Just a Little Twist – 3/6 – Duochanfan

Title: Just a Little Twist
Author: Duochanfan
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Pre-Relationship, Romance, Slash
Relationship(s): Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, Ron Weasley/Viktor Krum
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Major Character Death, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Discussions of Abuse, Murder, Torture. Murder. Character Death. Kidnapping.
Word Count: 166,650
Summary: Remus remembers to take the Wolfsbane potion before he heads off to confront Sirius and Peter Pettigrew. This one thing helps to give Harry something he had wished for in the dark days of living with the Dursley, a family. It all kicks off a ripple of events that take place over Harry’s Fourth and Fifth year that will change everything.
Artist: SpencnerTibbsLuvr



Chapter Thirty-One

“The twins are up to something,” Ron whispered to him as he pulled Harry towards the Great Hall.

“Oh?” he asked, as he grabbed Draco as they were rushing past.

Ron nodded, “yeah, they’ve made a plan to try and get them across the age line, so they’re going to do that now. I really need to watch the fallout,” he smirked, giving a chuckle as he thought of all that could go wrong with their plan.

“Oh, should be interesting, wonder what they came up with. They can think outside the box at times,” Draco murmured as the three of them walked quickly to the hall. Knowing that the twins would be there soon as well.

“Hermione’s been keeping an eye on the Goblet and noting down who has entered their name,” Harry said softly, “she’s been very critical of them all,” he warned.

“Yeah, I heard her having a go at Terence Higgs, telling him he had no chance of being chosen. That he wasn’t good enough and things like that. She’s really not out to make friends at all, is she?” Draco huffed, Ron and Harry, shaking their heads. He had no idea where the girl got the idea from that it was fine to not only back talk a Slytherin but someone in seventh year and a prefect.

“In,” Ron said, pushing the door open and the group walked in. Going down the benches towards the end, taking a seat, they could see Hermione sitting even closer to the Goblet as them. A piece of parchment beside her as she wrote down the name of another Ravenclaw seventh year that had entered.

The twins burst into the room, rushing towards the Goblet, each of them carrying a vial. “Well old chap,” Fred bowed to his brother.

George bowed back as he said, “Bottoms up,” he then grinned as the two of them down the vials as soon as they were standing up straight again. They waited a few moments before they went to the edge of the magic circle that was hovering above the floor. Looking at each other, they took a step over and waited for the magic to deem them of age. It looked like it had for a second, and as they started to celebrate the magic kicked in and the two of them were thrown across the room. Landing in a small heap.

“It didn’t work!” George muttered as he got up, “hey you got old!” he laughed as he saw the grey beard his twin was now sporting.

“So are you!” he yelled back, seeing the same on George.

The two looked down, laughing and then playfully arguing with each other over whose fault it was. Hermione stood up and went over to them, “Really, you really thought an ageing potion would work,” she snorted at them.

“You never know, sometimes a wizard doesn’t always think of the easiest thing to block,” Fred said, it had been a sound plan.

“He’s Albus Dumbledore, he would have thought of that,” she sneered a little.

“And you have a better idea?” George asked her, eyes narrowing a little as the twins turned to face.

“Why would I tell you anything,” she smirked at them, “You wouldn’t have done any good either, you pranks are stupid and childish. It’s not like you have the knowledge needed to get anywhere in life either,” she said turning around, her hair flouncing behind her as she went back to her chair.

“She seriously needs an attitude adjustment,” Fred and George mutated to each other.

Ron and the others nodded their head in agreement, “That she does,” he sighed as he watched some of the others put their name in. Angelina put her’s in, and he couldn’t help but cheer. Along with Cedric Diggory and Viktor Krum. Ron watched closely, shaking his head a moment when Viktor turned to glance at the three of them.

“No one is good enough for this,” Hermione muttered as she walked over to them again.

“That’s what you think, and it’s not up to you to choose someone,” Harry said, shaking his head at the audacity of the girl, “The Goblet will choose the one who is going to represent this school.”

“Hmm,” she hummed, “Maybe but they don’t stand a chance, I’ve been looking over the names and some of them do badly in their lessons. Not one of them has gotten all O’s,” she told them, “I investigated them all, well only the Hogwarts ones. I couldn’t access the records for the other school.”

“And what does that have to do with anything?” Draco asked her, frowning at the girl.

“A lot, when you think about it they’ll need good scores to do so, and they have to be good at all the spells,” she added, sitting down, glaring at the blond for even talking to her.

“If I entered my name,” she smirked, “then I know I would be chosen over the rabble. I might be younger than them, but you know I’m one of the smartest in this school, if not the smartest,” she added, sitting up straighter as she talked.

“You know, when I think about it, I don’t think you would be chosen,” Harry told her, his voice even, though he was trying to hold several words he really wanted to let loose.

“And why not, I’m the best in our class, in our year,” her hand thumped the table a little as she demanded an answer.

“Well,” Ron began, looking a little unsure if he should say anything.

“Well, speak up and then I can rip you to shreds about how wrong you really are,” she growled at him, leaning closer to him, as though she really was going to rip him apart, physically and not just verbally.

Draco looked at her, shaking his head, “You know, he’s right you wouldn’t be chosen. While you appear at the top of the school you’re not. You’re near the bottom of the top ten, and I know that Ron and Harry will start vying for that place soon enough. They are smart and you knew that which I suspect is really why you sabotaged them so much,” he told her.

“And what the hell would you know about anything?” she asked him, glaring, her hands curling into fists.

“A lot,” Draco told her, “I look at the school rankings a lot, And I’m third, with Padma Patel first, and Daphne Greengrass second. Harry and Ron, from what I’ve seen, were 9 and 10 in the first three months of school but dropped to below 20 after you became their friend. You hovered around 7 and 8th for a while, but now you’re a solid nine at best, sometimes you’ll drop to tenth. But that’s usually around the exams at the end of the year,” he answered her.

“Th-”

“That is possible,” Ron nodded, “You’re not the smartest in the world Hermione, you’re a kid, just like us that’s trying to learn what you can,” he pointed out to her.

“I’m better than you,” she told him, this time she didn’t bother to play down her own intelligence at all.

“You think it, but your book smarts, you can read something, take it in, but you can’t put it in your own words correctly. I know you have trouble with that, most of the work on your essay is almost verbatim from the books,” Harry told her, “McGonagall has told you about that several times in the past,” he added quietly.

“And I listened and am a lot better now,” she protested, “I know what I need to do to get the best grades,” she said, “That’s all I-”

“Well, I’ve noticed that when you’re done with the lesson, you don’t show up to the practice rooms with Ron and Harry. I’ve seen them there a lot, but not once have you been there. And you have to sign in, I’ve never seen your name on there, as I do go through them to see which students are working on their spellcasting,” Draco told her.

“I don’t need to do it more than once, and I always get it first, so that doesn’t matter!” she yelled at him. “Why would you need to keep working on a spell once you have it down,” she rolled her eyes, huffing as she leaned back, glaring at the three.

“To master a spell can take weeks, months or even years,” Harry told her, “I still have trouble making sure that my levitation charm isn’t overpowered half the time,” he added.

“Yeah, the ceiling still has a dent in it from the table you levitated last time,” Ron grinned at him.

“You don’t practice, you may have book smarts, but that’s all you have. You have no substance behind you which is why you tend to drop at the end of the year. Your schoolwork, homework are good, but as soon as it comes to the practical side of the exams, you fail more often than not,” Draco told her.

“You know more spells, but you don’t really practice them either,” Harry said, “The unlocking spell, you know it, and with force, you’ve made it work twice. But I’ve seen you try to use it occasionally to get into your own bag that you keep locked and you’ve failed to cast it several times in a row because you need to practice it more,” he added, pointing out one of the spells she learned outside of the curriculum.

“And yet you fail all the time in class,” Hermione glared at her friends, though how much longer she would call them for, she didn’t know. As they had been snapping at her since the summer.

“We may fail, but we still practice more than you to get them right and to make sure that we master them enough that we can use them at a drop of a hat instead of failing a dozen times before getting it right,” Harry sighed, “I think I’m going to head to the practice room, I need to practice the bombarda spell today.”

“Think I’ll join you,” Ron nodded, he and Draco getting up from the bench and headed towards the door.

“Hey, I’m n-” Hermione yelled after them, about to get up and follow them.

Harry turned to face her, glaring, “No, you can stay here, and pretend that you’re better than everyone else when in reality you have an ego so big I’m surprised there’s any room in that head of yours to even know anything.”

Ron and Draco snorted at that, “Surprised there’s any room in the dorm either,” Ron sniggered as they walked out, “Oh, let’s talk with McGonagall as well,” he added, seeing the witch entering the Great Hall.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded seeing Draco’s confused look. The brunette took his hand and pulled him as they headed over to their Professor.

“Professor!” Ron called out, “sorry,” he said, “for disturbing you, but I want to talk to you about something important,” he added.

“Of course Mr Weasley, follow me,” she said as he headed towards the side room, where they would be able to talk more privately. “What do you need?” she asked as soon as the door closed.

“We don’t want the girls to be allowed in our dorm rooms. We can’t go into theirs so why are they allowed to just burst into ours when they feel like it? Hermione keeps doing it, and has caught us at… bad times when we are changing a few times. The others are all sick of it as well,” Ron told her.

“Yes, I’ll sort that immediately, that is very improper,” she straightened herself up, “I’ll make sure that none can do it again.”

“Thank you, I just don’t think it’s fair, nor right that they can do that, and we can’t,” Harry said, “it’s also very rude, she just bursts in all the time, we’ve started to go to the bathroom to change and that because we never know when she’ll come in.”

“I shall be having words with her behaviour about it,” she told him, nodding to the three of them, she still gave Draco a little odd look as she walked past, finding it a little different to see the blond Slytherin with them. The year before there had been such animosity between them all. But it was a good change, the air in the school seemed lighter with the change.

“Thank you,” Ron and Harry said, as the three of them then left the room heading towards the library where they were going to meet with Luna for a bit.

Chapter Thirty-Two

“Can’t believe it’s here already,” Ron muttered as he and the other Gryffindor boys headed down to the Great Hall. It was time for the Drawing of Names and they were all excited for who might be chosen out of the sixth and seventh years that had entered their names in.

“Well, what do you expect,” Draco said as he came up behind them, smirking when they all jumped.

“Draco!” Harry huffed at him, punching him lightly on the shoulder.

Draco just grinned, “come on, we want good seats don’t we, since we don’t have to sit in our houses this time.”

Ron nodded, “yeah,” and with that, the group quickly headed into the Great Hall.

“Over here!” Ginny yelled out, she was sitting in the front row, a row of seats beside her.

Nevile walked over and sat down, he had been talking to her a little more after she asked him for help in Herbology at the start of the year, “Thanks,” he smiled at her.

The others all sat down with Draco and Ron sitting either side of Harry as Seamus and Dean took the far side of the seats available. “Wonder who’s going to be chosen,” Seamus muttered.

“Hey!” came an annoying voice

Ron and Harry glanced at each other before looking at Hermione as she stomped over to them, “What?” Ron asked her, keeping his tone neutral for now.

“Seamus, Dean, move down!” she demanded as she glared at the other two that were in the seat she should be in since she was their friend.

“We’re not moving, find somewhere else,” Seamus stood up for himself, seeing that Harry and Ron were doing the same thing recently. It had helped strengthen the other Gryffindors into standing up to the annoying girl.

“Ho-” she began, growling a little, “They’re my friends, I want to sit by them.”

“At the moment Hermione you’re making it difficult to want to be your friend with the way you’ve been treating everyone since we all found out about you trying to sabotage Ron and Harry’s work,” Neville said from where he was sat with Ginny.

Hermione turned to him, “they are my friends Neville, fine, you can move then, Though I think that blond bastard should move as well, he is stinking up the air and fouling it with his presence,” she snarked as she glared at Draco.

“I think we would rather Draco be here than a woman who thinks it’s okay to betray her friends,” Neville told her voice level as he looked at the woman.

“I didn’t” she protested though it was beginning to sound weak to their ears.

“Then what the hell do you call what you did? You betrayed the trust Ron and I had in you, and then you continue to piss us all off with the way you’ve been acting towards Draco, who we’ve made friends with. Instead-” Harry was cut off by Hermione’s sharp yell.

“He isn’t mine, he treated us horribly for years and you go and be best friends with him!” she hissed.

“And I never asked you to be friends with him, you don’t have to talk to him, all I asked for was for you to be civil. Not to say anything,” Harry told her, eyes narrowing irritated by her continued presence.

“How could I even tolerate such a toad being around me and my friends,” she said as she then turned and stomped away, taking a seat even further away from them.

“Well, at least she’s gone,” Ron snorted, as he shared a smile with his friends.

The others laughed as the hall finished filling up. Dumbledore walked to the middle of the room and with his typical dramatic flare, he dimmed the flames around the hall to dim the lights. The crowd quietened even further as the aged wizard approached the Goblet of Fire that stood in the middle of the Great Hall. The blue flames turned a bright flash of red for a moment as a piece of parchment was released.

“The Durmstrang Champion is Viktor Krum!” he yelled out as he read out the name.

With a fist pump and a smirk, as he was congratulated by his fellow Drmstrnag students, he got up. Walking over to Dumbledore he was quickly shown to where he would have to wait while the other two champions were chosen.

Dumbledore turned to the Goblet of Fire once more as it flashed red flames and a second piece of parchment was spat out. Reaching up he caught the delectate looking parchment. “The Champion of Beauxbatons is Fleur Delacour!” he called out.

With a happy and proud smile on her face, she nodded to her fellow students as they clapped and stood. Walking towards the Headmaster, she was directed towards the side room as well.

The flames turned red once more as the third and final champion was chosen. Dumbledore caught the parchment and with a grin he spoke, “The Hogwarts Champion is Cedric Diggory!”

Cedric grinned as he was clapped on the back as Hogwarts erupted in cheers. The Hufflepuff stood and was quickly directed where to go as Dumbledore turned around to face the crowds, “Excellent!” he yelled out, “we now have our three champions!” he grinned as Barty Crouch walked towards the teacher’s table. “But only one will go down in history, of winning, the Triwizard Cup!” he yelled out, pointing towards the cup as the cloth covering it was whipped off.

As he finished, the Headmaster noticed that no one was paying attention to the cup, but was looking behind him. He turned, paling as he saw the blue flames of the Goblet of Fire, which should have gone out, it looked like they were out of control, flaring away from the goblet itself and towards the crowds that were looking at it. The flames turned red once more, but instead of the calm fire, this was wild. The flames leapt around the Goblet as they then shot up into the air, another piece of parchment being sent out. It fluttered down, the half-torn piece was caught in Dumbeldore’s gasp as he read what was on there.

He was silent for a moment before he said, “Harry Potter,” there was no cheer, nothing but silence greeted them.

Harry leaned back in his seat, shaking his head as Dumbeldore called him again.

“You have to go, we’ll sort it,” Draco told him, hoping his words were true and that they would be able to get him out of this.

Ron looked at him, and rolling his eyes as to how reluctant Harry was, gave his friend a push, “We’ll wait around for you, promise,” he nodded at him.

Harry almost fell to the floor as he got to his feet and to the silence in the hall he walked towards Dumbledore and was pointed to the room where the other champions were waiting. He could feel the glares of the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. The looks of disapproval from the teachers and the students of the other schools as he entered the room.

“Harry?” Cedric asked, puzzled as to why the fourth year had walked into the room, “What’s happened?” he prodded, seeing the shell shocked look on the younger wizard’s face.

“This is unbelievable!” cried Ludo Bagman as he barged into the room not seconds later as Harry had walked over to a corner, wishing to be alone. “We have a fourth Champion!”

“What?!” the three champions cried, all looking towards Harry.

“Harry,” Dumbledore called him. Harry glanced up as Dumbeldore continued, “Did you put your name into the Goblet?” he asked him, placing a hand on the teenager’s shoulder.

Harry shook his head, “No sir.”

“He’s lying!” Kakoroff yelled out as the Headteachers and the others began to argue.

Harry said nothing as he looked around, still shaking at the thought of having to compete, “I wanted a quiet year for once,” he muttered under his breath, not knowing that Cedric had heard him.

“You really didn’t put your name in,” Cedrc said coming up behind him.

Harry turned around, shaking his head, “I wouldn’t, I don’t want glory or fame. I have enough of that shit, I just… I just want to be Harry,” he murmured, “just another face in the crowd.”

“Okay,” Cedric nodded, “I’ll believe you.”

Harry gave him a shaky smile, “Thanks, I’m sorry I ruined this for you, and the others. I just hope that I can get out of this,” he said as she looked towards the adults that were still arguing about whether or not he had to compete.

“He has no choice!” Barty Crouch yelled out, silencing the others in the room.

“Then it is settled,” Ludo Bagman agreed as the adults then walked over towards the two Hogwarts champions that had separated from the others.

“Harry Potter will compete in the Triwizard Tournament, he is under a contract to do so,” Barty Crouch said, a touch of finality in his voice as Headmaster Kakoroff and Madam Maxine tried to protest as they had done for the last few minutes.

“He is a little boy,” Flure Delacour mocked, glancing at the small fourth year.

Harry wondered if he should feel offended, but in the end, he didn’t care. He was an underage wizard after all, and while he might not be a ‘little boy’ he was still young. He looked away from her, not liking the way she was looking at him, like he was something she had stepped in.

“If Harry said he didn’t put his name in, then I believe him, does he really have to compete if he’s not willing?” Cedric said, placing a hand on the younger students shoulder, giving him that little reassurance that he was on his side.

“There is no alternative, Harry Potter’s name came out of the Goblet of Fire, he’ll have to compete. As soon as his name came out it signalled a magically binding contract that he would have to participate in five things of the tournament, The Weighing of the Wands, the three tasks and the Yule Ball,” Barty Crouch told him, his voice harsh, already sick of saying the same thing to the adults in the room.

