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 4

Back to School


Harry and Hermione entered the platform, and stopped abruptly, all around them the chaos of hundreds of students, as they made ready to board the train. Directly in front of them however stood Ron, anger clearly marking his face, he'd been waiting for them. Before either Harry or Hermione said a word, he spoke.

"So, too busy to come to the Burrows. Too busy to see the World Cup!" He turned his harsh glare on Hermione, "This looks like your doing."

Harry stole a glance at Hermione, she clearly looked upset, maybe even slightly hurt at the harsh accusation. `Not even on the train yet and already picking on Hermione.' with that thought, Harry changed his mind about letting Hermione do all the talking and spoke up, "Look who's talking mate, you were too busy to even write a letter." Harry's temper was starting to rise.

"Write a letter, how in the bloody hell does that compare. Idle chitchat, all that is."

"Well, if you had bothered to write, you'd have known what we were up to, and why we were so busy." Harry's voice loud enough now, to start drawing attention, "And, if you had written sooner about the World Cup instead of waiting to the last minute, we might have been able to make other plans." Harry was getting more and more worked up, "Don't you think we'd have liked to have gone?"

Ron just stared at Harry, then turned to Hermione, his face turning redder, "We?"

Now it was Hermione's turn to get mad, although she controlled her temper better than Harry. Ron's tone implied something negative or improper, "Yes Ronald, we. Harry and I both enrolled in a Muggle class this summer. The same class, but at two different schools. We… had our final test the very next day after the World Cup."

Turning to Harry and completely ignoring Hermione, "Let me get this straight, you skived off going to the Quidditch World Cup… for some stupid Muggle thing?"

Before Harry could answer, Hermione took two steps forward to stand directly in front of Ron. "Stupid! Muggle! Thing!" Accenting each word with a sharp jab of her finger to his chest.

Seeing they were really starting to draw a crowd, and to try and show some support for Hermione, Harry stepped up behind her and touched her elbow to let her know he was there.

Ron looking down now at Hermione, "Well that's just bloody mental, and you know it."

Hermione's eyes flashed with anger, "First, you should watch your language, and second, I know no such thing."

"Oi, you're not my mother, don't…"

No one saw Mrs. Weasley approach, but they heard her, "No she's not… but I am. Furthermore, she's right; you will watch your language or spend the whole trip to Hogwarts with soap in your mouth. Is that understood?"

"Yes ma'am," came Ron's startled reply.

"Good, now get on the train, and mind your temper. I'm sure after the three of you cool down, you'll work this out."

Ron turned and left without another word.

"I'm sorry dears, he was terribly disappointed when neither of you came by." Holding up her hand to stop any response, she went on, "Missing a Quidditch game is not the end of the world, and as you pointed out Harry, he didn't give you much time to change your plans. I told him to write as soon as we got the tickets; but you know him about as well as me I suppose. Anyway, it's good to see you both, and Harry, don't think I haven't noticed the Dursleys are feeding you better, that's good. Now, best get a move on, don't want to miss the train… off you go."

It was a slightly bewildered Harry and Hermione who waved one last goodbye before boarding the train.

Making their way down the corridor while looking for a compartment, they ran into the Patil twins. "Hello Padma, Parvati," Hermione said smiling.

"Hello Hermione, Harry..." Padma trailed off, as she scrutinized Harry, and then Hermione. "Harry, is it me, or did you do something different to yourself this summer?"

"What do you mean, I..."

Padma and Parvati were now both eyeing Harry and Hermione. Parvati smiled, "Not just Harry, you too Hermione. You both look... nice, hum no, better... oh I don't know, you look..."

"You both look great!" Padma finished for her sister, with a wicked smile.

"Ah, thanks," Harry answered sheepishly.

"Yeah, thanks," added Hermione with a bright smile. She then gently grabbed Harry by the arm and started pulling him away, "Come on Harry, or we'll never find a compartment." As they walked away, she said over her shoulder, "Bye…We'll talk later, kay?"


Hermione had been reading one of her new course books, since shortly after pulling out of King's Cross. It was about a half-hour later when she looked up to see what Harry was doing. He was just sitting there, staring out the window, obviously upset about Ron. She was just about to say something when their compartment door opened. Turning, she found Ginny standing there with a grin on her face.

"Hey guys."

Hermione smiled, "Hi Ginny, how was your summer?"

Harry gave her a nod hello. Glad that she and Hermione had become friends.

"Oh it was okay, not nearly as good as last summer, what with going to Egypt and all." Smiling a little brighter, she added, "But the World Cup was good…best part really…Too bad you missed it." Her smile faltered a little as she went on, "Look, I'll admit I was a little disappointed that neither of you made it the Burrow this summer, but I think I understand why. Ron said something about a Muggle class you both took or something. Anyway, we can talk about it later if you want."

"Of course we do," Hermione answered without hesitation. Harry again nodding in agreement.

"Great... well I had better get back." Then turning to look at someone standing in the hallway just out of view, her look became stern. She put her hands on her hips and with a dangerous look said, "Well... don't just stand there!" Then moved aside.

