The Yule Ball
One Wizard Too Many
Provocation and Terpsichory
The Yule Ball was probably Harry’s favorite ‘task’ of the Triwizard Tournament. Nothing had to be destroyed, vanquished, sought, or puzzled out to survive the event. No one was presently screaming for his blood.
All he had to do was to dance with his lovely girlfriend.
“Finally! A task I’m happy to participate in!”
The Ball went off splendidly, the Great Hall decorated in a ‘Winter Wonderland’ sort of theme, the ladies radiant in their finery, and the gentlemen gallant in their deportment. The opening waltz was performed with grace and skill by our happy couple, seconded only by Cedric Diggory and his date, Cho Chang. Fleur Delacoeur and her escort, a seemingly drugged Roger Davies, performed adequately in their terpsichorean obligations.
The fact he was unable to tear his gaze away from her bosom detracted from the performance somewhat.
Viktor Krum, though, was struggling not to crush his date’s feet with his own oddly pigeon toed extremities. The poor girl, a Beauxbatons student by all appearances, was persevering with the dance.
Harry whispered to Hermione. “Poor Viktor. Looks like he’s lost without a broom.”
Hermione winced and nodded as Viktor stumbled hard and caught the girl’s ankle beneath his size 11 brogan. “You’re right. More to the point; poor girl. Hope she cast some cushioning charms on those Jimmy Choos.”
“Hmm, hopefully, whatever that is. Aren’t you glad you decided to go with me?” Harry twirled his grinning date and gave her a grin back.
“Well, I guess. I am pretty good with a cushioning charm and he IS the famous Viktor Krum after all.”
Harry rolled his eyes and smirked. “Maybe so, but do you really think he’d respect your tootsies the way I do? Would he rub them after that long walk from Hagrid’s hut? Would he kiss them lovingly when you ever so rudely stuck them in his face on the common room couch? Would he even nibble on your big toe even after you dared him to?”
Hermione blushed a bit, but fired back gamely. “Now that you mention it, probably not. But then again, we have confirmed you have a mild form of foot partialism.”
“Well, it helps you have such cute feet I suppose. And I wouldn’t say it’s been confirmed, just implied.”
Hermione smirked. “Ah, sweet avoidance. I’m not saying I mind or anything, particularly since you give the most awesome foot massages ever. One of which I will be expecting when this event is over.”
“Naturally, but as gorgeous as your gams are, what do I get for one of my world renowned foot rubs?”
“The pure bliss of being able to touch my beautiful feet?”
“Heh, nice try.”
Hermione gave him a smoldering look. “Oh, in that case I believe we can work out an equitable arrangement.”
The song ended and Harry froze for a second.
He recovered and grinned at his date. “Curse you, you witch! You got me again!”
Hermione laughed as she led him to their spot at the champions table.
Dinner proved to be a mildly boring affair, or at least it would have been had our couple not had each other to talk to. Fleur was still acting the part of an incredibly conceited princess and haughtily refused to make any sort of small talk, while her date had to be repeatedly reminded to swallow and breathe. Davies was wearing a look best described as ‘semi-concussed’, and was mostly incapable of intelligent speech. Cedric and Cho were fairly talkative, but neither Harry nor Hermione had much patience for quiddich talk or gossip. Viktor and his date, a French witch named Monique, were not terribly talkative as both had only the most cursory knowledge of English. Hermione had a pleasant conversation ‘a Francais’ with the girl though, with some translation for Harry so he could follow along and contribute a little.
The staff and Ministry personnel at table were pretty boring in the main. Crouch was absent and had asked Percy to sit in for him. The ginger prig was alternating between bragging about his ‘lickspittlery’ at the Ministry and loudly complaining about the simulacrum of his mother in the entryway to the Hall.
The fact that the caryatid tried to hug him and wipe a non-existent smut from his face when he approached the column probably didn’t help the situation.
Ludo Bagman was braying at some bawdy joke he himself had told to an offended Minerva McGonagall. Apparently it had made quite the rounds at the Cup semi-finals in 1968 and was quite amusing to a largely immature male audience. The stern witch found it somewhat less droll than she found most things, and looked set to engage in some punitive transfiguration. Her surreptitious glances at the Headmaster seemed to be a visible artifact of her assessing the chances of getting away with it. Dumbledore was oblivious to this as he was mostly humming a little ditty to himself and looking all twinkly at the Ball attendees. Moody was also regarding the guests oddly, but employing his magical eye in a dizzying fashion and muttering to himself. When the eye stopped on Snape and Karkaroff, the muttering became a bit harsher and began to include a few curse words. The Russian headmaster just glanced back nervously at the oddly acting ex-auror and rubbed his left forearm strangely. Snape just glared at everyone and tried to rub his own arm in a clandestine manner.
