Marcus ran up to me, a rather excited look on his face. Before he could say anything, I cut across him. "Please. Can't you even pretend to be a little more mature?"

He ignored me. I suppose he was used to all my criticism not to care too much. Besides, both of us knew how mature he was academically – intelligent twerp.

"She said yes!" he puffed.

"Who?"

"Marietta! Isn't this great? I am probably the first guy at this school to get a date! I mean, how long has it been?"

"You do the maths," I muttered.

"I mean, I just went up to her and said, all deep and manly like this, 'Marietta, could I speak to you?' And then all the girls giggled and Cho Chang, you know her? Well, she pulled all the other girls away and then I said, 'Marietta, would you do me the honour of accompanying me to the ball?' and guess what she said?"

"No of course I wouldn't you loathsome creature?"

"She said, 'Oh Marcus, of course! I would love to, um...' and then she giggled and I said, 'Um well that's great, I'll see you around Marietta' and she said, 'yeah... see you Marcus...' and then..."

I rolled my eyes, trying to resist the urge to retch. "That's great, but we have class. Come on. And I don't think you can start rubbing it in yet. We have ages to the ball."

"Only four weeks, Cormac!" my friend said, quieting a bit as he started to realise my sarcasm and lack of enthusiasm for the subject. "And you'd better not be a sore thumb, just because I've got a date and the famous Cormac was turned down! Come on, we've got history!"

"Still?" I mumbled, not believing that I had managed to let the annoying Ravenclaw persuade me to do the most boring subject with him yet again.

At three weeks to the Yule ball, the atmosphere was starting to get rather strained. I still couldn't believe that Marcus had managed to get a date and I hadn't. I mean, ok, he was obviously intelligent. And he looked alright if he took his glasses off. And he and Marietta had had eyes only for each other since second year! But still. At least I hadn't come off looking like a complete twit though, like some of my fellow gryffindors. I suppose we that tend to be a bit daring can sometimes over reach ourselves. One night, just after dinner, Chris and I were heading back to the common room when we noticed two of the champions, Diggory and that French chick Fleur Delacour. Well, rather, we noticed Fleur. We tried to ignore the exceedingly random feeling of not ever having to worry about anything at all, except Fleur's beautiful hair and skin and...when all of a sudden, Ron Weasley suddenly blurts out, "Do you want to go to the ball with me?" Of course, a large silence ensued in which the poor boy sprinted from the proximity. Chris' and my laughter made sure we managed to get passed the girl without attempting something as ludicrous, and when we got back to the common room, I was pleased to find that Harry Potter, too, had been turned down. If one of the school champions had been turned down, then I wasn't a complete failure. Though he was younger. And far less handsome. A good flyer, I suppose. But if I had been a school champion, I would have had queues of girls wanting to 

dance with me. It was not particularly fair. In five years time, I would have left school, and wouldn't be able to compete. At that point in time, I was too young, by just two years. Not that that made any difference for Potter. That guy pissed me off so much. I mean, he got on to the quidditch team one year too early, got into the tournament three years too early. And then the year I should have got the position of keeper, this tournament was put into place and quidditch was cancelled.

A few days later, I found myself heading out of our dorm with my broom slung over my shoulder. My father had suggested I made sure my quidditch skills were up to perfection for the trials next year. While I hadn't flown a lot, I had done far more than any of the gryffindor team had done, and I knew I would get on the following year. I had had a rushed dinner so that I could practice alone when everyone else was still eating dinner. So it was quite a surprise when I walked down into the common room to find Katie sitting on the sofa crying. Immediately I had a flash of inspiration.

I went up to her, trying to look as concerned as possible. "Katie, what's wrong?"

She seemed surprised to see me, and immediately wiped her face. "Oh... nothing I..." she hiccupped, and I sat beside her, stroking her back. After a while, she calmed down. "Thanks, Cormac. I just... just had a bit of a fight with... a friend... I..." I nodded. Obviously Leanne. The other girl would probably be back shortly, so I flashed her a smile.

"Listen, I'm on my way for a burst of flying. Want to come?" I said the right thing. Her face lit up, and I remembered that, being on the quidditch team, she must have missed flying too.

"I'd love to, Cormac, but I don't have my broom. Dad said I shouldn't bring it this year, obviously I can see why now."

