Author's Note: Thanks go out to my new beta for this story, LuxEterna1 who has already been a big help. Whenever you read something particularly good, they probably came up with it.
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
The aftermath to the date with Angelina occurred the very next morning when the newspaper came out.
Angelina also gave him a very good review, causing him to continue getting more attention from girls.
While it was a bit annoying sometimes, he had to admit that he at least liked the fact that it was girls giving him the attention and that it was for a good reason.
However, he also was happy to help out when more than one guy decided to stop him and ask him for dating advice.
Since he felt like he still didn't know a lot about dating, he just tried to tell them to be themselves and try to make the girl laugh.
As for his part, he had a date coming up with Fleur and while he had already had 4 dates so far, he was still quite nervous.
Fleur was older, but so was Angelina and that had gone well, but she might still somewhat regard him somewhat as the "little boy" she had referred to when she learned he had become a champion.
Then there was the fact that she was from France so dating customs might be different over there that he simply just wouldn't know.
Finally, Fleur was widely considered the most beautiful of the girls. Most guys would simply have chosen Fleur in a heartbeat and moved on from there.
Personally, he would have to say that while he wouldn't argue that Fleur was beautiful, beauty only went so far for him and in his eyes there were some other very beautiful girls that he still had to choose from.
Nevertheless he picked Fleur up in front of the Beauxbatons carriage.
"I'm ready," She announced as she stepped forward, "you can take my hand if you'd like."
He took it and began escorting her to the castle.
"I took the liberty of coming up with some back up plans for what we do in case you couldn't think of anything good enough," She then told him.
He was admittedly rather annoyed by her assertion that he might not be able to think of good enough date plans for her and he had no problem telling her so.
"I actually do have plans, and I'll admit I don't like your assumption that I couldn't think of anything good enough for us to do," Harry informed her candidly.
She had the nerve to actually ask, "Are you disagreeing with me?"
If she was going to be mad at him for saying that, then perhaps she wasn't the right girl for him. He had stated his opinion, which he felt he had a right to say.
"Look, Fleur, you're a beautiful girl, and I'm sure that you are used to having great dates, but I really don't feel the need to go all out with you on a first date just so that I can impress you. If you would like to do something however, I'll try to accommodate you, but I already went to a great deal of effort setting up the date as it is."
She smiled and said, "Wow and here I was thinking this was going to be another lame date. Maybe this won't turn out too bad after all."
He could only stare at her looking puzzled and say, "Huh?"
Wasn't she supposed to be upset or something?
She decided to clarify and say, "I should probably apologize now. I'm just used to going on dates where the guy will suddenly forget just what we're going to be doing or have this big extravagant thing go on that he'll still insist wasn't good enough. I'm also not used to them disagreeing with me either on anything even when I'm wrong."
He adopted the expression that Hermione usually had when Ron did something stupid and exclaimed, "Boys can be such idiots sometimes!"
She laughed and said, "Well, I suppose that's just my experience. I suppose it just comes with being a veela. It's not all what people think its cracked up to be."
"Well, at least you're hot," He pointed out, earning another laugh from her.
"Outer beauty only goes so far," She said wisely.
"I totally agree. Admittedly I was rather hesitant about this date, because...well...admittedly you kind of act rather obnoxious in public," He confessed.
"I appreciate the honesty," She replied, "I promise I'm not actually like that, and I was rather hesitant as well."
"I know, I know," He butted in, "I act like a total jerk. Since I'm the boy-who-lived I think I'm the greatest gift to wizardkind."
There were actually people who did still believe that to be the case, but for the most part he ignored them.
" I never thought that. Actually it was because I was worried that it might hurt your chances with another girl," Fleur told him, "thinking about it rationally, you going with me would be great for the short term to help encourage better magical cooperation, but in the long term you might want to select someone else. You're only 14 and I'll be graduating at the end of this year and also going back to France. So a long term relationship being able to be built between us would be highly unlikely to end up working out. Also we really don't know each other all that well and after reading about how your dates have gone in the paper, I would say that you already get along rather well with a few other girls. Now after talking to you, I'm even more convinced that there is someone who you already love."
He nearly choked.
"Love?" He spluttered, "I mean I rather liked all of my dates as people, and they might rival even you in the beauty department, but I would hardly say that I actually love any of them yet."
