron or Ginny or Draco or James/Lily fans, SuperHarry lovers, vampire hunters, professional angstypunks, or flashbackophiles. It can be read by Hermione fans, readers interested in a smart Voldemort, and humans with a penchant for odd jokes scattered about.
Hermione Jane Granger walked slowly down the sixth floor corridor. Silencing Charms were on her feet and Disillusionment and scent-concealing Charms on her entire body. She had already survived one narrow brush with Argus Filch and Mrs Norris.
She reached the third door on the left from the end of the corridor, and quickly went in. Then she waited for him.
As a Muggleborn Gryffindor, she was well aware of the dangers of meeting with a Slytherin. Especially when he was the second most hated Slytherin in their year. Only Draco Malfoy, King of Bigoted Idiots, was more detested by her housemates.
She shook her head. Her house had plenty of bigoted idiots of its own. All following the Boy-Who-Lived like sheep, even as he did stupid things like torment his twin brother for the crime of being in Slytherin. Could they not see that said brother was a perfectly normal boy? Correction, better than normal - he was smarter, wittier, sneakier, braver, and definitely cuter than any normal boy. And Paul Potter, the Boy Who Lived For The Bloody Spotlight, was definitely normal.
Like everyone else, her attention had first been drawn by the fame of Paul Potter. She had observed everyone's surprise at the Sorting Feast when another Potter - Harry - had also turned up to be Sorted, and the shock when he was sorted into Slytherin.
She had been excited to come to this new school - this Magical school! - and hoped life would be different from her Muggle Primary School days when she was labelled a Bookworm and remained friendless as a result. But it had not taken long for similar noises to start from her Gryffindor housemates. She still considered the Sorting Hat several frayed threads short of a full headpiece for placing her outside of Ravenclaw.
She had been publicly branded a friendless Know-It-All by Ron Weasley and Paul Potter a month into her first year, and had gone to cry in a girl's bathroom as a result. For some reason, Harry had come after her and saved her from a troll. She had lied to defend him and they had been friends ever since.
Since they could not be friends in public, as that would be dangerous for a first year half-blood in Slytherin, they communicated in secret. They met in classrooms at night, just as they were doing now. They sent each other letters via school owls - sending them through the intermediary of a family friend of Harry's so that the owl that Harry sent his letters with was not the owl that delivered letters to Hermione and vice versa.
Then the breakthrough: Hermione had learnt from a friendly Ravenclaw prefect how to Charm a pair of notebooks so that anything that appeared in one simultaneously appeared in the other. She still smiled whenever she recalled Harry's reaction to her giving him one of the notebooks. No-one had ever given her the goddess treatment - falling to their knees and repeatedly bowing to her with their arms outstretched. Harry was very sweet.
She told the other Gryffindors that she was keeping in touch with her Muggle friend Bertha, while he told the other Slytherins that he was keeping in touch with a penpal called Zany. Needless to say, they had both been equally unamused by the names the other had coined for them.
Keeping up appearances had been difficult. She had trouble convincing Harry not to defend her when his housemates called her a Mudblood. Similarly, he had persuaded her against her better judgement not to defend him to her housemates.
And now it was their fourth year, and term had just started.
The door opened, and Harry entered. She dashed to his arms, and the snogging (and other activities) went on for several minutes. He had asked her out near the end of their second year, after her longest stay in the Hospital Wing. She had accepted after contemplating the decision for five seconds.
"How was your summer, Harry?" she asked. They were both sitting on a transfigured blanket, their backs against the wall, her head on his shoulder.
"The usual. Paul was a prick, Dad remembered that I existed about half a dozen times. And... "
Hermione waited. There was still one person left in the family - Mary, Harry's stepmother. Lily, the mother of the Potter twins, had died when they were six. Harry missed her much, especially as she had been the only person in his family to give him any attention.
"... she's starting to notice me," Harry continued, very hesitantly. "But... she keeps giving me these weird looks, especially if I'm alone with her."
Hermione's mind jumped instantly to the most unpleasant scenario, but she managed to stop herself saying it. Instead she gave Harry a hug.
"We've got to get you out of there, Harry. Maybe my parents can adopt you or something."
