Harry currently stood walking around just outside the castle, tramping through snow and hoping that the cold might somehow help to snap some sense into him.
So far however, it had only caused him to feel more like a snowman, minus the carrot nose and cool top hat.
Yet as he tried to decide what to do, he came to a few conclusions.
He had to tell Padma what had happened and soon, and he couldn't see Daphne anymore as she may be too much of a temptation for him.
Since he had had very little contact with Daphne before all this dating thing started he hoped that that wouldn't be too difficult.
However he knew he would see her in at least some of his classes and she would still be on his mind and quite honestly, he liked her, not just because she was a really good kisser, but someone that he considered really fun to be around and spend time with.
The same held true for Padma or really any of the girls that he had gone on dates with yet he couldn't just date all of them and those who got left out he'd be required to not spend as much time with.
Was that really fair?
This past week had been a real eye opener for him as he realized that he actually enjoyed spending time with other people besides Ron and Hermione and more in particular girls.
The boys that he did know, particularly in his dorm room he managed to get along with, but he couldn't really consider them to be potential good friend material. They just had different interests than he did, that's all...
For some reason he just felt like he got along better with girls.
Maybe it was the lack of belching and farting contests he was usually subjected to or the fact that he felt he could have a real conversation with girls and even engage in rather witty and funny wordplay with some of them beyond what the boys considered funny: feces and once again farting.
Hermione of course had always accused them of being immature, and now he could see that she was probably right.
After deciding that freezing his toes off wasn't doing himself any good, he decided to head to the owlery and check on Hedwig as being around her always somehow managed to help calm him down.
The fact that the owlery was also heated was an added bonus.
When he got inside however, he found that he wasn't the only one in there.
"Oh hello Harry," Fleur greeted him when she saw him.
"Hello Fleur, what brings you out here in the cold at night?" He asked her.
"I'm here for the owl treats," She claimed jokingly, "mouse flavored is my favorite."
"Well I've always said the French have some odd tastes," He replied.
She laughed and said, "No, actually I'm checking on my owl."
"Which is yours?" He asked.
She pointed to a totally white owl that was the same type as Hedwig.
"Well that's my owl Hedwig," He announced as he pointed at his own owl
In response, Hedwig swooped down at the mention of her name and came to rest on the floor next to him.
"So your owl is the little heartbreaker," Fleur said, "my owl Jacques is usually the one that gets all of the interest from other owls, and he usually has to beat them back with a talon, but your owl has been beating back every advance he makes on her. Personally I think she's just playing hard to get."
"Hedwig will do that," He agreed, "lucky bird."
Hedwig chirped in agreement on the floor.
"So what about you? How did things go with Padma?" Fleur asked.
Since his last conversation with Fleur had been on his date with her, this was a rather valid question.
He sighed and said, "It went well."
"You don't look like it went well," Fleur observed.
"Let's just say that Jacques isn't the only one having trouble beating the ladies back," Harry informed her.
"This sounds like I'm about to hear an interesting story," Fleur commented, now seeming super interested.
"Interesting would be the right word," He agreed.
While he was admittedly a little hesitant to confess such a problem to someone else, Fleur had helped him a lot before with choosing which girl, and he was hopeful that she might do so again.
It was worth a shot.
So he told her, beginning with his asking Padma to the Yule Ball, through the date he had just had with Daphne and then to now.
We had finished, he asked, "I think it would be helpful if you could give me some advice."
"Well since I suppose I helped get you into this mess perhaps I shouldn't," Fleur answered.
"I would say that you gave great advice the first time, which is why I am hopeful you can do so again," Harry observed.
"Yes, I am the all seeing Fleur Delacour, Triwizard Champion, Veela, and an expert on relationships," She said, "admittedly you probably have more dating experience than I do by now."
"Come on Fleur," He urged teasingly, "if you can't help me, my next choice will have to be Hedwig for advice."
Hedwig gave a chirp of indignance as if to say that of course she gave good advice.
