Banking on Her
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and my writing certainly couldn't be considered canon. If my efforts don't fit your idea of what a Harry Potter story should be, I can only offer my apologies and a suggestion. Writing your own really is the only way to ensure the story progresses exactly the way you want it to, it also gives the rest of us something to read
Hermione was waiting on Harry to go down to breakfast and mentally arguing with herself at the same time. Their research had Harry focusing on an item called a pensieve, a device that allowed you to store memories. That these items were exceedingly rare and therefore probably prohibitavly expensive didn't dent his enthusiasm.
Hermione herself had come up with a foolproof way to stop the ministry wiping his memories, she just hadn't been able to summon the courage to tell him about it. They had undoubtedly become closer this year but Hermione didn't know if he was anywhere near ready to take the step required to safeguard his memories. It almost felt as if she was trapping him, something she could never be part of. For the last two days every spare moment had been spent trying to find another way but time was running out. Her letter home had borne fruit and she really was going to have to come clean with him today. There was only four more days until they boarded the Hogwarts express to take them down to London.
Harry offering a penny for her thoughts saw her almost jump out her skin, she hooked arms with him and they set off for breakfast. They were stopped en route by a clearly worried Neville.
"Eh, guys, you might want to give the Great Hall a miss this morning."
This comment was met by two "Why's?"
"Well Rita Skeeter has been up to her tricks again."
"Neville, I don't know what more she could say about me, and I don't really care."
"It's not you Harry, this time it's Hermione. There's a really bad article in the Witch Weekly that everyone's reading."
"Well I have no intention of letting that woman ruin my breakfast, c'mon Harry."
Hermione still had him by the arm as they entered the great hall, Neville following on close behind. They had barely sat down when Lavender passed them over the offending article. The title alone was enough to make Harry livid but he understood that was exactly Rita's intentions and he was not about to give her that satisfaction.
Harry Potter's Heartache
Deprived of love since his parents deaths, Harry Potter thought he'd found solace in the arms of his steady girlfriend, Muggle Born Hermione Granger. Little did he know that the plain but ambitious Miss Granger appears to have developed a taste for famous wizards. The Bulgarian International Seeker, and fellow Tri-Wizard champion, Victor Krum also found himself placed under this wicked witch's spell. She had led this poor foreigner on to the point where he asked her to the Yule Ball, to be held at Hogwarts as part of the tournament, only to find himself publicly rejected.
However it might not be the somewhat doubtful natural charm Miss Granger possesses that sees her attracting all this famous male attention.
"She's really ugly," says Miss Parkinson, a pretty and vivacious fourth year student. "She's quite brainy though, well capable of making a love potion. I think that's how she's doing it."
Love potions are of course illegal and we can only hope Albus Dumbledore will take swift action to see justice done. It is also our hope here at Witch Weekly that next time Mr Potter will entrust his heart to a worthier cause.
Hermione was putting on a brave face as she ate her breakfast but Harry could see the hurt behind the facade. He really wanted to hit something, preferably with a hammer.
The nasal whine coming from behind him gave Harry his target, he was just going to use a different type of hammer to pound the ponce.
"Being cheated on by a mudblood, could you get any lower Potter?"
"Ah Malfoy, being the intelligent pureblood that you are, surely you don't believe everything Rita Skeeter writes? I mean, 'Miss Parkinson, a pretty and vivacious forth year student' Are we really expected to believe that? Next Rita will be claiming Crabb and Goyle are two of the brightest students in the school."
This had the Gryffindor's laughing and the sniggers were spreading throughout the hall. "Why don't you take your little posse back over to your own table and spend your time trying to come up with something better than 'Potter Stinks'. That's so poor I'm actually insulted more by your lack of effort."
Draco was standing there, along with Crabb, Goyle and Pansy, and he hadn't a clue what to do next. Harry though could see Hermione smiling and had no intention of stopping.
"If I was making badges I would have come up with something like 'Draco Dribbles' or 'Malfoy's a Moron' perhaps even 'Junior Deatheater', then you could really follow in your father's footsteps."
"You leave my father out of this Potter." Draco was shouting with anger.
"See Malfoy, you just proved my point. Much more effective and you actually are dribbling. You want to wipe that right away, hellish to get off your robes when it dries."
