Glad everyone didn't see the twist coming.
I have some huge things coming up for the Tri-Wizard Tournament, hope everyone is as excited as I am!
As always, thank you to my awesome reviewers, those who support through favs/follows and everyone who reads.
Edit 1: Forgot to put in Barnabas the Barmy, left it as INSERTNAMEHERE. Whoops!
Hermione's heart thundered as she stared, wide eyed at Dumbledore. All eyes turned to her as she froze. A pindrop could be heard, the silence only breaking with the shifting of the teenager next to her. Harry nudged her, to break her out of her shocked state.
"You have to go up" he whispered.
Hermione turned to look at him, shock in her eyes. Harry's emerald eyes full of concern and shock.
"Hermione, you have to go! Get up!" Harry hissed, standing up and gripping her by the arm, pulling her up.
It was a rough way to do things, but she had to get moving before Hogwarts reacted and started hurtling abuse. Hermione seemed to follow his wavelength as she numbly stood up, and made the slow walk towards Dumbledore. Her eyes flitted from side to side, seeing impassive faces, other faces angry or annoyed. Hermione straightened her back, ignoring the comments of 'cheater' and 'she's not 17.' Headmaster Dumbledore seemed to stare at her grimly, watching as she walked past him and towards the only teacher who seemed to empathise with her. Professor McGonagall gave her a sad smile, patting her shoulder as she went past, while Snape gifted her with a sneer. Hermione ignored the greasy haired git, and continued on her way.
Harry watched her go, slumping down onto his seat and gripping his hands into fists.
"Dammit, anyone but Hermione" muttered Harry bitterly.
He was too caught up in his emotions to notice Ron glaring bitterly at Hermione's retreating back.
A volcano was ready to erupt.
Hermione numbly walked back to the common room, quietly saying the password, bracing herself to enter into the Lion's den, literally. The only thoughts that echoed through her mind was that she had to compete. There was no choice, Bartemis Crouch had made it clear it was a binding magical contract. And that if she refused to compete, she would lose her magic. The glances from the other champions hadn't helped, especially the way Victor Krum stared at her. With a deep shuddering breath and shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Hermione pushed open the door and stepping into the red and gold Gryffindor common room.
Immediately, the noise in the room died out, as almost everyone in Gryffindor that was present in the common room gave her disgusted looks. Ginny looked warily from her position, but Neville held a gaze of sympathy. Hermione felt tears threaten to emerge, but she pushed them back. The crowd reminded her too much of her younger years, how she was always alone. She scanned the crowd for her closest two friends, Harry and Ron. Surely they both would believe her. She breathed a sigh of relief as Ron emerged from the crowd, however it caught in her throat as she saw his face. It was furious, as red as his hair.
"Oh no" whimpered Hermione.
She was emotionally drained from all of this drama from tonight. She couldn't deal with an angry Ron on top of everything.
"Just had to look for fame and glory huh Hermione?"
"W-what?" exclaimed Hermione, caught off-guard by Ron's opening statement.
Ron seemed to get angrier. "You heard me. Not good enough to be at my level? You want the riches and fame, the glory that Harry has. You want to be in the history books, the first muggleborn to lift the Tri-Wizard Chalice! It's what you've always wanted huh, riding on the coattails of Harry. Couldn't resist entering your name when that opportunity came up."
Hermione was confused. "What are you talking about? I didn't enter my name into that gob-"
"Don't LIE to me" roared Ron, "you just want everyone to acknowledge you, the plain-jane bookworm, who does nothing but hide in the library. Now you've betrayed Harry and I, by entering yourself into that stupid tournament. You're pathetic, attention-seeking, needy, bossy good-for-nothing bookworm, and that's all you'll ever be."
Hermione felt the tears run down her cheeks at the insult, Ron's voice echoing in her head. Insecurities gripped her heart and she wavered on her feet. Only her fierce pride and determination kept her standing on her feet at such an insult. However, her heart howled with pain, one of her few friends who had called her such demeaning things. As such, she never heard the common room door open. She did however see the figure that stepped protectively in front of her, Ron's head snapping backwards as Harry's fist slammed into his jaw, tumbling to the ground, interrupting his insult.
