We All Fall After the Yule Ball

Chapter Sixteen

"Contestants, gather 'round!"

Ludo Bagman's booming voice met an equally deafening response from the stands set up across the lake from the tournament's competitors. The rows of seats were filled with the excitement of the students, who were celebrating the sudden movement on the stage, anticipating that things were about to get started. If nothing else, the opening ceremony would give the fans an opportunity to warm up to the event, as the late February weather was making even the most energetic fan long for the warmth of the castle. Bagman and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, were now standing at the podium erected above the stage and, judging by the gleam in Fudge's eye, the tournament administrators were finally ready for the task to begin.

Harry diverted his eyes from the event planners, sparing Fleur a brief glance. He was seeking reassurance from his significant other, but her eyes were hard and her stance was rigid, all signs that she was focused on the task ahead. All their prep work had given him confidence that they would score well, but he hadn't accounted for the icy chill that had hung over Hogwarts the last few days, nor the sound of the massive crowd. The small food fight at breakfast had cured his nervousness up to this point, but now that he saw his classmates staring at him from across the water, he felt his fears coming back full force.

That's enough, he told himself, shaking off the feeling. Stick to the plan and everything will come together. You can't lose with Fleur by your side...

Snow had piled up on the edges of the lake, and a small portion of it was frozen; Fleur was already casting a warming charm on him, something he had been too distracted to accomplish for himself before now. He smiled in thanks, enjoying the feel of warm air against the area exposed by his slim tank top, but his expression was missed by his girlfriend. Fleur was oblivious, such was her concentration on preparing for their potentially perilous dive.

It was too loud to talk freely, and she was too busy applying the same charm to herself anyway, so Harry occupied his time by watching her carefully. He found himself doing that more and more often these days, as Fleur had become an obsession, as well as his girlfriend. Ironically, all the time he spent focused on Fleur had Harry advancing more rapidly in his studies, as watching her often enough meant that he was noticing her use her magic differently than he would have otherwise. Fleur had three years of experience that he couldn't possibly equal, but she did very little to make him feel inferior and was all too willing to teach him, so even if he had to listen to her patiently explain the difference between the Protean Charm and the Switching spell for the third time, Harry couldn't complain.

Then again, once she switched his shirt with hers to prove her point and to provide some additional comfort for herself, he did have considerable cause to grumble.

All in all, there were worse things than having a supremely-gifted girlfriend.

Her extra experience didn't mean that he had been silent during their strategy sessions. He felt confident that Krum and Diggory weren't quite as excited to be in each other's company, so he knew working together with her was going to give them an edge on the competition. It was very easy to lose track of time when he was with Fleur, but he congratulated himself for spending most of that time wisely; in addition to his fourth year courses, he had been reading a defense book at random every night, and they had spent a somewhat fruitful evening with Hagrid (thanks to Harry and Fleur's liberal use of whiskey in the man's tankard of tea) discussing ways to defend themselves from magical beasts. Grindylows disliked bright lights and heat, and he and Fleur now knew a spell that would send a burst of unbearable heat through the water in all directions. While he hoped he never saw any of the creatures, after his experience with the dragon, it was stupid to suspect an easy Second Task.

Harry's reverie was broken when Fudge smiled charmingly at the Headmistress of Beauxbatons, stepping forward to shake her hand; unfortunately for the Minister of England, the giantess ruthlessly exerted pressure on the man's palm, and Fudge's eyes bulged in response. A camera snapped a photo at that exact moment, and Harry noticed Rita Skeeter standing beside the camera man. She was hanging on the arm of Percy Weasley, who seemed determined not to blink, lest the Minister disappear from his sights. A quill was flying back and forth over a levitating note pad, and as Harry watched, Rita's simpering smile drifted away and an intense expression took over. After a few more questions, she rolled her makeup-encrusted eyes and left stuttering Percy's side, her stride leading her in Harry's direction.

Harry stiffened immediately, but Fleur, who was watching him this time, grabbed his hand before he could lose his temper. "Don't let Skeeter bother you," the girl whispered, "that's exactly what she wants. Besides, we'll be in the water before she can talk to you anyway."

Harry soon found she was right, as Rita turned to face Ludo, who cleared his throat and continued speaking to the gathered fans and students.