In what seemed to be the ‘big people’s corner’, Hagrid and Madam Maxime gabbled at each other in their largely unintelligible accents. At least they both looked happy enough, talking about God knows what.
Harry turned back to his date and favored her with a big smile. At least he had someone awesome to talk to.
Soon the mandatory dinner and conversation ended and dancing resumed. Harry rose and offered a hand to his escort. Hermione smiled prettily and rose to dance with her date. A few formal dances were scheduled to warm everyone up before the activity became gradually faster and less constrained. Through it all, Harry and Hermione could relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of holding a lover close and moving with the music.
Well, they would have, except for the fact that nearly the whole student body seemed to hate them.
At first, the glares and muttered comments were easily ignored for the childish snits they were.
‘Potter Stinks’ buttons were displayed, scathing looks were delivered, and the dreaded ‘M’ word was spoken aloud several times within earshot. All to no avail, however, as the couple merely danced on, uncaring of the evident disdain coming their way. Secretly, the targets of the collective ire were laughing at their tormenters, as Harry and Hermione had both been bullied in the past and were less than impressed at the Hogwartian efforts this evening.
“Bah! Bunch of pikers! Sorry to think it, but old Dudley could give them all lessons on how to properly get someone’s goat!”
The students of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons were generally not participating in the hate-fest being directed at the couple. Beauxbatons attendees prided themselves on being far more subtle than these silly British, and would never stoop to such ridiculous antics! Durmstrang, on the other hand, was watching the proceedings with baited breath. Their students had been warned about trying to intimidate Harry Potter by an obviously impressed Viktor Krum. The Dark Arts school regarded the application of violence as serious business, and anything they could learn from the extremely talented Potter would be well worth knowing. Most hoped for an object demonstration this very evening, for educational purposes of course.
After all, opportunities for learning must never be missed! And apparently the young Potter had an impressive technique.
Harry and Hermione cared not for this, preferring to remain oblivious to the petty put downs. They were determined to have a good time. Fortunately, sneers and mild insults were as far as the abuse went, so they were largely left in peace.
In addition to their grim resolve to enjoy themselves, Harry knew any trouble could put the timetable for his ‘master plan’ in jeopardy. Sadly, he was unable to come up with a better name than ‘master plan’ to hang on his carefully arranged plot, as anything he could think of was either too obvious or just plain stupid sounding.
He’d have to contact the ‘mutts’ later, as they would most like have a list of clever and mildly scatological code names available for plan titles.
The Ball rolled on, with the headlining act taking over for the classical quartet as the dancing became more frenetic. ‘The Weird Sisters’ was an odd name for a band, particularly as it seemed to contain no female members. The wizarding crowd seemed not to mind, however, as they seemed to be quite well known amongst magicals.
Across the room, Draco Malfoy was looking upon the happy couple with utter loathing. While quite happy that his charmed buttons had sold briskly and netted him a tidy profit, he was a bit distressed to see that Scarhead and Mudblood paid no attention to his witty insult.
“Maybe version two should have something about ‘Muggle-Born Whores’ or something. Yeah, get his bitch of a mum and his crup of a girlfriend in one go. Bloody slags.”
He took a swig of his ‘Ogden’s Best Firewhiskey’ in satisfaction. Sometimes he loved being as awesome as he was.
Surveying the room with his haughty gaze, he observed the mildly amusing antics of the hoi polloi. Dancing about like common day laborers at a harvest festival! Why the Ministry allowed these peasants to carry wands and wear shoes was beyond him.
“Speaking of barefooted peasants…”
Ron Weasley was posted near the buffet, attempting to smother his sorrows in hors d’ oeuvres. He appeared to be having an awful time and there didn’t seem to be enough cheese and dip to compensate for it.
“The weasel seems to be upset. How lovely. Is it because his robes are so ugly, the fact that no one is talking to him, or because his ‘claw wog date is snogging that Durmstrang wizard? Maybe it’s just because he’s poor and stupid. Ah, who cares about the troubles of the proles? The important question is: how can I make this night even more ‘memorable’ for the swine?”
He looked over at his ‘friends’ Crabbe and Goyle. Crabbe was shoveling food into his mouth with both hands and Goyle was snogging Millicent Bulstrode and jamming a hand up under her skirt.
“Yecch, disgusting. I’d wonder if anyone bothered to teach these people manners, but I know it would have overtaxed their tiny minds. Sometimes it’s so difficult being a leader of men!”