It often amazed him just how smart wizard owls were, although he doubted even Hedwig could help him out with his love life.
"What I can't help thinking is that you actually remind me a lot of myself," Fleur commented.
"In what way? Is it because I look too much like a beautiful woman or I act too French?" He asked.
"Yep, you look so much like a girl, it's uncanny, I keep looking at your chest to see if you have a pair of boobs on it," She replied, now staring obviously at his chest.
"Don't worry, I'll still claim to be a guy so that you can stare at it. Guys usually don't complain when they have their chests stared at," Harry pointed out.
"Then I should probably point out that I am in fact a girl and I do have a right to complain," She reminded him.
"Sorry," He apologized.
"Don't worry about it, Harry, I was only joking, you're actually a lot better about it than most guys, especially considering you aren't gay," She said.
"So how do I remind you of yourself?" He asked, getting back to their more serious conversation.
While joking around helped him feel more at ease, he also knew he needed to be serious for awhile, which didn't mean he should start acting like his godfather.
There he went again with another joke...
"I was going to say that like me you seem to get a lot of attention from the opposite gender. It's not something you can really blame them for, but it still happens and because of that any relationships or possible friendships get messed up. So I think I'll tell you what I would really like personally," Fleur told him, "when I was younger and just going through puberty I suddenly started getting a lot of attention from boys. At first I was flattered as I rather liked some of them, but I soon got annoyed with it. I couldn't seem to have a conversation with them because they would just get tongue tied and not know what to say to me and instead just stare at me the whole time. It was my mother who actually gave me good advice and while it applies to veela, I think it can also apply to you. She told me that the best thing I could do was find someone that I could be just friends with first and if I did go on dates with them, not be exclusive with them. This would allow me to really get to know them and know if they truly liked me for me, or just because of how attractive I was. She said I shouldn't start a real relationship until I knew this."
"Okay, well I'm pretty sure that Padma and Daphne at least like me for me already," He commented.
"I'm not finished yet Harry," She reminded him, "the thing is you're still young and only 14. Most 14 year olds are at least tempted to be in serious relationships but feel like they need to be more like adults and be exclusive with someone. The reality is however any relationships you might have at 14 probably aren't going to last and you probably aren't going to end up marrying that person.
You might feel like you have to choose right now who you want to be with, but that just isn't the case and you still have plenty of time to get to know other girls and decide who you ultimately choose to marry.
I think going on all of those dates might have been quite beneficial to you in realizing that there are plenty of fish in the sea and help you realize what you like and don't like in a girl.
I helped you choose just Padma earlier because I wanted you to have at least one strong relationship, but I think I may have given you the wrong advice. What I'm saying is that you shouldn't feel obligated to be with just one girl from now on."
"How do you think Padma might take that or some of the other girls if I said I didn't want a serious relationship?" He asked.
"Well with Padma you never actually decided to be exclusive did you, you just planned to go to the Yule Ball together right?" She pointed out.
"Yes, although I suppose that might have been implied," He answered.
"I can't tell you what to do, whether to be exclusive with Padma, just date around, or just try to be friends with everyone, but I think it's important to realize that a girl you want to ultimately be with should be able to at least understand. They don't have to be happy about it, but at least be able to understand."
He nodded. It all seemed like good advice.
"You know, I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I have to thank you for helping me so much. You're a really good friend," He admitted.
"Wow Harry, being friends, that's a really big step, I don't know if I can handle that kind of pressure, are you sure?" She teased.
"You're right, how about we start off as enemies and work our way up from there?" He teased right back.
"Well we are competing against each other from different schools, locked in a bitter rivalry in a potentially deadly competition. It may be wise to stay clear of me unless you want to wind up in a ditch somewhere," She countered.
"You're right, I should go put you on my growing list of enemies right now, right after Voldemort, death eaters, Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, doctors who say "this won't hurt a bit," cat people who feed and dress their pets better than I get fed and dress, blast ended skrewts, three headed dogs, brussel sprouts, liver, and whoever invented the song It's a small world after all."
