Because three days is a lifetime in politics. Except when it's not.
Hermione and Lavender had a true meeting of the minds over the '3 AM' ad, and found it easy to agree on the script and props. On Monday evening, they were ready to perform it for the Memory Ball, in the Room of Requirement.
The performance began with Hermione seated by herself. Unlike her previous balls, she was wearing a white silk robe (a raid from Lavender's wardrobe).
"This election is about a few basic questions. 'Who can keep Harry Potter happiest? What does Harry need?'"
The lights dimmed.
"Whoever wins needs to be ready on Day One."
Hermione walked toward a four-poster bed that had been out of the shot. It was clear that the robe was only mid-thigh length on Hermione (which made her wonder about Lavender, since she was a few inches taller).
"When Harry calls out at 3 AM,"
An unclear moan came from a black-haired lump in the bed (actually Lavender wearing a wig).
"Who will know better than anyone else what he needs, or what he wants?"
Hermione stripped off the robe, leaving herself in a white lacy bra and panty set. She climbed onto the bed and began stroking the lump just beneath the hairline.
"This is no time to take a chance on the inexperienced. Vote for Hermione Granger on Friday."
The Ball went dark, marking the end of the recording.
"Mmmm... Hermione, you have exactly fifty years to stop doing that," Lavender purred. "I think you performed perfectly, Hermione."
"Thanks, Lavender. You had some great ideas with the wardrobe," Hermione said.
"Oh, I figured that you’ll want to show the girls what Harry's getting without being too vulgar. You've got a fine body, you just needed to show it off a little," Lavender reasoned.
"Lavender, I've been thinking," Hermione began.
"Because that's so unusual for you," Lavender jested.
Hermione actually giggled at that, then continued, "I'd like for there to be a place for you at Harry's and my side when we win."
Lavender got serious for a moment. "Remember, we haven't won anything yet, Hermione. We've still got to talk to Katie and Angelina- we can't win if Gryffindor's vote is split three ways while Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw are united. And I'm sure the Slytherins are up to something- they always are."
"You're right," sighed Hermione. "But I still want you to be with us. And I'm sure we can convince Harry."
"I'm sure we can," Lavender agreed with a kiss.
"I remember an old legend, Katie," Harry announced during practice the next day.
"What was that, Harry?" Katie asked.
"Long ago, when dinosaurs and Oliver Wood roamed the Earth, there was a big yellow ball in the sky that provided heat and light. But then it went away. Think it'll ever come back?" he deadpanned.
Katie laughed; this side of Harry had been all too rare lately. 'Of course, it won't be after Friday if I have anything to say about it,' she resolved. Out loud, she said, "Oh come on, Harry. It hasn't been that long since the sun was out."
"I was hoping that Angelina would come before the end of practice," Harry stated. "I was really hoping she'd talk to us again."
"Well- oh, there she is!" Katie yelled, grabbing Harry's hand.
Harry looked across the pitch to see Angelina walking their way. She was dressed all in black leather today- zipped-up jacket, gloves, long skirt, and boots. Harry felt Katie shiver a little, and he couldn't blame her; while the day was warmer than yesterday, that meant it was merely cold instead of frigid.
"Hey, Angelina!" Harry called. "How did Chudley do last weekend?"
Angelina jogged the last few steps toward the two. "Harry, great to see you! You know, I'm really torn about the Cannons- I don't know if I want them to win or to get creamed so that they'll figure out how much they need us youngsters. So far, they're getting creamed, but it doesn't seem to be teaching the management anything," she said, slightly frustrated. She quickly grinned again. "But enough about that for now. You wanted me to give another set of strategy speeches, although if you keep catching the Snitch after two minutes, I can't really improve on that," she laughed.
Harry enjoyed hearing Angelina laugh, although he didn't know quite how to say it without sounding silly in front of Katie. He grinned himself. "Well, let's get to the locker room so you can guide us with your wisdom."
Angelina laughed again. "Follow me, O my children," she intoned, as Katie gestured for everyone else to land.
The tension that had existed between Katie and Angelina was gone today, Harry observed. He was happy to see his friends getting along again, and hoped that they'd be friendly with Hermione, too.
That evening, after dinner, Hermione did meet with them. They went to another unused classroom; Harry followed them, but was informed that this meeting was for females only.
