Harry, Hermione, and Ron deal with the fallout of the First Task.
Harry whispered something to Hermione before sitting up to face his Head of House. “Not really, but you may as well tell me how everyone did. However, can you tell me what will happen to the dragon’s body first?”
“I believe that Charlie Weasley is taking care of the arrangements and he mentioned needing to ask you something about that before he leaves. You are currently in second place in the tournament just behind Mr. Diggory. Even though you completed the task first, some of the judges felt that you didn’t deserve full marks because you were injured.” Professor McGonagall spoke softly with a hint of displeasure towards the judges in her voice.
“Thank you, professor. Is that all?” Harry said to her while nodding towards the door where Dumbledore had just exited through.
Professor McGonagall understood both of his meanings. Feeling that her business was finished here, she rose from her chair to head back to the Gryffindor Tower to let everyone know that Harry would be all right. “You’re welcome Harry. Remus, Hermione; take all the time you need in here. I’ll inform Madam Poppy Pomfrey that you are allowed to be here Hermione.”
“Thank you, professor.” Hermione replied from her spot on Harry’s bed.
Remus got up and patted Harry’s foot before following his former co-worker the nurse’s office for a chat.
Hermione turned to face Harry on the bed and looked into his eyes. She could see how tired he was but she also noticed the sadness in his eyes. The first task had required much more than just bravery and quick thinking for him. It had cost Harry more of his innocence as well.
She reached a hand up and cupped his cheek while looking into his eyes. “I’m so proud of you Harry. You did the right thing. No animal deserves to suffer like that.” She leaned in and planted a soft kiss on his mouth.
Misty eyed, Harry smiled at her and said; “Thank you.”
They looked up at the sound of the doors to the hospital wing opening and they noticed a young, stocky but muscular, man with a shock of red hair striding towards them with a somber look on his face.
Charlie Weasley had heard about Harry Potter from his family. He knew that the young witch holding his hand must be Hermione Granger. Reaching out his hand to them, he said, “I’m Charlie Weasley. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you both.”
The first thing that came to Harry’s mind when he shook Charlie’s hand was that he took after Mr. Weasley in his temperament. Charlie’s voice was a bit softer than he would have thought but it was flush with the assurances of a man at peace with his life. Harry shortly wondered if he would ever sound like that.
“Hello Charlie. This is my girlfriend, Hermione Granger. Thank you for coming to visit.”
Hermione smiled at Charlie, and at Harry’s introduction. “Pleased to meet you too Charlie. What can we do for you?”
Charlie hid his surprise at finding out about Harry and Hermione’s relationship. He had thought that Ron and Hermione liked each other. Oh, well, he thought, he would figure that out later. “I came to talk with you about the dragon’s remains and to apologize for not being better prepared when the Horntail got loose and attacked you.”
Harry was not expecting this turn of events. ‘What were you supposed to do with a dead dragon?’ he thought. Turning to Hermione he said, “Could you ask Remus to join us please?”
With a nod yes, she got up from her perch on Harry’s bed and went to fetch Remus. Her mind was trying to figure out why Charlie would be asking Harry about the Dragon’s remains. Knocking on Madam Poppy Pomfreys door she asked “Mr. Lupin, Harry has a question that he needs you help with.”
A flicker of comprehension appeared on Lupin’s face before he excused himself and followed Hermione back to where Harry and Charlie were talking. “What can I help you with Harry?”
“Well, Charlie says that the Dragon Preserve is offering me the Horntail’s remains as an apology for not being better prepared to help me.”
Charlie nodded in the affirmative to Harry’s statement while Remus’ face had a look of deep thought. “Charlie, can your crew process the remains for anything useful?” Remus asked.
“We have already started doing that.” Charlie replied.
Remus thought for a moment before formulating his next question. “Is there any part of the dragon that you need at the reservation?” He knew how valuable a dead dragon could be and how large of a gift that Harry was really being given, even if Harry did not fully grasp the situation.