"Well, well, well," the man said, his medium length blonde hair blowing wildly in the chilly wind. "I'm not one for dramatics," he said, drawing a quiet snort of amusement from Harry, "but so far this tournament has had me pulling my hair out and screaming for joy!" A roar from the crowd accompanied the end of his statement, and the host of the competition waited for the noise to die down before speaking again. Harry decided that, despite all of the man's obvious faults, Ludo was an expert orator; he was not as sickeningly boastful as Harry's ex-Professor Lockhart, but there was a similar reaction from the female presence in the crowd. Ron and the Weasley twins were high in the stands, and did not seem as amused by the Head of Magical Games and Sports, particularly the two vengeful twins, who had been robbed blind by the man. Ginny and Mrs. Weasley, who was unaware of her sons' plight, were also there, as well as Bill and Arthur, who were sitting above the rest of them and discussing something amongst themselves.

"All of our champions are assembled again today," Ludo continued, building up a head of steam. "Viktor Krum from Durmstrang and Harry Potter from Hogwarts are tied in first place and will look to increase their lead over Cedric Diggory, our second competitor from Hogwarts, and last, but not least, the beautiful Fleur Delacour, our representative of Beauxbatons."

The snarl Fleur tried to hide probably couldn't be seen from the stands, but her furious expression was not lost on Harry, though he couldn't figure out if her anger came as a result of being in last place or because Bagman had called her beautiful. Oblivious to her inner struggle, the gathered crowd cheered again, this time rising to their feet. "Are you ready to honor your schools once more?"

All four contestants nodded, but Fleur barely reacted. It was too loud for Harry to think, and he felt a heat rising up his neck that had nothing to do with embarrassment. Harry morbidly wondered whether Voldemort would enjoy a first person view of the second task. A cursory glance showed Viktor looked determined and, beside him, Cedric seemed resigned. Harry felt a bit nauseous at the thought of going in the water. He tried not to panic, but he was pretty sure his face was paler than Moaning Myrtle.

" -will start on my whistle. They have precisely an hour to recover what has been taken from them-"

Harry tuned Bagman out as he proceeded to explain to the crowd the ordeal the champions would have to survive, and how they would need to retrieve someone from the depths of the lake before their time ran out or risk losing them forever. The crowd gasped, whether in anticipation or dread, Harry could not discern. Supposedly, the crowd would be able to watch the competitors while they were under water, and though Harry had no idea how such a feat could be replicated magically, it was obvious by the reactions from the others that they were looking at the faces of the chosen captives.

Across the divide between competitor and observer, Ron met Harry's glance. The redhead seemed particularly troubled, a sure sign that something was amiss. With a darkening realization, Harry noticed one particular face was missing from the crowd.

Fleur, for her part, looked even more determined after scanning the fans. "It's her," she muttered. Harry was distracted by his thoughts, and when he turned, Fleur was staring between her parents with a slightly sickened expression. Gabrielle, who had previously demanded to be present for the task, was nowhere to be found. "It has to be."

"She'll be alright," Harry said, correctly interpreting his girlfriend's distress. "We'll make sure of it."

Fleur smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. Harry had a feeling he would be freeing Hermione from the bottom of the lake, and he wasn't exactly sure Fleur would appreciate the connotations when he did. Then again, he didn't think the captives were selected by anything other than clever guesswork from the professors and judges, so it couldn't be his fault if Hermione was "the person he'd miss most". Women were notorious for being jealous, but he was relatively certain Fleur wouldn't react that way.

At least, Harry hoped not. It would be just his luck for him to win the task and then lose Fleur in the process.

Before he knew it, Harry was being ushered to the edge of the dock, and he mentally prepared himself for diving into the freezing water below him. From a pouch on his hip, he produced a handful of Gillyweed, which he broke apart and gave to Fleur with a grin. She returned his smile gratefully, but it fell away when she ate the sickening substance, her excited expression replaced by a grimace that looked odd on such a lovely face. Harry, swallowing to avoid tasting the offending item, thought to himself that eating Gillyweed felt like eating one of Crookshanks' hair balls.

"Good luck," he told Fleur, just seconds before a whistle blew and she dove in headfirst. He followed a second later, but it took them both a little while to orient themselves before they were ready to start swimming. Harry reapplied his warming charm, but it did little more than make the unbearable cold disappear for a few seconds. Shrugging, he decided he'd just have to be quick so his entire body didn't go numb, a very real and worrying thought.

