Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc. This is just something to pass the time while waiting for the next book.
Part I : Giving Up
He had said no. After all the time she took to gather up her courage and get around to asking her best friend to the dance, he had said no.
Did he realize what sort of bravery it took for a girl to ask a boy? Everyone expected boys to be the ones to ask. If a girl asked, people would whisper behind her back and say that she was desperate. It was especially bad in her situation because not only was she risking a plethora of rumors, she was also risking the best friendship she had ever had in her life.
But the thing was, she wanted more. She was tired of just being good friends. Ironically enough, she had been able to convince herself to finally pop the question by phrasing it so he'd think that they would just be going as friends. So if he said no, nothing would change and if he said yes, well she could do something about it at the dance.
That didn't change the fact that when Hermione Granger had asked Harry Potter to the last dance that they would ever have at Hogwarts, he had politely but firmly said no.
Hermione reflected that at least he had been polite about it. When Ginny had for some strange reason decided that she had a crush on Malfoy, of all people, last year and had asked her crush to the dance, he had cruelly crushed her to bits before finally saying no. Ron had been after Malfoy, ready to hex him to hell and back, with Harry ready to help him. Hermione had barely been able to rein in the two boys' anger at Ginny's tears. She shared it with them and there was nothing that she would have liked better than to throw a few hexes of her own but it just would have made things worse for Ginny. Rumors would have started about how one would face the wrath of the extended Weasley clan for saying no to Ginny and Hermione didn't think that Ginny would appreciate that.
So when you compared her experience to that of Ginny's during last year, she had gotten off rather lightly. Harry had said no but had done so very kindly. Unfortunately for Hermione, he had also let it slip that he had already asked someone to the dance.
Hermione had smiled at that and thanked him. She had stayed in the Common Room and continued to study although what she really wanted to do was have a good cry. She wasn't going to let anyone know how much it had hurt to hear him say no or let them know how much she had wanted to go with him. Hermione may not have had a date but she would at least keep her dignity. She didn't even cry when she finally went to her room to retire for that night. As Head Girl, she had her privacy and could afford to break down. Yet she didn't do that and instead, spent the night tossing and turning, thinking where she went wrong and wondering what she could have done to make it turn out differently.
She had saved her tears for morning, when she no longer had the strength to keep them at bay after that restless night. She had cried her heart out and then tried to magic the effects away. When Justin Finch-Fletchley had tried to approach her yet again during breakfast, she didn't try to run away. She let him come up to her and invite her to go with him to the dance. He had asked the question and without hesitation, she told him she would love to go with him in spite of that little voice telling her to take a good look at what she was settling for. Hermione had wanted to go with Harry very much but she also didn't want to be alone against the wall for the entire evening. Going with Justin meant that she would spend three dances on the ballroom floor at least.
That should have been the end of it until the actual evening of the dance. Unfortunately for Hermione, her expectations had fallen through once again. She wanted nothing else but to forget that she had asked Harry and he had said no. Unfortunately, he had other ideas.
Harry just would not shut up about his date when they were studying tonight. He went on and on about the girl. Both Hermione and Ron were getting tired of his raptures about how pretty she was, how smart she was and how nice she was. He had gone on for the better part of an evening before he finally told Hermione and Ron her name.
Harry was going with Lisa Turpin, a Ravenclaw.
Later when she was alone in the privacy of her own room, Hermione tore herself to pieces over that tidbit of information. Harry had fallen for another Ravenclaw. What was with that boy's obsession with the female members of that House anyway? What did they have that she didn't? Hermione knew she was smart and she had thought that she was nice as well. She knew she wasn't the prettiest girl when it came to appearances but it wasn't as if she was horribly ugly. Hearing Harry wax and wane over the merits of another Ravenclaw was enough to make Hermione march down to wherever the Sorting Hat was kept and demand to be put in that House.
That thought stopped her cold.
Did she really think that last thought of hers? Was she really that far gone that she would give up being in Gryffindor, the House she had wanted ever since she first read about Hogwarts? And all this just for Harry, who no matter how great he was, was still only another boy?
It was inconceivable yet that had been the thought going through her mind.
Hermione came to a decision then. She was going to give up on Harry. He wasn't worth it. No one was worth changing herself just to get them to look at her.
If there was one plotline Hermione hated to read in a romance novel, it was where the girl changed to accommodate the boy. She hated how Mr. Knightley in Emma had tried to change Emma into his vision of what the perfect woman should be. It was one thing to point out faults to a friend or even a lover in hopes that they would become a better person. It was another to expect a person to change, to become everything you desired most in a lover. It wasn't right—you were talking about another person's life. You couldn't mold someone like that in real life without hurting them, unlike Greek myths where men could mold their perfect women from out of clay.
So Hermione wasn't going to pursue Harry anymore as it was blazingly obvious that he wasn't interested in her as she was now. She wasn't going to change herself just to get him to look at her in a new light. She was going to remain true to herself no matter how much it hurt to see Harry fawn over other girls. Most of all, she wouldn't think that she was settling for Justin. He was interested in her for what she was. That was a tremendous compliment to pay to another person and she was sorry that she hadn't appreciated that before.
In the end, he wanted her for herself. That was something that she had always dreamed of having in a relationship. Hermione had thought that she had found that in Harry, but well, it looked like she was wrong.