"What?" he asked, genuinely surprised. "But they've never met me!"
"I've told them enough," said Hermione, blushing. "My mother's rather worried about you. So's my dad, I think. I know he's really looking forward to meeting you." She could see the questions in Harry's eyes.
"I need to think about that, Mione," he said. "There's something else I wanted us to talk about. I want to go public with us."
Hermione's breath caught. She hadn't expected him to agree "Are you sure, Harry?" she asked. It was more of a danger to him than her. After all, she didn't think any Gryffindor would try to murder her in her bed for dating a Slytherin, while precisely that had happened to Blaise Zabini when he had attempted to date Katie Bell the previous year.
"I can defend myself now," he replied. "And I can sleep in classrooms if I must. I checked the rulebook - students are barred from living in other Houses' dormitories, but nothing says they have to be in their own dormitories."
"But what about the Quidditch team? They'll kick you off the team for dating me!"
"One, there's no Quidditch this year. Two, you're more important to me than Quidditch. Three, we've been told to bring dress robes, which means there's a ball this year," he said, putting a finger on her lips so she wouldn't protest. "And I want to go with the most attractive witch in Hogwarts, and how can I do that if we're not a public couple?"
Hermione didn't reply, but Harry understood. After all, it wasn't her fault that her lips couldn't do two things at once.
"Are you planning to enter the Tournament then?" asked Blaise Zabini. The boy was, like Harry, viewed as one of the 'silent neutrals' in Slytherin, and his closest friend. They were waiting near the entrance to the Great Hall. Harry had already explained to Blaise about his Gryffindor girlfriend, much to his friend's shock and amusement. It was also why the black boy had his camera with him. Both figured there would be several facial expressions in the Great Hall worth immortalizing.
"Not really," replied Harry. "I could use the money, certainly, but I don't think my girlfriend would like it."
"Spoken like a true Slytherin," smirked Blaise. "Self-preservation and all that. She'd Hex you to pieces if you entered."
"Hello Blaise," said a voice behind them, "and his sidekick. Hello Sidekick."
"Hello, Queen of the Library," replied Harry. "My master here has been informed of the upcoming proceedings."
"I noticed," smirked Hermione. "Nice camera, Mr Zabini. I trust you have adeqate film?"
"Of course, Miss Granger," Blaise replied. "I would not miss this for the world. Congratulations, by the way. I never suspected anything."
"Really?" asked Hermione, genuinely surprised. She had worked with Blaise in Arithmancy and Potions, and found him an excellent observer.
"Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I never suspected him of having such good taste," clarified Blaise.
Hermione blushed, and Harry took her arm in his in a gesture of possession, saying "Mine!" to his friend. Blaise laughed, and asked where they planned to sit.
"Ravenclaw," the pair answered, blushing in unison.
"Oh man, Harry, I am so going to tease you to hell!" chuckled their friend. "Alright, seriously now. Do the Ravenclaws know this? And you have permission from Flitwick?"
"Yes to both," replied Hermione, just as seriously. "I told Padma Patil last night, and she and Terry Boot will be saving a couple of places for us."
"Boot?" asked Harry. He knew Padma was one of Hermione's few friends, and that Terry was Padma's boyfriend, but he had never thought that the boy would approve of a Gryffindor-Slytherin relationship. Then again, Boot was a reserved student, like most Ravenclaws. Harry concluded the teen was neutral and willing to go along with his girlfriend for the moment. Harry could live with that - it was certainly far better than the treatment most others gave to him.
"It's okay," reassured Hermione. "Padma says he can be trusted."
"Terry's an okay bloke," added Blaise. "And if he isn't, Padma's got a vicious Medusa Hex. Now, I'm going to go in and get prepared to click away, and you two lovebirds can come after a minute. I'll rush out before that to warn you if the Ravens haven't got a place ready for you to sit. Got that, kids?"
They nodded, and watched him disappear into the Great Hall. When he did not return after a minute, they followed him, their hands interlinked. Conversation in the Hall hushed, especially when they stopped to exchange a huge sloppy kiss in the center of the room. The silence changed to excited whispers as they sat down at the Ravenclaw table. They sat next to each other, hands still joined, opposite a grinning Padma and a stoic Terry.