"Get up!" said Harry, his voice cold as ice but filled with righteous fury.
Ron glared at Harry from the floor, rubbing his jaw as he slowly picked himself up. People stepped back to give them room.
"What the hell was that mate?"
"If I hear you speak to Hermione like that again I swear that I will destroy you" Harry growled dangerously, everyone taking a step back in fear, the power radiating through Harry's voice was unmistakeable. "Walk away, before you open that dumb mouth of yours and force me to ram my fist into your head to knock some sense into it again."
Ron just shook his head at his friend, and stepped away, pushing his way through the crowd. He went full retreat, trying to save his bruised ego.
"What are you looking at?" snapped Harry to the gathered crowd, sending everyone scrambling away to the dormitories.
Within twenty seconds, the common room was empty and Harry spun towards her. He stepped into her personal space, Hermione staring at him with wide eyes, trembling. Her battle with her tears was lost, as they began to streak down her cheeks. Harry's angry eyes softened, and wiped her tears with his thumbs, his palms soft against her cheeks. Hermione whimpered slightly, looking down at the ground, unable to stand the thought of Harry also abandoning her. That she really was good for nothing.
"Look at me Hermione" said Harry quietly, tilting her chin up, his emerald eyes piercing through her soul.
Hermione stared at him, shaking as Harry's face was unreadable.
"Tell me Hermione. Look me in the eyes and tell me you didn't put your name in that goblet."
Hermione didn't waste any time.
"I didn't Harry!" exclaimed Hermione quickly, her voice full of desperation for him to believe her, her eyes shining, pleading for him to believe her. "I swear, I didn't!"
Harry's face was unreadable, before he sighed and he looked tired. He closed his eyes, pressing his forehead against hers. Hermione's eyes shut gratefully, reveling in the comfort of her Harry, his warmth filling her from the cold void of loneliness she had felt. From the pain that gripped her heart from the red-headed Weasley.
"I believe you" whispered Harry. "But together, we'll get through this. I'll do everything in my power to keep you safe."
"Harry" whispered Hermione softly.
It was clear that everyone had shunned her from their reaction to her room. It was only Harry and Hermione against the world. Hermione considered for a moment pressing her lips against Harry's, as it was the perfect timing, but decided against it. Right now she needed her best friend, not a boyfriend. And so she resisted the temptation to kiss Harry. Harry pulled away slightly, before wrapping his arms tightly around her, cocooning her in his strong arms. Hermione wrapped her arms desperately around his neck, burrowing into his warm embrace and squeezing him tightly. Her actions were clear. Hermione needed Harry. His actions were clear. He wasn't going anywhere.
"My hand hurts" muttered Harry, ruining the moment.
Hermione just giggled slightly, and burrowed deeper into Harry, happily nestled.
"Never change Harry" she said wordlessly against his shirt. "I love you."
And so she held on to him like a lifeline. And Harry held her, blissfully unaware of Hermione's feelings for him, and ignoring his head screaming for him to 'kiss her'
Hermione needed him. Harry Potter, best friend. Not a boyfriend. And so he pushed the thoughts away, destroying his hopes of asking Hermione Granger on a date. Because right now, she couldn't afford any distractions. Not with her life on the line.
Hermione quietly got ready for bed, her normal routine of flossing, brushing her teeth and hair and changing into sleepwear. The other Gryffindor girls gave her a wide berth, either ignoring or whispering to each other while looking at Hermione. Hermione just sighed quietly and hopped into bed, pulling her curtains around her bed. As a precautionary, she put several wards to protect her, just in case any of the Gryffindor girls were angry enough. However one small thing helped give Hermione a hint of hope, the tiniest flame. She had no one, but Harry was on her side.
And all she needed was him to succeed.
