Hermione is determined to enlist Harry's help in improving the rights of house-elves. She decides that he might understand better if he experienced it firsthand. What's going to happen when a jealo...
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I don't even get paid to write this stuff. Go bother someone who forgot to include one of these in his or her story.
The Harry Potter Liberation Front
Harry Potter sighed and ran his hands through his already-messy hair in frustration. His best friend, Hermione Granger, continued speaking, giving no indication that she noticed her friend's impatience.
"Hermione, shut up," Harry snapped a minute later. He almost relented, seeing her hurt look, but reminded himself that this was for her own good as well as his peace of mind. "I'm sorry, Hermione, but I can't be a part of this anymore. The house-elves don't even want to be free!"
"Of course they do," Hermione said primly. "Why else would they keep taking the hats I'm leaving out?"
Harry sighed again and tried to get his thoughts in order. There were so many ways to utterly destroy her argument, and he wanted to be sure to use every one. Hermione had the irritating habit of never admitting she was wrong unless it was in the face of an overwhelming amount of evidence.
"Do you really think that your hats are setting them free?" Harry asked.
"Why wouldn't they be?" Hermione shot back. "You told me that Malfoy's father freed Dobby by giving him a sock."
"Do the Hogwarts house-elves belong to you?" Harry asked patiently.
"No," Hermione said, biting her lip. He could see that she understood, so he moved on to his next point.
"So you aren't freeing any of them by doing that. Unfortunately, the house-elves are still quite insulted by what you're trying to do."
"How do you know?" Hermione demanded, her anger rising to the surface again.
"Dobby told me," Harry answered easily. "Right before he told me that he cleans the entire Gryffindor Tower himself now every single night because he's the only elf who isn't insulted by the hats."
"But that's horrible!" Hermione sputtered.
"It is," Harry agreed. "Does that mean you'll stop leaving the hats out?"
"Well, they seem to be doing more harm than good," Hermione admitted. "But I have to do something for them!"
"No you don't," Harry said scornfully, dropping all pretenses. "Let me tell you something, Hermione. You don't know what's best for everyone, despite what you may think. Here you are, taking Dobby's example and trying to alter an entire species to fit your own moral compass! Never mind the fact that none of the other house-elves are interested in being free, or the fact that Dobby is as uncomfortable at the thought as the rest of them! He knows that they don't want to be free, and he's terrified that if you somehow free them then they'll blame him! So why don't you make poor Dobby's life easier and leave it alone!" He kept his voice carefully under control during his entire speech, not wanting Madam Pince to kick them out of the library.
Hermione's lip trembled as a solitary tear made its way down her face. "Harry, they're /slaves/!"
"They're doing exactly what they want to do," Harry said confidently.
"What they think they want to do," Hermione countered.
"There you go again!" Harry said furiously. "Who are you to say what they should want? You're doing exactly the same thing that Purebloods do when they call you a mudblood!"
Hermione recoiled as if slapped, and Harry moved in for the kill.
"House-elves are intelligent. Maybe they don't speak quite the same way that we do, but they are plenty smart enough to decide for themselves. Am I getting through to you at all?"
Hermione nodded, throwing herself forward to hug Harry, who pulled her closer as soon as he felt her tears begin to soak through his shirt. He knew that he had effectively blindsided Hermione. She had fully expected Ron to vocally object again, which was why she hadn't even brought it up in his presence this time. Harry, on the other hand, was supposed to be the one who would go along with her ideas and support her unconditionally. She had to realize that it wasn't fair for him to have to do that when she second-guessed his every move before he even made it. He hoped that their friendship would end up stronger for it.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked, pulling back to look her in the eye.
"I will be," she replied, smiling tremulously.
"Want to go back to the common room?" Harry asked.
"You go ahead, I still want to finish the essay for Professor Flitwick."
"Will you be all right?" Harry asked.
"I'll be just fine," Hermione assured him. "Go on without me."
Harry nodded once and gave her hand a quick squeeze before leaving the library. Hermione's shoulders drooped after she was sure he was gone.
Harry's hunch about Hermione's feelings wasn't far off the mark, but the reality was much worse than his imagination. One of the main reasons she craved his unconditional support was because that was what she wanted in a lover, and she had loved Harry from afar for years. His looks and fame aside, Hermione knew that she saw more in him than anyone else possibly could.
