Chapter 17

Harry was currently enjoying having spent most of the day playing Pirates again with Padma, Luna, and Daphne.

He didn't have any dates to go on, just the Yule Ball tomorrow, and so he was taking the time to relax with each of them aboard their pirate ship.

"So you ready for the Yule Ball?" Harry asked the girls.

"I sure am!" Padma said excitedly, "it's going to be so much fun!"

He grinned. Padma was fun enough that they could probably have a good time together even if all they did was do History of Magic homework...which would be the worst Yule Ball ever.

Almost as if to be an uncharacteristic spoilsport, Luna dampened the mood somewhat.

"I can't go, remember, I'm still just a 3rd year and I can't go without a date," Luna confessed.

Padma tried to think for a moment before suggesting, "Go with Malfoy then. He doesn't have a date."

"Ewww!" Daphne quickly replied, "Luna would be better off going with her imaginary friend. At least then she might get more stimulating conversation."

"I don't need imaginary friends anymore," Luna claimed, "especially when I've got real ones now."

"Aww, that's sweet Luna," Padma agreed as she put a protective arm around her, "you do indeed have real friends now."

Luna smiled at that.

"Well she's still got to figure out something if she wants to go," Daphne pointed out.

Padma seemed to think for a moment and then finally told Luna, "why don't you be the one to go with Harry then?"

Harry was surprised by her generosity, "you'd be willing to do that Padma?"

"Well obviously I was looking forward to going with you," She explained, "but it's not like we wouldn't be spending much of the dance together anyway, at least when you're not dancing with other girls or making out with them."

"I wasn't planning on making out with any girls," He defended.

She looked at him like she was demanding he fess up.

"All right, maybe I was...with you," He admitted.

She gave him a satisfied smile, and then replied, "I mean if I don't Luna doesn't get to go at all and in reality it will hardly be changing much."

Padma really was a sweetheart, he thought. It was one of the things that he really liked about her.

He also wouldn't be upset about going with Luna. As far as replacement dates went she would be a good one and in the long run he had to admit that she was right about it hardly changing things.

"If that's really what you want to do," He told her, "I'll be sure to make it up to you."

"I'm counting on it," She answered with a grin.

"Can't we all just go with Harry?" Luna suggested.

"We can't all just...," Padma began.

"Actually we could," Daphne pointed out, "it would basically be what we did for Luna's date."

"True," Padma agreed, "although it does beg the question, why Luna keeps trying to share her date every time she gets one with Harry?"

"Maybe she's just scared of getting Harry alone, if you know what I mean," Daphne joked.

"It's because I'd be too much for Harry alone," Luna claimed.

He laughed at that. Oh so entirely plausible, and he wasn't talking about Daphne's insinuation, he meant just simply being around her. Luna was like super rich chocolate: delicious in the right amounts, but too much and you couldn't handle it.

However them all going together was admittedly a good idea.

"Would you girls want to do something like that?" Harry asked tentatively.

"I think that would be a fun," Daphne agreed, although she was looking at Padma.

The beautiful Indian girl seemed to think for a moment before saying, "Yeah, I guess that would be good."

Daphne grinned and told him, "You do realize you'll be the luckiest guy at the ball, going with 3 dates and dancing with nearly a dozen other girls."

Shamelessly, he replied, "Hey, I'm Harry Potter, this is what I do."

Padma slapped him playfully on the arm and said, "Don't get cocky Harry."

"Or we'll cover you in chocolate pudding," Luna added.

"I'd say more likely you just want yourself covered in chocolate pudding," Daphne pointed out.

Luna smiled and admitted with a wistful sigh, "Yeah."

"Maybe we can do that later," Padma suggested, not automatically discounting such an idea.

He loved how open each of the girls were to trying fun but very different ideas and with Luna around, they would likely never have a shortage of them.

At that moment, they heard a noise just outside.

"Boarders!" Luna yelled as she grabbed up her sword, still in pirate captain character, "man the cannon!"

"I'd rather like to avoid any sword wounds or cannonballs thrown at me if that's okay," Hermione stated as she entered the top of the ship where they were.

"Hey Hermione," Harry greeted, "we just got done playing unfortunately."

"It's all right, I just wanted to check out this pirate ship you keep bragging about," Hermione confessed.

