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 6

It Begins


Breakfast seemed to pass by quickly and without incident, it would seem the students were more interested in the upcoming dueling competition, than Harry, or anything else, and that suited him just fine.

Everyone was cleared from the Great Hall for a few minutes, so that it could be converted to a dueling arena, complete with shielded spectator stands. Harry and Hermione sat together up high, and towards the back, and watched as students filtered back in. Hermione had indicated earlier that she wanted to be able to see everything so as to better evaluate the duelist. Neville and Luna both liked helping Harry, and so ended up spending a fair amount of time with not only Harry, and Hermione, but with each other as well. So it was no surprise to anyone, when they sat down immediately in front of them. Everyone else, was still avoiding Harry as if he had the plaque.

"Your attention please," Dumbledore began, "good morning, and now that breakfast is over... we are ready to begin the first task."

As Harry sat in the stands, he was both nervous and curious at the same time. Nervous as to what he would eventually have to face, yet curious as to how he might compare.

"What's the matter Potter, come to see how real champions duel, hoping to pick up a few last minute pointers?" said Malfoy with a sneered, as he walked by.

Harry was about to respond, but then after a quick glance around, he realized it would do no good. None of the other students thought any better of him, so, he settled for simply ignoring the Slytherin prat.

"Don't pay any attention to him Harry," Hermione said from beside him.

"Thanks, I'm not," smiled Harry, "think we'll learn anything?" he asked, gesturing towards the dueling platform.

Malfoy scowled at both of them for ignoring him, then after a minute he lost interest and left. Harry smirked.

Hermione smiled, "You love doing that don't you?"

Harry glanced over his shoulder at the retreating back of the blond-haired Slytherin, "He's a git." Turning back to Hermione, he added with a smirk, "But yeah."

Hermione laughed before referring back to his original question, which she answered more seriously, "I'm sure we'll learn something, style, technique, maybe their favorite spells or something." Smiling, she went on, "I saw you come in just after me, but I needed to talk to Professor McGonagall for a few minutes before I could join you."

Harry raised a brow in question, "Something about the tournament, or school?"

"A little of both actually, nothing terribly important, but I'll tell you later. I want to concentrate on this for now."

Harry nodded in agreement and turned his attention back to the duel that was about to begin.

Hermione immediately took charge, "Harry, Neville, Luna, I want you three to just watch the champions duel. Try to notice any patterns, or favorite spells. You're looking for their style; aggressive, defensive, fast and reckless, or slow and deliberate. I of course will take notes, so if you see anything of interest that you are afraid you might forget, just say it out loud, and I will write it down. Then later after dinner we can get together and discuss what we saw." The three nodded in understanding, and then waited quietly for the first round to begin.

Standing in the middle of the dueling stage, Dumbledore began to explain the first task, "Round one will begin in just a few moments; it will consist of two champions from each school dueling each other. We'll start with Durmstrang, Viktor Krum versus Rodomir Asparukh, then from Beauxbaton and will have Fleur Delacour versus Marcie Elise Gilbert, and from Hogwarts Cedric Diggory versus Alicia Spinnet." Dumbledore paused a few moments to let the cheering died down. "After a short break, we will continue with; Vasil Demetrius versus Andon Aleksandar, Renée De La Rue versus Claudine Du Moulin, and finally, Roger Davis versus Derrick Wilkes."

Harry looked around, he really couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, other than the obvious excitement, but he could feel it. It was like a small electric current traveling through the air. His fellow students were not just excited, they were eager to see just who was the best. Which school was better? He couldn't help feeling a little dishearten. Though he desperately wanted out of the tournament, he really didn't want to let his school down. Feeling Hermione give his hand a gentle squeeze, he realized she knew what he was thinking. He also realized, more importantly, that he didn't want to let her down either.

Harry's attention was drawn back to Dumbledore as he continued. "After lunch we will begin round two. The champions we'll switch opponents, and again there will be two duels from each school giving us a total of twelve for the day. That will be followed by dinner before turning in for the night." Then in a gesture that reminded Harry of a Muggle boxing match, Dumbledore pointed to one end of the platform. "On this end... I give you Viktor Krum." Immediately, there was a loud round of applause, "And on this end... I give you Rodomir Asparukh." He gestured to the other side, while the students again cheered loudly. Dumbledore then exited the stage and turned to face the opponents. "Gentlemen, you know the rules... you may begin."


As soon as he had entered the common room, he spotted her, he knew she was working hard at coming up with a strategy for tomorrow. Harry quietly sat down next to Hermione, careful not to disturb her thoughts. As he sat there watching, he couldn't have been more appreciative, and if he was honest with himself, amazed! Not only was she the only one other than Neville and Luna, who believed him about his involvement in the tournament, but she had spent every spare moment she had helping him. `And she's asked for nothing in return,' he thought.

Hermione paused in her work and glanced up, then smiled. "Harry," She started, "did anything about all of the duels you saw today... stand out?"

Harry took a deep breath and then let it out slowly, "Well, some seem to concentrate on only a couple of spells, but they were very fast." Then after a moment of thought, he continued, "While others seem to try and use as many different combinations as they could think of."

Hermione smiled back, "Yes I noticed that too, but something else caught my attention after a while, and once I noticed, it stood out like a sore thumb."

Harry looked down, brows scrunched together in concentration, trying to remember everything, but nothing else came to mind. Looking up to Hermione, he shook his head slightly, "What?"

"They didn't move. I mean none of them Harry, they all just stood there. They either blocked the spell, or they got hit!"

Harry slowly smiled, "Yeah, now that you mention it, I don't remember seeing anyone dodge out of the way either." Hermione could almost see the gears turning. "So... if I could dodge some of their spells... I would last longer."

Hermione smile faltered; he really didn't think he stood much of a chance. He was only looking to get through this, to survive. Of course that's what she wanted too, but after what she saw today, she also thought he actually had a pretty good chance of making a fair showing. Maybe he could even win a round or two.