If only she could make him see the house-elves as she saw them. Then he would have to help her! But how could Harry possibly understand just how pitiful the house-elves plight really was? It hit her like a ton of bricks.
Harry would have to experience firsthand the awfulness that was a house-elf's existence. Had she been thinking clearly, she would have remembered Harry's upbringing. She would have remembered that Harry had a better idea of what the life of a house-elf was really like than nearly any other person alive. But her feelings were firmly in control at that point and showed no indication of giving up the reins anytime soon.
"Dobby," she whispered, hoping the elf would hear her summons.
He appeared in front of her with a noisy crack a minute later, causing Hermione to wince and look around, expecting Madam Pince to kick her out any second.
"Miss Grangey needs Dobby?" the quirky house-elf inquired. She noticed that he was wearing one of her knitted hats, but refused to allow herself to become sidetracked.
"Yes, I do. I need you to help me help Harry," Hermione said.
"Dobby will do anything to help Harry Potter!" he boasted squeakily. "What does Miss need?"
"Er..." For the first time, Hermione realized that it might be a bit difficult to convince Harry's staunchest supporter to help her enslave him. "Harry has been going through a lot lately, Dobby, and he needs to relieve his stress. I want to help Harry by making some of his decisions a lot easier for him, do you understand so far?"
"Dobby thinks so, Miss," Dobby said. "Miss is wanting Dobby to help make Harry Potter's decisions for him?"
"Not quite," Hermione said delicately. She needed to be very careful with her phrasing. "I need a spell to make Harry do what I say." So much for that.
"Like a house-elf?" Dobby asked skeptically. Hermione could see the gears turning in the little creature's brain.
"Just for a week," Hermione said. "I would undo it in a week, I promise. I just want to make Harry's life easier for him."
Dobby scrutinized her carefully and took a moment to think. Just when Hermione thought he would vanish and tell Harry everything, his face broke out into a toothy grin and he nodded his acquiescence. "Dobby knows the spell. It is the same spell that binds house-elves to their masters."
"Then please, Dobby, tell me everything I need to know about using that spell on Harry."
"Miss only needs to point her wand and say 'Libenter', and the spell will work," Dobby explained.
"Libenter?" Hermione asked, eliciting a confirming nod. "Thank you, Dobby. You don't know how much this means to me. It will help Harry out immensely as well."
"Dobby knows, Miss," the excitable elf said, smiling. "Would Miss like Dobby to get Harry Potter?"
"Please do," Hermione said, eager to put her plan into motion.
Dobby snapped his fingers and vanished with another flinch-inducing crack, but once again Madam Pince seemed not to have heard a thing.
After Dobby left, Hermione found it impossible to concentrate on anything but Harry. He would understand soon, and once he did, he would forgive her for what she had to do. It was for his own good, after all. Though already sorely tempted to use the power she would have over Harry to force him to be with her, she knew that it would have to happen naturally. As long as she kept her orders relatively benign, Harry would have no real cause for complaint. She had to toe the line, making her commands irritating enough for Harry to realize how the house-elves must feel while not giving into her carnal desires and forcing anything physical. Above all else, though, she had to keep it between the two of them.
Nearly forty minutes had passed when Dobby finally returned with Harry. Hermione was nearly at her wit's end, fearing the worst. But now with her best friend before her at last, all of her fears and worries seemed to fade away as his warm green eyes met her own.
"Dobby said you wanted to see me?" Harry asked.
"Yes, thank you Dobby," Hermione said, smiling at the elf while nervously fingering her wand.
"Miss is very welcome," Dobby said with a bow. "Dobby hopes that all goes well."
"All of what?" Harry asked curiously.
"Libenter," Hermione said quickly, pointing her wand at Harry. A bright golden light left her wand and struck Harry's heart like a bullet. She didn't think she would ever forget his expression of shock and betrayal, almost as if he knew the nature of the spell she cast.
"Hermione, what did you do?" Harry asked, inspecting his limbs for damage.
She flushed red, suddenly embarrassed. "I had to do it, really, Harry. You just don't know what it's like for them, so I obviously had to educate you. Harry, I've enslaved you."
