Summary: What would have happened if Harry had asked Hermione to the Yule Ball first? How different would things have been between them and how would the wizarding world be affected by a simple question?
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling does. I just borrowed the characters and the universe for my own purposes.
Dance Magic, Dance
Harry Potter walked back to the Gryffindor dorm with Professor McGonagall's words ringing in his head…
"Potter. A word please."
Harry glanced at Ron who shrugged and walked out of the classroom from their newest…lessons. Harry approached the aged Professor and tried to figure out if he'd done something wrong as he waited.
"Potter. Traditionally, the champions open the ball
Harry was startled at this news and began to sputter a response to the statement.
"But Professor," He protested. "I don't dance."
She gave him a look that he could tell held a lot of amusement.
"Well…you do now."
So now Harry was wracking his brains to figure out just who he should ask and how much this was going to embarrass him as much as it would embarrass any potential dates. Sometimes, life sucks. He decided to just put the worry aside and made his way up to the tower where he spotted Ron and Hermione working on their Transfiguration homework already. Ron glanced up and motioned for him to join them, which he did, pulling out his quill, course book, and parchment and plopped down next to them. Ron, being one to notice his friend's mood first, spoke up.
"What's wrong mate? You look like McGonagall just told you, you were related to Malfoy."
Harry felt his lips twitch into a smile at the statement.
"No. Nothing that horribly. She just wanted to inform me that it is a tradition for the champions to open the ball."
Ron cocked his head to the side.
"Well, that's not that bad then."
"Let me clarify for you. We open the ball with a dance. The champions and there dates."
Ron's expression changed immediately. He gave Harry a grave look.
"I'm sorry for the pain you will experience."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Gee thanks. You're a real pal." He stated, his voice laced with sarcasm.
Ron simply shrugged his shoulders.
"It's what I do, mate. So, who you going to ask?" He asked.
Harry sighed and decided to answer his question.
"Well, the one I would have asked is already taken, though she probably would have said no. As for my first choice," At this point, he looked at Hermione who glanced behind her before looking at him with hope in her eyes, "It might be a little odd to ask her. I mean, she is a friend on mine. And a good one too."
He saw her face redden slightly as she looked back down at her scroll, a smile playing across her face. Ron, being the clueless guy he was, had no idea who Harry was talking about.
"Who is it?" He asked.
Harry faced him with a hint of disbelief, confusing Ron even more.
"Do we know her?" He asked again.
Harry frowned at how dense his friend was. But then again, Ron seemed to be slow to the uptake.
"Yes. All of us do."
Ron turned to Hermione who was still staring intently at her paper.
"Any idea who he's talking bout?" He asked her.
Hermione gave him a look that promised pain if he interrupted her again. Ron quickly looked away and back at his paper. Harry looked over at Hermione and saw a hint of hurt from her from Ron's statement. He would question her about that later. Now, he needed to just come up with four inches for his homework. Half an hour later, he was just finishing up his work as Hermione was rereading her's when Ron rose to his feet and stretched. Both Gryffindors looked up at him in surprise. He was never the first done and always asked Hermione to help him. Harry gave him a puzzled look.
"Well. I'm off." He said as he headed for the stairs.
Hermione grabbed his scroll and her eyes widened in shock.
"Ron. Your not even halfway done? How do you plan to have this finished by tomorrow afternoon?" She asked.
"That's where you come in. Read over that and finish it up for me, will you?"
Hermione glared at him and threw the scroll at his head. Ron instinctively ducked and his scroll sailed over his head and into the fireplace. Ron cried out and dived toward the burning logs and pulled out what was left of his homework, which much. He turned to Hermione, anger on his face.
"Great. Now what am I supposed to do?"
"Your own damn work!" Hermione stated as she packed up her things.
"Because of you, I'll never get it done now!" He countered.
Harry watched in morbid fascination as the two started to go at it. He didn't even notice Fred and George appear behind him.
"What did ickie Ronnikins do now?" Fred asked.
"He tried to make Hermione do his homework."
"Ah…yes. Well…Ron has always been a few cards short of a deck."
Fred nodded his had in agreement as George leaned over to Fred.
"Bet you two Galleons he says something extremely stupid."
Fred looked at his twin in interest.
"How stupid?" He asked.
"She storms out."
Fred paused and nodded.
"Alright. I'll see your storm out and raise you tears."
George grasped his brother's hand.
They turned their attention back to the arguing fourth years.
"Maybe you'll learn your lesson if Professor McGonagall gives you detention." She snapped.
Ron's ears were turning very, very red as was his face.
