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 7

Luna's Insight


Dean Thomas, never did like Harry all that much, and now, with Harry's involvement in the tournament, he was being more open about it. As for Seamus Finnigan, it seemed he was on the fence with regards to Harry. Besides Ron, Neville Longbottom was the only other boy in Harry's dorm, and it was pretty clear by now how he felt. Since Ron was still angry with Harry, it meant he really only had one ally. Dean knew this, and used it to his advantage. When ever Ron would start to cool down, Dean would say something to wind him up again. He was having too much fun, and to let Ron apologize would put an end to it.

Dean ticked his head towards a small group walking up ahead, "Oi, look who…The Cheat, the Squib, the Bookworm, and Loony."

Seeing Neville walking next to Harry, set something off in Ron; what right did he have to act like Harry's mate, and for some reason, seeing Luna with them, bothered him as well. Ron picked up their pace, intent on catching them.

Even though the weather was still nice, one could tell fall was upon them by the nip in the air. Covered up in light jumpers and mittens, Harry and Hermione, along with Neville and Luna made their way to Hogsmeade.

Neville and Harry walked side-by-side talking about classes, while Luna and Hermione followed along a few steps behind.

"You and Neville seemed to be getting along quite well," ventured Hermione.

"Oh yes, he's very nice."

"Nice?" Laughed Hermione softly, "nothing more between you?"

"Well yes, there is more," Luna said, as if it was obvious.

Hermione turned her head and question her, with a raised eyebrow.


"Excuse me?" Hermione asked. She was still getting to know this girl, and it was times like this that confused her.

"You wanted to know if there was more `between' Neville and me. There is, Nargles.

"I see."

Luna looked at Hermione as if to say, really? Then, with her typical dreamy look, went on, "He has a mild case of Nargle infestation. Until it clears up, we will just be friends, just like you and Harry

Hermione bit her lip as she thought about Luna's last comment, "I don't think Harry sees me that way."

"It's not about thinking," replied Luna casually.

"Luna, we're just friends, good friends. I..."

"Well well, look here Dean, if it isn't Potter and his fans," sneered Ron loud enough to turn a few heads. "Come to celebrate have we, though I don't know why after that beating Krum gave you. Pathetic, completely pathetic!"

Ginny had been walking with a small group of her friends just up ahead, when she heard her brother lash out at Harry. Turning, she couldn't help but stare as the scene played out before her. Having not heard back from her mother yet, Ginny was indecisive as to what to do. She could only pray her idiot brother didn't muck it up too badly.

"What's your problem Ron?" Harry asked hotly.

"You are Potter, you and your sidekick complete with fan girls."

Ron was really beginning to piss him off. In the past few weeks, Harry had found he like the normally shy Neville. Once he got him out of his shell, Harry thought he was quite intelligent, and at the same time, fun to just hang around with. And of course, besides Hermione, Harry was also growing fond of Luna as well. Harry took two steps towards him, "I thought you weren't talking to me; which by the way, suits me just fine." Harry started, getting madder by the second. "But if you can't keep your mouth shut, then you bring it to me and leave my friends out of it."

As Ron was a little taller than Harry, he tried to intimidate him by stepping forward also, "Maybe I should do that now."

Hermione had finally had enough, "Ron! For heaven's sakes, why don't..."

"Why don't you stay out of it," snapped Ron.

Seeing the hurt in Hermione's eyes was all it took. Harry was going to give Ron a good thrashing. Reaching out, he grabbed his robe, intent on pulling him off balance and forcing him to the ground, it was time to put his yellow belt to work.

"STOP!" Snape hollered, "let go of him Mr. Potter. Ten points from Gryffindor for allowing yourself to be baited. Now, you and your friends get going before I decide to revoke your Hogsmeade visit."

Harry glared at the professor for a moment, then quickly calmed down as Hermione came over and stood next to him. "Yes Professor," he nodded, then turned and started away pulling Hermione with him.

"And you Mr. Weasley, ten points for starting an argument and then trying to cause trouble..."