"You've /what/?!" Harry asked furiously.
"It was the only way to make you understand," Hermione said sadly. "Now there's no use complaining, so stop it." Harry's mouth snapped shut. "I'll only keep the spell going for a week. You're obviously forbidden from telling anyone about this by any means, or even hinting at it. In public, aside from obeying my commands, you're to act as you normally do."
"I understand," Harry said through gritted teeth.
"I'm glad," Hermione said, realizing that it might not take much for Harry to realize how limited the house-elves were. "I don't have anything for you to do at the moment. For now, let's go upstairs and finish the rest of our homework. No going to bed until it's all complete."
"All of it?" Harry asked incredulously. Professor McGonagall had assigned them a three-foot essay on self-transfiguration reversals in addition to their normal homework that day, and Professor Sprout had given them a great deal as well. None of it was due for at least another week.
"All of it," Hermione said firmly, knowing that she was condemning her friend to a miserable night. "Now just imagine those poor house-elves, stuck cleaning all night."
"They clean whenever they want," Harry said. "They just want to clean all the time."
"They obviously don't know what they want," Hermione snapped, frustrated by Harry's clear lack of empathy. "From now on, you're forbidden from contradicting me about house-elves. Is that clear?"
"Yes," Harry said, glaring at her hatefully.
The next day, Hermione found herself sorely disappointed in Harry's lack of progress. The bags under his eyes spoke volumes about how much sleep he had gotten, and her orders about behaving naturally in public still stood, but his glares whenever they alone were enough. She ruthlessly pushed aside the guilt that she felt; convincing herself that there was no turning back now.
"Hey, mate, want a game of chess?" Ron asked, interrupting Hermione's train of thought. She and Harry were working on the fairly easy Charms homework that had been assigned at the end of the previous period.
"No thanks," Harry said. "I need to finish this up." He didn't look at Hermione when he said it, but she knew that her orders were the only reason he had started the assignment at all.
"Blimey, is that Charms? Flitwick just gave it to us!"
"There's no harm in getting it out of the way, Ron," Hermione said.
"There's plenty of harm," Ron said stubbornly. "C'mon, Harry, no one's practicing on the Quidditch Pitch right now. We can go for a fly."
"I need to finish this up," Harry repeated dully.
"Fine," Ron said sullenly, clearly put out by the bizarre change in Harry's behavior. "Guess I'll go ask Ginny."
Hermione didn't react at the mention of her rival. While the two girls put on a perfectly good act for the boys' benefit, they had been at each other's throats since learning that the one thing they had in common was an overabundance of affection for a certain green-eyed wizard. Hermione's time at the Burrow was especially difficult, having to stay in such close quarters with the bint. Still, Ginny hadn't been able to break through the wards she had on her trunk without a wand, making the redhead effectively harmless.
Hermione gave Harry a sidelong look as Ron stomped off to find his sister. Her guilt was almost overwhelming at that point. She wanted to give in and allow Harry to go fly, knowing that it was his favorite activity, but she just couldn't bring herself to let Ron win. No, she'd have to come up with a different way to make Harry happy.
"FINE!" The word was shouted this time, and Hermione looked up to see Ron disappear upstairs to his dormitory leaving a very amused Ginny in his wake. He returned a minute later with his Cleansweep, pausing only to throw Harry and Hermione an angry look before leaving through the portrait hole. Hermione turned to look at Ginny only to find the other girl staring right back at her. As she watched, Ginny's gaze shifted to Harry and her brow furrowed in confusion. Hermione bristled, her jealousy driving away any semblance of control she had over herself.
"Come on, Harry, we can finish the homework later," Hermione said, rising from her seat.
Harry looked up at her and smiled for the first time in a day. It warmed Hermione's heart to see him happy, even if she was the reason for his earlier unhappiness.
"Go on and put your things away upstairs, then come back down here," she instructed him, keeping an eye on Ginny as she spoke. She didn't like the look on the redhead's face.
Hermione pulled her bag over her shoulder and raced upstairs to her own dormitory, hoping to beat Harry back downstairs in an effort to prevent Ginny's interference.
Naturally, when she returned, it was to see Ginny draped over Harry's shoulders, clearly doing her level best to sink her claws into him. Parvati Patil, the common room's only other occupant, seemed equally disgusted with the display.