As he looked at her however, he could tell that something was wrong. She looked forlorn and much sadder than normal. Perhaps someone else might not have noticed it, but knowing her as well as he did, he could certainly tell otherwise.

"What's wrong Hermione?" Harry asked.

"Nothing is wrong," She tried to deny before realizing it was pointless.

She sighed and then finally admitted, "Krum just canceled our Yule Ball date together."

"What!" Padma exclaimed in surprise, "why?"

"It can't be that you weren't hot enough," Daphne replied, seeming to be trying to come up with a reason, "or was it because you were too hot for him and he considered you out of his league? I hate it when that happens."

"Busty girls always have it hard," Luna agreed.

"You silly girls," Padma declared, "neither of you have even been on a date with anyone besides Harry."

"Yes, but anyone else besides Harry would be out of my league," Daphne countered, which was a valid argument.

Deciding to ignore the girls, Harry asked Hermione gently, "are you okay?"

"Yeah, just disappointed," Hermione confided, "I do have to wonder just why he had to cancel at the last minute. He wouldn't tell me."

"That's awful, you would think he would at least have the decency to tell you why," Padma told her compassionately as she put an arm around her shoulder supportively, "I'm sorry."

"You can go with Harry like all of us," Daphne invited.

"Wait a minute," Hermione asked in surprise, "you're all going with Harry to the Yule Ball?"

"We just figured it would better that way," Padma replied.

"It's going to be so much fun!" Luna said, now jumping up and down, boobies bouncing.

"How come you decided to do that Padma?" Hermione asked her.

Harry wasn't listening to whatever Padma told her, currently distracted by Luna who appeared to be fiddling with a false mustache.

Truthfully he liked girls better without mustaches, but then again he was pretty sure that did not make him all that unusual.

"Harry," Padma got his attention, "you're going to the Yule Ball with Hermione too."

Having not heard the conversation that had transpired beforehand, he was a bit surprised, but nodded.

So he'd be going to the Yule Ball with Hermione too, huh?

This same thing had occurred on his date with Luna and he had been able to discount that as a date.

In this case however the girls would be expecting him to kiss him...and Hermione might too.

The thought struck him that he actually wanted to kiss her...and there should be absolutely nothing wrong with that.

He turned his thoughts back to the conversation they were now having, namely plans they were making to meet up and get ready together before the ball.

TOOMANYTOOMANY

It was not long after that he eventually left. They had started talking about a bunch of girly things such as make up and dresses and all that.

What finally caused him to decide to leave however was them talking about their periods.

Definitely not information he wanted to know about.

Having all of your close friends be girls was good in a lot of ways, but some things he just didn't like to be around for.

As he headed down a hallway and then turned around a corner, he nearly ran into somebody.

When he realized who it was however he decided to greet them.

"Hi, Pansy," Harry greeted.

"Hello Harry," Pansy replied back pleasantly.

As he looked her up and down she was actually dressed really nice in a black dress, much nicer than if she was to say, just be wandering the castle for fun.

Perhaps she was going on a date or something.

Well good for her just as long as it wasn't Malfoy.

"You look really nice this evening," He complimented her.

"Thanks," She replied, "normally I wouldn't dress like this...and I was kind of nervous...for this date."

"Oh, you're going on a date?" He asked, now pleasantly surprised, "with who?"

She laughed at that, seeming to think it funny for some reason before answering, "with you silly."

Hold on a second.

Sure he'd been going on an awful lot of dates, but he didn't think it was so bad that he could no longer even remember making them.

Alzheimer's didn't hit this young did it?

Perhaps he should have tried to play along to try and get to the bottom of it, but his stunned silence had already put her on alert.

"You mean you didn't send me this note?" She demanded as she held up a note.

As he looked it over, it was clearly in his handwriting, but he didn't remember writing it.

Strange, he thought.

The note however stated that she was to come to this spot about 10 minutes ago.

No way anyone could have known he would get here around that time beforehand, which would point towards the person who had wrote it not expecting him to show up.

"I don't remember writing this," He admitted.

Pansy looked hurt.

"It's okay," She tried to say, "probably just some cruel prank on me. Hah, hah guess I deserve it."

