AUTHORS NOTE! :P

I AM SO SORRY PLEASE DON'T HATE ME!

I'm so sorry that it's been ages that I updated, but I have a lot on my mind and a lot of drama.

You see, my best friend is moving to the other side of the country in a few days, and I won't be able to see her everyday like I used to... I know Ireland isn't that big, but it's still depressing that she won't be in school anymore, or in town with us during the week, or I won't be able to just go to her house anytime I needed to if I had to talk to her, and she's really depressed about it because she doesn't want to leave and she's grounded for six months for not talking to her mother and doing rebellious thing's involving spray painting her bedroom because she doesn't want to go and I don't want to go and whenever I think of her not sitting beside me in class with my other friends, I feel like crying... anyone else know the feeling? This is the first time a friend of mine has moved so far away and I don't really know what to do about it. Any advice?

I know other people have much worse problems then this, but this is the first time it's ever happened to me and I'm going to miss her so much, but I do know that there are people with much worse problems.

I'm really sorry guys, please don't be mad :( and thanks for reading that, I haven't really been able to talk about it much with my other friends because I'm not an emotional person... I like to keep my feelings to myself. Anyway...

Now that that is off my chest, I shall answer some reviews... OH YEAH we got to 200 reviews! And more! Thank you all so much! And this chapter is dedicated to Quail Sandwich, who was the 200th review! Thanks!

BlackSwan707: you've got them :)

ChopSuzi: yup ;)

SevLoverKat: Tell me about it haha :) but he'll come to his senses...

Arkell26: well, yeah but Rita had pictures and everything so they kinda had to believe her, I suppose. Well, the Weasley's and Gazzy and Angel are going to be like the rest of the flock, confused and angry about the whole thing. Yeah, the Weasley's know that Sirius is Max's dad, but they don't really believe that he is innocent just yet. Don't worry, I love long reviews :)

Pyro and Darnet co: yeah, I kept it that way because I thought it was hilarious!

Green Nook: no, Hogwarts believe it because there were pictures with the article.

jdr ride: haha I'm not getting sick of you! I love your reviews. Well yeah, it did kinda die down a bit, but it's gonna kick up again soon. Yup, this is the ball :)

Shan Shan: I always read the reviews, and I respond to them on the chapters :) they're gonna be a couple soon, don't worry :)

florafan199914: it really was horrible :/ and it's lucky you didn't go.

Annie Bell: they'll be more shocked in this chapter then the last one. Something like that will be happening in this chapter, or the next one.

Thanks for the favorites, alerts and reviews and all that stuff :) I love you guys!

Now, on with the chapter! Have fun at the Yule Ball!

-Rach ;)


Max's POV

Being famous sucked. Everywhere the flock went, people were staring at us, asking if we'd show them our wings, asking if it hurt, asking how we deal with everything that happened to us... It was endless. How Harry got through this is first-year was a mystery to me.

"It's alright, they'll get something else to talk about soon," he kept saying whenever someone was openly staring at us, or shouting at us. Most of the hateful comments had stopped, and now it was all questions or staring. The Slytherins were still calling us freaks every chance they got.

What made it worse was that a few days after the article came out, McGonagall held us back after a Transfiguration class. "Is something wrong, Professor?" Fang asked. Ever the mannerly one.

"I wanted to talk to you about the recent article that revealed your- er, secret," McGonagall said, looking concerned. Before any of us could say anything, the door of the classroom opened, and Nudge walked in. She saw us and let out a relieved smile. She probably thought that she had been in trouble.

"Miss Weasley, I was just saying that I wanted to discuss that article," McGonagall explained.

"Alright, Professor. Well, we didn't tell Skeeter anything, she just figured it all out on her own, but we don't know how. I mean, we don't really get how she knew all about the School and all the sciencey words, because I thought wizards didn't know that much about Muggle things like science and medicine and-"

"I am aware that none of you told Miss Skeeter about your wings," McGonagall said, cutting Nudge off. Nudge didn't seem too bothered by it- she was used to it by now.

"Then what is there to talk about?" I asked, turning back to my teacher.

"I wanted to ask how you are doing," McGonagall said, taking us by surprise. "It must be hard for everyone to know the secret that you've been keeping your whole lives."

We looked around at each other, not sure what to say. Yeah, it's been hard, and more then once I've wanted to punch people multiple times in the face, but it was nothing the flock couldn't handle. I thought to the letter we got yesterday morning from Mrs Weasley, telling us not the let it bother us and to keep strong and that she was going to kill Skeeter next time she saw her. There had also been letters from the Gasman and Angel, both of them basically saying that they weren't going to let it get to them, but they were still angry it had happened.

"We're able to handle it," I said finally.

"We all know that you lot are well able to handle just about anything," McGonagall said, raising an eyebrow. "But you are all stronger then most of the students in this school. You are different and that is something you should take pride in. Don't let this affect you, because it will all be over soon and then everything will back to normal."

We stared at each other, then I said, "Thanks, Professor."

McGonagall grinned kindly. "Now go to your next class before you receive detention. I walked out of the classroom with the flock, smiling for the first time in days, and I didn't have the urge to punch someone.

Despite the mountain load of homework we were given for the holidays, I was not in the mood to work when term ended and spent the week leading up to Christmas trying to enjoy myself and ignore the staring (which I noticed wasn't as bad as before). Gryffindor tower was even more crowded now then it had been before the holidays, and everyone was louder then usual, but that didn't bother me. As long as the flock wasn't the center of attention, I didn't care what happened.

Fred and George had had a great success with the Canary Creams, and for the first couple days of the holidays, people kept bursting into feather randomly all over the common room. It wasn't long before people started getting cautious with the food people gave them, in case Fred and George had done something to it.

Snow had started to fall thickly upon the castle and it's grounds now, and I had nothing to worry about for Christmas. I had everyone's presents bought, and the Weasley's, Angel's and the Gasman's were sent to the Burrow for them. The pale blue Beauxbatons carriage looked like a frosted pumpkin beside the iced gingerbread house that was Hagrid's cabin, while the Durmstrang ship's portholes were glazed with ice. The house-elves down in the kitchen were outdoing themselves with rich, warming stews and savory puddings and even chocolate-chip cookies that tasted like there were angels dancing in your mouth. These were officially the best cookies in the world. I seriously had to get more of these soon.

Only Fleur Delacour had anything to complain about.

"It is all too 'eavy, all zis 'Ogwarts food," we heard her saying grumpily as we left the Great Hall behind her (Ron hiding beside Iggy). "I will not fit into my dress!"

"Oooh, that's a real tragedy," Hermione snapped as Fleur went out into the entrance hall. "She really thinks a lot of herself, that one, doesn't she?"

"Hermione- who are you going to the ball with?" Ron asked.