"Ready to go, Harry?" Hermione asked, curious to see if he would detach himself without a direct order. She was quite pleased when he rose wordlessly; detaching Ginny from himself with such ease that Hermione knew it wasn't the first time that her rival had tried such tactics.
Hermione threw Ginny a smug smile before leading Harry out through the Fat Lady's portrait. Before it shut behind them, Hermione could have sworn she heard Parvati call Ginny a slag. Judging from the slight grin on Harry's face, it wasn't her imagination.
"So where to?" Harry asked, seeming resigned to the fact that he was completely under her control.
"The Room of Requirement," Hermione said, having given no previous thought to what they would actually be doing. "I just want to talk a little, about the spell."
"It was a pretty rotten thing to do," Harry said bluntly.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Hermione said. "But don't you feel a bit sorry for the house-elves now?"
"Only Kreacher," Harry said. "He's the only one besides Dobby I've met who's constantly ordered to do things he wouldn't do anyway. And since he got Sirius killed, my sympathy is a bit muted."
"Will you be able to forgive me?" Hermione asked, changing the subject. He still wasn't ready to see her side of the house-elf issue yet.
"I don't know," Harry said, looking at her for the first time. "I wouldn't use a spell like this on Malfoy, let alone on my best friend." Hermione felt a fresh wave of guilt. "You're just one step away from the Unforgivable Curses. This is like a weaker Imperius, but one that can't really be fought."
"Please don't say anymore," Hermione said, tears streaming down her face. Harry obediently fell silent. Once again, she threw herself into his arms, sobbing uncontrollably. Harry did his best to soothe her, no more comfortable around crying women now than he had ever been. He tried to pull away when Hermione's shoulders stopped shaking, but a quiet "No" halted that action. She kept her arms around him, but pulled back enough to look up at his face. "Please kiss me."
The expression on Harry's face was inscrutable, but he obediently leaned down and placed his lips over hers before quickly pulling back. It was one of the most platonic gestures that Hermione had ever seen him perform (which was saying something), and it turned out to be the last straw for her. "Not like that. Kiss me like you mean it." And then her hands were in his hair, forcing his head down to meet hers. This time he was almost violent, forcing her invading tongue back into her own mouth almost as soon as it had entered his and following it with his own. When he pulled back several seconds later, Hermione saw that his expression hadn't changed at all, but he was breathing hard. Surely that was a sign.
"Come on, let's get to the Room of Requirement and finish what we've started," Hermione said, lust in her eyes.
"Tomorrow," Harry said.
"What?" Hermione asked, surprised at his lack of obedience.
"We shouldn't do everything at once," Harry said. "It doesn't seem right for our first kiss to be on the same night as our first shag, or anything else, for that matter. We'll wait until tomorrow night."
"We will," Hermione agreed, having changed her mind sometime during Harry's brief speech. She didn't want to be a slag like Ginny, after all.
"Then I'm going to bed," Harry said decisively. "You should as well, we both need to be well-rested for tomorrow."
"Yes," Hermione said vaguely, several of her oldest fantasies coming to the forefront of her mind. "You go on, I'll catch up." She thought of going to the Room of Requirement without Harry and relieving herself.
As soon as Harry disappeared around the corner, Hermione jumped nearly a foot into the air when a hand grabbed her shoulder, squeezing painfully hard.
"I knew it," the familiar voice of her hated rival hissed from behind her. "You've done some sort of spell to make Harry do whatever you want. Imagine what Professor Dumbledore will do when I tell him everything."
Hermione's eyes widened in panic and she searched her pockets for her wand, eliciting laughter from her rival, who released her shoulder and stepped around to face her, two wands in hand.
"What do you want?" Hermione asked, panic-stricken.
"That's rather obvious, isn't it?" Ginny asked. "I want to cast the spell as well."
"/What/?!" Hermione asked incredulously.
"Don't be so naive. I want to have him once. I know you're too much of a good girl to keep the spell on him forever, and I also know that you'll make me take mine off first. I don't care. I just want to shag him. Even if it's the only time in my life."
"Why not try it honestly?" Hermione asked.
"Harry doesn't fancy me, and he never will," Ginny lamented. "It turns out he's also resistant to every Love Potion that I've been able to find, and I've found a lot. Your spell is the only thing that seems to work. It's my only chance."