A moment later, Ron peeked around the corner of the door. The look on his face no longer one of anger. He genuinely looked scared, most likely of his sister. "Hey..." he said in a weak voice.

Harry and Hermione shared a quick look, then after turning back to Ron, they both broke out laughing.

Ron's disposition quickly changed back to anger again and both Harry and Hermione promptly stopped laughing.

"Look mate, I'm sorry for laughing," Harry started with a smile slowly returning, "but the look on your face after what Ginny said... well, it was like she was channeling your mum or something."

Hermione smiled, "Oh come on Ron, it was funny. Now come on and sit down so we can talk."

Ron stumbled forward after a shove from his sister. She shut the door and left. Ron glared after her for a moment, then slowly sat down but said nothing. Finally, after a few minutes of tense silence he spoke. "Sorry about earlier," he began softly, "I know I overreacted, I was just so... mad I guess."

Hermione glanced at Harry, she knew this was mostly between them, so with a look, told him; she'd stay out of it... at least for now.

Harry gave her a quick smile, thanking her. Then leaned forward resting his forearms on his knees as he began to talk to Ron.

"Ron, I tried to tell you in my letters. This summer I changed... I... I didn't just want to sit around all summer... doing nothing. I didn't want to waste all that time. I decided to try and make a change, make the best of the situation." Harry could tell Ron was trying to understand, but was still not quite getting it. "I worked out a deal with the Dursley's, I would do my chores first thing in the morning, and would eat my own food. This gave me some free time in the afternoon. I started working out, and eventually started going to those Muggle classes Hermione told you about. I also worked on my schoolwork," Harry half laughed, "I actually got ahead."

Ron chuckled, "Well I guess now, I can go to you for help if Hermione's busy."

"Look Ron, I'm sorry... we're sorry," Harry gestured to Hermione. "We didn't know you had tickets, heck we didn't even know about the World Cup."

Ron looked pensive for a moment, "Well I guess I can't blame you, if you didn't know."

Hermione glared at him, irritated he hadn't even acknowledged his part in the situation.

Harry noticed her look, and knowing what was common, gave her arm a gentle squeeze, telling her it wasn't worth getting upset about. Then turning back to Ron, "So, we okay then?"

Ron smiled, "Yeah, we're good."

Hermione shook her head slightly and muttered softly to herself, "Boys," before returning to her book.


Although both Harry and Hermione were surprised by just how upset Ron had been, it was nothing compared to the surprise Dumbledore had just given the school.

"I'm sure it's quite an honor for Dumbledore to have his school chosen to host the Triwizard Tournament." Hermione said softly, "It's too bad they had to cancel Quidditch and all. Will you miss it terribly?" She asked, looking at Ron and Harry.

"Well it is a shame canceling Quidditch," Ron started, "but this tournament does sound wicked."

Harry was also disappointed about not being able to play Quidditch, but at the same time excited to see something new. "Yeah, can't wait to hear what it's all about."

"Yeah... or for it to start."

Harry just nodded, then turning to the girl sitting next to him, "What do you think Hermione?"

She smiled at their enthusiasm. "Well, it does sound interesting, testing one's skill and abilities. I just hope it's not barbaric." Looking thoughtful she added, "I guess we'll know more in a couple of days when the Headmaster announces the rules and such."

As soon as Hermione stopped talking, a flash of light from above caught their attention. The three of them tilted their heads back to look at the ceiling, which had started to act strangely. More and more students were turning their attention to it. Meanwhile, nobody had noticed the unusual stranger who had entered the Hall from a back corner. That changed a moment later, when he fired a spell up into the rafters. The ceiling settled down, and immediately returned to normal.

"Who do you suppose that is?" Asked Seamus.

Harry, and the others turned to look.

"I think it's Mad-Eye Moody," answered Ron.

"Alastor Moody, the Auror?" Hermione asked... `Is the Headmaster expecting trouble?' The last thought she keep to herself.

Dumbledore appeared to welcome the man, then he turned to address the school interrupting any further conversation or thought on the matter. "May I have your attention please." The Hall quickly quieted down. "I'll keep this brief since I hate to interrupt your dinner." Gesturing towards the weathered looking old wizard standing next to him, "May I introduce, Alastor Moody, our new defense against the dark arts professor."

As the Hall gave a welcoming round of warm applause, Harry leaned over and whispered in Hermione's ear, "Looks like he's been on the receiving end of one too many dark spells."

Hermione could only nod her head in agreement, and the thought caused a shiver to run down her spine.


Saturday finally arrived; it was barely noon, and yet the Great Hall was already packed. Students could hardly wait for lunch to finish, and Harry, Hermione, and Ron were no different. Today was the day Dumbledore promised to say more about the Tournament.

"I don't know why he can't just start already."

"Honestly Ron," Hermione huffed, "some of us would like to be able to pay attention and take notes, can't do that and eat at the same time."

"Take notes, Hermione this isn't class, you don't take notes."

"I can take notes if I..."

"Don't be..."

Harry cut them off, "Guys!" Stopping the argument before it got too far out of hand. Ron just stopped and went back to eating.