“So in other words, he could lose his magic if he doesn’t,” Cedric sighed heavily. Looking at Harry who had paled at his words, “ It’s okay Harry,” he murmured to him, rubbing his shoulder and subtly trying to comfort the younger wizard.

Harry nodded, already dreading how the school was going to react. He already had a feel for how it would be when he had walked out of the Great Hall. The stares and glares aimed at him.

“Right,” Ludi Bagman grinned, “Gather round all Champions.”

The three true champions walked towards him. With Cedric grabbing Harry and pulling him along so that he would be there as well.

“The first task is to test your bravery, it will take place on the 24th of November. So prepare well,” he told them all as he then sent them out of the room as the two visiting Headmasters once more began to argue with Barty Crouch about Harry’s admittance into the tournament.

As he walked out of the room and into the hallway he could see Ron and Draco waiting for him, Professor Flitwick standing nearby, the two of them were talking. It was almost curfew. Draco spotted him first and rushed over.

“You okay?” he asked him, seeing the paleness on Harry’s face.

“I’ve got no choice but to compete,” he answered, as Ron joined them.

“Then we’ll do all we can to help,” Draco promised as Ron nodded in agreement.

“Course,” Ron told him, patting his friend on the shoulder.

“Thank you,” Harry murmured as Professor Flitwick walked over.

“Time for you all to head to your dorms, there will be plenty of time to talk tomorrow.”

With a nod to him, the three split up and headed to their own dorms. Harry and Ron wondered what would greet them as they headed towards Gryffindor Tower.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Harry gave the Fat Lady the password and the portrait opened up. Walking in he could hear yelling, the familiar scratch echoing out of the common room. Harry closed his eyes before taking a breath and with Ron, they shared their shoulders and walked into the Lion’s Den.

“Seriously, why the hell would they Chose Harry, no one would!” Hermine yelled to those that were around.

Nevile, Dean and Seamus turned to the entrance as it opened seeing Harry walk in. Before they could even say anything to greet the two. Hermione was over there, grabbing Harry and pulling him into the middle of the room.

“Harry Potter!”” she yelled at him, reminiscent of a Molly Weasley Howler, “How dare you ruin things for people again. Why would you go and put your name in the Goblet!” she scratched at him.

“I didn’t,” Harry protested, keeping his voice mild, “you should know me, Hermione. Why would I do something like that!” shaking his head at her.

“You cheated, you… you always do things like this,” she complained as she began to pace, “honestly, it’s not like you would be a good champion, you would be bad at it, you don’t know the school work, the spells or anything, you’re mediocre. Now, I think I would have been a better choice than you. You just… well… A little dumb,” she said as he looked at him, giving him a smile as though she was trying to be gentle in her words.

“What the fuck Hermione!” Ron yells at her, “Where the hell did you come up with that shit, you may be a bit more logical than some, but you’re not smarter, you’re not powerful. Harry is ten times better than you at the spell work, as he actually practices like everyone else in this school. You however just think doing it once is good enough, or have you never heard the saying ‘Practice makes Perfect!’’ he yelled at her again, face going a bit red.

“It’s because I am perfect that I don’t need to practice,” she hissed back at him, ready to go all out in a screaming match with the redhead.

“Really, really, okay then,” he sneered at her, really pissed off. He stormed over to one of the few bookcases in the room and grabbed a book that was on it, it was a heavy one. He lugged it over to a table and slammed it down. Making most of the other students in the room jump at the sudden noise. “Levitate that and move it around the perimeter of the room before lowering it gently back to the table!” he demanded of her. Knowing that the girl had only used the spell in lesson perfectly once and had not used it once since then.

Hermione boasted as she flicked her hair behind her and sauntered over to the table, pulling out her wand, “Wingardium Leviosa,” she said, enunciating her words correctly as he got down the swish and flick. The book wobbled on the desk but didn’t rise. She frowned, “bu-”

“But nothing, you haven’t practised it so you wouldn’t know how to control your magic enough to make it happen,” Ron rolled his eyes at her and then he looked around, seeing a younger student he recognized, “Dennis, can you do as I asked?”

Dennis looked around, seeing the encouraging looks from the others, he gave a shaky nod and stood up, going over to the desk and saying carefully, “Wingardium Leviosa,” and with a swish and flick. The book slowly rose and using his wand to direct it he went around the edge of the room, receiving a number of claps from his fellow Gryffindors. He made his way back to the dest and slowly levitated the book down onto the table.

“Now that is what you call Practice makes Perfect, you did brilliantly Dennis,” Ron grinned at him, clapping him on the shoulder as the first year grinned up at him.

“I’ve been practising every day since we learned it,” Dennis said softly.

“Good, now you see Hermione,” Ron smirked as he turned to the witch, “That is why you should have practised, that is why you aren’t better than any other student here,” he told her.

Hermione was silent, a flush of embarrassment on her face before she shook her head, “That’s, that’s beside the point,” she yelled as she pointed towards Harry. “He cheated to get his name into the Goblet of Fire!”

“I didn’t Hermione,” Harry protested his innocence once more, “I don’t want to take part in this thing. All I want in one quiet year!”

“Yeah right, like any of us would believe you. You always want the attention on you,” Hermione sneered at him, “I’m your friend Harry, I know how you think, remember!”

“No, you don’t!” Ron yelled back before Harry could even say a word, “If you were really Harry’s friend you would know that he doesn’t want to take part. That he hates his fame, hates the stares he gets when he goes out in public or anything like that!”

“He’s right,” Neville said softly from where he was standing with Ginny, Seamus and Dean.

“Harry doesn’t like attention,” Seamus said, “No matter what’s going on he’s always trying to fade into the background,” he added.

“I stand by Harry,” Dean said, as he and a number of others walked over to him and Ron.

“Same,” said the quidditch team as they walked over and stood beside him as well.

“Harry didn’t put his name in the Goblet of Fire,” Ron said softly as Hermione once more tried to protest only for someone behind him to shoot a spell at her. With an angry look, the bushy-haired witch huffed off to her dorm.

“With the way the last few years have gone, I think it’s another plot to try and kill you,” Dean snorted from behind.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh. “How the hell can you laugh about this?” Angelena asked from behind.

“Because if I don’t…” he trailed off and the older teenager got it and nodded.

“Right, bed, Samhain is tomorrow, and I know most of us are taking part in the celebrations tomorrow night, we all need a good night’s sleep,” Katie said after a few more minutes of talking between the students. With that most of the students headed to bed, Harry wanted to be left alone for a while, they had classes still in the morning. Though the afternoon classes had been cancelled for the celebrations.

XxXxX

Draco came up behind Harry and Ron as they walked towards the doors leading out of Hogwarts and to the field that had been set aside for tonight’s celebration. “Looking forward to this?” he asked, patting the two on the shoulder, among them jumping.

“You have seriously gotta stop doing that!” Ron yelled out, eyes wide as he turned to face the now laughing teen.

“And miss out on these reactions from the two of you, I really don’t think so Ronald,” he grinned.

“Please never call me that again, I hate the name,” Ron muttered.

Draco looked at him, “Why?”

“Because a full name is only used when someone is in trouble,” Harry told him.

“Mum calls me that whenever she thinks I’ve done something wrong, even when I haven’t,” Ron mumbled.

“Hmm,” he nodded, patting Ron on the shoulder, “yeah, I can see that. My mother will call me Draconis when I’m in trouble,” he added as they pulled their cloaks tighter around them as they walked out into the frigid air.

“I can’t believe you’re all doing this,” came Hermione’s voice as she stopped some first years, “You’re all Muggleborns, shouldn’t you be against this?!” she exclaimed.

“And miss out on seeing what the Wizarding World is truly like,” Dennis said, sticking up for his choices. “I want to take part in them. I’m going to take part, along with everyone else.”

“Granger,” Draco said before she could start again, “This is something personal to those involved. Don’t try and take this away from them. This is their chance to see what being part of this world is really about, to be able to be part of the true magic this world holds.”

“Ugh, I’ve spent hours trying to tell you all how archaic these views are, there is no need to even do such things,” she muttered. She had been laughed at and ridiculed for her view a number of times from the Muggleborns and Halfbloods that already knew about the traditions of the Wizarding World. With one last huff, she walked off muting about the weather being too cold.

“Let’s go,” Draco said as he led the way. “Right, you both remember what the Professor told you about this one?” he asked the two of them.

Harry nodded, “Yeah, think of those that you wish to see as you pull your magic inwards and push it to the candle to light it,” he said as he was handed a candle. It felt a little unusual in his grasp. A pull to it, “Wha-?”

“It’s fine, it’s the magic of the candle, it helps pull the spirit you wish to talk to towards you,” Draco reassures him. “Now let’s go find a place to settle,” he added, leading the way and finding a small clearing, the mats that had been put down still empty, though they were quickly filling up.

Harry settled down, sitting cross-legged as he did. He looked around, as those candles were suddenly lighting up. Closing his eyes, he thought of his parents. And with a pull and push of his magic, he felt the heat from the flame appear.

Blinking he found himself in a home, it felt warm and welcoming. Arms going around him and he knew, “Mum.”

“That’s right,” she murmured in his eyes.

“I’m here too,” said a male voice as a hand messed up his hair.

“Dad,” Harry said before he burst into tears.

It took Harry a few moments to calm down as he then started to tell his parents as much as he could. Not sure how long he would have with them. For what seemed like a lifetime and all too short at once, they finally stopped him talking.

“It’s time for you to go back now Harry,” Lily said, a soft smile on her face.

“We’re so proud of you, and we love you so much, tell Padfoot and Moony they better take good care of you,” James told him.

“Love you both,” Harry said, wanting to cling to them, but knowing he wouldn’t be able to stay.

“And we love you,” Lily said, smiling at him as the two of them hugged him tightly.

Harry could feel the moment he was back at Hogwarts as their arms were no longer around him. Opening his eyes, he felt a flash of pain going through his heart, wishing that he could remain with them. He saw Draco and Ron move closer to him, knowing what was going through his head.

“It’s okay Harry,” Ron said, though it felt silly to say such a thing. When really it would never be okay.

“We’re here with you,” Draco said as he wrapped his arms around him.

Harry nodded, letting himself lean on his friends for a while. Tears slipping from his eyes as he grieved for parents he had never got to really know. As the tears dried up, hey got up to head to the feast that was being held. The students of Hogwarts gather with the visiting students. Who had been happily surprised to find out that they didn’t have to put aside their celebrations.

“Are you going to be okay?” Ron asked him.

Harry nodded as they sat down at the Gryffindor table, already missing Draco’s presence as he had gone to his own House table. “I will,” he murmured, “though I feel lighter,” he added quietly.

Ron nodded, “Seeing your parents helped put things to rest I bet,” he told him.

“Yeah, I knew they loved me in my head, but, now I know it in my heart as well,” he smiled weakly as the feast began after a small announcement from Dumbledore.

“Yeah,” Ron grinned at him, happy for his friend as he pulled food onto his plate, making sure Harry took some as well before passing it down to Dean. The feast was light and happy, with people smiling and laughing more than usual. The ability to see a loved one, to talk to them again, lighting in the smile on peoples faces.

Chapter Thirty-Four

A few days after the drawing of names, most people had finally left him alone. Though that was only after Cedric had helped him out when a few of the Hufflepuffs that had cornered him when he was alone began bullying him. He was grateful for his fellow seekers’ help. Sitting down, slowly eating his breakfast, he glanced around. Ron was beside him, with Neville on the other. Draco hadn’t arrived yet. As he would normally come and sit at Harry’s side, often moving Neville out the way.

“Harry!” Ron said, jolting Harry out of his musings, pointing towards a beautiful Eagle Owl that was heading their way.

Harry looks up only for the owl to fly towards him, a package tied to their leg as they land gracefully on the table in front of him. “For me?” he asked, blinking, it’s not often he gets anything during the morning mail. Though that was changing with the letters that Sirius and Remus were sending him almost every other day of the last two weeks. The owl bobbed its head, blinking at him and hooting. Harry reaches out and takes the package and letter that was attached. Harry opened the letter first.

Dearest Harry

Over the last few months of getting to know the type of person you are, I can’t help but realise that what I feel for you is more than friendship. I don’t know if it is love, but you mean so much to me already. This is my letter, along with a gift to ask if you would allow my courtship. Your Guardian Sirius Black has agreed to my sending of this letter. Now it is up to you if you wish to accept. If you do, please wear the gift I have sent you. If not, then you do not need to wear it.

I hope for a favourable answer, but as always the choice is yours.

Draco Malfoy

Harry blinked as he finished reading. He glanced around, finally seeing Draco at the edge of the room, near the door. He looked towards the package and opened it. Inside was a beautiful cuff bracelet. Harry knew from their traditional lessons that, like the one a female would get, the simple cloud design on the bracelet would change as their feelings and relationship grew. As soon as it was put in it would be linked to their magic.

“Is that?” Ron asked as he saw the Cuff.

Harry nodded, “A Courtship Cuff Bracelet,” he murmured reverently, almost scared to even take it out of its box.

“Really,” Hermione muttered from where she was sitting a couple of seats away, “I can’t believe you would all go gaga over such an archaic thing.”

“Hermione,” Ron said but felt a hand on his arm.

“Don’t even bother, there’s no point trying to get through to her,” Harry told him. Ron nodded and refrained from saying anything more.

“Are you going to accept?” Neville asked him quietly.

“Yeah,” Harry said, a soft smile on his face as he lifted the cuff from the pillow it was resting on and carefully put it on his left wrist, it was to go on the wrist opposite his wand arm. He looked up, to where he had last seen Draco and smiled at him. The slightly older teenager wore a large happy smile on his face. To those that weren’t around the Slytherin much, it looked odd on his face. But to those that knew him, it suited him well.

Draco walked over and sat down, “Sorry it took me a while to be here, I wanted to give you a chance to think it over without me here,” he said, smiling at Harry, glancing down at the cuff that now rested on his wrist.

“That’s fine,” Harry grinned as he traced a finger over the cloud patterns.

“Since it’s the weekend and we’ve got permission to go to Hogsmeade this weekend, I hope it’s okay that we have our first date?” he asked him, feeling a blush on his face as he noticed that everyone was watching the two of them.

“Really?” Harry perked up a little more.

Draco nodded, “Yes, though you know that someone will chaperone us for the day,” he added, reminding the younger teenager what would be happening.

Harry smiled, “I know, who… who will be chaperoning us?” he asked, curiously.

“Well, I asked Sirius, I thought you would be more comfortable knowing he was there,” he answered him, a soft smile on his face.

“That’s fine with me,” Harry chuckled lightly, eyes alight.

Draco smiled back as they finally got around to eating their breakfast, all of them ignoring the mutterings coming from Hermione.

XxXxX

Sirius watched as Draco and Harry began to head back to Hogwarts, a smile on his face as he thought of all he had witnessed during their first date. Harry had looked so happy, a smile was on his face all the time as Draco took him around Hogsmeade. When they stopped for a meal, Sirius had taken a table away from theirs so he could watch and chaperone without being nosy on what they were speaking about. Privacy was needed after all, and he knew he could trust the two of them to keep to tradition on things. Draco had been brought up on them after all, and Harry, he was learning the ins and out of it all, but still had a good head on his shoulders.

Harry turned, waving one last time to Sirius, “Thank you, Sirius!”

“Welcome Bambi, Draco,” he smiled at the two of them as he then left.

Draco kept hold of Harry’s hand as they walked back into the castle. “Did you have fun?” he asked him, feeling nervous, even though Harry was smiling and happy.

“Yeah,” he grinned, “It was really nice, the walk around, just… having fun and talking. The meal was delicious. How come I’ve never seen that restaurant before?” he asked as he looked to Draco.

“Well, it is on the outskirts of Hogsmead, so most don’t go that far,” Draco points out, “I found it last year by accident. Not many of the students go there since it’s far away from Zonkos and Honeydukes,” he finished softly.

Harry nodded, “It’s really nice there, I enjoyed it,” he spoke softly, almost shyly as he glanced towards Draco as they walked through the hallways and towards the Great Hall.

“So!” Ron yelled as he rushed up behind the new couple, “How was it?” he asked them as they walked closer to the Gryffindor table.

“It was brilliant Ron,” Harry gushed as he began to tell his friend what they did. Go on about walking around, the street food they had as well as their meal at the restaurant.

Ron watched how his friend’s eyes lit up as he talked, he glanced over to Draco and nodded to him. “Sounds like you had a lot of fun,” he told him as they sat down. Draco sat beside Harry as he shifted a bit closer to Draco.

“Yeah, it was,” he said, glancing over at Draco before a small blush appeared on his face. Harry talked a little more about his date, Draco adding a few things in, but Ron and those around them could see the pleased look on his face that things had gone well.

An hour later and the night was getting late, curfew was upon them. Harry got up, and quickly hugged Draco tightly, saying thank you once more before he and Ron headed to the Gryffindor dorm. Ron could help but laugh quietly as he watched Harry walk, he was twirling around occasionally, obviously over the moon and happy with dating Draco.

“You know,” Ron said as they reached the Fat Lady, “Never thought this would ever happen,” he told him, meaning Draco.

“I know, I didn’t either,” he grinned, quickly giving the password and entering the dorm.

“I’m glad you’re happy about it,” Ron told him, patting him on the shoulder as they made their way over to the sofa and sat down in front of the fire.

“Yeah, I-” he began only to be cut off by a scoff behind them.

“I still can’t believe you’re going anywhere near him,” Hermione huffed as she walked around and sat down in the armchair near them.

“Draco isn’t the same person he was a year ago, he’s made amends to people, apologised and we’re moving on,” Ron told her, Harry nodding in agreement.