“Crabbe! Wipe your hands. Goyle! Put that slut down and attend me. We’ve work to do.”
The henchmen composed themselves and joined their master. The Slytherin trio sauntered over to the unhappy Weasley looking for trouble.
Ron saw their approach and screwed up his face in its fiercest glare. He detested all Slytherins but hated Draco most of all.
The blond boy took up his usual pose, flanked by his meat bookends, and began to abuse the angry red. The plethora of discarded butterbeer bottles in his area and his general unkempt demeanor indicated a certain level of intoxication in the impoverished blood traitor.
“Ah, Weasley. I see they put out your trough for the party. How delightful for you.”
“Piss off Malfoy!”
“Eloquent as ever, but why so glum? Sad that your date left?”
Ron snorted. “Whatever. The girls love me, why should I care if one wanders off?”
“Yes, quite the Lothario, aren’t you.” Draco eyed the hideous orange robes replete with food stains, saliva, and mucus. “The ladies must be positively brawling amongst themselves to be with the great Ronald Weasley.”
“Heh, no doubt. After the ‘Weasley Meat Wand’ they are!” Ron suddenly looked alarmed. “That’s not why you lot are over here, is it? ‘Cause I don’t keep for that team, you know!”
Draco looked disgusted. “Your virtue is quite safe with me, I assure you.”
Ron took a big bite from a dinner roll, but spoke anyway. “Thash great, alwa’ thoucgth you lo’ was a buncgh a sissies!”
Draco looked down to see his dress robes were speckled in crumbs from the red headed garbage pit. He casually brushed the offending articles from his raiment.
“Be that as it may, I can’t help but notice you seem to have broken with the Potter and that Granger creature. Here I thought you all were the best of friends.”
Ron swallowed and exclaimed. “Mental they are! Potter gets all smug with his money and his glory, and then he steals away my homework bint! Couldn’t stand to let anyone have something he wanted.”
“And I assume you wanted the mudblood Granger for yourself?”
Ron grinned creepily. “Just for a quick shag or two, heard the Muds’ are easy lays.”
“Indeed, menial labor and servicing purebloods like ourselves are quite appropriate occupations for such filth. She should be eager for your attentions.”
Ron nodded. “Yeah, true that. But Potter had to come along and declare his ‘love’ for the girl!”
“Well, he was birthed in a ditch from a mudblood whore. Naturally he may well harbor an affinity for livestock like Granger as a result.”
Ron nodded his concurrence and took a swig from yet another butterbeer.
Malfoy smirked a bit to himself. The conversation had progressed as he had envisioned and it was now time to ‘plant the seed’ as it were.
He looked at his nails as he casually posed. “What I fail to understand is why you allow the half-blood Potter to dictate terms. I understand you are his ‘friend’ for reasons that baffle me, but you should make your own wishes felt. You wish to take the mudblood for your toy? Do so. Don’t allow Potter to stand in your way.”
Ron stood up and looked Malfoy in the eye.
“That’s rich coming from you! After all, Potter, the mud, and the squib took out you and your boys easy enough!”
Draco was taken aback. He tried to think of any incidents where he had been bested by Potter, but only heard an odd voice in his head intoning. “That did not happen. Draco Malfoy remains unvanquished. Now change the subject and never speak of this again.”
To Ron, he said. “I don’t know what you mean. Besides, I understand Potter gave you a little ‘bath’ in the Black Lake a few months ago.”
Ron concentrated his meager mental resources and tried to recall any incidents involving Harry and the lake. He heard a voice in his head that sounded a lot like his mother, (the real one and not the overly nurturing column beyond the doors) “That never happened. Harry is your friend. No one would harm my Ronniekins! Now make friends with Harry, finish your dinner, and go de-gnome the garden!”
Ron’s normal internal voice spoke. “That’s weird! Oh well, who cares?”
To Draco he said. “What the hell are you on about?”
Strangely, both parties felt a compulsion to be away from each other.
Draco said. “Fine, why do I even bother? Enjoy living in poverty without even a mudblood to shag!”
“Sod off Malfoy! I don’t need your help! Just because you’re a git I’m gonna go and shag your mum!”
Draco shot back. “You leave my mother out of this! She’s too pure to even be mentioned by the likes of you!”
Ron began to make an odd humping motion with his hands and hips. “Ooh Narcissia! Yeah, you like the ‘meat wand’, dontcha? What’s that? Stick it in yer arse? You got it!”
“Funny you should mention that, but I thought I saw fat Molly out by the Hog’s Head selling her gigantic arse for five sickles a go. Have to foot the Hogwarts bill somehow I guess!”