Hermione, looking a little sheepish said in a small voice, "Sorry." From their exchange of letters during the summer, she knew Harry hated to see them fight. Somehow she would have to learn to be more tolerant of Ron. Hermione was brought out of her musings when Dumbledore stood to address the school.

"Eternal glory..." Dumbledore paused a moment for effect, "exciting as that may be, there is more, much more to the Triwizard Tournament. While our three schools will choose champions for the main competitions, many more will compete." Looking around at the slightly confused faces he went on, "Starting with this Tournament, in addition to the main competitions or tasks, there will be a series of smaller competitions, or more precisely, demonstrations. Professor McGonagall will tell you more about them in a moment." Dumbledore gave a slight nod of recognition to McGonagall, then turned back to the Hall and continued, "In the past, each school started the competition with but one champion. This year we will try something new, each school will start with four champions. For Hogwarts, that means one from each house. Additionally, the number of tasks will be increased." Dumbledore waited a moment for the murmurs to settle down. "The first task will reduce the number of champions to six, two for each school. The second task will further reduce the number to three, one for each school. They will be our final champions, and together they will all compete in four more tasks to a final conclusion. However, only one will emerge victorious." Dumbledore paused for a moment to take a sip of water before continuing, "What these tasks will be, and how the champions will be scored, will be announced just before each task begins."

Again after waiting for the noise to die down, Dumbledore became serious. "Glory... is not the only possible outcome that is eternal... so is death." The Hall was now completely silent, hanging on his every word. "Thank Merlin that hasn't happened in a couple of centuries, but it has happened.

Hermione's eyes grew large, "Students have died?"

Ron shushed her not caring about the past.

Hermione glared back.

"The school and the professors will of course take every precaution to prevent serious injury or worse, but there will be no guarantees."

Dumbledore continued, "These tasks are meant to challenge our best. They are designed to test your knowledge, skill, and cunning. They will also test patience, and loyalty. And they will most certainly test... your courage. Do not make the decision to enter lightly, for if chosen, there is no turning back, you will have entered into a magically binding contract. Unless eliminated during the first two tasks, a champion must continue to a final outcome. There is no quitting. You are not allowed a change of heart. Believe me when I say these tasks are not for the weak, nor the faint of heart." He smiled after a quick glance around the room ending on the Gryffindor table. "Because of the seriousness of this tournament, there will also be a few new rules. The date of the first task is already set for October twentieth. To be chosen as a champion you must be of age by that date, that is to say, a champion must turn seventeen no later than October nineteenth."

The Hall immediately erupted in noise, mainly shouts of how unfair this new rule was.

"Rubbish!" The twins hollered.

"Silence!" Came the sonorus amplified voice of the headmaster. The Hall quickly quieted down, although it was terribly obvious, there were still a lot of upset students. "These restrictions are in place for your safety. Put there by not only our ministry, but the ministries abroad as well. You will respect them."

Then changing his persona instantly, Dumbledore gave a short smile and peered over his glasses at the assembly. "Since it is obvious that many of you who are younger would also like a chance to participate, I suggest you continue to pay attention." Turning to Professor McGonagall, "Professor if you would please."

"Thank you Headmaster," McGonagall began in her typical stern fashion. "While it may not give you, `eternal glory,'" she spoke the phrase with a hint of distaste. "The demonstrations, or what they're called officially, the Skills and Knowledge Demonstrations, will give you a chance to learn some magic not taught at your school. It will give you a chance to make new friends, and see firsthand how things are done elsewhere. Lastly, it will give you a chance to prove yourself, and your school worthy." Professor McGonagall knew this part of the tournament wasn't nearly as exciting, but it did give many more students a chance to participate, especially the younger ones.

"This part of the tournament is open to all students, although first and second-year students will have a difficult time of it, and therefore, I don't recommend it for them. The first thing you need to know is; we will choose our students to do these demonstrations first. In fact, they will be chosen before the other schools arrive. Likewise, they will have chosen their student before coming here. Next, and more importantly, if you sign up and are chosen for, the Skills and Knowledge Demonstrations, you cannot enter your name to become a champion." McGonagall took a moment to look around the Hall to make sure everyone was still following before she went on, "Chosen students will work in both groups, and singularly. They will demonstrate their proficiency in Charms, Transfiguration, and Potions. Each demonstration will be judged much like the tasks that the champions will face. Points will be awarded, and winners announced, however, unlike the task the champions will face, these demonstrations will not be any more dangerous than normal class work." McGonagall took a breath before continuing, "Anyone wishing to participate in this part of the tournament may sign up at any time from now, until midnight Thursday, September twenty-second. Two students from each house will be chosen, one at least a fifth-year or above, the other a fourth-year or younger. Your Head of House will answer any further questions you may have, as well as monitor the sign-up list in your common room. Duplicate lists will be kept here in the Great Hall so that all can see who has signed up regardless of their house affiliation. Remember the deadline is September twenty-second, students chosen to participate will be announced at dinner Sunday the twenty fifth." Stepping back she turned to Dumbledore, "Headmaster."