Draco was desperate to go for his wand as the hall was openly laughing at him now. He was left to scurry back to his own table with as much dignity as he could muster, which wasn't much.
Hermione had cheered up considerably until the owls started arriving. The first couple held notes from obviously deranged people, threatening terrible retribution toward Hermione. It was the one that squished liquid all over her hands though that changed the entire morning, this had just gotten a lot more serious. Harry was trying to wipe the fluid off without getting any on himself as Hermione's hands had painfully ballooned to a state where she couldn't use them.
"You're going to have to see Madam Pomfrey about this..."
Harry was cut off by the Weasley owl crashing into the table, a red envelope in its beak. Mrs Weasley's voice soon reverberated around the hall.
"Hermione Granger, how could you behave like that with Harry gurgle..."
This proved to be the last straw for Hermione as she ran out the hall toward the infirmary. Harry though had grabbed the serving bowl of porridge and slammed it down on top of the offending howler. Not even Molly Weasley's voice could overcome being drowned in Hogwarts oatmeal.
The silence was broken only by the twins.
"Why didn't we ever think of that?"
Harry watched Hermione leave before rising and approaching the head table. "Hermione has just been injured while eating her breakfast, can I ask what you are going to do about it?"
Dumbledore gave Harry his grade one reassuring grandfather look before answering. "What would you have us do Mr Potter?"
Harry turned to face the Slytherin table. "See Malfoy, told you Rita writes nothing but lies. 'We can only hope Albus Dumbledore will take swift action to see justice done', fat chance!"
Harry started walking out the hall until McGonagall called to him. "Mr Potter, where are you going?"
"To the infirmary professor."
"Madam Pomfrey is perfectly capable of attending to Miss Granger without your assistance."
"I am more than aware of Madam Pomfrey's capabilities, having been on the receiving end of them a few times. I hope to use them again today. Some very serious claims have been made here this morning and, while it seems the Hogwarts staff don't care about them, I certainly do. Once It's confirmed there are no love potions in my bloodstream, the whole school will know that Pansy Parkinson is not just an ugly witch but a lying one too."
"Detention with me tonight Potter."
Harry looked from Snape toward his own head of house. "Parkinson tells the country that Hermione is ugly and using love potions yet goes unpunished?"
Snape's sneer was on full blast now. "You said it yourself Potter, no one can believe a word Skeeter says."
"I really don't care, I'm just glad our international guests get to see just how big a shithole Hogwarts really is."
By the time the staff had noticed the shocked expressions of the French and Bulgarian students present, Harry was out the door and on his way to the infirmary.
Hermione was getting her inflamed hands wrapped in bandages, which at least helped mask the awful smell of the ointment underneath them. She was surprised when Harry entered the infirmary.
"What are you doing here? You better move before you get another detention."
"Too late, I'm afraid I'll have to stand you up tonight as I got a better offer. Who could resist spending an evening with Professor Snape?"
"What did you do this time?"
"Same as last time, I now get detentions for telling the truth."
"Harry, what did you say?"
"I called Parkinson an ugly lying witch, which Madam Pomfrey here is going to help me prove."
"Mr Potter, I have no intention of being drawn into whatever scheme you happen to be running at the moment."
Harry became deadly serious. "Hermione has been publicly accused of using love potions to toy with my affections, I would like to be tested and prove that is not the case."
Poppy immediately went into professional mode, "Is this true Miss Granger?"
Hermione could only nod, the hurt clearly visible now.
"That's why she got that stuff all over her hands, some nutter sent it to her by owl because of what Skeeter wrote."
The Hogwarts healer's attitude changed. "What do you need from me Mr Potter?"
"I would like to be tested and then for you to give me written proof I'm not under the influence of a love potion. I have no intention of letting this matter drop."
"I also would like same."
None of the three had heard Victor enter the infirmary, he held his hands up as Harry started reaching for his wand. "I have come to apologise, and help if I can. I was told Herminny didn't have boyfriend, clearly that was wrong. I'm very sorry to be the cause of her being hurt and will help any way I can."
It was Hermione who answered for them. "Thank you Mr Krum, a letter from Madam Pomfrey stating neither of you are under the influence of potions should shut a lot of people up."
"Please call me Victor, I hope we can be friends?"
"I should have handled the situation better, you just caught me at a bad moment Victor."