"Oh yeah? And what lesson is that? That you're an old sourpuss? Or that you're an insufferable know-it-all? Maybe Snape is right about you!" He screamed.
All heads in the common room turned to face the Weasley that had basically spoken blasphemy inside the Gryffindor common room by stating that Snape was right about anything in general. Ron didn't seem to notice how quiet it was as Hermione's lip trembled before she turned and rushed out of the room and out the portrait hole. Ron humphed and turned to see people glaring at him.
"What are you looking at?" He snapped.
The crowd slowly looked away from him and went back to their assigned tasks. Ron looked back at Harry and slowly shook his head.
"I swear. Hermione's mental. Can't take a little insult."
Harry had had enough at this point and rose to his feet.
"Ron. You've done many stupid and arrogant thins before, but this time you went too far. Hermione is our friend. Not some one for you to use to your own ends."
Ron gave him a questioning look.
"What do you mean? She always does our work for us." He stated.
Harry shook his head.
"No. I only have her proofread my stuff. You make her do your's. Your more worried about what people think of you and your image than your friends and your course work."
Ron looked like some one had slapped him.
"What are you talking about, mate? Of course I care about my friend. After all, not everyone is a friend of Harry Potter." Ron stated with a smirk.
Harry clenched his fists and took a breath to calm himself. He counted to ten before he pack his own bag up and put it over his shoulder.
"Ron. You'd better get your head out of your ass. I'm going to try to undo the damage you caused. And, until further notice, we're no longer friends." Harry stated as he headed out the portrait, hearing his shouted protests as it swung shot.
He looked back and saw the Fat Lady give him an approving nod.
"Very chivalrous, Mr. Potter. Now, I believe you have a friend to find."
Harry nodded and headed off in the direction he thought he'd find her in. He came around a corner and suddenly wished he hadn't. He'd run right through Nearly-Headless Nick and regretted it. The Ghost paused and looked to Harry before he gave the young wizard a slight smile.
"My, my, young Potter. In a hurry?" He asked.
"Yeah. I don't suppose you've seen Hermione, have you?"
Nick nodded. Or at least Harry thought it he did. With a wobbly head, it was hard to tell.
"Yes I did, actually. She was heading out to the lake. Something about a place to think, I believe she stated when I greeted her moments ago." Nick told him.
Harry thanked said ghost and hurried out to the lake and only needed a second to find who he was looking for. Sitting under a tree near the lake, sat Hermione, looking out across the lake. Harry walked over to her.
"Mind if I join you?" He asked as he got close enough.
She shook her head and Harry sat down next to her, seeing her hurt expression.
"Ron was just being an ass. You know him." Harry said as he too looked out across the lake.
"I'm never speaking to him again, so you can forget about talking me into apologizing to him." She stated bluntly.
"I wasn't going to. I told him off after you left. Let's just say, he will no longer be associated with Harry Potter anymore."
The brown haired girl looked at in with some shock.
"You did that?"
"Ron has been pushing his luck recently, trying to see how far he can push us before we snap. Today was the final nail in the coffin. Besides, I really don't like to see you upset."
Hermione smiled at him.
"At least someone does."
Harry cocked his head to the side in confusion.
"What do you mean?" He asked her.
She gave a watery chuckle.
"No one sees me as Hermione Granger, a girl. No. Everyone thinks like Ron does. They see me as Hermione Granger, Harry Potter's bookworm friend and Ron's ease why out of school." She said unhappily.
Harry pulled Hermione into a hug as she began to cry.
"Actually, I've noticed you since day one. Did you know that?" He asked her.
She looked up at him and shook her head. Harry smile.
"Yes. And if you didn't get my hint upstairs, I'll ask you now. Hermione Granger? You wanna go to the ball with me?" He asked her.
Hermione smiled but gave him a curious look.
"Harry, I really would like that, but I want to know why you'd ask me and not some one like Cho?" She inquired.
This only made the young wizard smile.
"Because I see Hermione Granger, a pretty and smart girl who has been my true friend since we stopped that troll in our first year. I see someone who won't take me for granted and try to yes my fame to get what they want. That's why."
Hermione tried to hide her blush as she shook her head.
"I'm not that pretty. My teeth are large and my hair is bushy. And I'm annoying."
"True. You can be annoying at times, but the good kind. And I think your very pretty. Your teeth aren't large. Malfoy's got larger. And as for your hair? I'd like to think it's just untamable, like you." He said with a grin.
Hermione giggled and simply leaned back against him, both teens looking out over the lake as the sun began to sink beyond the horizon before they decided to head inside. They gave the password and entered the common room to see every eye in the room turn to them before returning to their work. Harry noticed Fred and George approached the two and had serious expressions on their faces.
