The White Rose
DISCLAIMER: The Potter-verse belongs to J.K. Rowling, not to me.
SETTINGS: HP & The Goblet of Fire
SUMMARY: Wherein Harry asked the eternal question that has stymied males of all ages. "Hermione... How do you go about asking a girl on a date?"
Harry Potter was panicking.
Not about Lord Voldemort, though he supposed that was on the back of his mind.
Not even about the fact that he had no clue whatsoever about The Second Task, though that was plenty daunting.
Not even over the idea that Champions often died during the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Being threatened with death was nothing new, so, why bother panicking?
What was new and exceedingly hard for Harry to swallow was the fact that he didn't have a partner to the upcoming Yule Ball. What made it worse was the fact that he wasn't sure if the girl he wanted to ask would even go with him. He wasn't sure if the girl in question had noticed him as a potential boyfriend.
He dreaded the thought of having her hesitantly tell him that she just didn't think of him in 'that way'. That would just be excruciating.
He tapped his quill against the side of the desk, his knee jostling up and down in agitation. Hermione glanced up at the black-haired boy, frowning in concern. They were supposed to be looking for a way to find the secret to the Golden Egg, the magical 'clue' to working out the Second Task.
"Are you alright Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "Fine." That was a lie of the highest order. And unfortunately for Harry, he was a terrible liar.
"We'll work it out, Harry, I promise you," Hermione assured him. "Just because we don't know the key to understanding the Egg, doesn't mean that we should give up."
"It's not that," Harry replied without thought.
Hermione put down her book on Revealing Spells, and gave Harry her full attention.
Harry hesitated. He looked around furtively to ensure that no one else would be able to over-hear. The library was almost deserted, and Ron had left the research up to Harry and Hermione nearly an hour earlier. No one in the right minds wanted to spend a Saturday night in the library unless it couldn't be avoided. At least this way, it was quiet for Harry's confession.
Hermione leaned forward in anticipation.
"How do you go about asking a girl on a date?" Harry asked.
Hermione tried to stop herself from laughing, but couldn't contain a slight hysterical giggle at the question. She bit her lower lip and breathed in through her nose, trying desperately to compose herself. Harry was obviously struggling with this and if she laughed at him, she would definitely not be asked something this sensitive ever again.
"A date?" she repeated, trying to buy a moment of time.
"To the Yule Ball," Harry explained. "Apparently the Champions have to take a partner to the Ball. And...well, I don't know how to phrase the question without sounding like a compete dolt. Plus, she's a little older than me, and I don't want her to just see me as someone really naive."
The bushy-haired brunette nodded contemplatively. Harry must have set his sights on Cho Chang, the attractive Seeker from Ravenclaw. Hermione might not have particularly liked Cho, but Harry liked the girl, so obviously she must have had some redeeming qualities, even if Hermione couldn't see them.
"Alright...well, there's a few things you could do."
Harry poised his quill over the blank parchment, ready to receive instructions. Hermione tried not to break into laughter all over again.
"First...well, be romantic. Most girls like flowers. As long as they aren't allergic to them of course. That could be a little embarrassing."
Harry swallowed nervously. "Do you know that from personal experience?"
"No. My mother is allergic, and daddy tried to court her with lilies. It didn't go so well," Hermione explained.
"If your mum's allergic, does that mean you are too?" Harry asked curiously.
Hermione shook her head. "No, thank Merlin. Anyway, flowers aren't a bad way to go with most girls."
Harry wrote down 'flowers' with a question mark beside it.
"I've seen some of the older boys giving girls chocolates, so that could work," Hermione suggested.
Harry dutifully wrote it down.
"What if they're allergic to chocolate?" Harry asked.
Hermione smiled. "I doubt they would be. Chocolate is a restorative in the wizarding world. I've never heard of a witch or wizard being allergic to it."
Harry sighed in relief. This was a lot more complicated than he'd expected.
"When do you plan on asking her?" Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head despondently. "I don't know. Should I try and get her alone, so that if she does say no, I'm not going to be completely embarrassed? Or should I do it in public? Would she be less likely to say no in public?"
The giggling was trying to return, but Hermione carefully swallowed it down.
"Well, public would be better. It would show her that you weren't afraid of rejection. Of course, it does put a bit of pressure on her to say 'yes'. But, if she really doesn't want to go with you, or she already has a date, then I'm certain she'd say 'no'. Gently."
Harry nodded. 'Public' was added onto his list.
"Do I have to lead up to the question itself? Should I make small talk first?" Harry asked.
Hermione shook her head emphatically. "Harry, you are terrible at small talk. Don't try it. You'll stress yourself out. Straight to the point is best."
Harry breathed in deeply, feeling a little more confident. "Alright. I'm going to do it. Tomorrow. At breakfast."
"Good luck," Hermione said sincerely.
Harry smiled, feeling much better about his next task.
Morning came slowly for Harry Potter. He hadn't slept very well, his mind churning out 'what if' scenarios, and his brain was unable to shut off. Even when he had managed to fall asleep he'd been startled out of a dream where he'd been in the Great Hall, completely naked, surrounded by his laughing peers.