Professor Dumbledore rose and gave a nod of acknowledgment to McGonagall, then once again addressed the students, "The following day, both Beauxbaton and Durmstrang will arrive here in time to join us for dinner. They will of course bring with them, their own students chosen to participate in the demonstrations." Taking a breath, he went on, "In addition they will bring several candidates who have shown an interest in entering as champions. Each school will also bring a few select friends, and obviously some staff. We would have loved to have invited the entirety of both schools, but alas even Hogwarts has its limitations and will be near that limit with nearly one hundred additional guest. Lastly, after introductions and dinner, more will be announced about the tournament, such as deadlines, and how to enter." Dumbledore took another deep breath, and let it out slowly, then with a curious smile said, "I think perhaps that was the longest announcement I've ever made…certainly in recent times, well, no matter. So, remember if you have any questions, do not forget to ask them. Now I'm quite sure I've said enough." Satisfied no one was going to ask any questions here and now, Dumbledore smiled, nodded once, and returned to his seat.


Although Hermione was a little concerned about the safety of the champions-`It had been over two hundred years after all, surely things have changed since then,'- she found herself getting more and more excited by the minute, "Imagine, learning something new, maybe something they don't even teach at Hogwarts." Hermione was boiling over with thoughts as she spoke the last of them out loud the next day at breakfast with Harry and Ron.

"Only you could find a way to turn this into some kind of study session," Ron remarked a little exasperated.

"I happen to like learning new things," Hermione glared then a second later smiled, "and thank you for not talking with your mouth full, it's a nice change."

"You're welcome."

"Wow, a civil conversation," Harry smirked.

"I'm trying," Hermione smirked back.

He knew she was putting forth an effort to keep the arguments down, and when Ron wasn't looking, Harry mouthed, "Thanks."

"Anyway, there's also going to be a lot of new faces at school soon. Maybe we'll make some new friends," Hermione added.

Ron stopped chewing for second, "Yeah, that's right! Oi I hear a few of them Beauxbaton birds are part Veela, wouldn't mind getting to know one of them."

Ron had managed to say all that with his mouth half-full of food, only swallowing after he finished talking.

Hermione closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. Ron was definitely making it difficult.

Turning from Hermione to Ron, Harry said, "Really Ron? I thought you'd be more interested it in one of the Durmstrang students." Ron's mouth fell open in shock. Harry laughed, "I'm not calling you a poof Ron, I meant you could talk Quidditch."

Seeing Ron relax, Hermione joined Harry in laughter, "Priceless," she whispered.

Harry smiled, happy he'd managed to keep the peace. "So, Hermione, can I safely assume you'll be signing up then."

Trying to poke a little fun back at her, Ron jumped in before she could answer, "Oi Harry, are you kidding, not only will she sign up... she'll drive McGonagall spare until they make the announcements."

Hermione smiled at Ron, "Git." Turning back to Harry, "Of course I'll sign up, it's a wonderful opportunity." Then with a pointed look to Ron added, "And I'll not be driving anyone spare, Ronald."

Ron smirked, but had enough common sense to recognize, that she had used his full name, and so keep his retort to himself.

Harry actually thought Ron might just be more right than wrong on this one, but wisely kept his thoughts to himself behind a knowing smile.

When Hermione turned back to Harry and noticed his smile, she arched an eyebrow. Harry was slowly shaking his head, and had raised his hands in surrender. Hermione huffed, then a moment later started laughing while turning a bit red. They were right, and she knew it. Now hoping to draw attention away from her blush, she asked, "What about you Harry, going to sign up?"

Harry straightening up and said in a sober voice, "Me? Not hardly," shaking his head again, "no... I just want a nice quiet year, but you can be sure I'll be cheering for you though."

Hermione smiled her thanks and nodded in understanding. For Harry, each year so far was anything but normal, yet alone... quiet. "I can understand that." Then turning, she asked Ron, "How about you?"

Ron actually put his fork down as he thought about his answer, earning another smile from both Harry and Hermione. After a moment, he picked it back up and shovel some eggs into his mouth before beginning his answer. Harry groaned, while Hermione rolled her eyes. They had thought they were making progress, apparently not.

"Well, we all know I'd be pants at trying any one of those `demonstrations.' Not to mention, there's no way they would pick me over you. No, I'll do the same as Harry and root for you."

"Oh, well thanks Ron, still if you want, you should..."

Ron cut her off, "No, ain't no big deal anyway, no glory and all that." Ron glanced down the table at his twin brothers, "I'll bet they try to enter anyway... maybe I should talk to them, you know, just in case."

"In case of what Ron?" Harry asked.

"In case they figure a way to enter of course. I'd get them to show me how as well." Ron got a faraway look on his face, "Triwizard Champion," he said softly to no one.

Harry and Hermione shared a look and a smile.


Thursday afternoon, Gryffindor and Slytherin had DADA together. To say their first class with Professor Moody was interesting, would have been a huge understatement. Harry couldn't help but compare this new teacher with the ones from the past. Like Professor Lupin, Moody was certainly competent, especially compared to the two losers Quirrell, and Lockhart. The biggest difference being their style of teaching. Lupin had been easy-going, and friendly. Whereas Moody was more intense, harsh even.

"Honestly, I don't understand how he could have possibly thought that lesson was even remotely appropriate to teach to fourth years."