The silence was broken by Ron Weasley storming over, followed by Paul Potter.
"Hermione!" yelled the redhead. Neither Harry nor Hermione were surprised. Ron Weasley was known to have a bizarre infatuation for her, was a bigoted anti-Slytherin, and considered himself the Lord Protector of Gryffindor Honour, after King Paul. "What are you doing with that Slytherin scum?"
"Do you want me to deal with the git, Mione?" Harry asked loudly, swallowing a mouthful. They had an audience to play for, after all.
"Not yet Harry," she replied, equally loudly. "I'm the only one capable of speaking slowly so he can understand me." She stood up, waving a spoon. "Harry and I have been friends since first year, ever since he saved me from a troll that you - yes, YOU! - pushed me into contact with. We've been going out for the past year. This is our business." She made elegant shooing motions with her hand.
Neither was surprised when Ron pulled out his wand and tried to stun Harry. Harry, who had been keeping his shields up since they entered the Hall, dodged anyway, and sent off an vicious Expelliarmus that sent Ron flying over the Slytherin table. Filius Flitwick and Crina Vanescu (the new and contreversial DADA Professor who was a vampiress) rushed over to the prone Weasley, while McGonagall and Snape made their way to the Ravenclaw table.
From the corner of the Great Hall, Hermione saw Blaise give them a thumbs up, as if to say that he had caught the action and would soon be selling photos ("Roll up, roll up, one sickle each!") of Weasley flying sans broomstick.
As their Heads of Houses approached, Hermione took out a large tome, and jumped on to the bench. She was nervous as hell, but this was for Harry.
"According to Section 32.1 of the rules of Hogwarts," she proclaimed, "it is permitted for a student to ..."
There was another crash, this time caused by Paul hitting the ground. He had tried to stun Harry as well, and failed. Harry had sent a Body Bind at him.
"As I was saying," said Hermione, putting a hand on Harry's head to calm him down. McGonagall and Snape had stopped, watching her, while other teachers had gone to help Weasley and (the non-cute) Potter. She figured she was behaving very uncharacteristically, and smirked inwardly. Maybe this would be fun after all. "According to Hogwarts rules, it is permitted for a student to respond to spells with spells of the same category without punishment. Harry is far more capable of using it than these two morons who shame my house is not the issue here." She could hear the cry of protests from the Gryffindor table, and ducked a couple of Hexes - one a Bat Bogey from Ginny Weasley, Paul's girlfriend.
"Please put your wand away, Potter!" shouted Professor Snape.
"Get down from the table, Miss Granger!" yelled Professor McGonagall. Hermione wondered if she was still the Deputy Headmistress' favourite student any more. "And you too, Miss Weasley!"
Harry, his wand already sheathed, held out his arms so Hermione could jump into them. She did, and he twirled her around a hundred and eighty degrees before letting her go. They faced their Heads of Houses, awaiting judgement.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor for an inappropriate display of public affection!" yelled Snape. "And another ten for poor aim, Weasley!"
"Thirty points to Gryffindor for a thorough knowledge of the rules," said the Deputy Headmistress, . "And you will both report to the Headmaster's office in two days, when he returns from Bulgaria."
"Diggory! Chang!" shouted Harry. The Seekers for Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were on their way to breakfast together. They stopped and turned around to face their Slytherin counterpart.
"What's up, Potter?" asked Cho Chang, smiling slightly. They weren't friends by any means, but not enemies either. Their sparring on the Quidditch pitch left them with mutual respect. Besides, Harry Potter's reputation outside Slytherin, prior to yesterday's events, was one of reserved neutrality.
"Nice show last night," added Cedric Diggory. "I always knew Hermione Granger had good taste, incidentally."
Harry blushed for a moment, and then returned to business. "I wanted to talk about Quidditch," he said. "May I join you at your table?"
Cedric and Cho blinked, and turned to look at each other. Diggory nodded. "Let's go to mine," he said.
They walked in silence to the Hufflepuff's table. The badgers' Seeker made a hand gesture to request privacy, and a few people moved out of the way to clear a large space at the end of the table. The trio sat down. Over at the Gryffindor table, Hermione gave Harry a smile and a wave, which he reciprocated.