Harry held out his hand. "Thanks for doing this Victor, we both appreciate it."
McGonagall walked in to see Harry Potter and Victor Krum shaking hands while a smiling Hermione Granger looked on, could this day get any stranger. "Mr Potter, you are to accompany me to the headmaster's office..."
"Mr Potter is going nowhere until I give him a clean bill of health."
"What's wrong with him?"
"Both of these young men are suspected of being under the influence of potions."
"Miss Granger would never do such a thing."
"Thank you for standing up in the Great Hall and saying that Professor."
The sarcasm from the normally rule abiding Miss Granger shocked Minerva almost as much as the girl's answer to her next question. "How are you feeling?"
"Disappointed and disillusioned."
Minerva was left standing there while Poppy completed her ministrations on Miss Granger and then tested the two young men for any trace of potions. When Poppy then started writing results down, the Hogwarts deputy was ready to explode. Only after Poppy had sealed a scroll and handed it to Harrywas she finally able to get him out of there. Victor accompanied them until his destination took him in another direction.
When Harry reached Dumbledore's office, he decided to set the tone before they even started. "Can I ask why Professor Snape is present? He is neither my head of house nor deputy headmaster."
"Why you arrogant..."
"Now Severus, that is a fair question. Professor Snape is here Harry because I trust his judgment." The finality in Dumbledore's voice left no one in any doubt this matter was now closed.
Harry just ignored that fact. "So can I get someone in here I trust?" The silence that followed that remark could probably only be matched if Harry had pissed all over the floor.
"Are you implying Harry that you don't trust any of us?"
"Oh sorry sir, I didn't mean to imply, I'll say it out loud. I don't trust any of you."
"May I enquire how you reached that conclusion Harry?"
"Sticking to this year, I'm in this tournament and none of you prevented it. My best friend is in the infirmary and none of you prevented it. Malfoy called her a mudblood and nothing was done about it. The only one punished was me."
"I think we could be looking at increasing the number of detentions Potter."
Harry just shrugged his indifference. "I've been scrubbing floors since I was four, doesn't really bother me anymore."
Dumbledore reasserted his control over the situation. "You were asked here to explain that comment you made before leaving the hall this morning. One of Hogwarts most prominent students publicly decrying the school is not the image we are trying to project to our visitors."
"A student gets verbally abused and chemically attacked while at breakfast yet everyone is more concerned about what Harry Potter says? Perhaps I should do what Professor Snape accuses me of and start using my fame. There must be more reporters out there than Rita Skeeter who would like to talk to me?"
Harry's change of attitude was totally bamboozling Albus, his lack of trust could be disastrous. He felt forced to take an action he really didn't want to. "Harry, your actions and attitude today leave me no other option but to confine you to the castle over Christmas. Should you have written permission to leave from your guardians, I will of course honour it."
His insides were turning to mush but Harry tried not to let that show. "You may force me to stay in the castle but I still refuse to have anything to do with this ball."
"You will do what you're told Potter."
"And how do you intend to force me? I can throw off the Imperius from Professor Moody and have a scroll in my hand from Madam Pomfrey saying that I'm currently free from potions."
Minerva felt as if she needed to sit after hearing that but had to ask the question that was at the forefront of her mind. "Do you really think we would do something like that to you Mr Potter?"
"Well, you made me face a dragon in front of the entire school, I don't see how using those means to get me to the ball would be any worse? We can't have Hogwarts looking bad now, can we?"
Harry used the stunned silence that followed to take his leave. He was making his way down the spiral staircase and thinking how much better he felt since taking the decision to leave Hogwarts. It was so liberating to know he was finished dealing with Dumbledore, death eaters and Dementors. Losing his magic could also see these terrible dreams go, Harry was now continually just looking toward the positive. Providing he could remember Hermione, losing his magic would be just one more thing for him to cope with. He'd had plenty experience with coping already in his short life.
It took a few moments for the adults to recover from Harry's comments, it was his head of house who asked the question. "Do you think it's wise to keep him here over Christmas Albus? I get the feeling things are only going to get worse."
"I tend to agree with you Minerva, in that the situation will deteriorate. My problem is that, should Harry go home for the holidays, I get the distinct impression he wouldn't return to Hogwarts."
"Where would he go? He knows he needs to compete in the next task or he will lose his magic."