"Wow Harry, it looks like your list of enemies is already full, are you sure you can fit me onto that list?" Fleur replied.
"I suppose you're right and I have too many acquaintances and people I just know and are neutral towards as well. That would mean you have to be my friend if you think you can handle that," He informed her.
She pretended to sigh and said, "I'll just have to find someway to manage I guess, friends then."
"I can just imagine the things we'll end up doing. Getting into mischief by starting food fights, staying up late to tell scary stories that aren't even scary until 3 in the morning on a school night, having belching contests, seeing how many marshmallows we can stuff into our mouths, the sky's the limit."
"Yeah because that's what all friends do," She said somewhat sarcastically.
"That's what the boys in my dorm do," He pointed out.
"I would hope you don't expect me to do any of those things," She responded.
"I wouldn't but I wonder if you might have any better ideas," He asked.
She seemed to think a moment before answering.
"I suppose if you'd like, you can come to a party I'm having tomorrow over in the school's guest quarters, bring whoever you'd like...Padma, Daphne, Hermione, that weird girl with the radish earrings, all of them or whoever else you feel like bringing," Fleur invited.
"Sounds like fun," He agreed, "I should be able to make it."
After he finished with Fleur and having evidently made a new friend, he went back inside the castle and try and figure things out some more.
While Fleur had given him a new perspective on things, he knew that Padma wouldn't be too happy in any case and he didn't want to lose her.
As lost as he was in his thoughts, he failed to notice someone standing along an unlit section of wall.
"Sorry," He apologized.
"Why don't you watch where you're going?" The person asked sounding upset.
As they got into the light lit by a torch along the wall, he realized that it was Pansy Parkinson, widely considered by Ron to be the worst girl in all of Hogwarts, basically for being mean and always fawning over Draco Malfoy.
"I couldn't see you," He told her.
He watched her and realized however that her cheeks were all blotchy and wet with tears.
She had evidently been crying.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
"I'm fine, just go away Potter," She told him as she tried to wipe tears off her face.
"If that's what you want," He said, "although if you need help, just let me know."
"Why should you care about me?" She asked accusingly.
It was a good point. He had in fact only 10 minutes ago listed her under his enemies list.
"I don't like to see a girl crying," He admitted.
She seemed to study him more closely trying to see if he was being genuine before asking, "Is it really true what they say about you in the papers?"
"Daphne, Padma, and Luna somewhat embellished it, but it's mostly true," He confessed.
"Daphne really does like you for some reason, so I figured she was just biased.," Pansy pointed out as she finished wiping her face.
"Nope, I'm actually just an attention seeking, bigheaded scarhead," He answered.
"Malfoy is the only one stupid enough to actually believe that," She told him.
He blinked, surprised that she would actually insult Malfoy like that. She had always seemed like his biggest female fan.
"Did I just hear you call Malfoy stupid? The world must be ending," He said.
A ghost of a smile appeared on her face as she commented, "Let's just say I'm not really Draco's number one fan right now."
"Oh good, there's an opening for me then," Harry jokingly replied.
She looked like she wanted to laugh, but managed to hold it in, "Well if you must know he just broke up with me."
Having just made such a confession she looked back at him, almost expecting him to make one of his jokes.
He also knew he couldn't make one. He may not actually care for Draco and question the sanity of anyone willing to date him, but breakups he was sure must be hard for anyone.
"I'm sorry," He said simply, not able to think of anything else to say.
"It's okay," She replied, "he's a loser anyway, I'm not even sure why I'm crying since I'm probably better off without him."
The fact that she probably was was something he had to agree with.
She seemed to realize that she was being overly emotional in front of him and then put on a brave face as if to prove that didn't actually bother her as much.
He shifted his feet a bit and then asked, "May I ask why you keeping sticking with him if you think that way?"
She sighed and said, "Well in case you haven't noticed I don't exactly get any other attention from guys. I know they call me Pug-faced Parkinson behind my back."