"I thought it was wicked."

"Really Ron? While obviously, you didn't see how upset Neville was getting."

"Well I don't know why; it's not like he was the one under the Cruciatus Curse."

"Ron, Hermione's right. For whatever reason it was really bothering him, Professor Moody should have noticed and stopped." After a moment Harry added, "But at least we might actually learn something this year."

"If we're not all too traumatized," huffed Hermione.

After bumping into Neville on their way to their next class, Harry thought, Hermione might just be all too right about Professor Moody. And then a second thought occurred to him, why was Neville affected by the Moody's demonstration of the Cruciatus Curse so much more than the rest of the class; had he experienced personally? Harry hoped not, but decided he'd have to wait for a better time to talk to him about it.


The following week things pretty much returned to normal. One thing that did stand out, at least for Harry as far as he was concerned, was recreational Quidditch. A small group of students led by Fred and George had managed to convince Professor McGonagall into letting them organize some impromptu Quidditch games for fun. Harry and Ron were of course among the first to sign up.

Before agreeing, McGonagall had laid down some rules. First, the games could not interfere with the tournament in any way. Obviously, they could not have a game during any of the events. Second, they could not have or form any formal teams. Each game would have to have different players, furthermore each team would be formed from different houses, or even students from the other schools. And last, either Madam Hooch or a professor would need to be present at all times to monitor and referee the games.

As the first of these recreational games made ready to start, Professor McGonagall turned to the student sitting next to her, "I must say Miss Granger, I didn't expect to see you here today."

Hermione closed her book and turned in her seat towards her Head of House, "Really, why is that Professor?"

"Well, I didn't think you were a fan of Quidditch. I know you turn out for all the Gryffindor games, but this isn't a house game, it's just for fun."

Hermione looked around at all the others gathered and noticed how excited they all looked. It seemed they were all there just to watch, regardless of the outcome. They just wanted to get outside, do something different... have a little fun. She looked down at the book in her lap, then a moment later Hermione put the book away, back in her book bag. Turning back to McGonagall, she said after a slight hesitation, "I like to have fun too Professor."

McGonagall arched an eyebrow, "Indeed, well good." Turning back to the game now underway, she couldn't help the small smile forming on her face as she thought, `Might have something to do, with a certain forth year Gryffindor, who just happens to be playing today.' Although she knew her prized student would never admit it.

As the game progressed, both teacher and student cheered for the players. Each cheering just a little louder for their favorites. During one of the lulls in the game, McGonagall again addressed Hermione, "Miss Granger, I'm happy to see that you've decided to sign up and be part of the tournament." It was easy to see the excitement in her eyes as Hermione responded.

"Oh yes! I can hardly wait. I do hope I get chosen, I mean... what an opportunity. Don't you agree Professor?"

"I most certainly do Miss Granger."

Hermione desperately wanted to ask the one question that had been on her mind since she had signed up last week. Although she knew she had a very good chance of being chosen, her insecurities sometimes got the better of her. Sometimes she needed reassurance. Sometimes she needed to know that all her hard work was really worth it. In a way, she needed this… to prove her own self-value. Had it not been for a personal vow she made to herself, she probably would have asked right here and now, what her Professor thought of her chances.

Professor McGonagall prided herself on knowing her lions, and seeing Hermione worry her bottom lip, she had a fair idea as to what was bothering her student. With a knowing look, she said in a neutral tone, "I'm fairly certain Miss Granger, that you will not be disappointed."

Hermione was never one to be slow on the uptake, "Oh... well thank you for the encouragement Professor." Hermione then turned back to the game with a smile on her face that reached ear to ear.


As the following week was drawing to a close, Neville took a moment to survey the Great Hall before sitting down to dinner. Soon, the students who were going to compete in the Skills and Knowledge Demonstrations would be chosen. Although school had been fairly normal, or even a bit boring so far, there was a very real excitement in the air. Students seemed more energetic. They talked more quickly as if they had too much to say, and too little time to say it. He had briefly considered adding his name to the list, but after seeing who all was on it, he decided against it.

"Hello Neville, have you forgotten where to sit?"

Neville broke from his thoughts to find a pretty blonde-haired girl smiling at him. She looked both curious and amused at the same time. "Ah... no just thinking. You know, everyone seems..."

"Different? Preoccupied?"

"Yes, exactly." Neville studied the girl for a moment, "I'm sorry, but how do you know me?"

"You don't have to apologize Neville, a lot of people know who you are."

Neville smiled, "Oh, well…I see" Luna smiled back, but didn't say anything else.

A little taken back, Neville cleared his throat, then said weakly, "Yeah…well, although I've seen you around... I'm afraid I don't know your name."

"Well, I'm glad a Wrackspurt hasn't messed with your memories," Luna said quite seriously, "and to ease your fear, I'm Luna Lovegood." Then without another word, she turned and walked away.

Neville stood there a moment longer staring after her, `Wrackspurt?...Strange, but kind of nice,' he thought before making his way over to his own table to eat.


Sunday morning Ginny watched with interest as Hermione entered the Hall for breakfast. She smirked after noticing her look around and then frown before sitting down. Quickly putting on a normal face she asked, "Hey... something wrong?"