“He’s just going to hurt you, and doing it this way, well there is a lot that can go wrong with something so archaic,” Hermione rolled her eyes at him, not even bothering to respond to the redhead. “He’s most likely just doing it to get you alone and take you to his father,” she spat out, trying to warn the two of them to be careful.

“He isn’t like that. He only did what he did to protect his mother, as anyone would do. His father and grandfather are of the same type of mind, both twats,” Ron snorted as he remembered the way that Draco would talk about the two of them when he went on a rant.

“Then why the hell didn’t he do something before!” Hermione yelled at him, it was something that she was pissed about. To her, there was no good reason why Malfoy should act like he did just because his father told him to. It just wasn’t right, it would never happen. Should never happen, a person was their own person after all.

“You don’t understand Hermione,” Ron muttered, shaking his head, “The Malfoy family are an old one, they conform to how the eldest in the family would behave, if they step out of line or don’t tie it, then it’s disownment. And yes, they would be left on the streets. No child wants to be alone, so they listen.”

“So why the change just because Sirius Black took over the Black Lordship?” she questioned.

“Because while the oldest has the say, if someone marries into the family with a higher standing then it’s their family that is followed, not the other. The Blacks are higher in the Class standing, but when the last of the Lord’s died, it went back to the Malfoy family ways, and not the Blacks,” Ron explained, “Look, this is something that you’ll hear in tradition, then you’ll understand it better,” he muttered, not really believing that she would.

“Really, that’s… that’s so stupid!” she yelled out, “Why would they follow that, in the Muggle Wo-”

“But you’re not in the Muggle World,” Ron interrupted her, “you’re in the Magical World. Things are different and magic is involved in everything we do. Magic dictates a lot of how we run our lives. Throw what you know of the Muggle World out, because it doesn’t belong here,” he ranted back at her, “yes you love the Muggle World, and while it is fascinating and that, and I would love to see more of it, it’s not the world I belong to. I grew up here, things are around for reasons that some of us don’t even understand anymore. The traditions we have deeper meanings to them that most of us will ever know. And you, you’re pissing all over them all the time with your close-mindedness,” he finished, shaking as he stood up and stormed towards the bedrooms.

“Ronald Weasley don’t you walk away from me!” Hermione yelled as she and then Harry got up to follow Ron. Harry rushed before her as the two of them went up the stairs to the boy’s dormitories.

When Hermione reached halfway up the stairs, the stairs changed, much as they did with the Girls. And Hermione slid down, cursing.

“Good,” Ron huffed, “She does my head in,” he muttered.

Harry nodded, “Yeah, guess Professor McGonagall came through for us,” he couldn’t help the smile on his face as he looked to his friend, “Thanks though,” he added.

“Dad was explaining it all during the summer, and so did Sirius as well when I was acting like a jealous prat,,” he told him as they headed to their dorm room and got ready for bed.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Harry glanced around, a frown on his face as he wondered where his friend was. With a huff, he looked at Draco And Neville as they began to head out of Hogwarts and towards Herbology. It would be their first class of the day, and Ron had darted off before breakfast had even finished. Not saying a word to anyone as soon as he received a letter.

“Wonder where he went?” Draco questioned as he glanced around as soon as they got outside.

“No idea,” Harry huffed, “Wish he would have told me at least,” he muttered.

“Harry!” Came a yell from the side of them. Running towards them as fast as he could was Ron.

“Well, now you can ask,” Draco snorted, shaking his head as he then noticed how pale Ron was looking.

“Where have you been?” Harry asked him, concerned about how pale his friend was. Grabbing onto his arm.

“My brother, he’s here, Charlie,” he said, breath coming in short panicked gasps.

“Is everything all right with your family?” Draco asked, not thinking of any other reason why Charlie Weasley would be at Hogwarts.

Ron shook his head, “he’s here because of work,” he said, eyes locking on Harry as he tried to get the other to realise what he was saying.

“Oh, oh shit!” Harry cursed, nodding, “I get it, I get it, fuck,” he said, voice shaking.

“What the hell is going on?” Draco asked the two of them as he and Neville looked confused.

“My brother is a dragon keeper over in Romania,” Ron answered him softly, making sure to keep his voice down.

“If he’s here for work, then the next task is to do with a dragon,” Harry added, getting a nod from Ron.

“Harry I saw them there are four of them, I don’t know what you have to do, but Harry, Charlie still gets burnt when he works, so…” Ron said, feeling that tendril of fear go through him as he thought of his friend having to face a dragon of all things.

“We should tell the other champions as well, it wouldn’t be fair if only I knew of what was going to happen,” Harry said softly as they began to head towards Herbology.

“I heard Hagrid tell Charlie that he’s having a date with Madam Maxime, so she’ll see them and tell Fleur Delacour. No doubt Kakaroff will also be looking around for what is going to happen in the tournament,” Ron said, as he began to think of what Harry should do.

“Cedric would be the only one that wouldn’t know,” Harry told them, “We should still go around and make sure that they all know.”

“All right,” Draco sighed, shaking his head at the loss of an advantage over the other champions. But he knew that Harry was different from him, Draco would take that advantage, but Harry, Harry would make sure the field was level, and he would help the others.

Harry smiled at him as they headed inside the herbology greenhouse. It isn’t until Lunchtime that the reality of what he had been told hits him. Stopping just outside the great hall he freezes. “Dragons,” he murmured, eyes going wide as Ron and Draco stopped either side of him.

“Wondered when this would happen,” Ron muttered as he grabbed Harry and pulled him away, to one of the unused rooms near the great hall. Draco following.

“What do you mean?” Draco hissed, eyes wide as Harry started to panic.

“I’m facing dragons, dragons!” Harry almost yelled as he looked at Ron and Draco with a look of helplessness on his face.

“Harry, we’re here for you, and you know we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that you’ll be just fine. I don’t know what they have planned, but you have us,” Ron said, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder and glaring at Draco to say or do something to help.

Draco quickly moved forwards, wrapping his arms around Harry, seeing the smile on Ron’s face as he did so. “We’re here, you’re going to be just fine. You’ve got us to help you figure everything out. I’ve no doubt that Sirius and Remus would be able to help as well. My mother too,” he told him, reassuring him as Ron carried on doing the same.

“Yeah, I can ask Sirius for help,” Harry said, a small smile on his face as he started to realise that he had more people around him than he had first thought. It was something he was still getting used to. Being able to rely on an adult.

“We’ll send him a letter as soon as we get to the dorms later, you can tell him what we know, he might be able to find out some more as well,” Ron suggested to him as Harry headed towards the door.

Harry nodded, “yeah, we need to go and talk to the others, do so after class and then send a letter?” he suggested as he opened the door. The other two nodded and followed behind him.

Sitting down for lunch, Harry looked over to where the Hufflepuffs were sitting, surrounding Cedric Diggory. A lot of them were sending him dirty looks, a few of them had taken to trying to corner him the first few days after the announcement, but he had quickly taken to making sure that he was always with Ron or Draco, or someone he could trust at least. Looking at his food, he felt his appetite leave him, and it was only the pushing of his best friend and boyfriend that he ate something before classes resumed.

XxXxX

Dinner passed too quickly for Harry’s comfort as he moved through the crowd, Ron and Draco following closely on his heels as he tried to spot Fleur before she reached their coach. They finally got to her, she was surrounded with three other girls, all of them smiling, laughing and talking with each other as they followed the path to their dwellings for the tournament.

“Fleur Delacour!” Harry called out.

The young woman stopped, turning, “Ah, it’s the little boy,” she greeted, though there was a coldness in her eyes as she looked at him.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said, ignoring the slur against him.

“King, one space, Queen, anywhere, Knight, one and two, Bishop-” Ron said, cutting himself off as he closed his eyes.

Harry looked a little puzzled as to why Ron was behaving this way.

“It’s the allure,” Draco answered the unasked question, “It affects most men like this, they will bumble and try and make themselves out to be more than they are. To try and impress the Velea that the allure is coming from,” he told him, his voice taking on a more serious note, “Ron’s fighting it, by going through something like the cheese pieces and what they can do,” he finished with a small smile.

Harry nods, wondering why he and Draco were unaffected by it, he shook his head, placing a hand on Ron’s shoulder and giving him something else to focus on for a second as he looked to Fleur, “I ask that you send your friends away for a moment, I have something important that you need to know,” he told her.

She looked at him, glancing at the two beside him. Only the redhead was affected by her and even then he was doing all he could to resist, she gave a quick nod, “I shall meet you in a moment,” she told her three friends.

“Of course,” one said, a smile on her face as she looked to the boy, giving them a warning look before the three turned and walked away.

“Thank you, and I don’t know if you’ve found out. But we’ve come across some information about the first task,” Harry told her, feeling suddenly nervous. He reached out and took Draco’s hand.

“And what have you found”? She asked him, eyes narrowed as she waited.

“The first task has something to do with dragons, nesting mothers as well,” Harry answered.

“There are four of them, my brother is with them, bring them over,” Ron blurted out, face red as he then quickly looked away.

Fleur was silent for a moment and then nodded, “Thank you, for warning me,” she said as she turned and walked away.

“I don’t think she believes us,” Draco sighed.

Harry shook his head, “At least we tried to warn her. It’s up to her if she does anything about it.”

“True,” Draco said, “Now onto Krum, I know he likes to be around the pitch, so check there first,” he suggested as they looked towards the quidditch pitch.

Heading to the pitch it didn’t take a long time for them to spot Viktor Krum running around it doing laps. The man still had a job after all and one where he needed to keep fit. They waited until he got near them before Draco called out.

“Viktor!” he yelled, he had talked with him a few times over the last couple of weeks since they had arrived. The Drumstrang students had taken to sitting at the Slytherin table during meals.

“Draco,” he nodded to him as he stopped his run and walked over to the three of them.

Harry glanced towards Ron as he felt a hand grip onto his arm and squeezed it tightly, “you okay?” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Ron squeaked. It took a moment for Harry to realise that to Ron, this man was famous and someone he admitted was basically his idol.

Harry forced down the laughter that was bubbling up. Shaking his head he turned to the older quidditch player and said, “Sorry to call you away from your training but we found out something about the tournament and we thought that it would only be fair if you knew as well. I’ve already told Fleur Delacour.”

“And what would that be?” Viktor asked him.

“Can I have your autograph?” came a squeaky voice as wide blue eyes looked at Viktor.

“He’s a fan,” Harry said, almost embarrassed for his friend.

Viktor laughed, “I will do so later when you have something for me to sign,” he told Ron.

“Thank you,” Ron told him, covering his face with his hands, as it was bright red, almost as red as his hair.

“Anyway,” Harry said, as he saw Draco trying not to laugh at Ron, much like he himself was doing. “I found out that the first task has something to do with dragons, their nesting mothers as well. I don’t know what they are going to be doing with them, but there is one of them for each of us. I would prepare,” he advised him.

Viktor looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding, “Thank you for telling me,” he said, smiling at them all and waving to Ron as he went back to his run.

“Looks like he believes me,” Harry said softly as he grabbed Ron and the three of them went back towards Hogwarts Castle. They had no clue as to where they would find Cedric, and Harry wasn’t happy about trying to find him, since he knew he would be surrounded by his friends.

“That’s good,” Draco smiled, glancing over at Ron, who still looked a little star-struck as he was guided back towards the school.

“Only Cedric left,” Harry said, in a way that caused Draco to look at him with a frown on his face, “let’s see if we can find him,” he said, a smile now on his face as he led the way through the building and towards the courtyards. The other two quickly followed though Ron didn’t have much of a choice as Harry still had a tight grip on his arm.

Chapter Thirty-Six

Harry walked quickly, stopping when he almost bumped into someone. “Sorry,” he apologised.

“It’s fine,” Nevile smiled at him, Ginny laughing lightly beside him, “We were talking about Herbology,” he added, a shy tinge to his words.

“He’s really good, and was helping me with some of the problems I’ve been having with my homework,” Ginny told them.

Harry nodded, still unsure of how to act around Ginny. She was nothing like what she had been like during the summer holidays. “Yeah he’s top of our year for it,” he said with a smile, “have either of you seen Cedric?” he asked them.

“Yeah he’s in the outer courtyard,” Ginny answered, “the Hufflepuffs are being a bit,” she grimaced.

“I know,” Harry nodded, “they’ve been like it since the beginning, ” he sighed as he added, “thanks.”

“We’ll come as well,” Neville suggested, looking at Ginny. She nodded and the two of them joined them and began to head towards the Outer Courtyard.

Harry saw Cedric, he was surrounded by a lot of his house and year mates. He could also see some of the Hufflepuff quidditch team around him as well. “Cedric,” he called out, as he moved to the front of the group and headed over to him.

“Oh, hey Harry,” he smiled, giving Harry a wave.

“Why the hell would you be happy to see that twit for Cedric?” one of the male chasers sneered as he looked down at Harry.

“Hey!” Ron yelled out, going red in the face as he took a step towards the chaser that had spoken.

Harry stopped him, “leave it, Ron,” he told him softly, “Look I just want to talk to you, that’s all,” he said to Cedric.

“Like Patrick said, why would he want to see you for. You took his glory, the glory of Hufflepuff away from him,” one of the girls sneered as she pulled out her wand to point towards him.

Draco moved and stood before Harry, his wand held loosely in his hand, glaring at the teenager. “Try it,” he growled.

Not even a second later a spell hit Draco and in his place was a white ferret.

“Draco!” Harry yelled out, about to grab him when the Ferret raised up into the air.

“Hexing someone little Malfoy!” Moody growled as he ignored the fact that it was Draco that was protecting Harry.

“He wasn’t!” Harry called out as he went to grab Draco once more as the small white animal went up and down.

“Stop that!” Ron joined in as finally Harry caught Draco and held him against him, stopping Moody from doing anything else to him.

“What is going one here!” came the stern voice of Professor McGonagall.

“He changed Draco into a ferret,” Ron said, glaring at Moody.

She looked and saw the white ferret in Harry’s arms, “Please put him down Mr Potter, I will change him back,” she told him.

“Thank you,” he said, placing Draco onto the floor carefully and stepping back. It didn’t take long for Draco to be standing there again. Harry rushed to him, hugging him tightly, “you okay?” he asked him.

“I’m fine,” he smiled reassuringly as he looked to Professor McGonagal, “thank you,” he told her.

“Professor Moody, come with me,” she ordered, and the students knew that if the person wasn’t a full-grown man that he would have had his ear pinched and pulled to where the stern which wanted him to be.

Draco let go of Harry, smiling at him, “Really Harry I’m fine,” he reassured him once more.

Harry nodded and then looked at Cedric, “I have something to tell you about the tournament, come and find me when you can, preferably without them,” he added, gesturing to the crowd that was around Cedric. With that he walked away, he could hear some jeers and remarks following him.

“This isn’t the first time you’ve heard them say things like that?” Draco asked him as they walked out of the courtyard and into the corridors.

“They tend to try and get me alone, they… they’ve shot a few hexes at me since the Drawing of Names,” Harry admitted quietly.

“They what?” Draco growled at the thought of someone trying to harm his Hair.

“Look, I don’t go anywhere alone now,” Harry told him, reassuring him that things were fine. Even though he felt as though they weren’t. He didn’t want the blond or his best friend to worry about him.

“That’s not the point,” Ron told him, shaking his head, “Look, they do anything again, tell someone, even if it’s just us, we can make sure that the teachers are aware of it.”

“It’s bullying Harry, you didn’t put up with me when I was doing it, you shouldn’t have to put up with anyone else doing it either,” Draco added softly.

Harry smiled at the two of them, “Okay,” he agreed, though all three knew that it wouldn’t happen overnight.

“Good,” Ron nodded as they carried on walking, heading towards the library. Settling down, Harry began a letter, only stopping when he needed to go to the toilet. On the way back, someone grabbed his shoulder.

Tensing, Harry pulled out his wand as he was turned around, aiming it at the one who had grabbed him, “Cedric,” he muttered, not sure if he should put his wand away or not.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, sounding a little awkward.

“Right, since you are here, I can tell you what I know,” he told him, not bothering at being polite, he was done trying to defend himself. He thought Cedric had understood that.

“What is it?” he asked him.

“Dragons, the first task has something to do with dragons, and not just any, there’s one for each of us and they are nesting mothers. So they are going to be even more volatile than normal,” he warned him.

Cedric’s eyes went wide, mouth gaping as he took the words in, “are you… are you serious?” he asked him, his voice coming out in a harsh whisper.

Harry nodded, “Ron’s brother is here, and he deals with Dragons. Charlie met with him and he saw them. So… I’ve now told you what was seen, along with Krum and Delacour,” he added, turning to head back into the library.

“Look, Harry, can I…” Cedric began, reaching out and grabbing Harry’s arm before he could step away from him.

“What?” he asked him, “I’ve told you what you need to know,” he added, sighing.

“I just want to apologise for what happened,” he told him, his voice sincere.

“You may be sorry about it, but they won’t be,” Harry told him bluntly, “I’m sick of trying to defend myself against bastards like that. All they do is corner me, bully me, yell shit at me and try and hex me all the time.”

“They wouldn’t do that,” Cedric protested.

Harry glared at him, “Yes they would. They think that I entered my name on purpose. What the fuck would I want with money and fame, I have enough of both to last a billion fucking lifetimes. No, I wanted nothing to do with this tournament, all I wanted was a quiet year for once Instead I’ve been pulled into something that I can’t get out of,” he ranted.

“I-”

“Look, I told you what’s going on, and that’s it. If I was you I would try and get your friends to behave better, you know this shit always backfires on people when they realise what the fuck I’m actually going through. It happened in my second year, remember,” with that he turned around and headed back into the library.