"Ten points! Me! He's the one..."

"Enough Mr. Weasley. You would do well to learn how to control your mouth. Especially when you prattle on about things, you know nothing about. Ten more points for arguing with a professor." Snape's sneer turned hard as he added, "And if you want a detention as well, then by all means, go and start something else with them again later." Professor Snape pinned him with a glare for a couple of seconds more, just to make sure his message sank in, before continuing on his way to the village.

As soon as Snape was a safe distance away, Dean laughed, "Good show... bloody good show Ron."

"Shut it."

Dean only laughed harder, "Come on," he said while slapping Ron on the back.


"That place never ceases to amaze me," Neville commented as he and Harry left Zonko's to meet the girls.

"I know what you mean, but you know what amazed me?"


"How much time the Weasley twins were spending in there."

Neville chuckled, "Now that's a scary thought."

"Especially, if you're a Slytherin," Harry said with a smile.

They continued their walk to the three broomsticks, while speculating on what kind of mischief the twin might cause in the near future. Entering the pub, Harry spotted Hermione and Luna sitting at a corner table. He made his way over with Neville right behind him.

"Hey, how was Scrivenshaft's?" Harry asked as he approached their table.

"Hi Harry, Neville," greeted Hermione as the boys sat down. Luna just smiled at them, then scooted a little closer to Neville after he had settled.

"Oh, it was okay, nothing special. I just needed to buy a couple of new quills." After answering Harry, Hermione went on, "And Zonko's?" She asked with a raised eyebrow in question, "anything I should be worried about?"

Neville laughed, "Actually we were wondering the same thing when we saw the twins there."

"Yeah, they looked way too excited," Harry added.

Luna smiled, "I find, that if you remember our school motto when dealing with them, you'll have nothing to worry about."

"Sleeping dragons ay," Harry said while nodding in agreement.

Luna in turn just nodded back.

"I only wish a certain other... younger Weasley, felt that way about Harry."

Harry looked at Hermione, "Oi, you think I'm a dragon?"

Hermione saw the mirth in his eyes, "Maybe... but in a good way."

"Not sure there is a good way when it comes to dragons," Neville said with a chuckle, "just glad there are none around here." Then he turned serious, "Speaking of Ron, what's his problem?"

Hermione leaned forward, "I don't know. I've thought about it and I really just don't know. He knows Harry as well as anyone, how can he not believe him, yet alone act so... so vile?"

"Maybe he's scared." Luna said softly.

Harry, Hermione, and Neville, all turn to look at the young Ravenclaw. It was Hermione who asked the question that all three had been thinking, "Scared... scared of what? He's not the one being forced to compete in this ruddy tournament. A deadly tournament I might add." The last part said a bit more softly, while turning her gaze on Harry.

Luna blinked, she hadn't meant to upset anyone. It was obvious Hermione was worried for Harry's safety, even though most of the time she hid it well. Her normally bright demeanor dulled as Luna said quietly, "I'm sorry."

Hermione looked apologetic, "It's okay, I didn't mean to sound mad at you," she said, and gave her new friend's hand a gentle squeeze.

After a moment of silence Neville asked, "Luna, what exactly do you mean when you say he might be scared?" As soon as he had finished, Neville glanced at both Harry and Hermione, as if to ask if it was okay to continue along this line of talk.

After seeing them both nod their encouragement to her, Luna went on to explain, "I've known Ron for a long time. He has always had a hard time... fitting in, trying to find his place between his little sister and all of his older brothers. I think being mates with you Harry, made him feel special, part of something; although for all the wrong reasons. Then he sees you join the tournament. You went somewhere he couldn't follow. He was lost, and again, he didn't fit in... and he got scared."

Quick to defend Harry, Hermione started, "Harry didn't join the Tournament! He didn't ask for any of this. How is it his fault?"

"It's not," Luna said. "We all know that, but Ron is blinded by his anger." Looking around at her friends she could see they were still unsure and upset. "I wouldn't worry about it, he will eventually calm down and see things more clearly."

