Harry was in his dress robes. The day had finally come when he had been introduced to the wizarding world as Lord Potter, head of the Noble and most Ancient House of Potter. Harry had been worried for months leading up to this point. Hermione had tried to reassure him that there was really nothing to worry about. The war was over. Harry had defeated Tom Riddle. The magical society in Britain was returning to a sense of normalcy.
Harry and Hermione began to realise that they had feelings for each other after the end of the war. When they were on their camping trip hunting for the Horcruxes, Hermione and Ron had a falling out. Harry began to wonder if during that time that he was falling in love with Hermione. After the war ended he tried to restart his relationship with Ginny, but that went nowhere. Ginny was focusing on a career as a Quidditch player and Harry was preparing for his responsibilities as a Lord. They had been apart for so long and he had grown so close to Hermione that the tensions between Harry and Ginny caused them to break off their relationship.
In the meantime, Harry and Hermione had been growing closer as they had become so accustomed to being around each other. Their relationship was becoming more than just being friends, even if they were trying to deny it to themselves. Everyone around them saw it. Everyone knew it. But Harry understood his obligations in society as a Lord who was now of age. Once this is all over, he kept telling himself, he could finally talk to Hermione about their relationship. The Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly already had published many outrageous stories about his supposed romantic life. He had long stopped worrying about what his friends would think about the stories for those who knew him best knew that it was all fabrication.
So here he was, at the entrance to the Potter Manor, about to host the ball, his ball, welcoming him into the society of Lords and Ladies in magical Britain. He had to personally welcome the important guests into his home. The Noble and Ancient Houses of Abbott, Greengrass, and Bones were all represented. There was no one to represent the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, as the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had yet to rule on Sirius Black's will naming Harry as Heir to the title of Lord Black. The other Houses who had automatic representation on the Wizengamut were all represented. Draco was now Lord Malfoy. Neville was now Lord Longbottom. They all were there, as were all of Harry's friends who did not have any noble lineages.
Harry greeted them all. He and Draco solemnly acknowledged each other in silence as they walked by. Amos Diggory and his wife arrived and were more cordial than they had ever been to Harry since their son had died. Cho Chang and her parents came next. She were wearing the more traditional cheongsam of her family's heritage as opposed to more typical dress robes of the magical world. The Weasley family arrived and they all greeted him warmly. "You really must come by for a meal at the Burrow," insisted Molly. "We haven't seen you in ages. You must be getting thin again."
"I'm fine, really," replied Harry. "But I will take you up on that offer soon, hopefully when all of the formalities quiet down."
Molly gave him a big hug and as she noticed his big smile, she gushed, "Now that's my boy, Harry."
Seamus Finnegan and his family arrived. They were followed by Dean Thomas who had come alone. Luna Lovegood and her father Xenophilius were the next to greet Harry.
There was a slight commotion as the Delacour family arrived with Fleur and Bill Weasley. The beauty of the Delacour women continued to attract attention everywhere they went.
Harry's eyes lit up as he noticed the young witch who was accompanying his former head of house, Minerva McGonagall. Hermione Jean Granger was stunning in her sapphire blue gown. As a muggle born and having no affiliation with any of the Noble Houses, she chose to forgo the formal dress robes of the magical society. Professor McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was attired in her blue and white dress tartan accented with fine yellow lines. Harry wished he could avoid all the pageantry associated with the official duties of this day and just spend time with his closest friends. As he greeted them he knew he held Hermione's hands too long as those in the reception line started to stare and grumble at the hold up. "I'll see you later," whispered Hermione. "Finish all that you need to do, we'll have plenty of time together soon."
Harry resigned himself to attending to all of his duties for the evening. He knew she was right, and he just wanted to get all of the formalities behind him.
Hours later he was finally ushering the last of his guests out of the door. He turned to look around at the immense chaos that was left behind and he started to feel a little overwhelmed. He heard a slight pop as his house elf, Charles, appeared in front of him. "Would Lord Harry like anything before retiring for the evening, sir?"