“Harry?” Draco asked, seeing the rage simmering in green eyes.

“Hmm,” he hummed as he tried to calm himself down.

“You okay?” Ron asked, seeing the anger in Harry’s movements.

“Just, I’ve had it being nice all the time,” he muttered, as he began to calm down. A hand on his shoulder, he turned to Draco and gave him a tired smile.

“Then stop, if they’re going to be idiots, then let them, if they start, get back,” Draco told him.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” Ron smirked a little.

Harry looked at the two of them, shaking his head, “Seriously you two, pack it in, I know that getting them back would be nice, but-”

“You’re not that type of person,” the two of them said together. Ginny and Nevile couldn’t help but laugh at them.

“Exactly,” Harry huffed, though there was now a small smile on his lips.

“Oh good you here,” came a voice from behind them.

All five at the table stiffened, “What do you want Hermione?” Harry questioned her.

“I want to study with my friends,” she told him, sitting down between Ginny and Ron. Though she shot Draco a cold look from where he was sitting on Harry’s side. Ron on the other.

“And we don’t want to study with you,” Ginny told her, rolling her eyes.

“And what do you have against me,” Hermione questioned, looked shocked at the words, “I’m the best person here to study with, I know the material brillia-”

“You may know the material but you don’t really practice it,” Ron reminded her, a small smug smile on his face as he remembered the night in the common room.

“I do!” she protested, though everyone could hear the lie in her voice.

“You really don’t know why you keep trying to hang around us all the time. Each time you do you try and start something. You argue with Ron, you bully Neville, you lash out at Harry and you degrade Draco,” Ginny told her, glaring, “I know I was a bit of a bitch, but that’s because something was wrong. I’ve done my best to deal with that, but you. You make yourself out to be a victim, all the time. You come in, pretending that nothing has happened, and in reality you’re horrid. I really don’t know why people become friends with you.” Ginny was clenching her quill tight enough that it snapped. “Fuck,” she cursed, as she dropped it onto the table.

“And who do you think you are to tell me such things?” Hermione growled at her, eyes narrowed, “You’re just a fangirl that wants to get close to Harry, nothing more.”

Ginny glared even more at the woman, “I was a fangirl, but that was mostly because of something else that was influencing me,” she repeated, rolling her eyes at the dense girl sitting next to her, “Now, I can see Harry would make a good friend, but that is all he would make for me. He’s like a bloody brother,” she huffed, flipping her hair as she looked at Harry, “No offence, but you are,” she told him.

Harry laughed, “None taken.”

“You keep going the way you are Hermione Granger and you’ll soon find yourself without anyone that you can call a friend. You don’t have to accept the way things are in the Magical World, you just have to respect those that believe in them and practice them. And let people decide for themselves what they want to do instead of trying to bully them into doing things your way,” Ginny warned her, “Now bugger off and let us study in peace, and if you don’t, well, I may be the baby and the only girl of the family, but I learned of the twins and Bill, I will make you leave,” she threatened, the subtle movement of her wand from where she kept it into view of only those at the table.

Hermione looked at them all at the table, she could see each of them nodding their heads at what Ginny was saying. She looked down, quiet and contemplative as she got up, gathered her things and left without a single word to them. They breathed a sigh of relief and wondered if the silence from her meant that she was actually taking the words that were spoken on board. Maybe she would change, for the better if she listened.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Harry had been walking on air since he had returned to the dorm last night. He had been taken on another date with Draco. Narcissa had been the one to chaperone it this time. It had been a simple date, a picnic in an enchanted area that Daco had made for them. Narcissa had been there to watch but had given them some form of privacy by keeping her distance.

“Harry,” Draco said, a smile on his face as he noticed the look in his boyfriends eyes.

“Hmm?” he asked, as he shook his head, letting his mind come back from the date he was reliving in his memory, “sorry,” he said as he realised that they were in the middle of potions and the Bat Spleens he was supposed to be dicing were still waiting to be diced up.

“It’s fine,” he told him as he heard Ron snort behind them. “What?” he asked the redhead.

“He’s been like this since he got back from your date,” Ron told him, “be pleased with yourself,” he added, smirking as he saw Harry blush.

“It was brilliant though Ron,” Harry protested quietly as Snape began to walk around the room once more.

“Yeah I know, you’ve said that more times than I’ve had hot dinners,” Ron chuckled under his breath and then stopped when Snape hovered over them, eyes narrowing at the mirth he could see on their faces.

There was a heavy knock on the door. Snape flicked his wrist and without using his wand the door opened and stepped a shaky Colin Creevy, “What is it Mr Creevy?” he demanded.

“Sorry Professor, but I was told by Headmaster Dumbledore that Harry Potter is needed in the Anix chamber for the Weighing of the Wands ceremony,” he answered, handing over a note that explained it.

“Well Potter, pack up and leave,” he sneered crumbling the piece of paper up in his hand before tossing it into the air, turning it into ash.

Harry huffed a little, hating that he had to do this, “I’ll see you for lunch?” he asked Draco and Ron, who both quickly nodded. With that, he packed up his things and quickly left the classroom. Colin walked him partway to the great hall before he then ran off to go back to his own transfiguration lesson.

“Welcome Harry,” Dumbledore said with a smile on his face.

“Ah, Mr Potter,” smiled Olivander as soon as he saw the teen enter the room.

“Sir,” he greeted back as he noticed that the other champions were there along with the officials and a woman in a green outfit. Harry had to blink with how bright it was. Shaking his head he walked to the back of the room. He didn’t want to be there at all, and he made sure that everyone knew it. The only time he moved from the spot was when it was his turn for his wand to be checked over by Olivander. Harry had to bite his lip with the words the wandmaker said about his wand. It still played on his mind at times.

“Photos!” the woman in vile green yelled out, “and of course an interview with all the champions,” she added, she was smiling the smile of a predator that had found their next prey.

Harry rolled his eyes, “I don’t want to be interviewed or my picture taken. I’m not a true champion,” he said to the woman.

“One small talk with me won’t hurt, get your side of the story out,” she tried to coax him.

“Miss Skeeter,” Bagman began, “W-”

“It won’t hurt to talk with him,” she brushed him off.

Harry nodded to himself, this was the woman, the reporter that Sirius had warned him about. A woman that was more concerned with reporting a splash that would gain attention that reporting the news as it actually was. “No thank you,” he said as he then began to leave before the pictures could be taken.

Dumbledore nodded to the teenager, already knowing from Sirius that Harry didn’t want to be in the paper at all, “Lunch should be soon, so please head to the great hall Mr Potter,” he told him.

“Yes Sir,” he replied to the Headmaster politely. He went to open the door when a hand gripped his arm, “Let go,” he told her, looking up in the narrowed eyes of one Rita Skeeter.

“A small Interview Harry,” she said, trying to be friendly, digging her nails into his arm.

Harry yanked his arm from her painful grip. Wincing inside at the sharp pain from her nails, “no thank you,” he told her and then quickly made his escape from the room. He could hear a Bagman trying to placate the woman. He huffed as he walked through the corridors. “That woman,” he muttered, she had written a few articles about Sirius before his trial. Damning him a lot of the times. Only when the verdict came through of innocence did she change her tune. Sitting down at the Gryffindor table he rested his head on his arms and waited for Lunch to begin and his friends to arrive.

XxXxX

Morning came too early the next day and all he wanted to do was to sleep in, but he had Ancient Runes first, which he was looking forward to. Getting up and ready he and Ron walked down to breakfast together, talking softly about their lesson. They knew that Draco had arithmancy first thing, and when they had that class he would have ancient runes.

“Harry,” Draco greeted as they met outside of the Great Hall.

“Morning Draco,” he greeted back, walking swiftly over to him. Ron trailing behind as he watched Draco kiss the back of Harry’s hand.

“Smooth Draco,” Ron muttered to him as he walked into the great hall, letting the two love birds follow behind him. “You two are so sickly cute and in love, it’s not even funny,” he then muttered, knowing that the two would hear him.

“We’re not that bad,” Harry told his friend, giving him a light punch on the back of his shoulder.

He turned and smiled at them, “I know, but sometimes it feels like it,” he laughed at the look on Draco and Harry’s faces.

The three sat down, pulling what they wanted for breakfast onto their plates and talking about what lessons they had first. Halfway through breakfast, when nearly all of the student body were now sitting and eating before the first lot of lessons, flocks of owls descended on the Great Hall, delivering their mail.

“Hmm,” Draco glared at the newspaper he was now reading.

“What is it?” Harry asked, looking over.

“Really?!” Ron exclaimed as he saw the front page.

“Sirius did warn me about her. Though I refused to speak with her, so what has she said?” Harry asked, seeing who wrote the article.

“She’s just saying that you cheated your way into the competition and are trying to ruin the chances of the other three contestants by showing them up. And also that you are rude and horrid,” Draco rolled his eyes, putting it aside to eat his breakfast, but still in a place where he could read through it.

“It’s a load of bollocks,” Seamus said from a seat down, “The only time I’ve ever seen you be rude is to the blond ninny beside ya,” he grinned, giving Draco a look.

“I wasn’t an idiot, I was obeying family,” Draco retorted, nose going in the air, though the others could tell it was done from playfulness and not anything else.

“So, anything else she got wrong?” Dean asked, glancing towards the three.

“She got Cedrics name wrong, calling him Dedric Digger. Fleur is called Iris, seriously, she only just about got Krum’s name right, though she spelt Viktor as Victor throughout it all,” Draco muttered as he read through the article. “Most of it is about Harry and his past and how such a public figure is now rude and aggressive to anyone,” he huffed as he folded the paper up and tossed it into the air. With a well-timed spell, not even ash was left afterwards.

“Hey, Snape does that,” Seamus said as he watched the little trick.

Draco looked at him, rolling his eyes, “and who do you think taught me?”

Ron snorted, “hmm, I really think we should just start ignoring the paper, especially when that woman is writing, you know you can’t believe a word she says,” he shrugged and went back to eating.

“Hello,” came the pleasant and dreamy voice of Luna as she walked over to them and sat down by Ron.

“Hi Luna,” Ron said, a little red in the face as he looked at the bright girl.

“Don’t listen to the warblers,” she told him, “They are never very good.”

“Warblers?” Ron asked her, the other looking on in curiosity.

She nodded, “Very pretty, always so pretty they shine but when they sing, the song lies,” she told him as she took some eggs and toast and began to eat with them. It wasn’t often that the third year would join them. But she and Ron had been getting along well. Often joining the two of them on group work.

“Are you going to take the test to test out of Arithmancy and Ancient Runes?” Harry asked her, curious as he knew that their teacher had often commented that she was ahead of her year mates.

“I may,” she answered him, giving him a small smile as she went back to eating.

“It would be nice if you did, then you could stay with us,” Ron said smiling softly at her.

Luna looked at him, head tilted to the side, “Hmm, it would,” she agreed. She finished off the last of her breakfast and stood up, “See you in class,” she smiled as she happily skipped away from them.

“She is a little odd but nice,” Draco said with a shake of his head as he looked towards Ron, “And you have a crush,” he told him.

“I don’t!” Ron yelled, “She’s nice, really nice,” he added, his voice going soft.

“Yeah?” Harry prompted, wondering if there was anything more to what Draco had suggested.

“Well yeah, she doesn’t look down on me when I find something hard to understand, she just tells me, explains it to me. Hermione, she always looked down on me, making fun of anything I tried to do. Made me feel so useless, but Luna… she’s different,” he said, a soft smile on his face as he thought of the strange girl.

“So a crush,” Draco insisted.

“No, I like her as a friend, not a crush,” Ron told them, shaking his head, “She’s just a friend,” he added.

“Like anyone would want to go out with a buffoon like you,” Hermione snorted as she walked past.

“That isn’t nice Hermione!” Neville was the first to yell out at her.

“Well, it’s true, no one would want to date him. Everyone would have more sense than to be pulled in by a gross idiot, who can’t do anything for himself,” she shrugged as she went over to her seat.

“You know better than to listen to that twit,” Harry said to Ron seeing that he had gone pale and was staring at his half-eaten breakfast.

“Hmm,” he just hummed, pushing his plate away from him, “I’m just gonna go and-” he gave up trying to think of an excuse as he got up from his seat and left the Great Hall.

“Granger,” Dean called out, “you’re a bitch, you know that? A stuck up bitch that doesn’t know anything about the people around you. You’re so focused on books that you forget that you need people skills to get anywhere in life. At this moment in time, your the bottom of the rung and not going anywhere fast with your fucking attitude,” he ranted at her, as he and the others got up.

Harry turned to her, “I no longer want anything to do with you Granger, we’re not friends at all, we share a dorm and that’s it. You’re nothing to me,” he then left the Great Hall to find his friend, most of those in her year giving her dirty looks while Ginny got up and sent a subtle stinging hex at her before leaving to follow her brother. Hermione watched as most of those that were sat around her gave her more space, moving away from her. No one wanted to sit around a person who would say such things about someone they had once called a friend.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Harry groaned as he let his head fall onto the book he was reading, “I’ve gone through half the library, I swear,” he muttered, eyes closed.

“And you’ll go through the other half before you find something,” Ron snorted as he looked up from the book he had been going through.

“Can’t you ask Charlie?” Harry asked his friend, “he would know what I have to do,” he huffed, looking over at Ron.

“Oh, yeah that reminded me,” Ron grinned, “I did ask Charlie about some books about dragons. I think he knows why I was asking, but I doubt he’s going to tell anyone. He knows you didn’t put your name into the cup at all,” he added as he searched around for his bag.

“You could have told me earlier?!” Harry complained, whining a little as he felt someone pat him on the back. He glanced over and smiled as he saw that it was Draco.

“At least he remembered,” Draco told him.

Harry rolled his eyes as Ron slammed something down on the table in front of Harry, making the two jump at the sound, “Ron!” Harry exclaimed, trying not to yell as he already could see Madam Pince looking in their direction.

“Sorry,” he winced, looking towards Madam Pince. The woman huffed and carried on with her work.

“It’s fine,” Harry told him as he looked at the book, “is that?”

“A dragon handling book that Charlie was given to study before he left school. So he thought it might help you, when I asked,” he said as he handed it over to his friend.

Harry took it and began to glance through it. Shaking his head, he didn’t think there was much in there that would help him. But he would have a proper look through it later, it may just inspire an idea, “thanks,” he grinned at his friend as he stood up.

“Where are you going?” Draco asked him, about to do the same.

“I just need a walk, clear my head before I get back to looking through everything,” He sighed, “Keep looking for me, I just need some… time I think,” he muttered, more to himself.

“Are you sure?” Draco asked him softly, taking hold of Harry’s hand.

Harry smiled at him, “I am, I’ll be back soon,” he told him, “I’m just going to walk around a bit and clear my head.”

“What about the Hufflepuffs?” Ron asked him, remembering what had happened.

“Things have calmed down since I ranted at Cedric, so it’ll be fine,” he realised as he then walked off, taking a little time for himself.

XxXxX

Harry walked through Hogwarts with a frown on his face as he thought of the task that lay ahead. He knew from what Ron had been able to gather from Charlie that they had to get past the dragon to collect something. Though Harry hadn’t found out what. And the fact that they were nesting mothers, would make them all the more violent to those going near them. He shook his head, wanting to clear his thoughts and carried on walking ignoring the people that he met along the way. He just let his feet take him through the castle.

“MPHH!” he yelled as he felt something go over his mouth and he was pulled into an empty classroom.

“Potter,” came a gruff voice as he was let go.

He was about to scream as his mind recognised the voice, “Professor Moody?” he asked, turning to face the scarred veteran Auror.

“One and only,” he muttered as he went towards the other side of the room, “come on,” he added, giving Harry a glare as the other remained by the door.

“Oh, erm, yeah,” he nodded following the teacher towards another door. He was a little weary, after all out of three teachers he had so far, one had tried to kill him, another tried to wipe out his memory and the third, well, for once he had actually been safe to be around unless it was the full moon.

“Sit down,” he told him as he walked into another room, this time it resembled an office.

Harry glanced around, seeing some glasses with different faces appearing and disappearing in them he went closer to the desk, looking at them. Seeing Draco’s father in one of them, he wondered briefly who the others were. Sitting down he asked, “What did you want?”

“Have you thought about how you’re going to be going about this task?” he asked him, “and I know you know,” he added, snorting. “That friend of yours has family everywhere after all,” he told him.

Harry nodded looking away, “yeah he told me, I’ve worked out that I need to get past the dragon to collect something, but that’s all.”

“Nasty work those dragons, nesting mothers,” he growled, “Now, what have you got?” he asked him again.

“Nothing, I can’t think of anything, and the spells that work need more than one wizard to get them to work on a dragon, and ones like them are going to be even worse and need a lot more power than I have. I’m only fourteen, the others are all adults,” he said, wanting to pull at his hair. He was worried, and who wouldn’t be, he was facing death with the first task and he was scared to ask Sirius about it. He knew that his godfather would help him, but he didn’t want to worry him at all, nor Remus.

“Play to your strengths,” Moody told him, “what are they?” he asked him.

“I don’t have anything, I’m just a student-”

“Flying boy!” he yelled at him, making the young wizard jump at the suddenness of it.

“Fl-” he began, cutting himself off as he thought about it a bit more, “flying,” he said a little quirk of his lips. He was good at it, the youngest seeker in a hundred years. He didn’t know if he would be able to outfly a dragon. But Draco had told him that a stadium was being used, that the dragon would be contained within it. That meant that he might be able to do something to get around the dragon. Out of her reach, able to dart in and collect whatever it was.

“Well?” Moody asked him, leaning forward, “Thought of something yet?” he asked him, a smirk on his scarred face.

“Yeah, I think I have something, I need to talk to someone,” he said as he got up and ran out of the office and through the classroom. Not caring that he had just run out on a teacher without being dismissed first.