“We could use some of the meat and blood. We already have plenty of hide in storage so that is all Harry’s.” Charlie said earnestly.
Remus turned to Harry and smiled as he spoke “Harry, dragon remains are very valuable. Almost every part of the dragon has some use in the magical world. Everything from potions ingredients, clothing, wand cores, and food, are worth harvesting from a dragon. Letting Charlie have most of the meat and about a third of the blood would more than cover the costs of processing everything for you.”
“Okay. I can accept that. Is that alright with you Charlie?” Harry asked.
“Of course. That is more than enough. Thank you very much.” Charlie said as his insides were dancing a jig as he thought ‘The extra money from selling the blood and meat would really help. I may even have enough afterwards to finally be able to buy a home off of the preserve.’
“Do you mind handling everything else Remus? I don’t think that I can really store any of those items here at school.” Harry asked his pseudo uncle.
“Absolutely. I will make sure that everything is stored appropriately for you Harry. Charlie, I’ll meet you down there in a bit.” Remus said as he got up to hug Harry before heading out to prepare to move the dragon’s remains. Whispering into Harry’s ear he said, “Sirius and I are very proud of you. You did the right thing so don’t let others tell you different. We’ll store all of your proceeds at Padfoots for you.”
Harry was a little misty eyed so he just nodded to Remus in thanks. Turning to face Charlie, he was surprised to see the redhead pulling out his potions knife.
“I thought that you might want this back.” Charlie said simply while extending the blade to Harry hilt first.
“Thanks.” Harry said after taking the knife and placing it on the nightstand next to his wand.
“That was a really good bit of transfiguration Harry. I’m glad that Ron told you about the dragons and that you were able to prepare yourself.” Charlie said earnestly.
Unfortunately, Ron chose that exact moment to enter the hospital wing to apologize to Harry. “Hi Mate!” Ron said jovially as he walked up to Harry’s hospital bed.
Before Ron could get another word out of his mouth Hermione exploded; “You knew about the dragons and you didn’t say anything to Harry? How could you?”
Charlie was shocked and his confusion was evident on his face. When Ron made no move to deny the accusation, his expression turned grim. ‘This is not going to end well.’ Charlie thought.
“Well, it’s not like Harry needed any help. He did just fine on his own. Right, Mate?” Ron said simply, proving just how thick he really was.
Faster than anyone realized she could move, Hermione stood up and slapped Ron as hard as she could while crying, “He could have died!” Tears were flowing silently down her cheeks in her rage.
Ron staggered backwards into Charlie from the force of the blow. His cheek already had a handprint that was turning an angry shade of red.
Charlie grabbed Ron, steadied him with a grip on his upper arms, and gently pulled him away from Hermione. He could see the tell tale signs of a Weasley meltdown by the red on the tips of Ron’s ears.
Harry was furious. He realized that Ron had wanted him to fail so he could feel better about himself. In his anger, he did not notice the glass vials on the nightstand exploding. Harry looked at Ron and in a voice absolutely devoid of warmth he said, “Get out.”
Madam Poppy Pomfrey had just stepped out of her office as Hermione slapped Ron. She was moving quickly to intervene when the glass vials near Harry exploded, stopping her in her tracks. The cold tone of his voice shocked her as she heard Mr. Potter order Ron Weasley out of the hospital wing.
Ron angrily pulled his arms out of his older brother’s grasp and took a menacing step towards Hermione. He was so angry that he didn’t even register what Harry had said to him.
Hermione recognized the look in Ron’s eyes and she hastily stepped back while trying to pull her wand from her robes. Before she could bring her wand to bear, Ron’s arm was already swinging towards her face. She steeled herself for the blow that she knew she could not avoid.
When Ron raised his arm towards Hermione, something in Harry snapped. His wand was suddenly in his hand and with a quick jab towards Ron; he banished him the length of the hospital wing. He only stopped flying through the air because he collided with the closed doors. With another flick of his wrist, Harry had Ron immobilized and summoned his wand into his open hand. Without pausing in his stride, he snapped Ron’s wand and threw it contemptuously over his shoulder. Power was radiating from Harry and everyone in the hospital wing could feel it washing over them.