"I think pugs are cute personally," Harry replied, saying the first thing that popped into his head.
She looked at him funny and asked, "Did you just call me cute?"
He laughed realizing what he had really said and replied, "I suppose I did in a way."
"Don't you have like a million fangirls who might be rather jealous?" She reminded him.
From what he could tell, him calling her cute had definitely cheered her up a lot more than he had intended. At least she wasn't crying anymore and seemed to actually be enjoying their conversation right now.
"Ah, they'll just have to deal with it," He said, "however you don't really look like a pug. I think that rumor got started just because of the face you keep making."
She pulled the ugly face that she had by now become infamous for, the one that made her look like she had just seen something totally gross such as Ron's toenail collection.
Actually he couldn't blame her for making a face at seeing that.
"Like that?" She asked.
"Yes, like that," He agreed, laughing a bit.
She then actually smiled replacing her nasty face with one that actually made her seem as he thought about it...well pretty. Not drop dead gorgeous or anything, but even that realization was a big thing for a girl that he would have considered ugly both on the inside and out until now.
"You know, you don't have to be so nice to me, it's actually kind of weird," She said.
"I try to be nice to people, some just make it hard such as Malfoy," He answered, letting himself grin.
"I can see why Daphne likes you so much," Pansy commented, "I usually get pretty mixed views concerning you, depending on where I get it from, Draco or Daphne."
"I don't even get why Daphne likes me so much, Draco at least I can understand," He admitted.
"Since you're hot," Pansy told him.
"Okay, now Pansy Parkinson thinks I'm hot, can this day get any weirder?" He said to himself aloud.
"No, that's what Daphne thinks," Pansy reminded him, "personally I can't see it, you're too scrawny and pale for my tastes."
"Draco is more scrawny and pale than I am," Harry pointed out.
"Exactly my point," She said.
"Well I suppose I should consider myself to be fortunate, it seems I've finally found a girl who doesn't actually like me," He said.
"There's that big headed ego I was looking for," She answered, sounding vindicated.
"Not if it's the truth," Harry told her, "I keep getting all of this attention from girls who all seem to like me and I just don't know what to do with it all."
"Now who's the nasty one. You come finding out I just got rejected by the one guy who can stand me and then brag about how you are wanted by too many girls," She responded.
"Ooh okay, that was a little harsh," He admitted, feeling somewhat guilty, "it's just that I'm finding I like spending time with a lot of girls, not just one by many different ones and ones I would never have expected such as Daphne."
Wow, he was being very honest today in confessing his problems. Fleur was one thing, but Pansy?
He had definitely not been intending to do that.
"So how did your date with her go anyway?" Pansy asked.
"It went well," He said, trying to hide what had really happened.
She however wasn't fooled.
"Let me guess, she kissed you," Pansy guessed.
"How did you know?" He asked.
"I knew she wouldn't be able to resist," Pansy claimed, "she's been wanting to kiss you for ages and pass up an opportunity like that? I even bet Tracey a galleon she'd do it."
"Great, now everyone is going to know," He said, now somewhat worried.
"Oh don't worry, I would have managed to wrangle it out of Daphne eventually anyway. Yet this gives me an opportunity to find out your side of it. So how was it?"
"All right, I'll tell you if you agree not to tell anyone else," He told her.
"Deal," She quickly agreed.
"Okay, well it was good," He began.
"Just good?" She asked.
"All right, it was absolutely fantastic," He confessed, "fantastic enough that we kissed again."
She rubbed her palms in relish and said, "Ooh hoo, Daphne probably loved that but Padma is going to be so mad!"
Great now she was enjoying his future misery.
"Thanks, not like I didn't already know that," He commented.
"Okay, maybe I was being a bit spiteful, but you can't really blame me if I'm somewhat hoping that Padma dumps you and you end up with Daphne," Pansy replied.
No, he couldn't really blame her for that as Daphne was her friend.