Ron’s face turned quite red. “Oi! My mum would never whore around like that! You take that back!”
“Never for the likes of you, peasant!”
Ron drew his wand. “I’ll make you, ya git!”
Draco drew his. “A pathetic wizard like you? Never happen.”
Just then, Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall reached the scene of impending violence.
McGonagall spoke. “What in Merlin’s name is going on here?”
Snape replied. “Obviously the Weasley boy is antagonizing Mister Malfoy and his friends. I believe the ill mannered lout deserves a detention for his outburst.”
McGonagall countered. “Maybe, but I also heard Mister Malfoy shout imprecations to Mister Weasley as well.”
“Under provocation. Draco is blameless.” Snape stood by his Slytherins.
Ron’s self control snapped. “Blameless my arse! The gits was knocking on my mum!”
Snape smiled evilly. “As I said, an ill mannered lout.”
McGonagall, who was angry at both Ron for being an idiot, and Snape for getting one over on her due to Ron’s intemperance, scolded the red headed boy.
“Mister Weasley! Remove yourself from the Hall immediately! We shall discuss your punishment later. Professor Snape, Mister Malfoy, as you were.”
Draco smirked mildly as Snape nodded. “Minerva.”
The Slytherin triumph over Weasley was complete.
Harry and Hermione were unaware of the altercation between Ron and Draco, as they were having too much fun to be brought down by such petty bickering.
Several songs later, Harry and Hermione left the floor for a breath of air. A quick stop by the refreshments table and one revealing charm later, the couple had their un-spiked drinks (the twins were in attendance, after all) for a stroll through the temporary rose garden. Even with the heating charms, the coolness of the outdoor environment was very welcome.
Arm in arm, the pair walked along the path and spoke quietly about unimportant things, managing to avoid a few amorous couples and a whispering Hagrid and Madam Maxime.
At the sight of the large professors, Harry couldn’t help but shudder at the thoughts he had at the dragon enclosure two months ago.
Seven feet tall, three hundred plus pounds, and snogging away with abandon was an image that would haunt him for life.
Hermione, thinking he was a bit cold, rubbed his arms for warmth as he turned to face her.
“Thanks love. Having a good time?” He inquired.
“A great time, thanks to my handsome date.”
He grinned. “Well, if I meet him, I’ll be sure to thank him for you.”
She rolled her eyes. “Prat. You know I mean you, silly.”
His grin widened. “Well, what would you say if I told you this ‘silly prat’ had a combination surprise-slash-gift for you?”
“I imagine I’d ask what it was. Then I would probably demand it be presented to me immediately.”
“Hmm, sounds like something you might say. But what if you discovered there was a price to be paid for the surprise-slash-gift?”
She looked at him quizzically. “I would probably wonder how it could be classified as a ‘gift’ if it’s something I have to pay for. Curiosity would most likely compel me to inquire as to the tariff, though.”
“I would respond that the price for this gift would be one you would gladly pay, and I’m pretty sure the gift is no mean trinket either.”
“Indeed. Seeing as there are no tags in view, and the salesgirl seems to be on break, I must ask; how much?”
Harry smiled widely. “I demand that you kiss me.”
Hermione smiled back. “C’mere you.” And kissed him soundly.
A few minutes later, she let him up for air.
“Right then. What do I get?”
Harry shook his head. “Is that all you’re about? Materiel things?”
Hermione grinned. “Yup. Now what’s my present?”
He sighed. “As if my love wasn’t enough.”
“Hey, you brought up the ‘present’ thing. I’d happily kiss you all day long for free!”
Harry reached into a pocket and smiled. “I may hold you to that sometime soon.”
“Yeah well, it’ll go a lot easier with less teasing.”
He looked around the patio area and said. “I think the present might work better a few yards thataway.” Pointing away from the castle.
Hermione looked a little puzzled, but allowed him to lead her towards the darkened lawn.
They stopped about half a football pitch away from the rose garden, well beyond the heating charms.
He held her with one arm and rubbed her back for warmth.
“Well, what is it?” She hated to be kept waiting.
Harry smiled and withdrew his hand from his pocket. In his fist was an off white woolen sock.
“Okaay, I appreciate the thought, but you could have at least gotten me the other one too.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “That’s not the present. That’s the ride.”
With a smirk, he jabbed his wand at the sock they both held and activated the portkey, vanishing them from sight and from Hogwarts.
A/N: Sorry for the cliffhanger, but this next update will be along very soon. The Ball was kind of tough to write for me for some odd reason. Guess my muse prefers violence and conflict over peace and celebration. She seems quite the vengeful one!