Hermione followed Harry to their usual seat in the great hall, sitting down for breakfast. It was friday, the day after the controversial and dramatic drawing of the champions. Fridays were one of the easiest days, with only several classes scheduled in the morning and afternoon, before finishing around 2 pm for the week. Everyone stared at Hermione as she followed Harry to their usual seat, instead of sitting opposite him as usual she sat next to him, almost plastered to his side. She sat so close to him, their shoulders and thighs brushed against each other, but neither seemed to mind. The other champions were scattered among their tables, surrounded by their closest friends and allies. Hermione was the only one with only one person sitting next to her, but Harry didn't seem to mind. He gave her a hungry grin and dug into a breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages and a heap of fruit as if this situation was completely natural, with all of Gryffindor sitting several seats away from them on either side. Hermione glanced around, spotting people whispering and staring at them, while she also noticed the mop of red hair sitting with Dean and Seamus afar off, and felt the smug satisfaction when she saw him sporting a rather nice bruise on his jaw. Students and teachers alike stared at them, while more hostile students such as the Slytherins in particular would send glares in their direction.
"Ignore them" said Harry, taking a bite of his scrambled eggs. "There's nothing you can do. They will always talk, and they may glare or even blame you. But always stay strong and ignore them. Their opinions don't matter."
Hermione took his advice and turned back to her food, munching thoughtfully on corn cereal with milk. Harry turned to her as they ate quietly.
"Hermione, we need to work on improving your chances of winning the Tri-Wizard Tournament" said Harry thoughtfully.
Hermione blanched at the thought. "I don't want to win the tournament."
"I'm aware, however people have died during this tournament. It is obvious that someone, probably Voldemort wants you to die in these tasks. I would do anything to help protect you, but I can't. But I can help you protect yourself, by helping you in every way possible" explained Harry.
"Thank you Harry" smiled Hermione, leaning into him in a show of affection. "So what do you have planned?"
"You're strengths are your repertoire of spells, perfect casting and precision of your spells, top of the class in just about everything. Not to mention how intelligent you are. However you also have weaknesses. You are good, but not excellent in DADA. When you cast spells, they can be a tad slow, nor do you know how to chain spells together. Add0tionally, I'm not sure but you don't look to me like you are much of an athlete."
At Hermione's embarrassed nod, Harry had hit the nail on the head when it came to her athletic ability. She much preferred to read than to spend time doing physical activity.
"Finally, you don't like flying, nor are you very good at it."
Hermione paled slightly at the thought of the broom. "What's wrong with not liking to fly?" She twitched nervously, thinking of first year and how she had to get onto that broom.
Harry looked dead serious as he looked at her. "Hermione, any weakness can be used against you. I won't let you go into that task unprepared." And then Harry brightened. "And plus, teaching you to fly will be fun."
Hermione looked worried.
"It'll be fun!" exclaimed Harry, a happy smile on his face.
Hermione just shook her head, sighing. "So what will we do then?"
Harry gave her a sympathetic look. "You're going to be doing a lot of exercise Hermione. We'll start next week Saturday morning, 6 a.m in the common room. Wear appropriate clothing, and be prepared for pain. We'll do Saturday as I'm not one hundred percent sure you'll be able to cope on a weekday."
"I'm sure I can-"
"I know Hermione, but I can't have the number one student falling in class and getting blamed for it now can I?" replied Harry with a cheeky grin.
Hermione just giggled and swatted his arm.
The next few days seemed to fly by. Harry and Hermione now seemed to be inseparable, always together. Hermione had been shunned by all of Hogwarts, but Harry stayed steadfastly by her side, in which Hermione was extremely grateful. She wasn't sure if she was strong enough to be isolated like she had been when she was younger. However, there were also added benefits. They seemed to grow even closer, if that was possible. They both seemed to be more affectionate with each other. Hermione would place her hand on Harry's arm or shoulder, and could be seen brushing up against him during meals. Harry would sometimes place his hand on her knee and squeeze reassuringly, or nudge her gently. He was also seen helping to carry Hermione's books on occasion, but not often due to Hermione's insistence to be an independent woman. They were so close, that several witches had enquired with Harry (when Hermione was not present) whether they were dating. Harry always shook his head and said no, that they were only friends.