The power rolling off Harry surprised Madam Pomfrey too much for her to intervene on Ron’s behalf. Her own wand hung limply from her fingers, as she stood transfixed to the spectacle unfolding in front of her.
Charlie was scrambling out of the chair that Ron had knocked him into when he felt the power of Harry’s silent banishing charm fly past. He had never felt a spell with that much power before. In his daze, Charlie missed his chance to grab Harry as he swept by. He knew that Harry was a powerful wizard, killing a dragon was no easy feat, but when he felt the wave of Harry’s magic wash over him he wondered ‘Just how powerful was the Boy-Who-Lived.’ His musings were cut short when he saw Harry lazily summon Ron’s wand, and then snap it without a second thought. His earlier prediction that this would not end well was quickly coming true.
Hermione was in shock when she realized that Ron was going to hit her. Caught unprepared, she could not get her wand out of its holder in defense. As she prepared herself for the blow, she was surprised when it didn’t come.
Then she felt it, Harry’s emotions exploded through their bond. His anger was so great that it was almost suffocating. She never heard an incantation but she knew that Harry had stopped Ron from hitting her.
Ron was dazed, lying in a heap against the hospital wing doors. Before he could get up, he felt his wand sail out of his robes. His anger returned as he watched Harry casually destroy his wand and toss the pieces away without a second thought. He discovered that he could no longer move when he went to confront Harry. Ron couldn’t remember hearing an incantation at all but he was distracted from that thought when he felt the magic rolling off Harry in waves as he approached.
Stopping just a foot away from Ron, Harry knelt down so that they were face to face. In a voice that was so quiet, Ron had to strain to hear it, Harry said, “If you ever raise your hand, or wand, towards Hermione again you will wish that you were never born.”
Harry stood back up, began pooling his magic, and then fired the most powerful stunner he could manage right between Ron’s eyes before removing the binding charm. He watched Ron’s unconscious body crumple to the floor with a look of disappointment and disgust on his face.
No one moved as Harry walked up to Hermione, concern clearly visible on his face. “Are you okay?” he asked as he pulled her into his chest with his good arm. He felt her nod yes, so he turned his attention to Charlie who was still sitting in a chair, shock plainly visible on his face.
“I’m sorry that you had to see that. Ron never mentioned anything about the first task. In fact, we haven’t spoken to each other since late October.” Harry said with a hint of regret in his voice.
Charlie was surprised to hear that Ron was not speaking to Harry or Hermione. “I didn’t know that you two weren’t speaking with each other. If I had known, I would have sent you an owl or something.”
Glancing over at Rons' crumpled form Charlie sighed in resignation before speaking again. “I’m sorry for how Ron behaved earlier Hermione. He should have known better. I’ll speak to him when he wakes up and I will make sure that mum, dad, and Professor McGonagall know what happened.” Charlie waved goodbye and he got up to lead the still shocked Madam Poppy Pomfrey back to her office to talk about what they had just witnessed.
Harry looked over at Hermione and asked, “Can you get me a fresh set of clothes or just transfigure what I’m wearing so we can leave please?”
“Of course.” Hermione said as she stepped over to the bathroom and called “Dobby.” The small elf popped into the room in front of her and once he saw her she smiled at him and spoke “Dobby. Would you please bring some fresh clothes for Harry?”
“I would be happy to Miss Mione.” Dobby said in his high-pitched voice as he popped out of the room.
Before Hermione could even leave the room, Dobby was back with the clothing in his arms. She took them from him and set them down on the sink. “Thank you Dobby.”
“You’re welcome.” Dobby smiled and popped away thinking about how happy he was being in service to the Potters and leaving a slightly bewildered Hermione in his wake.
