Unofficial Portkey Archive

Always and Forever by Lorelover

Always and Forever



Always and Forever


Disclaimer: Harry Potter, and all the characters associated there with belong to JK Rowling, and Scholastic. Also, any similarities to any other work is unintentional. I make no profit from this story. I wrote it, just for fun.



Chapter 18

To Know Hermione


One of the things Harry loved about his morning runs with Hermione was the quiet solitude. They already spent a great deal of time together, working, talking, and occasionally just relaxing in each other's arms... so they ran mostly in silence. It was nice to be together sometimes and not talk, but just enjoy the other person's presence. For Harry, it gave him time to think about the girl running next to him. He liked to imagine that she was probably thinking about him at the same time.

Today, he was thinking that Hermione's next demonstration was getting close. All his regular schoolwork was done, in fact he was a little ahead. He almost laughed out loud when he imagined what the look on Ron's face would be if he told him. Since it was Friday, he'd be done with classes after two o'clock, and then he'd have until Sunday night to help her. `If she needs help, that is,' Harry thought.

Later as they were sitting down to breakfast, Harry asked, "Hermione, how's your next demo coming?"

Hermione scrunched her forehead as she answered, "Well, I've got all the problems solved except for two; one dealing with Arithmancy, and the other with Transfiguration."

Harry nodded as he thought about that for a second. "Either of them involve research? You know, like just looking things up?"

Hermione looked at Harry, wondering where this was going. "Actually yes, the Arithmancy problem. I'm trying to find the original solution to a rather nasty little equation."

Harry nodded again as he thought of a plan to help Hermione. "What if you concentrate on the Transfiguration problem, and let me do the research on the equation?"

"Harry, how are you going to do that? No offense, but you don't know much about the subject."

"True, but do I really need to?" At her confused look he went on, "look, write down the equation and what you already know, I'll start going through the books looking for anything that looks like what you may need. I don't have to understand it, to find it."

Hermione chewed her bottom lip, the way she did when she was thinking especially hard about something. Finally, after a minute she said, "No, I guess you don't, but what about your work?"

"All done. Actually, I'm ahead... so no problem."

Hermione's eyebrows inched upwards, "Really?" she asked skeptically.

Harry wiggled his eyebrows, "Yep, picked up this nasty habit from a friend of mine. Does come in dead useful at times though."

Hermione shook her head and laughed, "Prat."

"Yeah, but you still love me," Harry joked.

Hermione quickly changed the subject before her face gave her away, "Yes, well all right, I'll get you a copy of my notes after lunch."

Harry noticed both the yes and a quick change of subject, but didn't say anything else except, "Great! I'll get started right away. If you need me, I'll be in the library."


Following Harry's technique, Hermione decided to talk with one of her professors about her problem. Fortunately, for her, and unlike Harry's dealings with Snape, she happened to like this particular teacher. After a light knock, Hermione heard the unmistakable Scottish drawl of Professor McGonagall.

"Come in," was all she said.

Hermione pushed the door open and entered, "Good evening Professor, I hope I'm not bothering you."

"Of course not Miss Granger, please come in and have a seat."

"Thank you Professor," Hermione said, as she took one of the two seats next to a small table that faced each other. She decided she most definitely preferred McGonagall's office to that of Dumbledore's, it was far more inviting.

"Now, what can I do for you," McGonagall asked, as two cups of tea appeared on the table.

Getting right to business Hermione started, "Well Professor, as you know from my proposal, I'm trying to improve the Disillusionment Charm with Transfiguration. McGonagall nodded as she took a sip of her tea. "With a moving object, like say a person, there are only two ways to become invisible, or nearly invisible… That's the problem. With an enchanted item like say a cloak, you can still be heard or felt, even your scent can give you away. While it's true that with a Disillusionment Charm those types of things are also masked, the masking is not perfect. For example, if you move and someone is paying close attention, they will notice a slight ripple or distortion in the air, again giving you away."

As McGonagall sat her cup of tea down, she said, "I understand the limitations of both Miss Granger, but I fail to see how Transfiguration or Arithmancy applies, as both techniques fall squarely into the Charms category."

"By using both at the same time," Hermione said smiling.

McGonagall raised a brow, "I assume you are aware of what happens when you try to mix those two Charms."

"Yes Professor, both involve powerful magic and when used together… They tend to react badly," Hermione said.

"And you think there's a way to prevent that?" Asked McGonagall.

"I do," Hermione started, "you see, I started looking into what was causing the interaction, but ran into a wall. There doesn't appear to be a way to stop it." Hermione noticed the impatient look on her mentor's face, so hurried on with her explanation. "However, I also noticed that the reaction appears to be inversely proportional to the strength of the differential power of the two charms."