As the days went by, Harry and Hermione could often be found working hard on their studies in the library, or in the common room, just the both of them working on the old 'Golden Trio' desks. Other times they could be found near the lake, under a large tree that was a personal favourite of Hermione's, where they would spend hours just talking, or relaxing, or even eating a picnic. Other times they would be on a walk together through the hallways of Hogwarts, or around the lake and the surrounding areas of Hogwarts. Both of them had hurt from Ron's rejection and lack of loyalty, but they pushed past it. They couldn't control Ron or his emotions, and so they didn't bother with him.
It was a friday afternoon after classes that Hermione watched as the portrait opened, as Ron Weasley stalked into the common room. It was one of the rare occasions that she was by herself, sitting on the couch with a book in her lap. She felt utterly relaxed and at home, however that vanished with the look Ron still wore on his face. Ron was still fuming at her for her name being in the Goblet of Fire. Not that Hermione minded one bit. She tensed herself if he decided to start shouting or yelling like the git he was.
'Immature prat' thought Hermione angrily, as she glared at Ron.
Ron paused as he caught Harry coming down the stairs, and they both seemed to just stare at each other, Harry motioning to Hermione. Ron snorted and pushed past Harry, stalking up the stairs. Harry just shook his head at Ron's immaturity, sitting down next to Hermione and bumping her shoulder affectionately with his own. He lifted her book off her lap, noting the textbook for Fourth Year.
"Not studying too hard are you Hermione?" asked Harry. He had been so amazing to her ever since she was entered into the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Hermione glanced at him, acting as if he had grown another head. "Never such thing as too much study."
Harry just grinned at her. "I know my bushy haired bookworm, but still you need to take time to relax and enjoy. All we seem to have done is help you prepare for the Tri-Wizard tournament." explained Harry, before his eyes widened at what he had said. "Not that there's anything wrong with that or anything, you just need to relax sometimes or you'll burn out. And it's only the first week, the first task isn't for another few weeks."
Since the treacherous beginning of term and having her name entered into a potential life threatening tournament, Harry had begun to become more and more affectionate with Hermione, lavishing her with more and more attention. Hermione had never thought of a day when she had been so happy, except for maybe when she had found out she was a witch. It was as if she was living in a dream, one that she hoped never ended. Hermione was sure if she was written in a book, that she would of described the feeling as 'floating on clouds.' They shared a bond that only the closest of friends could ever have, one built on trust, friendship and communication. Words didn't need to be spoken sometimes either, just a look or a glance told all they needed to say to each other. But right now, she enjoyed being selfish and having Harry Potter to herself. Sometimes, Lord Voldemort's plans were kind of good. And sometimes, it really was nice to be selfish. Especially when she was the envy of all the eligible witches in Hogwarts. That the plain-jane bookworm Hermione Granger could be the witch that every one wanted to be. That she was the only witch that shared such a connection, such a bond with Harry.
"You look tired Harry" spoke Hermione, looking at the bags underneath his eyes.
Harry gave her a shrug. Truthfully, he hadn't slept very well the past few nights with a continuous nightmare appearing about watching Hermione die, Harry helpless to save her. Harry had poured himself even further into his studies with her and his own physical training in order to ensure that the nightmare he had seen would never happen. That he would protect Hermione with every last drop of blood in his body. Not that Hermione really needed it. She was extremely powerful and able to take care of herself, but Harry still worried. The extra knowledge of having no idea what the First Task would contain made Harry all the more nervous for her. But they both were determined to get through this together. That they would succeed this tournament. To fight, for their future.
Harry was brought out of his thoughts as Hermione patted her lap, her face scarlet red.
"You can uh...," spoke a rather embarrassed Hermione as she shifted to the edge of the couch. "J-Just rest here, I'll watch over you. Put your head in my lap and you can stretch out on the rest of the couch."
Harry could feel his face burning up as he got onto the couch and placed his head on her lap, the rest of his body stretching out across the couch. He peered up at Hermione's blushing face. He saw her rather embarrassed look and couldn't help himself with a bit of teasing. She looked far too cute for her own good, her brown hair cascading like a waterfall around her face.