She knew that something was different about Dobby and Winky the past couple of weeks but she had not quite put her finger on it yet. Pushing that thought out of her mind, she called Harry over to the bathroom so he could change. “I’ll be right outside if you need anything.”
“Thanks.” Harry said as he stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. He quickly realized that he couldn’t use his left arm enough to get completely dressed and he was not confident enough that he could pull off a proper switching spell at the moment.
Making sure he was as presentable as possible, Harry opened the door and stuck his head out. “Uh; Hermione? Could you give me a hand please?” he said with a slight blush on his cheeks.
Hermione got up from her chair and headed over to see what Harry needed help with. When she opened the door to the loo, the sight that greeted her caused her to blush scarlet.
Harry was standing there with his shirt only half on and his pants unbuttoned. The blush on his face was threatening to move down to his chest he was so pink. She had seen boys in their swim trunks before but somehow seeing Harry standing there, half dressed, affected her in ways that she hadn’t thought about before. Her blush almost matched Harry’s when she realized why he had called her into the bathroom.
Silently she stepped up to Harry without saying a word and began fastening the buttons on his clothes. Hermione couldn’t help but admire Harry’s developing physique as she was finishing up with the buttons on his shirt.
When she was finished helping him dress she left her hands on his chest and put her head on his good shoulder. His skin was warm, and soft, to the touch. Oddly enough, she found that she enjoyed dressing Harry. It was innocent, yet very intimate, and it brought forth a feeling of contentment inside of her.
Harry was trying hard to control his breathing while Hermione was buttoning his shirt. His heart was pounding so hard that he was sure she must have felt it when her fingers brushed against his chest. What he didn’t realize was that her heart was fluttering just as much as his was pounding.
With his good arm, he reached up and rubbed her back in thanks, enjoying the quiet, intimate, moment. He hoped that there would be many more of these moments in their future.
Harry had never given much thought to his future before. He was only fourteen and it had seemed so far off. The realization of their bonding began to settle upon him as the days events receded into the background.
The first task had been consuming him and now he understood why Hermione had a slight panic attack earlier in the day. Their futures were tied together in ways that he just could not comprehend completely yet.
Hermione pulled back from Harry’s embrace and gave him a small smile. Looping her arm around his waist she said, “Let’s head down to the kitchens. You must be starving, and we could use a quiet place to talk.”
On cue, Harry’s stomach gave a low gurgle and Hermione had to stifle a giggle. However, her stomach decided that food was a good thing too and made a similar noise causing Harry to raise an eyebrow in mock questioning as he laughed along with her.
Harry paused at the entryway, noticing that Ron was no longer lying on the floor. He looked around and saw him on one of the beds farthest away from the door, still unconscious.
Hermione saw Harry’s face take on a look of disappointment when he gazed upon Ron. Sensing his discomfort, she said, “Come on. I’m hungry too and he is going to be fine. Madam Poppy Pomfrey said that he should wake in a few hours.”
When they reached the portrait of fruit, Hermione tickled the pear to gain entrance to the kitchens. Stepping into the room, they met their two elves. Dobby and Winky ushered them over to a table in the corner and proceeded to bring them the meal that they had been planning for them.
While Harry and Hermione were having a nice meal in the kitchens, Albus Dumbledore was pacing around his office, deep in thought.
Events were unfolding around Harry Potter differently, and much sooner, than he had planned. The Death Eaters were up to something, Dumbledore was sure that one of them had entered Harry into the tournament somehow. It was trying to figure out what they gained by having him in the tournament that troubled him. ‘Was it Harry’s death or something else that they wanted?’ He thought to himself ruefully.
Harry was also another cause for concern. The events of the first task troubled him deeply. ‘Was Harry traveling down the same path as Tom Riddle before him?’ They had similar backgrounds but there had always been a sense of innocence and wonder around Harry that Tom had always lacked. Now he feared that those traits were leaving Harry and the new ones were very troubling.
Taking a life should always be a last resort in Albus’ mind. Harry had now added another body to his count and he did not seem too bothered by it. He did not fault Harry for the basilisk, they were horrible creatures and not easily controlled.