Harry darted down the corridors, dancing around the occasional student as he went. He heard someone call for him to slow down, but he ignored it, this was more important. He only had a week to make sure that he would be able to fly in the stadium that was being set up. He reached the library, bending over he tried to catch his breath a little before he walked in more calmly.

“Hey,” he said, a bright smile on his face as he sat down beside them.

“You look happier,” Draco said, a small smile on his face as he reached over to him.

Harry took his hand, “I had a good walk, and was able to talk to someone about the task a little. It… helped,” he grinned, squeezing the hand and then looking at Ron.

“So, what is it?” the redhead asked as he leaned closer.

“Flying,” he answered, seeing the wide eyes appearing on the others’ faces.

“How are you going to manage that?” Ron asked him, “You can only take your wand into the arena,” he reminded him.

“I know, but I know there is a spell to summon something, I don’t know what it is though,” he added, sighing a little.

“The twins would know, they use something like that all the time to summon things,” Ron said, frowning, “are you sure we should ask them though?”

“Would you rather ask Hermione?” Harry pointed out to him, as he knew that the witch would also know what spell it was that they wanted to learn.

Ron slumped, head hitting the wooden table, “Your right, I hate it when you are,” he muttered as he sat up again, “let’s go find the twins, they should be in the dorms by now,” he added.

“Well, then I’m going to have to leave you,” Draco said softly, they hadn’t been able to get permission for Draco to visit the dorms yet.

“You know, why don’t you go to the courtyard, and I’ll go and get them, that way we might be able to practice for a bit as well,” Ron suggested, seeing the pout appearing on Harry’s face at not being able to have Draco with him.

“Sure,” Harry said as the three of them packed things away, Ron leaving a little earlier to go and get the twins as the other two finished. It didn’t take them long to all meet in the outer courtyard.

“So what’s this I hear that you need our help?” Fred asked, a smirk on his face as he looked at Harry.

“The spell to summon things, I need to be able to summon my broom to the arena,” Harry answered them. He didn’t have time to beat around the bush at all.

George smiled, “Well, you’ve come to the right place, we can teach you that, but you’ll have to practice it a lot if you want to be able to summon something from that far away,” he told him.

“I don’t care how long it takes me to look as I’ll be able to summon it,” Harry said, standing up and letting go of Draco’s hand. “Please, teach me,” he asked them, more sincerely.

“Wow, no need to go that far, we don’t mind helping you, might make us a few galleons if you win this thing,” George grinned at him.

“Thank you,” he smiled gratefully at the two.

“Okay,” Fred said as he walked towards him, “wand out,” he told him as he grabbed Harry’s bag and quickly pulled a book from it, it was a heavy one and set it across the courtyard, “the word is accio and you flick the wand towards yourself,” he told him, showing him the movement that was needed.

Harry nodded and got to work. Draco and Ron sat side by side as they watched. It took him a few tries before he got it and the book flew towards him. Harry gave a grin but knew that this was only the beginning.

Almost an hour later, and curfew started to approach, “Right, we’re going to have to call it a night,” Draco said as he got up, he could see that Harry was beginning to feel tired from all the spell work that he was doing.

Harry nodded his head, “yeah, thanks, I’m going to have to practice a lot more,” he told the twins.

“Anything for our little Harrikins,” Fred grinned at him, ruffling the messy black hair.

“We’ll see you back in the dorms,” George said as the two of them walked off.

Ron took one look at the two and then shook his head “I’ll wait over there, say your goodbyes and not too much mush!” he called out over his shoulder, already moving away and gave them a little rivalry.

The two laughed lightly as Draco went over to him,” Night Harry,” he said, kissing him gently.

“Night Draco, breakfast in the morning?” he asked him.

“Always,” he smiled as they walked to the door, reaching outside of the great hall they separated, with Draco heading to his dorm, while Ron and Harry went to the Gryffindor dorms. Ron rolling his eyes at Harry’s lovesick look on his face. He knew that Harry would be happy when McGonagall gave permission for Draco to come to the dorms, but it was taking a while to convince her.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

The last lesson of the day had finally finished and Ron and Harry were heading up to their Ancient Runes classroom. It was time for their placement test, it was happening a few weeks later than planned thanks to the arrival of the other schools and The Drawing of the Names. The two knocked on the classroom door before being called in.

“Good evening Professor,” Ron greeted the woman as he walked in, only to stop when he saw Luna sitting at one of the desks as well.

“Luna will be joining you for the tests, she has already taken the advancement tests in Charms and Transfiguration yesterday and passed,” Professor babbling smiled at them as she guided them to the desks that they were to use, “Now, get out the materials you’re allowed and settle yourselves down.”

Ron and Harry sat down, doing as they were told. They gave Luna a bright smile that she easily returned and the two settled down. Professor Babbling walked over to each of them and placed down their papers.

“When I say you can begin,” she told them.

Harry sat and waited patiently until she gave the word. He looked down and grinned a little at the first question. It was one that Draco had explained to him during the summer. With ease, he began to answer the questions. There were a few that stumped him until he went through them a second time a little slower. He just hoped that he had been able to answer them enough to go back to his own year.

“And that’s the end,” Professor Babbling smiled, “I’ll mark these as you take the next test with Professor Vector, so you’ll know straight away if you’ve passed,” she told them as the door to the classroom opened and Professor Vector walked in. The tall woman stroud to the front of the classroom. “Good to see you,” Babbling smiled at her friend.

“And you,” she smiled back, she turned to the three students and with a flick of her wrist, three lots of papers headed to the desks, “Right, you know the rules, get to work,” she told them, starting them off, “you have an hour,” she added, taking a seat as Babbling did he same and went through the tests that she had given out.

Once more Harry sat there, going through the questions and answering them as best as he could. They weren’t easy, but he knew a number of them with the formulas he had learned over the last couple of months. There was no clock watching in Hogwarts when it was time for exams. No way to know how long a person would have left on their tests, unlike the muggle world. He went through the few questions he left and began to answer them. Learning quickly to answer the ones that he knew best before going to those that he didn’t know.

“And Quills down,” Vector smiled as she waited for those last-second scratches on the parchment before she collected them.

Babbling stood up and handed back the three tests and Vector began her own marking. “Okay, you all did brilliantly,” she smiled as she let them look over the grades. “You needed EE at the least to test out of this year, and you’ve done so. Ron,” she turned to him, “you just missed out on that O, but it was so close. Luna, O for you with distinction. And An O for you as well Harry, well done,” she was happy for them.

“So we can move up?” Harry asked.

She nodded, “Of course, you can return to your year mates next week.”

The classroom went quiet as the three packed their things away, sitting around a little longer to wait for their other results. “So you’re joining us for Charms and Trasificuration?” Harry asked Luna.

She nodded, “yes,” a soft smile on her face.

“A number of Ravenclaws tend to try their quill at testing out of their years and into the ones above. Not very many actually manage it. Miss Granger has tried for the last two years with most of her classes. Her spellwork lets her down along with her ability to form her own words when we ask her opinion on things.”

“Let me guess,” Ron began, “she tends to just reference whatever book she is quoting from.”

“Yes, she lacks…”

“Yeah, she does It a lot. She’s better when she’s sabotaging our work, as she is actually using her brain to form words and not the books,” Harry snorted wryly.

Babbling was about to ask about those words when Vector stood up, “ah, finished?” she asked her friend.

“Yes,” Vector nodded, handing out the papers, “Well done, O’s all of you, Ron, your work was brilliant, your grasp of the numbers and formulas is exceptional, you have a distinction for this,” she told him. “I look forward to seeing you in the fourth year class,” she smiled softly.

Ron couldn’t help but go red at the praise, “Thank you,” he murmured, a little embarrassed, he had never been praised for his schoolwork before.

“Now off you go, you have a couple of hours before curfew don’t forget,” Babbling reminded them as the three left the classroom.

“Library?” Harry asked, knowing that was where Draco was going to be waiting for him.

“Sure, may as well see him,” Ron rolled his eyes and looked at Luna, “want to come with us?”

Luna smiled and nodded, “Yes, that would be wonderful.”

Harry grinned and led the way to the library, there was a slight skip in his step, happy that he had passed the tests and that he was going to be seeing Draco. Ron couldn’t help shaking his head at his friend. Luna giggled beside him, a quiet almost musical sound that Ron couldn’t help the little blush on his face at hearing it. Walking into the Library, Harry headed straight for the usual table that they would use. Draco was sitting there with Dean and Seamus.

“Hey,” Harry smiled as he went over, kissing Draco lightly before sitting beside him.

“Well? How did it go?” he asked, eager to know.

“We passed, all three of us. Luna’s going to be joining our year for Charms and Arithmancy, Runes and Transfiguration,” Harry answered him brightly.

“Really?” Draco asked, glancing towards Luna, “well done, I know no one has been able to pass those for quite some time.”

Luna nodded, “thank you.”

“I can’t believe they allowed Loony to join the forth years,” Hermione snorted as she walked over to the table. She had been waiting for Ron and Harry to show up.

“Don’t call her that,” Ron said, standing up for his friend.

“Why not, she is, I don’t know how she was able to pass those tests, they’re harder than the ones we have at the end of the year, you have to know what the year above knows,” she said, sneering at Luna.

Luna said nothing as Ron stood up for her once again before anyone else could even try, “Shut up Hermione, by Merlin I never knew how much of a bully you could be,” he said.

“I’m not a bully!” she yelled at him. Causing Madam Pince to start to head towards them.

“You’re being rude and you’re trying to put Luna down, how is that not bullying? She’s really smart and this just shows how smart she is. She wouldn’t be in Ravenclaw otherwise,” he told her, shaking his head, “What you’re doing is what a bully does.”

“I know better about being a bully, it was the same type of thing that I did to you, Ron and Harry for years,” Draco added as he placed a comforting hand on Luna’s shoulder. Giving the young girl a smile, “Ignore her, she had no idea what smart really means.”

Luna smiled at him and nodded, “Thank you Draco, it’s good to see the Nargles are leaving you alone now.”

“See! See!” Hermione said, gesturing towards Luna, “someone smart wouldn’t say stupid untrue things like that!”

“MissGgranger, what makes you so knowledgeable about the Wizarding World? You’ve only been part of it for four years, and in that time you’ve not even thought of seeing what else it out there outside of books,” Madam Pince said, lips pursed together, “I want you to leave for making too much noise, and the rest of you, quiet,” she added and then began to turn, waiting for Hermione to start walking as well.

Hermione huffed as she turned and flounced away.

“I can’t believe Madam Pince,” Ron said, eyes wide.

“Madam Pince is a cousin of my fathers, she knows that there is more to the world than what most can see,” Luna said softly, looking at her friends.

Harry nodded, “Right,” he spoke softly, “let’s get this homework done, I don’t want Snape breathing down my neck,” he added as they settled down to get the last of their position homework done.

XxXxX

Harry looked at the others as they lit their candles and said a little prayer. “I’ve never done this before,” he said softly.

“Don’t worry Harry, don’t forget what Professor Galen said,” Ron told him, “I don’t think most of us have ever done this,” he added.

Harry nodded as it was then his turn. They were in the boy’s dormitory, and at one of the windows that were open. On it was five candle holders, unmoving in the gentle winds that came through the window. Holding the candle that Sirius had sent to him the day before, just for this night.

“To those that have gone before I honour you,” Harry said as he placed the candle in the holder, “to those that have died for their beliefs, to protect those they love, I honour you,” he added as he lifted his hand and without his wand he lit the candle. He said the normal prayers, but after being told, he decided to add one more, “Mum, Dad, thank you for what you did so I could live. I honour you by living well and keeping you in my heart each day and night, and please keep me safe during what I’m about to do,” his words were soft, a small tear falling from his eyes as he touched the base of the candle and pushed some of his magic into it. The candle flame changed colour, going to black, the colour of mourning.

Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and saw Ron looking at him, a small smile on his face, “You okay?” he asked him.

Harry nodded, wiping his eyes to make sure there were no more tears falling, “yeah, I’m okay.”

Ron nodded and then went to say his own prayers, he was the last one in the dorm to do so. Saying the typical prayer first he too added his own personal one, “Uncle Fabian, Uncle Gideon, thank you for what you did during the war. I know mum misses you a lot, and Bill and Charlie talk about you a lot too. I wish I could have known you,” he said, “I honour you each day by fighting for what’s right,” he added, as he then added his own magic to the candle, the flame turning black.

Harry settled on his bed after changing, the others all doing the same, “I don’t know how to feel about this one,” he murmured.

“Yeah, it’s hard, but I can understand why we should,” Seamus said.

“To forget is to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Dean said, remembering something he had learned from a teacher when he was in primary school.

Harry nodded, he had heard something similar himself, “Yeah. So maybe if we remember the past we can keep going forward,” he hoped.

The boys settled down, the candles charmed to remain burning throughout the night, to guide the spirits so they could hear the thanks and prayers for them. If by morning the flames had turned white, then the spirits had received their words. When the morning rays entered the window, all five candles sported white flames.

Chapter Forty

Harry walked down the stone path as it led towards the stadium that had been built. His hand was gripped tightly by Draco, Ron walking on the other side of him.

“You’re going to be fine,” Ron reassured him, though the two could detect the wobble in his voice, telling them that he too was nervous about the task.

“Hmm,” Harry hummed, shaking his head as they carried on walking.

“Well, there is a high death rate for the first task, it’s often the most deadly,” Hermione said as she walked behind them. Having followed them from the Great Hall. The look on her face as they turned towards her, showed that she had spoken the words deliberately, maliciously to scare Harry more than he already was.

“Shut up Hermione,” Ron muttered, giving her a glare.

“I was just saying that statistically around eighty percent of those that take part in the tournament end up dead,” she added, giving him an innocent look. The gleam that was still in her eye, along with the slight upturn of her lips, showed she knew what she was doing..

“Fuck off Hermione, Merlin you’re a fucking bitch at the moment,” Ron yelled this time, seeing how pale Harry was getting.

“What?” she asked, afront at being yelled at.

“You know full well what, shut your gob and fuck off!” he told her, huffing as he turned around and carried on walking, Harry and Draco beside him.

Draco looked at Harry, “You’ll be okay, you set everything up and you’ve practised really hard for the last week,” he told him, rubbing his hand up and down his boyfriend’s back trying to reassure and soothe the nerves he was feeling.

“Yeah,” Harry said, giving him a weak smile.

“If he’s that scared, he should pull out,” Hermione huffed, arms crossed in front of her.

“Hermione, he does that he loses his magic. You do know what a magical contract means don’t you?” Ron asked her, eyes wide.

“Well, of course, I do, but he-”

“A binding contract can have many clauses, the one for the Goblet states that if he doesn’t compete then he will lose his magic,” Draco told her, “None of us wants that, now please, be quiet, you’re making things harder than they should be, go to the stands,” he added, keeping his calm as he turned to Harry, “come on, let’s get you to the tent.”

Harry nodded, “Yeah,” he sighed as Hermione walked away from them finally. Neither Ron nor Harry knew why she kept hanging around them all the time. Their friendship was over as far as the two boys were concerned. Hermione went to follow them once more. Ron quickly turned, hexing her before she could take more than two steps. Making sure that she would be stuck there for a good few minutes before she could try and get to them again.

“I wish she would just leave us alone now,” Ron hummed as they neared the tent.

“I think she hangs around because there is no one else that she became friends with. Too many knew what she was like, and you two were the only ones to put up with her nonsense,” Draco suggested, not knowing if that was the reason or not.

“Could be,” Harry agreed, “she alienated those in the girl’s dorm before the end of our first year. She doesn’t put up with their ‘nonsense’,” he added, rolling his eyes.

“Nonsense?” Draco asked.

“They acted too girly for her,” Ron answered, “they liked to talk about makeup and boys a lot of the time from what Hermione told us.”

Draco nodded, “that’s what most people talk about,” he added, “About the people they like, things that interest them.”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded as they reached the tent. The three walked inside, seeing the other champions there he nodded.

“I can’t believe that you’re doing this,” Draco said softly as he turned to hold Harry properly.

Harry returns the embrace, sighing at how relaxed and warm it makes him feel. “I know, “he murmurs as they share a brief kiss.

The two jump, as do most of those in the tent as a bright light flashed. “Oh, how adorable, young love,” came a sickly sweet voice. One that was not welcomed by those in the tent considering how she had reported the Tournament so far.

“You should leave,” Draco said, as he took a step in front of Harry, “you’re not welcome in here.”

“More like not allowed,” Viktor Krum said from behind, causing Ron to squeak and go bright red.

The tent flaps opened once more and the headteachers of all the schools walked in along with Crouch and Bagman, “Miss Skeeter, please leave.” Dumbledore said as he left the flap open for her to leave along with her cameraman.

“Very well, I have what I need,” she gave what he thought to be a smile, but it was more of a predatory smirk as she left.

“Mr Weasley, Mr Malfoy, you have to go as well,” he smiled at the two students.

“Yes sir,” the two nodded as Draco hugged Harry tightly and kissed him one last time. Leaving the tent was hard for the blond. Walking towards the stands where he was joining the other Gryffindors as they were going to be cheering for Harry.

“He’s going to be okay, he has the worst luck, but also some of the best Luck,” Ron tried his best to reassure him.

Draco looked at him, nodding a little as they reached the stands. Taking their seats he said, “I know that, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about him. He is younger than the others, and he hasn’t been able to learn as much as the others.”

“Yeah,” Ron sighed, “But brave face,” he said as Bagman began to talk, telling them about the task and the order of champions. Soon enough the first Champion Cedric Diggory was called.