Something she had said was still bothering Harry, "You said, `for all the wrong reasons'."

"Yes, I did."

"Why? What do you mean?" Asked Hermione.

Luna leaned back and stared off at nothing in particular for a moment, before answering. To all at the table, it appeared as though `dreamy' Luna was back.

"Ron needs to find out who he is, and more importantly, what he wants out of life. He is not going to find that living in the shadows of his brothers, and he's not going to find it living in the shadow of the boy-who-lived either."

Luna seemed oblivious to the stares coming from her friends.

Neville and Harry were both mostly of the same mindset. Neither fully understood exactly what Luna had met, but both could see some truth in it.

Neville smiled as he thought this would be a good way to spend some extra time with her. Discussing just what she had meant.

Harry felt exactly the same, except he was planning to go over this conversation with Hermione. Looking over at her now he couldn't help but smile. She was obviously deep in thought. He could tell by the look on her face; the way her brow knit together, and her eyes focused on an inner thought, only she could see.

`Loony, they call her Loony Lovegood,' Hermione thought, `what a wretched nickname.' She was just getting to know this very confusing girl, and Hermione would be the first to agree that, Luna would sometimes do or say things that were... well, loony. However, even in the short time she had known her, Hermione had seen the girl's intelligence. This was a good example; because she looked at things differently than most people, she saw things they didn't.

Hermione continued to sit and stare at Luna as she worked this out. She was only a third year and probably a fair bit younger than herself. Yet here she sat, offering some profound insight into the mind of one Ronald Weasley. To say she was a little impressed would have been an understatement. Hermione was pretty sure she'd be listening a little bit more carefully to her new friend from now on.

"Well I reckon that'll take a bit to sort out," Harry mused, trying to lighten the mood. "At least there's hope we'll be friends again, which is more than I can say about that effing cow, Rita Skeeter."

"Harry, language!"

"Sorry Hermione, but you know what she's been saying."

Hermione did know. It seemed things like facts, and the truth were of little concern to the Prophet, or to Miss Skeeter. The rag more closely resembled a Muggle tabloid, than a legitimate newspaper. Normally, Hermione would just ignore the nonsense they published, but since Rita's meeting with Harry a few weeks ago, she seemed to be on a vendetta against him. To Hermione, that made it personal, and she couldn't ignore it. She wouldn't just let it go, she'd find a way to deal with Miss Skeeter, sooner, or later.

"I know Harry, and I'm not defending her. In fact, I agree she is a complete toerag. I just don't think we should drop to her level."

"Might as well tell me off now Hermione, because I think I'm going with Harry on this one." Neville said with a smile.

Luna and Harry laughed while Hermione glared. Then after only a second she couldn't hold back the smile any longer and joined in, laughing with them. A moment later she stopped suddenly. "Oh, look who just walked in…together."

The others, turned their heads to follow her gaze. Viktor and Alicia were making their way to a table. "Hmm, I thought Alicia kind of fancied Fred," mused Harry.

The group sat silent for a moment, then Neville said, "Yeah, me too. Pretty sure he fancies her though."

"Might be nothing," Luna added.

Hermione nodded, "Well, it's none of our business anyway."

The group turned away, and continued their conversation about the poor quality of reporting from a certain journalist.


Hermione pulled her scarf tighter. It was hard to believe, but in just one day the weather had turned considerably colder. It seemed winter was trying to make an appearance by Halloween. As she looked out over the Quidditch field, Hermione could easily imagine it covered in snow. Then out of the corner of her eye, she saw him. Harry was climbing the steps carrying his broom, and heading straight for her. She could tell he was mad by the way he carried himself and the way he moved. Just as he reached her, she called out, "Harry, what's wrong?"

Harry sat down rather abruptly next to her, "Bunch of gits," was all he said for a moment. Then turning quickly he looked at her, "Anybody here you want to see play?" He asked, gesturing to the field.

"Well... I..." Hermione stammered, "That is, well I thought you would be playing." She was glad the air was so cold, it would hide her reddening cheeks.