Fleur waved at him to get his attention and pointed toward the center of the lake. Harry gave her a thumbs up sign, and they set off for their destination, swimming in tandem through the murky darkness. Harry conjured light with Lumos, but his eyes searched all around them, and he was prepared to cast more dangerous spells if they were necessary. Ahead of them they could see Viktor, whose head had been transformed into something resembling a shark; for his part, the Bulgarian wizard was leading already, but Harry was sure he'd lose points for botching his Transfiguration. Cedric rounded out their group, but he was quite a distance behind them, struggling to swim as he had to keep his concentration on a Bubblehead charm.

Harry and Fleur had decided that their main concern for this task was getting the captives back safely, and they had an hour to spare, so there was no need to rush. Fleur navigated them forward with enough speed to be comfortable that they'd finish in plenty of time. They eventually lost sight of the two other competitors, but Harry felt confident that they were going the right direction, so they didn't worry too much about being alone. He was sure that Krum had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Oddly enough, Moaning Myrtle made her presence known, (and felt, when she slid through Harry, chilling him to the bone) but she didn't stay for long. She made a face at Fleur before zipping back toward Hogwarts. Harry swore Fleur was laughing, but he could only make out the back of her head in the cloudy water. Everything was going swimmingly for the couple until a group of Grindylows appeared.

A brown, goblin-like hand snatched at Harry's throat, but he was quicker with his wand, and a burst of hot water scalded the first Grindylow. It recoiled, mouth stretching in agony, even as its friends tried snapping at Fleur's hair. A lengthy strand was caught and subsequently pulled free as Fleur's head was yanked backward; angrily, she swept her own wand in an arc and the bright light nearly burned Harry's eyes.

There was no doubt her spell wasn't enough; droves of Grindylows were now forcing them closer to the lake bed. Even with added abilities like water-breathing and expert swimming, Harry still had to work hard to defend himself. He had not expected so many Grindylow's to appear, but then, his early forays into the lake with Fleur were nowhere near as challenging as this task. His grip on his wand wasn't so good with his hands shaped like fins, and he almost panicked when a Grindylow slammed bodily into his right side causing his wand to tumble out of his grip.

In a flash, Fleur's wand exploded with a stream of boiling water, her desperation obviously overpowering her magic, and Harry could hear the screams of the beasts as they tried to flee. Just as quickly as it came, the blur of spellfire stopped, and Fleur's mouth formed an expression of agony; Harry watched with wide eyes as Fleur was beaten back by three or four Grindlows working together, focusing their attacks on her long, unprotected hair and legs.

He was no help without his magic, so he dove, swiftly maneuvering himself below his falling wand. He plucked it out of the current, and then, using his legs to propel himself back toward Fleur, he swung his wand around in a circle, letting loose the same spell she had been performing. Unfortunately, he didn't fare much better than Fleur. Harry found himself growing tired quickly, but he redoubled his efforts, a burst of adrenaline and willpower giving him the strength to keep casting spells. When the hot water burned one Grindylow's arms almost to a crisp, the others seemed to give up, streaming off in the other direction.

Finally, the worst of it was over, and Harry could relax a bit. His heart was rhythmically pounding against his chest as he sucked down great lungfuls of fresh air, feeling the odd sensation of water rushing in and out of the gills formed on his neck. A stray Grindlow had scratched his arm as he went to retrieve his wand but, other than being sore from the long swim, Harry was none the worse for wear.

So, it was shocking when he turned toward Fleur and realized that she was incapacitated. Her hair had been shredded in two places, but the most alarming thing was the fact that she remained still even after he Enervated her. Normally bright blue eyes were hidden beneath pale lids, and her graven face was emotionless. Moving closer, Harry could see that, while his arm had been scratched by the beasts, Fleur had been gashed across the neck.

His heart leapt into his throat when he saw blood in the water, but a check of her vitals showed that she was merely unconscious, and a second glance at the wound let him know she wasn't in immediate danger. In fact, it didn't look like the Grindylows had hurt her that bad at all, which made him wonder what exactly had caused Fleur to black out.

He paused for a moment, nervously considering his options. He could Ennervate her again, but repeatedly trying to wake her inside the water could end the enchantment placed on her, violently pulling the water from the lake into her lungs. It was fortunate that the captives would be fine until someone cast the counter spell to wake them up, but in the end, his decision was made for him. Reluctantly, he allowed his wand to break the surface just long enough for him to cast one spell.

Fleur is going to hate me for this...

"Tied for first place with eighty-five points each, let's congratulate our Hogwarts competitors: Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory!"