Draco and Ron cheered as he was able to get his egg. Fleur and then Viktor came and went. Draco gripped Ron’s arm as Harry walked out. They could see he was nervous, but they watched as he summoned his broom and waited for it to arrive, dodging out of the way of dragon fire. “Oh Merlin,” Draco shook, wanting to jump from his seat to help.

With wide eyes, they watched as Harry took to his broom, only for the dragon to break free and chase him, “Harry!” Draco yelled, standing up.

“Look, Charlie and the others are after them as well,” Ron pointed to his brother and a few of the tamers that had taken off after them. “Though how the dragon escaped the enclosure,” he puzzled, wondering what had gone wrong with the protections. The dragon shouldn’t have been able to chase after Harry.

“He-”

“I know, I know,” Ron reassured him, “But he is the best flyer this school has seen in decades, he’ll be okay,” he told him. Though neither of them knew if it was for himself or Draco that he said those words.

Harry came into view again as the dragon remained behind him, more tamers following as he dived and swooped the golden egg from the nest. The Hungarian Horntail dived and settled over her nest, breathing fire in every direction. Only the protections over the stands stopped them from being fried. The dragon tamers landed and began to calm the mother dragon down as Harry landed and exited from the arena.

Draco didn’t waste another second as he jumped from his seat, Ron quickly on his heels and he headed for the medical Tent, where he knew that Harry would be. Rushing into the tent, he looked around, could see Cedric still receiving some treatment for the burns he had and then headed over to Harry who was being checked over by Madam Pomfrey. The Medi witch was complaining loudly about the tournament, calling those that organised it all kinds of idiots for bringing dragons in for them to face.

“Harry!” he called out.

Harry moved away from Pomfrey as soon as she let him and darted over to him, Golden egg was forgotten on the bed, “I’m okay,” he reassured him straight away. He was still buzzing from the adrenaline that came with trying to outrun a dragon on a broom.

“You gotta go and get your score,” Ron told him as they headed out and waited for them to award him his points.

Harry’s eyes went wide as they were tallied up, “A good score?” he asked, as he looked to the others, he didn’t know what the other champions had received.

“Joint first with Viktor Krum,” Ron said, a proud smile on his face.

“Well done!” came a yell as someone knocked Draco away from Harry and hugged Harry tightly.

“Hermione!” Ron yelled as he pulled her off Harry, “seriously, let him go and fuck off,” he told her. Hearing a tut behind them. They turned to see Professor McGonagall there.

“Mr Weasley, that will be ten points from Gryffindor.

“I’m sorry Professor, but we want Hermione away from us as she has been-”

“Have been nothing, Ronald Weasley,” Hermine glared at him, “you’re just jealous.”

“What do I have to be jealous of?” he asked, glaring back, “Harry didn’t want you around as you kept putting him down, you do the same to me and to Luna. You’ve become nothing but a bully recently. And what was that with the things you were saying as we were walking down? You were doing that deliberately.”

“I was not, you know that I tend to spout facts when I am nervous and scared,” she defended herself.

“You weren’t,” Harry said quietly, “I know what your nervous babble is like, and that wasn’t a nervous babble, that was straight out dictation of the facts that you’ve read.” He looked up at her. Green eyes sorrowful as he looked to someone he had once called his best friend. “You’ve belittled everyone so much over the last few months. I don’t want to be friends with you,” he told her as he took a step away from and went towards Draco.

“But-”

“I don’t either, I don’t think our friendship will ever get back to the way it was, you betrayed our trust, you bully and belittle those around us as well as us. Then you constantly rain down vitriol about the beliefs of the Wizarding World,” Ron’s words were quiet.

“I… I can change,” she said softly.

“We… We didn’t want you to change, we wanted you to realise what you were doing and to accept that people will have different views on things. You’re fine not to follow the wizard tradition, but you should know about them and accept them,” Harry said as he and the others looked at the young witch.

“I…” she began, only to run off, tears in her eyes once more as she tried to think of what went wrong for her and her friendship.

“Wonder if she’ll take anything we’ve said onboard,” Draco sighed as he watched her.

“I can hope, I do want her back, as a friend to us, but she has a lot of things to make up for,” Harry said softly, a hint of sadness in his voice as he thought of what had been lost.

“Mr Potter!” came a call from inside the medical tent, “You’re needed,” came the excitable voice of Bagma as he called Harry into the tent. “Just Harry,” he added as he saw the other two going to follow him.

Draco sighed as they waited outside. It was only a few moments later when they came back out. Though Cedric wasn’t with them. Harry rushed over to them, “Everything okay?” Draco asked him.

“Yeah, just telling us that the egg is a clue to the next task and what it entails. That we have to figure it out,” Harry answered him as the three of them began to walk back towards the castle.

“We’ll find an empty classroom and have a listen then to see if we can figure it out, how long do we have?” he asked.

“We have until February 24th,” he replied, smiling.

“Good we have some time to really plan and learn what you need,” Ron grinned, thankful for having more time.

The three carried on towards the castle, Harry wanting to avoid Gryffindor tower knowing that a party would be happening as soon as he crossed that threshold. He wanted to celebrate still being alive with Draco and Ron there, not just Ron. Heading to the kitchen, they were beset by elves as they asked for something to eat. Since Harry couldn’t stomach lunch that day.

Chapter Forty-One

It was quickly heading towards the middle of December, the holidays were fast approaching. The announcement that there was to be a Yule Ball had created a buzz around the castle. Draco had it easy, as far as their friends were concerned. He had quickly asked Harry to be his date for the night. The younger one had happily said yes, he had a bright smile on his face for the rest of the day. Sirius and Narcissa had been asked to help chaperone the ball, though it was mainly to watch over Draco and Harry. Neville had been a little slower in asking Ginny to go with him. The red spitfire of a witch had been walking on air since. Happily telling everyone who she was going with and how she had a dress already. It was also the only way a third year would be able to go. Ron hadn’t asked anyone yet, too shy and unsure of how to ask.

Walking into Professor Moody’s class they went to their usual seats and settled down with their books and wands out, “What do you think we’ll be learning today?” Harry asked as he noticed that there was a glass jar on the desk with a spider looking creature inside of it.

Ron whimpered as soon as he noticed it, “Please, just get rid of that!” he pointed at it, hoping someone would do such a thing for him. His hand was shaking as his eyes darted around for help.

“Not happening,” Dean muttered, he himself didn’t like the eight-legged freaks, but he didn’t have the total, almost panic-inducing fear that Ron had of them.

“You braved them in second year, you can do it again,” Harry said, reminding the redhead of how he had been able to go through the Forbidden Forest to meet spiders that were bigger than the classroom that they were now in.

Ron nodded, but his blue eyes locked onto the jar and watched it, making sure that it couldn’t escape. Harry reached out, taking his hand and pulled it down, squeezing it tightly to reassure him that he was there for him.

“Right!” Moody yelled as he spelled the door to bang shut, making the class jump at the sudden sound. “What are the Unforgivables?” he questioned as he began the lesson.

After the students had answered he began to show them what each spell did. The spider danced around the room, making them laugh. That was until he showed them that he had total control, could make it drown, kill itself, harm someone else. The words quickly sobered the classroom into deathly silence as he then moved onto another curse. The spider screeched as the Cruciatus curse ran through its body.

“STOP IT!” Ron yelled out as he noticed Nevile shaking badly beside him. Harry was already doing his best to comfort his friend. Arms around the shaking teen.

Moody hooked up, “Ah, yes,” he nodded as he stopped the curse, “The last one,” he muttered as he intoned, “Avada Kedavra,” and with a green light, the Spider fell still. Death had calmed it.

Harry himself shook a little as the colour, brightness of the light that had surrounded the spider for only a split second registered in his mind. One he saw often when lost in dreams. He shook himself, still shaking as they began to write notes about the curses. He couldn’t get rid of the sight of that curse, the colour that haunted his dreams. By the end of the lesson, he had barely paid any attention to what had been said. His notes were nothing but random words that his mind had picked out from all that was being spoken. Neville was beside him, and he was almost the same, Ron keeping an eye on Neville as Draco was doing for Harry.

The lesson ended with minimal homework. Getting up the four were the last ones to leave the classroom. Neville and Harry deep in thought as they were still shaky from the demonstration at the beginning of the lesson.

“Mr Longbottom,” Professor Moody called, “I want to talk to you for a moment,” he said, as he quickly dismissed the other three.

The three went out of the classroom and stood there for a moment as the door closed. “I’ll wait here for him,” Ron said, “I… I don’t want him alone after that.”

“Do you know why he reacted like that?” Harry asked, his voice quiet, barely above a whisper.

Ron shook his head while Draco nodded, “I know some,” the blond said.

“What?” Ron asked, turning to him.

“Bellatrix Lestrange, and the Lestrange brothers along with Braty Crouch Jr, they… tortured his parents to madness. The Cruciatus was the curse used. He… he would know that. I don’t know the details, but that’s the only thing I know about it. They were brilliant Auror’s according to mum, they worked alongside your Dad, Harry, and Sirius at times,” he answered softly.

“Right,” Ron nodded, “I’ll wait here, why don’t you go and see about lunch,” he smiled at his friend, though there was worry in his eyes.

“Sure,” Draco nodded as he took Harry’s hand and led him towards the Great Hall.

“The light,” Harry said as they walked, “The killing curse, I remember it. I remembered laughter and screams. I can hear my parents. My dad told mum to get me and run. Mum, begging Voldemort to not hurt me, to not kill me. He killed her because she wouldn’t move. Then the light, it was everywhere,” he shuddered, curling into himself as he walked.

“I didn’t think you could remember it,” Draco said softly, stopping and turning to his boyfriend.

“The dementors, last year, I only remember the light until them. They pulled the memories free, so much more. But now I remember what they sounded like. They tried to protect me. Mum could have lived if she moved. All she had to do was step aside and she’d still be here,” he murmured as he was pulled into a hug. Holding each other tightly for a moment, they were interrupted when Ron and Neville rejoined them. A book firmly in the herbology prodigious hand.

“You should talk with Sirius, he might be able to help you a little better than me at having those types of memories,” Draco advised him after Harry had quickly told Ron and Neville what he remembered, and Neville doing the same.

“Yeah,” he nodded, agreeing.

“It’s a Hogsmeade weekend this weekend, you should write him a letter and tell him,” Ron told him, repeating Draco’s suggestion as they walked into the Great Hall for dinner. Ron shuddered as he noticed girls looking at them, “Why do they always gawk like that,” he muttered. He felt uncomfortable with the looks they were all getting.

“They’re waiting for someone to ask them to the Ball,” Draco shrugged, while it was common knowledge that Draco and Harry were dating and going to the ball together. Girls still tried their luck in asking Harry out, and Draco as well.

“Ugh,” Ron muttered, he knew who he wanted to ask out, even though he liked her, he didn’t think she liked him. “There is someone I want to ask,” he murmured, his friends sending encouraging looks at him.

“Like I said, who would want to take you anywhere,” Hermione muttered as she passed them.

Once more she had ignored the advice given to her not even two weeks ago. A lot of the time, she was her old self, helpful, kind, if a little bossy. But ever now and then, this darker side would come out. The bully. Neither boy could understand what had changed for their friend to make her like this. They may have found out what she had done, but they gave her a chance to redeem herself. So far, she had just made things harder for the boys to forgive her.

“I would say the same about you,” Ron muttered, though he didn’t mean it. He knew that Hermione was a nice girl when you got rid of the bitchiness and bullying she had been doing recently.

“I have a date,” she smirked, chuckling to herself as she went down the row and sat amongst the girls of their year. They quickly began interrogating the witch to find out who had asked her, only to be rebuffed every time.

“Ron,” Harry called his attention, “nothing is going to happen if you don’t get off your arse and ask,” he told him.

Ron huffed a sigh, “I know,” he said as the one he wanted to ask began to walk over to them. “Do you think she’ll say yes?” he questioned his friends.

“Yes!” Draco and Harry yelled at him.

“Hi Ron,” came a sweet voice.

Ron turned and smiled, a little blush on his face, “Hi Luna, erm, sit down, join us?” he mumbled a little as he moved down the bench so she could.

“Thank you,” she giggled, looking just above his head, “You have giggle bugs around you,” she told him, “they cause emotions to become overwhelming and to make you doubt yourself.”

Ron nodded, “yeah,” he said, “I erm, wanted to ask if you… Do you want to go to the ball with me?” he rushed out, not able to say the words slowly lest he lose what little courage he had.

“You’re a Gryffindor,” Draco sighed, shaking his head, “What happened to the house of the brave,” he muttered.

“They run scared at Ravenclaws,” Harry joked, looking between the two.

“That would be lovely Ron,” she agreed, “I like being your friend, you’re so nice,” she told him.

“Yeah,” Ron smiled, though it now looked a little brittle, “Friend,” he smiled, “I hope I’m a good one,” he told her.

“You are a very good one,” she told him, “Oh, the giggle bugs are going?” she queried.

“Yeah,” he nodded, he closed his eyes, it had been a little crush. But it was obvious with that little sentence that she only saw him as a friend. He gave a little sigh, determined that he would still have a good night out with a friend.

Luna smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, the Wangxian’s will begin to flock to you soon,” she reassured him., continuing to pat his shoulder

Ron nodded, not sure what she was on about this time, but let it go while Harry and Draco looked at him a little sorrowfully. But the smile he sent them reassured him that he was fine.

XxXxX

Harry walked hand in hand with Draco as they went to the Three Broomsticks. Sirius was waiting for them. Harry had taken his friends advice and wrote a letter to his Godfather. Walking in, they glanced around, finding Sirius sitting with Remus talking quietly. Harry rushed over, dragging Draco with him as they sat down, “Hey,” he smiled at his godfather and Remus.

“Good to see you Harry, Draco,” Remus greeted first.

“Hey!” Sirius grinned, grabbing his godson and hugging him over the table.

Harry laughed as he sat back, “So, I wanted to talk to you about Moody’s class,” he said, explaining what happened and how Neville reacted, as well as the memories that it had brought back.

Sirius shook his head, “That’s the thing about Moody. He is a realist. He doesn’t believe in babying anyone around. Showing you what’s out there is a good thing to him. Though he’s normally not that blunt. But then again, I’ve not been around him since before I went into Azkaban,” he hummed a little, puzzled at the slightly strange behaviour.

“Well, people do change,” Remus reminded him.

“Yeah,” Sirius nodded, “I’ll see if I can get word to Albus about it,” he smiled softly, seeing the faces that the two teens were pulling.

“Nevile was shaken up, he was having a hard time in our lesson after lunch. He already has a hard time because his wand isn’t his,” Harry began.

“Not his?” Sirius frowned, Remus, doing the same.

“It’s his dad,” Harry answered the unasked question.

“Right, I’ll talk to Augusta about that,” he nodded, “Right, something good,” he then said, “how’s the dating?” he grinned. He would be chaperoning another date after this little meeting, though soon enough he would be needed for that any more.

“Just a small dinner,” Draco said, a light blush on his face.

“As long as you enjoy yourselves, there is no need to go overboard with anything,” Sirius told them, Remus nodding along.

The two boys nodded as they continued to talk for a little while longer with the two men before it was time for their reservation. A small little place that was set apart from the main hustle and bustle of Hogsmeade. It was a favourite of theirs.

Chapter Forty-Two

The days sped by and before anyone knew it, the Yule Ball was on them. The Yule celebrations had also begun. Seven days of gifts, each one a specific purpose. The Yule Log in Gryffindor had been lit by the eldest of the dorm. As it was for each of the houses. Hermione had ranted about it. She had only stopped when told that it was going to happen regardless of what she thought. There were still a few Christmas Trees dotted around, but there were fewer of them compared to other years.

Harry’s first gift of Warmth, had arrived that morning. A beautifully and heavy cloak. While the Weasley’s all received their jumpers. Though he knew Mrs Weasley celebrated Christmas, and not Yule. They took it as a gift of Warmth instead of Christmas gift. Which they had done in earlier years.

“Ready for this?” Ron asked him as they began to head down. The two were to meet with Luna and Draco at the entrance of the Great Hall.

“Yeah,” Harry grinned, he still shuddered at the dance lessons they had been taking. But at least he knew he wasn’t going to show himself up. Draco was an excellent dancer and had led the two of them around the room a dozen times before they had been forced to leave the dance floor to let someone else have a spin.

“Hello, Ron, Hello Harry,” Luna greeted them as soon as she saw them. She was wearing a beautiful gown. A light sky blue that flowed much like water around her as she moved. Ron was suddenly glad that his brother had been able to send him some Robes that won’t show him up.

Tugging on the cuffs, he gathered his courage and walked over, “Hey Luna, ready to go in?” he asked her as he offered her his arm.

“I am,” she smiled, taking his arm, “thank you for asking me to come,” she added.

“You’re welcome, hopefully, we can have a good time,” he smiled back, “See you in there,” he turned towards Draco and Harry and then walked away.

“Pity she’s friend-zoned him,” Harry sighed as he walked over to Draco, “They’d make a cute couple.”

“They do,” he agreed easily, sighing a little at Ron’s poor predicament.

“Harry,” Cedric greeted with his date.

Alica Spinnet, who waved to Harry and winked, “well, Angela and Katie got the twins, so I grabbed Cedric,” she shrugged.

“As long as he doesn’t mind,” he winked back.

“I’m a chaser, I go after them and hold on until I need to pass them on, it’s in the blood,” she joked, laughing as Harry did the same.

“Line up!” Professor McGonagal said as the last two champions came in with their dates. Fleur Delacour had come with Roger Davis. To their surprise, Hermione was grinning from where she was standing next to Viktor Krum.

They walked in and the night began. Smiling as they danced around the room, it didn’t take long for other couples to join the four champions and their dates on the crystal-like floor. The classical band was soon gone, replaced by something that was more age relatable to the teenagers that were attending.

