Hermione and Viktor had walked around the lake all afternoon. He had told her about Bulgaria and his school. He had opened up about the pressure he felt to excel in all that he did – a concept that had been engrained in him by his over bearing father. When Hermione had confessed that she had seen him play in the Quidditch World Cup he had grinned and asked what she had thought of the game. He laughed as she shrugged and said that she didn't really like quidditch all that much. He surprised her by telling her that he didn't either.

For a finish she hadn't been surprised when he asked her to attend the ball with him. His loneliness seemed almost palpable and she realised that like Harry and Ron he had difficult talking to girls. Who would have thought that a world renowned quidditch player would have stuttered when he asked her, Hermione Granger, to a ball? It seemed almost like a fairy tale.

She would never admit it out loud but she was pleased that it was Viktor that asked her. Not only was he mature, intelligent and charming in his own way he had the added bonus of being one of Ron's idols. Maybe now she could prove to him that she could be viewed as an object of attraction every so often. Not that, she corrected herself, she would ever want to be known solely for her looks but it didn't hurt every so often to be told that you are pretty.

"Viktor asked me to the ball," she confessed to Ginny and giggled at Ginny's slack jawed reaction.

"As in Viktor Krum?" Hermione laughed and nodded feeling flattered yet again that someone had seen her as a girl.

"But how-" Ginny cut herself off holding up a hand. "I thought Ron was going to ask you last night?" Hermione looked down at her lap and plucked a loose thread from her uniform skirt.

"You thought wrong," she said looking up at Ginny and hating the pity that she saw in her friends all t0o familiar blue eyes. "He doesn't know who he's going with yet. But it's not me. Still assessing his best options it would seem". She tried to sound nonchalant but Ginny knew better than anyone how much Ron's rejection had hurt her.

"Well," Ginny said reaching over and putting a comforting arm around her friend. We're just going to have to make sure that he realises exactly what it is he is missing out on."

A few days later Hermione was glad that Ron hadn't asked her. She had never realised how shallow he actually was! Heck, Fleur could have him if she wanted. Hermione was just fine without him.

Well, that wasn't strictly true. Of course she would miss him if Fleur got her evil veela tentacles on him. She sat down at her favourite desk in the library and pulled out the worn copy of Hogwarts: A History. She tried to focus on the words in front of her but they seemed to swim on the page in front of her. Her concentration broke eventually and she returned to her fumings.

It did not matter. Hermione was going with Viktor and she was going to show Ron who had gotten the better deal here. She hadn't had to ask Harry to secure a date for her. She'd done out and found someone for herself and in the library of all places.

Viktor hadn't asked her as a last resort either. Unlike some people. It had hurt more than she'd ever admit when he had turned to her and asked her would she go with him after his failed attempt at asking Fleur. At the time she had been torn between accepting. For a moment she'd completely forgotten about Viktor. She'd envisioned the expression of surprise on his face when she came down the stairs from the girl's dorms. She imagined them dancing slowly in the Great Hall. It would all be perfect.

Then she had come down from her fantasies and hit reality with a bump. Ron was using her as a last resort. He'd no intention of asking her until all of his options ran out. He was a pig, worse than a pig even.

From now on she was going to allow herself to anticipate the dance without any feelings of guilt. She would let Ginny style her hair and apply her make-up. She'd slip on her dress and go down and greet Viktor. He would tell her that she looked beautiful. They would have intelligent conversations over dinner about the sociological differences between muggle-borns and wizards who were raised with magic. After dinner they would dance and she'd marvel how he didn't step on her toes once. At the end of the night he would walk her back to the stairs in the Entrance Hall and would kiss her goodnight. Everything was going to be perfect. She would make sure of it.

Sorry for the shorter chapter than usual but this one was more of a filler chapter. One chapter left to go lads! Excited? I am. :)

Okay, let me know what you think. I'd especially love to see some critiques. :D