Hermione, Fleur's sister Gabrielle, and Cho Chang were sitting on the dock next to the lake. Some girl Harry didn't recognize was hugging Viktor and Cedric was holding Cho's hand as he rested his wet forehead against the dock itself. Harry was standing with a blanket around his damp shoulders, pacing worriedly between Fleur, Gabrielle, and Hermione.

Bagman continued to read the second task scores, but the only sign of recognition from Fleur was a brief wince as her name was read last. She was too busy running her long fingers through Gabrielle's wet hair, and though it was quickly becoming a tangled mess, the young girl seemed pleased with her much older sister's attention. They were sharing a whispered conversation in French, so Harry didn't bother to listen, choosing to give the sisters a rare moment together.

Hermione had been shivering on the dock for the last few minutes, so Harry stepped forward to cast a warming charm on her. She was thankful, judging by her thin smile, but it was obvious that something else occupied her mind. Harry had a feeling her unease had little to do with being pulled out of a freezing lake. The way she was warily watching Fleur, as if she expected the older girl to suddenly curse her, was a cause for some concern. Hermione had been confirmed as the thing Harry would miss the most, and Harry wasn't sure that either one of the two most important girls in his life was going to take that revelation sitting down.

With Harry's help, Hermione rose to her feet and began fixing her dripping hair into a ponytail. Despite his best effort, Harry couldn't resist glancing down to find a very wet blouse sticking to his best friend's lithe figure, though Hermione was so distracted she didn't seem to notice. "When Professor Dumbledore came for me," she said, pausing to smooth her shirt back down over her trim stomach, "I was half asleep. I barely had time to brush my teeth. The only other thing I could think to bring was a hair tie and my wand."

Harry smiled as his thoughts unconsciously drifted away from Fleur's stunned silence. "I don't remember ever seeing your hair slicked back, besides the Yule Ball, of course. It looks… nice that way." For some reason, complimenting his best friend just seemed natural to him, not forced like it had been with Parvati and Katie. Of course, he still had to force himself to be calm and collected with Fleur, so being suave wasn't quite as easy for him as his success with the blonde bombshell had made it seem.

Hermione sighed, feeling miserable with herself despite Harry's success. She noted that Harry was tied for first place with Cedric but had not seemed to care, nor had he even turned to face Bagman as the retired Quidditch star droned on about the next task.

Hermione was imminently aware of Harry's presence beside her. She leaned into him slightly, looking up at him with large, wondering eyes. "Are you alright?" Harry asked her softly, his eyebrows knitted together with his concern. She thought it was a loaded question, and her cultivated mind wondered at his intent, running through the many possibilities before finally settling on the most likely.

"I'm not so cold now," she murmured, as his eyes rested on her face. Harry fixed his own blanket around her shoulders and smiled, even as the brisk wind hit his exposed back. "Thanks for the warming charm," Hermione said. "I just need a minute to think…"

Her words went unheard by Harry; Fleur had chosen that moment to walk up to them. Harry was surprised to see pain in his girlfriend's eyes and briefly wondered at her expression.

Hermione turned away from the older girl, annoyed that Harry was paying more attention to his girlfriend, though she didn't dare voice her envious thoughts. Instead, she scanned the slowly moving waves of the lake. Unbeknownst to the fourth year Gryffindor, however, Fleur's glare was focused on the side of her face.

"Let me ask you a question," Fleur said. Her voice was as soft as it was dangerous. Harry raised his eyebrows as he realized her intention a second too late. He had a sudden urge to jump back into the water and swim somewhere far away, but realized it would only prolong the inevitable.

Harry knew he had been the creator of his own misery. His lips had come unglued as Fleur's tongue worked its way inside them, and a few nights previous, under the influence of one of Fleur's choice spirits, he had aired his dirty laundry, unintentionally divulging the entire story of his night before and after the Yule Ball. Spurred on by her suggestion that, since they weren't explicitly together at the time, neither of them could be responsible for their actions that night, he chose to tell her everything, even the details of his and Hermione's kiss in the broom closet and their subsequent fight about it. He explained that they were on good terms now, and she seemed fully supportive of Harry and Fleur's relationship, not sore that they were together.

Despite it all, Harry could see that feathers were about to fly. Fleur crept closer and closer to Hermione's oblivious form. Pulling Hermione out of the lake rather than Ron had not been Hermione's fault, nor Harry's, but it seemed that one or both of them was going to be punished nonetheless. His bookish best friend, however, was distracted by the Giant Squid coming to the surface at Professor Dumbledore's direction.