He kept springing this question on her, and on me, Nudge and Ginny as well, hoping that one of us would tell him who Hermione was going with. However, Hermione just frowned and said, "I'm not telling you. You'll just make fun of me."

"You're joking, Weasley!" said Malfoy from behind us. "You're not telling me that someone actually asked that to the ball? Not that big-toothed Mudblood?"

I turned around and snarled, "No one is telling you anything, Malfoy. At least we all have partners. Who are you going with? Crabbe? Or Goyle?"

Malfoy glared at me, then smiled. "You mean to say that you got a partner too, Ride? Who would ask a freak like you to go to the ball with them? Someone really desperate, I'm guessing-" Before I could punch him right in the middle of his stupid face, someone beat me to it. It was Fang.

Malfoy flew back onto the ground, hard, and touched his lip were it was split open and bleeding from where Fang had hit him.

"We're not the freaks, Malfoy," Fang said.

He started walking towards the staircase, but before he got too far, Malfoy was back on his feet and he looked like he was going to charge at Fang when Hermione stepped in between them and said brightly, looking over Malfoy's shoulder, "Hello, Professor Moody!"

Malfoy paled and jumped back, looking around wildly for Professor Moody, but he was still up at the staff table, finishing his dinner.

"Twitchy little ferret, aren't you, Malfoy?" Hermione said scathingly, and we all went up the staircase, laughing loudly.

"Hermione, that was just pure genius," I laughed, clutching my sides.

"Hermione," Ron said, looking at her sideways, frowning, "your teeth..."

"What about them?" she said, avoiding looking at me. Ron had just noticed that Hermione's teeth were smaller.

"They're different... I've just noticed..."

"Of course they are. You didn't expect me to keep those fangs Malfoy gave me," Hermione said. Then she looked over at Fang and said, "Er- no offence, Fang."

Fang grinned. "My name is amazing, I don't care." We laughed, but Ron still looked bothered.

"No, I mean, they're different to how they were before Malfoy hexed you. They're all straight... straight and- and- normal-sized."

Hermione smiled mischievously and I rolled my eyes.

"Well...when I went to Madam Pomfrey to get them shrunk, she held up the mirror and told me to stop her when they were back to the size they were," she said. "And I just...let her carry on for a bit." She smiled even more widely. "Mum and Dad won't be too pleased. They wouldn't let me use magic to shrink them, even though I've been trying to persuade them for ages, but they want me to keep wearing my braces at night. You know, they're dentists, so they don't think that magic and teeth should- look! Pigwidgeon's back!"

Ron's tiny owl was twittering madly at the top of the stairs, two scrolls of parchment tied to his leg. People passing him were pointing and laughing, and a group of third-year girls passed and, "Oh look at the weeny owl! Isn't he cute?"

"Stupid little feathery git!" Ron hissed, hurrying up the stairs and snatching Pig. "You bring letters to the addressee! You don't hang around showing off!"

Pig hooted happily, sticking his head out of Ron's fist. The third-years looked shocked.

"Clear off!" Ron snapped at them, waving the fist holding Pig, who hooted more happily than ever as he soared through the air. "Here- take this," Ron said, handing me the letters he untied from Pig's leg as the third-year girls scuttled off looking scandalized. One of the letters were for Harry, and the other one was for me. I handed Harry the one for one and pockeded my letter. We hurried back to Gryffindor Tower to read the letters.

Everyone in the common room was too busy in letting off more holiday steam to notice what anyoen else was up to. We sat apart from everyone else by a dark window that was gradually filling up with snow, and Harry read out his letter.

Dear Harry,
Congratulations on getting past the Horntail. Whoever put your name in the goblet shouldn't be feeling too happy now! I was going to suggest a Conjunctivitus Curse, as a dragon's eyes are it's weakest point- "That's what Krum did!" Hermione whispered. Harry read on.

But your way was better, I'm impressed. Don't get complacent, though, Harry. You've only done one task; whoever put you in for the tournament's got plenty more opportunity if they're trying to hurt you. Keep you eyes open- particularly when the person we discussed is around and concentrate on keeping yourself out of trouble.
Keep in touch, I still want to hear about anything unusual. Give everyone my best.
Sirius.

"He sounds like Moody," Harry said quietly, putting the letter into his pocket. `"Constant vigilance!' You'd think I walk around with my eyes shut, banging off walls..."

"He's right though, Harry," Hermione said, "you have still got two tasks to do. You really ought to have a look at that egg, you know, and start working out what it means..."

"Hermione, he's got ages!" snapped Ron. "What does your letter say, Max?"

I took out my letter, and read it out quietly.

Dear Max,
Don't worry about what Rita Skeeter wrote, I didn't believe a word of it anyway. I hope no one is giving the flock any hassle about the wings, or hassling you because I'm your father. But you and the flock are strong, you'll get over this in no time, and sooner or later people will have other things to talk about. Watch Harry's back, and your own; some people could be more interested in the flock then they should be, so be careful.
I'll see you soon sweetheart, and we'll talk then, I promise.
Sirus.

"I agree with Harry," I said, trying to hide my relief that Sirius didn't actually believe that I hated him. "He sounds exactly like Moody."

"But he has a point," Fang said. "Who knows if the whitecoats saw this? They could know where we are right now."

"But the whitecoats are Muggles," Ron said, "How could they read the Daily Prophet?"

"How did they get into the grounds? Into the Forbidden Forest?"

"They could of used some sort of science to get in," Iggy said.

"So they could of read the Daily Prophet," Fang said.

"Want to play chess, Harry?" Ron asked, stopping Fang and Iggy's arguing. "Yeah, sure," Harry said. Hermione gave him a stern look. "Oh come on," Harry said, "How am I supposed to concentrate with all this noise? I won't even be able to hear the bloody thing over this lot."

"Oh, I suppose not," Hermione sighed and we all sat back at watch their chess match. Let's just say that Ron's chess pieces were very violent.

I woke up on Christmas morning feeling more relaxed than I've felt in days. I sat up in bed, and grinned when I saw the pile of presents waiting for me at the end of my bed. Lavender and Parvati were already dressed and they were about to leave the dormitory when the saw I was awake.

"Merry Christmas Max!" they said together. I smiled at them. I may not like them all that much, but they were still sweet girls. They didn't seem all that bothered that I had wings, or that I never told them, but they were fascinated about the wings too. They hadn't asked to see them yet, which I was grateful for.

"Merry Christmas guys," I said, smiling at them. Then I remembered something. "Hey, Parvati, is your sister going to go to the ball with Ron?" I asked.

Parvati giggled. "Yes, she is. She wasn't too pleased about it, probably because she's going with someone she's never really spoken to, but she's just happy enough that she has a partner. Who are you going with again?"

I felt my face go red. "Er... Ethan . You know, in Ravenclaw?"

Lavender and Parvati giggled again. "Oooh, he's cute! You're so lucky, Max, he's so sweet."