McGonagall thought for a moment before asking, "So, are you suggesting that if someone used a very powerful invisibility cloak, and a very weak Disillusionment Charm… The reaction would also be very weak?"

"Yes, exactly."

"Well I'm fairly sure the effect would also be fairly weak, so I fail to see the advantage."

Hermione's face lit up, "Exactly right Professor, but what if we could keep both at full power, and trick one or the other into believing or behaving as if it were much weaker?"

McGonagall was intrigued, "Go on."

"As you know, a charm can be perceived as weak, for two reasons; one, it is weak, or two, it's felt from a distance." Forgetting she was talking to a professor, Hermione went into full lecture mode. "It's the second reason that I'm interested in. The Charm feels weaker from a distance because of the `Sphere of Influence' law; the influence of the Charm decreases by the square of the distance." McGonagall nodded as Hermione went on, "If it's an enchanted item and you shrink it, you shrink the sphere of influence as well."

McGonagall loved having intellectual conversations about theoretical magic. Unfortunately, she rarely got the chance as most adults lacked the intellect; never mind one of her students. "True, but anything outside that sphere will not be affected," she added.

"Agreed, but I believe with the right modifications, the properties of one Charm can be added to the other, as long as they are both in contact with each other." Hermione said excitedly before going on, "Modifying a Reducing Transfiguration Charm, to shrink the sphere of influence to an almost nonexistent size will eliminate any interference, and if done right, it will still transfer all of its properties at full strength."

McGonagall sat back in her chair as she thought about all Hermione had just said. After what seemed like ages, she nodded and said with a savvy smile, "unorthodox, but yes, I think you might be right," her smile turned serious as she continued, "but just what kind of modifications are you talking about, and how do you intend to apply them?"

Hermione sat her tea down and leaned forward, handing McGonagall a piece of parchment was several complicated arithmancy problems all worked out, except for one. "I have the theory worked out except for the last equation, I have Harry working on that," she said as an afterthought.

That got McGonagall's attention, "Harry? Harry Potter?"

Hermione simply nodded yes as she leaned back.

"Miss Granger, are you telling me that Harry is… well is capable of doing Arithmancy now?"

Hermione's face showed her surprise, "Oh no. I mean no he's not. He's just doing the research, ah, trying to find the original equation for me." McGonagall relaxed a little. "Although maybe he'll take…"

"Miss Granger," McGonagall said quickly, interrupting her favorite student, "let's see how he does with Ancient Ruins before starting him on Arithmancy."

Hermione saw the mirth in her eyes, and realized she had gotten slightly carried away. Turning a little red, she smiled and said, "Yes… Of course."

Returning to the main subject, McGonagall asked "So, after Harry finds the equation, then what?"

"Well, I'm fairly confident I can break it down and use only the parts I need."

"Then all you'll have to do is apply the changes to the Transfiguration."

"Yes, exactly… But I'm having trouble finding any reference to that type of modification. Hence my visit tonight." Hermione said in a hopeful tone.

"Well it's nice to know there are still some things you don't know, and that I can teach you," McGonagall half joked.

Hermione smiled at the indirect praise.

McGonagall got up and walked over to one of the many bookshelves around her office. After a brief search, she pulled a rather large tome from the shelf and returned to her seat. Before handing it to Hermione she asked, "Do you have any ideas as to where the answer may lie?"

Hermione sobered, "Well obviously in a more advanced course, maybe even in a mastery's course. As for the topic, I was thinking Interdimensional Transfiguration."

McGonagall raised a brow, clearly impressed, "I should have known you'd be aware of that particular obscure branch of Transfiguration, and you may very well be spot on. However, I think you may also find the answer in Trans-dimensional Transfiguration. Additionally, it has the advantage of being far easier to learn." McGonagall said, as she handed Hermione the book she'd been holding.


"Never thought I'd find you here," Neville said as he sat down across from Harry.

True, he didn't spend much time alone in the library, but he was spending more time here nowadays. Harry looked up to an amused look on his friends face. "What? I know how to read!" Harry smirked.

Neville returned his smirk, "Yeah, and I know how to fly a broom, but you don't see me playing Quidditch."

Harry laughed, "All right, if you must know, I'm helping Hermione."

Neville cocked his head a little confused, "Shouldn't that be the other way around?"

"Humm, does seem backwards, doesn't it," Harry mused while pretending to look deep in thought. "So what's got you in here then?"

Neville smiled shyly, and quickly glanced around making sure no one was listening. "I was wondering if you knew Luna's birthdate?"

Harry nodded slowly and leaned forward, "I see…"

Neville gave Harry a look that clearly said, `Don't go there.'

Harry chuckled, "Okay fine… But I'm sorry mate, I don't know," at Neville's disappointed look he added, "tell you what though, I bet Hermione does, I'll ask her as soon as I see her."