"That's true Harry," She started, "but there's more to it." She needed to convince him. She needed him to believe what she believed. Now going into full lecture mode, "Harry, first, while they're throwing spells and shielding, they'll be wearing themselves out more quickly. Second, since you won't need to block as much, you'll be able to concentrate more on your attack."

Harry was listening very carefully, slowly nodding his head. He could see where she was coming from, and it made sense. Another thought occurred to Harry, she always seemed to see things more thoroughly. He was getting better at thinking things through, but he still had a ways to go compared to Hermione. Glad once again she was on his side, he couldn't help but smile.

"Feeling a little better about tomorrow?" She said smiling back.

"Yeah... thanks to you."

She knew he meant it, and it made her happy. All the effort was worth it. He was worth it.


Harry sat at the Gryffindor table, staring at his barely touched lunch. In a few moments, Dumbledore would announce the six winners from the earlier duels. Hermione was sitting right beside him. She had already finished her lunch, and was ready to take notes. Together, after the last of the duels earlier this morning, they had sat down and briefly talked about the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent. Now all they have to do was wait and see who had won, and then more importantly, who Harry would have to face.

The Hall quieted down as Dumbledore approached the podium. As the last of the voices fell silent, he began, "Normally I do not make announcements at lunch, but this is not a normal year... is it?"

Harry noticed that his voice held a bit of tension. Harry also noticed, Hermione seemed to tense as well. It seemed he was not the only one who was nervous.

"First, I would like for all twelve students who have participated so far, to please stand up." After a short pause, Dumbledore gestured to them, "All of them have preformed well and should be proud. Let's show them our appreciation." Again, after a slightly longer pause, Dumbledore raised his hands to quiet the Hall. "Well, without further ado, I will give you what you've been patiently waiting for. Again in no special order, the six semi-finalists are: From Beauxbaton, Miss Renee De La Rue, and Miss Fleur Delacour." Dumbledore had to wait a minute the cheering died down. "From Durmstrang, Mr. Vasil Demetrius, and Mr. Viktor Krum," once again he had to wait for the Hall to quiet down. "And finally from Hogwarts..." he paused seemingly just to add to the suspense, "Mr. Cedric Diggory, and Mr. Derrick Wilkins."

By now, most of the Hall was on their feet clapping, and cheering loudly. Even Harry was up and clapping enthusiastically. Hermione, was probably the only one who could still see the nervousness in his eyes.

As each name had been called out, it was also written down on a small piece of parchment, and then placed into a deep bowl. Later, that bowl and its contents, would determine who Harry would duel.

As the cheers faded, Dumbledore again spoke, "Congratulations students," he bowed his head in recognition to them. "You six will continue on to the next task. Three of you will be asked to return here in just a little while." Then standing up a little taller, he looked towards Harry, "Mr. Potter, if you would please join us?"

Hermione gave his hand a quick squeeze for support. In return, Harry gave her a half smile of thanks, then rose, and a moment later he disappeared into the antechamber with Dumbledore, McGonagall, and the others involved in the tournament.


Harry had only been gone about ten minutes, before he returned to find Hermione anxiously waiting for him. She was deep in thought biting her lower lip. He smiled briefly, it seemed as though their emotions had reversed. Now that he was about to begin, his nerves had settled down. He was finally doing something. She on the other hand, could now only wait and watch.

The Hall had already been reconfigured for the final three duels by the time Harry sat down. "Hey... Hermione, don't worry, it'll be okay."

"Who?" was all she said.

Harry sighed, he knew she wouldn't like his answer, "Cedric, Renée, and... Viktor."

Hermione tensed, and the look of worry on her face increased. Renée was pretty good, but only average in ability. Cedric was better, and he was quick. He would be very hard to beat. But it was Viktor that bothered Hermione. He wasn't very fast, but he always used powerful spells. They weren't dark, but they were meant to take you out, fast and hard. If Harry was not extremely careful, he could get hurt... badly.

They had been working hard the last few days, practicing spell work, working on strategies, and so on. In addition, she had spent some time in the library reading all she could find, about past tournaments, unfortunately, it wasn't much. She knew the tournament was dangerous, and she knew students had died in the past, but she didn't have any specifics. She had managed to keep those thoughts in the back of her mind... until now. Granted, this was a fairly well controlled situation, but it was still only the first task. Hermione wasn't sure her nerves would last long at this rate. Looking at Harry, she could barely imagine how he must be feeling.

Snapping out of her thoughts, Hermione began quickly, "Okay, we've talked about this. With Cedric, you'll probably have to be more defensive, he's fast, so it will be harder to stay clear. Viktor... oh Harry be careful, he's... he's..."

"Hermione," Harry reached out and took her hands, "I'll be careful. It'll be okay."

Hermione seemed to collapse in on herself a little, "You better be." She stared at him for a moment, and then looked away, "I don't like this. I don't want you to get hurt." Turning back, "Why you?"

Harry chuckled, and tried to ease her worry, "Good question. I guess, because I'm Harry Potter." He could see she didn't care for his sense of humor, "Sorry. Look, I promise, I'll be careful. Don't want to miss your demonstration on Monday now do I."

Hermione slowly shook her head, and gave him a weak smile. It was so like him. Here he was, getting ready to duel three older students, and yet he still found time to think of her. "That's right, and you better be there... and in one piece."


After her talk with Hermione a while back, Parvati had been paying more attention to the both of them, but especially to Harry. He was at such a huge disadvantage, why would anyone want that? Then, there was Hermione, who loathed cheating of any kind. Surely, she wouldn't make an exception, even for Harry. Those thoughts and more, ran through her head as she watched the current exchange with interest. The more she watched, the more she thought about it, the more ashamed she became of herself. She decided, she would talk to Harry later. She just hoped he would be in good enough shape to listen.


As Harry returned Cedric's bow, he thought, `this is it.' Harry didn't waste any time, he quickly fired off a stunner. Cedric was caught off guard for a second, and had to put up a hasty shield, but then wasted no time of his own, and returned fire. Harry ducked, the first spell missed, going just over his head, but a second was coming fast.

