Tell Him and Duck!

“I really hate Hogwarts.”

“Ron, you’ve been saying that for the last hour. Can I at least do my homework in peace?”

“Why are you so bloody calm? You have to ask somebody to the Ball! You have to dance! And people will be looking at you, since you’re the Boy Who Lived and a Triwizard Champion!”

“I have to do the opening dance with the other champions, too.”

“You have to do what?”

“I lead my date into the ballroom, well, the Great Hall, and dance in front of everyone along with the other three champions and their dates.”

“You know, sometimes it kinda almost sucks to be you.”

“It has its good moments.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing, Ron. Can I do my homework in peace now?”

“Not until you tell me how you could be so calm about this? I mean, I know that you of all people wouldn’t have to worry about a date, but dancing? With a girl?”

“Well, it’s certainly a lot better than dancing with a boy…”

“You know that’s not what I meant! It’s just… girls won’t ask you to take them to the Ball. You have to ask them. And they travel in packs! It’s impossible!”

“Hey, we’re Gryffindor Lions. We chase down a pack, and leave with one, satisfied.”

“Harry…you’re bonkers, mate.”

“I get that a few times. Remember First Task?”

“Yeah, who could forget? Which reminds me, did you figure out the egg?”

“Nope. Just screaming. Very loud and painful screaming.”

“Well, there one thing that it won’t help you with.”

“What’s that?”

“Getting a date for the ball.”

“…well…”

“Bloo-dy Hell… Don’t tell me…don’t tell me you’ve already got a date!”

“Okay.”

“I didn’t mean it literally! Tell me if you got a date!”

“You should say what you mean.”

Harry ran his hand through his raven locks once again. Should he tell Ron? Should he risk his friendship on this? Of course, he would still go to the Ball with Hermione whether Ron was okay with it or not, that was for certain. And he also realized that Ron would’ve been angrier if he waited until he and Hermione walked down the steps to the Ball and told him then. He had a feeling that it would not go down well.

But still, he had to at least ask who he was planning on asking. “So…who do you plan on asking to the ball?”

Ron raised his eyebrows at Harry, but then got a dreamy expression on his face. “I think I’m gonna ask Fleur…”

“Is that all?” Harry asked, trying to mask the hopefulness, but failing miserably.

Ron didn’t notice, thankfully. “We can have more than one date?” He asked stupidly.

Harry sighed tiredly. “No, Ron, you can’t have more than one date. I mean what if she already has a date?” He refrained from saying, ‘What if she rejects you?’

Ron thought for a moment. “Well, I guess I could have a back-up,” he spoke to himself. “Lavender? Parvati? Padma? Hell, both of the twins? It doesn’t matter. All I know is that we have to have the best looking dates at the ball. Who are you—?”

“Wait a second,” Harry interrupted, trying to put curiosity over his rising panic. “Who are all the girls you consider taking?”

“Umm…well, there’s Fleur and the rest of the Beauxbaton Girls… there’s Katie… there’s Angelina, although I think she’s going with Fred… there’s Cho, but since you’re taking her to the ball…”

“I’m not,” Harry said with a small smile.

“You’re not?” Ron asked curiously. When Harry didn’t reply, Ron continued. “Well, yeah, there’s Cho… there’s Marietta…”

“Ron,” Harry said tiredly, “what about those in our year?”

“Oh, um, Hannah… Susan… Padma… Parvarti… Lavender… right cracking arse on that one, by the way… and Daphne, to be honest.”

“A Slytherin?” Harry asked. Ron’s hatred for the Slytherin population is legendary.

“Well, I’m not going to ask her to the Ball, but… she’s hot!”

“Is that all?” Harry asked.

“Well…” he thought for a long moment, making Harry almost groan out loud in frustration, “… yeah… yeah, I think that’s it. So, what about you?”

Harry seemed to be thinking, but inwardly he wanted to curse Ron for not even thinking of Hermione. He now had no regrets. “Pretty much everyone that you mentioned…and Hermione,” He said in a monotone.

There was silence, and for a moment, Harry thought Ron was going to explode. He took his chance to look at Ron. He was looking at him strangely, no signs of jealousy at all.

Harry took that as a good sign.

“Why?” Ron said in a slightly confused voice.