"Hey Gin... have you seen Harry?" Completely ignoring Ginny's question.

"No, not yet anyway," Ginny turned to her brother, "how about you? Have you seen Harry, do you know where he is?"

Ron shrugged, "Dunno, maybe he's having a bit of a lie-in."

Hermione's eyes narrowed, "Doubt it." Stealing a long glance at Ginny before continuing, "He's up to something."

Ginny laughed and waved her hand, "Oh Hermione, really... he's late for breakfast, that's all. I mean Merlin!"

Hermione continued to look at Ginny, she wasn't ready to let this go, "It's not just this morning, he's been acting strange all week. Just yesterday... what?" Hermione sighed, "Oh all right, maybe it's just me. But..."

Ginny cut her off by hopping up quickly, "Right then, I'm off, won't be wasting my Sunday morning wondering what Harry Potter is dreaming about." And she quickly left.

Hermione now turned to Ron, "What's with her?"

Without missing a bite Ron answered, "Dunno."

Hermione huffed, "Humph, really Ron? That's all you have to say?"

"Ah… Dunno," Ron said with a smirk, before retuning to his breakfast.


As Harry plopped down on the bench next to Hermione for breakfast the next morning, he gave her a little nudge with his shoulder, "Hey, morning," he smiled at her.

"Hey yourself," Hermione smiled back, "where in Merlin's name have you been lately?"

"What do you mean?"

"Harry... I've hardly seen you the last few days."

Harry wiggled his eyebrows, "Miss me?"

"Prat," she said smiling as she slapped his arm, "now answer the question."

Harry laughed, he really was in a good mood, "Hermione! I don't know... I... I've been busy I guess. You know I hope to play Quidditch again next week, so I've been trying to get ahead a little." It was the truth, although not the whole truth. "Oh before I forget," Harry covertly slipped Hermione an envelope, "happy birthday," he whispered, trying to change the subject.

Hermione took her card, and cautiously looked around, "I'll read it later." Turning back to Harry with a look of appreciation she added, "Thank you Harry."

"Don't mention it," he smiled.


Hermione couldn't help but smile all through class that morning; Harry's good mood was completely infectious. Plus the fact that he had remembered her birthday only added to her giddiness. Later at lunch, she had finally found some time alone to read his card. Only to find a note on the back telling her to wait till after their second and last class of the day before opening it.

Later, it was a mysterious Harry that pulled her out the door of their Charms classroom, refusing to say anything except `come on'.

"Harry, what on earth has gotten into you? Where are we going?"

Harry stopped only to reply, "Do you trust me?" A grin on his face.

Hermione rolled her eyes, "Harry!"

"Do you?"

"Always," she said softly.

"Then come on," Harry said, as he continued to lead a frazzled Hermione outside.

A few minutes later, they were down by the shore of the lake. Harry suddenly came to an abrupt stop and turned to Hermione, "Okay from here you have to close your eyes."

"Harry... I..."

"Please," he pleaded.

Hermione sighed, she could never refuse that look, "Fine."

Standing beside her, Harry placed an arm around her waist to guide her, and slowly led her little further down the shore. A moment later he stopped. Letting go, he moved away slightly.


"Open your eyes Hermione," he said softly.

She was standing right in front of a huge old oak tree. The one she liked to sit under on a warm day. It was her favorite place outdoors to go and read. Only today, there was a blanket all spread out under the shade of the mighty oak. In the center of the blanket sat a picnic basket, next to it, a couple of plates and two glasses. However, what caught her eye was a small pile of brightly wrapped packages. Birthday presents.

This was the second-time Harry had done something nice for her on her birthday. She knew he must have done almost all of this by himself, as no one else knew what today meant to her. Just as a lone tear started to fall, Hermione turned and grabbed Harry, wrapping him in a tight hug. "Oh Harry," she murmured into his neck.

Harry hugged her back gently. He loved seeing her happy; it made all the effort worthwhile. Then before it got too awkward he said, "You still have my card?"

Hermione slowly let go of Harry and took a half step back, "Of course, it's in my bag."

Harry took her hand, and led her over to sit on the blanket, "Great, you can open it after you open all the rest of your presents."

That's when Hermione noticed there were quite a few, "Harry, please tell me you didn't spend all your money on me."

Harry laughed, "Would it matter?" Seeing the stress on her face Harry went on, "Hermione, no I didn't... I didn't have to. Most of these are from other people. People who couldn't be here today, or didn't want to draw attention to your secret." Harry then started handing Hermione her gifts one at a time for her to open. There were two from her parents, one from each. There was also one each from her grandmother, and great aunt. One from Professor McGonagall, and lastly one from Harry.

As she opened her last gift, Hermione realized just how observant Harry had become. He had given her a new book bag, apparently he had noticed how her old one was literally falling apart. "Thank you Harry, just in time too."

"You're welcome Hermione, but you know... a new book bag needs to be broken in proper... open your card," Harry said, the last part a bit softer than the rest.

Hermione arched a brow, then opened the envelope and pulled out the card. It resembled a book, a book without a title. Opening the card she read,


The bearer of this card.