"Protego," Harry's shield flared, but held.

For the next several minutes, both boys traded spells. Like everyone else, Cedric barely moved, he really didn't have to though. He either shielded himself, knew the counter spell, or took a small step to avoid a direct hit. Harry did come close to hitting him twice, but even still, he was fairly sure, he was losing the duel.

Harry was getting a little frustrated, he just didn't know as many spells well enough to push Cedric out of his comfort zone, but at least he felt he was somewhat holding his own. `For now anyway,' Harry thought sadly. Harry moved left and right, and he ducked several times, but he avoided moving and dodging too much, so as not to tip off the other two champions of his strategy. Additionally, Harry knew Cedric was fast enough to get him, even if he ended up rolling around on the ground or something.

Harry was beginning to tire, `Maybe something a little different,' he finally thought. Harry fired a low powered stinging hex just off to the right of Cedric, causing him to move left... into his second spell just on the edge of his shield.

Cedric's eyes grew wide. As fast as he could, he slashed his wand out and down, only just barely blocking Harry's last spell. He had to smile, Harry was giving him a good fight, `Better than Davis,' he thought ironically. Although he wasn't going easy on Harry, he also wasn't taking this as seriously as he should. If he wasn't careful, Harry might just beat him.

Smiling, Cedric wondered if Harry would like a taste of his own medicine. After trading a couple of quick spells, Cedric shot a stinger to Harry's left. Expecting him to recognize his own trick, he added a second spell, a much stronger stunning spell to the same spot.

Harry recognized the stinging hex at the last second and thought, `No way.' He decided to allow the spell hit, since it really didn't do much, then he'd be able to return fire faster. `Oh shite, two,' Harry realized a moment later. Now Harry was forced to dodge right or be hit, there wasn't enough time for a shield. No sooner did he move, then he was thrown back, and his wand flew from his hand. Caught by a modified version of his own trick, Harry had been disarmed by perfectly timed, "Expelliarmus." It was over.


Harry stood and looked around. The Great Hall was silent. `At least they're not laughing,' ran through his head as he dusted himself off. In fact, he hadn't done that bad, and he managed to last quite a while against his first opponent. Turning toward Cedric Harry smiled, and then did something no one else had done... he gave Cedric a deep bow.

Cedric stood and stared at Harry not quite sure what to make of his final act. If anyone had a right to complain that, the odds were against him, that this whole thing was unfair, it was Harry. Yet here he was graciously acknowledging his loss. Cedric still wasn't sure how he felt about the events leading to Harry being in the tournament. However, this small act of honor that Harry was showing now, sure didn't lend any credence to the stories of how he had cheated to get in.

Cedric finally smiled thinking, `The hell with it. He at least deserves the benefit of doubt.' Laughing a little, he walked up to Harry, and stuck out his hand, "Well done Harry. That was actually one of my trickier duels."

Harry looked at Cedric offered hand not quite believing his eyes, then after only a slight hesitation, reached out and shook it. "Thanks," he said softly, then added, "nice move at the end."

Cedric laughed again, "Thanks, but actually, it was your move... I just added a bit."

Harry laughed too, "My luck, you're a fast learner."

They stepped off the platform together and gave each other a nod, before heading off in different directions. Harry spotted Hermione beaming at him, and went straight to her. Just before he reached her, it seemed she couldn't hold back any longer. Hermione launched herself at Harry, who stumbled back a little as he caught her.

After a quick Hermione hug, she pulled back, "Oh Harry... you did fantastic."


"Yes! Absolutely brilliant."

Harry replied, "Thanks," with a sheepish smile.

"You have thirty minutes before you go up against Renée. Do you want to talk about it, or just take it easy?"

Harry felt he did better when he went on instinct, plus they'd already talked about her earlier and he didn't want to over think the upcoming duel. "I think... just relax," he said as he led her over to a table that held some refreshments.

Harry grabbed two glasses of pumpkin juice, and then turned to hand one to Hermione, only to find her staring at him. "What?" He asked, one brow raised in question.

"You," she answered, "you don't do normal. It's just not in you." When his second brow rose, she explained, "Everyone's duel ended with one or both opponents looking grim, or angry, or hurt, but not yours. What were you guys laughing about?"

They sat down, and Harry told her everything while they waited. Then too soon it seemed, it was time for his next duel.

Even though it seemed longer, the duel with Cedric had lasted just over five minutes. The one with Renée was over in less than one. She just didn't know how to deal with a moving target. Harry dodged and rolled all over the place. He never even had to put up a shield. After only about a dozen spells, Harry tried his trick again, this time with success.

Renée pulled herself up off the floor with a huff, wondering just how she had managed to lose to a fourth-year. More angry with herself than with Harry, she stood straight, then after a slight nod of her head, she gave him a shallow bow. She may have lost, but she would still show the proper respect, just as he had done earlier.

If she was going to follow his example from earlier, then Harry would follow Cedric's. Walking up to her, he smiled and said, "Well played Miss De La Rue, I'm sure I just got lucky."

"Luck? Emm of that I'm not so sure Mr. Potter," she replied while shaking his hand.

`Too down, one to go,' Harry smiled at the thought... until he remembered who was next.


Ron had watched from the stands, and his mood went from good to bad, to worse. When Cedric had beaten Harry, Ron smirked, `Serves him right,' he thought. But then suddenly they were laughing, like old mates chumming it up. Then Harry goes and wins his duel with the French girl, `What the bloody hell!' Now Ron's only hope, was that Krum would put him in his place. `Would teach him right for showing off.'

Again, Harry had a half hour break before he would have to face his last duel. Looking around, his gaze fell on Viktor. The tall Bulgarian was staring straight back at him. His face was devoid of emotion, he gave nothing away. Try as he might, Harry couldn't read him. He knew his own face told a different story, nervous for sure, fearful... probably. He only hoped that Viktor couldn't tell just how unsettling their little staring match was to him.