"I know," I said, grinning.

"What dress are you wearing?" Lavender asked.

"I don't know what it lookes like yet," I admitted. "Nudge wants it to be a surprise." I tried not to wince at the thought that I was going to be wearing a dress for most of the night.

Lavender and Parvati looked like I just told them I was going to go to the ball in my birthday suit. To be honest, I'd prefer that then to go in a fancy ball dress.

"You don't even know what color it is?"

I shook my head.

"How long it is?"

Another shake of the head.

"That's ridiculous! What if you don't like it?"

I couldn't believe it. I actually laughed at something that Lavender Brown said. "I'm not going to like it if it's the prettiest dress I've ever seen. I don't like dresses."

They stared at me with their mouths slightly open.

"Why don't you like dresses?" Parvati asked.

I shrugged. "I just don't."

They stared at each other, then back at me. "Well, I'm sure you'll look beautiful, Max," they said, then walked out, waving. I shook my head, grinning. They were strange girls, they was no denying.

I looked over at Hermione's bed, and saw that she was still asleep. She had stayed up well into the night reading a book that was bigger then Hagrid's house. I got my pillow and threw it hard onto Hermione's head. She jerked awake, her bushy hair all over the place. When she saw me, she glared. "What?" she asked.

"It's Christmas!" I said, jumping out of bed. "A time for family and presents. So get out of bed."

She rolled her eyes, but she got up all the same. We went over to our presents, and I grabbed the biggest one and opened it. It was from Mr and Mrs Weasley. It was a red Weasley jumper, with a big M in the middle, and it had wings around it. With the jumper was a huge amount of homemade mince pies. Angel and the Gasman had bought me a Muggle book series, about teenagers fighting demons and vampires and werewolves. After that was Hermione's gift, a red and gold friendship bracelet that was decorated with the Gryffindor lion, wands, and wings. Along with that, Hermione had gotten me a book about American Quidditch teams. Before opening the rest of my presents, I gave Hermione a quick hug. After that, I opened Hagrid's present. It was a photograph in a handmade, gold frame that was covered in flowers. In the picture was the me, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Ron, Harry, Hermione and Hagrid, outside his hut. Because it was a magical picture, we were all moving, laughing and walking around the picture, talking to each other. I smiled and left the picture on the table beside my bed.

After that was Sirius' present; he got me a guitar pick with what I was guessing was the Black family crest on the front, and a penknife, that according to his note, could unlock all doors and undo any knot. Iggy got me a bag of things from Zonko's Joke Shop. Fang got me all of my favourite sweets from Honeydukes. Ron got me a poster of the Holyhead Harpies, the all female Quidditch team. Nudge got me a butterfly necklace that I put on over the one I got from Jeb after he died. And lastly, Harry bought me a bag of still hot, delicious looking chocolate-chip cookies. He must of put a spell on them to keep them warm and fresh.

I took one out of the bag and bit into it, savouring the taste. They were amazing. Harry really knew what to get me.

Hermione and I got dressed, my new friendship bracelet around my wrist. When we were down in the common room, we sat with Nudge, who was playing with the charm bracelet I got here we waited for a few minutes before the boys came down the stairs and we went down to breakfast together. After breakfast, we spent most of the morning in the Gryffindor Tower, and I was trying to teach Iggy a few simple songs on the guitar, but he just wasn't paying enough attention, then we returned to the Great Hall for the best lunch I've ever had in my short, messed up life.

We went out into the grounds in the afternoon; the snow was untouched except for the deep trenches made by the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students. Me, Harry, Fang, Iggy and the Weasley's had a snowball fight, while Hermione and Nudge chose to watch, Nudge telling me it was a bad idea for me to play because my hair would be wet and messy for when she was trying to do it for the ball.

Just after Fred tackled me to the ground and rubbed snow into my hair, Nudge announced that we had to go upstairs and get ready for the ball. I pushed Fred off of me and stuck his head in the snow, then I checked my watch. "It's five o'clock!" I protested. "The ball isn't for another three hours!"

"And we're going to need all the time we have to deal with this," Nudge said, pointing to my hair and all the snow crusted into it.

"Your doing my hair?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. This was going to be torture.

"And your make-up," Nudge said, grabbing my hand and dragging me away towards the castle, Hermione walking beside us.

"Hermione, who are you going with?" Ron called desperately from behind us. Hermione just waved her hand at him.

Nudge dragged me all the way up to Gryffindor tower, refusing to let go of my hand, saying she was afraid I'd run off. Damn, that child knew me too well. The Fat Lady was sitting in her portrait with her friend Violet, and the two of them were drinking. They both giggled when Hermione gave the password. In the common room, we found Ginny, who was talking to some of her third-year friends, but when she saw us she jumped up and followed us up into me and Hermione's dormitory.

"Okay, I'm going to start with Max because she needs the most work. And besides, she can't do it herself," Nudge said to Hermione, who was looking around in her trunk.

"Hey, I'm right here!" I said.

"I know, Max, I know," Nudge said, pushing me down onto my bed. "I'll be right back, I just need to get our dresses and things." Nudge walked out of the dormitory, and I huffed, not looking forward to this at all. I had just planned brushing my hair, maybe pulling it up, then getting my dress off Nudge and meeting Ethan. I didn't think I'd be getting the whole works.

"Max, Ginny, do you think this dress is alright? I haven't shown it to anyone before," Hermione said. I looked over my shoulder and my jaw dropped. It was a gorgeous dress, and it would suite Hermione perfectly. It was a periwinkle-blue colour, hourglass shape, and from the waist down, it cascaded in waves of frilly fabric, the colour darkening more the further it went down, and there was a waist belt. It was beautiful, and Hermione was going to look stunning. ( AN; I can't really describe clothes, sorry, but it's the same as the one she wears in the movies, but the colour is the same as in the book.)

"That's amazing, Hermione," I said.

"You're going to look beautiful."Ginny said. Hermione blushed, smiling, and left the dress on her bed. She then grabbed something else from her trunk. "What's that?" I asked.

"It's called Sleekeazy's Hair Potion," Hermione said, leaving it on her bed. "My hair won't be as busy when I use it. And I think Nudge wants to use some too."

Just then, the door opened and Nudge walked in, with a huge box and two long dress bags, and shoe boxes. How she was carrying them all, I will never know. "Let's get down to business," Nudge said, grinning evilly as she took some sort of torture machine from the box. Merlin, save me.

Nearly two and a half hours later, we all had our hair and make-up done, and the only thing left to do was to put on our dresses. Nudge hadn't shown us either mine or hers, because she wanted it to be a big surprise. And now the time has come.