Neville brightened up, "Thanks mate."

To Neville, it still felt kind of strange to call Harry `mate', but times like these only seemed to reaffirm that Harry was indeed a good friend. He could have easily taken the mickey out of him for fancying Luna, but he didn't. Harry seem to understand him better than anyone else at school, and just accept him for who he was. He never gave him a hard time about being slow with magic; although he was getting better all the time, thanks to both Harry and Hermione. Nor did he give him any grief about liking the girl that most others called, `Loony'; that alone, was enough for Neville to call Harry a good friend.

"So you need a hand?" Neville asked, "I've got about an hour free."

Harry thought for a second, then said easily, "Okay, sure." Pointing to an equation Hermione had written down on a piece of parchment for him, he added, "Try and see if you can find any reference to this." Then he handed Neville the next book from a tall stack sitting next to him.


Monday morning at breakfast while Hermione was going over the notes that Harry had given her on his findings for the elusive arithmancy equation, Harry watched as Cedric got up and walked over to where Viktor was sitting. After what appeared to be a short conversation, both then got up and walked over to join Fleur at her table. A moment later, the three of them rose and made their way towards him.

Hermione smile grew as she read the third to the last note, she was positive it was the solution to her last problem. Not only had Harry found a reference, but he had managed to find the entire solution to the original equation. Looking up, she beamed at Harry, "Harry! You did it, you found…" Her voice faded and her smile fell as she too noticed the trio approach.

Hearing Hermione's excited voice, Harry turned to look at her. Seeing her concerned look, he gave her a slight shake of his head with a raised brow.

Hermione nodded once in understanding; he didn't know what was going on either.

Neville watched their whole silent exchange, then shook his head and muttered, "Amazing."

Hermione's look of concern, was also noticed by the three champions as they arrived at the table. Victor looked mildly confused, not understanding what she had to be worried about, they weren't there to hurt Harry after all.

It was Cedric who spoke, "Harry, we were wondering if you had a few minutes? We like to talk about the next task… alone."

Harry looked at Hermione for a moment, then down at the notes she was still holding. He smiled, "Do you really think I found something that'll help?"

Hermione instantly relaxed and smiled back. She reached over and touched his hand, "Yes, I'm sure of it."

Even with all that was happening, he had been paying attention to her, and even now was putting her first. Hermione glanced over his shoulder for second before returning her gaze to him, reminding Harry of Cedric's request. "We'll talk about it later Harry, okay?"

Harry knew, the `it' was a reference to both his notes, and his upcoming conversation. He gave her hand a quick squeeze, "Sure, meet you in class." Then Harry turned and stood, "So… What's up?"

As a group walked away, Fleur looked over her shoulder and said to Hermione with a smirk, "Ah, don't worriee Ermionee, we will bring im back in… ow do you say… one piece?"

As Hermione felt her cheeks start to redden, she quickly got busy with Harry's notes again.

From across the Hall, Draco watched with a growing curiosity as the quartet left through the main doors. Potter had surprised him. Draco had expected him to fail terribly, but not only had he managed to stand his own with students far older than him, he also managed to make friends with them as well.

When Draco had written home to his father about the tournament and the events surrounding Harry, he expressed his personal thoughts on the situation. No matter how hard he tried to see him as a cheat and a liar, he couldn't. It just didn't add up. He had even gone so far as to ask his father if maybe he thought that Potter might actually be telling the truth. His father's response had surprised him. He didn't seem to care whether or not he had cheated, or lied to get in. He didn't even care how he was doing, good or bad. His father told him not to interfere. He was to just watch and report back and nothing more. That was the funny part; his father told him to report on Potter, why, if he didn't care? Knowing his father, he'd say he had some kind of business deal going on, but what, he had no clue. His father had never been very open, in fact just the opposite. He had always been very quiet and secretive about both business and family matters. Draco figured, that if he was ever going to find out what was going on, he'd have to do it on his own. If Potter could act a little more mature, then so could he. `I'm going to have to be less antagonistic,' he thought, `or I'll never learn anything.'

As much as he hated to admit it, he had to give Potter credit. One thing for sure Draco thought, he was going to stop underestimating the boy-who-lived.


It was fairly late Sunday night in the common room and besides Harry and Hermione, There was only one other couple still up studying. Harry was putting the finishing touches on a Charms paper that was due Thursday, and Hermione was working on her Demonstration.

Now that she had the answers to both the Arithmancy and Transfiguration problems, all she had to do was work out the final steps, and she'd be ready to give her last demo next Saturday.