Harry looked out over the field for a moment, then as if having made up his mind, he stood suddenly and offered his hand to her, "Want to go inside and get something warm to drink?"

Hermione nodded, and took his hand to stand. Without another word, Harry led her back to the castle and into the Great Hall, only releasing her hand when they had finally sat down.

"Harry?" Asked a concerned Hermione.

"'You're not welcome here Harry,' they said, `might tarnish the game!'," explained Harry in a tight voice.

"Oh Harry, I'm sorry, I know how much you miss flying." She said as she took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. She could tell he was more upset, than mad.

Looking at Hermione, Harry could easily see the concern in her eyes. She was worried about him... again.

"Hermione, yes I'll miss the flying... and the game, but that's okay... really. You don't have to worry, I'll be fine." Seeing she wasn't convinced, he went on, "Look, it's not being told I can't play, I can deal with that. It's being told I'm a liar and a cheat even if indirectly. It's being told I'll tarnish the game. That's what hurts. That's what makes me mad."

With a sad look on her face, Hermione nodded in understanding. There was not much she could do to help in this situation, Harry would have to work it out on his own. She however, would still offer whatever support she could.


Monday morning sitting at breakfast, Hermione could almost feel the tension radiating off of Harry. "Harry you still upset about yesterday, or did something else happened?"

Harry looked at Hermione, "Huh?" Then realizing what she meant, "Oh, no nothing like that." He paused before going on to explain, "It's just this day... Halloween... you know?"

Halloween had never been a good day for Harry, "Oh…yeah, I know."

Harry was just taking another bite of toast when he saw Pig swooped down and crash into the pitcher of pumpkin juice, right in front of Fred and George.

After cleaning up the small mess, Fred relieved the crazy little owl of his burden, and sent him on his way.

Harry smiled as he watched the scene play out, again grateful that Hedwig was his owl. `I think I'll take her some bacon after Herbology,' Harry thought. He watched as Fred handed the letter to George, and then called for Ginny to join them. He was about to look away when he heard Fred call to him.

"Oy Harry, got one here for you too," Fred smiled, then laughed, "don't worry mate, it's not red, how bad can it be?"

Harry raised both eyebrows in suspicion, "Don't know, but I guess we'll find out."

Hermione watched the exchange while thinking, `Here we go.'

Harry noticed the look on Hermione's face as he pocketed the letter and sat back down. "I'll read it later during our next break, works out great, I was going to the Owlery to see Hedwig anyway, might want to send a reply," Harry said, answering her unasked question.

Hermione shook her head and smiled, "Kay." She knew Harry would tell her all about it later.


A short while later as they made their way up the stairs to the top of the Owlery, Harry glanced back over his shoulder at Hermione and smiled. She was about to burst from curiosity, and he knew it.

"Harry Potter! What are you laughing at?"

"I'm not laughing, in fact, I haven't said a thing!"

"Well, maybe not on the outside, but on the inside you are, I can tell by how you're smiling."

What... a bloke can't be happy?"

"Of course you can be happy. I'm glad you're happy." After a short pause, she went on a little softer, "I don't suppose it has anything to do with the letter you got?" Hermione asked casually as possible, all the while mentally crossing her fingers.

Harry stopped and turned to her, and with the most innocent face he could muster, he asked, "What letter?"


"Okay okay, don't get miffed Hermione, I was just having a bit of fun is all." Harry reached into his robes, pulled out the letter, and then handed it to her. Smiling he asked, "You're not mad are you?"

Hermione huffed, "Oh... I s'pose not." She reached out tentatively and took the letter, then after a sigh she added, "No Harry, I'm not mad. It is your letter after all, I've no right..."

"Hermione," Harry interrupted, "thanks, but with all that's going on, if anyone has a right, it would be you. I shouldn't have teased you, I'm sorry."

Hermione smiled, "Come on Harry, let's go see Hedwig."

While Harry spoiled Hedwig with a plate full of bacon, Hermione read his letter.



Dear Harry,

How are you dear, I hope you are doing well?

