Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.


Chapter III

Hermione, a Blunt Girl


By the following morning, Hermione's hair returned to its original bushy mane. As much as she enjoyed watching Harry become so flustered when he saw her after her little makeover, there was simply no time in her schedule to do her hair up every day. However, she couldn't ignore the disappointment in Harry's eyes when he met her in the common room that morning and so Hermione made a promise to herself to ask Lavender and Parvati if they had shampoo and conditioner that could help her hair. As backwards magical society could be in many aspects, they were amazingly progressive in some odd areas. How to look nice was strangely one of them.

Overall, Hermione was in a fantastic mood. She had kissed Harry. It wasn't on the lips—rather, it was on the neck—but it was still a significant action. It was most likely the first kiss Harry had ever received given what little she knew about his upbringing. It also helped that Harry was notably redder the entire time they were studying after the kiss and how a bit more affectionate he was being that morning (he actually initiated holding hands to the Great Hall!). Hermione couldn't be prouder of herself. She was well-aware of 4P and the rise of popularity Harry had with the school's female population; there was no way she was going to allow any of them step in and usurp her position. Harry was hers. They were best friends after all.

"What are you grinning about, Hermione?" Harry asked beside her.

Broken from her thoughts, Hermione glanced over to Harry, feeling a little guilty that he insisted on carrying her heavy bag containing her supplies, assignments, and books. "Nothing, Harry. I'm just in a good mood." To illustrate her point further, Hermione wrapped herself around Harry's arm as they continued walking.

As Hermione expected, Harry grew a little flustered by her close proximity yet did nothing to discourage her. She was pleased—Harry was beginning to grow comfortable with her more intimate touches. He was starting to come out a little bit more out of his shell. She saw him talking to a few first years during breakfast earlier. To some it didn't seem much, but to the keen eye of Harry's best friend, it was a sign that Harry was becoming more sociable. He may not like how many others see him because of his fame, but at least she made the conditions of interacting with them more amicable for Harry to pursue other friendships.

Currently, they were walking to the dungeons for Double Potions. Hermione wasn't looking forward to lessons with the Slytherins and Professor Snape. A majority of the Gryffindor's rival House followed Malfoy's lead and attempted to humiliate Harry at every turn since his name was projected out of the Goblet of Fire. Professor Snape, on the other hand, was still abrasive as ever with the exception that he had more ammunition to use against his least favorite student. Granted, they only went through one Friday's worth since Harry's becoming of school champion, but it was enough to set the tone for future lessons.

By the time she and Harry arrive at Snape's dungeon after lunch, they found the Slytherins waiting outside, each and every one of them wearing a large badge on the front of his or her robes. Hermione was quite curious as to what those badges said, but seeing Malfoy's irksome smirk, she knew quite well that it wasn't going to be any good. The letters were a luminous red that burnt brightly in the dimly lit underground passage that bore the message:

Support Cedric Diggory—the REAL Hogwarts Champion!

"Like them, Potter?" said Malfoy loudly as Hermione and Harry approached. "And this isn't all they do—look!"

Malfoy pressed his badge into his chest, changing the message upon it and making it glow green:

POTTER STINKS

Hermione stared at the badge and made a face of distaste. Was that all Malfoy could do? Honestly, she was disappointed. She had expected more, something more insulting like Potter is a Bastard Son of a Mudblood Whore. Well, she should have known better. It was Malfoy after all.

"Do you honestly believe that such childish insults would work on us?" asked Hermione with a bored drawl, feigning disinterest. Harry, having turned red in embarrassment, clutched her firmly, attempting to maintain his anger no doubt. With a side glance, Hermione found Harry's lips form a thin line. Oh yes, Harry was about to demonstrate his infamous ire.

Malfoy turned from Harry and regarded her, grimacing in disgust. "Well if it isn't Potter's Mu—"

"The same drivel, Malfoy? Is there ever any variety to your petty insults?" Hermione interrupted him, more for Harry's benefit than hers—she needn't him explode at the present.