“Because… she’s pretty.”

“Hermione Granger, right?”

“If you can think of any other Hermione’s…and I’m pretty sure the one in Shakespeare is dead now…so yes…what, you disagree?”

“Well… I don’t know. She’s not ‘up there’, but…”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked, masking his rising anger.

“What? I’m just saying that if all of those girls that I said before reject me, including Daphne, then, maybe, I would—”

“Go to the Ball alone?” Harry said suggestively.

“That may be an option,” Ron muttered to himself, only feeding Harry’s anger. “But I probably won’t have to if I ask Hermione.”

“Don’t you mean if Hermione wants to go to the ball with you?”

Ron now looked thoroughly confused for a moment, before realization dawned. “You’re right, she might want to the library and miss the Ball.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed dangerously at Ron, who once again, didn’t notice. “No, Ron, I mean what if she already has a partner?”

Ron scoffed. “What poor bloke would want to take her to the Ball?”

Harry thought that if he could narrow his eyes even more, he wouldn’t be able to see. Ron honestly thought of Hermione as unattractive. Not only would Harry not feel sorry for saying this next word, but he would take more pride than he already had when he said it. “Me.”

Ron’s initial confusion completely and immediately disappeared when the word sunk in. His ears, tinged into an alarming shade of red, followed by his cheeks, then his face. Harry was fingering his wand in his pocket, discreetly. He knew that at any moment, Ron might attack him, so he looked around for Ron’s wand. It was on his headstand, a few feet away from the red-head. Ron finally spoke.

“You would go to the Ball with her.” He said, surprisingly calm.

“Yes,” Harry said smoothly. He knew that Ron wasn’t really a threat. He could take him on easily thanks to the training that Hermione put him through for the tournament. If he was honest to himself, he could’ve easily taken him on the year before.

“So name the first ten people before her, then.”

“What do you mean,” Harry asked warily, still fingering his wand in his robe pocket.

“I mean, who are you going to ask first?”

“Uhh…I thought I just said that.”

“Oh. So every girl that I said, then Hermione?” It sounded like more of a statement or command than a question.

“No…” Harry said slowly, wanting to rib him a bit, “Hermione and every girl you said.”

“I just said that, didn’t I? Hermione and every girl I said.”

“I meant in that order.”

“Oh…so who are you going to ask first? Parvati, Lavender, Cho—?”

Ron!” Harry yelled, frustrated. It seemed as if Ron was ribbing him even more. “I am going to ask Hermione to the Ball first! If she doesn’t, then I’ll ask someone else, simple as that.”

“Why would you wanna do that?” He asked incredulously. “Look, I know you’re probably afraid of asking a girl to the ball with you, and that you should practice asking Hermione, but, while fun, you shouldn’t make her think that—”

“That I want to go to the ball with her?” Harry asked. “Well I do, and I am going to the Ball with her.” Harry did not mean to say that last part. He hoped Ron didn’t notice.

There was quiet for a few seconds before Ron asked in an uneasy voice, “Why?”

Harry sighed; Ron’s so thick-headed, it’s a miracle he’s in fourth year. He then realized that it was (no doubt in his mind) thanks to Hermione. “Because I really like her and I don’t really want to go to the Ball with anyone else.”

There was quiet for another few seconds, and Harry was getting frustrated. He briefly wondered if that rumor was true about awkward silences…

“You’re going to ask her to the Ball?” Ron asked with a tone Harry couldn’t decipher. Harry figured that he had heard him when he slipped, but tried no to hear it.

“I already asked her to the Ball… and she said yes.”

“When?” Ron said in a slightly gruff voice, as if trying to accept what he was hearing.

“Today. About half an hour after Professor McGonagall told us.”

The room was in another silence. Harry was stuck wondering what kind of spell he should use. He had decided on a simple disarming spell when Ron stood up from his bed. At first Harry thought he was going to get attacked, so he slipped his wand out of his pocket. Just as ‘Expelliarmus‘ was on the tip of his tongue, Ron twirled around and stepped out of the room with a passive expression on his face, although his ears were still red. He didn’t give Harry a second glance.

Ron ran downstairs to the Common Room and dropped unceremoniously on the sofa. It was late at night, so there were only few people in the Common Room. He didn’t look at them or pay any mind. He had other problems on his mind.