When what Albus was implying sank in, Minerva McGonagall had to be led to a seat. There were tears in her eyes, tears for the son of her friends. "We've pushed him so far that he's considering losing his magic to get away from us?"
By way of an answer, Albus opened a drawer in his desk and removed a bottle of fine whiskey, along with three glasses. "I have no idea how to deal with this Minerva. Harry obviously thinks he would be better off as a muggle and seems prepared to sacrifice his magic to do so. In all my years I've never encountered that, what do we do here?"
Severus picked up his whisky and took a sip before offering his opinion. "We need something to keep him here, voluntarily of course. What about his friends?"
"Mr Weasley has been a bit of an arse this year, that really only leaves Miss Granger."
"A young lady who will be just as comfortable in the muggle world. You said she intended to go home for the holidays? It will be interesting to see if she changes that decision, now Harry will be staying in the castle."
"Albus, forcing Harry to stay here on his own could really harden his attitude toward Hogwarts and us. Wouldn't it be better to let him leave and perhaps cool down?"
"That was my original intention but I think the situation is worse than I first thought. I am open to suggestions here?"
"Like I said, he needs a reason to stay. Potter needs a girlfriend and the castle is going to be full of eligible females for the ball."
"Severus, if I even suspect a potion has been used on Mr Potter, I'll call Amelia Bones to Hogwarts myself. The young man has clearly got his eye on a certain young witch, I will not stand to see any interference in that."
Albus intervened before the two professors could get into a row over this. "I hope your scruples don't lead to Voldemort ruling Britain Minerva, that young man is the only thing that has stood between that possibility becoming a reality since he was a year old. Harry Potter losing his magic could doom us all."
Both Minerva and Severus drained their glasses and passed them to Albus for refills, they had just eaten breakfast too.
Harry headed for the infirmary to give Hermione the bad news, just in time to help her with her book bag. Since Hermione could hold neither wand nor quill, and Harry already had a detention, the pair headed back to Gryffindor tower.
Hermione was sitting on the large sofa beside her best friend and was now glad she had decided to tell him today. She also hadn't missed that Harry hadn't corrected Victor when the Bulgarian implied they were a couple, perhaps things would work out the way she hoped.
"What if I were to say that I already had written permission for you to leave Hogwarts for Christmas?"
It was like watching Harry being hit with a cheering charm. "I would say that the best friend in the entire world had outdone herself."
"What if I was to also say that this permission allowed you to spend the entire holidays with the Granger family?"
"I would say that the same best friend was in for one hell of a Christmas present."
Hermione was trying not to blush, waking up with Harry in her house would be all the Christmas present she needed. Now she had to do the hard bit. "What if I told you that I had discovered a way the ministry couldn't touch your memories when you lose your magic?"
"I think I would fall at your feet and kiss them."
"That's a start." She muttered.
"Oh, where would you like me to start?"
"As much as I'm looking forward to staying with you over the holidays, I'd rather find out how I'll remember you come Easter first."
Hermione was hoping she could lead up to this but now had to jump right in. "The only reason the ministry could obliviate you is your lack of magical family. Had you a parent, sibling or even a free Sirius, we wouldn't even need to talk about this."
Harry was nodding his understanding so she continued. "What you have to do is create a link to a magical person, then the ministry will be scuppered."
"Hermione, are you talking about adoption or something like that?"
"No, that would work but not in the time frame we're dealing with here. It would also raise a whole load of questions you don't really want to answer. The only option I can see working is a betrothal. Providing the witch still agrees she wants the betrothal when your maigic is gone, the ministry are screwed."
To say Harry was shocked at this was a massive understatement. Hermione though was misreading his silence and starting to panic. It had taken all this time to get Harry interested in her and now she'd gone and blown it. The young witch began to babble. "This isn't as bad as it sounds Harry, you have lots of options open to you. Loads of witches would like to be betrothed to the boy-who-lived..."
Hermione was stopped from saying any more by Harry's finger gently but firmly being placed on her lips. "The boy-who-lived isn't looking to become betrothed, Harry Potter might be though. I'm hoping a certain Gryffindor might eventually be interested in the position, I'm also hoping that's why she arranged for me to be spending the holidays with her parents. I might be clueless but I think we should at least give being a couple a try first. Hermione, would you be my girlfriend?"