"And now for the last duel of the first task," Dumbledore's voice rang out through the Hall.

"Well, this is it," Harry said with a nervous smile.

"You're doing great Harry, you're going to be fine," replied Hermione. It was as much for her peace of mind, as it was for Harry's. As he stood to leave she quickly added, "Good luck."

Harry glanced towards the stage, then back, "Thanks," then walked away ready for his last match.

They stood straight and proud, facing each other. Wands at the ready in front of their faces, both gave a shallow bow of respect as was custom. If Harry was honest with himself, he was not only nervous, but scared as well. He'd already seen the results of some of Viktor's work. Not just broken bones, but nasty compound fractures. Not just cuts, but deep lacerations. Two of his opponents had to be carried away to the infirmary, unable to walk on their own, one had been unconscious. He had no reason to believe his outcome would be any different.

Viktor regarded the small boy in front of him, had he cheated? Viktor wasn't sure, it seems foolish and therefore unlikely, but then again, he really didn't know Harry Potter very well. He had watched him duel, and had been a little surprised. Mr. Potter had shown more courage and ability than he thought possible for someone his age. Still, Viktor didn't consider him a threat. For the briefest of moments, he had considered going easy on him. `No, if he is to be a champion, he should be treated like one, regardless if he chooses this or not,' he thought.


Harry stood and waited ready to defend, Viktor had always started out fast. `What's he waiting for? Is he going soft on me?' were Harry's last thoughts before a barrage of spells headed his way. He dodged the best he could, but a bludgeon spell just barely caught him on the left shoulder, spinning him around and dropping him to the ground in pain. Even though it only slightly connected, it had hurt like hell. Harry wouldn't have been surprised if his left shoulder was now dislocated. As he spun, Harry cast a quick shield hoping it would hold in case Viktor fired another spell. Hearing the telltale hiss, as a stunner deflected off of it, he was glad he had managed it.

Viktor paused, expecting Harry to yield. There was no need to be excessive.

Harry slowly stood, wand at the ready, a slight grimace on his face from the pain in his shoulder.

Viktor was mildly surprised. His opponent was outmatched and hurt... yet he would not give up. Lifting his head a little as if to ask, are you sure? He received his reply when Harry nodded back.

Hermione watched horrified, one hand over her heart, and the other over her mouth, to keep herself from screaming out loud. Her heart was racing with anxiety and fear. Harry had yet to fire a single curse, and he was already hurt.

Now that Harry had his answer, that Viktor wasn't going to treat him special, he didn't wait for him to cast first again. Viktor was putting large amounts of power into his spells. `I'll use a different tact,' Harry thought as he fired a quick low powered stunner. After pausing for only a split second, he fired again in quick succession, "Stupefy, Stupefy, Diffindo."

Viktor raised a quick strong shield, and then realized he was overpowering it against Harry's weak attack. Thinking Harry was only going to fire the one spell, he readied to attack again, only to find it necessary to have to raise a hasty shield again. Then for the second time in only seconds, he was once more surprised. Harry's second stunner wasn't much stronger than the first, but the third one was, and it shattered his shield. Caught off guard he jumped in pain as the cutting curse left a fairly good-sized gash in his right leg.

This time, it was Harry who paused. Mimicking Viktor, Harry ticked his head up and raised an eyebrow in question.

Hermione caught her breath; it seemed Viktor, could be hurt. Although proud of Harry for managing to score a hit on Viktor, it meant he wasn't going down without a fight, and she started to panic again.

Viktor smiled, hell he almost laughed as he regarded the small boy standing in front of him. Harry may not have a lot of power, or a great deal of knowledge of spells, but he was still a worthy opponent. He used what he had to great advantage, speed and intelligence. Viktor realized at that moment, that it would only be a matter of time before Harry Potter truly became a force to be reckoned with.

The duel resumed with both trading spell fire. In very little time, it was fairly obvious that Harry was losing. He was barely able to stand with one foot broken. Blood from a cut to his head ran down his face, some of it getting into his eyes making it hard to see, but he fought on. And although Viktor was winning, he too, had taken a few more hits.

Neville watched with rapt attention. He was slightly awed by Harry's skill. However, it was his sheer determination, his stubbornness, the will to continue, to not give up that really amazed him. Harry was hurting; you could see it when he moved. Although after a glance at Hermione, he would be hard-pressed to say just who was in more pain.

Viktor was beginning to tire, how Harry managed to stay on his feet he would never know. Realizing this, he knew he had to finish this quickly. Summoning all his strength, he let loose with several spells in quick succession. Harry's shield held for the first couple, then failed, and he was blasted backwards violently landing with a sickening crunch.

The last thing Harry heard before his world went dark, was Hermione's scream.

"Harry!" Hermione was out of her seat and racing towards the platform. "Get out of my way!" She yelled, wand out and ready to curse anybody who tried to stop her.

Professor McGonagall mentally pushed aside the disgust she felt for what she had just witnessed. Students fighting students, hurting each other... trying to kill each other. She was rudely broken from her thoughts by someone shoving past her, "Miss Granger?" She questioned. Seeing she wasn't going to get a response, she grabbed Hermione by the arm in an effort to stop her, only to find a wand in her face.

Hermione gasped, "Oh, sorry ma'am," and tried to continue on.

"Miss Granger, please stop." McGonagall could see the desperation on her tear-stained face and felt for her. She knew they were close - Harry and Hermione. Always helping each other. She had also seen firsthand how protective they were of each other. This was but yet another example. "Miss Granger, please let Madam Pomfrey do her job." It was both part a plea, and part an order. Seeing the anguish in her young lion's eyes she added softly, "I'll tell her to allow you in the infirmary, so you might see him while he recovers." That seemed to placate the young witch, at least for a few seconds.

After a moment Hermione turned back to her Head of House, "Who could have ever thought this was a good idea?" looking around before going on, "Who would think this... glorious?"

