An Impartial Judge

A/N: So I thought I'd give this a go. It's not canon – I'm a strong Harmony shipper, and the rest of my OTPs will become clear in time :)

I don't own anything! Everything belongs to JKR, except the OC's. They're mine!

No matter how deep in books Hermione buried her head, one thing still lingered in the back of her mind. That trouble sought Harry as unerringly as an arrow striking a bull's eye, and that Harry couldn't always evade the trouble. She worried about him constantly and not even her thirst for knowledge could push it completely out of her mind. She shook her head violently, and her infamously bushy hair sprang out from where she had forcefully tucked it behind her ears.

Sighing, she carefully heaved the tome she was reading (Famous Witches and Wizards of the 15th to 17th Centuries) closed, and lugged it to the returns trolley. Smiling a goodbye at Madam Pince (regardless of what Harry and Ron might think, she had the best intentions and a heart of gold), she headed back to the common room, a heavy sense of dread beginning to settle in her stomach.

It was Halloween night, and the feast was due to begin in a matter of hours; going by previous form, it would not be an enjoyable evening. First year: cornered in a toilet and attacked by a troll. Second year: stumbled across Filch's petrified cat and best friend accused of the crime. Third year: a murderous lunatic broke into Gryffindor tower. And now some ancient and vicious competition – the Triwizard Tournament (whatever that was – all the books had been taken out of the library) – which had been banned for centuries (she personally suspected that it would involve some kind of barbaric and ritualistic torture of the combatants) was to be hosted at Hogwarts. Hermione was not amused. If there was even a hint of danger, Harry was guaranteed to be involved, whether he wanted to be or not.

As she climbed through the portrait hole ("Pumpkin pasty"), she noticed Harry staring miserably out of the window as Ron and Ginny played a loud and energetic game of exploding snap beside him. She sidled past them just as Ginny scored a particularly loud snap and snuck next to Harry. He started and peered at her, worry radiating from his eyes. Hermione knew they shared her concerns about this 'tournament' Dumbledore was so determined to push through and make a success of. Not even Harry could pretend that he wasn't a magnet for danger, and they had both had enough experience of his being in the hospital wing that they had an almost-limitless base for speculation around his possible injuries this time. Neither doubted that he would somehow be involved.

"How're you feeling, Harry?" Hermione knew her voice was barely more than a whisper, but since they were now crammed into the armchair by the window, she hardly needed to speak any louder.

"I'm fine, Hermione." He paused and looked at her. "Well ok, I'm not. But talking won't help anything. This year has to be better than last year. At least nothing's tried to suck out my soul. Yet." He tried to smile but the joke fell flat and he folded his arms. Hermione's hand slid into the crook of his elbow and squeezed the hand tucked under it.

"Harry Potter!" Dumbledore cried. Hermione felt Harry go into lockdown beside her, and her gut reaction was to do the same. Logic told her things could only be sorted out if Harry got up.

"Harry, come on, you've got to go," she hissed, nudging him frantically. How his name had ended up in the goblet of fire was a complete mystery, as was much of Ron's current behaviour. Harry pushed back against her and staggered upright. He looked like he wanted to disappear into the floor as he tried to get to Dumbledore un-harassed by irate Hogwarts students. After what felt like a lifetime, Harry reached Dumbledore and was directed to the antechamber with the other champions. Hermione inserted a fingernail into her mouth and gnawed on it. Ron ignored her and her anxiety for the rest of the meal and started Dean off on an enthusiastic retelling of West Ham's most recent match. She sat in a bubble of concern throughout the rest of the meal, leaving early – conscious of the eyes following her back.

She sat nervously in the common room, unconsciously chewing on a tuft of hair and biting her nails, until Harry returned late that night, long after the rest of the house had gone to bed, white and shaking.