"Okay, mine first," Nudge said. She was grinning happily. She took the first dress bag and raced into the bathroom, beaming. Nudge came out a few minutes later, and she looked beautiful. Her hair was done in an elegant side bun at the back of her head, held up with numerous pins. Her dress was pink, knee length and strapless, with a flowy skirt and a tight bodice. Her make-up was simple but flattering, the way Nudge had done on me, Hermione and Ginny as well.

"You look gorgeous," Hermione said, smiling.

"You look amazing," I agreed.

Nudge smiled. "I know!" she squealed. "Okay, Hermione go put on your dress." Hermione took her dress from her bed and went into the bathroom while Nudge did the finishing touches to my hair. A few minutes later, Hermione came out, wearing her dress. I was right, she did look stunning. It fitted her figure perfectly, but it wasn't revealing too much. Her hair was twisted up in a knot at the side of her head with sparkling clips all over her hair. Hermione blushed as me, Ginny and Nudge staring at her, but she was grinning all the same.

"My turn!" Ginny said, grabbing her dress and going into the bathroom. She came out after a few minutes in a strapless light blue dress that had a sparkling belt around the waist. Her flaming red hair was curled, flowing around her shoulders.

"You all look so beautiful," I said.

"And so do you, and you'll look even better when you have your dress on," Nudge said, handing me the last dress bag. "Go put it on."

I took the dress into the bathroom and unzipped the bag. I couldn't really make out what it was like in the bag, but it was a dark blue colour. At least it wasn't pink.

I pulled the dress on and walked out of the bathroom, not wanting to look at what the dress was like in case I didn't look as beautiful as the other girls.

"Oh my Merlin, Max, you look amazing!" Ginny said while Hermione and Nudge stared at me.

"Really?" I asked, starting to feel uncomfortable in the full-length dress.

"Ethan's going to be impressed," Nudge said.

"Ethan? No one's going to recognize her! She's going to be the most beautiful girl in the ball," Hermione said. "Look for yourself, Max," she said, dragging me over to the mirror that was beside the door.

I really did look different. My hair was done in a bun at the back of my head, with braids running along the side of my head, and my fringe was pinned to the side.

My dress was amazing. I never thought I'd actually like a dress on me, but I loved this one. It was dark blue with spaghetti straps and a black sash around the waist, and from the waist down it flowed out a small bit from the tight waist. But that was when I noticed my wings. They were completely visible, and I couldn't hide them in the dress. I turned around and noticed that you could see Nudge's tawny wings through her dress as well.

"I know," Nudge said, sensing what I was thinking. "But I think this is the perfect opportunity to show people that we don't care that they know about our wings, that we're over it."

I stared at Nudge. She had really grown up a lot since coming to Hogwarts. And she was absolutely right. This was the perfect opportunity for people to see that we didn't care.

"You're right. This should be fun," I said, staring at my wings that you could see over my shoulders.

"Oh, I almost forgot your shoes!" Nudge said, picking up one of the shoe boxes. The other one was empty.

"Nudge, if this are heels I will kill you," I said, staring at the shoe box as if it would bite me.

"There only small heels. You won't even notice that they are heels," Nudge said, opening the box and handing me black heels. I glared at her, but took the heels anyway and put them on. I had to admit, they were cute. The heel was very small, and they were all straps with little black bows going up the front.

"Are we ready to go down to the common room?" Hermione asked. I looked at myself one more time in the mirror and nodded. I was actually kind of excited.

We walked out of the dormitory and down to the common room. It looked quite strange, full of people wearing different colours instead of the usual black. When people saw me and Nudge with our wings out, silence feel and a few gasps filled the room. I tried not to glare at anyone as they stared at my wings, but if I wanted everyone to know that I didn't care what they thought, this had to be done without any reaction.

I saw Parvati, obviously waiting for Harry, looking very pretty. She was wearing a dress of shocking pink with her long dark hair pulled into a long braid. When she saw us, and with me and Nudge with our wings out (well they weren't spread out they were pressed tight to our backs- we didn't want to hit anyone with them) she gasped and said, "Oh my goodness, you all look amazing! I'm so jealous! And your wings are beautiful!" I was surprised that I actually laughed with everyone else, and we stayed talking to her for a few minutes before Nudge and Ginny said that they'd wait in the common room for Fang and Neville. Me and Hermione waved them goodbye and walked towards the portrait hole, thanking people who said we look amazing, and more people were shocked when they saw me with my wings out, but they still said they were awesome. I just wonder if everyone else will be like that.

The entrance hall was packed too, all milling around waiting for eight o'clock to come around, when the doors to the Great Hall would open. It was the same down here as it had been in the common room. When people saw the wings, they'd gasp, or point, or tell me they were pretty. And of course, there were some (cough Slytherin, cough) who shouted that I was a freak, but I found that I didn't care. They could say whatever they wanted, but I didn't care.

Those who were meeting their partners from different Houses, like myself, were edging through the crowd trying to find each other, or in Hermione's case, looking for their partners from different schools.

"Max!" I heard someone call. I turned around and saw Ethan, looking very handsome wearing black robes, his bright hazel eyes seemed even brighter, pushing through the crowd towards us. "Hi Ethan," I said, my face going a bit red.

"You look...so beautiful. You're the prettiest girl at this ball. And your wings make you look even more beautiful," Ethan said, blushing as he said it. I smiled at him, suddenly feeling a tiny bit more comfortable in this dress. That was when Ethan noticed Hermione. "Whoa, you look really different. In a good way," he added, smiling at her.

Hermione laughed, the reduction of the size of her teeth was more obvious now then ever. "Thanks Ethan. I should go find Viktor. The Durmstrang students and their partners have to come in from the front doors before the ball starts. I'll see you in a few minutes!" And with that, Hermione left and it was only me and Ethan.

"Did she say Viktor? As in... Viktor Krum?" Ethan asked.

I nodded. "Yup. He asked her to go with him in the library. Perfect place to ask Hermione anything," I said and Ethan laughed. He was still staring at me.

"What?" I asked, grinning.

"You really do look beautiful," he said, making me smile and blush again.

"You don't look too bad yourself," I said teasingly and Ethan laughed. "Jee, thanks. That means a lot," he said, taking my hand in his. I looked at him, and he actually looked happy, the happiest I've seen him since his sister died.

"Your wings look awesome too, by the way," Ethan said. "Thanks. I just hope everyone else thinks so too," I said, gritting my teeth as a few Slytherins made birds noises as me and Ethan walked past them. Ethan glared at them and let go of my hand, only to put it around my waist instead.

A group of Slytherins came up the steps from their dungeon common room. Malfoy was in the front, wearing dress robes of black velvet with a high collar, which in my opinion made him look like a vicar. Pansy Parkinson was in a very frilly dress of pale pink was clutching Malfoy's arm. Crabbe and Goyle were both wearing green; they resembled moss-coloured boulders, and neither of them, I was pleased to see, managed to get partners.