He felt guilty. Had he not somehow showed up here when he did, she'd likely have just been stood up and waited and waited for him to come without him arriving.

An idea struck him however. He hadn't been planning on a date but it wasn't like he couldn't go on one. In fact just in case one of his date plans went awry, he had gotten Dobby to always be ready with a backup plan just in case.

"Well maybe the joke can be on them," Harry suggested to her.

"What do you mean?" Pansy asked, sounding perplexed.

"I mean...if you'd like...we can go on a date right now," He told her.

"You'd really want to do that?" Pansy asked hesitantly, "you sure it wouldn't be like torture going with me or something?"

"Oh, no torture would be me dating Snape," Harry claimed, "going with you would be like heaven in comparison."

She laughed a little and then commented to be fair, "Well I suppose we were enemies."

"I'd never go on a date with an enemy," Harry answered, "a beautiful girl? Absolutely."

Yeah, he'd called Pansy Parkinson beautiful. He also meant it. No more to think about than that.

She seemed to think about it for a moment and then said, "All right."

"Dobby," Harry called.

The diminutive little elf appeared right in front of him.

"Yes, noble and great Harry Potter," Dobby asked him, with the same respect Harry might expect of a king...or a god.

He seriously needed to have a little chat with Dobby or he might run the risk of Dobby praying to him next time he saw him.

Though Dobby really was the best and he was totally getting socks and a sweater for Christmas.

"Activate the operation," Harry told him.

Dobby seemed surprised, but then answered:

"Dobby will go get the oil and the stick."

"No, not that operation," Harry insisted with a twinge of embarrassment.

"What do you need oil and a stick for?" Pansy queried.

Now blushing, he admitted, "I keep having this dream that I get my foot stuck in a hippogriff's...well you know...and I told Dobby at some point, so he offered to help me out if that ever happened in real life."

Pansy couldn't help laughing at that, but while she did, he told Dobby, "I meant Operation Date Backup."

"Oh," Dobby answered, sounding relieved, "Dobby is most pleased to hear that. Dobby will get things ready."

The elf popped back out.

Harry extended to her his arm and asked, "you want to go?"

Smiling she took it and allowed him to lead her away.

They talked as they walked.

"Well when I got that note," Pansy explained, "I was a bit surprised, but then I reasoned that you had sent me all those presents and all the other girls you'd sent gifts to you'd already been on a date with so I figured that maybe you wanted to go on a date with me even then."

"That whole thing was kind of a surprise to me too," He admitted, "I didn't actually intend to send so extravagant of gifts but I did want you to get something."

"Why?" She asked him.

"I don't know it just felt like the right thing to do," Harry answered, "to tell you the truth I don't know why exactly I did with you, just that I felt like you might appreciate it."

"Thanks," Pansy responded, "it was a bit overwhelming at first, but it at least gave me exactly what I needed to push me over the edge when it came to Draco. I'm done with him for good."

He resisted the urge to clap.

"I won't deny that that pleases me," Harry told her more conservatively than he was feeling.

"I can do a lot better than him," She insisted, "besides I'm on a date with you aren't I? The great Harry Potter."

He rolled his eyes and said, "Trust me, I'm not that great of a date. I'll probably manage to do something stupid like I usually do such as trip and fall and land in a girl's cleavage, or make a comment about a girl's weight or race or something that should get me slapped but instead I get lucky."

"Sounds like you're just constantly cheating death," Pansy observed, "in which case that should be right up your alley."

"You have no idea," He agreed as he began to tell her about several of the many deadly situations he had found himself in, monsters and girls included.

He stopped as soon as they got outside to allow Pansy to look at what they would be doing for their date.

"A magic carpet?" She asked as she looked down at their selected mode of transportation for the evening, "I thought these were banned."

The magic carpet was hovering just a foot above the snow.

"I know the guy who wrote the law, and I also know a loophole for it," Harry argued.

This was indeed true. Arthur Weasley had actually written the law (as well as the loophole involved with it.)

He neglected to mention Mr. Weasley had used a similar loophole to create a flying car, which he and Ron had ridden to Hogwarts during their second year.

"What if we somehow slip off?" Pansy questioned worriedly.

"Do you trust me?" He asked her as he got onto the carpet himself.

"Yes," She admitted.