Needless to say, he'd dressed with the utmost caution, double and triple-checking to make certain that the zipper on his pants was firmly pulled up.
He'd woken early, gathering up the elements to set the scene. He'd written a letter, conjured a rose, practiced his question nearly a hundred times. He wondered idly if he'd been muttering it in his sleep. He hoped not.
Arriving to the Great Hall before even a single other student was there, he continued with his elaborate plan, leaving the note and the rose in place in front of a certain lady's seat. He just hoped that she read the letter first.
Seating himself at the Gryffindor table, Harry sat, surprised by how calm he felt. He had a mission, he'd set the stage, and now all he had to do was to wait until the girl he intended to ask arrived.
Students began straggling into the Great Hall not even five minutes after Harry had sat down, his back to the Ravenclaw table. The Professors began taking their seats as well. Finally the girl he'd been waiting for entered the Great Hall. He told himself that he would wait until breakfast had been eaten before he would pop the question. Ron and Hermione took seats on either side of him, and he watched as Ron spooned a large helping of scramble eggs onto his plate.
"You're up early Harry," Ron commented. "You were gone before I even woke up."
"Couldn't sleep," Harry replied easily.
"Are you nervous Harry?" Hermione asked quietly, whispering so that Ron couldn't hear them.
"A little," he replied.
"You'll be fine. She'll say yes, I promise you," Hermione assured him.
"I hope so."
"Did you decide how you're going to ask?" she questioned.
Harry nodded and surreptitiously pointed to the Professor's table. In front of Professor McGonagal, a single white rose in a vase in front of her. Hermione hadn't even noticed it.
"A white rose?" Hermione asked. "For your date?"
Harry nodded. "I decided against the chocolates. I conjured the rose this morning."
Hermione was impressed with Harry's attention to detail. She hadn't been expecting much after the nerve-wrecked look on Harry's face the previous evening.
"Why a white rose?" Hermione asked.
Harry flushed, a little embarrassed. Hermione was instantly even more curious than she had been a moment before.
"I couldn't sleep very well last night, and Neville has a ton of books on herbology and botany. I was flipping through this books about flowers, and...did you know that flowers have different meanings?"
Hermione nodded. She had read that somewhere before. She wondered if perhaps her mother had ever said that to her before. She remembered from somewhere that white roses were significant for many reasons. And they were used by a vast number of people in muggle wedding bouquets.
"A new true love. A pureness to that love. I...I thought it was particularly fitting," Harry admitted. He scowled boyishly. "And if you tell anyone I said that, I'll hex you."
Hermione laughed in delight. Just when Harry was beginning to surprise her, he remnded her that he was, first and foremost, a boy.
"Why does Professor McGonagal have it?" Hermione asked, trying to veer the topic onto safer pastures.
"You said make it public, right?" Harry asked. "I walk up to the Professor's table, take the rose, and then I'll give it to the girl I'm going to marry. Er...take to the Ball."
Hermione sat in stunned silence, unable to believe the slip of tongue that had come from Harry's mouth. Even Ron, nearly oblivious to everything but his food had tuned in when Harry had said the word 'marry'.
"Who're you marrying?!" Ron exclaimed.
Several heads turned their way curiously. Harry gave a grin before standing up, and walking towards the front of the Hall.
Ron looked to Hermione, wondering if she had any answers to the chaos that Harry had laid at their feet. Hermione was still gaping, in open-mouthed wonder at what Harry had said.
The students of Hogwarts began watching the famed Boy-Who-Lived as he strode confidently up to the Professors table. He stopped in front of Professor McGonagall and asked a simple question.
Professor McGonagall smiled indulgently. She folded up the letter that had been left at her table and gestured to the rose. "Be my guest."
Harry smiled at the Professor and thanked her, not only for holding onto the rose for him, but for protecting the fragile bud with an 'Everlasting Spell' that would keep the bud in bloom for the next one hundred years.
Harry took hold of the thornless stem, and began making the trek back through the aisle between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. He breathed in deeply, gathering his courage.
Hermione was still astounded by Harry's slip of the wourd 'marry'. Ron was furrowing his brow in confusion. More than one or two girls were looking at Harry hopefully.
The bushy haired Gryffindor looked even more confused when Harry walked right past Cho Chang without even stopping.
Harry came to rest directly in front of Hermione.
"Hermione, will you do me the great honour of attending the Yule Ball with me?"
She stared at him in complete and utter confusion, certain that Harry had been about to ask Cho, astounded that he would want to marry Cho, and now...now, Harry was asking her. He held the rose out to her, and Hermione could hear his voice in her head.
'I'll give it to the girl I'm going to marry.'
Hermione nodded sharply. "I would love to." She took the rose from Harry's shaking hand, and stared at the boy who had once again managed to completely surprise her.
Harry smiled, and shyly kissed her hand.
The rapt students in the Great Hall burst into raucous cheering. Hermione and Harry just stared at each other, letting the feelings between them ricochet back and forth, the intensity of the moment adding to the sweetness of emotion.
"I hope you give me that answer again in a few years," Harry said.
Hermione smiled brightly. "I would love to."
Awww, schmoop! Edited to get rid of a few minor spelling details. Thanks for your feedback!