"No, Charles, I'll be fine. I just can't imagine how to deal with all of the mess that we have to clean up." Harry remembered that he had tried to get the Potter family's house elf to stop calling him Lord Potter, but he soon learned that all he could manage was to get the ancient elf to call him Lord Harry. Charles had been serving the Potter family for more generations than Harry could remember.
"Lord Harry still has a guest waiting for him in his study," added the house elf.
Harry smiled as he acknowledged the elf, "I know Charles, I am heading there now." Harry turned and headed to see Hermione. He knew she would be waiting for him. As he was walking into the study he saw her and his eyes lit up. Hermione looked up from where she was sitting as her close friend was entering the room. She noted the fatigue in his eyes. They were both reaching out to hug each other when Harry doubled over in pain. He grabbed the scar on his forehead and screamed.
Hermione gasped. This had never happened since Harry had defeated Tom Riddle. She reached out and took him in her arms. "Oh, Harry," she cried, "how can this be happening?"
Harry's scream of pain died down. He let go of his head and collapsed to his knees. He was so weak from the pain he fell forward into her arms. "Merlin's beard," was all he could manage to whisper.
Hermione cradled him in her arms. "What happened Harry? Is the pain gone? Did you see anything?"
Harry could barely respond. He was recovering form the severe pain and he had been completely unprepared for it to happen. After a minute of deep breaths trying to get his strength back he was able to push himself up into a sitting position and then he looked up at Hermione who was still trying to hold him. "I have no idea what the bloody hell just happened. That was unlike anything I ever experienced when Riddle was alive."
Hermione frowned at this revelation. "Did you have any visions with this?" she asked.
"No, nothing. Just the searing pain," he replied dully.
"Can you get up?" she asked, clearly concerned about how he was doing after the attack on his scar.
"A little help would be great," he said. Hermione gave him a hand. As he managed to get back up on his feet he leaned onto her again. "Head rush," he murmured as he grabbed his scar again.
"I think I better get you up to bed," Hermione commented softly. She put an arm around his waist to help support him as they headed up to his room. She then called out for Charles, who appeared next to them almost immediately.
The usually dignified house elf gasped at the sight of Harry clutching his forehead and obviously not feeling well. "What happened to Lord Harry?"
"I'll be fine Charles," he said weakly. "I must have just overdone it today."
"You are not fine," snapped Hermione. "He had an attack of pain in the scar again, Charles. We need to get him in bed."
There was a sudden pop and Hermione realised that Charles had reached out and grabbed them both and apparated them all to Harry's room.
Harry gave a weak grin and turned to his house elf, "Thank you, although I am quite sure I could have managed on my own."
Hermione pushed him onto the bed as she scolded him. "Will you never change Harry? You always have to do everything for yourself, you never want to let anyone help out."
His eyes sparkled as he watched Hermione start to lecture him. "You know, my love," he said smiling, "you know that I have always wanted to do everything alone, but that I never did anything without you."
Hermione grabbed a pillow off of the bed and threw it at him. "That's for teasing me," she snapped. Then she grabbed a second pillow and threw that one at him as well. "And that's for getting me all worried and upset."
Harry gave her an impish grin and reached out to hug her. Hermione pushed his arms down, leaned forward and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips. "And that is all you get tonight. You, Lord Potter," Hermione added, placing too much emphasis on the title, "you need to get some rest. I'll stay in the next room for the night, and then we'll see how you are doing in the morning."
Harry frowned at her refusal to stay with him.
Looking at his pouting expression, Hermione added, "You and I both know you won't get any rest if I stay here, so no. Now get your rest young man."
Harry knew her well enough not to argue with her. He kicked off his clothes onto the floor, resigned to sleeping alone and crawled under his covers after returning his pillows to the head of the bed.