Harry closed his book and put his work away, and then sat back. Harry smiled as he watched Hermione work. It was a little game of his; trying to figure out her mannerisms as she worked. Actually, it was quite interesting. He was beginning to notice little patterns, Harry wondered briefly if she was even aware of them herself. If she bit her lower lip; it meant she was thinking about a problem, but if she chewed on it; that meant she was going over all the different possibilities. Tapping her quill, meant she was composing her thoughts before committing them to parchment. The one he was still a little vague on, was when she chewed on the end of her quill. Since she usually looked kind of distant when she did that; Harry figured maybe she was thinking of an alternate theory or solution… or something like that.

Harry had seen her work like this many times, but tonight she seemed a little more driven, more… intense. He knew she always worked hard on her studies; her grades proved that, and Harry would be the first to say how proud he was of her. Tonight however, she was more than just working hard, Hermione was on a mission. This demo was obviously more important to her that he thought.

Harry thought back to the conversation they had a few days ago about her coming in second after the last demo. She had admitted that it had bothered her, but that she would get over it. `It's really not that big a deal Harry,' she had said before changing the subject. He had let it go, not wanting to upset her, but Harry felt pretty sure there was more to it than she let on.

Harry hated to bother her, but he felt this was important. Sitting up, he called to her, "Hermione, can I ask you something?"

Hermione looked up curiously, "Sure."

"I know we talked about this before, but…"

Hermione sat her quill down, "What?"

"Your third demo is coming up," Harry fidgeted, "are you worried… I mean not about the demo, but rather… you know."

"You want to know if I'm worried about finishing in first place." Hermione finished for him, with just a hint of irritation that he thought she was so vain.

"Yeah… ah kind of." Harry hesitated a second, "Look, I know you don't care about medals or even the recognition." Harry looked away, "But I still think it's important to you somehow," Looking back, he went on, "I just was wondering why?" Harry could see the thought of talking about it bothered her, "Never mind, it's none of my business."

Hermione relaxed, Harry didn't think she was vain, just curious, and concerned; she should have known. "It's okay Harry…"

Since their talk a while back, Hermione had been doing a fair bit of thinking about that very topic. It was something she normally kept buried in the far reaches of her memory, But Harry had noticed. Hermione thought sometimes Harry knew her better than she knew herself. He was only asking out of concern for her, and he was being so patient. Maybe it would help to talk about it.

Looking down she started playing with a loose thread on her skirt. "All my life for as long as I can remember, I've loved to read. I didn't necessarily like to study, but I did because I loved to learn new things." Hermione stood up and walked over to the fireplace. "All that reading and studying drove a wedge between me and the other kids my age. They resented me for knowing more and being smarter than they were. They pushed me away and called me names. And… in turn, I resented them for not understanding, and for the way they treated me. Each year it just got worse, pretty soon the gap between us was so wide there was no going back."

Hermione went on telling Harry things about her early childhood she'd never told anyone else, not even her parents. Things like; being locked in a school closet so she'd miss a test, or having all her books taken and thrown in the rubbish bin. She stood facing the fire, arms crossed defensibly over her chest. She had started crying, but hadn't noticed. Old unpleasant memories from long ago painfully brought back into the present. She didn't know why she was telling Harry everything now, but she knew she could trust him, and somehow it made her feel just a bit better for doing so.

Harry stood and went to her. Standing behind her, he wrapped his arms around her middle and held her. He suddenly felt horrible for bringing it up. "Hermione, I'm sorry, I didn't…"

"I know…" Hermione stayed quiet for moment collecting her thoughts. When she finally spoke again, it was in a near whisper. "I sacrificed a lot; all the things that most little girls do… together. Sitting around talking, playing… having friends. I could have played dumb.

Harry gently turned her around and took hold of both her hands. He didn't say a thing, not yet, he knew she wasn't finished. He just gave her a sad smile, and waited patiently.

Hermione looked down at their joined hands. Using her thumbs, she started subconsciously rubbing little circle on the backs of his hands. "I guess, I just need to know… that it wasn't all for nothing."

Harry shook his head slightly, "They were too young to understand, but now you have friends who do." Harry pulled her close into a gentle embrace. Hermione relaxed into him and brought her arms up around him.

He held her with one arm, while with his free hand, he started running his fingers through her hair. "I don't know much about your life before Hogwarts, but I do know; you are the most amazing person I've ever met. So… as far as I'm concerned, it definitely wasn't for nothing."

Hermione sighed, she loved it when he played with her hair, and she wondered if Harry knew just how much his touch affected her.

"I told you before; you are going to win this, and then you… and the rest of the school will finally know what I know.

Hermione squeezed Harry tight, and after a little sniffle said, "You're good at this you know."

Harry tipped his head down to look at her, "What?"

"Making me feel better,"

Harry smiled and gently squeezed her back, "Ah… Well then good."