Me and Ethan spent a few more minutes just talking and laughing. Maybe this ball won't be so bad afterwards.

The oak front doors opened, and everyone turned to see the Durmstrang students entered with Professor Karkaroff. Krum was at the front of the party, and Hermione was holding onto his arm. She looked so different, without her busy hair and the twenty or so books that was always on her back. I saw some people looking at her, mostly Hogwarts students that knew Hermione, but they didn't know it was her.

Over their heads I saw that the lawn had been transformed into a sort of grotto full of fairy lights- meaning that hundreds of actual living fairies were sitting in the rosebushes, and fluttering over the statues of what seemed to be Santa Claus and his reindeer. It was amazing.

Then Professor McGonagall's voice called, "Champions over here please!"

I saw Cedric Diggory, with Cho, and Fleur was with Roger Davis, the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, Krum with Hermione, who smiled and waved at me, and then I saw Harry, who was wearing black dress robes and looked quite handsome, with Parvati, walking over to McGonagall.

I waved at Harry as he looked around, and when he saw me, he did a double-take. He stared at me, and I smiled at him. He smiled back, but looked away when McGonagall started talking. The champions lined up with their partners in front of the doors to the Great Hall. I looked around for Fang, Iggy, Ron and Nudge but couldn't see them anywhere.

"Alright, everyone into the Hall," McGonagall called. Ethan took my hand again and we walked into the Great Hall.

"Whoa," I said, looking around.

"Yeah," Ethan said, his eyes wide.

The walls of the Great Hall had been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands if mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had disappeared; instead there were hundreds of smaller, round tables spread across the Hall.

I concentrated on not falling over. The heels on these shoes might have been small, but they were still bigger then I was used to and I just hoped I didn't fall over from the hells, or else trip over the end of the dress. We all stood, waiting for the champions to walk in. As soon as everyone was in the Great Hall, that was when the champions came in with their partners, lined in pairs, with McGonagall in the front. Everyone applauded as they walked towards the large round table at the top of the hall, where the judges were sitting.

When Harry walked past me and Ethan, he looked at me, and he was clearly nervous. I smiled at him, giving him the thumbs-up, trying to tell him that he'll be fine. Harry smiled back, and seemed to walk with a bit more confidence then before.

Dumbledore smiled happily as the champions reached the top table, but Karkaroff was watching Krum and Hermione draw closer with a sour expression, as if he was eating a lemon. Ludo Bagman, tonight wearing robes of bright purple with large yellow stars, was clapping as enthusiastically as the students; and Madame Maxime, who had changed from her usual black clothes for a flowing gown of lavender, was applauding politely. But Crouch wasn't there, I suddenly realized. The fifth seat at the table was taken by Percy.

"What is he doing here?" I asked in surprise.

"Who?" Ethan asked.

"The nerdy ginger up at the table. The one Harry's sitting beside," I said as Percy drew back the chair beside him for Harry to sit in. I saw him talking to Harry with a very smug expression. Urgh, he is such a prat.

"Isn't he one of Ron's brothers?" Ethan asked.

"Unfortunately," I said.

Ethan chuckled just as the rest of the students moved to the small round tables. After searching through the crowd for more then five minutes, we finally found Fang, Ginny, Iggy and Susan, and Ron and Padma, Nudge and Neville, and we found an empty table where we all sat down. The plates in front of us didn't have any food on them yet, but there were small menus in front of us, but it didn't seem like anyone was going to come up and take our orders or anything. I looked up at the top table and saw that everyone there were speaking to their menus, and then food would appear on their plates.

Getting the idea, I picked up my menu and looked at it. I decided to eat the pork chops, so I said it to the menu, feeling like an idiot. I mean, I was talking to a freaking menu! But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, food appeared on my plate. It was as delicious as the lunch we had earlier.

While we ate, we had some small talk but the food was too good to keep talking for too long. When everyone had finished eating, Dumbledore stood up and told the students to do the same. Then, with a wave of his wand, the tables zoomed back along the walls, leaving the floor clear, and then he made a raised platform along the right wall. A set of drums, a few guitars, a flute, a cello, and some bagpipes were set on it. My hands itched to play the guitars, but I couldn't because at that moment the Weird Sisters walked onto stage to wildly enthusiastic applause. They picked up their instruments as the champions and their partners were standing up and getting ready to dance.

I saw Harry tripping over his dress robes as he walked out with Parvati. I snickered as the Weird Sisters started playing a slow song. The champions stepped onto the brightly lit dance floor. When Harry walked on with Parvati, me, Fang, Ethan, Iggy, and Nudge started waving at him and laughing. He looked so embarrassed, it was adorable.

I got this weird feeling in my stomach when I saw Harry's hand go on Parvati's waist, and his other hand take Parvati's, and they started dancing. All of the champions were swaying around gracefully, even Harry didn't look too stupid dancing around.

After a few minutes, more people starting going onto the dance floor and joined the champions. Ethan stepped in front of me and held out his hand, raising his eyebrows. I smiled (I seemed to be doing a lot of that tonight) and took Ethan's hand, and he guided me out onto the dance floor. He put on hand on my waist, and took my other hand in his as I put my free hand on his shoulder. To be honest, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was just copying what the other girls were doing.

"Is something wrong?" Ethan asked, sensing my hesitation to actual dance.

"I can't dance," I admitted, staring down at the ground. To my surprise, Ethan just pulled me closer to him. "Don't worry about it. Just follow what I do," he said. Ethan started moving back in forth, and I stared down at my feet, copying what he was doing and making sure I didn't fall over.

"See? You're a natural," Ethan chuckled.

"Well, I do have a wonderful teacher," I said.

"I would like to meet this person," Ethan said seriously.

"He may be a good dancer, but he's very annoying," I said, rolling my eyes.

Ethan stopped dancing and stared at me. "What?" he asked.

I laughed. "I'm kidding. You're not that annoying, I can deal with it. Barely." I grinned at him, letting him know that I was joking. He laughed and started dancing again. I looked around and saw that Nudge and Neville were dancing nearby, and Nudge kept wincing from Neville standing on her feet, but she seemed to be having too much fun to be too bothered by it, and with her wings spread out slightly behind her, she looked like an angel. I wonder if I looked like that as well. When she saw me, she beamed and waved. I waved back and then we were separated in the crowd.

I heard the final note from the bagpipe with relief. The Weird Sisters stopped playing, applause filled the hall again and I stopped moving and looked at Ethan. "Can we sit down for a few minutes? I'm not used to heels."

"Of course," he said, and he led me over to the tables. I spotted Harry and Parvati walking from the crowd towards a table where Ron and Padma were sitting, and I dragged Ethan over to that way.