"You'll really be satisfied with that?" Hermione asked, regaining her calm.
"Of course not!" Ginny said. "We're both hoping for the same thing. We each want to give Harry an unforgettable night, one that will make him fall for us. I want my chance to beat you once and for all, to have Harry to myself forever."
Hermione smiled, finally satisfied with the answer. Truth be told, she wanted to beat Ginny almost as badly as she wanted Harry. "All right, that sounds fair. You keep quiet in exchange for a night with Harry. I have a condition, though."
"Of course you do," Ginny muttered, ignoring the glare that Hermione shot her.
"No interfering with tomorrow night. That's my night with him, you're going to have to wait until the day after."
"Fair enough," Ginny said, smirking. "He'll be a bit more experienced, a bit more prepared."
Hermione, who wanted to be Harry's first, ignored the jibe. "So then we're agreed? You can cast the spell after tomorrow night."
"Nice try," Ginny said. "I get to cast the spell tomorrow night before you shag him. I'll leave after that and won't bother you at all, but that's non-negotiable."
"Whatever," Hermione said, having long since lost her desire to go to the Room of Requirement.
"Until then, Granger," Ginny said, offering Hermione a saucy wink before flouncing off.
Hermione gritted her teeth in hatred. There really wasn't a single thing about Ginny that she liked, with the obvious exception of her taste in men. Ginny was conventionally attractive and quite vivacious, just like Cho, who was the last girl Harry had fancied. Still, Ginny had been trying everything she could to get Harry to notice her short of stripping in front of the whole school, and yet he still hadn't shown her the slightest bit of interest, which Hermione found encouraging. His debacle with Cho had clearly taught him to look past the surface, which was where she connected with Harry better than anyone. And Harry had complimented her on her looks several times in the past. Granted, they were friendly compliments, but Harry wouldn't lie about that sort of thing, Hermione knew.
She would beat Ginny Weasley.
Hermione had spent nearly three hours getting ready the following afternoon, but emerged looking just the same as ever, aside from changing to more provocative underwear, that is. Hermione knew that Harry didn't like makeup much, so she didn't bother with that either. It would have to be the same Hermione Granger that he knew in their shared bed that night, or it wouldn't work. Harry had to make the connection between his friend and the girl he was shagging, or all was lost. Steeling her resolve, she left her dormitory and made her way to the Room of Requirement, finding Harry and Ginny already waiting for her.
"Ginny tells me that she's going to be using the spell?" Harry asked her, anger in his eyes.
"She blackmailed me into it, Harry, I'm sorry," Hermione said, having the grace to blush.
"Enough complaining, teach me the spell already!" Ginny said, bouncing eagerly on the balls of her feet. She looked like a little girl who couldn't wait to open her Christmas present. A very well developed little girl.
"Get inside first!" Hermione snapped, looking around for any eavesdroppers.
"All right, all right," Ginny said, grabbing Harry's unresisting hand and leading him inside. Hermione followed, her face locked in a grimace.
"The incantation is Libenter," Harry told Ginny when the door had slammed shut behind them. Looking around, Hermione saw that they were in a fairly large bedroom, not unlike hers at home. The bedding was Gryffindor red, but the wallpaper was a soft yellow, and the rest of the furniture was mismatched, putting the emphasis on function over form.
"He's telling the truth," Hermione said when she noticed Ginny looking at her questioningly.
Ginny gave Harry a wink before raising her wand. "Libenter!" The same golden light flashed, though Hermione noted with some satisfaction that Ginny's didn't look nearly as strong as her own.
"Now if you'll just leave," Hermione began, "we can get started."
"Hold on," Ginny protested, an evil smile on her face. "I haven't been able to test it out yet."
Hermione seemed to be fighting an inner struggle for a moment before she responded. "All right, but no physical contact."
Ginny pouted. "Fine, fine. In that case, Harry, I order you to strip."
To Hermione's horror, Harry actually smiled at that. "Ginny, shut the bloody fuck up."
Both girls gasped and looked at Harry like they'd never seen him before. Ginny opened her mouth to protest, but promptly closed it again.
"What did you do?" Hermione asked, torn between amusement and worry. The latter choice won out when Harry replied.