Hermione stepped down from the platform with a huge smile on her face; her transfiguration demonstration had gone exceptionally well. After casting the final spell, her modified Disillusionment Charm, Hermione had quite literally disappeared; not even Dumbledore could detect her. There were probably only a hand full of people who even remotely understood her theories, but the final effect was still amazing.

Now for Hermione, her direct involvement in the Triwizard Tournament was over. All she had left to do, was somehow get Harry safely through the rest of his.

The first to greet her, were Ginny and Luna. "Merlin Hermione, when did you learn all that," Ginny said excitedly, "I mean… Well I've never even heard of Trans-dimensional Transfiguration."

Luna answered for her, "That's what happens when you read as much as Hermione does."

Hermione rolled her eyes, "I don't read that much." Then after the looks her friends were giving her, she laughed, "Fine, I read a lot."

By now, the boys had gathered around her as well. "Hermione, Dumbledore reads a lot… You, on the other hand…" Ron stopped and smirked, she knew what he meant.

"Well, all I know is it's a good thing she does," Neville said before going on, "or else some of us would be taking fourth-year over again."

Fred dropped an arm around Hermione's shoulder as George cozied up on her other side. "You are going to teach us some of this… Trans… whatever stuff, right?" The second twin asked.

"I don't know… Professor McGonagall made me promise," Hermione answered seriously, but with a huge smile on her face.

Fred gasped, "You didn't?"

"Well," Hermione started, "if I were given the right… Incentives."

Fred and George both roared with laughter. "Oh, I like this one." George said.

"Certainly has good potential," added Fred.

Hermione finally managed to slip away from the twins and all their commotion. She took a step towards the last person in the group who had yet to say anything. Hermione didn't consider herself vain. That's probably why it didn't matter to her, how much praise she got. Harry's opinion however, mattered. For some reason, she needed to know, good or bad, just what he thought. Hermione stopped and stood just a couple of feet in front of him and waited.

Harry had watched her come down the steps, Happy and ecstatic. He watched Hermione accept her well-deserved praise gracefully. She had worked so hard on this last demonstration, and it showed; hers was easily the best, and even though he was biased, he was sure most everyone else felt the same. Now she was standing expectantly in front to him. `Is she waiting for my approval?' He wondered.

Harry wasn't going to make her wait long, no, she deserved better than that. In fact, she deserved more than just his approval he thought. Harry closed the distance and wrapped his arms tightly around her in a hug. A moment later, he released her to arm's length, but held both her hands in his. "Hermione… That was brilliant… No, more… It was bloody brilliant," Harry said excitedly.

Hermione smiled and said softly, "Thank you Harry, but I did have help you know. You, McGonagall, and even Neville. You all contributed."

"Hermione, McGonagall gave you a book, and Neville and me, well… Heck, we didn't even know what we were reading half the time." Harry shook his head, "No Hermione, this was all you. This is the Hermione I know, and I couldn't be more proud of her."

It was Hermione's turn to pull Harry close and after an all too brief kiss, pulled him into a hug, as she whispered into his shoulder, "Thank you Harry."


Settling down to dinner later that evening, Hermione couldn't help but notice Harry was fairly quiet. "Harry, is everything all right?"

Harry turned and looked at Hermione a little confused, "Huh?"

"Honestly Harry. I asked if you were all right, you looked a little lost."

"Oh, sorry. Yeah, I'm all right… I was just thinking about the demo."

Hermione sat her fork down and raised a brow, "Really? What about exactly?"

"The Arithmancy," Hermione waited for him to go on, and was about to ask him what he meant exactly when he suddenly got excited. "Hermione, there's so much I don't know."

"Harry, that's true for everyone."

"I know… What I mean is…" Harry stopped for a moment to gather his thoughts. "It's not, that I don't know Arithmancy, but rather, it's that I don't even know what all it can be used for, what it's all about. How would I know if it's something I should learn or not? Maybe I…"

"Hold on Harry," Hermione interrupted, "there is no way you have enough time to start learning Arithmancy."

"But what about just a brief introduction," Harry asked seriously.

Hermione couldn't help but feel exasperated by the irony of the situation. Last year she could barely get Harry to do his homework, and now she was trying to keep him from overloading himself. "Harry if you try to take on too much, your grades will suffer. Better to do well in the subjects you already have, then to do poorly in all of them just so you can add one more."

Harry sat still as he considered her words. He had to admit, she was probably right, and she had never led him astray before. Harry slowly nodded his head, "Yeah, you're right of course," then with a smirk, Harry couldn't resist adding, "but if I had a time Turner…"

Hermione had to laugh as she shook her head, "Oh yes, because that worked out so well for me." `Well at least he understands,' she thought. "Let's see how you do with Ancient Ruins first."

Harry smiled, "Deal."