Quirell’s death saddened him because he felt that he could have saved him from possession by Voldemort. The damage that Harry had done to Quirell’s body had been so severe that it destroyed any chance for survival when the pain forced the spirit of Voldemort out.
Albus had never forgiven himself for the death of his younger sister, Ariana. That was why he refused to kill, even in self-defense, and why Harry’s actions troubled him so much. After all, his defeat of Grindlewald was proof that you could defeat a dark wizard without resorting to killing. Grindlewald was in Germany, incarcerated at Nurmengard, serving a life sentence since his capture at Dumbledore’s hands.
Because of his capture of Grindlewald, Dumbledore never considered that putting people in Azkaban for life was worse than killing someone instead. Yes, he knew that Dementors drove the inmates insane and eventually led to a slow and agonizing death but he put that out of his mind.
He had ordered others on missions where he knew that they would have to kill. As long as he did not perform the deed, it allowed him the illusion that his hands were clean.
Dumbledore, and the majority of the Wizarding world, felt that Azkaban was the best solution for dealing with hardened criminals and it allowed them to feel no guilt for the fate of the prisoners.
Sometimes ending a life was the better choice, but it was never the easier one. Not everyone was worth redeeming.
Dumbledore stopped his pacing in front of the shelf of silver instruments. Everyone assumed that the relics were from his long life. What they did not realize was that each one tied to Harry Potter in some fashion. They monitored his location, health, magic use, and the wards at his aunt and uncles house.
He frowned when he noticed that the orb tied to the wards at Privet Drive was spinning slower than usual. With a shrug of someone used to getting their way, Dumbledore decided that Harry would have to stay there longer during the summer in order to recharge them.
The orb showing Harry’s health was also returning to its normal machinations. Which meant Harry was quickly recovering from his encounter with the dragon.
What Dumbledore failed to notice was that the device tied to Harry’s magic use was no longer functioning properly. It still emitted small puffs of smoke from time to time but the spells cast no longer registered. In fact, since Harry and Hermione bonded it had not reported anything. Further complicating matters for Dumbledore was that the trace had also broken on the two teens, further removing them from his influence.
Just as Albus was settling back into his desk chair one of the portraits spoke up, interrupting his reverie. “Excuse me Headmaster.” Once Dumbledore found the correct portrait on the wall, it continued speaking to him. “There was an altercation in the hospital wing between a Mr. Harry Potter and Mr. Ronald Weasley about an hour ago. I only just heard about it from one of the other portraits as I was passing through.”
“The other portrait didn’t see the entire encounter because she was not in her frame when it started. She saw Mr. Potter raise his wand and banish Mr. Weasley into the hospital wing doors, bind him, summon his wand and snap it before approaching him while he was on the ground. Mr. Potter whispered something to Mr. Weasley and then stunned him and walked away.” The portrait of the former headmistress said importantly.
“Very well, see if you can discover what caused the altercation. From now on, I want at least one portrait occupied at all times in all of the main areas of the castle. Keep tabs on Mr. Potter and if he does anything suspicious please let me know right away.” Dumbledore sighed in resignation.
This new development was not good in the headmaster’s mind. Snapping the wand of another wizard was tantamount to saying that you felt that he, or she, was not worthy enough to practice magic. If this was Harry’s new viewpoint towards his friends what did that say of how he would treat someone that he considered an enemy?
Leaning back in his high backed chair, Dumbledore removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his, long, crooked nose trying to stem the headache that Harry Potter caused. He had taken extreme care in molding Harry to ensure that he would sacrifice himself for others in order to fulfill the prophecy. Things were spiraling out of control and his carefully laid plans were unraveling bit by bit, as Harry traveled down a darker path.
Fortunately, Albus Dumbledore learned the value of manipulation, keeping secrets, and planning for multiple events at a young age. There were other ways to ensure that Harry Potter fulfilled the prophecy and now he had to begin setting them in motion. ‘A kind word here, a veiled threat there, and the promises of aid in the future would get the ball rolling nicely.’ he thought to himself as he went over the myriad of schemes he was going to employ.