"I think if it becomes an issue with Padma I can just tell her that I'll avoid Daphne for awhile so she doesn't worry," He told her.
Pansy looked very upset at that as she said, "I really don't think that avoiding Daphne is a good idea either."
"Why?" He asked.
"You may not have realized it, but you're totally Daphne's hero," Pansy explained, "she used to have a reputation for not being that nice of a person either, she was even known as the Ice Queen."
"I'm aware of it, but she certainly doesn't act that way now," He said.
"That's because when she started liking you, she figured that she needed to start acting nicer so that you might actually notice her and like her more. People do crazy things for people they like and Daphne is no different. Ever since then she's actually been a lot nicer, a lot more fun to be around, and she is genuinely a lot happier," Pansy stated.
"I had no idea," He confessed.
"I don't know why you can have such an affect on people, it's just what you do I guess. It can bring out the worst and the best in people," She said, "I have to admit I'm kind of worried about what that might do to Daphne. I mean she seemed okay with being just friends but going back to basically ignoring her would probably hurt her a great deal."
He hadn't considered that, at least not fully, being more concerned with how Padma might react.
"I'll definitely think about that, I guess I was just worried she might be too much of a temptation for me, and I didn't want to worry Padma," He answered.
"I just don't want anyone to get hurt, but I'd say odds are you're going to hurt someone no matter what," She reminded him.
"I'll figure something out," He told her, trying to sound much more confident than he really was.
"Well I wish you better luck than I have," She said.
Thanks," He responded.
He honestly felt like he may have misjudged Pansy. It could very well be that she just simply didn't have a lot of self confidence in herself and nobody was willing to give her a chance.
At that moment, he had an idea. It seemed kind of crazy, but he was in the mood to be trying crazy things.
"I just got invited a party tomorrow night actually and I was told I could bring anyone I'd like, I was wondering if you might like to go with me to it?" He asked her.
She looked stunned before pointing out, "Something tells me you've gotten way too used to asking girls out if you seriously just did that."
"Yeah because asking girls out is the easiest thing in the world for a 14 year old boy to do," He said sarcastically, "no, I'm not talking like that, more just as a friend...or just acquaintance. I might invite a few other girls as well such as Padma or Hermione. I figure it might help you meet other people and hopefully have a good time."
He wanted to establish that in case she thought otherwise.
As nice as he was being, dating Pansy Parkinson was not something even he was crazy enough to do.
It seemed like an excellent idea as there was no obligation attached and he wasn't actually pairing up with her.
"I'll think about it," She finally said.
"The party is over in the guest quarters' Room 313, the password is Santa Claus when you need to get in," He informed her.
Feeling like he had done enough, he mumbled a goodbye to her and then hurried off again in search of Padma.
Harry finally succeeded in locating Padma in the library.
"Hey can I talk to you privately?" He asked her.
He could feel his heart racing, his palms all sweaty as he addressed her, admittedly fearing the worst.
She nodded and they went to go find an empty classroom nearby.
Once they were alone, he decided to come right out with it.
"On my date with Daphne...um...she kissed me and I kissed her back," He admitted.
He then stood there to study her reaction.
She blinked and then said, "Okay."
"Okay? All you have to say is okay?" He queried, "I just kissed another girl. Aren't you mad?"
"Do you want me to be?" Padma asked, still not sounding really upset.
That seemed to deflate him a bit.
"Well no," He admitted.
"Okay then, well if you really want to know how I feel it's this: I know you've kissed plenty of girls over the past week and I couldn't be mad about that because they liked you and you liked them and you were on a date. I'm pretty sure people kiss on dates," Padma answered.
"I wasn't really dating you then during those dates," He pointed out.
"We never actually discussed if we were actually a couple, even though we definitely hinted at it, just that you were going with me to the Yule Ball," She reminded him.
"I did think of that," He admitted, "I just figured you might see things differently or hurt our chances of becoming a couple."