"Hermione, shut up," Harry said, his smile suddenly predatory.
Hermione tried to protest, to ask him why he was violating her orders, only to discover that she couldn't speak!
"You can both come out now," Harry said, smiling and nodding at the door. Hermione's surprise was complete when Harry's invisibility cloak shimmered into view as none other than Parvati Patil threw it off of her. A few feet away, Dobby also appeared, having become through his own magic.
"I can see that you're both very surprised," Harry said, alternating looks between Hermione and Ginny. "You have Dobby to thank for that. He really is the ultimate trump card. Thanks again, Dobby."
"Harry Potter sir is most welcome," Dobby said, throwing Hermione and Ginny a scathing look. "Dobby is only pleased that he was able to help."
"Come on, Harry," Parvati said. "They're clearly desperate for an explanation. She directed his gaze to Hermione, whose mouth remained open.
"Oh all right," Harry said, feigning irritation at the Indian girl. "Dobby, why don't you tell them the first part?"
"Dobby will do his best," the diminutive elf said. "When Miss Grangey lied to Dobby and asked him to help her enslave Harry Potter, Dobby knew the perfect spell. It is the spell that free house-elves use to bind themselves to a new Master or Mistress." He paused for a moment, watching Hermione and Ginny's expressions become, if anything, even more horrified.
"Dobby knew what he must do, so he tricked Miss Grangey into using that spell, and told Harry Potter everything. Miss Parv was there, and she talked Harry Potter into going along with the spell."
"She even told me that I should let you force me to kiss you," Harry said, a look if distaste on his face.
"I can see that you're still confused," Parvati said to the still-silent witches, "so I'll make this as clear as I possibly can. You aren't the only two witches to ever fancy Harry Potter. Ginny, you're not the only one who grew up with stories about him. You're not the only one who feels like you've wanted him your whole life. You're not the only one who feels entitled. But more importantly than that, Hermione, you're not the only one who's bothered to get to know the real Harry. It took me a little while to see him as he really is, but I've worked hard over the last year and a half to become the kind of girl that Harry could fancy."
"And it worked," Harry said, giving Parvati a warm smile. She crossed the room in a heartbeat and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him. Harry's hands immediately went to her back, holding her against him. The kiss didn't last long, but when it broke, the adoration in both of their eyes brought tears of frustration to both Hermione and Ginny's.
As one, the pair turned to face the other girls. "For trying to steal my boyfriend, I was tempted to ask Harry to order you to do something really bad," Parvati admitted, one arm still around Harry's waist.
"I wanted to forbid the two of you from ever having a single orgasm for the rest of your lives," Harry put in, shaking his head. The two girls both looked ready to pass out at that extraordinary proclamation. "But once the anger at your betrayal faded away, we started to think constructively."
Their speech was clearly rehearsed. While Harry was speaking, Parvati reached into her robes and pulled out a scroll of parchment nearly two feet long. By the time he was done, she had unrolled it. "This scroll contains the conditions under which we'll grant you your freedom," she explained. "The gist of it is that you can't ever speak about the spell, or my relationship with Harry. Neither of you can ever do anything to physically, emotionally or even politically harm us, unless it's completely accidental. Arranging to be overheard is specifically included."
"Luckily for you," Harry broke in, "you won't have to worry about anyone breaking into your mind and finding these secrets. That's the beauty of the Unbreakable Vow; it shields the secrets from any unauthorized visitors. Oh, and you can feel free to speak again, if you'd like."
Hermione, it seemed, couldn't handle her sudden verbal freedom. Her eyes rolled up into the back of her head and she passed out. Dobby was able to catch her with his magic before she hit the ground. Ginny had tears in her eyes, but neither Harry nor Parvati could tell what emotion was behind them.
"What if I refuse to take the Vow?" Ginny asked, her voice shaking.
"I'll order you to do the same thing," Harry said simply. "And I might add the orgasm stipulation as well."
"No!" Ginny said quickly. "There's no need for that. I'll make the vow."
"Let's hold off on waking Hermione up until afterwards," Harry suggested, wanting a word with his former best friend once it was just the three of them plus Dobby.