The morning after the first task did nothing to improve Harry’s mood, which darkened considerably with the delivery of the Daily Prophet. Whispers were breaking out all over the Great Hall and people began pointing and staring at Harry and Hermione.
Harry pulled a copy of the Prophet towards him and his arm froze when he saw a picture of him and Hermione kissing on the front page with the headline ‘Harry Potters Heartache.’ He groaned when he read the title and realized that Rita Skeeter, his least favorite reporter, wrote it.
He actually laughed aloud when he read the part about him being a glory seeking, no talent, wizard. When he got to the part where the article declared Hermione a, ‘plain but ambitious muggle born witch’ that was dosing him with a love potion to make Viktor Krum jealous he became enraged. The article presented Hermione in the worst light possible and there were some nasty quotes from some of their Slytherin year mates thrown in to make it look even worse.
Abruptly Harry stood up, snatched his copy of the Daily Prophet, and marched up to the head table. All talking in the Great Hall stopped as everyone noticed, an obviously, angry Harry Potter slam the paper down on the table in front of the Headmaster and hiss out “What are you going to do about this?”
All of the teachers, and students were shocked at Harry’s actions. Albus Dumbledore just leaned back in his chair and folded his hands in front of his chest, his eyes twinkling as he gazed upon Harry.
After a few tense seconds where student stared at headmaster, Albus finally spoke. “What would you have me do Mr. Potter?”
Hermione knew that Harry was close to loosing it in front of the entire Great Hall and she feared that the Headmaster’s words were going to push him over the edge. Trying to head off the explosion, she pushed her feelings of love and calm through the bond to him.
Harry was about to retort when Hermione’s emotions flowed through their bond. He snapped his mouth shut before turning around and pulling his wand out. Pointing it directly at Draco Malfoy, he said “Accio button.”
There was a ripping sound as the button tore itself free from Malfoys robes and flew into Harry’s outstretched hand.
Returning his attention back to the headmaster, he flipped the offending button onto the table next to the paper. He pressed the button and the message shifted to read, “Potter Stinks!” Seeing no reaction from Dumbledore at all, Harry said, “I expect you will do the same thing as when Malfoy began distributing these buttons throughout the school. Which is absolutely nothing.”
As he turned around Harry called out over his shoulder, “Have a good day Headmaster.” He began walking out of the Great Hall, furious with Dumbledore and slightly angry with himself for loosing his temper in such a public place.
Just as Harry approached the doors, Hermione caught up with him. Before they could leave Professor Snape yelled out; “Potter! Detention for a week and one hundred points from Gryffindor for your disrespect!”
Harry paused and looked back up at the staff table. He noticed that Professor McGonagall was turning red, Snape was smirking at him, Dumbledore had a calculating look on his face, and the rest of the teachers, and people in the Great Hall looked shocked. He nodded in acceptance of his punishment and left the Great Hall with Hermione by his side.
Minerva McGonagall realized that she had her opportunity to help Harry with one of his problems in such a way that Albus could not interfere without undermining the teachers authority. She stood up from her chair and walked to the front of the raised platform where the headmaster gave his opening feast speech. She gazed at each of the house tables, counting the number of people wearing the buttons before coming to a decision.
“May I have your attention please?” she called out, but everyone knew that it was a command, not a request. “When I point to you please stand up and remain standing until I say that you may sit down.”
Albus Dumbledore hid a frown when he realized what Professor McGonagall was about to do and there was nothing that he could do to prevent it.
When Professor McGonagall was finished pointing she realized that about half of the student body was now standing. The majority of the students were fourth years and above with the odd first, second, or third year thrown in.
“Everyone standing has just cost their house 10 points each and has earned themselves a weeks worth of detentions! You should all be ashamed of the way you have comported yourselves. Remain after the feast so that I may assign your detentions. Anyone caught wearing that infernal button after today will cost their house twenty-five points, earn a week of detentions, and have your Hogsmeade privileges suspended for the remainder of the fall term. You may be seated.”