A short while later as everyone was finishing dessert; McGonagall rose and walked to the podium. Without needing to say a word, the Hall quickly quieted down.

McGonagall gave the Hall a curt nod and began, "Well, it would seem that the whole of you have either become clairvoyant… or you're just very anxious for the final scores."

Dumbledore chuckled, while Professor Trelawney smiled, happy about the reference to her art.

As if reading her mind, McGonagall turned to her cohort, "Sorry Sibyll, but in this case I do believe it's the scores they are interested in." Turning back, McGonagall just looked around the Hall, seemingly drawing out the suspense as long as possible.

`Well, it seems Dumbledore is not the only one,' Harry thought, referring to being a showman.

"The final scores were close, as all the competitors did an excellent job," she finally began, "as I call your names, please stand up." McGonagall pulled a scroll from her robes and began to read, "From Beauxbaton, Miss Collette Antwanet, Miss Nicole Lescuier…" McGonagall continued on, reading all the names of the original twenty-four competitors.

"Hogwarts, honored guest, and fellow colleagues, please join me in applauding their efforts," McGonagall finished, and then joined the rest as everyone clapped and cheered. When the Hall quieted down, she continued, "Even though our four champions still have two more tasks ahead of them, your part in the Triwizard Tournament is complete. All of you, regardless of your individual outcome should be as proud of yourselves, as I am of all of you." McGonagall made the effort to look each in the eye, if only for a moment.

As Professor McGonagall was calling out the names, Professor Sprout and Madam Hooch were handing out certificates of participation to each student.

As soon as all the participating students had their certificates, McGonagall spoke again, "Again, thank you all for making the Skills and Knowledge Demonstration's part of the Triwizard Tournament, such a success. Now I would like to ask the twelve students who participated in the last two demonstrations to remain standing for a moment, the rest of you may be seated." McGonagall paused for a few second to allow everyone a chance to settle. "Of the twelve students standing, it was decided to honor the top six, our finalist, with a special award. In addition, we also would like to give a special award to the youngest competitor, something, which we hope will become a tradition. This year, that award goes to Miss Luna Lovegood." McGonagall tipped her head, "Congratulations Miss Lovegood," she said warmly as the rest of the hall clapped, and a few Gryffindors cheered.

"And now for our finalist," Professor McGonagall started again, "if I call your name please remain standing, the rest, if you would please take your seats.



"Miss Marcelle de Louvres."

"Miss Nicole Lescuier."

"Mr. Miroslav Demetrius."

"Mr. Petar Svetuslav."

"Miss Hermione Granger."

"Miss Cho Chang."



"As you can see, we have ended up with two students from each school, I think that speaks well of the professors from all the schools.

Before she could go on, the Hall broke out in cheers showing their support. Sparks could be seen flying off the staffs of several Durmstrang students as they tapped them on the stone floor showing their agreement. McGonagall raised her hands for quiet, "I think I can safely speak for my fellow professors when I say, thank you." She then gave the Hall a small bow.

"Now after I call your name again, and you have received your award, you may sit back down." The award was a small bronze medallion hung on a blue ribbon. McGonagall cleared her throat and began, "In sixth place with a final score of one hundred and fourteen, Mr. Petar Svetuslav." Petar's fellow Durmstrang students cheered for their classmate.

"In fifth place with one hundred eighteen points, Miss Cho Chang." This time it was the Hogwarts students cheering.

"In fourth place with one hundred nineteen points, Mr. Miroslav Demetrius." After the noise died down, McGonagall continued, "In third place with one hundred and twenty points, Miss Nicole Lescuier." Finally the Beauxbaton were up on their feet and cheering.

McGonagall paused and clapped as well until the Hall again fell silent. "Well it would seem as though we are down to our last two finalists… Well done, both of you," McGonagall said as she gave the last two girls standing a nod of appreciation.

Harry looked up at Hermione, and although he thought she deserved to win; and had no doubts that she wouldn't, he would still be proud of her either way.

McGonagall smiled, "Our runner-up… In second place with a final score of one hundred twenty-two points…"

Harry smiled to himself while thinking; that if McGonagall didn't get on with it, Hermione was likely to pass out from hyperventilating.

"From the Beauxbaton Academy, Miss Marcelle de Louvres," she finished quickly.

Hermione bounced on the balls of her feet, and let out a little squeal of excitement as her barely contained emotions ran wild.

Marcelle was standing only a few feet away from Hermione, and after receiving her award walked over and gave her a hug, "Congratulations Hermione," she whispered in her ear. Hermione, still shaking with raw energy, could barely manage a thank you, she was so nervous.

"Miss Granger, if you would please join me up on the stage please," McGonagall asked sternly, as if Hermione might just decide it was all too much and try to make a run for it.

