Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter and all associated titles, Voldemort would still look like Christian Coulson (who played Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets) and Harry would have joined the Dark Order, breaking the prophecy and enabling them to take over the world and rule everything with an iron fist.

Despite the begging, pleading, demanding, and (on one occasion) threats, Harry refused to part with the name of his date. Ron was sulking (again) and Hermione had taken to just looking at him and huffing. He took great pleasure in informing them that they looked ridiculous, respectively.

Despite his fears, the remaining time to the Yule Ball seemed to fly by – he had managed to get all his school work done in peace ever since his assurance that yes, he did have a date, and had even managed to sneak into the Prefect's Bathroom to get a translation of the damn clue. He had no idea what was going to end up at the bottom of the lake, but he did know that if he ended up down there and his picture album was down there he was going to go spare.

He'd cast his first parsel spells successfully, too, late one night after everyone else was asleep. He still wasn't sure how parselmagic worked exactly, so instead of trying to cast a locking spell on his trunk he'd used 'bind' and it had worked beautifully. Granted, it'd taken him nearly an hour after that to figure out how to get his trunk open again, but it had been worth it. There was no way the lake would be a problem after a simple application of 'air in water' and 'scales', both of which he had tried in the showers. He wasn't too keen on how he looked covered in scales, but he did have to admit they were a very pretty green.

If his teachers (namely McGonagall and Snape) were surprised by his dedication to the coursework even in the face of the impending ball, they didn't say anything, although, surprisingly enough, the other day Snape had seen his nearly perfect warming draught and hadn't had anything bad to say about it, despite the fact that it was purple instead of an off-color blue. It seemed that instead of the tourney making his year worse, it had caused it to take a turn for the better. Plus, getting to skip the end of the year exams was a great boon, considering he still had to survive two more tasks with at least one judge and one nameless specter out to get him.

They were given the day off the day of the Ball, supposedly so they all had 'time to get ready'. Harry had no idea what that meant – how hard was it to wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and put on your dress robes? But what did he know, he was only fourteen, right? The Headmaster wouldn't have done it if there wasn't a good reason.

(There wasn't actually a good reason. McGonagall had had fits when she found out that Dumbledore was giving them the day off. The ball wasn't until nine and classes wrapped up at about four that day, so it wouldn't have been like the students didn't have time to prepare properly. When she confronted him about it, all he did was hem and haw and mention giving them a chance to get in the right mindset. McGonagall remarked tartly that if they got any more excited, the castle would explode but left it alone beyond that because there wasn't really anything she could do. Harry didn't know any of that though.)

The robes that Mrs. Weasley had bought for him fit him well, and it didn't take him long to get ready. Turning to head out, he bumped into Neville, who was dressed in a smart set of rust red dress robes. What he assumed was the Longbottom crest was stitched to the left breast and the back. Harry had never seen it before, or really any family crest for that matter, and it was surprisingly pretty. Two swords crossed over the bottom of a shield, which was drawn into quarters. A sun, a bear's paw, a mortar and pestle, and an axe sat inside the shield, overlapping each other near the center. The squares were golden brown and green, the shield gold, and the top of the shield had a stylized tree growing out of it, which was dark brown and green.

"You look nice, Neville," Harry said, surprised. He'd never seen Neville in anything but the school uniform, and since everyone was dressed the same, the eye tended to pass over it, at least beyond noticing the house crest.

"So do you," Neville said back, smiling softly. Harry grinned at him. "Are you color coordinating with your date, Harry?"

Harry shook his head. "Don't think so. He didn't mention it, anyway."

Neville sighed. "Lucky. Ginny insisted. She's in some sort of blue…thing. I think it's a dress, but I'm not sure, she wouldn't let me see it."

Harry chuckled and clapped Neville on the back. "Chin up, mate."

Neville nodded back at him. "Good luck tonight, Harry. Hope your date is up to handling the harpies."

Harry was confused for a moment or two before realizing that Neville meant all the girls that had been giving him looks, then nearly choked on laughter.

"He is," Harry said, grinning at Neville again.

"He who, what?" Ron demanded, half buried in the towel he was using to dry his hair as he stumbled out of the shower.

"Snape. He's supervising," Neville said quickly, winking at Harry and moving aside to that Harry could make a break for it. Harry mouthed a thank you at him as he bolted, just as Ron shouted a 'WHAT?!' in disbelief.

He had no idea why he wasn't better friends with Neville. He'd have to fix that.

The stairways were deserted and Harry made good time to the Great Hall, but he didn't manage to beat Viktor there. He was leaning against the wall near the doors to the courtyard which was working to keep his gaggle of fans away from him, although they weren't very numerous at the moment. Harry made his way over to him without much trouble, smiling at Viktor the entire way, who smiled back.