Harry tried to reassure her with, "there are security measures in place to prevent that happening. It was just people being unjustly afraid of the dangers that they were banned. We'll be perfectly safe."

Reluctantly, she took his hand and got on.

"Go carpet," Harry told it once they were both sitting down beside each other.

The carpet however remained motionless.

What was he supposed to tell it or do to make it go? Threaten to unravel it if it didn't?

"Let me try," Pansy suggested, "open sesame."

You've got to be kidding me, he thought.

The carpet however did indeed start to slowly ascend into the air.

"How did you know?" Harry asked her.

"Lucky guess," Pansy replied, choosing not to really elaborate.

Once they were just above the level of most of the school, minus the towers, Pansy proclaimed in wonder as she looked around, "It's like a whole new world."

Having played quidditch quite a bit, this wasn't that big of a deal to him to be up this high, but he didn't argue with her.

Besides the castle had been specially decorated in preparation for the Yule Ball and was currently arrayed in various Christmas lights.

"It's beautiful," She admitted as she gazed at it.

"It sure is," He agreed as he looked at it with her.

Probably unconsciously Pansy's hand went and rested on his.

"Sorry," She apologized as she immediately pulled away.

"It's okay, I don't mind," He answered.

Reluctantly she put her hand back and he took it.

"You know I never would have thought I'd ever go on a date with you," Pansy admitted.

"I don't blame you," Harry answered.

"Not like that," She insisted, slapping him lightly on the arm, "just that we were kind of enemies."

"Sworn to hate each other forever," He added.

"I never hated you," Pansy replied, "It's just first I was with Malfoy and he's definitely not your biggest fan, so I felt I had to treat you poorly because of that, and also I felt...well...jealous of you."

"I'd gladly trade my fame with you if that's what you're referring to," Harry answered.

"Actually no," She admitted, "I'm jealous because...you have people that love you. Nobody has ever loved me."

He felt confused by what she meant.

"I'm sure my parents loved me but their dead," Harry pointed out.

"They also died protecting you," Pansy told him, "that shows a great deal of love to me. My parents would have let me die even if there was no risk to them."

"Sounds like my relatives," Harry admitted.

"What do you mean by that?" She asked him, now very curious.

"Nothing," He said, choosing to be tight lipped.

Surprisingly, he felt her hand against his back.

After a minute of silence, she said, "It's okay Harry, I understand."

He didn't really get a chance to ask her what she meant because she suddenly kissed him again.

It was a quick kiss, but it still caught him off guard.

"What was that for?" He asked her.

"Does me kissing you...bother you?" She asked tentatively.

"Not at all," He replied honestly, "I'm just trying to figure out why."

"I suppose I fell for whatever spell that you keep using on girls," Pansy suggested.

"Believe me, if I was using a spell I would definitely be selling it to every wizard on the planet and making a ton of money," Harry joked.

"Well if you happen to have one that works for girls on guys, please let me know," She joked right back.

"Oh, I'd hardly say you need it," Harry observed.

"I dated Malfoy," She pointed out.

"On second thought maybe you do," He claimed, "you really didn't need to get that desperate."

She laughed at that and then said, "Well I am on a date with you so it's not like I'm doing much better now."

"Hey," He exclaimed, even though he knew she was teasing.

Then she suddenly got serious and then said strangely, "Just know that I'll always be here for you Harry if you ever want to talk."

He was rather confused by what she meant, but nodded nonetheless.

TOOMANYTOOMANY

It was finally the night of the Yule Ball.

He was ready for it...or at least as ready as he would ever be.

All of the girls had agreed to meet him outside the entrance to the Great Hall.

When he saw them, his jaw literally dropped.

They were beautiful, all 4 of them.

He was clearly the luckiest guy on earth for getting such unbelievably beautiful dates.

This was what heaven looked like, he reasoned.

He took a moment to study each girl in detail.

Daphne was wearing a dark green dress that emphasized her abundant cleavage and rosy red lips with just enough lipstick.

(After his date with Lavender he was starting to feel like the amount of lipstick was important to him.)

Padma, as beautiful as ever was arrayed in a dark orange dress. It was more modest than Daphne's but also showed off her modest curves.