Hermione wanted to move, but her feet seemed unwilling and stayed rooted to the floor. A second later and Harry was standing by her side.

Touching the small of her back, Harry said softly, "It's your turn Hermione, your time. Show them the Hermione I know."

Hermione gave him a quick sideways glance, and in that instant, gained the courage to move. Up on stage as she approached McGonagall, her mentor took a half step to the side to share the podium with her.

McGonagall turned back to the Hall and with her left hand, gestured to Hermione, "Ladies and gentlemen in first place with a final score of one hundred twenty-five points, from Hogwarts, our very own Miss Hermione Granger." The pride in her voice was evident for all to hear.

Harry, who had never sat back down yelled out, "Way to go Hermione!" While clapping like a madman. A split second later, and the rest of the Hall was standing and had joined Harry in cheering for the brown-haired girl some had called a bookworm.

While students and professors alike cheered and clapped, McGonagall turned to Hermione and placed a golden medallion hung on a silver ribbon, around her neck. Holding her at arm's length by the shoulders, McGonagall smiled through misty eyes and said, "Well done Hermione… well done."

Hermione then did something totally uncharacteristic of herself, she pulled McGonagall into a hug, "Thank you Professor." A second later, she pulled back, and turned to the Hall and took a bow. Then with a smile that split her face from ear to ear, Hermione held the medallion up high for all to see. Still beaming, Hermione bounced down the steps, but before her feet reached the floor, she was grabbed around the waist and spun in a circle.

Setting her down gently, Harry said in a gentle `I told you so,' tone, "And now they know… Congratulations Hermione." Harry gave her a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, then stepped aside so everyone else could reach her. Ginny, Luna, Ron, and Neville all moved in, and one by one they each gave her a hug and a compliment. The real shocker was when Draco stepped up.

Looking completely out of place, he looked around nervously, then hesitantly reached out his hand, "Congratulations, Miss… Granger."

Amazed and slightly shocked, Hermione also hesitated a moment before shaking his hand, "Thank you Mister… Thank you Draco."

Draco seemed momentarily taken back by the use of his first name, however, he recovered quickly and gave Hermione a short nod and then quickly left.

Hermione glanced back at Harry who was still smiling, only to see him shrug his shoulders at the unexpected gesture from Mr. Malfoy.


They were nearly the last to leave the Great Hall. Harry had insisted on a second helping of desert, and then took his time eating it. Now, finally on their way, and Harry was walking so slowly, you'd think he was being led to the gallows.

"Harry!" Hermione wined, "it's been a long day and I'm tired, do you think you could pick up the pace a little please?"

"Sorry," Harry said sheepishly, "must be the afters." Harry started walking faster, he didn't want Hermione to get suspicious, or worse… mad.

A short time later, Hermione walked through the portrait hole to the last thing she expected.

"SURPRISE!" All of Gryffindor and at half of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were there, all crammed in the common room. Most of the professors, including Snape were there too. Stepping further into the room, she saw a banner stretched over the fire place that read;



Hermione Granger

The Brightest Witch of the Age


We are all Proud of YOU!



Harry led Hermione on shaky legs over to the couch so she could recover from the shock, and a few minutes later, the second party of the month was in full swing.

Dumbledore and a few of the professors left fairly quickly after congratulating Hermione. Snape stayed a while longer talking to McGonagall, but still left early. The only Slytherin student to show up was Daphne Greengrass, and she left with Snape, apparently not quite ready to mingle with Gryffindors alone.

Hermione was happy to have won of course, trilled that all the hard work and long hours had paid off. However, what really excited her, was the show of support from her fellow class mates. Hermione was so overwhelmed, she had a hard time believing it all. Ecstatic, only just began to describe how she felt.

Harry had been right, and thinking of him brought a smile to her face. `He's done it again,' Hermione thought. He had managed to surprise her. Looking around, she sought him out. He was standing with Professor McGonagall talking about something, `I hope he's not trying to convince her into letting him take Arithmancy.'

Walking over, she stood next to him and wrapped her arm around his waist. "Hello Professor, Harry not in trouble is he?" she asked with a smile full of mirth.

McGonagall eyed Harry suspiciously, then gave him a rare smile, "No… not yet anyway, but the night is still young."

Harry turned his head back and forth between Hermione and McGonagall. "Boy, you do one or two tiny little things wrong… and you're labeled a trouble maker," he said with an overly exaggerated tone of exasperation.

Hermione and McGonagall looked at each other for a second, and then both busted out laughing. Harry had never seen his stern Head of House laugh before, but he thought he rather liked seeing her so happy… even if it was at his expense.

Regaining her normal composer, McGonagall said kindly, "You've done a fine thing here Harry."

Harry smiled, "Thank you Professor."