The boy snarled, glaring daggers at her. Hermione smirked slyly, better for Malfoy to get angry than Harry. The insufferable boy was much easier to handle than her best friend. Having collected his bearings, Malfoy retorted, "You shouldn't talk to someone that is your superior, you Mu—"

"You're hardly my superior, Malfoy. You're nowhere near the top of our year. You're cowardly and weak, barely able to stand up for yourself when alone. In fact, if it wasn't for your parents' wealth, I'm sure not even one of your so-called friends would even want you in their presence."

"How dare you—"

"Furthermore, you spout rubbish about purebloods being better when it has been shown time and time before that they are not—better knowledge about the wizarding world perhaps, but hardly in terms of magical prowess. Need I remind you of your humiliating defeat at my hands last year with my fists? It just goes to show that not only are you a pathetic leech, you are stupid as well."

Hermione placed her hands on her hips, raising an eyebrow challengingly at Malfoy. The pale-faced snake opened his mouth to retaliate, but whatever he was about to say was soon drowned out by the cheers and laughter of the Gryffindors (though Hermione spotted a few Slytherins snickering behind hands). However, her only concern was for Harry and was duly satisfied when she caught him chuckling, his anger forgotten.

"Shut up! All of you! Wait until my father hears about this!" Malfoy helplessly attempted to quell the riotous crowing.

Unfortunately for Malfoy, his attempts would only fuel Hermione's diatribe. "Hiding behind daddy dearest again? You're only proving my point. Honestly, I don't see any Slytherin traits in you at all. You're hardly cunning and you're more than content of just living off your inheritance, showing your lack of ambition."

"YOU MUDBLOOD! DENSAUGEO!" Malfoy shouted, raising his wand and firing off the Tooth-Growing Spell at Hermione.

Caught off-guard, Hermione found herself struck by the spell. Her two front teeth began to grow at an alarming rate. Beside her, Harry growled angrily and pulled out his wand to attack Malfoy, but Hermione shot her hand forward and grabbed his wrist before Harry was able to retaliate.

"Let me go, Hermione!" Harry attempted to pry his wrist from her.

Her teeth were still growing, leaving her unable to speak. She shook her head, telling Harry to stand down.

"Look at Granger! Her teeth are even larger than normal!" cried out Pansy, making the other Slytherins laugh tauntingly.

Harry turned back to the Slytherins, ready to mouth them off for laughing, but in a surge of anger, Hermione bolted forward. She walked up to a grinning Malfoy and pulled back her arm. A second later, her fist met with Malfoy's nose, sending him reeling back onto the stone floor. A groan was emitted from Malfoy's pained form and everyone could see a trail of blood falling from his nostrils. Everyone in the passage was stunned speechless.

Satisfied with her work, Hermione glared at Pansy and her Slytherin companions then stomped away with the intention of visiting Madam Pomfrey to correct her teeth. She turned her head back to find Harry chasing after her, but it was what she saw behind him that gave her food for thought. Ron's wand was out and was glaring down at Malfoy. Ron was always protective of her; it didn't matter if he was at odds with Harry. It almost made her want to forgive him. Almost.


Madam Pomfrey was easily able to fix her teeth and return them to a normal size. Of course, Hermione may have extended the shrinking process by a second or two. There was no need for her two front teeth to be at their original, large size. Naturally, this proved to be the correct decision as Harry marveled at her charming, new smile. No more calling her bucktooth and be correct about it!

"You're fixed, Miss Granger. Please do be careful when practicing your spells," Madam Pomfrey scolded her lightly—Hermione had lied and said that an accident caused her teeth to grow.

"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey. Am I free to leave?" asked Hermione innocently, knowing fully that the matron would keep her under her watch for another hour.

Madam Pomfrey shook her head fervently. "You may not, Miss Granger! I must observe you for at least another hour to ensure that your teeth remain their current size."