"You look beautiful," Viktor said, accent as thick as ever, reaching out to tug one of the locks of hair that covered Harry's scar. Harry blushed.

"Boys aren't pretty," he protested, but his blush ruined it a bit.

"Some are," Viktor countered, eyes sweeping over the growing crowd, which was starting to pay attention to them. "You are one of them."

"How would you like it if I called you pretty," Harry asked, rubbing one cheek with the back of a hand in an attempt to get the blush to fade.

Viktor's smile turned soft. "You can if you like, Harry. I vould not mind."

Harry's blush returned with a vengeance. "You look handsome."

"That vun works too."

The whispers had started up now, now that it was obvious that Harry hadn't just gone over to Viktor to say hello. It was five minutes to nine, and everyone was standing with their date, more or less. Ron and Hermione were still missing, as was Draco, but Neville was there. Neville had stared at Harry and Viktor for several long seconds before slowly smiling and shaking his head. Ginny had a dazed expression on her face still.

Ron came rushing down the stairs to take up residence next to one of the Patil twins (Harry really had no idea which one – they were dressed exactly the same and he wasn't even sure which one Ron had asked out in the first place. Then again, he was standing next to Padma and Parvati, maybe he had asked them both) and the moment he noticed Harry standing next to Viktor blushing he'd started gaping like a fish and hadn't stopped, which caused him to miss Hermione's entrance. Ron didn't miss the fact that she took Theodore Nott's arm though, which stole his attention completely away from Harry. Despite the fact that Harry was glad that Ron wasn't staring him anymore, he wasn't sure it was a good thing.

Hermione had turned a furious red when she saw him and Viktor and Harry couldn't help but laugh at it. She glared at him for a few seconds before smiling ruefully and heading their way, Nott in tow.

"I can't believe you," Hermione complained when she was within speaking distance, her tone playful. "How could you keep this sort of thing from me, Harry?"

"Well…" Harry trailed off, then grinned impishly. "The expression on your face was hilarious."

Hermione huffed at him again, which caused Nott to roll his eyes behind her back.

"Can you really blame him, Hermione?" Nott asked, and to Harry's surprise she shook her head and sighed.

"I guess I can't. But don't make it a habit to keep things like this from me, Harry," Hermione warned. "Do you have any idea how much gossip I could have traded that for?"

"And yet you wondered why he wasn't here with a girl," Nott grumbled, grinning when Hermione mock hit him.

"Well I know why you're here with him at least," Harry remarked. "He can keep up with you."

It was Hermione's turn to blush.

"Champions, in the front please," McGonagall called, grabbing their attention.

Harry and Viktor slipped in behind Cedric and Cho, leaving Fleur and…Oliver Wood? When did that happen? to take the lead. Everyone was staring at them now, Professor McGonagall included, which would have made Harry uncomfortable but Viktor was holding his head high and had wrapped an arm around Harry's waist, and he was too busy blushing to give it much thought.

'Why in Merlin's name do I keep doing that?' Harry thought to himself in despair. Before tonight, he could have counted on one hand the number of times he had blushed, and now he was running out of toes.

"Yes, well. The Champions will lead into the Great Hall, opening the Yule Ball with the traditional first dance. Please proceed in an orderly fashion."

Hot breath brushed Harry's ear as Viktor whispered to him. "So, you did not tell anyone you were going with me?"

"I wanted to see their faces," Harry confessed, voice just as soft. He could feel Viktor's grin against his hair and he was almost entirely certain that Viktor had brushed his lips against the side of his head in a sort of kiss before he pulled away.

The reaction from the staff table was even better than he had predicted, with Dumbledore and Karkaroff staring blankly at them both. They had to be shaken out of it, literally, by Hagrid.

A traditional march started up, and Harry took Viktor's offered hand, putting his other on Viktor's shoulder as Viktor wrapped his other hand around Harry's hip. Harry could hear snatches of conversation as they twirled around the dance floor.

"…so much older than him, what is he…"

"…can't trust men like that, why didn't any warn the boy…"

"…study dark arts in that school, what if he…"

Viktor smirked. "I told you, did I not? Corruption and taking advantage."

"And wondering what you see in me," Harry agreed.

"Bah, I wonder how they did not see what I see. My advantage that they did not."

"Ya," Harry agreed, leaning into Viktor as Viktor lead him around the dance floor.

This year was really looking up.


Yes, really the end. I'm not doing anything else with this. Originally, it was a one shot, but I was convinced to write a bit more but even then I only planned to go to the Ball. If you want to adopt it, rewrite it, continue it, whatever. Go for it. Just credit me for the idea.