"It seems to me like you actually do, whether you know it or not," Fleur answered, "I mean you are rather young for real love and I wouldn't say it's had a lot of time to cultivate, but that would be the answer that makes the most sense. You may not realize it, but the entire time we've been talking, I've been increasing my veela allure to see just when it would finally get to you, yet you don't seem to be fazed at all, when you should be reduced to the thinking power of a drooling monkey. The obvious answer then is that you are already in love with somebody else."
"Well come to think of it, there is someone actually," He said, "I'm in love with Mrs. Norris. I've tried to deny it, but I just can't hide it anymore."
Apparently she knew who Mrs. Norris was because she laughed again and said, "I'm pretty sure you aren't into cats Harry."
"Then what would be another reason if I'm not in love?" He asked.
"Well, I suppose there is one other possibility," She eventually admitted.
"I'm gay?" He suggested.
"Make that two possibilities then," She amended.
"You care to tell me just what the other is then?" He asked.
She just shook her head and said, "It really doesn't matter. What does matter is I figure that I can at least help you find out if you actually do have strong enough feelings to love any of them or not. I was planning to help you decide who would be the best to take to the Ball anyway except it will be much easier since I can tell that you won't be a drooling monkey who can only stare at me, or brag that you flew a broom to the moon, are a dragon animagus, has eaten a 50 pound steak in one sitting, can burp all the numbers to infinity, is a magical genie that can grant me three wishes, has slept with over 500 women, or is in actuality a Greek god in human form."
"Guys actually said all those things to you?" He questioned, "it sounds almost like jokes you might tell about an overrated action star."
She merely rolled her eyes and said, "Like you said, guys can be idiots sometimes, particularly in front of me."
He adopted the face that he had seen Ron have whenever he stared at Fleur and said, "I can turn milk into gold."
"Please don't do that," She cautioned, even though she was laughing as she said it.
"You're so beautiful though, I just can't help brag about ridiculous things," He teased.
"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" She asked.
"Let's put it this way," He said, "if I really was gay, you would make me straight."
"Is that so?" She queried slyly, "whatever happened to those other girls being just as beautiful as I am?"
"That's why I could never be gay, I like girls too much," He admitted.
"So which do you think you like best out of all of them?" She asked.
"Are you asking because you're still trying to help me decide who I should take or because you want to know who will be your competition?" He questioned.
"A little of both," She confessed.
"To be honest, I really don't know," Harry answered.
"Well what do you like most about each one?" She asked.
"I like Susan's kindness..." He began.
"...and her boobs," Fleur added.
"Alright, fine, I like her boobs too if that makes you feel any better," He admitted, "but I also like her desire to help others, and from what I know of her, her strong will in trying to do so."
"I also like helping others and I have big boobs too," Fleur pointed out.
"Whatever happened to you helping me find some other girl?" He reminded her.
She grinned and said, "Sorry, I just couldn't help it."
"Then there's Hannah, who's usually kind of shy but also nice, but then she opened up a lot on our date," He replied.
"She's also got some decent curves on a girl her size," Fleur reminded him.
"Are you going to point out all of the physical characteristics that the girls have?" He queried.
"I'm doing it because apparently you won't, and while it shouldn't be the only reason to choose someone, it should be a factor," She pointed out.
Unfortunately, he had to agree with her on that point, so he allowed her to continue.
"Angelina on the other hand is really athletic and competitive. She'd likely always be a fun date no matter what we did," He said.
"That begs the question if you plan on just going with them to the dance or have it become something more," She pointed out.
"Well, with all the trouble I've already gone to just so I can get one measly date to the Yule Ball I'm actually kind of hoping it will become something more," He answered.
"Then deciding who you see yourself being with long term should also play a factor," She suggested.
"If that's the case then I suppose Angelina is out," He said, "She is already in 6th year, so she'll graduate next year. Besides I'm not sure if she would want to be with someone so young that long."
"I wouldn't ever simply assume that," Fleur reminded him.
"Okay, now I'm seriously wondering if you changed your mind and want to convince me to date you or not," He admitted.
"To be honest, I'm kind of wondering that myself," She said, "I didn't actually see myself being with you before, but now I'm really tempted to try and find out."
"How are you going to find out?" He asked.
"By kissing you," She answered while grinning.
"Does every girl want to kiss me on the first date?" He asked aloud to himself.
"I really wouldn't complain about that Harry," Fleur scolded him.
"Right, because it's every teenage boy's dream to get kissed," He said sarcastically.
"Actually I'm pretty sure it is," Fleur pointed out.
"Oh, I guess you're right," He agreed, "I suppose dreams really do come true then."