Harry and Hermione headed down towards the dungeons for their first lesson of the day, potions. He knew that he was in for a rough time in Snapes class after the display in the Great Hall. Two hours, twenty points and one vanished potion later, Harry finally left the potions classroom in a very bad mood.
The lesson had passed quietly until Professor Snape proceeded to vanish his potion. It had been a pale shade of blue instead of the royal blue that it was supposed to be according to their textbooks. When Harry had pointed out that Crabbe, Goyle’s potions were orange, and making a hissing noise, Snape deducted twenty points for “his cheek.”
Harry was having a hard time getting his emotions back under control after Snapes blatant goading. When they ran into Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle on their way to Charms Hermione feared that things would get violent. She was surprised when the exact opposite happened.
“”You’re going to pay for those robes Potter. They were brand new and you ruined them.” Malfoy said with obvious annoyance in his voice.
Harry gazed blankly at Malfoy for a few seconds then said, “Okay.” before turning around and resuming his trek up to the Charms Corridor with Hermione.
Malfoy was lost in thought, confused, while watching Potter and his Mudblood walk away. He had expected Potter to snap at, or even curse, him after the way Snape treated him during class. The almost emotionless look on Potter’s face as he looked at him was a bit disturbing and the complete lack of a physical response out of character for him.
“Come on, let’s get to class.” Draco said absent-mindedly to his two companions. His mind was still firmly working on what he could do to get under the skin of Potter.
Hermione had been silent since the end of potions class and the encounter with Malfoy. She had been thinking about Professor Snapes behavior towards Harry as it was really bothering her. The result of a teacher acting like that in a non-magical school would have been discipline or dismissal. Snapes behavior towards Harry had only gotten worse since their first year. Hermione resolved to talk to Professor McGonagall about the matter later since she was sure that the Headmaster would not do a thing.
Charms class turned out to be just what the two of them needed. Professor Flitwick was teaching summoning and banishing charms today and they had already learned in preparation for the first task. As a result, Harry earned ten points for his summoning charm and Hermione won another ten for Gryffindor with the accuracy of her banishing charm.
They had a peaceful lunch in the courtyard of the castle, courtesy of Winky, to avoid the stares and whispers of their classmates. When they were finished with their lunch Harry asked Hermione “Do you want to take a walk down to the lake since we have a free period?”
“I think that’s a good idea. It’s pretty nice out today and there aren’t going to be many days like this anymore.” Hermione replied.
Harry wasn’t completely sure if she was talking about the weather or the events surrounding the tournament but he knew that he needed to spend some more time away from the rest of the student body and that Hermione understood this fact.
The snow was not very deep but the air was crisp and the sky a brilliant shade of blue as they headed for their spot by the shore. When they arrived, Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it at their boulder, a look of concentration on his face.
After a few seconds, the tip of Harry’s wand emitted a bluish glow. As he directed it towards the boulder in a left to right pattern and parts of it turned to dust. A few more passes the dust began to settle and the very distinct outline of a bench seat appeared, carved into the stone.
A quick cleaning charm, a cushioning charm, and a heating spell later the couple was sitting side by side looking out at the lake.
Hermione conjured a blanket fort their legs and she leaned into Harry’s side. “That was pretty impressive spell work Harry.”
“Thanks. I figured that this would be nicer than sitting on the boulder itself. I will put up a few notice-me-not spells before we go. I like having a space that we can call our own out here.”
“That sounds lovely.” Hermione said as she smiled at him.
After sitting by the lake for half an hour in companionable silence, Harry helped Hermione to her feet. “I guess we should head up to the castle now. We wouldn’t want to be late for transfiguration.”
The two teens walked hand in hand up to the castle, the grounds blanketed in a fresh layer of snow that had fallen overnight, their thoughts on each other and what their future may hold.