Luna's was the most interesting dress. It seemed to shimmer and sparkle with every color of the rainbow as it moved around, although he couldn't tell if it was the actual fabric or a spell that did that.

It was however quite eye catching even if it meant Luna would be labeled as a rainbow child.

Somehow though, it just seemed perfect for her.

Hermione was wearing the same dress that she had worn a couple nights ago.

Yes that dress, the one that made his heart flutter, especially when she turned around and made him want to grab her rear.

Hermione seriously needed to wear that dress everyday he thought.

The only downside would be that guys would end up running into stuff as they stared at her on her way to her classes.

All 4 girls had their hair down the way they knew he liked it.

"Well?" Padma asked him with a grin.

He had been so intent on watching them he had actually failed to even notice that they were all now right in front of him.

"I think he's been stunned speechless," Daphne observed.

Indeed she was right.

He tried to come up with a good response but failed miserably. Instead what came out was an unintelligible sound.

"Come on Harry, let's go dancing!" Luna urged excitedly.

She grabbed his arm, while the other girls allowed Padma to take his other, possibly as a partial thank you for allowing them to share him as a date with her.

Daphne then grabbed Padma's other arm and Hermione grabbed Luna's.

Arm in arm they approached Professor McGonagall who was currently screening all of the students as they entered.

When it got to their turn, Professor McGonagall then asked as she looked each girl up and down, "so who is your date Mr. Potter?"

"All 4 of these lovely ladies here," He admitted, grateful to have his voice back.

To her credit, Professor McGonagall did not object to that but she did ask, "Well who are you going to dance the first dance with as Hogwarts Champion? It's customary for the Champions to begin the ball."

He looked at the girls and then stated, "We'll figure it out."

They entered the great hall together, impressed by how much it had changed with plenty of Christmas decorations decorating it.

He would have taken the time to look further, but they were suddenly mobbed by various people, some friends with each of the girls and others just because.

"I'm not going to have to sign autographs am I?" Harry joked to the girls as the mob came towards them.

"Don't worry I'll get it later," He heard someone reply to that.

As he looked he realized it was Hannah, dressed in a beautiful Hufflepuff yellow dress with plenty to show off.

"Hey Harry," She greeted him.

"Hey," He replied back, "how are you doing?"

"Good," Hannah answered, "this should be a good night."

"Did someone else ask you to the Ball?" He asked hopefully.

"No," She admitted frowning.

He frowned too, sorry to have asked after getting such a response. He had really thought someone would have asked her.

However he tried to dig himself out of the hole he had made for himself.

"I'd imagine they were all too scared," Harry claimed.

"Probably," She answered, "Susan didn't get asked either actually."

"Why not?" Harry asked her.

"I'd guess she intimidated them too much," Hannah suggested.

"Cowards," Harry muttered, "I swear some brave Gryffindor guy is going to get really lucky one day."

Quite honestly he would have set Susan and Hannah up with some guys had he known, but all the decent guys he knew that would treat them right and not date them just because of their large assets already had dates.

Any of his roommates for example would have loved a date with Susan and had spent quite a bit of time describing crudely on more than one occasion, but he'd never have done that to poor Susan.

Hannah seemed to want to keep talking with him, but as she glanced at the crowd decided against it.

Finally she said, "well save me a dance Harry."

"Will do," He replied.

Once Hannah left, he heard Padma ask: "Mom? What are you doing here?"

As he turned towards Padma, he spotted a woman who could only be Padma's mother.

It was pretty obvious where Parvati and Padma got their good looks from, he noted. She had a very nice somewhat curvy figure, dark brown skin, and beautiful shiny black hair that went down to her knees.

Yet what made it clear she was Parvati and Padma's mother was her smile, which was currently directed at Padma.

"One of the parent chaperone's had to cancel at the last minute so Professor McGonagall asked me to fill in," Her mother explained.

Both Padma and her mother hugged and then Padma decided to bring him into the conversation.

"Mom, this is Harry Potter," She greeted him.

"Pleased to meet you Harry," Padma's mother answered.

"Likewise," He replied.

"Harry, this is my mother Lakshmi Suresh," Padma introduced to him.

"So this is where Padma gets her good looks from," Harry commented to her mother, trying to win some brownie points with her.