The finger was removed and Hermione gave her answers. "Yes, yes and hell yes!"
Harry then replaced his finger with his lips as they both enjoyed their first kiss. He still had his arm around her as Harry asked his new girlfriend just what was involved in becoming betrothed.
Hermione was snuggling into Harry as she answered. "Because of our ages, my parents need to give written permission. So does your guardian."
"Shit, I can't see the Dursleys going for that."
"The school accepted your Hogsmead form signed by Sirius, the betrothal paperwork should do the same."
"I suppose I need to write to him anyway. I might need to sneak out of Hogwarts to meet him, there is no way I can put what I need to say in a letter. Probably better to hear what your parents say first. If they kick me out for becoming your boyfriend then I won't need to mention betrothal to Sirius."
"My mum knows I've been hoping you would ask me to be your girlfriend, she'll love you."
"I notice you didn't mention your father there? How did they get the Dursleys to agree anyway? I can't believe they would agree to something I wanted?"
Harry could feel the heat coming from Hermione as she burrows into him more and wouldn't meet his gaze. "My dad might get a bit 'protective father' on you but mum and I will be working on him. Once he gets to know you, he'll love you as much as I do."
"You didn't tell me how they got the Dursleys to agree for me to spend Christmas with you?"
"Let's just say my dad can be very persuasive when he wants to be."
Vernon answered the door and was immediatly impressed with the couple who were waiting on him there. This wasn't any door to door sales nor pedlers of religion, their clothes, mannerisms and Range Rover parked at the kirb ticked all his 'right kind of people' boxes. When the six foot plus gentlemen spoke, the respect in his voice sealed the deal.
"Excuse me, would you be Vernon Dursley?"
When Vernon nodded, the gentleman continued. "I wonder if my wife and I could take a few minutes of your time to discuss a rather delicate matter?"
Vernon was now intrigued and invited the couple into their home where introductions were made. "Sorry for disturbing you and your good wife but this couldn't wait. I am Daniel Granger and this is my wife Emma. We're here concerning your nephew."
"What's the little shit done now? Are you..."
"Dentists, yes. We have our own practice in Crawley. Is this your nephew here?"
Dan was indicating one of the many pictures of a large boy displayed on every available surface, Petunia nearly had a fit. "Indeed it is not. That is our son, Dudley. What has the boy been up to?"
Dan's whole demeanor screamed his anger. "Apparantly, our little girl is sweet on him. As you can probably guess, I'm not to happy about that."
Vernon had known these were his kind of people and not wanting to have anything to do with the freak just confirmed his opinion. They appeared not to know anything about the M word so he wouldn't mention it again. "I can't say I blame you. My advice would be to get your girl away from him as soon as possible."
"Yes but we all know what teenagers are like. If we lay down the law like that, it will only push them together as they rebel against the wicked parents who know nothing. We need to be a little bit clever than that."
Both Dursleys liked what they were hearing here. Petunia asked the question that they wanted to know the answer to. "What did you have in mind?"
Emma now played her part. "Hermione has asked if this boy can spend the holidays with us but we need your written permission to allow that."
Dan continued before the Dursleys could ask any awkward questions. "We intend to keep him under our eyes and mercilessly expose any and every fault we can find. By the second week I'm willing to bet they won't even shake hands, far less kiss to wish each other a Happy New Year."
The thought of the freak having a miserable Christmas and helping these good people saw the stationary coming out. Dan and Emma left Privet Drive with the note they came for and promises to keep in touch to let the Dursleys know what happened.
Vernon and Petunia felt they may have made some friends while the Grangers laughed most of the way back to Crawley.
Harry had went to his next class, mainly because there were some things he wanted to ask Neville. He then took care of some business before rushing back to Gryffindor tower to be with his new girlfriend. They were currently sitting on one of the sofas with a book between them, Harry of course was having to turn the pages.
It was time to go down to dinner and Harry took Hermione by the arm, the slightest bump to her badly swollen hands was very painful. Harry sat her down at the Gryffindor table before boldly going where no Gryffindor had gone before, across the hall to the Slytherin table.
The hall was silent as everyone waited to see what Harry Potter was up to now.