"Harry. We want to apologize about Ron-"
"For being a git to the both of you."
Harry waved them off.
"You two don't need to apologize. It's only Ron. Not your whole family."
Fred shook his head.
"No. What he did was an embarrassment to us as well as you."
"We do owe you an apology for our git of a brother."
Harry grinned as he came up with a rather brilliant idea.
"You two are forgiven on one condition."
Fred saw his smile and smirked as did George. Both twins looked to the other before thei smirks grew even larger.
"Prank him with out holding back."
The twins grinned so wide, it looked like their faces would split in half.
The next morning found Ron in front of McGonagall, trying to explain why he didn't have his homework. He stuttered his response that Hermione had thrown it in the fire and called that non sense since she felt that Hermione would not set another up for failure and had given Ron detention two nights back to back for failure to complete his assignment and for lying, even though Harry and Hermione both knew it was true, but felt that Ron needed to both be humbled and taught a lesson. Lunch found Harry and Hermione sitting side by side, just talking, getting to know each other a lot more than they previously had. And Harry thought it felt great to get to know his friend better, while Hermione enjoyed talking with the black haired boy to such an extent. Next lesson for the pair was…
"SILENCE!" A cold voice ordered.
The room quieted down as Proffesor Snape caught the classes attention.
"Now. Today we will be doing a simple antidote as a refresher. I dare to hope that you remember how to create one, or else your career in potions will be…short."
Malfoy and the other Slytherins smirked at the comment as Snape walked through the dungeon as the class began pulling out ingredients and other such items needed for brewing an antidote. Today's poison was a nasty one. It caused the body to lose control of all it's muscles and forced them all to constrict at the same time. After thirty seconds in the body, it would constrict the airway and all the arteries and veins, bursting them inside the body. Most of the time, the being would be dead before the blood flow got interrupted form the pressure on the whole body. And once it reached the brain, it would actually begin to dissolve it. But the cure was a simple matter to construct because everyday potion ingredients that could be found anywhere where in it. But sadly, it was not even twenty minutes into potions that disaster struck. Neville had been trying desperately to get this one right but in his hurry, he had dropped in the frog liver to earlier and the potion had taken on a nasty green color instead of the light red it should have. He began to whimper and stir it quickly, trying to fix the problem when potion litteraly exploded, spraying the room with the green concotion. Harry instinctively cover Hermione with his own body as the liquid sailed toward her. Harry felt it hit and heard a sizzling. He immediately yanked his robe off as the potion, or as he was now sure it was an acid, eat away his robes. Neville however, was not so lucky. He'd gotten a face full and was screaming furiously and Harry watched in horror as Snape quickly moved foreword and gave a few waves of his wand and what Harry saw actually made him try not to laugh. Neville was missing his eyebrows, eyelashes, and half the hair on his head. Snape raised an eyebrow.
"I must say Longbottom. I'm actually rather surprised you made a hair removal potion that seemed to work so well. If it weren't for the fact that it was from your own blundering, I might actually have awarded you points for it." He said as he turned and headed to the front of the class and called forward those who had been hit.
Harry really felt his side threaten to explode as he saw a bald Malfoy rush to the front of the room trying to get his hair back. This day couldn't get better. He turned around and saw Hermione giving him a puzzled look.
"What?" He asked.
She simply smiled and shook her head.
"Nothing. Just trying to figure you out."
"Maybe I'll let you?" He teased.
Hermione raised and eyebrow and crossed her arms across her chest.
"Really. I think I'll take you up on that." She countered.
Harry chuckled and went back to work.
The weeks went by quickly for the school as the Yule Ball quickly descended upon them. There wasn't much change except that Harry and Hermione had seemed to grow closer. And Harry found himself actually thinking about her, a lot. She seemed to be everywhere to him. But he didn't mind. He liked it. It was about two night before the dance when Harry decided to take a chance. He and Hermione were sitting in the common room, he on a chair, her on the floor, leaning against his legs, absentmindedly petting Crookshanks, said cat purring like a lion, when he spoke up.
"I was thinking. Maybe could consider the ball…a….a…" Curse his failing vocabulary.
Hermione however, was bemused. If she was hearing this right, Harry Potter was trying to ask her out. She settled on a sweet expression.
"Maybe we could what, Harry?" She asked innocently.
Harry mumbled his response and Hermione wanted to laugh as his face reddened, but felt it wouldn't be right.
"What did you say?"
Harry sighed and decided to just say it.