"Having fun?" I asked, sitting down beside them, and opening a butterbeer. None of them answered. Ron was glaring at Krum and Hermione, who were dancing nearby, Harry was staring down at his hands, looking uncomfortable, or else looking at Cho and Cedric Padma was sitting with her arms and legs crossed, one foot jiggling in time to the music. Every few minutes she would throw a disgusted look at Ron, who was completely ignoring her. Parvati sat next to Harry, her arms and legs crossed too, and within minutes was asked to dance by a Beauxbatons boy.

"You don't mind, do you Harry?" she asked. I stopped listening to what Ethan was saying to hear Harry's response, but he just said, "What?" still staring at Cedric and Cho.

"Oh never mind," she snapped, going with the boy from Beauxbatons. When the song ended, she didn't come back.

I spent the next few minutes talking to Ethan and drinking butterbeer, with Ron and Harry ignoring us. A few minutes later, Hermione came over and sat down in Parvati's empty chair. She was pink in the face from dancing.

"Hi," she said to us.

"Hey," me, Ethan and Harry said, but Ron didn't say anything.

"It's hot isn't it?" Hermione said, fanning herself with her hand. "Viktor's just gone to get some drinks."

"Ron gave her a withering look. "Viktor?" he said. "Hasn't he asked you to call him Vicky yet?"

Hermione looked at him in surprise. "What's up with you?" she asked.

"If you don't know," Ron said scathingly, "I'm not going to tell you."

Hermione stared at him, then at me, then at Harry, and we just shrugged.

"Ron- what-?"

"He's from Durmstrang!" Ron spat. "He's competing against Harry! Against Hogwarts! You- you're-" Ron was clearly searching for the right words to describe Hermione's crime, "fraternizing with the enemy, that's what you're doing!"

Hermione's mouth dropped open.

"Don't be so stupid," she said. "The enemy! Honestly- who was the one who was so excited about him being here? Who was the one who wanted his autograph. Who's got a model of him in his dormitory?"

Ron chose to ignore all of this. "I s'pose he asked you to come with him while you were in library?"

"Yes, he did," Hermione said, the pink patches on her face growing. "So what?"

"What happened- trying to get him to join spew, were you?"

"No, I wasn't! If you really want to know, he- he said he'd been coming to the library everyday to try and talk to me, but he hadn't been able to pluck up the courage!" Hermione said quickly, and blushed the same colour as a tomato.

"Yeah, well- that's his story," Ron said nastily.

"Ron-" I started, knowing where he was going with this, but he ignored me.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Hermione snapped.

"Obvious, isn't it? He's Karkaroff's student, isn't he? He knows who you hang around with... he's just trying to get closer to Harry- get inside information on him- or get near enough to jinx him-"

Hermione looked as if Ron had slapped her. When she spoke, her voice quivered. "For your information, he hasn't even asked me one single thing about Harry, not one-"

Ron changed track at lightening speed.

"Then he's hoping you'll find out what his egg means! I suppose you've been putting your heads together during those cozy little library sessions-"

"I'd never help him work out the egg!" Hermione said, outraged. "Never. How could you say something like that- I want Harry to win this tournament. Harry knows that, don't you Harry?"

"You've got a funny way of showing it," Ron snarled.

"Ron, you're being stupid-" I started again, but Ron wasn't listening.

"This whole tournament is about getting to know foreign wizards and making friends with them!" Hermione snapped, looking close to tears.

"No it isn't!" Ron shouted. "It's about winning!"

People were staring to stare at them.

"Ron," Harry said quietly, "I haven't got a problem with Hermione coming with Krum-"

But Ron wasn't listening to him either.

"Why don't you go and find Vicky, he'll be wondering where you are," Ron said.

"Don't call him Vicky!" Hermione shouted, jumping to her feet and storming across the dance floor. I stood up to follow her, but I couldn't find her anywhere. I turned and glared at Ron. "What the hell is your problem?" I growled.

"I don't have a problem! She's the one going off with a Durmstrang-"

"Vare is Herm-own-ninny?" a voice asked from behind me. It was Krum, and he was holding two bottles of butterbeer. I realized then that it was the first time I've ever actually heard Krum speak.

"No idea," Ron sneered. "Lost her, have you?"

"Veil, if you see her, tell her I haff drinks," he said, giving Ron an odd look before nodding at the rest of us and slouching away. Before I could start shouting at Ron for being a brainless jerk, Padma asked, "Are you going to ask me to dance or not?"

"No," Ron said, glaring after Krum.

Ethan was giving Padma a sympathetic look, and it was then that I realized that they were actually friends, being in the same House and all. I leaned over to Ethan and whispered, "Ask Padma to dance."

He looked at me with a questioning look. "Really?" he asked.

"Yeah go ahead. I'll be fine here. And dancing really isn't my thing," I said.

"Okay, but for one dance. Then I'm coming back to my date," he said. Ethan stood up and asked Padma to dance just as a new song started, and she nodded eagerly, not even looking back at Ron once as they walked onto the dance floor.

Ron was still glaring at everything that moved, and when Percy came over, I thought he was going to explode. I didn't listen to Percy blab on about his fancy new promotion, I just sat looking around. Dumbledore was now dancing with Professor Sprout, Bagman was dancing with McGonagall and Madame Maxime and Hagrid were waltzing around the hall.

"Want to dance?"

I looked up and saw Harry offering me his hand. He looked a bit awkward.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yeah. Ron's about to start shouting at random people for no reason in a few minutes and I don't want to be here when he does," Harry said. I looked over at Ron, and couldn't agree with Harry more. Ron's face matched his hair, and he was giving Percy a death glare that Percy didn't notice because he was still talking about his stupid promotion.

"Sure, why not?" I said, taking Harry's hand. The song the Weird Sisters were playing was relatively slow, but it was still more upbeat then the song at the start. Harry put his arm around my waist and we started dancing, badly. Seeing as neither of us could dance, we didn't know what we were doing. With Ethan, he knew what he was doing, but Harry didn't have a clue and to be honest, I preferred dancing like this.

Dumbledore and Sprout spun passed us, and when Dumbledore saw us dancing together, he winked, his blue eyes twinkling merrily. When they were gone, me and Harry burst out laughing, and we didn't stop until the song ended.

"Well, thank you for the dance, Mr Potter," I said in a posh accent, bowing to Harry. He laughed and said, "Oh, the pleasure was all mine, Miss Ride. Care for one more dance?"

I hesitated, looking around for Ethan, but he was still dancing with Padma. "Sure. One more dance."

After the dance, we sat back down with Ron, and Iggy, Susan, Fang, Ginny, Nudge and Neville were sitting there too, taking a break from dancing, but Percy was still there, talking about how it was great that we had made friends with Krum, that the whole point of this was international cooperation and blah blah blah.

"What do they think they're doing, annoying senior Ministry members?" Percy suddenly hissed, and I turned my head to see where he was looking. Fred and George had cornered Bagman and were talking to him. "No respect..."