"Miss Parkinson, it has been confirmed that neither Victor nor myself are under the influence of any love potions. I intend to send a complaint to Madam Bones, who I'm told is the head of the Magical Law department. I am offering you the chance to apologise to Hermione in front of the school and then it would only be Skeeter my complaint would be against."
Pansy wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. Granger complaining against a pureblood would be confined to the nearest bin in the ministry, the boy-who-lived was an entirely different matter. She was also enough of a Slytherin to know Skeeter would push all the blame on to her. The bitch had practically put the words in her mouth but Pansy had thought at the time it was a great laugh. There really was only one thing she could do, no matter how painful it was.
Draco tried to pull her arm to stop her from standing but this had to be done. "Miss Granger, I apologise for any slight on your character. I'm also really sorry about your hands."
As Pansy sat, she received an unexpected surprise.
"Thank you Miss Parkinson, I would like to offer an apology of my own. I was totally out of order this morning with what I said to you and deserved the detention I received."
This saw Pansy actually smile and nod in acceptace of the appology.
Harry returned to his own table, sitting next to Hermione and beginning to fill a plate for her. He received a kiss from his girlfriend who then answered his unasked question. "Just for being you."
The entire hall was now aware that the two Gryffindors had become a couple, especially as Harry was having to feed her. That was interupted by the unusual arrival of an owl, an owl carrying a smoking red envelope. Hermione almost shrivled into her seat as the envelope exploded into action and Molly Weasley's voice once more rang out around the hall. It took Hermione a moment to realise that the howler was not directed at her.
George was reaching for the bowl of mashed potato to smother the thing until he heard the start of his mother's rant, it froze the entire hall.
"Harry Potter, how dare you send me a howler. I was only looking out for your wellfare and that was the thanks I got? Well, let me tell you something you are no longer welcome in this house anymore. I thought you were a respectful young man, I now know that was wrong. Don't be expecting a Christmas jumper from me ever again."
Harry ignored the entire incident, placing a daintily cut piece of chicken into Hermione's now wide open mouth. He had to use his finger to close it and verbaly remind her to chew.
Fred broke the ice. "You sent our mum a howler?"
"Brass ones Fred, big brass ones. Harry, that impressed me more than what you did to that dragon."
"Thanks for understanding guys, no one gets away with saying that to my girlfriend. I had already made up my mind I wouldn't be going back to the Burrow unless your mother apologised to Hermione."
Harry saw everyone at the table now looking behind him, he didn't have to turn around as he instantly recognised the voice.
"Potter, your disgusting displays of affection have put me off my dinner. This means your detention can start early, move."
There was a pause while everyone in the hall, including Snape, made sure they had heard that answer correctly. "What did you say boy?"
"I said no sir. At the moment, Hermione is unable to defend herself. I shall be walking her back to Gryffindor tower and then join you for my detention."
"You will do exactly as I say Potter or I will see you expelled."
Harry shrugged his shoulders and refused to move.
Snape was distracted from continuing his rant by a voice directly behind him. For such a powerful figure, Victor Krum was very light on his feet.
"Perhaps I could be of some assistance? If Harry would allow, I would be happy to provide an escort for Hermione back to her house."
Harry kissed Hermione on the cheek, just to annoy Snape some more, before shaking Victor's hand and then following the billowing one out the hall.
Victor took Hermione's arm and helped her to stand, the pair found themselves with quite the escort of Gryffindor's back to their tower.
Albus had sat and watched tonight's interplay with dismay, it was almost as if Harry was severing ties with the people the headmaster held any sway over. That the lad was no longer welcome at the Burrow was a shock to the system. He knew Molly well enough to know she would never admit she was in the wrong, far less apologise to the Granger girl.
One thing did fall in his favour though, Harry had made a big impression on quite a few young ladies tonight. Miss Weasley was probably no longer an option after what happened with her mother but Albus was literally spoilt for choice in who to set young Harry up with. That Miss Granger appeared to still be going home for Christmas simplified matters greatly. By the time she returned in the New Year, Harry would be well and truly entangled with whatever girl Albus selected for the task.
He hated to do this but the lad was forcing his hand. No one could miss that Severus' treat of expulsion had no effect on him whatsoever and Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts was just unthinkable. Harry Potter losing his magic was an outcome that had to be prevented at all costs. The fate of the British magical community depended on it. What was a teenager's love life compared to that?
A/N Thanks for reading