I don't know what the Headmaster was thinking by hosting the Triwizard Tournament, never mind letting you participate. The whole thing is nothing more than a load of codswallop! You can bet your last galleon, I'll be having words with dear old Professor Dumbledore.



Hermione cringed, as powerful a wizard as Professor Dumbledore was, there was no magic that could protect him from the verbal wrath of Molly Weasley.



Harry, I've heard some of what the other students have been saying about you. And yes, I know Ron is one of them. I'll be having words with him as well. It's a bad job listing to them Harry, just ignore them.

Arthur and I want you to know, that we believe you, and we're behind you. If you need anything, you send that beautiful owl of yours, and we'll do what we can.

Love, Molly



"Well, what do you think?"

Hermione looked up with moist eyes to find Harry staring at her. "I think, you have more people who believe in you then you know."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Harry said reluctantly.

Hermione knew that look' "What?"

Harry sighed, "It's just…I wish one of the professors believed me. There have been a couple of times I would have liked to have been able to talk with one." Seeing the look on Hermione's face Harry quickly added, "Hermione no, don't get upset, it's not like that. You are the first person I think of, when I need help…really. And you are always there for me." Harry gave her a little smile. "Thank you, by the way," he said softly.

"Harry, you don't have to thank me for that…you'll never have to. I'll always be there," Answered Hermione, just as softly. "So then why…"

"Hermione, sometimes there are things, that I know only a professor could help me with."

"Oh yes, of course. I know what…" Hermione stopped mid sentence, and then looked pensive for a moment. She started to rub her hands together nervously and slowly looked away. Then in a quiet voice said, "I didn't realize it at the time; how important it would be to you… I forgot to tell you," looking back, Hermione continued in rushed, worried voice, "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry…I"

Harry stepped closer, and gently grabbed both of her hands. The letter had already made her a little emotional, and now something else was starting to really get her upset. "Hermione… take it easy… calm down, I'm sure whatever it is, it will be okay," he pleaded. Harry watched as she took a deep breath and waited for her to get herself under control. "Now, what's this all about? What did you forget?"

Harry was being so patient, she couldn't help but give him a weak smile. "Remember the first day of dueling," Hermione started, "when I got there early?"

Harry nodded yes.

"I wanted to speak with Professor McGonagall. I was having trouble finding information on the Tournament, and I wanted to ask her about it. But we ended up talking about you instead." Hermione smiled at the thought. "She said she was glad I was helping you, and that you had friends who believed you. I asked her if she did…If she believed you were telling the truth." Hermione's voice hitched, "Oh Harry, she is so proud of you! She had believed you from the start; she was just so worried you'd get hurt, she never got around to saying anything to you."

Seeing the tears treating to fall, Harry didn't hesitate, he pulled Hermione into his arms, and gave her a gentle hug. Still holding her, Harry said warmly, "Hermione, there's nothing to forgive, no need for an apology." Releasing her, so he could look her in the eyes, he went on, "It's been so crazy around here lately. We both have been terribly busy…Merlin, it's a wonder I remember to put pants on in the morning!"

Hermione stared up at Harry for a second, and knew he meant every word. "Thanks Harry," she said with a warm, and slight embarrassed smile.

"No worries Hermione."

Hermione needed him to understand why her emotions were getting the better of her lately. "This whole thing scares me so much… I get so worried about…I try, but…well, sometime it just catches up to me when I least expect it, you know?"

Harry answered her in a detached voice, "Yeah… I know…" Harry stared at her for a long moment. He had known all of this had been hard on her, but up until now, he never realized just how hard, and it made him appreciate her all the more. Harry moved a little closer and took one of her hands in both of his, and said, "Hermione, you are a great witch, and the most amazing person I've ever known…Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise." Still holding her hand, he placed it over his heart, and added, "Don't worry, we… we will get through this. Both of us."

Hermione stared at her hand as he held it to his chest, and slowly nodded. It seemed that whenever one's faith would slip, the other was always there to break the fall…just like now. Hermione smiled, and it grew as she thought of his kind words. "Yes…the both of us," she whispered, knowing exactly what he meant.