"And now, I'm afraid I must take my leave… papers to grade. Professor Flitwick will keep an eye on things for a while." Then McGonagall took hold of Hermione's hands, and after slowly looking around the room, said, "As you can see, Harry is not the only one who is happy for you." Smiling said added softly, "And as for me… well I'm very proud of you." McGonagall released Hermione's hands, and quickly returned to her old self, "Now, I have work to do. Good night you two."

"Good night Professor," Harry and Hermione said together.

As soon as McGonagall was gone, Hermione pulled Harry to her and gave him a long lingering kiss. There were a few cat-calls and a whistle or two, but it didn't discourage her. "Don't slip away, I'd like to finish thanking you proper like, a little later, when it quiets down," Hermione said with a saucy smile that reached from ear to ear.

Slightly stunned, Harry nodded once and with a goofy look on his face managed, "I'm not going anywhere."

Later that night as Hermione was climbing into bed, she thought, Harry had been right about everything; it was worth it. All the hard work, the isolation when she was young. It was who she was, and for the first time, she was not only proud of her accomplishments, but of herself as well.

And the best part was, Harry was not only proud of her too, but he liked her just the way she was.

`I'm going to let him know, what a great boyfriend he really is,' with that last thought in mind, she drifted off to sleep with a smile on her face.


It was near the end of the month, a few days since Hermione's victory party. It was while they were sitting down to eat breakfast that Hermione noticed that look again on Harry's face… he was up to something. However, for now it was her turn to surprise him. Her look of curiosity turned into a tiny smirk as Hermione watched Hedwig land in front of Harry with a letter.

Harry took the letter and then turned to Hermione with an eyebrow raised after he noticed her familiar handwriting on the outside of the envelope. Hedwig also gave her the eye for a moment, wondering why she was even involved, before taking off back to the Owlery.

While looking at the Hermione, Harry asked, "Now, or later?"

Hermione just shrugged with a smile, "It's your letter Harry."

Harry's other brow rose, "Okaaay."

Harry then turned his attention to the letter. After sliding his thumb under the flap to open it, he pulled out the letter and began to read.



Dear Harry:

I know you were worried about whether or not you would be a good boyfriend, maybe you still are.

You know, most girls describe the perfect boyfriend something like this; He should be tall and maybe dark, and he should have lots of muscles. And of course, he absolutely has to be good-looking. Idiots… the lot of them. All they are thinking about is how they would look on his arm.

No matter whose name they bring up, or even anyone I think of; I always find myself comparing them to you. Now this is the important part Harry… Next to you, they all fall short.

Don't get me wrong, I too place a certain value on good looks and a nice physique. It's just not the most important part of someone that makes them attractive to me. I do most certainly think you're handsome, and I appreciate the way you are filling out, but that's just the icing on the cake. I like the way you look on the outside, but I love who you are on the inside. That's what makes a great boyfriend, and that's just what you are.

You know, I never thought I'd have a boyfriend, certainly not one as wonderful as you.

Harry, I really think that what you and I have is very special and unique, and most importantly, I think it will stand the test of time. I know for me personally, it's what I want more than anything. Yes, I know I'm young and have never had a boyfriend before, but I know what I feel, and being with you just feels so right… so perfect. You and I… we are different, yet at the same time… the same. That's why we work so well together. Our differences complement each other, while our likeness allows us to know each other so well.

Remember your dream about the future? Well that's my dream now too, and I'd like to see it come true. But regardless of what the future brings, there are a couple of things I want you to not only know, but to believe as well. I want you to know, that I'll never forget you no matter where life takes us. I want you to believe that you are a good person Harry Potter. You are kind, compassionate, and always willing to give of yourself… Never forget that.

I think you know me better than I know myself. Well I just wanted to tell you a few things I know about you.

Don't ever change Harry. I think you are perfect just the way you are.

Always and Forever




After Harry had finished the letter, he discreetly wiped at the corner of his eyes. It was without a doubt, the most caring thing anyone had ever written to him, or even said out load. When he turned to look at Hermione, He found her already staring at him through moist eyes. She had a gentle smile on her face that told him even more.

Harry swallowed hard trying to find his voice, "Did… do you really mean all this," he asked while lifting the letter a little.

Hermione drew herself up and said softly, "Every word Harry,"

Harry stared at her a moment longer, and then glanced down at the letter clutched in his hand. Like he had done for her a while back; she had given him her written word about her feelings. Something he could hold onto and reread if needed. Proof of how she felt.

Without saying a word, Harry nodded to himself. Then he turned in his seat to face Hermione, and in a soft voice barely above a whisper said, "I'd like that too," referring to his dream of the future.

Hermione's smile grew as a single tear leaked out and rolled down her cheek. She was happy he felt the same way.

Harry brushed the tear away, then with a smile of his own, leaned forward and kissed her.



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