Hermione smiled wryly; she hated it when she was right sometimes.

"You should have let me curse that git," Harry complained next to her, arms folded in indignation, after Madam Pomfrey went off to attend other matters.

She rolled her eyes at her best friend, accustomed to his temper. Instead of replying immediately, she placed a comforting hand on his arm. "I'm flattered, but you know I can take care of myself. I think I proved that, did I not?"

Harry grinned and chuckled. "You sure showed Malfoy."

"Yes I did. Though I can honestly say that was not my smartest decision. It's one thing to punch him when it's just him and us, but to do so in front of all the Gryffindors and Slytherins was a mistake. I'm sure Malfoy will run to Professor Snape and try to have me expelled," Hermione concluded, starting to feel worried about the consequences of her actions.

"You won't be expelled," Harry said confidently. "Your words were a blow to his pride and if he tries to bring his father or Snape into this, it will only prove that you're right. Malfoy definitely does not want that."

Hermione considered Harry's points and agreed with him. Still, she worried. "Let's hope you're right about that, Harry."

"I'm sure, Hermione."

"You're sweet," she said. Hermione leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Harry's cheek. "Thank you for risking Professor Snape's wrath by skipping class to tend to me."

"O-of course," Harry stuttered, "I couldn't leave you behind."

They fell into a companionable silence, both allowing themselves to simply relax. Unfortunately, the moment ended too soon as the entrance to the medical wing opened loudly, startling Harry and Hermione from their restful silence. Colin Creevey entered the infirmary beaming brightly. He spotted Harry and excitedly made his way over to him.

"Hey Harry!" Colin greeted eagerly. "Ron said you'd be here! Boy, you should have seen Snape's face when I came in and asked you where you were! He looked steaming!"

Harry gulped and Hermione frowned at the news. They had forgotten that they were skipping Double Potions.

"Mister Creevey, have you suffered any maladies again?" Madam Pomfrey suddenly appeared holding a few potions, eyeing the third year sternly.

Colin went pink and nervously replied, "Oh no, not this time, ma'am. Mr. Bagman wants Harry. All the champions have got to go, I think they want to take photographs…"

The matron nodded curtly. "Very well. Mister Potter, if you would be on your way?"

Harry turned and faced Hermione, asking her silently if he had to go. As much as it pleased her to see Harry willing to stay with her, it would cause more trouble than it was worth to ignore whatever event that Harry was needed in. She patted his hand softly and nodded, telling him to go. Hermione could take care of herself.

Reluctantly, Harry left with Colin, throwing one last look of concern towards her before exiting the hospital wing. Hermione smiled reassuringly and waved him goodbye. As soon as he was gone, she dropped her smile and instead scowled at the prospect of Harry being paraded by Ludo Bagman and whatever news rags that would be attending the event. Despite Madam Pomfrey's best intentions, Hermione resented that she forced her to stay and not give her support for Harry—though she was sure that Harry would have made her stay in the infirmary anyway (he can be so protective).

Hermione picked up the mirror Madam Pomfrey had left on the bed she was sequestered in and looked at her teeth in the reflection. She couldn't help but feel a little giddy inside that her beaver-like front teeth were now at a normal size. She remembered complaining often to her parents to have it fixed, but they never really made much of a commitment into planning it. How could they not? They were dentists for goodness sake!

After an hour, Madam Pomfrey checked over her teeth one last time and deemed her fit to leave. She intended on finding Harry but came across the trouble of having no idea where Colin took Harry to. This was a problem she easily knew the solution to. All Hermione had to do was fetch the Marauder's Map and locate Harry using that. It was simple.

"Hermione!"

She slowed her pace and looked up from her thoughts. To her surprise, she found Ron ahead of her holding a box of wizard's chess. Hermione was befuddled. Why was Ron carrying his favorite (non-quidditch) game and in the corridor that only led to the infirmary? She placed Ron under her careful scrutiny, attempting to decipher his actions.