McGonagall rarely showed emotion in front of her students, but if there was ever a time for an exception, this was it. Reaching out, she pulled Hermione into a gentle embrace and whispered, "I don't know."

Although it only lasted a few seconds, Hermione was nonetheless surprised by the display, but still quite grateful. Stepping back, she looked up into the older woman's eyes, and in that moment, she knew she had an ally. Nodding her head in understanding, she whispered back, "Thank you."

Harry was levitated away, unaware of his champions in arms, two of Hogwarts strongest women.


Harry woke to an all too familiar feeling. Stiff muscles, crisp scratchy sheets, and that oh so unique smell, yep, he had woken in the hospital wing. Slowly opening his eyes, he started to reach for his glasses, when somebody handed them to him. "Hey," he managed with a raspy voice as his world came into focus.

"Hey yourself," Hermione answered smiling while handing him a glass of water, "how are you feeling?"

"Well it felt like I was hit by the Express," Harry started as he rubbed his neck, "but not too bad now... just a little sore."

Hermione nodded once, her face grave, "You looked pretty bad when they brought you in, but Pomfrey said it wasn't as bad..." her voice broke a little, "as bad as it looked."

"Easy for her to say," Harry replied dryly.

Hermione tried to put on a brave face, "Yes, well I'm just glad you're okay now," her smile not quite reaching her eyes.

Harry mentally kicked himself, of course she would have been worried. Reaching over, he grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze, "Hey... I'm fine... really." Then after looking around, "Just a little irritated about being here is all." Turning his attention back to her, he asked, "How long have I been out... wait, how long have you been here? You look tired."

Hermione smiled and shook her head, "One night, and I'm fine, just didn't sleep much last night." `Here was Harry lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a dislocated shoulder, three broken bones, and about a dozen cuts, yet he's worried about me.'

"Well not that I don't enjoy your company, but you need your rest, and I'm sure you still have work to do for your demonstration on Monday."

"Yes, well I'll take a kip after lunch." Turning pensive, she went on, "I'm still no closer to figuring out that potion's problem though. Oh, speaking of potions, that reminds me, Snape wants to see me today."

"Really?" Harry asked, not quite meeting her eyes.

Hermione studied Harry for a second, then raising a brow, "You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

"What... I..." Harry started, but was interrupted.

"Excuse me Mr. Potter, I vas hoping to have a vord with you, yes?" Viktor stood straight, as if at attention, his appearance and manner, straight and formal.

"Ah, sure." Harry glanced at Hermione, who only shrugged, "What can I do for you Mr. Krum?"

"I... I vish," Viktor hesitated ever so slightly, as if what he had to say was out of the ordinary. "I vish to apo-lo-gize. I did not mean to hurt you so badly, I... I thought your shield vould be harder to break. I only vanted..."

Harry held up a hand to stop the rambling Hungarian. "Viktor stop! It's okay, I'm okay," smiling, he went on, "I kept changing the power of my spells trying to fool you. Guess I did. Look, you did what you had to do."

Viktor seemed to relax, "Thank you for understanding." Stepping closer, he reached out his hand to Harry, "You fought vell, and vith honor."

Harry slowly took Viktor hand and shook it, "You as well Mr. Krum... and thanks."

Viktor, again seemed to snap to attention, "Good day Mr. Potter, Miss Granger," and after a curt nod to Hermione, he turned to leave.

Hermione called out after him, "Oh, and congratulations Mr. Krum." He looked back and again nodded his thanks.

"He finished first, I take it?" Harry asked.

"Yeah, he won all three of his duels for fifty-eight points, Cedric also won three, for fifty-seven points. You've got forty-three points, putting you in fifth place!"

"Wow... I never thought..."

Hermione just beamed.

"So how did the others do?"

Hermione sat up straighter, "Well, Fleur placed third with fifty-one points, she showed a lot of skill. If she hadn't made that one terrible mistake, she probably would have won all three. then Renée; the girl you beat, she placed fourth just ahead of you with forty-four." Seeing his puzzled face, she explained further, "Renée won two duels just like Claudine, but hers was faster, so she scored higher." Smiling proudly, "Her worst duel was against you."

Harry nodded in understanding, "Oh."

"Anyway," Hermione continued, "Derrick got thirty-nine, and Vasil thirty; he would have scored higher, but he used an illegal curse."

Harry's smile faltered, "Of course now, that means I'll have to do the second task."

Hermione smile fell as well, "Yes, that's right... well we'll just have to face that one together also, right?"

"Right, but first we have your demonstration to finish preparing for."

Hermione was beaming again at the mention of we.

Harry and Hermione continued talking for a while longer about things other than the tournament. "So anyway, I can't wait till next Saturday, maybe we'll be able to take a break," Hermione mused.

Harry nodded, "Well it is a Hogsmeade day, and... oh hi Parvati, did you need Hermione?" not appreciating the interruption, Harry's voice was a little cool.

"Hello Hermione," she gave a half smile, then turning her nervous gaze on him, "actually Harry, I've come to talk with you… that is, if it's alright?"

A little surprised Harry answered, "Ah sure... I'm not going anywhere." He turned and looked at Hermione with an eyebrow raised in question. Hermione returned a soft smile and a small shrug. "Well I need to see Professor Snape now anyway. Harry, I'll see you, tomorrow?"

"Yeah sure... bye," Harry then gestured for Parvati to sit, "so, you wanted to talk?"

Parvati sat down cautiously with both hands in her lap, and started to fidget. "Harry, I'm sorry," she said softly while looking down.

Harry sat up a little straighter and looked at the girl sitting by his bed, he wasn't sure how to respond, "Parvati..."

"Harry please," she interrupted, "this will be difficult for me to say, but I need to tell you." Parvati paused to gather her thoughts, "At first, when your name came out of the goblet, I was shocked. I didn't know what to think. Everyone was calling you a cheat... and worse," she added softly. "I'm embarrassed to say, I let their comments influence me. I… I went along without thinking. I should have known better. My parents taught both me and my sister to think for ourselves, and the importance of loyalty to friends. If I had just one-tenth the courage of Hermione..." when she looked up, Harry was taken back by the steel in her eyes. "It won't happen again Harry... I promise."