The following afternoon Harry, Hermione, and Neville, shared a glance as they settled into their seats for Potions. Snape, who normally liked to make an entrance, was already there, sitting behind his desk busy writing something. The class waited patiently for him to finish; no one was foolish enough to interrupt him.

Finally, Snape lowered his quill and looked up. Slowly standing up, he first made eye contact with Hermione, then looked towards Draco. He slowly moved around to the front of his desk, and then leaned back against it.

"Before we start today," he began in an unusually gentle tone, "I would like to acknowledge two exceptional students from this class; Mr. Draco Malfoy, and Miss Hermione Granger."

Gryffindors and Slytherins alike both seemed taken back. Rarely did Professor Snape hand out praise, especially to a Gryffindor.

"For those of you who showed school loyalty by attending the potion demonstrations, I'm sure you will agree with me, that their performance was exemplary. In doing so, they honored our school and this very class. That is enough reason for me to thank them." Again looking at Draco and Hermione, the professor finished with a nod to each, "You should both be proud. Ten points each."

Then all too soon, it was back to business as normal. "Well, what are you waiting for, afters? The directions are on the board... get busy."


It was the first time since Harry started Hogwarts that a Halloween went by without something bad happening. After that milestone, the rest of the week seemed to fly by. Sitting down at the Gryffindor table for dinner Friday night, Hermione was painfully aware of the tension in the air. "Honestly Harry, why did Dumbledore have to wait to the very last night before telling us what the second task would be?"

Harry looked around before answering, "Dunno. Must want it to be a surprise."

Seamus smirked, "Yeah, just what you need... more surprises."

"Stuff it Finnigan," Neville said.

"Wanker!" countered Seamus.

"Enough..." Hermione started to yell, but was interrupted by the Headmaster.

"May I have your attention please," Dumbledore looked out over the students and waited for them to quiet down. "Tomorrow, starting at two in the afternoon, we will begin the second task of the Triwizard Tournament. While the first task tested one's skills and adaptability, this one will test your mind, and your faith. It was decided not to tell you about this task until tonight, because we felt there was nothing you could do to prepare. You're either ready, or you are not. You will either succeed or you will fail." Dumbledore said with far too much drama.

Pausing, Dumbledore took a sip of water, then continued, "Tomorrow each champion will face a gauntlet. It will consist of a series of `gates'. Their faith, along with their mental and physical strength, will be tested at each of these gates. Some of the gates will be the same for all, others will be unique for each champion. The outcome of each test will determine the path they will take to the next gate. Obviously, a successful outcome will result in an easier path, saving time. This will continue until they are all finished, either by passing the last gate... or by failing completely at some point. The task will be timed, and each champion will be scored based on his or her final time. Failing to complete the entire task, will result in a score of zero. Obviously faster is better, however... one would be wise to exercise at least some caution mixed with good judgment. In this particular task, there'll be no extra points for either style or daring."

Neville looked over at Harry and saw him share a look with Hermione and thought, `One has the strength, the other has the faith. Too bad they couldn't share.'

Making sure he still had their attention Dumbledore finished, "The lowest scoring champion from the first task will enter the gauntlet at two o'clock tomorrow. Then each half hour afterwards, another will enter. Thus in order from the lowest scoring champion to highest. Therefore, we will start with Mr. Vasil and will end with Mr. Krum who will approach his first gate at five o'clock. Once started, it will take each champion between one and two hours to finish. If my math serves me, dinner may be a little late."

Dumbledore raised his hands one last time for quiet, "The viewing stands will be open immediately after lunch tomorrow. I suggest you come early, as there will be more information given out then. Lastly, champions, you are not allowed in the viewing stands at any time, and you are required to report to the champion's tent no later than one thirty." Dumbledore gave a tired sigh then finished up with, "And now... I think I've said enough... so, it's good night."