“Wow,” Harry grinned as they stopped dancing to take a small break. They could hear a slightly raised voice coming from one corner of the room. They moved a little closer to be able to overhear what was being said.

“I’m just saying that having these traditions and rules that people have to follow are stupid. They are old and worn out and they need to be replaced. Whoever thought that courting, the old dating traditions they have for such a thing should be adhered to. And then there are the ones considering pregnancy. Who gets to decide what a woman should do with their body during such times,” Hermione’s voice was getting a little loud.

“The traditions that are used during pregnancy are to protect the unborn child and to help support the mother during such a time. Pregnancy in the magical world comes with dangers. If an unborn child is more magically inclined it impacts the health of the mother. It is one of the reasons why most wizarding families will only have one child,” Viktor replied to her ranting, a frown on his face.

“Then how do you explain Molly Weasley, she had seven children, each of them powerful and strong, and she doesn’t practice them,” she retorted, a smug smile on her face.

“She could be a powerful witch in her own right, able to withstand the magical unleashing of an unborn. Also, her husband could have been helping, many things can help a woman during pregnancy and birth,” he shook his head, a frown on his face.

“And then seclusion, after birth?!” she ranted even more. Pregnancy and birth had just come up in their traditions class just before the holidays had begun.

“It is for the child’s magic to settle down, so it will not be disrupted by outside influences as it calms after the trauma of their birth,” Viktor told her, “You know this, you learned this. It is not a surprise to you on how the wizarding world works. It has been that way for over a thousand years. We keep them to honour mother magic and the gift she gives us. Those that don’t celebrate, often find their magic gets weaker as they age.”

“I doubt it,” Hermine huffed, “The wizarding world needs to be brought into the present, they are too wrapped up in the past and because of that it is stagnating.”

“Enough, I have listened to you belittle the beliefs I have had since I was a child. You are living in a world that has traditions and celebrations like any other part of this world, muggle or magic. Would you operate another country with your beliefs because you don’t like them?” he asked her, “What of Japan? Korea? Russia? Would you take away the things they celebrate because they don’t conform to your personal views?” he continued, eyes narrowing as he realised that he had chosen someone willing to stop the gift of magic at its source.

“The… It’s completely different, we’re in England,” she yelled.

“England, maybe, but you are not just English, you are Wizard English, different from Muggle English,” he told her, “Good night, Hermine, I do not wish to be around a woman that does not want to be part of the wizarding world. Go back to your Muggle World if you love it so much.” With those words he turned around and walked away from her, heading towards the table of beverages and taking up a small cup of punch.

“You all right?” Harry asked him, as he walked over, “I know she can be a bit much at times.”

“I thought she was a nice girl, intelligent,” he began.

“She was, but now that the traditions of the Magical World are coming back into play at Hogwarts, she is resisting. Which she is fine if she doesn’t want to celebrate, we know not everyone does. But she has been doing this, alienating people because she disagrees with them. She is…” Harry trailed off, trying to figure out.

“She clings to the Muggle World she grew up in, seeing it as the best thing ever, yet she doesn’t see the damage that Muggles can do,” Draco sighed softly. He had heard all about the World Wars and the other smaller wars that had taken place on the planet. While they have had two dark lords in the last 100 years, before that, the last one was in the early 1800s. The trend was typically one dark lord per century. To have two was very unusual.

“I love some of the things in the muggle world, but I feel more at home here than anywhere else,” Harry shrugged a little as Ron and Luna joined them.

“How was dancing?” he asked.

“Luna is awesome at dancing, I however just fall flat on my face or tread on her toes,” Ron answered, going red in embarrassment as he then noticed that Viktor Krum was standing nearby.

“A simple charm helps with that, Professor Flitwick made sure everyone knew it,” Luna giggled.

“Right,” Harry laughed.

“How about a dance with me Harry?” Viktor asked, “with permission from your partner,” he added as he looked at Draco, “Though I would like one with you as well,” he told the blond before Draco could answer.

“That is up to Harry,” Draco said, looking at the brunette, “have another dance if you want,” he smiled.

“Think I will,” Harry said, taking Viktor’s hand and then being led out onto the dance floor.

Viktor danced with Harry, then Draco. He took Luna for a quick dance and then walked her back to her date. A pleased little smile on her face as Viktor looked at Ron, “Would you care for a dance?” he asked the redhead.

“Erm, yeah, okay,” he stammered as he took the offered hand and was taken to the dance floor.

“Hmm,” Luna hummed happily, “The Wangxian’s are very happy today,” she giggled.

“Are they?” Harry asked, a little curious about this new creature that his friend was seeing.

“Yes, they are,” she nodded, “They are so happy because they have you and Draco to flitter around, and they may have another couple to flitter around. So many are finally finding their one true love,” she said as she almost skipped away from them, getting herself a drink.

“So that’s what they mean,” Harry muttered more to himself than to Draco.

“She is a strange one, but… she’s perceptive,” he added, shaking his head and turning to Harry once more, “Another dance?” he asked, giving him an elegant bow as he extended his hand out to his boyfriend.

“Always,” he replied, taking Draco’s hand.

The two walked onto the dance floor again, wrapped in each other’s arms. To the side of the room, Narcissa and Sirius were watching them. But neither of them wanted to get in the way of their dancing, or the fun that they were having.

Ron stumbled a few times as he and Viktor danced. The redhead was nervous, very nervous, this was… this was like someone meeting their idol. He tripped once again, almost falling, but Viktor Krum easily frightened him.

“I didn’t think Hogwarts since they were so Muggle friendly, would be all right with same-sex pairing,” Viktor murmured.

“We’re fine about it, though you don’t see many such couples here. And yeah, it was bad during my parents and grandparents years here. And with Dippit changing things. But Dumbledore’s fine with it, and the Muggle World is more accepting than it once was,” Ron said, he had talked a lot about it with Harry over the last few months.

“That is good,” he smiled as He caught Ron before he could fall once more. “You are having a lot of trouble,” he teased lightly.

“I’m… I’m not the best of this, I should let you go and dance with someone better,” he said as he tried to let go of Viktor only for the other to tighten his grip.

“No, we do this,” he smiled as he got Ron to stand on his feet and off they went again, dancing around the ballroom.

Harry and Draco looked over, almost laughing with what they saw, “Well, Ron’s dancing has improved,” Harry joked, smiling widely as he saw the flushed look on his best friend’s face.

Draco nodded, “yeah,” he smiled, laughing as well.

The night carried on, with couples dancing, the only downside was Hermione trying to tell Ron and Harry off for the fun that they were having. And for Ron stealing Hermoine’s date. The group ignored her as they dined and drank and danced the night away. The next morning, for those that wanted to celebrate Yule with family, they were permitted to visit home on the seventh day. Which Harry took, it would be his first holiday with his family after all.

Chapter Forty-Three

Lessons had started up after Yule, the holidays spent having fun and spending time with family. The feast Harry had with Sirius and Remus had been magical for the young wizard. It had been his first yule with my family. It had taken Harry a moment to realise that it would be the first of many. As January had begun, Harry knew that he only had a few more weeks before he needed to find out what the clue was.

“So,” Harry said as they ducked into an empty classroom that Professor McGonagal said they could use as they were researching the tasks. As well as a pass to get out more books from the library if they were needed. Though that was only valid if they took care of them and made sure to return them as soon as they were done.

“Shall we open it?” Ron asked, wondering why his friend hadn’t done so so far.

“Yeah, may as well,” Harry said, stomach clenched as he pulled out the egg from the bag that he had secured it in. One that Sirius had sent him just to keep is safe from people that might try and take it.

The three gathered around as Harry placed it onto a table and then opened it. Such a scream came out that they covered their ears to protect them.

“Shut it up!” Draco yelled out.

“Trying!” Harry cried out as he fumbled with the laches to pull the egg together again.

“What the hell was that?” Ron exclaimed, eyes wide as his hands fell from his ears.

“I have no idea,” Harry said, looking at the egg.

“It sounds familiar, the screech, I’ve heard it before,” Draco muttered, as he began to pace, the movement helping him think.

The two friends look at each and shrug. It was almost ten minutes later when Draco stopped and turned to them, a smile on his face.

“You figured it out?” Harry asked, hoping he had.

Draco nodded, “Yes, merpeople, their voices can’t be understood overground. We’ve heard them several times, or rather if you get too close to the water of the Black Lake. They like to come up sometimes to screech at those that throw things into it.”

“Right,” Harry said, “So, I have to have it in the water?” he asked, looking towards the golden egg, sitting innocently on the table.

“Yes,” he nodded as he conjured a tub, “We’re going to have to have our head underwater to hear it though,” he added as he began to fill it with water.

Ron and Harry joined him and as soon as the large tub had been filled Harry grabbed the egg and placed it into the water. With a nod to each other, they ducked their head under the water and opened the egg. As they heard the lyrical rhyme, they all did their best to remember it. When it began to repeat itself, they pulled their head from the water.

Draco spelled them all dry as Harry went over to the desk to write down what he could remember.

Come seek us where our voices sound,

We cannot sing above the ground,

And while you’re searching ponder this;

We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss,

An hour long you’ll have to look,

And to recover what we took,

But past an hour, the prospect’s black,

Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back.

“So, it looks like it’s going to be in the Black Lake,” Draco said, “since it’s merpeople.”

“Yeah,” Ron nodded, “You’re going to be looking for something.”

“Something I’ll sorely miss,” Harry said softly, “I doubt they would take objects. And Sirius would be out, as he’s an adult. So-”

“It would be one of us,” Draco surmised.

“No, it would be you,” Ron told him, “Look, you and Harry are in a courtship. Which means that you will be what he’ll sorely miss.”

“So?” Draco shook his head, “you’re his best friend, it could be you. You’ve been his best friend since his first year.”

“No, it would be you, Draco, the relationship is different from what I have with him. They’re going to use that,” Ron replied, “So it’ll be you.”

“We’ll know when it’s time,” Harry said, feeling guilty that Draco would be more important than Ron.

Ron gave him a look, “Get those thoughts out of your head, I understand, it would be the same no matter what,” he muttered.

“Bu-” Harry began only to jolt from a punch to the arm. “Oww!” he complained as he rubbed it.

“Get over it, I am,” Ron huffed at him, “Right, so Draco is going to be taken for this,” he said looking at them.

Draco nodded, “So you’ll have an hour in the water to find out where I am. There is a Mervillage in the Black Lake, so it might be on the outskirts of that,” he added grabbing some parchment and quill and drawing a quick sketch of the black lake, “it’s around here,” he said as he drew a small little circle where the village was located. Or rather where he believed it would be.

“Right, now we need to figure out what spells to learn,” Ron told him, “one to be able to hold your breath, and some to defend yourself with. Not all spells can be used underwater, the movements you need can be too sluggish, to get the right swish and flick” he added, a small smile on his face.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded as they began to write down a few spells that they knew did work.

Ron jumped up as he realised it was starting to get late, “I… I gotta go!” he rushed as he began to grab his things to leave.

“Where are you going?” Harry asked before he could leave the room.

“I’m… meeting Viktor,” he said quietly, a red embarrassed flush quickly appearing on his cheeks.

“Oh, didn’t know you were close,” Harry puzzled a little.

“Since the Ball,” Ron began, “We started talking during it, and we met up the next day to play chess. He’s really good. So we meet a lot to play,” he shrugged.

“Okay,” Draco said, “have fun, where are you meeting?” he asked.

“Just the library, it’s the only place we can meet apart from the Great Hall, and people keep surrounding him and annoying him there,” Ron shrugged as he then left the room.

“Didn’t expect that,” Draco murmured.

“Luna,” Harry told him, a smirk on his face, “This is what she was on about with the Wangxian,” he laughed lightly.

Draco thought back, “Hmm, you’re right.”

“Right, so,” he began turning back to the egg that was now out of the water and resting on the side.

“Let’s get back to this,” he agreed, “Though I need to send for something from my mother,” he added as he pulled out the book of spells that they were going through.

XxXxX

Draco grabbed Harry’s hand as they walked towards Hogsmeade. There was no date, but Draco has asked his mother, Sirius and Remus to join them. Though Harry had no idea that they would be waiting for them. “Why the rush?” Harry asked as they walked hand in hand, behind them a rather in-depth conversation was going on between Ron and Viktor, who had joined them.

“We’re meeting a few people and Viktor,” he said as he looked behind, “I hope you’ll be okay with what we’re doing,” he smiled as Ron nodded alongside him.

“What are we doing?” Viktor asked, curiously at what the three friends had planned.

“We’re meeting my mother for a moment, she has something that I need and then we’re meeting with Remus and Sirius,” Draco answered, “They’re going to be helping prepare Harry for the next task.”

“Okay, I don’t mind helping,” Viktor told them, as he then went back to his conversation with Ron.

Harry looked at Draco as they carried on walking into the village, “You asked them to help?”

“Of course I did, I know you’re worried about the power of your spells while underwater, and I know that Remus and Sirius would be able to help you with that. As for why I want to meet my mother, well, I asked her to bring something that will let you swim and breathe underwater for around an hour,” he answered, squeezing his hand tightly and then bringing it up and placing a gentle kiss on his knuckles.

“Thank you,” Harry said sweetly, a loving smile on his face as he leaned closer to him.

They walked into the village and headed to the village centre where they would be meeting everyone. Draco smiled and waved as he saw his mother, standing there with his cousin and Remus. The three were talking quietly as they spotted the four teenagers.

“Mum,” Draco smiled as he was quickly swept into her embrace.

“My Dragon,” she smiled back, “how are you?”

“I’m well,” he answered.

“And you Harry? Ron?” she asked, getting nods from the others as she then spotted the other teen with them, “And you must be Viktor Krum,” she greeted, “I’m Narcissa Malfoy, a pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is mine Madam,” he bowed to her.

“And here is the package Draco,” she then addressed her son, handing over the small package that he had asked for.

“Thank you,” he smiled, tucking it away in his robe as he moved back to Harry’s side.

“Right,” Sirius grinned, “let’s get started with why we’re all here,” he told them as he began to lead the way towards the Shrieking Shack.

“You know,” Harry said as he looked back to Viktor and Ron, “I think we should try and invite the other two champions as well.”

Draco paused, thinking for a moment, “I supposed that would be all right,” he told him.

“Would you mind that Remus, Sirius?” Harry asked them, turning towards his godfather.

“We’re fine with that,” Remus agreed, Sirius nodding along with him.

“Ron, will you and Draco be able to have a look around the village for them?” Harry asked the two, a bright smile on his face.

“Sure,” they nodded.

“I’ll be back in a bit,” Ron told Viktor as the two ran off to search the village for them.

The group carried on towards the shack, though just before they entered it Ron and Draco came back with Fluer and Cedric following behind them.

“So what is this all about?” Fleur asked as she looked at the group. She was unsure if she wanted to be around them, especially as they were all men.

“I just want to know if you have all figured out your egg?” Remus asked them all, getting four nods, “Right, then we’re going to be going over some of the spells that you might need,” he told them as he led the way inside.

Cedric hesitated before the door, “But this place is haunted,” he murmured, looking around in fear.

“It’s not, it’s just a rumour to protect a former student,” Harry grinned as he went to join the others inside. “Though, why in the world would you be scared, there are ghosts at Hogwarts,” he muttered, shaking his head at the idiocy of why students would be scared of the Shack because it was haunted.

“Okay,” Cedric said, still a little unsure as he followed. Not paying any attention to what Harry had muttered.

Remus gathered them around, “Right, as you know you’ll be underwater, so,” he began as he started going on about the spells that they might need to learn to protect themselves from the denizens of the lake.

The four champions and friends spent most of the Hogsmeade trip inside the Shrieking Shack. Fleur had started to warm up to them all, smiling and laughing. Even though Ron still had a little problem being around Fleur, he was quickly shaken out of it with a bit of help from Viktor.

“Thank you,” Fleur nodded, “I feel much better about this next task,” she added softly.

“You’re welcome,” Harry smiled at her, “Though, I think we should stick together, we’re stronger together than alone,” he added, “I know I would benefit from it the most.”

“It’s a good idea,” Viktor agreed, “We don’t know what we’ll face, but together we are stronger.”

“So, we meet up underwater and go together then,” Cedric nodded, looking at the others, all of them nodding in agreement.

Draco was left alone with Harry on the walk around the village for the last hour. “Thank you for organising this,” Harry said softly.

“Welcome, I knew you were nervous about the task and thought this might help better than just going through the spells with us,” he told him.

“Yeah, still, thank you,” he leaned against him as they finished their day out.

Chapter Forty-Four

Every student was woken up before dawn had broken on the first of February. In the Great Hall, they gathered, though those that didn’t celebrate were allowed to remain in their dorms and sleep in. Though there was only one that didn’t take part. In the Great Hall, the tables were full of things.

“Right!” came the sonorous voice of their traditions teacher, Professor Galen, “You all know what you need to do with what you have been given,” he said, hearing several murmurs from people. They had all known that they were going to be woken much earlier than normal. Ron banged his head against the table as he tried to keep himself awake. Draco looked over at him and shook his head. Nudging him.

“Wake up,” he muttered.

Ron jolted, shouting, “I’m awake!”

The school laughed, including the visiting students, who had been asked if they wished to take part in the Imbolc celebrations. “That is nice to know Mr Weasley,” came Professor McGonagall’s voice.

“Sorry,” he called out, going a little red as Viktor Krum laughed beside him.

“Do not worry,” Viktor reassured him as they took the large sticks that were piled in the middle. Take one and the straw that was also there. They began to make brooms, using braided sweetgrass to bind the straw to the stick. As Dawn started to break, everyone had finished making their brooms. The teachers got up, and in pre-organised groups, they began to head out to different locations around the castle. For the first time in over 70 years, students began to sweep the castle. The old being swept out to make room for the new.