"If you turn any redder, you could be mistaken for a tomato" teased Harry, a cheeky grin on his face.
"You're blushing as well" Hermione shot back quickly, as Harry chuckled.
She froze as Harry's head shifted in her lap, and he got more comfortable. Soon he settled, and seemed to go still having found a comfortable position. Unconsciously, Hermione's hand went down and began stroking Harry's hair as she turned back to her book to not get distracted by Harry's handsome face staring at her, lest she lose her courage. She bit her lip in concentration, continuing her ministrations. Stroking his hair, as well as Hermione's soft thighs as a pillow easily lulled Harry to sleep. When Hermione mustered the courage to glance back down several minutes later, she found Harry was fast asleep. Hermione couldn't help but give a happy smile at him.
"Sweet dreams Harry" she whispered, leaning down to peck his forehead.
The next hour or two saw many people from Gryffindor stare at the two and the intimate nature of the position, but not being one to disturb the slumbering Boy-Who-Lived and the bushy-haired guardian who read quietly. Ron had glared at Hermione and Harry once again as he strode by with Dean and Seamus. Hermione couldn't help but smirk at Ron's livid back. He was so immature. Harry shifted in his sleep, drawing Hermione's attention as she glanced down at him. He looked so innocent, quietly sleeping. Hermione loved these moments, where they could simply spend time with each other, doing little things together.
"Hermione..." Harry mumbled in his sleep. "So pretty..."
Hermione froze slightly, before smiling affectionately at her sleeping friend and going back to her book. Harry would awake several minutes later, and would wonder in confusion why Hermione had such a smug look on her face. Hermione would just pat his head gently, smiling at his confused face. Harry was so cute when he was confused.
Hermione stifled a yawn as she followed Harry through Hogwarts, heading towards the seventh floor. Harry had been eager to get going, and was already stretching in the common room. At such an ungodly hour, no one was awake. The entire castle was silent, which suited Harry just fine. Without much risk of getting caught, they briskly opened the portrait door and headed out.
"Dobby was the one who showed me this room, which is where I do all my training in the mornings" explained Harry as he glanced again at the Marauder's map, ensuring that they wouldn't cross paths with any residents up early.
"Harry, I don't really know about this," said Hermione, a hint of a whinge in her voice. "I don't really like exercise all that much."
Harry turned to look at her. He looked dashing, hair all rustled up from sleep and wearing a tight black t-shirt which showed the contours of his muscle, and the definition in his arms. Hermione wondered what Harry looked like shirtless, and quickly shook the thought away.
'Focus!' she thought.
"I know you don't," said Harry sympathetically, "but you are only as strong as your biggest weakness. And plus, the time I'm done with you, you'll be ready for anything this stupid tournament."
Harry's boyish reassuring grin improved Hermione's mood and thoughts on the exercise.
"Maybe it won't be so bad" she murmered.
Harry paced outside the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, before a door formed in the wall, Hermione's mouth opening in surprise.
Harry turned to wink at her. "Pretty cool huh?" he teased, before opening the wooden door and heading into the room.
Hermione followed him and gasped. It was like a huge gym, with a massive foam mat spanning half of the room, and on the other half of the room were a variety of benches and weights. It was like a whole new world for Hermione. Harry turned to Hermione, a sadistic smile on his face.
"Welcome to hell" he said dramatically.
"What did I get myself into...?"
"Oh Merlin" moaned Hermione, lying flat on her back on top of the soft mat, breathing heavily.
Harry gulped and quickly looked away from the rather provocative pose of his best friend spread eagled on her back, his traitorous eyes far too occupied with her chest, which he had been observing with a great deal of attention.
'Think best friend thoughts, best friend thoughts' he chanted in his mind, shutting his eyes tightly as to not be tempted.