Laughing again, Fleur stated, "Usually they wouldn't kiss on a first date, but I would guess they're trying to leave you something to remember you by so you'll pick them, as for me, I'm trying to find out if we have chemistry or not."
"You can find out if we have chemistry or not with a kiss?" He asked.
"Yes," She admitted, "for example, I've kissed quite a few guys only on the cheek since in France it is a common greeting. Even then I can tell they are simply not compatible with me."
"So you think I might be compatible with you then?" He asked.
"Only one way to find out," She reminded him slyly.
Pushing out his lips, he leaned in as did she as their lips met.
It was admittedly a great kiss, one that would have caused just about any guy he knew to faint, but for him it was only just as good as the rest of the kisses he had had over the week.
When he finally drew away, however, she was already smiling.
"So are we compatible then?" He asked.
She paused and only stared at him, but the expression on her face was unreadable.
"I think...I think we'd better start walking again," She finally said.
He did so and took her hand again.
They were already almost there, but he was still wondering just what was going through her head.
"So tell me about Padma then," She suggested.
Obviously it hadn't been that great of a kiss to her if she was still trying to help him find another girl.
It was something that shouldn't have bothered him too much as it would only narrow down his choices for him, but for some reason it still filled him with a bit of sadness.
"Padma is kind, smart, funny, fun, easy to talk to, loyal, friendly, trustworthy, and so many more things. Physically if you want to know, I love her incredibly long, shiny black hair that I just keeping want to run my hands through or brush. She doesn't have the biggest curves, but for some reason, what she does have still seems perfect for her. Then there is her flawless, beautiful brown skin, and her beautiful eyes."
"It sounds to me like you already really like her," Fleur pointed out.
"Do you really think so?" He asked.
"You didn't give that long of an assessment of the other girls and I was watching you as you talked about Padma, you had this look in your eyes like you were already taken with her," Fleur admitted, "so how was it when you kissed her?"
"Like feeling like I'd died and gone to heaven, only to realize that even heaven couldn't possibly be this good," Harry said easily.
Fleur paused yet again and then finally said, seeming to resolve herself to something, "then I think you have your answer as to who to choose."
At first, he wasn't so sure she was right, but then an image of him and Padma came to his mind of them together, and suddenly he warmed up to the idea. Him and Padma Patil, yeah, he could see that. At least at the moment, he couldn't think of anyone think of anyone he'd rather be with. Maybe he had made his decision after all.
"What about you though?" He then asked.
"Don't worry about me," She said, "go choose the girl of your dreams. I would however like to finish our date."
"That I can do," He said.
They finally got to the Room of Requirement and as they entered he watched Fleur to see her reaction.
The room had a very French theme, looking very much like an authentic French restaurant.
"How did you manage to do all this?" She asked.
"Magic," He answered, still not wanting to give away his secret.
To his surprise, she leaned in and kissed him again.
"What was that for?" He asked.
"Just making sure that's all," She admitted.
While Harry and Fleur were still on their date, Padma was currently taking a late night nap in her dormitory so that she wouldn't be so tired when she finished up the article for the paper. It would likely be quite late when they finished.
However, she was woken up to feel something pressing against the side of her bed.
Figuring that it was just her dorm mate's cat who often climbed up on her bed, she wasn't too concerned.
"Tabby, would you please get off," She told it.
Instead of feeling Tabby get off, or perhaps a meow of protest, she heard someone's voice.
"Ooh, I think Tabby is a great name for me," the person said.
It could only be one person.
Using her wand which she quickly grabbed, she uttered the spell that turned on a light.
Sure enough it was Luna.
"Luna what are you doing here?" Padma asked exasperatedly, "Harry shouldn't have finished his date yet."
"I know, I wanted to get here early so we still have time to prevent it," Luna claimed.
"Prevent what?" Padma demanded, still somewhat cranky, "my ability to get some more sleep?"
"Harry is going to ask you to go to the Yule Ball with him tonight," Luna told her.
"If Harry really is going to ask me to the Yule Ball, I would put that under the category of something I definitely do not want to prevent," Padma argued.
"You'll end up dating and then happily marrying him though," Luna insisted, as if this was a horrible thing to have happen.
"Oh I get it," Padma claimed, "are you just jealous Luna and worried I'm going to steal Harry away? If you are why don't you go bother one of the other girls who isn't trying to get some sleep."
"Oh no, I'm not jealous, I love watching you and Harry together!" Luna insisted, "the problem is Harry will fall only in love with you."
"Once again, I fail to see why I would want to try and prevent that, unless Harry turns out to be abusive or something," Padma pointed out.