His mind was spinning with what Harry had just told him. Harry liked Hermione—as a friend or more, Ron did not understand.

But he didn’t really care. Harry was going to the Ball with Hermione, and he didn’t even give him the chance. The prat. He could’ve chosen any girl in the Wizarding World, from thirteen to fifty-seven years old. Although he would rather have Harry with Ginny (seeing as how he was rich and would bring his own family out of poverty and shame), he didn’t care. As long as he had Hermione, he would be happy. Even if he had her for a moment.

Which was his plan, in fact.

It was a very simple plan, of course. He would bide his time and wait until Hermione started begging guys for a date (and being rejected, of course). He would probably ask out Fleur and go with her if she waited too long. And, if Fleur rejects him, which he was sure she would (even he wasn’t that dense), he would finally ask Hermione to the Ball as if he had no other choice. Then, she would thank him by snogging him senseless, and on the night of the ball, specifically right after the ball, if he played his cards right…

Then, when he received what he wanted and took what he wanted from her (and possibly get some homework done in the process), he would break up with her the next day. He then would have experience, and would actually know what he was doing if he ever ran into, say, Lavender Brown. Hermione wouldn’t be complaining. She would be happy that someone had actually slept with her. And besides, it’s not like she couldn’t just ask him for sex. He would be happy to oblige. By the beginning of second term, he would have bedded the Bookworm and one of the hottest girls in his year, and possibly – if he was extremely lucky – at the same time some time during second term.

Once again, it was a simple plan, but if it worked perfectly, he would have been heavily rewarded.

But his plan was ruined before it even started. Pity, too; he had spent all day working on that plan. He hadn’t even bee able to figure out how he was going to seduce Lavender. He could’ve stolen a potion from Snape’s store. It didn’t even matter, now. Harry had asked Hermione to the Ball. And she had accepted. Bloody prat.

But the question was… why? Why had Harry asked her to the Ball? It didn’t make any sense. Hermione wasn’t a sight for sore-eyes. She used to be, but she had changed…somehow. Wait, what happened to those hideous buck teeth? Did they shrink? How did that happen? He didn’t linger on those questions for long. He was only mildly curious about these questions, however important they seemed to be. Even with normal teeth, Hermione was certainly nowhere near the perfect girl. She was too skinny, had a swamp-head, her butt was thinner than her waist (something that he did not know for a fact, seeing as he had only ever seen her in robes), she was to pale, her nose was pointier than her quill, and never mind the fact that she was a bossy know-it-all.

Yet, she did have some cool sides to her, but they were few. She slapped Malfoy. That was one. What else… oh, she shot Snape with a spell. Technically, he and Harry did that to, but she did it with them, which still surprised Ron. Um…she figured out how to save Ginny by figuring out the basilisk and the Chamber of Secrets. That was really cool of her to do. But he was getting off-topic.

Anyway, back to original question; why did Harry Potter ask Hermione Granger (of all people!) to the Yule Ball? Was it because of the same reason he himself wanted to ask her to the ball? What if Harry had a plan? Was it the same plan that he had thought of, only revised and – dare he say it – better? Did Harry ask her to the Ball at the very beginning to get closer to her, and accomplish what Ron was trying to do on the night of the Ball before the Ball, and cancel the date with her with enough time to actually ask somebody pretty to the Ball, giving him experience for that night (and future nights, of course)?

Ron had to praise him for that. It was a genius plan. It was basically a double-hitter. While his own plan guaranteed only Hermione, Harry’s plan almost assured both Hermione and one of the prettiest witches in the school. Ron had almost wondered if Hermione helped him think of the plan.

Ron was pissed, too. He knew for a fact that Hermione was a virgin, because no one would touch her (except a book). But Ron wasn’t one of those people. A girl’s arse is a girl’s arse to him. He himself was a virgin, and tried to look for the easiest target since he was thirteen for some practice time and to get rid of his annoying ‘virginity status’. He really hated it. He knew that Fred and George would be teasing him mercilessly later in the year or next year. Maybe he would be able to tease them instead.

But Harry Bloody Potter just had to run in on his turf/target. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Hermione had a crush on Harry. And now, Harry asked her to the Ball. Of course she would say yes. Ruddy perfect.