"What about it?" asked Cho.
"I want to play Quidditch this year," Harry said. "What of you and your teams?"
"I want to, of course," replied Cho, warming up at once. "Most of my team is. The two Beaters are both taking their NEWTs and have welcomed the cancellation of the season, but I don't think they were going to stay on the team anyway."
"I'm taking NEWTs," said Cedric, "but want to play anyway. I need the relaxation, for Merlin's sake! All my team does, for sure. And so do the Gryffies - Angelina and I were talking yesterday, and the woman is absolutely furious."
"I don't know about us snakes," said Harry slowly, surprised that he had been given the information about the other three houses so easily. He reminded himself that keeping your feelings and opinions to yourself was not a required survival trait outside Slytherin. "I am pretty sure I'll never play for Slytherin again, if my beloved Captain has his way."
"Malfoy?" asked Chang, eyebrows raised.
"Who else?" replied Harry, a tad bitterly. "Can't have blood traitors like me polluting the team, and all that."
"You knew this before you went public?" asked Cedric.
"Of course we did," replied Harry, again surprised by the questions. They were supposed to be talking about Quidditch, not his love life! They almost sounded interested in him as a person. Which was impossible of course. Only Hermione and Blaise did that. They were just being polite.
"Alright," smiled Cho, "remind me to tell Hermione that she has a very sweet boyfriend. Not as sweet as my little Diggles, of course!"
"Er, right," said Harry, barely managing to suppress a guffaw. "About Quidditch. I see two reasons for cancelling Quidditch. One, they want to use the Quidditch Pitch for the tournament. Two, the teachers don't have time to deal with security issues and stuff. I think they're just being lazy, mind."
"I haven't seen anything happening to the Quidditch Pitch," said Diggles thoughtfully. "We passed by this morning, and it looks normal. I don't think they will use it for all tasks."
"Exactly," said Harry. "And I'm pretty sure they will allow us to schedule regular practices when the Pitch isn't being used."
"I suppose they would," replied Chang. "But isn't that pointless? I mean, I like Quidditch and all, but if there are no official matches, what's the point?"
"Ah," said Harry with a perfectly Slytherin smirk, "but what is there to prevent two houses from scheduling two practices simultaneously?"
"And then just happen to practise against each other!" cried Cedric, beaming. "Harry, that's a marvellous idea!"
"I've often wondered how you got in Slytherin, Harry," chuckled Cho. "Now I'm beginning to understand."
"Hey, don't look at me," said Harry. "It's my girlfriend's idea. She also suggested that Beauxbatons and Durmstrang be invited to schedule practices as well. I'd be shocked if Viktor Krum doesn't come for the Tournament."
"I think I'd like to become friends with your girlfriend," said Cho slowly. Her boyfriend's mouth was still open.
"Hermione's more than what she seems," smiled Harry. "Pity that Salazar put that stupid ban on Muggle-borns not entering Slytherin. Hermione would have been a cinch for us otherwise. Our loss."
"We really ought to double date sometime," said Cedric, having recovered from the discovery that Hermione Granger was smart in more ways than one. "Now, about the unofficial inter-house Quidditch league, which is basically what you're trying to set up. The Gryffies will definitely agree. What of Slytherin?"
"Hermione, Blaise and I have talked about this," replied Harry. He paused. His natural tendencies were screaming against laying out his aims so honestly, but Hermione insisted that Cho and Cedric would prefer honesty. Blaise had added that a more subtle approach in negotiations was only necessary when the parties involved had aims that could not coexist.
"This is complicated," continued Harry. "I want to play Quidditch. But I must confess - Hermione has ordered me to confess - that I also have an ulterior motive. Malfoy has an iron hold on my house, and it needs cracking. Lots of us agree on that, but no-one's willing to risk saying anything."
The Seeker couple nodded. They were both Purebloods, and understood the vice in which Lucius Malfoy held most of the traditionally Slytherin families.