May redeem it at Flourish & Blotts.

For any book of their choosing.


Down near the bottom, signed in a messy scrawl she read,


`Happy Birthday Hermione,

Your Friend, Harry Potter.'


Hermione found herself getting teary-eyed again, "I think this is the best birthday ever." Then only just realizing, "Harry, how did you..."

Harry held up both hands to stop her. Then with a look that would be more at home on Luna's face simply said, "Magic." Hermione stared back at him for a second, before both broke into loud laughter.

They sat on the blanket and continued to talk and laugh until it was nearly dark. Together they had shared a small cake, complete with candles, courtesy of the Hogwarts elves. Soon, it was time to head back, and with Dobby's help, they were able to get all of Hermione's presents safely and secretly, hidden away in her trunk.

As they made their way back up to the Castle Hermione asked, "Seriously Harry, how did you get my presents from all my family?"

"Well to be honest, your mum and I kind of had it worked out before we left for school." Seeing her serious look, Harry knew she wanted more details, "Your mum collected all the gifts from your family, and then we used Hedwig to bring them here. Actually, to Professor McGonagall, she kept them in her office till today. Then Dobby helped me with the rest." Harry chuckled, "McGonagall even smuggled me out of school on Sunday, so I could get your bag. Ginny caught us as we were leaving, we told her we were secretly checking a few details for the tournament, and I had volunteered to help her. McGonagall even swore her to secrecy to help sell the story."

Hermione had stopped walking, and just stood there staring at Harry.


Hermione shook her head and laughed, "I don't know how you do it Harry!"

Confused, Harry asked, "Do what, exactly?"

Hermione gestured towards the lake, "This... I've always found it... incredible, how you would get yourself involved in something, or just set your mind to something, and the next thing I know... I'm involved, or Ron, or... somebody else. Not that I'm complaining mind you." She quickly added after seeing the look of concern on his face. "And now... now you've gone and managed to get a Professor involved. Helping you with one of your extraordinary adventures. Merlin, she even lied for you... amazing!"

"More like a small fib really. Besides, it was for a good reason. A great reason." Harry was still slightly worried, and it showed on his face. The last thing he wanted was for Hermione to be upset with him on her birthday.

"I suppose," Hermione smiled.

"You mad?"

Hermione tilted her head slightly, "No, of course not." She then realized why Harry had asked. Stepping up to him, she pulled him into a gentle hug, "Oh Harry, I didn't mean it to sound as if you go looking for trouble or anything." Tightening her grip, she went on, "And for what it's worth, I wouldn't trade our little adventures together, for all the tea in England."

"You mean that... really?"

"Yes Harry, I do," pulling back a little she added, "I know you Harry, your heart is always in the right place. Why else would McGonagall help you?"

Harry smiled, suddenly feeling a little warm, "Thanks."

Hermione beamed, "Come on, let's go."


The deadline for students wishing to enter the demonstration portion of the competition passed without much fanfare. So it was a very exciting group of students, who anxiously waited for dinner to finish. They could hardly wait, to see who would be chosen to compete.

Luna Lovegood, was probable the most isolated and unknown student at Hogwarts. She went about her daily business, mostly ignored. She was practically invisible. The few who did know her treated her with disdain, like she didn't belong. She knew she was not well-liked. As proof, one only had to hear what they called her, 'loony.' Although it bothered her sometimes more than others, she could deal with it. It wasn't, not having any friends that got to her. It was always being excluded, being left out. Not being a part of something. As a third-year student, Luna knew she stood very little chance of being selected, but she had entered anyway. She entered, because here was a chance to do something good for her house, gain them some recognition, and maybe some for herself by association. She just wanted to be a part of something. If nothing else, it offered her an opportunity to meet new people. Maybe people who would not judge her by her looks, or her actions.

Neville stopped just inside the doors to the great Hall and smiled, there she was... it was his turn. He moved forward and stood just behind the pretty blonde girl, "Hello Luna, have you forgotten where to sit?" He said in a voice full of mirth.

Tilting her head back, Luna looked up to the ceiling as if searching for something only she could see. "Hello Neville," she answered with a small soft smile, turning slightly to face him as he moved to stand beside her, Luna continued, "are you still happy with your decision not to sign up?"

"How did you know I hadn't signed up?" Neville asked, boggled by this seemingly simple third-year girl.

"The sign-up sheets are posted Neville, all one has to do is look," she replied gently with a nod towards the adjacent wall.

"Oh right, I forgot," Neville answered sheepishly. He couldn't help but wonder if she had memorized all the names, or had only looked for just his. Returning his gaze to her, he was slightly startled by how intense she looked. Feeling his shyness starting to rise, he quickly asked, "How about you, did you sign up?" Hoping to change the atmosphere.

"Oh, yes... but I doubt I'll be picked. I'm not very well liked." Luna again seemed to stare into nothingness, "In fact, I'm surprised you're still here talking to me."

Neville was shocked; he knew firsthand what it was like to be unpopular. He was clumsy, short, and not very good at magic, but at least he knew he had a few friends. Not great friends, and not many friends... but still. As Neville continued to watch Luna, he thought he saw for just an instant... a flash of pain in her eyes, then it was gone. Covered by that distant... dreamy look she so often wore.