"Oh no, Harry would be wonderful, you'll both sell ice cream for a living, you'll live in a white house with red trim, a white picket fence, and have a pool with a waterslide. Your first two children will then be named Lakshmi and Smitha."
Padma was actually shocked at the information that Luna had just provided.
"How did you know that I wanted a house like that or that I wanted to name my children that?" She asked.
Luna gave her a look as if she was stupid and said, "I can see the future, of course."
"If you can see the future, then I would say it's a pretty good future for me then," Padma answered.
"Yes, but then Harry dies in a cheese cauldron explosion, and then the world totally falls apart without him," Luna said.
Padma had to remind herself again that Luna was crazy. She probably learned about her fantasy from Parvati or somebody and had added that to her own same delusions.
"Look, Luna...," Padma began slowly, hoping to make her understand.
"You don't believe me do you?" Luna asked, interrupting her.
"No I don't," Padma outright admitted.
"Then I suppose you leave me no choice," Luna stated, as she picked up a fake sword made out of a long balloon and held it pressing against her throat, "Harry needs to ask Daphne to the Yule Ball, promise me that you'll convince Harry to go with Daphne instead or I'll cut my own throat with this."
It would have seemed dangerous if Luna had a real sword, but since it was only a balloon and unlikely to kill her, it just looked rather ridiculous.
"Why does Daphne need to go with Harry?" Padma asked.
"You'll find out," Luna insisted without really answering the question, "now promise me."
"I'd hardly say that you trying to kill yourself with a balloon sword is going to convince me to do that," Padma claimed.
Luna only grinned and said, "I would say that it's already working."
"Trust me Luna, no its not," Padma argued.
To her surprise, Luna pulled the balloon sword off of her throat and then sighed: "I suppose you've beaten me then, you're just too smart I suppose."
"No, it's because I have common sense," Padma told her.
"I know, that's what Harry is going to need from you after he slips on that banana peel," Luna said, once again adding another ridiculous thing that was supposed to happen in the future.
Luna was seriously crazy, no doubt about it. She idly wondered if she should have her committed or not.
However, before she could decide whether she should take her wand and knock her out long enough to go find a straight jacket, Luna left.
Shaking her head, she finally decided to just head on over herself and see if Harry had finished his date yet or not.
She got there several minutes earlier than Harry was supposed to be coming around with Fleur, but she also spotted Daphne standing there waiting as well.
"Did you manage to get in that nap you were talking about having?" Daphne asked her as she came up to stand next to her.
"Yes, but not as long as I was hoping for," Padma confessed, "Luna came into my room, raving about how Harry was going to choose me and that I needed to convince Harry to have him go with you instead."
Daphne had the nerve to actually grin at that and say, "You see, even Luna knows that I'm the right one for Harry."
"I'd hardly call Luna the best support to have, she threatened to commit suicide if I didn't agree, only she was using a balloon sword so it wasn't very threatening," Padma said.
"Got to love that Luna," Daphne told her, "I wish I could have been there."
"You would have just agreed with her, even if you didn't believe it," Padma reminded her, "the worst part was she added in this fantasy that I had that she probably heard from Parvati to try and convince me."
"What was the fantasy?" Daphne asked, grinning.
"Not that kind of fantasy!" Padma yelled, realizing just what she was insinuating.
"Just checking," Daphne confessed, "so really, what was the fantasy?"
"It wasn't about Harry exactly, just what kind of house I'd like to have, and what I'd like to name my kids," Padma admitted.
"I see," Daphne answered, "you know I was actually kind of curious if it was a bit like my dream."
"What dream?" Padma asked.
"I keep having this dream where me and Harry are married. We're older and we have a lot of kids surrounding us," Daphne began, "they all look like mixes of both of us, of my blonde hair or his green eyes, and they all look just so beautiful. I just feel so happy at that moment, more happy than I've ever felt in my life, and I always wake up crying."
"I had no idea..." Padma claimed.
"I suppose that it's just a dream, but it always feel so real, and while I try to deny it, I still want it so bad. To feel that happy in real life," Daphne told her, "it may sound crazy, but I feel like I actually could eventually feel that way about Harry if given the chance."
"Well you do have that date coming up in just a couple of days so you should actually have that chance," Padma reminded her, "that is unless Luna is actually right this time."
"She has to be right sometime," Daphne pointed out.
"Since she also told me that Harry was going to die in a cheese cauldron explosion, I wouldn't hold my breath," Padma answered.