"You aren't trying to hit on my mother now are you Harry?" Padma joked.

"Uh no," Harry insisted worriedly before he saw her mischievous smile.

"Now what would be wrong with that?" Her mother joked right back, "he's obviously cute and I've already heard such great things about him from you."

Apparently this is where Padma got her sense of humor from too.

"He is a bit young for you though," Padma pointed out.

"What are you talking about? I'm only 25," She insisted.

"Which would make you 11 when you had me," Padma argued.

"You certainly look 25, Mrs. Suresh," Harry told her mother.

"Oh, I'm definitely going to have to take you home now," Mrs. Kaur answered, "and call me Lakshmi, Mrs. Suresh would be a name you would use to make me feel old."

"I can do that," He replied, "although you should probably know right now that I don't think things will work between us. I kind of have a thing for your daughter and I doubt she would approve."

"That's right," Padma agreed, "he's mine, mom. You can't have him."

Her mother then pretended to scold her as she said, "What have I always told you about sharing Padma?"

"Oh don't worry, I am sharing him," Padma replied, "in fact I even let him come here with 3 other girls as well."

Her mother seemed surprised but recovered quickly, and said, "Apparently you took my lessons about sharing a little too much to heart."

"Oh, it's not so bad," Padma answered, "I'll tell you all about it later."

"Sounds good," Her mother told her, "right now I've got to go be a chaperone and go make sure some kid hasn't spiked the punch bowl or something like that."

After she had left, Harry commented, "Wow, I like your mom."

"You know Harry I really have to draw the line on you dating my mother," Padma joked.

"No, I guess it's because in a lot of ways she's so much like you," Harry answered.

Padma actually seemed pleased by such a connection.

"I'd say that's true," Padma agreed, "I used to hear that I'm like our mom and Parvati is like my dad."

He knew enough about Padma by now to know that her parents were divorced, with them now spending the first half of their summer vacation with their mom and the second half with their dad.

However her parents being divorced was something of a touchy subject for her and he opted not to ask for any details.

After talking to a few more people, he and the girls sat down for dinner.

As he looked around he noticed that there did indeed appear to be quite a few more girls than boys present. Not a ridiculous amount more, but it was definitely noticeable.

In fact, a good amount of the girls that he had gone on dates with did not have dates. Susan, Hannah, Pansy, and Cho didn't.

He did not see Gabrielle but he guessed that since she was a 3rd year an older student had not asked her.

Fleur, Angelina, and Lavender did though.

Angelina was with some older student that he only vaguely knew, Lavender was with Seamus, although Seamus already looked like he'd already been drinking before the Ball had even really started since he already looked a bit tipsy.

Fleur was with Roger Davies, the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, although she did not look too pleased, and he really couldn't blame her as Roger seemed to have totally forgotten any sense of propriety as he was unabashedly staring down Fleur's shirt even after she'd nudged him several times.

He supposed Roger could simply be under her allure, but it was a bit classless to do so that much if the girl clearly didn't want THAT much attention.

At any rate, dinner eventually started and he began to talk with the girls.

On the other side of the table with her date however, Angelina commented, "I'm pretty sure the twins must be jealous with you bringing 4 dates to the Ball."

"Only because they didn't think of it first," Harry argued, "otherwise one of them would have tried to get you as a second date."

"I'm sure they would have," Angelina agreed fairly, "well you five seem to be able to be having fun at least."

"We are, but believe me I'm going to cut back on all of these dates I've been going on after this," Harry told her, "I've been run ragged the last couple of weeks trying to keep up."

"No you won't Harry, there will be plenty more dates that you'll be going on," Luna claimed who was sitting next to him.

"Well let me know if you ever want to go on another one," Angelina said, "that last one was fun."

"Will do," Harry agreed, "at some point anyway."

"Besides you've got to make sure that the black population is represented," She answered.

"Yep, I wouldn't want to be seen as a racist," Harry said, "although I've already dated an Indian girl, a Black girl, and a Chinese girl so I think I'm safe."

"You'd better date a Hispanic girl though," Angelina cautioned, "I could try to set you up with Leanne if you want. I'm sure she'd be happy to go with you."

"Is she Hispanic?" Harry asked.

She looked like she could be Hispanic, but he wasn't sure.