Immediately after stepping through the portrait hole, Harry searched for Hermione. She was sitting at her favorite table, hard at work on something. Spotting her, Harry started her way, but was intercepted after only taking a couple of steps.

"Harry, we were wondering," Fred began, gesturing to his brother George, and his sister Ginny, "if we could have a word with you?"

"Won't take long, we promise," added George. Ginny nodded vigorously in agreement looking hopeful.

Harry glanced back over to Hermione, and found her staring right back, with a look of concern on her face. He gave her a small nod to tell her he was all right, and saw her visibly relax. Then with another look, he let her know he'd join her in just a moment.

None of this went unnoticed by the three Weasleys, especially Ginny. Of course Ginny knew, that Harry and Hermione had always been close, but every since his name came out of that damn Goblet, they had been growing closer. If Ginny was honest with herself, she knew she was partly to blame. After all, she could have stood up for Harry like Hermione had. She might have even been able to help, but she didn't. She stood by and watched as the whole school turned their backs on him. All except for Hermione Granger. Ginny Weasley had mucked up her friendship with Harry but good. If that relationship was ever to develop into something more, she'd have to work hard to restore it, starting now. Any further thoughts had to wait when Fred started talking again.

Fred, looking about as serious as Harry had ever seen, began, "Were sorry Harry. Sorry we didn't believe you from the beginning. Sorry for being stupid."

George went on from there, "At first when your name came out of the Goblet, we were shocked, then amazed. I'm sure you know we tried to enter. We wanted it so bad, and then, when we heard your name, well..."

"Of course we knew you would never admit it, neither would we if we had been successful. That would be admitting guilt, and that would be stupid." Fred added almost apologetically, "We just had to know... how'd you manage it."

"So even though it was too late, we worked even harder to try and figure out a way to enter," said George.

Fred could tell Harry was beginning to get mad, and so held up his hands to hold off his remarks. "Harry, the harder we tried the more obvious it became."

"You didn't put your name in the Goblet of Fire," said George plainly.

"I see," Harry said, "and this timely apology wouldn't have anything to do with a certain letter from home, now would it," he asked, both eyebrows raised slightly.

Ginny who had been quiet all this time finally jumped in, "Harry, they came to me a while back, long before we got our letter from mum. They had already figured it out, and when they told me I... I... well it nearly made me sick after I thought about it, and realized how callous I had been to you."

"We only wrote our mum to make sure she knew what was going on. We told her how badly we had acted towards you, and ask her for advice on how to set things right. Oh and we also asked what to do about our brother the git," added Fred.

George nodded sagely then added, "Yeah, and you can be sure she laid into us as well for taking so long to get it right. You're family, you deserve better from us, she said."

Ginny nodded in agreement with both her brothers, then took over, "Harry, Hermione got it right from the beginning; anyone who knows you should have realized right away that you were telling the truth." Stepping a little closer she added softly, "And even if they weren't sure, they still should have stood by you. That's what friends do, that's what we should have done. I'm sorry..." Ginny glanced at her brothers, "we're sorry we forgot that."

Harry was moved, he could hear the passion in Ginny's voice and knew she meant what she had said. And neither Fred nor George had cracked a single joke, or even smiled during the whole conversation. They had meant what they had said too. Harry hated not being able to talk to his friends, he couldn't stay mad, so with a half smile he said, "Thanks guys, that's great to hear."

Ginny's face lit up, "You forgive us?"

Harry's smile grew, "Of course... you can't stay mad at family."

Ginny squealed and grabbed Harry into a hug. Fred and George finally laughed and patted him on the back.

Stepping back from the small redheaded group, Harry looked over to Hermione and smiled at what he saw. She was quietly laughing as well, her eyes moist and full of joy... joy for him. However, his smile dropped as quickly as it had come, when his gaze settled on Ron coming down the stairs.

Ginny picked up on his quick change in mood, and after following his gaze she knew why. "Don't worry Harry, I'll straighten him out, you'll see," she said with determination.

"Just don't hold your breath Harry, she may have to spit fire before she gets through to our ickle Ronniekins." Fred warned.




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