A minute later they spotted Harry and Fleur just now coming back from their date.
"Hey girls," Harry greeted them.
"Hello Harry, you bring us our next victim?" Daphne asked, grinning maliciously at him as if she was eager to torture someone.
"I sure did," He confirmed, looking over at Fleur, "so where's Luna?"
"I think she's still upset about something, but nothing for you to worry about," Padma told him.
Harry said something else, but by then she wasn't paying attention, as she was currently concentrated on simply watching his lips move. They looked so kissable right about then.
She was finally shaken out of her revery by hearing her name spoken.
"Padma?" Daphne asked her, "why don't we go ahead and interview Fleur first."
"That's fine," She agreed.
"Actually I was kind of hoping that I could talk to Padma while you interview Fleur," Harry recommended.
"That sounds like a good idea so we can save a bit of time and interview both of you separately," Daphne agreed, "if you'd like to come with me Fleur."
Fleur followed Daphne into the classroom.
"So how was Fleur?" Padma asked when they were alone.
"It went really well," He answered, "but I don't actually want to talk about Fleur just yet."
"I thought that we were trying to divide and conquer and do both interviews at the same time?" Padma questioned.
"I said I wanted to talk to you," He pointed out.
"So what do you want to talk about then?" Padma asked.
"Fleur and I had a long conversation, and she helped me realize that I fancy a certain girl in particular," He began.
Wait, could Harry really be about to do what she hoped he was about to do. Could Luna actually be right for once?
"I realized that while I like all of the girls and that they all have certain characteristics that I admire, that one definitely stands out, and I couldn't think of anyone better than her. She's incredibly beautiful, smart, fun to be around, and I really feel like there might be something between us. That girl is you Padma Patil."
Filch had better come by with a mop because she instantly felt her heart melt when he said that.
"I'd like to ask you to be the one to go with me to the Yule Ball," He finally said.
It was everything that she wanted, to hear him ask that, not once but twice, only this time having rejected many girls that she would have considered far more beautiful than her. Yet he had chosen her!
She wanted to give him the loudest yes ever, but then suddenly she stopped as unbidden, Daphne's voice popped into her head about her dream and just wanting to be given a chance with Harry.
Forget Daphne, she tried to tell herself.
Another annoying thought popped into her head.
Ah, but how would you have felt if Harry never really gave you a chance?
Of course she'd feel guilty, but being with Harry would surely make that guilt go away.
However, she wouldn't actually be letting Daphne become Harry's girlfriend or anything or even go to the Ball with him like crazy Luna had been wanting her to. It would be just one date and then afterwards there was a very high chance that Harry would still be going with her. Then she also wouldn't have to feel guilty.
If for some crazy reason, he did choose Daphne over her, well then maybe it wasn't meant to be anyway...
Oh shut up brain, she told herself.
"What about Luna and Daphne?" Padma finally asked, "they still haven't gone on dates with you yet."
"I know, but I feel like I've already made the right decision," He informed her.
"Well, I suppose I can't really blame you about not choosing Luna, she's probably too crazy for you, but I think that you should at least give Daphne a chance before you ask me," Padma said.
Oh, she hated herself right then. Why oh why did she have to be noble right then? She should have just said yes and screwed Daphne over. Harry wanted her, not Daphne, not anybody else, and he already knew it. Yet she would also feel too guilty if she did so.
He seemed surprised, but finally told her, "All right, if that's what you'd like to do."
"It's not that I don't want to say yes," She admitted, "you know I'd love to go with you. Nothing would make me happier, but I just feel like it is the right thing to do. Once you decide that I'm still the best choice after your date with her, then you can expect me to say yes."
It was really only a consolation prize in comparison, but she leaned in and kissed him, and he kissed her back.
His kisses always caused her to melt and feel like she wona million galleons. She also felt reassured as they finally broke apart that this would somehow only be one of the first of many kisses that they would share.
Neither she nor Harry heard it, but a crazy blonde Ravenclaw was quietly listening in on their conversation as she whispered:
"Step two is complete, I told you that the balloon sword was working."
Author's Note: While Luna is still crazy, there is actually a method to most of her madness, and she's been effectively manipulating things without anybody realizing it, nor is she as crazy as people think. You're also free to look back and see just how Luna actually achieved what she was really trying to accomplish. Besides I find it highly enjoyable, having Luna be the "master manipulator" in the story, all while claiming ridiculous or actually just seemingly ridiculous claims that actually help move things in the direction she feels they need to go.