Ron didn’t know if he had any actual feelings for Hermione. He was too young to know about love, or so he thought. But he knew that he was old enough to know about lust. For Merlin’s sake, he hadn’t even kissed a girl yet! He was beyond pathetic. He was an all-around virgin. He couldn’t even admit to himself that he’d never been hugged by a girl outside of his family, even.

No. He wasn’t going to give up. He should still stick to the plan. He had realized the loop-hole in the plan (that Ron had no doubt Harry had made). After Harry breaks up with Hermione, it would be before the Ball. That meant that Hermione would be available and vulnerable. She would need a shoulder to cry on, and he would have a lot of butterbeer to cheer her up (and more). While he didn’t really fancy having Harry’s leftovers, it couldn’t be helped. He didn’t have enough time to look for another target. She would have to do.

Ron groaned; he had the distinct feeling that the fates were trying to screw him over. It was working. Good thing fate left him a loophole.

But they weren’t done.

“Ron?” A voice said quietly. Ron suppressed another groan as he turned around to see Hermione sitting on another loveseat in the room, looking up from a book. He didn’t even notice that she was there. He then realized that during his musings, everyone left up to their dorms except for him and Hermione.

“Hey,” He said grumpily.

“Okay, what’s wrong,” Hermione said as she folded the corner of the book and closed it to set it down.

“Nothing,” Ron snapped.

“It doesn’t sound like ‘nothing’,” Hermione muttered as she narrowed her eyes and furrowed her brow at Ron, as if trying to read him like a book. Apparently, she could. “Harry told you, didn’t he,” she said softly.

Ron narrowed his eyes at her and nodded slightly.

“I see,” Hermione whispered before clearing her throat. “Look, Ron, this doesn’t change our friendship. You, Harry and I are always going to be best friends. It’s just that Harry and I will be… you know…”

“Shagging?” Ron asked grumpily.

“Ron!” She almost screamed indignantly, “How could you even say that!” She refrained herself from standing up from the sofa and hex him a new one. She tried to calm herself. “Harry and I will be doing nothing of the sort.” ‘This year,’she thought pleasantly. “We’re just dating.”

“W-what?” Ron asked in a scared whisper. “Harry told me that he asked you to the Ball. That’s it.” Ron glazed over the fact that he had left immediately after Harry told him of his date to the Ball.

“Oh, um, I guess he didn’t tell you, then.” Hermione blushed in embarrassment. They had promised that they tell Ron together, but the cat was out of the bag now. “After Harry asked me to the Ball, he, um, asked me to be his girlfriend. I accepted.”

Ron narrowed his eyes at her. “Why am I just being told this?”

At first, Hermione was rather shocked as his reply. At least a little ‘I’m happy for you’ would’ve been nice. “You’re the first to know,” Hermione explained quickly, “and we aren’t going to just yell it to the whole school. Think of how many girls will be searching for me!”

“So that’s why you’re dating Harry, huh?”

“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked in pure curiosity.

“Nothing, nothing. I’m happy for you two,” Ron said with a grim look.

“What did you just say?”

“No, it was something you said.”

“What do you—” The implication of what Ron said hit her. “Ron, you know that I would never do that to Harry! How could you even think something like that? I am most certainly not trying to use Harry for anything. I just really like him. If I wanted to make other girls jealous, why do only you know?”

Ron shrugged. “To leave people gawking at you at the Ball. Pathetic, really. If you’re not making people jealous in class, then you’re trying to make them jealous other places, too.” Ron stood up and walked through the portrait, leaving a stunned Hermione behind.

Harry walked down the stairs, large golden egg in hand, looking for the mass of bushy hair he knew was there. However, he didn’t expect to hear a small sniffle coming from the bushy hair once he spotted it. Her face was hidden, but it was obvious what she was doing. He ran towards her faster than his legs could ever take him.

“Hermione!” He whispered in alarm as he saw her hunched over form, sobbing quietly, liquid that was obviously tears dropping onto the seat. Harry sat on the other half and scooted as close as he could to her while giving her enough space.

“Harry?” she half-whispered.

“Yes, ‘Mione,” he whispered back, wondering what happened to her.