"Thanks, that means more to me than you know."

Everyone, except her parents, had always compared Parvati to her twin sister Padma. She was both smarter, and more athletic. Parvati always seemed to fall short, but she never held it against her sister. For a long time now, she had resigned herself to second place behind Padma. It really didn't bother her; she'd always support her sister. What did bother her, was the notion that somehow, being second was the same as being last. That she didn't try at all, didn't put any effort into her work. That she was lazy, and therefore unworthy.

"It hurts when people think the worst," she said softly, while looking down.

Moved by the emotion in her voice, all Harry could manage was an equally soft, "Yeah."

"And just so you know Harry, I've talked to my sister about this, I'm pretty sure, she feels the same way." Then Parvati turned and stared at the exit, at the very doors Hermione had just left through, "You're lucky to have her as a friend."

Harry turned also, and with a small nod and a smile, quietly said, "Yes, I am."


After knocking, and hearing a muffled, enter, Hermione stuck her head in the partially open doorway. "You asked to see me sir?"

Snape looked up for only a moment before he answered, "Miss Granger, have a seat."

Hermione eased into the office and quietly took a seat in front of the Potion Master's desk. Knowing his disposition, she waited patiently for him to start.

"How are you progressing with your demonstration project?"

Hermione was mildly surprised, and it must have shown.

"Miss Granger, as a Hogwarts student your performance is a reflection of your school, and as the Potions Professor, did you not think I would take an interest in your doings?"

`And a reflection of my Potions Professor,' She thought. "Yes sir, of course." Setting up to her full height, she began, "My partner and I have everything worked out... except for one minor..."

"You are having trouble heating the Erumpent Fluid," Snape interrupted with a small sneer.

"Yes sir," she acknowledged, ignoring his attitude. "We can heat it separately, but then it won't combine properly. When we heat the mixture together; as we believe should be the proper way, the Erumpent either spoils the mixture, or explodes."

"And do you know why?"

"Yes sir, it appears as though the Erumpent Fluid goes through more than one transformation as it heats up and becomes unstable."

Snape actually smiled, "An excellent assumption Miss Granger." Then turning more serious he asked, "Can you think of a way to bypass that?"

Hermione's brow scrunched together in concentration for a moment, "I suppose... if there was some way to bring the potion to temperature instantaneously..."

Snape stood suddenly, startling her. "There are many things that are not taught until the NEWT level, and still more that are not taught until one studies for his mastery." He picked up book up off his desk and handed it to her, "Flash boiling; you'll find the technique at the bookmark." Sitting back down he added, "Please return the book as soon as you're done with it."

Hermione sat there momentarily speechless, hardly believing he was actually helping her. "Thank you sir, I will return it promptly." Receiving no other response, she stood to leave. Halfway to the door she realized something else, he had known ahead of time what she was having problems with, how else would he have known what to bookmark. Stopping, she turned back, "Sir, how..."

Snape stopped her with a glare, "Apparently you have a considerate friend."

Hermione smiled at the thought, `Harry.'

Snape sighed annoyed, "Now if you don't mind Miss Granger, I am rather busy."

"Of course sir," she replied, quickly leaving his office.


Harry was released from the hospital Sunday morning. After breakfast, he had spent pretty much the rest of the day catching up on his schoolwork. He had missed Hermione completely at breakfast, and had only been able to talk to her briefly at lunch. They were both quite busy. Not seeing her again at dinner, he was certain she was busy working on her project, and knew just where to find her.

Stepping through the doors into the library, Harry gave Madam Pince a nod hello. She only raised a brow and went back to work. Being in a rather good mood since completing the first task, Harry smiled and headed straight to Hermione's table. Reaching it his smile grew. Hermione and her French partner, Nicole, were in an animated discussion, about something Harry was sure he wouldn't understand. Books and parchment strewn all over the table, he coughed to get their attention.

"Oh, Harry, hey. Sorry, I didn't see you coming in." Hermione said after she looked up. Nicole stayed quiet, not quite sure what to make of the Hogwarts champion.

Harry waved off the apology, "You were busy… you also missed dinner." Before she could argue he went on, "So, I brought dinner to you, and I brought enough for two," he added looking at Nicole, who promptly turned pink.

Hermione sat her quill down and leaned back in her chair. With a smirk and one raised eyebrow, she turned to Nicole, "Allow me to reintroduce Harry Potter, my very own personal hero." Looking back up at Harry, "And Harry, you of course remember Nicole Lescuier," she finished with a chuckle.

Harry blanched a little, "It's just dinner Hermione."

Without taking her eyes off of him, "And did I forget to tell you Nicole, he is also the one responsible for the final solution for our potion?

It was apparent to Nicole, that there was more to them than what was visible on the surface. Calming down, she began to enjoy this little dance of theirs, and decided to join in. "No Hermione, you did not mention this!" Then after joining Hermione in staring at Harry, she added in an awed voice, "I did not know you are so talented... in Potions of course."

Harry kept looking back and forth between Hermione and Nicole, "I... er, I'm not... I just..." then it hit him; they were both smiling so hard they were ready to burst.

Harry plopped down in the seat across from them and let out a long breath, "Oi you two, talk about taking the mickey out of someone."

Both girls laughed, and Harry soon joined them. Calming down before Madam Pince came over, Harry asked, "Hermione, how did you know?"

"Harry, someone had to have told Snape, and I knew it wasn't Nicole."

"But it could..."

"I asked."

"Really, and he told you."

"Said it was a friend, a considerate friend."

Harry looked down suddenly feeling warm, "I knew you'd never go to him."

After a moment of silence, Harry chanced looking back up. Hermione was sitting across from him with a soft smile on her face.

"Thank you Harry."

Again, Nicole joined in, "Yes, thank you Harry."