"It couldn't hurt," Parvati agreed, pulling her wand. "Join hands." Harry and Ginny obeyed immediately, a look of trepidation on Ginny's face. Parvati quickly read from the scroll, watching carefully as the redhead mechanically agreed to everything. Ginny's eyes never once left their joined hands until it was over. Once Harry pulled his hand away, her look of longing almost inspired Parvati's pity. Almost.
"Liberationis," Harry said, pointing his wand at Ginny. The spell, rather than emerging from his wand, emerged from his heart. It was the same golden light that Ginny had sent to him, and it returned to her with great speed. Ginny stood a little straighter when it returned, and even managed a small smile.
"Now get out of here," Harry said firmly. Ginny threw him one last look of longing before complying, her long red hair flying behind her.
"Stupid greedy little bint," Parvati growled at her retreating back. "One good thing that's come of this is you won't have to deal with her fawning all over you anymore."
"And you won't have to deal with it either," Harry teased.
"It's just a fringe benefit!" Parvati protested, a smile on her face. It faded slightly when Harry focused on Hermione again. "She betrayed you, Harry."
"I know," he said. "I just really wish she hadn't."
"You ready to face her?" Parvati asked.
"Ennervate," Harry replied, pointing his wand at Hermione.
"Harry?" Hermione asked groggily as Dobby's magic helped her to her feet. The elf stood silently on one side of the room, a serious look on his face. "Please tell me it was all a dream."
"I wish I could, Hermione," Harry said softly.
"H-How did this happen?" Hermione asked, gesturing between them.
"It started before Hogwarts," Parvati said, seeming a little wistful. "I was raised like most Pureblood and Halfblood witches were, with stories of Harry Potter. My crush developed like Ginny's, and I thought I finally had my chance during the Yule Ball. I was wrong, of course. I wasn't mature enough to handle Harry, and he wasn't mature enough to handle anyone."
"No argument there," Harry said when Hermione looked at him incredulously.
"But even though he was a prat that night, I still fancied him. I just didn't know how to get him to fancy me. So I spent the rest of the year watching, learning what I could. Harry was a lot more serious than I thought, and I knew that I couldn't stay the same if I really wanted him. Fortunately, the DA came along in fifth year. I showed him that I wasn't averse to hard work, and that I was as serious about V-Voldemort's return as anyone else." Harry tightened his hold on her when she said the name, offering Parvati a loving smile. Hermione felt her heart break at the sight.
"By the end of fifth year, I was pretty sure that I had become the kind of girl that Harry could fancy. I even wrote to him a couple of times in the summer. I gave him a metaphorical shoulder to cry on over poor Sirius. Then, on September first, I kissed him. I made sure that no one else was around on the train first, and I pulled him into my compartment, sat him down, sat on his lap, and snogged him for about...twenty minutes, was it?"
"Give or take," Harry said.
"We've been meeting in secret ever since," Parvati finished.
"Is that when you're going to practice your spellcasting?" Hermione asked Harry, hurt in her tone.
"We practiced plenty," Harry said firmly. "The two of us could take on any four students in the school. Together, I reckon we could even give Dumbledore a run for his money. The only difference from practicing alone was that I had a moving target."
"Well, that and my unique reward system," Parvati said, a lascivious smile on her face.
Hermione smiled sadly at that, seeing that she had never had a chance from the start. "So shall I take this Vow of yours now, Harry?"
Once again, Parvati read out the questions. Hermione never hesitated with an answer, and she never looked anywhere but at Harry's face. Her expression didn't change when Harry freed her, but she, like Ginny, stood a little bit taller afterwards.
"Is there any chance we can be friends again, like before?" Hermione asked when it was all over.
"It'll take me a while to forgive you, if I ever can," Harry said honestly. "But I'd like it if we could be friends again."
Hermione smiled tearfully, but didn't dare hug Harry. Maybe she would be able to again in the future, but not until she was over him at the very least.
She left a minute later, as did Dobby, who presumably returned to the kitchens.
"You know, Harry," Parvati began once they were alone, "it'd be an awful shame to waste such a nice opportunity."
"Yet another thing I love about you," Harry said. "You're insatiable."
"Better believe it, love," Parvati agreed, pulling Harry toward the bed with one hand, already pushing his robes off of his shoulders with the other.
It was going to be a good night.