"How so? I'm the one who encouraged you to go on the date with Daphne in the first place and I suspected she might end up kissing you. You liking it or kissing her back I also can't blame you for," Padma replied, "however the fact that you apparently worried so much about me and my relationship with you and decided to tell me actually gives me a lot of comfort."
Wow, this was actually going a lot better than he thought.
"The thing is I can tell you want something more than simply going to the Yule Ball together and I'm worried I might well...still be attracted to other girls. I've been finding that I actually like a lot of the girls I've dated, not just as dates, but as friends. The thing is I don't know if me or them can manage to stay just friends," Harry answered.
"I see," She responded, seeming to take in what he said, "well I suppose that would be a problem for me. I really like you Harry and I'd really like to be in a relationship with you. However I also have to put myself in the shoes of the other girls. If I couldn't have you as a boyfriend, I'd want to be just friends or just casually date you if I were them and maybe that's an option for us as well."
"Casually date?" He asked.
"It's where we go on dates with each other but we are free to date other people as well," Padma explained.
"I see, well that sounds like a really good option to me, I really like you and I'd really like to go on more dates with you but I think I'd like to go on dates again with some of the other girls but not have a serious relationship with any of them. I would of course want to make sure you were okay with it," He said.
"Quite honestly, I probably would never have entertained the idea. I figured you were the one for me and you would be my boyfriend and that was what I wanted. Then I got a letter from my mother just now," Padma confessed.
"I'm guessing it wasn't just a reminder to brush your teeth everyday," He said.
"Actually it was about dating and relationships," She answered, "apparently she's been reading the articles we've been writing in the Daily Prophet and more particularly she somehow learned about my connection to you. She actually advised that I not rush into any serious relationships at my young age, how I should just casually date, how it would help me foster better friendships, blah blah blah, etc."
"Sounds awfully boring," He commented.
"Oh, that's usually how parents are, it's just us as teenagers we don't usually listen to them," Padma replied.
"That's the one good thing about being an orphan," Harry observed, "whenever a teenager makes a mistake they can only blame themselves for not listening to their parents, whenever I make a mistake, it's because I didn't know any better. If I wore my underwear for 3 days straight, or my clothes didn't match, or I don't eat any vegetables, it's not my fault, I didn't know any better."
She laughed and said, "Do I need to be your replacement mommy and help teach you?"
"Don't worry I have Hermione to point all those things out to me," He answered.
"Well getting back to what my mom said, I was just going to ignore it, but then you end up showing up soon after with your little story and now it looks like I might actually need to listen to her," She told him, "it doesn't mean I don't want to date you, but I also don't want to hold you back. I know you've already done a lot of good for many girls in dating them including me and I would hate to stop you from doing that even if it means I'm not seriously dating you."
"Wow, I don't know who is more amazing, your mom for writing a letter and giving advice you actually listened to or you for being so understanding and accepting," He commented.
"That would be me," She insisted.
"I'd kiss you right now, but under the circumstances..." He said.
"Just casually dating you doesn't mean no kisses," Padma answered, pretending to pout.
He grinned and kissed her before saying, "I was hoping you would say that."
Author's Note: Finally got this one done...blah blah blah, lots of author stuff you aren't really reading because you just want to read the story...Okay well if you are still reading this, a few things to point out. Really the best and most believable way for Harry to develop a harem is actually for him to casually date many different girls or simply be their friend. Since this is actually what young teenagers are often advised to do anyway this works out rather well. I could explain why, but would simply take too long and I doubt too many of you would even care.
The definition of casually dating varies a bit depending on the culture, but in this case it's the one I personally am most familiar with where the couple make it plain they are attracted to one another and want to continue going on dates, but are also free to go on dates with other people as long as they aren't seriously dating anyone else.
Under this setting, this allows the couple to act towards one another beyond being merely friends and get to know each other and decide just how much they do like each other, but without the pressure, exclusivity, and complications that come with a more serious relationship.
Of course, with the continual right circumstances and a little help from a certain crazy psychic, this can eventually turn into a harem.