At the meeting, Hermione showed the other two the Ball she and Lavender had made.
"Well, what did you think?" Hermione asked brightly.
"I'm impressed," admitted Katie. "Did you do this by yourself?"
"Well, Lavender helped me with the wardrobe and the script," Hermione admitted. "And I..." she stopped a couple of words too late.
"You what, Hermione?" Angelina demanded.
"Well, I kind of... toldLavenderhtatIdlethersleepwithHarry," Hermione spat out in a rush and with a blush.
Katie and Angelina thought about that for a minute, while Hermione got more and more uncomfortable.
Then they laughed.
"So you decided to get some help, Hermione?" Katie taunted.
Hermione's blush deepened. "Katie, whatever you're insinuating, I assure you that-"
Angelina stopped her before her rant could pick up steam. "Hermione, we don't blame you. We're the ones who've been on the same team with him for five years... which means we've occasionally seen him shower."
"'Occasionally' being defined as 'anytime we've been sure we wouldn't be caught,'" Katie clarified helpfully.
"And we don't blame you a bit," Angelina assured her. "I've had a similar... discussion with the Patils- in fact, that was part of the agreement we made when I decided to run in the first place."
Hermione was taken aback. "But I thought that it was because they thought they were cheated."
"Oh, that was part of it," Angelina conceded. "But they decided that they would team up with someone who would let them be with him every once in a while. I'm a friend of his with another job far away, so..."
Just then, Lavender burst into the room. "There you are! I've been looking all over for you," she exclaimed, only to then see Katie and Angelina. "Oh, well then..."
"Lavender, you might as well tell me what's on your mind," Katie said.
"Daphne just released a new Ball. She's dropping out to join Pansy on her 'ticket,' they're calling it- they'll both be Harry's girlfriends if they win," Lavender explained. "So Gryffindor's the only house left with more than one candidate. What do we do?"
"We team up," Katie answered simply. "If everyone else is joining forces, then we'll have to do it too."
"So who's going to be in charge?" Lavender asked, looking anxious and hoping the other girls wouldn't know why. "Not that it's so important to me, but..."
"Relax, Lavender, we know about your deal with Hermione, and we approve. I've got a similar deal," answered Angelina smoothly.
"And I've have made one with you, if you'd asked," Katie added.
Lavender blushed. "Um, thanks, Katie..."
"So who's going to be in charge of this team?" Angelina repeated. "One of us needs to stay on the ballot while the others withdraw. Which of us will be the best candidate? I'll admit that my not being a student anymore takes away from my ability to draw votes."
"And I think maybe Hermione's got a point with this Ball," Katie said. "Hermione, you have known Harry better than we have. Maybe you should be our lead candidate- as long as we get our share."
"And what is 'your share'?" Hermione inquired.
"Let's say two days a week, each," Katie said. "I understand you have a deal with Lavender that you need to work out, so that leaves a couple of days for you. Surely that will be good enough to start out with..."
"But that doesn't seem like enough," Angelina complained. Katie then whispered in her ear, causing Angelina to break into a grin. "Ohhhh yes, and we do need to show Harry, don't we?"
"I told him we'd have to 'kiss and make up,'" Katie said quietly. "And Hermione, you might want to ask about borrowing Harry's cloak- yes, we know he has an invisibility cloak, we've heard the stories- for our practice tomorrow. We think you'll find it interesting."
"I'll help you all make a Ball for the announcement," Lavender said after a few moments. She didn't know for sure what Katie had said... but she had a pretty good idea.
Gryffindor's second practice of the week was the following day. The weather had stayed constant- still cold, still overcast, still no rain or snow.
Angelina was waiting for them in the locker room as Katie went over what worked and hadn't worked during the practice. However, she gave no speech and Katie treated her as if she weren't there. The other team members left. Harry was about to approach Katie when Angelina told him to stop.
"Harry," started Angelina, "do you remember what Katie told you on Saturday before your game?"
"I remember that she said you, Katie, and Hermione would get back together this week," Harry answered.
"Do you remember exactly what words she used?" Angelina prodded.
"I think she said that you would kiss and make up," Harry remembered.
Angelina walked over to Katie. "She meant what she said, Harry." With that, she bent her head toward Katie's for a brief smooch. She pulled her head back.