Bagman shook off Fred and George fairly quickly, however, and spotting Harry, waved and came over to our already cramped table.

"I hope my brothers weren't bothering you, Mr Bagman?" Percy said at once.

"What? Oh, no not at all!" Bagman said. "No, they were just telling me a bit more about those fake wands of theirs. Wondering if I could give them advice on marketing them. I've promised to put them in touch with a few contacts of mine at Zonkos Joke Shop..."

Percy didn't look happy about this at all, and I just knew that he was going to be telling Mrs Weasley about it the moment he got back to the Burrow.

Bagman opened his mouth to ask Harry something, but Percy got there first. Of course he did.

"How do you think the tournament's going, Mr Bagman? Our department is quite satisifed- the hitch with the Goblet of Fire-" he glanced at Harry, who frowned- "was a little unfortunate, of course, but it seems to have gone very smoothly since, don't you think?"

"Oh yes," Bagman said cheerfully. "it's been enormous fun. How's old Barty doing? Shame he couldn't come."

"Oh I'm sure Mr Crouch will up and about in no time, but in the meantime I'm more then happy to take up the slack-" and then we went off talking about everything he had to do since Crouch became sick. I just wanted to bang my head against the table, but before I could, Iggy said, "Let's go for a walk. Get away from Percy." Susan, Neville and Ginny chose to stay in the hall, where they were warm, but Nudge decided to come with us.

When we got to the doors, I looked over my shoulder to see where Ethan went. I saw him walking over to our table, and then I saw Padma dancing with a Beauxbaton boy. Ginny pointed towards where we were, and I waved him over. He walked over to us and said, "Sorry but Padma just wanted to dance so I danced with her longer then I thought. Where are you going?"

"For a walk," Fang said simply. Ethan nodded, stepping back to walk beside me. We slipped out into the entrance hall. The front doors stood open and the fluttering fairy lights in the rose garden winked and twinkled as we went down the stone steps, where we found ourselves surrounded by bushes, winding ornamental paths and large stone statues. I could hear splashing water, which sounded like a fountain. There were people sitting on carved benches all over the place. We walked down one of the paths through the rosebushes, but we had only gone a short way when we heard a familiar voice. And not one we like to hear.

"...don't see what all the fuss is about, Igor."

"Severus, you cannot pretend that this isn't happening!" Karkaroff's voice sounded anxious and hushed, like he didn't want to be overhead. Oh well, too bad. "It's been getting clearer and clearer for months. I am getting seriously concerned, I won't deny it-"

"Then flee," Snape said curtly. "Flee- I will make your excuses. I, however, shall remain at Hogwarts."

Snape and Karkaroff came around the corner. Snape raised his wand and I tensed all over, but instead of pointing it at us, he blasted a rosebush apart, his expression ill-natured. There were squeals from the bushes and dark figures emerged from them.

"Ten points from Ravenclaw, Fawcett!" Snape snarled as a girl ran past him. "And ten points from Hufflepuff too, Stebbins!" as a boy went rushing after the girl. "And what are all of you doing?" he asked, finally seeing us. Karkaroff looked slightly discomposed to see us standing there. His hand went nervously to his goatee and he began winding it around his finger.

"We're walking," I said, "Not against the law, is it?"

"Then keep walking!" Snape snarled, and he brushed past us, his long black cloak billowing out behind him, making him look like a bat. Karkaroff gave us a fleeting look, then hurried off after Snape and we continued down the path.

"What's got Karkaroff all worried?" Ron muttered.

"And since when have him and Snape been on first-name terms?" Harry said slowly.

We reached the stone reindeer, over which we could see the jets from the enormous fountain. The shadowy outlines to two huge people were visible on a stone bench, watching the water in the moonlight. I was about to suggest that we go somewhere else and leave those two alone when I heard Hagrid speak.

"Momen' I saw yeh, I knew," he was saying in an oddly husky voice.

We all froze. This definitely wasn't something we should stay and listen to. I looked around, back up the path and saw Fleur and Roger Davis standing half concealed in a rosebush. I tapped Ron on the shoulder and jerked my head towards them, meaning that we could sneak past them without being noticed (they seemed a bit busy) but Ron, with his eyes widening in horror at the sight of Fleur, shook his head furiously and grabbed my hand, pulling me closer into shadows of the reindeer, and the other followed us.

"What did you know, 'Agrid?" said Madame Maxime, a purr low in her voice. I wish I could just turn off my hearing for five minutes and not have to listen to this. I knew that Hagrid would hate to be overheard in a situation like this. I just tried to focus on the beetle that was crawling along the reindeer's back. I frowned, staring at the beetle. Now, this next sentence is going to sound pretty crazy, but I'm a witch that has wings and I have a Voice in my head (which has been pretty quiet lately, now that I think of it) so things are always crazy for me.

But this beetle looked familiar. I know, it's crazy, but the beetle really did look familiar.

But at Hagrid's next words, all thoughts of familiar looking beetles were gone.

"I jus' knew... knew you were like me... Was it yer mother or yer father?"

"I- I don't know what you mean, 'Agrid..."

"It was my mother," Hagrid said quietly. "She was one o' the last ones in Britain. 'Course, I can' remember her too well... she left, see. When I was round three. She wasn' really the motherin' sort. Well, it's not in their natures, is it? Dunno what happened to her... might be dead fer all I know..."

Madame Maxime didn't say anything. I couldn't believe we were actually listening to this, but I had never heard Hagrid talk about his childhood before.

"My dad was heartbroken when she wen'. Tiny little block, my dad was. By the time I was six I could lift him up with one hand an' put him on top o' the dresser if he annoyed me. Used ter make him laugh..." Hagrid's deep voice broke, but still Madame Maxime didn't say anything. "Dad raised me...but he died, o' course, just after I started school. Sorta had ter make me own way after that. Dumbledore was a real help, mind. Very kind ter me, he was..."

We heard Hagrid blowing his nose heavily and then saying, "So...anyway...enough abou' me. What 'bout you? Which side you got it on?"

But Madame Maxime had suddenly gotten to her feet.

"It is chilly," she said- but whatever the weather was like, it was nothing like the cold in her voice. "I think I will go in now."

"Eh?" Hagrid said blankly. "No, don' go! I've- I've never met another one before!"

"Anuzzer what?" Madame Maxime said, her tone icy.

"Another half-giant, o' course!" Hagrid said.

"'Ow dare you!" Madame Maxime shrieked. Her voice exploded through the icy, peaceful air like a foghorn; behind us, I heard Fleur and Roger fall out of their rosebush. "I 'ave never been more insulted in my life! 'Alf giant? Moi? I 'ave- I 'ave big bones!" Despite the situation, Iggy actually chuckled but I hit him to shut him up. We didn't need Hagrid to know that we heard all of that.