Everyone could feel the magic in the air as the castle seemed to lighten around them. Appearing brighter and warmer. As they had been taught they were using their magic through the broom. Using it to help clean the castle as well as to cleanse their magic as they worked. Ron, Harry and Draco came to a stop with the rest of the school as the Headmasters of each school finished sweeping out the old from the main entrance of the school building.

“Thank you all for joining in,” Headmaster Dumbledore said as they turned to greet the gathered students, “A feast will be held in the Great Hall, we also have our divination teacher and some of her students giving readings.”

“It’s only a bit of fun, but I for one am going to avoid Professor Trelawney,” Harry said, remembering the teacher that would always predict his death and gave him good grades when he predicted that he would suffer horribly.

“Yeah,” Ron snorted in agreement, “I’d like to try the soulmate one, with the apple peeling,” he murmured.

“It does sound fun,” Draco agreed.

“Now, let us finish with the burning of the brooms,” Dumbeldore called out as he walked outside and towards an area that had been set up for them. They went up in groups as they let the brooms that they had made go onto the pile.

The traditions teacher walked forwards, “As we have swept out the old, we let mother magic reclaim the ash,” he turned and lit the bonfire of brooms. One by one each student and teacher added their burst of flames from their wands.

Harry smiled at the flames, “You know, I feel lighter,” he said softly.

“Hmm,” Draco hummed in agreement, “As we sweep we’re also releasing old magic you could say,” he said, he had been given a better explanation, but he couldn’t remember it properly at the moment.

“Hello,” came a voice behind them.

“Viktor,” Ron grinned, “How are you?” he asked.

“I’m good, and you Ron?” he asked, moving closer to the younger teenager.

“Good,” he grinned.

Draco and Harry shared a look before giggling. They carried on standing near the bonfire, watching the flames as they danced. They had agreed to do a proper magical cleansing for Imbolic as a small group. Nevile, Dean and Seamus walked over to them.

“Okay, ready?” Draco asked he would be taking the lead for this as he knew more about what they were going to be doing.

“Yes,” Harry said, taking his hand as they then broke off from the rest of the group. Reaching the area that they had reserved for themselves, they settled down in a circle, close enough that they could hold hands if they wished.

“Right, settled down,” Draco said, with a smile on his face as he looked around the group. His friends from Slytherin were going to join them, but Blaze had decided to take off with some of the upper years for their ritual. Pansy had plans, though she hadn’t told him who she was going with.

Everyone settled, kneeling on the grass. Pulling out the small pouch of magical wildflowers seeds that they had been told to bring. They were good for a lot of healing potions, and being planted during Imbolc made them stronger. As Draco instructed they dug a little into the soil around them, so the seeds could easily sink into it.

“We give thanks to Mother Magic, for all she has done for us, we give to her our magic, may she continue to bless us with her gift,” Draco said as he took the seeds from the pouch and spread them onto the soil he had disturbed, the others doing the same. As soon as the seeds were in the soil they gathered their magic in their hands and pushed it into the earth. The earth and the seeds taking in the magic given to it.

Harry pushed as much magic as he could into the earth. The seeds began to sprout under his hands, lifting them slowly but not stopping the magic. They continued to take root in the soil and then something began to flow towards him. Smiling he could feel his body becoming even lighter. He paused as he felt some tingling in his scar. Something was beginning to strengthen even though the scar itself was beginning to fade.

“Thank you Mother Magic for your blessing,” Draco said as they finished giving their magic, receiving the gift back from the earth.

Harry stopped, and smiled at the others, though there was a little frown on his face as he thought of what happened. They began to get up, talking softly as they headed back to the school and the waiting feast.

“Draco,” he said as he went over to his boyfriend, “I think I need to talk to Dumbledore,” he told him.

“We could talk to him during dinner?” he asked him, “He’ll be at the top table, so we should be able to grab him then,” he added quietly.

“Yeah,” Harry smiled.

Heading into the Great Hall, it was easy to spot the eccentric wizard as he talked to Madam Maxime. The two waved to their friends, as they headed over. “Headmaster,” Harry said, looking between the two headteachers, “I’m sorry to interrupt,” he added.

“That’s all right Harry,” he smiled, “I hope you don’t mind madam,” he then turned to the witch beside him.

“Of course not Dumbledore, I understand that your students need to come before our conversations,” she smiled at him, and then looked at the two wizards.

“I’d like to talk to you before the feast begins,” Harry said, “It’s important I think,” he added.

“Of course,”

“Could we take this somewhere more private, Sorry,” the young wizard said, taking hold of Draco’s hand.

“Okay, we’ll go to the anti-chamber,” he said, getting up and taking the lead to the room.

Walking inside, Dumbledore closed the door and put up a charm to stop people overhearing. He had a feeling that something important was going to be spoken. “Now, Harry,” he said softly, “what seems to be the problem?”

“When we were doing the Blessing I felt something in my scar. But it was like the magic that was coming back during the blessing was strengthening something,” he told him, feeling nervous. He had thought the problem had been dealt with already.

“Ah, yes, but that should have been taken care of,” he murmured, Harry had gone through a ritual to cleanse the Horcrux from his soul. “I wonder,” he said, “May I check something?” he asked of him.

Harry nodded, “of course,” he said, a little scared.

Dumbledore cast an old spell at Harry. And waited a moment before it came back to him, “Ah,” he smiled, a little happier, “What strengthened was the protection that your mother gave you. I thought it would fade, but it seems like Mother Magic is keeping the blessing strong for you.”

“Really?” Harry said, voice trembling a little, “It’s still there,” he murmured, a soft smile on his face as Dumbledore nodded.

“Yes, still there,” he chuckled. “I hope you have no more worries,” he told him.

“No sir, I was just concerned that it hadn’t worked,” he said quietly.

“It has, it is no longer there, all that is there is the blessing and protection that your mother gave you,” the headmaster’s words helped to reassure Harry.

“Thank you,” Draco said, taking Harry’s hand as he murmured the same.

Albus let the two of them out of the room, watching as they rejoined their friends at the table. He smiled to himself as he could see they were going to peel an apple each.

“I got a V thought it might be a U. And something, think it might be an H or maybe a K, then again it could be an X or even an R,” Ron muttered as he looked out the stone floor where his apple peel had landed.

“Let’s try,” Harry said as he picked up one for himself and handed another to Draco. They both peeled it and then tossed it over their shoulder. Turning they looked at it and tried to decipher the letters that came up. “I think it might be a D or B, and then, maybe that is a W or M, depending on how you look at it,” he shrugged.

“Draco Malfoy,” Ron rolled his eyes, “I think that’s what we’re seeing,” he chuckled at the blush on Harry’s face.

“Okay,” Draco said looking at his, “H, maybe K, and the other is an R or P, or something, it’s so hard to tell,” he laughed.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.

“Oh my,” came a huffy voice, “I can’t believe you are even doing this, we all know that divination is not a branch that even exists,” Hermine muttered, rolling her eyes. “You all just cleaned a castle and then burned the broom. Who does that,” she shook her head as she took a seat a little further down. Not far enough that they wouldn’t have to listen to her.

“Hermione, shut up, it’s just a bit of fun, it doesn’t always mean anything,” Ron told her, sighing as he sat down, the jovial mood that had been there already dampening as Hermione continued to belittle what they had just taken part in.

Harry ignored her for a moment, “It did do something, it helped the protection my mother gave me,” he told her, glaring as she huffed in disbelief.

“It couldn’t do anything like that, it’s just your magic,” she said, ranting again about the idiocy of taking part in old rituals. It wasn’t long before Professor McGonagal walked over as she had been called by another student.

“Miss Granger, you have been told many times to stop your ranting about something you don’t know about,” she told her, “If you are not going to take part, then you can return to the dorms and have your meal there. Others are trying to enjoy their holiday,” she added, ushering the witch from her seat.

“Bu-”

“Miss Granger,” she began before Hermione could say a word, “you are belittling peoples beliefs, would you do the same to a Muslim? Hindu? Buddhist?” she asked her. Seeing the shake of the head, “then why do you do that with the Magical Worlds belief?”

“I…” she sighed, looking away, “it-”

“You are causing harm with your words and actions, you are losing those around you by your belittlement. They do not care if you don’t practice with them. All they want is to practice in peace, as all those that hold religious beliefs want,” she told her as she walked escorted Hermione out of the Great Hall

Harry sighed and looked at his friends, “Well, let’s try and enjoy the rest of the night,” he smiled a little as the others did the same.

Seamus began to try and turn his water to rum once more. This time, Draco and Viktor were helping. Harry laughed along with most of the table, as it had the same result as always, a minor explosion, but this time, there were three faces covered in soot.

Chapter Forty-Five

Harry was cold as he looked around the Great Hall. He has a cloak on and then his swimming gear that had been delivered that morning. In his hand was the pouch that Draco had given to him a few days ago. It was gillyweed, to help him breathe underwater. He glanced at it and then around once more. Ron wasn’t there either, Neilvve was the one that was standing with him and walked him down from the dorms.

“Neither of them are here,” Seamus said as he and Dean walked over.

“No Ron or Draco?” Harry worried, wondering why both of them would have been taken.

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head, “Look, we need to get down there, it’s going to start soon.”

Harry nodded and the four walked out of Hogwarts and down to the platforms that had been set up on the edge of the black lake. Looking around for either Draco or his best friend. He was shocked when the twins came up to him along with two of the chasers for their team.

“Have you seen Alica?” Angelina asked him, worried for her friend. “She was called out early this morning and we’ve not seen her since.”

“No, we haven’t,” Dean answered her, “Ron’s missing and so’s Draco.”

“I think they’re hostages for the task,” Harry said quietly. “But I thought they would only take one for me, not two,” he added, looking to the lake as they approached.

“Then make sure you get them back Harry,” Fred said as he clapped him on the back, almost sending him tumbling with the force of it.

“I will,” he nodded, steeling himself for what was to come. He had spent two afternoons with the other champions, working on making sure that they would be able to use their magic underwater.

Harry separated from them, meeting with Viktor who was glancing around him, “Where is Ron?” he asked him, “And Draco?”

“I think they’re both being used as hostages,” Harry answered, his voice shaking a little, “Ron is my best friend and Draco is my boyfriend,” he sighed softly, “I don’t know if they took them both because of me or just Draco for me and maybe Ron for you,” he said, hoping that might be the case since then he would have help getting them both back.

“That might be the case,” he nodded, “We will see when we’re down there.”

“Alica is also missing,” Harry said as he saw the other two champions waiting for them. “Cedric, I think they took Alica for you,” he told him.

“Really,” he puzzled, “We’ve just started dating,” he admitted shyly, “We decided after the Yule Ball to see.”

“You treat her right or you’ll have the twins after you. They’re protective,” Harry warned him, trying to lighten the mood a little as he then noticed that Fleur was looking around at the gathered crowd. “Fleur?” he asked.

“My sister, she wasn’t in the carriage when I woke, and I can not find her. She is a poor swimmer,” she answered, looking scared.

“Then…” Harry began looking at the others, “Look I’m friends with three of those taken, and another is a young child. We… we should work together. Get to them and get back. We’ve learnt together, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well. We can help each other,” he pointed out to them all.

“I have a weakness with water in general, as do all those with Veela blood in them,” Fleur admitted, “I’m worried that I will fail this task,” she told them.

“Then we stick together,” Cedric nodded, getting a hum of agreement from Viktor.

“Okay,” Harry grinned, thankful that they had taken his suggestion.

Heading to the platform they listened to what the task was about. IT didn’t take long for the gun to fire and Harry swallowed the gillyweed as the others all jumped into the water. Taking a second he fell in. Swimming around, he quickly got used to what he could do. He smiled at the other three. Fleur smiled at him as they began to head down into the murky water. It was hard to see.

“We should keep going,” Harry called out, getting a nod from Viktor, who’s whole head had been transformed into a shark.

“We’re nearing the middle of the lake,” Cedric said, though they could just about hear him from the bubblehead charm he was using.

“Hmm,” Fluer hummed as he looked around, feeling nervous in the water.

Harry reached out to her, taking her hand, just as something flew towards them and took off with her, “FLEUR!” he yelled out, causing the other two to chase after him as he took off after her. Wand out he began to fire the heating spells that Remus had thought of them. Aiming it at the grindylow that had taken off with Fleur.

Two more jet’s of heated water shot past him. All three hit the grindylow and with a screech it let Fleur go. She floated in the water, shaking from the encounter.

Harry was the quicker swimmer as he went over to her, and supported her, “You okay?” he asked her softly. His green eyes are full of concern for the older witch.

“I am,” she said as she righted herself in the water, “thank you,” she smiled at the three of them as they gathered around her.

“We should go,” Cedric said, “I don’t know how long it will be before they try again,” he added, glancing around them.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, Viktor nodding beside him.

Unable to speak, he took the lead, gesturing for the others to join him. They began to swim and head towards the location of the Mervillage. They kept Fleur in the middle of the group, making sure that she wouldn’t be harmed again. There was a small cut on her arm, but thankfully nothing else. She kept up with them as they swam, glad of the protection in the water. Her magic wasn’t as strong as it was on land.

“Up ahead!” Harry called out, as he could see a statue that had four people tied to it.

They all sped up, going as fast as they dared. They got closer and could see a few of the merpeople watching them. Some of them curiously, some of them were there obviously to keep a watch over those entrusted into their care.

“The only one you can take,” one of them said as he approached the group.

“We understand, thank you for caring for them and keeping them safe,” Harry told him as he went to Draco, each of them went to their hostages. Using magic, they were able to undo the bonds that tied them to the statue.

“Thank you,” Cedric and Fleur said to them as Viktor nodded to them, a hand keeping Ron close to him.

With that, the four of them began to swim back, thankfully not coming across anything else as they did. Breaking the surface the hostages began to wake.

“Harry,” Draco gasped, shivering in the cold water.

“Draco,” Harry gurgled a little as he was mostly still in the water. The gillyweed hadn’t worn off yet. “You okay?” he asked him.

Draco nodded as they began to swim towards the platform. He could see and hear the others around them, as they went, “Yes, fine. They asked and I said yes, we knew it was going to be me. Ron being there was a surprise though,” he laughed, though his teeth were beginning to clatter together in the freezing water.

Harry seeing his distress called out, “make sure to use warming charms on them!” he said as he then did so for Draco, making sure that he was warm.

“Thanks, Harry,” he smiled as they carried on swimming. It didn’t take long for them to finally reach the platform.

Harry helps Draco on, and the others as the crowd went wild as they returned. Shouts and cheers went up as Harry remembered ducking under the water, waiting for the gilly weed to wear off.

“Why hasn’t Harry come up?” Alica asked as she looked to the young seeker.

“Gillyweed,” Draco was the one to answer, “He’ll come out when it’s worn off,” he added, looking at the headmaster who nodded.

“We shall award the scores!” he yelled out. The scores came for each of them with Kakarof getting a boo each time he put his up. And an even louder one when he scored Viktor Krum a perfect ten.

“I did not win by my merit,” Viktor said softly, looking at the other champions and adding, “I apologise for the bias that my headmaster shows,” he told them.

“It’s okay,” Harry said as he finally was able to climb out of the water, a blanket already wrapping around him by Draco.

“It is not, it makes a mockery of the tournament, people do not win fair and square,” he said, glancing towards his headmaster and then back to his new friends.

“Well, at least this one is over with, we just have one task left,” Cedric said as he had been listening to Bagman as he talked about the next task that they would be facing.

“Yeah,” Harry smiled, glad that it was nearly over.

“We should practice together again,” Fleur said, “it was nice getting to get to know you all,” she smiled softly from where she stood, her sister wrapped in her arms, keeping her close and warm.

“It is,” Harry turned to look at her, shivering a little from the cold as they began to stand up.

“At least twice a week,” Cedric suggested, “It seems like that would be good, that way we can all teach Harry a few more advanced things. He’s only a fourth year,” he reminded them all.

“Yes,” Viktor nodded in agreement, “I would like to help,” he smiled at Harry and then looked at Ron, “Would you like to learn as well?”

“Yeah, Harry’s always getting into some kind of trouble. Draco should be there as well. Anything we can learn will always come in handy,” he added, thinking of some of the adventures that they had found themselves on over their years at Hogwarts.

“With all you’ve done I’m a little surprised that you didn’t ask to see about testing out of some of your classes, especially defence,” Cedric murmured as he glanced towards Harry.

“I didn’t know it was an option until recently,” he answered him, “I just thought you would just have to carry on in the lesson,” he shrugged, “Though I know I’m behind on things,” he added softly.

“But you’re ahead of others,” Draco pointed out, “We’ve seen you when you use defence, you have a great grasp of it.”

“Theory,” Ron said, “He’s behind with the theory,” he explained better.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, “I can use the spells but doesn’t mean I know what’s behind them,” he smiled, “I’ll keep to normal lessons thanks,” he laughed.

“Okay,” Cedric nodded, “I know some don’t want to leave their school friends, it’s why a lot don’t take it up.”

“Hey Harry,” Draco called out as he went over, taking his hand as the students began to head back to the castle. The group still had blankets around them as they walked in the frigid February air.

“Hey,” Harry smiled back at him.

“Next Hogwarts weekend, want to go for a meal?” he asked, squeezing the hand within his.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed quickly. “I’m happy that they are letting us go to Hogsmeade every other week now,” he said softly.

“It’s because of the visiting school,” Draco answered him, “making a good impression on them.”

“Hmm,” Harry nodded, keeping hold of Draco’s hand as they went inside. Splitting up to shower and change, but already decided to meet back in the Great Hall as soon as they were done. The champions and their hostages met back up as lunch was served. Chatting quietly with each other as they made plans on what to teach others to help prepare themselves for what was to come

 


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