I smiled at her again, and was pleased to notice she blushed faintly. "Don't worry. You can ride on my broom. Come on!"

That night was a success. Ok, sure, I didn't really do much practice. But I flew Katie up and around the school grounds. At first, she had been a bit quiet, but by the end, her arms were gripped much more tightly than necessary, for an expert flyer, around my waist, and she proclaimed it quite, 'romantic.' Immediately, I latched on to that idea, (though I couldn't see how clouds were romantic) and asked her to the ball. She replied by hugging me tighter and whispering a 'Yes.'

One week to the ball, and it couldn't be described by any but mayhem in the gryffindor common room. I had once stayed for Christmas one year when Father and Mother had gone to the Italian Coast. It had been terribly dull with hardly anyone around. However, that year no one seemed to have gone home. Plus with the added guests, everyone seemed to be running mad, not to mention the Weasley twins producing their latest – Canary creams. I am pleased to say I never fell victim to the bird like state that occurred after eating them. However, many did, and feathers coated the common room. After that, there was a mad suspicious state throughout gryffindor where ever food or drinks were concerned. On top of that, the teachers were adamant on giving us more and more dance lessons, and the girls were practically a new species, what with worrying about hair and dresses. Even the more normal ones, like Angelina and Katie, were running around like headless chickens. That is, when they weren't running around as canaries. The snow that was coming down in baleful really topped things off and most of the boys found themselves outside throwing snowballs, having being 

scared from the common room by the girls. It really created some inter house, and inter school, companionship, what with all of us throwing snowballs, not really understanding the complex ways of the female species.

Finally, it was Christmas day. Chris woke me with a pillow fight, and by the time the other boys had joined in, our dorm was covered in just about as many feathers as the common room had ever been. The difference was they weren't yellow.

"I could change that!" Chris said, who was good with charms, and soon, our dorm was decorated in the Gryffindor gold and red.

"Very patriotic," I noted. We opened our presents eagerly. Father and Mother sent me an interesting pack of Italian sweets, and a promise to take me to the first quidditch game of the season once school had finished for the year. Marcus had sent me a book (no surprises there) but at least it was of quidditch, so that was all right. With various other sweet gifts, the boys and I spent most of the morning eating through them. By the time it was mid afternoon, the girls were starting to get a bit scary again, so I took off towards the Ravenclaw tower.

As I had anticipated, Marcus was outside, with a group of the Ravenclaw guys, all looking rather tense. Marcus smiled when he saw me, and we took off to the owlery. After sending a few thank you notes, we sat. Finally, Marcus looked at his watch. "I think it's time we went and got ready, old boy," he said smiling. I smirked at his enthusiasm but didn't dispute him.

Once I had changed into my dress robes, Chris and I made our way down to the common room to wait for our dates. Finally, Katie came down in a light green dress and smiled up at me. "Shall we go down?" she asked as I gave her my arm, causing her to blush. The entrance hall was crowded with students. I soon found Marcus, and Katie and Marietta talked excitedly, comparing dresses and what not. Finally, the doors opened. It was quite a sight. The walls were garnished in frost, and mistletoe and ivy hung from the corners. However, what caught Katie's eye, and by consequence, my own, was the thousands of bushes lit up with little fairies. I laughed, much to Katie's disapproval, but before she could say anything, we were asked to sit down. Marcus and I took our seats, just ahead of the Weasley twins, Alicia and Angelina. Marietta and Katie, who seemed to immediately forget my scorn of the fairies, started getting very excited as the champions made their way to the front where the judges were. There was an audible sigh as the dancers started moving, especially when Chang and Diggory, by far the most handsome couple, passed our way. Slightly uninterested, I looked at the other dancers. There was Potter trying hard not to trip up over his own feet, and Davies and Fleur (I immediately looked away). Finally Krum passed us. He was dressed in his furs, and surprisingly fluid, however, it was his date that caught my eye. She was a very elegant, well figured girl, dressed in a beautiful blue dress. Her hair, effortlessly knotted into a bun was of the redest chestnut, and she glided along, as though floating. I couldn't stop watching her.

Finally, I managed to croak, "Who is that?"

I was answered by one of the twins. "That, my dear lad, is a certain Hermione Granger."

A/N: Just thought I'd take a new approach - please review! :)