"If we could consider it a date."
Hermione smiled and rose to her feet, standing in front of him with humor in her eyes.
"And why would the Great Harry Potter want to date little, old, plain, me?" She teased, mocking curiosity.
"Because he has a thing for pretty girls who are bookworms."
Hermione seemed to think before she grinned.
"Alright. It's a date."
Harry grinned and felt better than he had in a while now.
The Yule ball arrived in no time, or so it seemed to Harry. He'd last seen Hermione three hours ago when she stated that she'd meet him at the Great Hall. So Harry got showered and dressed in his dress robes and headed down to the Great Hall to wait. He looked around and saw quite a few students looking at him in confusion. Diggory walked over to him.
"Harry? Where's your date? You have one, right?" He asked.
Harry nodded and turned to the stairs when he froze, his eyes wide and his mouth agape. Cedric looked over as well and his eyes widened too. Standing at the top of the steps, was Hermione. But it wasn't the Hermione Harry was used to. This one was beautiful. Her bushy hair was brushed and was now tamed. She had a light amount of make up dusting her features, not that she needed it. What caught his attention was her dress. She was dressed in robes made of a floaty periwinkle-blue material and her smile was perfect. He felt his heart threaten to leap out of his chest as she walked over to him. Cedric grinned at Harry.
"I see you found one. Nicely done, Potter." He said as he headed back to Cho.
Hermione stopped in front of him, blush on her face as Harry simply took in her sight. It was a minute before he spoke.
"Wow." He looked at her numbly. "You look…wow."
"Thank you. You look rather handsome yourself."
Harry blushed lightly and offered Hermione his arm which she took. Professor McGonagall gave the pair an amused look.
"I wondered when you two would pair up. Now, will the Champions and their partners come this way please."
Harry and Hermione fell in behind the others and noticed that Hermione was receiving various stares from everyone, and seemed uncomfortable with all the attention. Harry grabbed her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, calming her down. She gave him a grateful smile. The rest of the students passed by them as they waited and Harry noted some interesting things. Like how Malfoy was unable to even say anything to Hermione as he walked by and the fact that Ron failed to notice or recognize who his date was. After what felt like an eternity, they entered the Great Hall and made their way to the Heads table and sat down. Harry ended up near Mr. Crouch. The meal eventually came after they figured out how to order through their plates. It was a great dinner with chatter rising throughout the room. Harry himself had been engaged into a conversation by Ludo Bagman about Quidditch for several minutes before Hermione caught his attention and gestured toward Ron with her head. Harry glanced over and saw a pissed look across the boy's face as he took in the fact that Harry was with Hermione at the Ball. Harry felt a twinge of guilt but pushed it aside as Dumbledore rose with a smile on his face. With a wave of his wand, several tables in the center of the Hall zoom to the walls, leaving a good sized area that Harry could only guess was the dance floor. A stage had also appeared and a group of witches and wizards stepped up to the platform. Harry took his cue from Dumbledore and rose from his seat, as did the other champions and took Hermione's hand and they walked to the dance floor. Harry gave Hermione a bow that she returned and he took her right hand in his left and placed his right hand on her waist and they began. Funnily enough, they actually were the first to start as the other Champions started off slower. Harry didn't care. He knew he was the envy of most the males in the room and it made him grin. Hermione concentrated on him and tried to block out the fact that everyone was watching them. The first dance was for the Champions and Harry enjoyed it tremendously. After the song ended, they stopped and Harry gave her another little bow, making her smile and they faced the crowd with the Champions and all eight gave the crowd a little bow as well. The next song was as slow as the first, but Harry didn't care. It was defiantly a slow dance, based on the tempo and the words. Hermione rested her head on his chest as they slowly revolved on the spot, barely an inch between them. This was definatly a great night for him. The band began going for more up beat songs and in turn, Harry, while he was not the best dancer around, enjoyed sharing the floor with his date since she seemed to know exactly what she was doing, which he made a mental note to ask her how she did so well. After fifteen minutes, Hermione asked Harry if they could stop for a bit so she could cool off. He nodded and lead her to an empty table and left to get them drinks. It was at the punch bowel that he came across someone he'd have rather avoided.
"So you ditched me for a girl?"
Harry looked up to see an angry Ron glaring at him. Harry ignored him and grabbed two butter beers and turned to leave when he felt a hand grab his shoulder.
"Hey. I'm talking to you!"
Harry tried his best to control his temper.
"Let go of me or I'll hex your hand off." Harry threatened.
"What happened to you?" Ron demanded.
Harry gave him a cool look.