To the crowd's utter amusement, Dumbledore began dancing a jig, showing agility that defied his age. A roar of applause went up around the stadium when the Giant Squid began matching his movements with its tentacles, and even Harry had to glance up with the ghost of a smile to catch the spectacle. Hermione, giggling lightly beside Harry, was enraptured by her Headmaster's hustling and couldn't resist telling a filthy joke that Ron had told her about Filch and the squid. Harry paused, before laughing uproariously, and they were both so distracted that it took them a full fifteen seconds to realize that Fleur had been standing behind them the entire time.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Fleur," she apologized, frowning lightly as she turned around to face her fully. "I guess we got lost in the ceremony. Were you saying something?"

Fleur was bristling visibly and, not for the first time since he had been dating her, Harry realized she was quite a bit taller than the majority of the girls at Hogwarts, Hermione included. She walked all the way up to the younger female and stood imperiously over her, forcing Hermione to crane her neck just to look up at Fleur, whose visage was twisted in anger.

"You know you heard me," she spat. "I asked you a question and you turned to whisper in his ear!"

"It was an accident," Hermione said, paling in the face of Fleur's fury. "I was just telling Harry-"

"Shut up!" Fleur hissed. Harry realized that they were drawing the attention of a fair few individuals on the dock, but couldn't react quickly enough to avert the approaching disaster. "Answer my question."

"Well," Hermione said, drawing out the word as her own frustration came to a boil. Harry could see plainly that his friend was holding back a sneer, perhaps outraged that the older girl wouldn't believe her. "What was your question?"

Fleur snapped, "Why do you think you still have a chance?"

"What do you mean?"

"You think I'm stupid!" she laughed humorlessly, her French accent coming through in full force. Without waiting for Hermione to answer (which was probably a good thing), Fleur simpered, "You say you and Harry are just friends. You went with Viktor to the ball but it's obvious you aren't interested and he is hanging on someone else anyway," she said, pointing at the Bulgarian, who had his arms wrapped around the girl at the edge of the dock. They made no move to acknowledge the angry French girl, though Harry had a feeling Viktor had heard her loud and clear. "I think you were trying to get someone's attention, no? Another champion perhaps?"

Harry began to get anxious, as he could sense the crowd's attention switching from Bagman's summary of events and Dumbledore's impromptu dancing to the other, more exciting display happening on the dock. Even Bagman himself seemed torn between finishing his prewritten statement and gaping in awe at Harry, Hermione and Fleur.

"Hold on," was Hermione's reply, refusing to back down. She glared defiantly at Fleur. "This is one big misunderstanding."

Fleur snorted, a harsh, unladylike thing that seemed perhaps more harmful than an outright retort. "Oh, trust me! I understand everything perfectly. Harry told me what happened on the night of the Yule Ball," she said, as if she was proud he had informed her of something almost everyone in Hogwarts now knew, "and I know better. I've been watching you."

Hermione's voice was an octave too high as she glanced around at all their observers (and anywhere besides Harry's shocked face) and said, "Just because Harry and I… kissed does not mean anything! He said so himself!"

Harry did not recall saying anything like that, though he was in no particular hurry to contradict Hermione's declaration.

"I saw you two talking in the infirmary the night Harry was… hurt. If I hadn't walked in when I did," Fleur said, her voice full of conviction, "you would have told him the real truth."

Harry's eyes widened. He had already surmised what Fleur's idea of the "real truth" would be, and Fleur's assertion that two parts of the Gryffindor trio would have ended up with each other if she didn't exist was not lost on him. He opened his mouth to say something but, surprisingly, one of his least favorite people came to his rescue before he could speak.

"Ladies," Percy interrupted, stepping in between the two teenagers, "surely you can handle this somewhere more private?" Harry had never been more thankful to have Percy on his side. Unfortunately, the girls were beyond caring what Percy, or anyone else, thought, and Hermione was not in the mood for being polite.

"Shut up, Percy, you twit!" The shocked look on his boyish face had the Weasley twins convulsing with laughter, but no one else seemed to share their good humor; even Ron, who was notoriously unfriendly toward his older brother, was frowning like he hadn't eaten all day. "I don't know what you're trying to prove here, Fleur," Hermione continued, acting as if she hadn't just emasculated Percy in front of most of the wizarding world's most important people. "I wish you would get to the point."