Another brief moment of silence passed before Harry spoke, "You're welcome." Then clapping his hands together he added, "So, anything I can do to help now, or should I just stay out of your way?"


The Great Hall after breakfast was nothing like it had been for the dueling task. Then, everyone sat in stands back away from the stage, and could only watch. Of course, that had been necessary for the safety of the students. Now however, they were no stands. Harry noticed students and professors alike could not only come right up to the table where the demonstrations were taking place, but were encouraged to. It was definitely a friendlier environment.

For the Skill and Knowledge Demonstration in Potions, everyone had to pair up.

Twenty-four students made twelve teams. Today, six of those teams were giving their demonstrations. Tomorrow the other six would finish up. The six teams were further broken up into two groups of three teams each. One of the groups would go in the morning, and the other group would give their demonstrations after lunch. Hermione was happy she was in the first group. Unlike Harry, she would get her demonstration done early, and then be able to relax and watch as the rest gave theirs.

Each team would give their demonstration twice, once just for the judges, and once for anybody else that wanted to watch.

Breakfast ended early as the demonstrations were scheduled to start at eight sharp. Harry had only barely been able to grab a bite before the house tables were moved out of the way. Harry stood near the back of the Hall and watched, as things got underway. Hermione and Nicole were just getting started. One would work with the ingredients and the cauldron, while the other one would explain what they were doing. Occasionally, during a natural break in the process, they would trade roles. It was quickly becoming obvious that they were well prepared, and worked well together. Along with them, Zacharias from Hufflepuff, and his partner were also just getting started. The judges, would watch them both. Moving back and forth the short distance between the two teams, effectively, keeping an eye on both. Draco and his partner were also in the first group, but unable to watch three Demonstrations at the same time, Draco and his partner, would give their first demonstration to any student who wanted to watch.

Harry decided to go watch Draco. That way, he wouldn't chance being a distraction to Hermione. It worked better like this anyway, because Draco was supposed to be demonstrating to the students, he'd be judged later.

Considering who Draco's Head of House was, Harry was expecting a good show, and Draco didn't disappoint. Harry missed his opening introduction, so he wasn't completely sure what Draco's potion was supposed to be about. However, after a while it became fairly obvious that it had something to do with flame or fire suppression judging by all the flare-ups. One thing for sure, it was very flashy. And although, he and partner didn't seem to like each other very well, you could tell they had put aside their differences for the most part, to get the project done.

"Think they'll burn the place down?"

Harry turned around to a smirking Neville, and smiled, "Not much chance of that with my luck. How have you been?"

Neville smiled back, "Good, you?"

"For now... good, I think." Turning back to the demonstration Harry asked, "Doesn't look like Draco likes his partner."

Neville chuckled, "No, I doubt he does." Seeing Harry's confusion he added, "She's a Muggle-born named Collette, a year older, and I hear... she is quite feisty."

"Well that would explain it, how'd you know?"

"Luna told me."


"Seems Draco waited too long, to try and find a partner, so..."

"So by the end of the day… Draco won't know who to insult, Collette, or Hermione, or even, you or me," Harry laughed.

Neville nodded. Now that the first task was over, Harry had calmed down somewhat. It was good to see him smile, and relax a little for a change. "Thought you'd be over there," Neville ticked his head towards Hermione's table.

"Oh as soon as the judges leave, I'll head over straight away." Harry turned to Neville, "You going to watch?"

"Of course, don't know if I'll understand anything, but it should be interesting."

Looking across the way to Hermione and Nicole, Harry's eyes seemed to come to life. "Definitely, and exciting. They'll be doing something new, something that's never been done before."

"Well, we had better get front row seats then."


"It is not uncommon after a serious accident, that the victim would need several potions. Some may be given together, some not." Hermione was in her element. Either learning new things, or sharing that knowledge with others, was something that gave her great joy. Hermione loved teaching others, "The problem arises when time is of the essence. For example; suppose, someone is badly injured and bleeding; a Blood-Replenishing Potion would probably be given right away, as too much blood loss can cause other difficulties. The problem is, the person is most likely also in pain, but you must wait at least fifteen minutes before giving them a Pain-Relieving Potion, or risk one potion interfering with the other. If you're a pain, especially great pain... fifteen minutes can seem like fifteen hours."

Hermione couldn't help but notice Harry absentmindedly nodding in agreement. She never told anyone, but Harry was one of the reasons she works so hard on this project.

"Sometimes it's a particular ingredient that causes the problem. Normally, Fluxweed and Knotgrass don't mix. Oddly enough, Fluxweed and Knotgrass, are both ingredients in the Poly-Juice Potion, and are mixed without difficulty in that particular potion." Hermione stepped back to takeover working at the cauldron, while Nicole took over speaking seamlessly. "However, both are prepared differently when used in other potions, and normally they can't be mixed. For example; Fluxweed in the Blood-Replenishing Potion, and Knotgrass in the Pain-Relieving Potion." Making sure everyone was still following, she continued, "So, we needed some kind of buffer. It turns out, Bundimun Secretion undiluted works fine for Fluxweed, and Erumpent Fluid works for Knotgrass."

At the mention of Erumpent Fluid, Neville cringed, and the Weasley twins smirked. Harry smiled and leaned forward a little, anxious to hear how the girls solved the heating problem.

Hermione took over, "I see some of you are familiar with the main problem with Erumpent Fluid, when heated, it becomes... unstable." With a glance to the twins, "While that might not be an issue for some, it certainly would be for this potion."

Hermione checked with Nicole to make sure she was ready before she continued, "The solution is in how you heat the potion, and I also think it is the most interesting part of this demonstration."

After adding a pre-measured amount of the temperamental fluid to a cauldron containing the other ingredients, Nicole moved it over a flame to heat.

Everyone except Harry, backed up.