"I am fairly sure Malfoy will refuse to let Slytherin join the League," Harry stated, "once he knows that the idea came from a Muggleborn witch, especially one smarter than him. And especially if the idea comes from the Gryffindor captain. Other Slytherins will want to play though, and that will cost him a lot of support."
"What of you?" asked Cho. "You'd love to play Krum, just as either of us would."
"I was hoping to form a Rest of Hogwarts team," replied Harry. "Made of reserve players from other houses. With tryouts, so that any Slytherins who want to openly defy Malfoy and play can do so."
"Including a certain boyfriend of a certain Gryffindor?" asked Cedric with a wide grin. Harry shrugged, and attempted to whistle innocently. Some questions were rhetorical.
"I get the sense that you really want Malfoy to refuse," said Cho. "Angelina will be happy to -"
"What will I be happy to do, Cho?" asked the Gryffindor captain, who had just walked to their end of the Hufflepuff table.
"Oh!" squeaked the Ravenclaw Seeker. "Hello, Angie! What brings you here?"
"I figured the three of you were discussing Quidditch," replied Angelina, looking at Harry appraisingly. "Well, one of the Weasleys did, and the other twin sent me over."
"We are indeed," said Cedric, looking at Harry for permission. The Slytherin nodded. "Please sit down, if you would. We were just discussing a most fascinating idea. An idea suggested, in fact, by one of your very own housemates."
"Er, wossat?" asked Angelina, plomping down beside Harry. "What idea? Whose idea?"
"Hermione Granger's, of course," replied Cho, as if the idea of the Gryffindor bookworm having anything to do with Quidditch was not akin to the idea of Voldemort bathing with rubber ducks.
"Er," said Angelina.
Cho explained. Harry was quite impressed. Cho had picked up on the underlying politics immediately, and was crediting Hermione with all of their joint idea. It was mostly true, of course, but Chang's spin doctoring was really making Hermione out to be something of a street-smart genius. Hermione was exactly this, in Harry's opinion, but it was unusual to see people other than himself recognizing it.
"Count me in," said Angelina with a brilliant smile. "I'll make the necessary arrangements. This is going to be fun."
Hermione was in the Gryffindor Common Room, doing a Potions assignment. Her status in her house had shot up immensely. Much of this was due to the grateful Quidditch players, particularly Angelina Johnson and the Weasley twins (who were the only ones who knew of the arrangements Angelina was making about the unofficial Quidditch League) publicly congratulating her and warning off anyone who dared tease or harass her. The others in the House, particularly Ron Weasley, had been rather confused by this, and gave her several appraising looks. Harry had said that at least some of those looks were just boys realizing that she was a witch, and a pretty one at that.
Still, she had been unnerved by the response - surely organizing their own Quidditch matches was a completely obvious idea, wasn't it? It was not like the Professors ever actively did anything, as far as she could see. The students could even organize their own referees - though Madam Hooch's enthusiastic acceptance of the idea made that unnecessary. But Harry said that it wasn't traditional for wizards and witches to take action into their own hands like that - they were too used to listening to authority figures when it came to such things.
Oh well. She had spent the first three years of her Hogwarts existence being ridiculed for little reason other than being herself and doing things she considered obvious. (Including befriending Harry. It wasn't her fault if his lovability wasn't obvious to anyone else.) It was fair payback to be revered for the same reasons.
Paul Potter was a different story. He was still furious with her for daring to date his brother. She wasn't sure if it was the fact that he was now not the only prominent Potter in the school, or that his brother was in Slytherin. All she knew was that the Gryffindor Seeker was being a complete ass.
Correction. The Gryffindor Seeker was a complete ass, and others were just beginning to realize it.
Perhaps there was hope for the House of Godric.
Meanwhile, Harry was busy dealing with his housemates' accusations of treachery. The first two nights after the announcement, he slept in an old classroom, accompanied by Blaise. The third night, they returned to their dormitory.
Harry woke up in the Hospital Wing. In front of him were a pair of blurry figures. One had wild brown hair. Another was dark and probably male. He figured they were Hermione and Blaise.
He felt someone give him a glass of water. The other gave him his glasses.
"What happened?" he asked after drinking the water.