Fleur stiffened immediately, but Harry grabbed her hand before she could fully lose her temper. "Don't do this," he begged, but she shrugged him off, a false smile pasted on her pretty face.

"If I had not come into his life, Harry would be stuck with you and your disrespectful, disgusting friend Ronald! You have feelings for 'im too, little girl, whether you're brave enough to admit them or not!"

"Little girl?" Hermione said, in a shaky voice; unfortunately, her half sob only helped to prove Fleur's point. The field was quiet except for the gentle waves crashing against the banks of the Great Lake and the sudden sound of a quill against parchment. Harry could almost hear the cogs in Rita Skeeter's brain grinding as she thought of the perfect way to present this brewing love triangle to the adoring public. The Weasleys, who had climbed onto the dock immediately after the end of the task, looked completely dumbfounded that Fleur was angrily telling off Hermione. Ron seemed caught between staring at Fleur hungrily and defending Hermione. The brunette's fists were clenched with rage, however, and if Harry wasn't badly mistaken, Hermione didn't need to be defended.

"What would you know about being brave?" Hermione said through her tightly clenched jaw. Harry could sense a sudden shift in the conversational tide; where Hermione had been the emotional one of the verge of crying, the anger swirling in her brown eyes was sure to leave Fleur on the receiving end this time around.

"Please guys," Harry begged, as camera lights began flashing. "We can settle this without fighting." A desperate glance at Dumbledore went unnoticed, as the school Headmaster was now speaking quietly to the Minister of Magic, probably with the intent to distract Cornelius from Harry, Hermione and Fleur's fight.

"I'm braver than you!" Fleur cackled, amazed at the young girl's audacity. Of course, she had no idea how many things Hermione had accomplished since joining the wizarding world as a Muggleborn, nor what the smartest Gryffindor in the school would likely be capable of in the future.

"You couldn't even save your own sister!"

Fleur literally looked as if she had been struck in the face; red splotches appeared on both of her cheeks and Harry had to take a step back to avoid Fleur sudden attempt to slap Hermione. Hermione, somehow prepared for the assault, ducked quickly, leaving Fleur off-balance as she struggled to control her momentum. Harry was forced to grab her around the waist in order to keep her from slipping off the dock and into the icy water. He steadied her as best he could, but Hermione wasn't finished; with a swift, firm shove, she catapulted Fleur back into Harry's side, sending them both tumbling into the blistering cold lake.

Fleur screamed as her head popped back over the surface, beet red and swollen with rage. In the time it took Harry to reappear, all hell broke loose on the dock; Hermione was being led away by McGonagall, who seemed torn between protecting her student, taking away every point she had ever given Hermione and giving her the Head Girl's badge in the morning. Gabrielle was being consoled by her two parents.

Harry would have preferred to stay under water, if only to remove the necessity of dealing with any of these events in short order. Ultimately, he decided that Hermione would end up in Azkaban for murder, Fleur would likely become suicidal and, if he went to heaven, his dad would never let him live this one down. He climbed onto the dock, taking deep breaths and trying to control his muscles, as he shivered from the freezing cold.

The first person to greet him was Ron, who offered him a rueful smile and a towel; the former was ignored in favor of the latter, as Harry wiped the shame off of his soaked body and tried in vain to prepare for the onslaught that was sure to come.

Fleur gave him a glare that promised retribution but, before she could confront Harry, she was led away by her parents, Gabrielle trailing behind them, wearing a nasty expression that seemed out of place on her angelic features. Harry turned his attention away from his girlfriend – for now – and focused on trudging back up to the castle, where he was likely to spend the rest of the afternoon being antagonized by his classmates or agonizing over his miserable misfortune.

As Ron led him away, Harry counted himself lucky that his long, wet hair hung in his face, removing most of his embarrassment from view. He couldn't help wondering which was worse: Fleur dumping him over Hermione or the fact that Rita Skeeter, quite on accident, was right about something in his private life. He could just imagine Monday morning's Prophet. He wouldn't be surprised if they didn't mention the second task at all.

Not that he could blame anyone, given the fact that he couldn't bring himself to care about his performance either.

-End of Chapter Sixteen-


After one hell of a long hiatus, a few published works and a lot of self-aggrandizing, I've returned, hopefully to finish this glorious monster. If you can appreciate the story after all this time, please, leave me a review as encouragement. Apparently, I am a lot more interested in what you think of me than I originally thought.

As a small side note, I changed the name of the story from We'll All Fall to We All Fall... you know, because it is an actually logical title.