Hermione smiled, she loved the confidence that he had in her. "If you'll notice, Nicole has her wand touching the cauldron, and she is holding a spell on it," Hermione spoke softly so as not to break her partner's concentration. "The spell forces the heat of the flame into the cauldron only, no heat is transferred to the potion... yet. At a predetermined time, four minutes and twenty seconds in this case, she will remove the spell, and the stored heat will transfer instantaneously, a technique called flash boiling or flash heating. This allows us to heat the Erumpent Fluid, and maintain a stable mixture."

A moment later as Nicole was moving the cauldron to a spot where it could cool, Hermione finished, "After cooling, the potion is ready to be administered, and will act like a Blood-Replenishing and Pain-Relieving Potion in one. Of course, before it can actually be used, it will have to undergo testing by a Potions Master, and a Healer. So... I suggest you all continue to be careful." She said the last part while staring at Harry, who had the decency to blush.


Tuesday night dinner in the Great Hall seemed to last unusually long. It might have been the large variety of delicious food, or perhaps it was just left over excitement from earlier. But more likely it was the expectation of the pending announcements. Whatever the reason, Hermione sat with eager anticipation, her eyes constantly shifting to the head table, waiting for a sign of things to come. Nicole sat beside her just as excited, and it must have been contagious, because Harry found himself stealing glances to the front of the Hall as well.

"May I have your attention please," Professor McGonagall said in a loud clear voice. The Hall quickly quieted down. "First, I would like to congratulate all the students who participated in the Potions Demonstration." McGonagall led the Hall in a loud round of applause. When everyone settled down again she continued, "Next, as most of you know, only the top four students from each school will participate in the remaining demonstrations. I want you all to know the judging was very close. All of you showed excellent skill and knowledge in this tricky subject." Here she paused momentarily and glanced at a sheepish looking redhead sitting at the Gryffindor table. "Some of your demonstrations were more... interesting than others, but all had great merit."

Harry could've sworn he heard Fred laughing at something his brother George said, a ways down the table.

"Now what you've been patiently waiting for, your scores." Pulling out a parchment, she began to read, "From Durmstrang…" McGonagall proceeded to read the names of the top four students and their scores. Then went on to do the same for Beauxbaton. "And finally, from Hogwarts... Miss Hermione Granger, thirty points. Miss Cho Chang, twenty-nine points. Mr. Draco Malfoy, twenty-six points. And finally, Miss Luna Lovegood, twenty-five points." With a gentle nod to Luna, she added, "Miss Lovegood also happens to be our youngest competitor. Also one final note, had it not been for a rather spectacular explosion, Mr. Fred Weasley would have tied for fourth place." With a rare smile on her face, McGonagall led the Hall in another round of applause.

"You'll find the final tally for all the students, and all the upcoming events by the way, posted in the same place you found the sign up sheet. Thank you, and I think that's all for tonight." She returned to her seat as the Hall clapped one last time before people started to get up to leave.


Harry walked just behind Hermione as they were leaving the Great Hall. He was smiling so hard his face hurt. He was truly happy for his best friend. Hermione was ecstatic, and beamed as she graciously thanked people for their complements. It was her day, her turn in the spotlight, and Harry couldn't have been more proud of her. Of course, he knew she hadn't done it all alone, Nicole worked just as hard, but she was over with her own friends and classmates, enjoying her own celebration. Harry continued to hang back, careful not to become a cloud over Hermione's moment. He was content just to watch. Then someone caught his eye. Harry moved quickly, "Draco!" he called out, "Congratulations," Harry said as he offered his hand.

The entire group of Slytherins that Draco was with, stopped and stared. Some looked surprised or confused, others looked suspicious, even angry. If it had been a joke, the look on Draco's face would have been worth a million laughs. As the seconds passed, Harry began to think that maybe he'd made a mistake. Just before he was going to turn around, Draco stepped forward. He took a long dissecting look into Harry's eyes, and then seemingly reaching a conclusion; he reached out and shook his hand, and with a curt nod said, "Thanks." Harry returned the nod, then turned and left as quickly as he had come. He left in search of two Ravenclaws; he wanted to congratulate them also, before returning to his own common room.

Snape watched with mild interest as Harry headed for Cho and Luna. Professor McGonagall had been congratulating Hermione when Harry took off towards Draco. Both were a little concerned at first, and also watched with interest, then smiled knowingly to each other at the outcome.


Later, that evening in the Gryffindor common room, Fred and George grabbed Ginny as she walked by, heading for stairs to her dorm.


Ignoring her protest, the twins pulled her over to their table in the corner of the room, "We need to talk."

Ginny panicked, "If this is about..." the twins entire demeanor changed as Ginny started talking. Realizing who she was talking to, she stopped, then after a rather long silence she said with caution, "Kay… forget that. What do you two troublemakers want?"

Fred and George shared a knowing look; something was up with little Ginny; they'd find out later, for now it would have to wait. Turning serious again Fred started, "Have you noticed your dear brother Ron?"

George added, "Something's up, he's..."

"A moron." Ginny supplied.

"Obviously," Fred said without missing a beat.

"But doesn't he seem to be more of a moron lately?" Questioned George.

Fred shook his head, "Why is he so angry at Harry?"

Ginny looked surprised, "Well for one thing, Ron was really looking forward to showing off. Getting the tickets, talking Quidditch and everything… you know?"

"Yeah, we thought about that, but we think there is more going on…"

Ginny rolled her eyes, "Obviously… the main reason is because Harry cheated to get into the stupid tournament."

"Did he?" George was serious again, something Ginny found a little unnerving, "because we're not so sure."


Fred sighed, "Look, we tried to cheat too, and everybody knows it, how come Ron's not mad at us. How come nobody's mad at us? Also, we didn't just try, we tried hard... I mean really hard."

George nodded, "And, you know we're good at those kinds of things. I mean Harry's pretty smart and all, but come on, do you really think he could beat the goblet, if we couldn't?"

Ginny stood up suddenly, "Oh Merlin, that makes way too much sense, why didn't I think of some of those things before?" Ginny paused while she took time to think. "If he's telling the truth...Oh shite. We need to write mum right away!"



AN: Thank you all for reading this, and for the kind reviews.




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