"We're not exactly sure," replied Blaise, as Hermione handed him a couple of Potions that Pomfrey had left. "You and I were attacked in the forest. We went there at night, and got beaten up."
Harry looked bemused and said nothing.
"Harry?" asked Hermione, worried.
"How many fingers, Harry?" asked Blaise, holding two digits up, one on the middle of each hand.
"Bugger off, you withered piece of molted viper skin," replied Harry, "And I'm trying to remember."
"He's okay, Hermione," chuckled Blaise.
"Er, Harry," she said once she had stopped giggling. "There's some more news."
"Lots more, actually," Blaise added. "You may want to lie down."
Harry glared at him. "Darn, I can't remember," he muttered. He paused for a moment, glancing at the nervous looks his two friends were giving each other. "What's the news then? Have you two dumped me for Blaise, Mione? Ow!"
"I don't date boys without green eyes, you idiot," she replied, stepping away from smacking his head. "And he doesn't date women smarter than him."
"Eh?" asked Harry, sounding as intelligent as he felt. "I'm terrible at twenty questions, you know!"
"You're in the Triwizard Tournament, Harry."
"Eh?" he repeated.
"You're in the Triwizard Tournament. Along with Cedric. Durmstrang and Beaubaxtons got one champion each, and Hogwarts got two. The other schools are pretty pissed off about it."
"But that's impossible!" cried Harry. "The other schools aren't even here yet!"
"You've been out for over a week, mate," said Blaise.
"Ten days, actually," clarified Hermione, nervously biting her lower lip.
"How?" asked Harry.
"No-one's really sure," replied Hermione. "Professor Dumbledore was rather angry as well when it happened. He put an age line around it so that no one below seventeen could enter. People think we entered your name in."
"As if we would," replied Blaise. "We do like having you around, and the Tournament isn't famous for its safety."
"What do Cedric and Cho think?" asked Harry. "And Angelina?"
"Cedric and Angelina believe us," said Hermione, to which Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "Cho was initially upset, and said that you were taking the spotlight away from her boyfriend, but she's coming around. I told her what Blaise just said, about the Tournament being dangerous and that I certainly didn't want you competing in it."
"She was pretty worried about her own boyfriend after that," added Blaise.
"And you have to compete," continued Hermione. "It's a binding magical contract."
"Let me get this straight. Ten days ago, Blaise and I were attacked in the forest, and I've been out of it since then. And in the meantime, the bloody Tournament... hey, wait a minute, how long were you out for, Blaise?"
"I got off a lot more lightly than you, four-eyes," replied Zabini. "I was only out for a day. And they haven't found the culprits yet."
"Malfoy and company?"
"They have an alibi. They said they were in the dorm when it happened."
Harry blinked, and then looked pleased.
Breakfast the next morning was eventful. Harry was sitting at the Slytherin table with Blaise, and waved to Hermione over at the Gryffindor table. He ignored the mutterings of his housemates without much difficulty, considering he had plenty of practice.
Suddenly, a large moving image appeared on one of the walls of the Great Hall. It was of the Slytherin dorms, and of Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle assaulting him and Blaise.
"That's faked!" cried Malfoy, over the shouts and horrified gasps of the rest of the school.
"What is the meaning of this?" yelled an irate Snape from the Head Table.
"This is what happened eleven days ago to Blaise Zabini and myself," said Harry, standing up. Blaise stood next to him, and Hermione was already rushing over in support. All three had their hands ready to withdraw their wands. "We expected this to happen, with all the mudbrains in our House who continue to believe in the lie that blood purity is worth anything. I placed Scrying Charms in my dormitory at the start of term, which is how we recorded this. We were beaten up by Draco Malfoy and his little buddies, people we have lived with for the past three years. Then my memory was erased, and Blaise's modified so that he would think we were attacked in the Forest. They would probably have modified my memory as well, if I had been conscious."
Then he walked out of the Great Hall, flanked by Blaise and Hermione.
The word 'mudbrain' was soon firmly implanted in the Hogwarts lexicon.
I am also assuming Cho and Cedric got together earlier than they do in canon, and are comfortable with each other. So please don't flame me if you think Cho is being OOC. If you wish to flame me, there are lots of other wonderful reasons to do so.