"Luna... for what it's worth, I hope you do get picked."

Luna now turned fully, so she stood face to face with him. Lifting her head a little, she stared deeply into his eyes, looking for the truth in his last statement.

Before he lost his nerve, Neville went on, "And even though I hardly know you, I for one, think you're nice."

A second later Luna smiled, "Thank you Neville... I think you're nice too."


Harry looked over at Hermione and smiled. She was a ball of barely contained energy as she sat and worried her bottom lip. Typical Hermione. Leaning over Harry whispered, "Nervous?"

Hermione's head snapped around to look at Harry as if only now realizing he was there, "What...ah no... why?"

"Hermione, you're practically bouncing off the bench, Harry said with a smirk. `She wasn't just nervous, she was worried too, worried she wasn't good enough to get chosen,' Harry thought. "Hermione, don't worry, I'm sure you'll get picked."

"How can you be so sure Harry?" There was a genuine curiosity evident in her tone.

"Because you're brilliant Hermione, and most everyone knows it. They'd have to be completely nutters not to pick you."

Hermione relaxed, it wasn't just some shallow comment to make her feel better. Harry meant every word and she knew it. After taking a deep breath Hermione nodded, "Right... okay, thanks Harry." Then hoping to change the subject for at least a few minutes she asked, "How was the game yesterday? I mean I know you didn't play, but I assume you went and watched?"

"Yeah I did," Harry smiled at her obvious attempt to change the subject. "As you know, there is a list of everyone who wants to play. Once you play in a game, your name automatically goes to the bottom of the list, that way everyone gets a chance to play. Turns out, that list is pretty long, so, maybe next time," Harry answered her un-asked question as to why he wasn't in the game. "It was a good game though, and I learned something. I'm probably a better player, then a spectator," he finished with a grin.

"Well that works out splendidly, because I'm a better spectator."

They shared a laugh just before the noise in the Hall grew quiet. Professor McGonagall got up and approached the podium, "May I have your attention please. The moment some of you have been waiting for has finally arrived." McGonagall stole a quick glance at Hermione. "It's time to announce those chosen to compete for Hogwarts, in the Triwizard Tournaments, Skills and Knowledge Demonstrations." McGonagall paused a moment to make sure everyone was quiet, "The selection process was done by a majority vote. Each staff member voted for two students from each house. Any ties were broken by the Headmaster.

If I call your name, please come forward and stand next to your Head of House." McGonagall almost smirked, the students were on pins and needles.

Finally, she began, "In no particular order then, from Hufflepuff, fifth-year student Mr. Zacharias Smith." Immediately, the badgers erupted in cheers. "From Slytherin, sixth-year student Adriun Pucey." More cheering, this time from the snakes. "From Ravenclaw, third-year student Miss Luna Lovegood." Luna smiled, not because of the small reluctant clapping from her own table, but from the excited cheers coming from a single Gryffindor. Harry and Ron shared a quick look of amusement for their dorm room friend.

"From Gryffindor, sixth-year student Mr. Fred Weasley." The attention on Neville now shifted to Fred as loud applause broke out. Harry gave Hermione's hand a light squeeze to tell her it wasn't over yet. "From Ravenclaw, fifth-year student Miss Cho Chang. From Hufflepuff, fourth-year student Miss Hannah Abbott. From Slytherin, fourth-year student Mr. Draco Malfoy."

For Hermione, this was it. She didn't know why she wanted it so bad, but she did. She was wound up tighter than the mainspring in her old watch.

"And last but certainly not least, from Gryffindor," Harry could have sworn McGonagall was dragging this out on purpose. "Fourth-year student... Miss... Hermione Granger." Their Head of House finished with a tiny smirk, and a slight nod to Hermione.

Hermione squealed with delight, and bolted from her seat. The rest of the table clapping loudly, giving their congratulations. Fred gave her a bow as she approached. Neville, for the second-time tonight was clapping like crazy. Ron looked around and smiled, 'This is great,' he thought, `this might actually be pretty fun.' Still smiling, he caught Hermione's attention, "Alright Hermione!"

"Thanks Ron." She mouthed.

Harry turned in his seat as Hermione returned, and took both her hands in his. Hermione settled down for a moment as she stared back at him. "I told you. Now everyone will know what I know... just how brilliant you really are. Next, you're going to win this... you'll see."

Hermione couldn't help, but be awed by his sincere confidence in her. One thing had changed for sure though, now she needed this for Harry, just as much as for herself.

AN; I always thought the Triwizard Tournament was a bit lacking. Three tasks that only last for about an hour; two of which take place out of sight…not much entertainment value. Also, only three student (not counting Harry) total…from all three schools…not much participation. That's why I added the extra tasks, and the demonstrations. So obviously, my timeline will be different from JKR's to fit my needs.



AN: In chapter three, I wrote that Harry had never seen the ocean… Ops, I forgot that he had; When Hagrid came to pick him up just before first year. My thanks to "Mad Library Scientist" for pointing that error out to me. I'll try and go back and fix that when I have some more time.




Valid HTML 4.0! Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7