Disclaimer: No copyright is at all intended and this is just a one-shot for now though I might or might not continue it depending on the reviews. So R&R please! :)
Harry Potter sat outside the Great Hall of Hogwarts. He hugged his knees to his chest inside an empty alcove near the Yule Ball. He could hear the friendly chatter and noisy gossip through the large doors to the hall and felt a mounting panic as the seconds ticked on. It was growing closer and closer to the Ball and he still didn't have a date. Heck, even Ronald had a date in the form of Lavender Brown. The pretty, but shallow, Gryffindor comforted Ron after he got rejected by Fleur and the two became an item ever since. Ron quickly asked Lavender and she accepted with a squeal of "Oh Rohnny!" (Much to everyone's amusement)
However, Harry was not so lucky. He wanted to ask Cho but she was already going out with someone. As a last resort, Harry asked Parvati Patil but she declined, sadly saying that she got asked by one of the Puffs and accepted. Growing up with the Dursleys, Harry was never allowed to go to parties. The only ones he attended were at the Weasleys (his birthdays) and he never danced or had a date during any of them, let alone a Yule Ball!
Needless to say, he was extremely worried and nervous that he would embarrass everyone by showing up without a date. Hopefully, everyone would be focused on the real Champions as they should be and would gloss over his shortcomings. Why did he have to have such horrible luck? Why couldn't things be simple? Hells, this was the time during his life when he was supposed to be worried about getting a date, but not just for one dance!
However, he didn't even have time to worry about that what with school, the Tournament, and Voldermort hanging over his head. Just as he was about to give up and trudge back to his bed in defeat, the sound of soft footsteps echoed through the hall alerting him to someone's presence. He looked up curiously and was pleasantly surprised to see a young girl about the same age as him give or take a year or so.
She had wavy brown hair that was similar to Hermione's but softer. She wore a forest green dress with the emblem of a dragon-like serpent over her heart. She didn't carry a wand but Harry knew that she was a witch otherwise she wouldn't be in Hogwarts. He also suspected that due to her stars and stripes, she was, in fact, a Slytherin. At the moment, he didn't quite care anymore who came to taunt him. Gryffindor or Slytherin – they were all fickle and would either respect or hate him when the winds changed. Heaving a sigh, Harry braced himself for a tongue-lashing. But he was shocked when he heard what the girl said next.
"Hello, Potter!" She called cheerfully, skipping towards him. "Care for a dance? We'd make a dashing couple methinks."
"Um, who are you and are you pulling my leg?" Harry asked in confusion.
No girl in their right mind would think that of him. Everyone hated him in this school except for Hermione, and sometimes Ron. Well, Neville didn't seem to mind him so much. He did after all help him succeed in the second task. Perhaps Harry should be nicer to the boy. The girl's next words snapped him out of his thoughts, however.
"Oh, apologies," The girl mumbled, blushing slightly. "My name is Astoria Greengrass. You may have heard of me, I'm the sister of the Ice Queen of Slytherin."
"Nope, doesn't ring a bell," Harry replied. "But if you are a snake then why would you want to have anything to do with me?"
"Hey! We're not all evil, you know," Astoria cried, looking hurt.
"Sorry," Harry muttered sheepishly, feeling bad for offending the girl.
She did seem nice.
"We're not all enemies of you," Astoria sighed. "And I want to show that by offering myself as your date for the Ball."
The last part came out in a rush and she stopped hastily, taking a deep breath and staring at her toes. Harry stared at her wide-eyed, not quite believing what he heard.
"You want to be my date?" He queried.
"If you'll have me," Astoria stammered. "But you probably have one already since you have the pick of the litter."
"I don't understand," Harry mumbled.
"What?" Astoria asked in surprise, her eyes narrowing. "Surely the famous Boy-Who-Lived, Gryffindor Golden Boy and Champion of Hogwarts can choose whatever girl he wants! Don't you know that you have your own fan club and even a betting pool to see who you will get together with?"
"Fan club? Betting pool?" Harry asked in dismay.
"Yes," Astoria giggled. "Your fan club is run by Colin Creevey and the Betting Pool by the Weasley Twins. You might want to have a word with the latter two to see who you are most likely to end up with."
"I will definitely do that, thank you milady," Harry replied with a broad smile, now actually enjoying the girl's company.
She seemed like fun and he was surprised he never talked to her before. Stupid House rivalry!
"So what do you mean, you want to be my date?" Harry asked.
"Well, I have a slight problem you see," Astoria answered, sitting down on Harry's lap and facing him. "A Malfoy problem."
Harry gulped nervously and felt something stir within him as the girl wiggled naughtily on his lap. He cautiously placed his hands on her knees and stroked them softly.
"What do you mean, a Malfoy problem?" He asked, now intrigued more than ever.
The girl's face sobered. "My parents were killed by the Dark Lord since they didn't join his forces. Me and my sister Daphne were made orphans and Wards of the Ministry who now hold my parents' Wizengamont seat. The Malfoys are always vying for power and wanted to snap up my father's seat, so they made a deal with the Ministry. In exchange for a rich dowry they get to arrange a Marriage Contract between me and Draco Malfoy. Then when he comes of age, Draco will get my father's Wizengamont seat and since Lord Malfoy controls his little brat, he gets a second vote in the Wizengamont."
Harry's jaw dropped as he tried to wrap his mind around the scheme.
"That's horrible!" He gasped. "And I thought I had it bad."
He suddenly felt very sorry for the girl and without thinking wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into an embrace. The girl stiffened and Harry realized what he was doing and quickly pulled away. But the girl gave him a smile and hugged him back.
"It's alright," She sighed. "I'm just not used to affection, being an orphan and Malfoy's intended. He likes to lord over me and show me off to his minions and school mates."
"I am so sorry," Harry whispered, stroking her soft brown hair. "If there's anything I could do to help, I would. I have a saving people thing, you see. And I hate the Malfoys!"
"Well there's something simple we could do for each other," Astoria whispered, pulling back and eyeing Harry seriously.
Harry gazed back at her and nodded. "I'm all ears."
"I could go to the Ball as your date to stick it to Malfoy," Astoria explained. "He would go up in smoke and it would send rumors flying. Everyone would eventually think we are together or had a fling and, thus, it might annul the Marriage Contract. If nothing more, it would make Malfoy hate the contract for the rest of his life and be sweet revenge."
Harry stared at Astoria in awe and wonder and, if not, a little fear.
"You would make one good politician!" He observed.
Astoria smirked. "Why thank you, good sir. So, what do you say? Do you want to give Malfoy a taste of his own medicine? Slytherin style?"
"Why not?" Harry shrugged, grinning. "After all, the Gryffindors hate me and their reaction to us wouldn't be anything worse than it already is."
"Us?" Astoria asked with a coy smile.
Harry blushed and gulped. "Err…what I meant was…"
Astoria placed a finger on his lips to silence him and smiled. "It's okay, Harry. I would be more than happy to be your girlfriend. If we can find a way to abolish this stupid contract."
"Aren't I supposed to ask you to be my girlfriend?" Harry asked. "And don't we need to go on a date first?"
"Well consider this dance the first date," Astoria suggested.
Harry nodded happily and took her hand.
"Astoria Greengrass, will you go on a date with me, Harry James Potter, to the Yule Ball?" Harry asked nervously.
"Merlin, yes!" Astoria replied. "Now let's get out there and show Hogwarts how it's done."
"I second that," Harry grinned.
Happy for once in their lives, the most unlikely couple stood up and walked into the Great Hall arm and arm to face their new destiny. Things would change and many people would stand against them but it was a destiny they had engineered on their own and one they would face…together!