Hermione lifted her head up to face Harry. Her tear-streaked face immediately heightened his panic; her eyes were red, indicating that she had been crying for a bit over a few minutes. He examined her face closely. There were no bruises or any signs of her being hurt. Someone used words to make her cry. When he finds out who reduced his Hermione to tears…

“Why are we still friends with Ron?” she asked, and for a second, Harry wondered if he had heard right. Of course it was Ron. It was usually Ron. In fact, it was almost always Ron. This had to stop; Harry was going to make sure of it.

“What did he say?” Harry asked in a dangerous whisper.

Hermione blinked and sniffled, “Harry…don’t do anything to him…not for me…”

“You’re crying, he caused it, he deserves whatever I do to him. I’ve been wanting you two to stop your bickering for a while; I’m getting tired of it. Until I asked you to the ball, I’ve been neutral, because I didn’t want either of you to be mad at me. But then I realized two things: I would always choose you over Ron, and: I would be gay if I thought any different.”

This drew a small smile out of her, but she argued, “Harry, you shouldn’t think like that. He’s your best mate. Just because you choose him over me doesn’t mean you’re…homosexual.”

“Well, something would be wrong with me, wouldn’t it? You’ve been with me through everything, and Ron recently taught me that he can’t be completely depended on. I’ll ask you again; what did he say?”

Hermione sniffled again before Harry used his knuckles to wipe away the tears. “I think we should just skip tonight,” he said softly.

Hermione sniffled once more, but shook her head negatively. “No…Harry, we should go to the library…”

“Hermione, I don’t think Pince would like it if you flooded the pages with tears,” Harry said somberly. “I don’t think we should work on the egg today. Why don’t we…”

“No, Harry.”

“What?”

“I’m not in the snogging mood.”

“I know that. But I wasn’t going to suggest that.”

“Then what were you going to suggest, then?”

“I was actually going to suggest that we start practicing dancing lessons.” ‘Then you might be in the mood’, Harry thought.

“Oh, okay…but don’t think I’ll be in the mood afterwards,” Hermione said, wiping her eyes.

Harry had a disappointed look, but shrugged and stood up. He held out a hand to her. Hermione placed an old and tattered bookmark in between the book she had long abandoned and put it on the cushion Harry had just vacated. She took his hand and he pulled her up.

“You’re doing well so far,” Hermione commented.

“I try,” Harry said as he wrapped an arm around her waist and gently pulled her closer.

Hermione gave a sly smile. “Are you trying to get me in the mood, Harry?”

“Am I?”

“It’s working.”

“Then I am.”

They started dance steps first, and soon, Hermione was extremely glad that she had used numbing charms on her feet before-hand. Harry was blushing beet red with embarrassment by now, mumbling ‘sorry’ every other minute. Hermione was fed up by his eighth apology and kissed him before he could finish the word. Needless to say, Harry said sorry more often until Hermione stomped on his foot to shut him up. After that, they began to sway to the imaginary music in silence, with few mistakes.

“You know,” Harry said lazily as Hermione had her head on his chest, “I’m going to talk to him.”

“Who?” Hermione asked, almost sleepily.

“Ron.”

“He didn’t mean it. It was just the heat of the moment.”

“And how many more times is he gonna take it out on you? Why do I always have to referee your fights? How many more times is he gonna make you cry? You and I both know that the reason you two even talk to each other is because both of you are friends with me. Although…”

“What,” Hermione asked, less sleep in her voice.

“Why don’t you get him back?”

“And how am I going to get him back? I’m not the type who would get revenge on someone.”

“‘Mione, you are dating a son of one of the Marauders (and in my opinion, the leader). Are you telling me that you can’t think of anything?”

“Hold on,” she said, already deep in thought. Harry could practically feel the reeling of her head through his chest. He then felt her head move away from him. He looked down at her. She was wearing the most mischievous smirk Harry had ever seen since Sirius wore it as he was about to kill Peter. He briefly wondered why he didn’t just let Peter die before Hermione spoke.

“I won’t do his homework ever again.”

“Oh God, you’re evil,” Harry said with a laugh. After composing himself again, he said, “at least you’ll have a lot of free time.”

“Who said I’m going to have ‘free’ time?” Hermione said. She pulled him to her and stood up straighter.

Something told Harry that he had successfully put Hermione into the mood.