It was hard not to be distracted by the bushy haired bookworm. Hermione wasn't the epitome of female physicality, but most definitely had huge pluses. She didn't have a massively developing chest like Lavender Brown or Susan Bones, nor did she have the flawless grace or long flowing hair of Daphne Greengrass. However, she had lovely shapely pale legs, which were revealed by her shorts, and was actually quite flexible, not to mention she most certainly was developing nicely in the upper chest department after some observation. She was blossoming into a woman, something Harry was very much aware of now, and her lips from Harry's one time experience he knew to be very soft and extremely kissable. It didn't help Harry's cause that Hermione had strands of hair escaping her ponytail and looked rather cute, in old white tennis shoes, a pink t-shirt and black shorts.
Harry had pushed Hermione hard this first session. While he had done more repetitions and duration of his exercises, Hermione was given no mercy. He pushed her to the very limit, and he felt pride as she pushed every last bit of energy she had into the exercises. Hermione knew that Harry only was trying to do the best for her, and so she had poured everything into the exercises. And she was paying for it could do nothing but breath heavily, completely exhausted. She was drenched in sweat, and her ponytail that she had put her hair in was no doubt loose and her hair hopelessly tangled. Yet she also felt a sense of accomplishment, and could also feel Harry's pride at her. Hermione slowly lifted her back off the mat provided by the room of requirement, looking at Harry who had a proud smile on his face. She glanced down where she lay, seeing the puddle of sweat slick on the mat and she wrinkled her nose in disgust. She turned her attention back to Harry, who was about to speak.
"Awesome work Hermione," he said, before closing his eyes and thinking.
'I need a room with two seperate showers' thought Harry.
Behind his eyelids, the room transformed, as two seperate rooms emerged from the floor. Harry grinned at Hermione's shocked look as she stared at the two rooms that weren't present before.
"Yeah, you can mould it even inside the room. That's why I instructed you to bring a spare set of clothes" said Harry, before picking up his bag and walking into one of the rooms.
Hermione slowly picked herself up, her muscles screaming in protest. A shower would be wonderful. She slowly hauled herself into the room, hoping that the shower would reduce the aches and pains she was already experiencing.
Harry chuckled at Hermione's exhausted look as she emerged from the shower. She was on her last legs, Harry feeling sympathetic to her.
"Come on then Hermy" grinned Harry as she frowned.
"If I wasn't so tired, I would hit you" she muttered angrily.
Harry walked over to her, catching her before she collapsed. "You really are tired my cute little bookworm" he whispered softly, too soft for her to hear.
Harry's eyes closed, and when they opened two seperate lush beds with ridiculously soft pillows appeared. Harry scooped Hermione off the ground, carrying her bridal style onto the bed. As he placed her gently on the bed, pulling back the blankets and tucking her in, she cupped his cheek softly, her eyes blurry with sleepiness.
"Don't go" she whispered.
Harry smiled, and kissed her forehead.
"I'll never leave you" whispered Harry reverently back.
The answer seemed to please Hermione, and her hand fell to her side, fast asleep. Harry decided he might as well get some shut eye, it would be a while until Hermione woke up.
Hermione groaned as she shifted in the bed. It was so warm and comfy that she couldn't help but let out a soft moan. But her need to use the bathroom, and some ridiculously tasty smelling food brought her to consciousness. Hermione opened her eyes, to see an elegant oak dining table set up, a feast waiting for her with two chairs. One was occupied by Harry, reading a book intently. Hermione smiled at the sight of him reading there. It was as if he belonged there. By her side. That they would always be together from now on. That through anything, thick and thin they could lean on each other, cling to each other and get through it. The Tri-wizard tournament had thrown a loop in both Harry and Hermione's plans to grow closer to each other, but it was working out for the best.
"Hungry?" asked Harry, as he noticed her and looked up, emerald eyes sparkling happily.
"Famished" replied Hermione, taking a seat and hungrily digging in.
Harry watched her with a grin. Hermione was ploughing into the food in the most unladylike manner.
"We'll try do this four times a week okay? Since Wednesday and Thursday aren't so full, we'll do wednesday, thursday, saturday and sunday" said Harry, and Hermione let out a small groan.
"What did I sign up for?" she moaned, looking at the roof for inspiration.
Harry just smiled knowingly from his seat. "Just wait until we start flying lessons."