"Madam Pomfrey let you out and all?" he asked her shyly, giving her a small smile.

Hermione frowned. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought you would like some company," Ron confessed, his smile broadening. "You sure gave Malfoy a wallop! He was embarrassed that he didn't try to tell the greasy git what happened!"

She shook her head. "I mean, why did you come here to see me? I thought you were still on the outs with Harry."

Ron's mood immediately fell upon mentioning Harry. He scowled and said, "Harry's a right git is what he is. He up and left you when you were still being treated to take stupid photos. I don't know why you put up with him."

"I'll have you know that Harry was by my side. It can't be helped that he has champion duties he has to perform," Hermione snapped, striding past Ron to make her way back to Gryffindor Tower.

"Oi, wait up!"

She ignored him and continued walking. Unfortunately, Ron was much taller than her and was easily able to keep up. As sweet as it was that Ron thought they were still friends and went to check to see if she was okay, Hermione could not forget how his jealousy turned him against Harry.

"Why are you so angry?" asked Ron, irritated.

Hermione stopped in her tracks and turned to face Ron, the suddenness of her actions startling him. She glared angrily at her former friend and marched right up to him, driving her finger onto his chest. Despite his height, Hermione appeared more intimidating than ever.

"Angry does not begin to describe how I feel towards you," Hermione began, her voice rising. "Ronald, you betrayed Harry's trust and mine as well. You are supposed to be our friend. How can you believe Harry would willingly place himself in danger like this? You know him. He hates the limelight!"

His ears turned red, a clear sign that either his temper was rising or he was becoming embarrassed. Hermione bet it was the former more than the latter. Glaring back at her, he shouted, "Yeah? Well, I'm not the one going around like I own the place! 'Oh, look at me, I'm Harry Potter, all the girls love me!'"

"What does that have to do with anything? He was absolutely miserable when everyone hated him thinking that he willingly placed his name in the Goblet of Fire! Besides, if you're going to blame anyone for making everyone like Harry, it's me." Ron stared at her incredulously. "I'm the one that spread the rumor that he is a good person! I know you're the one responsible for how everyone sees him since you're badmouthing him all the time!"

"Why would you do all that for that git?"

"Because he's my best friend, Ronald Bilius Weasley!"

"But I'm your best friend too! I thought at least you could see some of my point about him!"

Hermione wanted to yell and scream at him further but stopped herself. Looking at Ron, she knew nothing she could say about Harry would break whatever delusion Ron generated to justify his jealousy towards Harry. She could see that beneath those eyes was the understanding that he was wrong about Harry; his stubborn pride just refused to admit it.

"Ron," she whispered softly, "I don't think I can be friends with you if that is what you truly think about Harry."

Ron opened his mouth to speak but found that he had nothing to say.

"I know that you really don't think Harry entered this tournament on purpose; you're just jealous. Even I know you're not that imbecilic. So the sooner you apologize to Harry, the sooner we can all be friends again. If you can't learn to accept that how you're acting now is wrong, then you'll be walking away from the two people who don't think of you as just another Weasley."

Hermione turned and walked away from Ron, leaving him alone in the corridor. As angry as she was, even she didn't want her friendship with him to end. He may have said hurtful things in the past and annoyed her with his lack of tact, but Ron had always taken up to arms to defend her when she needed it (or when she didn't either). He was like the brother she never had. They always bickered but, at the end of the day, they knew they were there for each other.

She decided that Ron deserved a chance. If he was willing to mature and apologize for his transgressions, their friendship would resume. It would take some time for the trust to build up again, but at least it was a start.


Afterword: I hope everyone likes this chapter. To be honest, I know a lot of Harmony fans really don't like Ron, but I can't see Harry or Hermione completely abandon their friendship with him. Anyway, I liked this chapter. It was fun to write.