"No. I think you should be figuring out what happened to you. Now, if you don't mind, I have to get back to my date."
Harry left without looking back and walked over to Hermione. She was gently swaying to the beat of the music, looking out over the dance floor when he returned. Harry handed her the drink and she thanked him and took a sip, still looking at the others. Harry pulled his chair closer to her's and sat beside her, enjoying himself. It was after they had finished half their drinks that Hermione spoke up.
"Why did you ask me, Harry?" She asked without looking at him.
The young Potter looked at her in confusion.
"Why did you ask me to come here and not someone else?"
"Because I was hoping to lay a bit of a thicker foundation beyond friendship with you."
This caused her to look at him with a happy expression.
"I knew that part. I just want to know what you see in me." She asked.
"I see a smart, beautiful young woman who is the most perfect person I have ever met. I'm very lucky to have you as a friend. I'd be an even luckier man if we became more."
She raised an eyebrow.
"Are you trying to persuade me?"
He shook his head.
"No. I wanted to tell you how I felt and I have no intention of making you choose anything. Your choice is your's and I will respect it. Even if we stay just friends, I could live with that. If we become more…I wouldn't complain."
Hermione smiled and nodded her head.
"I think we need somewhere a bit more private to talk."
Harry followed her lead and the pair left to the Gardens and found a nice secluded spot and sat down on one of the benches. Hermione gave him a nervous look.
"Harry. I have a confession. I've actually been hoping to go on a date with you for a while now. I…like you. More than a friend should."
This made him smile as he moved a strand of her hair out of her face and behind her ear.
"I've been thinking about that a lot lately. At least since last year that is. Remember when we had just escaped Professor Lupin after he transformed?"
"Well…I really liked how it felt to have you in my arms. Thing was, I was afraid I'd ruin what we had. And I thought you liked Ron." He confessed.
"He needs to learn how to treat his friends. He expects us to just drop everything and help him. No. The only reason I actually tried to be a friend to him was because of you. I knew that the three if us could be the best of friends, but he hasn't put any effort into it."
Harry silently agreed before he gave her a small smile.
"I guess I'm still nervous to ask, but I'll do it anyway. Hermione? Would you be…my…girlfriend?"
She gave him a startled look before it dissolved into a smile. She nodded her head.
"Yes. I'll be your girlfriend."
Harry gave a sigh of relief before the heard Hagrid. Harry looked around but didn't see him. Both of them stayed quiet as they heard him talking to Madam Maxine and decided it was best to leave them alone. Harry took her hand and headed inside where the band kicked up into a up beat song. Harry recognized it as 'I'll stop the World and melt with you' and chuckled. He never expected to hear a muggle song in a school for magic, but hey, tonight was full of surprises.
Harry and Hermione walked back to the common room, both tire, but smiling. The two headed for the stairs that separated the dormitories and stopped. Hermione turned to him, giving him a dazzling smile.
"Thank you for tonight, Harry. I had fun."
"Your welcome. Besides, I enjoyed hanging out with you, Hermione."
She blushed at him and started to go to her dorm when he caught her wrist. She turned to him, puzzled.
"I may be new to relationships, but I do know your forgetting to do something." He stated, smirking.
Hermione gave him a confused look, but it didn't stay there long as Harry leaned in briefly and gave her a short, chaste kiss on her lips making her eyes widen in shock before she closed them. After a moment, they pulled away, not because they wanted to, but because some one had entered the common room. Particularly, a set of twins.
"Aww…Look George. Our little Harry is all grown up." Fred teased.
George mocked wipping a tear from his eye.
"It seems like only yesterday we where helping him get his trunk on the train. Now look. He's got himself a girlfriend."
Fred looked to his twin in mock seriousness.
"You think we should give him the Talk?" He asked.
George faked thinking.
"Maybe we should."
Harry turned red as Hermione also blushed.
"Good night you two." She said with a bit of steel in her voice.
The twins laughed and congratulated the pair before disappearing to their own dorm. Harry shook his head and turned to Hermione with a smile.
"Well. I guess it's time for us to get some rest. Want to meet up for breakfast?"
She nodded her head and leaned in one more time for a second kiss before heading back up to her dorm, smile on her face. Harry was grinning like a mad man as he entered the dorm. Neville himself was there as well and saw the grin on Harry's face.
"What's got you so happy?" He asked.
"Nothing too big Neville. I'm gonna change and get some sleep."
"Alright. Night Harry."
Harry bade the other boy good night and changed over to his sleep clothes and climbed into bed. His grin followed him off into sleep as his dreams turned to a certain brown haired girl.