Harry was enjoying himself, sipping his glassed filled with pumpkin juice while listening to Lisa chat with her Housemate, Mandy. The Great Hall was breathtaking in its decorations. The staff of Hogwarts had outdone themselves in the preparations they took for this final dance.
Just then a flash of red hair caught Harry's eye and he turned around to see Ron. He waved to Ron across the room, as Ron stood next to his date, Padma Patil. Ron had once confessed to Harry and Hermione that he was luckier than he ever deserved to get a second chance with Padma after the way he had treated her on their first date. She was a great girl. Ron had said that he had regretted time and again not stepping back and appreciating Padma for everything that she was. If he had taken that time, he might have saved himself a lot of heartache.
Harry scanned the room, looking for his other best friend. He had felt bad when he had refused Hermione but he had already gotten the girl of his dreams to go with him. He knew Hermione would understand that but he didn't want to rub it in her face that he and Ron had dates while she was still looking. Luckily, Justin had asked her and so Harry felt free to regale his friends with just how wonderful Lisa was. He hadn't really noticed her before but once he got to know her, he was completely entranced. She was very kind and considerate as she constantly looked out for the younger members of her House. She was not only pretty but she had a brain too. She was everything that Harry had been looking for in a girlfriend. Harry suspected that Ron and Hermione had been getting tired of his constant paeans of praise but he could not stop himself. He liked her that much. Despite that, he wouldn't be spending his entire evening with her. The girls had been given dance cards, much like those used in Muggle balls during the 1800s, before entering the room. The idea was to ask girls for dances in advance so there wouldn't be a frantic period between dances where most everyone was looking for another partner. Lisa had already been asked to dance by several of her Housemates and so Harry had a few free dances himself. Maybe he would ask Hermione to dance together with him as friends.
Then Hermione entered the room and every other thought left his mind.
She was, in a word, stunning. Hermione wasn't the prettiest girl in the room—that honor remained with the Patil sisters. However, there was a certain air about her that made you stand up and take notice. She was dressed in a set of simple yet elegant sapphire blue dress robes. Her hair was pulled back in a French twist, with a few strands of hair let down to frame her face. To complete the outfit, she had a pair of silver and sapphire studs in her ear along with a matching necklace around her neck.
In short, she had never looked better.
Maybe he would ask Hermione to dance.
It was shaping up to be a perfectly wonderful evening. Hermione had been fretful when she first tied her dance card around her wrist. Justin wanted to spend a few dances with friends. Hermione did not begrudge him that but she was worried that she would spend those dances alone on the wall with nothing to do but watch Harry happily attend to his date. That would have been pure torture—she was trying so hard to get over him but it seemed as if fate would not cut her a break.
She had nothing to worry about though. Almost as soon as she had entered the room, Ron had come up to her and laughingly asked her for a dance or two. After him, her other year-mates had followed to ask for the same. It wasn't romantic, strictly as old friends, but it was nice to feel so appreciated. Somewhere along the line, she was no longer thought of as a nagging old bookworm but was now seen as just another friendly girl to ask. Her last dance had gone to Neville. He had actually been stuttering when he had come to ask her so she decided to end his misery and just held out her dance card with a smile. Her feet would regret that choice later but it was worth it to see how relieved he was that he wasn't going to be refused.
It was very nice to feel appreciated.
Lost in her reverie, Hermione never noticed that Harry was approaching her. She was quite startled when all of a sudden she heard her name being called from beside her. Willing herself not to be affected, she turned to face Harry for the first time that night.
It hadn't help. Her mouth still ran dry at the sight of him. He looked so handsome in his emerald dress robes that she found herself wishing all over again that he had said yes. She mentally shook herself to stop thinking about that. It was over. He didn't like her. She couldn't change that and still be true to herself. He was just coming over to greet one of his best friends, nothing more.
"You look wonderful, Hermione," Harry said, a gorgeous grin lighting up his face.
Not as good as you do, she wanted to reply but bit her tongue. "You look wonderful as well," she said instead. "I can hardly believe that scrawny boy I first met on the train has finally grown up."
Laughing, he put a hand behind his head before continuing with the conversation. "I could say something similar about you. Might I have a dance with you?"
Hermione was shocked at his question. She was almost too stunned to reply. He doesn't mean it that way, her inner voice primly informed her. Taking that as a fact, she lifted her arm and said, "I'm sorry Harry but I've already given them all away."
It was mind-boggling how a single sentence could completely change an evening.
I'm sorry, she had said. I've already given them all away, she had said. Harry couldn't believe that she hadn't waited for him. It was even more staggering when he got a good look at her dance card. She had agreed to dance with Blaise Zabini, a Slytherin of all people. Hermione had once had the misfortune to be paired with Zabini for a Potions project and she had complained about it to him and Ron. Why did she ever agree to dance with him and not save a single dance for her best friend?
All of a sudden, Harry found himself dreading the rest of the evening.
His date's smiles didn't seem as brilliant and the whole room seemed a
little less bright. He couldn't put a finger on what exactly had
changed but something inside him knew instinctively that he wasn't going
to enjoy this last dance.
Author's note—Well, I've finally managed to kill this plot bunny.
Hopefully, it's not too bad. I should be able to finish this one
in two or three more parts. Please leave a review with any comments,
remarks or constructive criticisms you might have—I would enjoy hearing
what you have to say about this fic.