Madame Maxime stormed away, making fairies rise into the air as she walked past them, angrily pushing aside bushes. Hagrid was still sitting on the bench, staring after her. It was too dark to see his expression. After about a minute, he stood up and walked away, not back to the castle, but back towards his cabin.

"C'mon," Fang said, "We should go."

We moved out of the shadows of the reindeer, but Ron didn't move.

"What's up?" Nudge asked.

Ron looked at us, his expression very serious.

"Did you know?" he asked, looking for all of us, even Ethan. "About Hagrid being a half-giant?"

We all shook our heads. "No," I shrugged. "So what?"

I knew from the expression on Ron's face that we were all once again revealing our ignorance of the wizarding world. Brought up in a lad, we didn't learn much of the wizarding world until four years ago, and there were still things I wasn't sure about, but things weren't as much of a surprise as they had been before. Now though, I could tell that most wizards wouldn't have said "so what?" to finding out that one of there friends had a giantess for a mom.

"I'll explain inside," Ron said, looking pale. "Come on..."

Fleur and Roger had disappeared, probably to find a more private clump of bushes. We returned to the Great Hall, and Ethan took my hand once more. I was starting to worry that he thought I was his girlfriend now. I don't know if I wanted that or not.

Parvati and Padma were sitting at a table with a whole crowd of Beauxbatons boys, and Hermione was once again dancing with Krum. We sat at a table far from the dance floor.

"So?" Iggy said. "What's so bad about giants?"

"Well, they're...they're..." Ron struggled to find the words, "not very nice," he finished lamely.

"Who cares?" I said. "There's nothing wrong with Hagrid!"

"I know there isn't but... blimey, no wonder he keeps in a secret," Ron said, shaking his head. "I always thought he'd got in the way of a bad Engorgement Charm when he was a kid or something. Didn't like to mention it..."

"But what's the matter if his mom is a giantess?" Harry asked.

"Well, no one who knows him will really care, because they know he isn't dangerous," Ron said slowly. "But... they're vicious, giants. It's like Hagrid said, it's in their natures, they're like trolls...they just like killing, everyone knows that. There aren't any left in Britain now, though."

"What happened to them?" Nudge asked.

"Well they were dying out anyway, and then loads got themselves killed by Aurors. There's supposed to be giants abroad though... they hide in mountains mostly."

We spent the rest of the ball discussing giants, only getting up to dance when a song we liked came on, but Ron and Harry never danced.

Just before twelve, Ethan asked if he could talk to me outside. He led me out to the rosebushes with all the fairies, then seemed to get awkward and embarrassed. "What is it?" I asked.

Instead of answering, he just leaned down and put his lips to mine. I was surprised, but then I started kissing him back. But after a few minutes I pulled away. "I'm sorry," I blurted.

"Is something wrong?" Ethan asked.

"No...yes...I don't know. But I don't really want a boyfriend right now. I'm sorry," I said.

"Oh. Well, that's okay. Don't worry about it. I'll see you around Max," he said and walked back into the castle. I sighed and sat down on a bench with my head in my hands.

"Max? What happened? Where's Ethan?"

I looked up and saw Harry walked over to me. He sat down beside me.

"He went back inside because I told him I didn't want a boyfriend right now. Should I have said that?" I asked, staring down at my adorable shoes.

"Well, if you don't want a boyfriend then you don't want a boyfriend. Of course you should of told him, it's the truth. And he was an idiot for just leaving," Harry said. I sighed again and leaned against Harry's shoulder. "I guess you're right," I said. Harry put his arm around my bare shoulders, keeping me warm. "I'm always right."

We stayed like that for a few minutes, just lying against each other in comfortable silence while everyone started filing out the Great Hall and back to their common rooms. Professor McGonagall came out, probably checking that nobody was still outside, and when she saw us, she actually smiled. I think she was just happy she didn't find us snogging each other or something.

"It's time for everyone to go to bed," McGonagall said. We stood up, thanked McGonagall and walked back into the Great Hall. As soon as we walked in, someone called, "Hey- Harry!"

It was Cedric. I could see Cho waiting for him on the marble staircase. I looked around for the flock, or Ron or Hermione, but I couldn't see any of them. They were probably already back at the common room.

"Yeah?" Harry said, rather coldly. I stared at him in surprise, but he was looking at Cedric.

Cedric hesitated, looking at me as if he didn't want to say whatever it was in front of me, but I stayed where I was. Cedric shrugged and said in a low voice, "Listen...I owe you one for telling me about the dragons. You know that golden egg? Does your wail when you open it?"

"Yeah," Harry said.

"Take a bath okay?"

"What?"

"Take a bath, and- er- take the golden egg with you and- er- just mull things over in the hot water. It'll help you think...trust me."

Harry just stared at him.

"Tell you what," Cedric said, "use the prefects bathroom. Fourth door to the left of that statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor. Passwords `pine fresh'. Gotta go... want to say goodnight."

He grinned again then hurried back to Cho.

Harry and I walked back to Gryffindor Tower, trying to figure out what Cedric had meant, but we got nothing. How useful was `take a bath'?

The Fat Lady and her friend Violet were sleeping in the portrait. We had to yell `Fairy lights!' before we woke them up, and when we did, they were both very irritated. We climbed into the common room, me trying not to fall over my dress, and we found Ron and Hermione in the middle of a heated argument. Standing ten feet apart, they were shouting at each other, each red in the face. Iggy was standing closer to Ron, and he looked like he was having the time of his life.

"Well, if you don't like it, you know what to do then, don't you?" Hermione shouted. Her hair was coming out of his elegant bun, and her face was screwed up in anger.

"Oh yeah?" Ron yelled. "What's that?"

"Next time there's a ball, ask me before somebody else does, and not as a last resort!"

Ron mouthed silently like a fish out of water as Hermione turned on her heel and stormed up the girls staircase to bed. Ron turned to look at me, Harry, Fang and Iggy.

"Well," he spluttered, looking thunderstruck, "that just proves it- completely missed the point-"

We didn't say anything. I always speak my mind, but not this time. I just somehow thought that Hermione got had gotten the point much better then Ron had.


Like I said, I'm sooooooooooooooooooooooo sorry this took so long, and sorry if it isn't as good as what people thought it would be like, but I've got a lot on my mind with my friend moving so far away, and I'm stressing about going back to school... but anyway, it's here at long last!

I will put links on my profile to the pictures I found that were the closest things I could find to the girls dresses, but Hermione looks the same as she did in the movie, but just with with the colour dress from the book, because I think she looked beautiful and I didn't want to change it.

Oh yeah and if there are loads of random lines all through this chapter, don't mind them. They kept coming up when I was writing it, and I don't know why, so if they show up in the story, ignore them and sorry!

Just to let you know this chapter has 11,831 words!

You know the drill by now, so review and you get cookies and ice cream! so...

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-Rach ;)