Katie continued, "After all, Harry, I think it's important-" kiss- "that as your captain and your friend-" longer kiss- "I should tell you exactly what I mean." That brought the longest kiss yet, with the girls' tongues now visible.
Harry stood transfixed as his teammates made out in front of him.
"Never thought you'd see this, did you, Harry?" Hermione's voice inquired before she stepped out from under the invisibility cloak.
"So that's why you asked to borrow it! But..." Harry was still having trouble collecting his thoughts as he watched the two athletic beauties start to explore each other's bodies with their hands.
"Harry, we've decided that for the good of Gryffindor, and for your good, that we're going to work together. If we win, then we'll all be willing to be with you." Harry didn't respond; he was still looking at the other two girls. "That's enough, ladies!" Hermione called, and reluctantly Katie and Angelina separated.
"When did you... start?" Harry asked.
"Oh, last year- right after that bitch Umbridge kicked you off the team. Angelina was crying in frustration after practice not long after that, and I went over to comfort her, and... one thing kind of led to another," Katie replied a bit sheepishly.
"To tell the truth, Harry, if you'd still been around, I might have called for you instead of Katie," Angelina confided.
"Well, now we're all working together, just as you hoped," Hermione stated, walking over to kiss Katie and then Angelina on the lips. "We're all here for you, Harry. Whether we win or lose, we want you to know that we're all ready to help you in any way that we can."
"Girls, thank you. This means more to me than I can say," Harry said in a low, rough voice. "But I don't want to be unfair to the other girls who want to help me. You understand, don't you? I mean, I don't want the other girls to think I'm being unfair to them- that could lead to all sorts of problems if they think they've been cheated."
"Oh, we understand. We just want you to know that if Hermione wins, she'll have company. Very happy company," Katie grinned.
Nathan Silver was the latest of the long list of people that Luna Lovegood had driven to distraction. On Monday, he had told Luna that she was a strong favorite to win, and Luna's response was to... do nothing. As the candidates from other houses dropped out, Silver had
advised Luna to make new Balls and she... did nothing, with that odd smile. Silver had told himself that he wouldn't get emotionally involved with the race, but here he was anyway.
"Don't you want to win? I thought the entire point of starting this election was to find the proper girlfriend for Harry! Don't you think you deserve it?" Nathan asked.
"Oh, I'm confident, Nathan. I just don't want to win by too much. Harry might not think that was fair of me," Luna replied in her usual composed manner.
"But if you don't make any new Balls, your voters will keep drifting away and you'll lose," Nathan replied. No polls had been conducted since the weekend- the constant withdrawals had made it impossible to ask for accurate preferences- but watching the other houses unite and frittering away the opportunity to win was bugging Silver no end.
"Nathan, I think that Harry deserves what is meant to be. Besides," she said with an extra glint in her eye, "I think he'll be really happy with the way I see things ending."
On that note, Nathan left; there was usually a time when you had to leave Luna to her own odd devices.
Meanwhile, Susan's chances were very quietly being torpedoed. The same housemates whose arguments had rocked the Hufflepuff caucus were arguing again.
This time, Lynn and Hannah had started vying over Ernie MacMillan. No surprise there; Ernie was a pretty good catch, after all, with his wealth and physique, even if he did sound a bit pompous. But when they saw each other on Wednesday evening, Lynn brought up Hannah's campaigning during the caucus and suggested that Hannah wasn't over Harry. Hannah responded by calling Lynn a bitch who just liked to break up relationships, and things degenerated from there.
When the two were separated from their catfight (to the dismay of onlookers, they used magic instead of hair-pulling and clothes-ripping), Lynn dared Hannah to be honest enough not to vote for Susan because she thought Susan didn't deserve Harry. In turn, Hannah dared Lynn to vote for Pansy if she really thought Harry didn't deserve Susan. Several of the girls' friends were listening, and told their friends in turn, and what had seemed to be unanimous support for Susan in the Badgers' House started to crumble.
On Thursday, the candidates toured the houses to answer questions and drum up votes- except for Slytherin. None of the other houses' candidates felt quite safe in the House of the Snake, and they figured there wouldn't be enough voters to matter anyway.
On Friday morning at 7 AM, an inconspicuous yellow light went on at the bulletin boards of each of the Houses. The boys of the Houses had no idea what it meant, but the girls knew.
The polls were open.