"Yeah, she's Peruvian," Angelina replied.

"Are you seriously considering dating someone just because of their race Harry?" Hermione interrupted, having been listening into the conversation, "don't you think that's kind of racist in and of itself? Or the fact that it sounds like you're merely adding to a collection of some kind?"

"All right, maybe you've got a point," Harry was forced to agree.

It wasn't like he would be upset about dating Leanne. She was actually rather attractive and nice even though he didn't know her all that well since she was in Hufflepuff and a year above him. However Hermione probably did have a point.

He wanted to continue dating, but not just so that he could simply date certain girls just so he could say he had.

If he was going to date a girl, it would be because he was actually interested in getting to know them better.

He turned back to eating his food.

After dinner, all of the tables were cleared away to allow room for the dancing to take place.

"Well who is going to have the first dance with Harry?" Padma then asked as they waited, "draw straws?"

"You would only end up winning," Luna claimed, "you should just go Padma, I wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for you."

"Yeah, Padma, go," Hermione urged.

"All right," Padma agreed, obviously pleased but not wanting to sound too pleased in case she came across as feeling entitled to get the first dance.

He took her arm and led her out onto the dance floor.

As their hands clasped together and he grabbed her waist, he looked directly into her eyes.

Even though he was sure he'd noticed it a million times, he couldn't help but notice yet again how beautiful she was.

"I can't believe only two weeks ago I didn't even know you all that well," Harry admitted, "if I'd known how amazing you were I would have wanted to be your friend as soon as I got on the Hogwarts Express for the first time."

"Maybe it just wasn't meant to be," Padma answered, "fortunately things seem to have finally worked out. I would hope that we'll be able to be at least friends for the rest of our lives."

"Or more than that," Harry added.

Such a comment could easily be viewed as referring to a desire to be married, but it still felt fitting somehow.

Nevertheless she only nodded as the music began to play and the dance began.

He was sure he was not the best dancer, but dancing with Padma was still such a beautiful thing to him and he was sad when the dance ended with her as she went to leave.

Only for his sadness to be replaced when his best friend Hermione took her place.

Hermione was very different from Padma, but he still liked her a lot...more than a friend, but as a beautiful young woman that he knew cared for him no matter his faults and weaknesses and he knew would always be that way.

She also had a sparkle in her eyes, clearly enjoying dancing with him, but he felt like she wanted...?

Before he was able to figure out exactly what it was, their dance ended and he was now dancing with Daphne.

As they danced he also thought of what he thought of her.

She could be so unfiltered, so willing to just say what she thought, but also so funny and witty, and...

Well there was plenty with Daphne that he liked, and he also considered her to be becoming a good friend much like Padma.

Again, he hoped it would always be that way.

Luna was last of his dates that he danced with, but certainly not last.

If there was one person that he could see bringing them all together it would be her.

Having a harem was of course ridiculous, but he did have to admit that she had made them all friends and he was happy that she had.

Luna was not the classic beauty, nor did she have an ordinary personality, but he liked that even more. She was truly extraordinary in so many ways he couldn't list them all, and her creativity was beyond any person he knew.

Following dancing with each girl, he kept his promise to dance with the girls he'd given gifts to by dancing with Hannah, then Angelina, then Pansy, then Lavender, then Fleur.

As he danced with Fleur, she commented, "It looks like you still ended up with plenty of dates for the Yule Ball."

"Yeah," He agreed, "I guess it just worked out that way."

"Had I known you'd be willing to go with more than one date, I'd have gone with you too," Fleur admitted, "the only person who had the courage to actually ask me was Roger and he hasn't been able to stop staring at me long enough to say more than two words the entire night."

"I noticed," Harry replied, "well if you'd like I could try to sneak in another dance with you at some point, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be in pretty high demand the rest of the evening."

"Don't worry I understand," Fleur said, "go figure the only guy worth dancing with is so busy."

"I do want to thank you for helping me so much earlier," Harry told her.

"No problem," She answered easily, "you've more than made up for it."

"I almost feel bad about it occupying so much time on our date," He admitted.

She smiled and said, "Well I think you know how to make it up to me."

He smiled back and said, "I think I do."

There was another date to have in the near future.

Following dancing with Fleur, he danced with Padma's mom for a dance where he promised he wouldn't turn Padma into a pumpkin by the end of the evening, or lose one of her shoes (evidently they were a bit expensive.)

During the conversation, he couldn't help but notice Millicent Bulstrode tearing it up on the dance floor, having already had multiple guys ask her to dance.

She seemed quite a bit happier than he could remember ever seeing her and merlin seeing her was like looking at a totally different person.

Millicent was hot but at twice the size meant there was twice as much to look at.

Susan was the last girl he had promised a dance to and she was quite pleased when she finally managed to catch him not dancing with anyone.

"It looks like I finally got you in," Susan said in triumph as he took her hand.

"I saved the best for last," Harry argued.

"I certainly wouldn't consider myself to be the best," Susan concluded.

"That's certainly debatable," Harry countered.

"Well I've been paying attention to the many girls you've dated and I just have to ask, "who actually was the best?" Susan asked him.

He thought about it for a moment and then said, "The smart answer would be to say that I couldn't decide, but I won't say that."

"Oh," Susan inquired, now more curious, "so what would your answer be?"

"Whichever one I was dating at the time," Harry told her, "while I was on my date with you it was the best date because I was currently on it and having a good time with you. The best date as long as I am enjoying myself is the one I'm currently on, for it is far better to be able to enjoy the present than dwell on the past."

He was quite pleased with himself. He'd come up with that on the spot.

"Very wise words," She replied approvingly, "it's also why we continue to do the things we love, because we enjoy doing them more than thinking about what it was like when we did them."

"Also true," He agreed.

"Which means..." Susan said as she leaned in and kissed him, "I should be able to do what I enjoy in the present."

He laughed a little and said, "whatever it takes to get you to kiss me."

She couldn't resist laughing at that as well.

TOOMANYTOOMANYTOOMANY

By the end of the night he was understandably exhausted, but it was still a fun night.

He took each of the girls back to their common rooms, first Padma and Luna, and then Daphne, getting a goodbye kiss from each of them before he went with Hermione back to their common room.

At the foot of the stairs to her dormitory however he really wasn't sure how to say goodbye to her.

He'd kissed the other girls but he wasn't sure if that was what Hermione would want.

Then as he looked at her as she seemed to be waiting for him to say goodbye he noticed that look in her eyes and he realized what it was: need.

Hermione wanted him, wanted him to kiss her. He wasn't sure how he knew, just that he did.

As for himself, he realized wanted to kiss her too.

It was strong enough that it gave him the courage to do what he probably should have done a long time ago.

He kissed her.

At first she was surprised, but as soon as she got over that and she started kissing him back.

He'd had a lot of kisses, but wow was this a good one.

It was long and passionate, but neither he nor Hermione minded.

Finally they broke apart, not because they wanted to stop but because of a need for air.

After gasping for a bit, she exclaimed, "Wow, that was..."

"Yeah, I know," He agreed, also trying to regain his breath.

She looked right into his eyes as she nervously said, "Harry there's something you should probably know. I like you...um, a lot...maybe even love you."

He couldn't think of what to say that. A million things were currently going through his head so he did the only thing he could think of.

Harry kissed her again and she began kissing him back.

The exact details as to what this meant for his relationship with Hermione could be worked out later.

Following his own advice to Susan, he was enjoying the present and kissing Hermione...and right now it was the best kiss ever.

Life didn't get any better than this, he thought.

Author's Note: All right, we're finally done with the Yule Ball, but that doesn't mean the story is over. There is still a decent amount left to go although I've got the rest planned out. From now on time will go faster too, not outrageously fast, but faster than everyday being covered in great detail like I have.

Harry will still continue to go on dates but it will fall under 3 categories: dates with the girls that will for sure be in the harem.

Then dates with girls he's already dated and had enjoyed their first date so much that he decided to go on another one (these are the girls that may or may not become part of the final harem but will be given the opportunity to see how that goes.)

Then there are girls who he's never dated before but might want to get to know better and should their date go well, they might end up in the 2nd category.

If you care to make suggestions for new girls for Harry to date or girls you'd like to see Harry date again, please feel free in either reviews or private messages. I can't promise I'll get to them all, but a good amount should still be gotten too especially the ones with multiple requests.

Please Review.