Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Dark Lord Rising

Chapter 2: Helping Harry

by AndrewsQuill 1 review

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2009-05-18 - Updated: 2009-05-19 - 6766 words

Chapter 2: Harry Defended.

Hermione’s parents were just sitting down in their dining room for dinner when there was a tapping on the kitchen window. Sitting on the windowsill was the most beautiful owl that they had ever seen. Mrs. Granger opened the window and stepped back to allow the owl to hop onto the counter top.

Hedwig gazed up at the Grangers and stuck out her leg with the letter addressed to them. After taking the letter from the owl Mrs. Granger set out a bowl of water and some owl treats that Hermione left for them to give to the post owls.

They retreated into the dining room to read the letter. “It’s from Hermione.” Mrs. Granger told her husband after breaking the seal. Her facial expression became stonier the longer that she read. By the end of the letter, her hands were shaking in anger. Silently she handed the letter over to her husband and went to the liquor cabinet and poured two stiff drinks.

When Mr. Granger had finally finished reading the letter he picked up the tumbler and knocked back the amber liquid in one gulp. “We have to do something about this. It sounds like Headmaster Dumbledore knows what is going on with Harry’s relatives but he refuses to do anything about it.”

“We need to keep this quiet though. Harry is a celebrity in the Wizarding world, and so is Dumbledore. Perhaps we should talk to our solicitor and get his opinion?” Mrs. Granger stated.

“I’ll call him to set an appointment.” Mr. Granger said as he got up from the table to clear away the dishes.

Hermione’s mother went over to the desk in the kitchen and began composing a letter to send back with Hedwig.

Across London, there was a very similar conversation occurring at the ancestral home of the Blacks.

“Remus, we can’t let Dumbledore place Harry in this kind of danger!” shouted Sirius as he paced back and forth in the drawing room. Harry’s letter lay open on the table between them.

“Calm down Sirius. I think that we should offer to help Harry in any way that we can with the tournament. It’s what we need to do after the tournament that concerns me more.” Lupin stated calmly.

“He can’t go back to those horrible people. This house has protections already, and we could put it under the Fidelius Charm with you as the Secret Keeper. Dumbledore can’t know about this place, especially if we were to ever bring Harry here.” Sirius quietly said. “I need to contact the family solicitor and Gringotts. We need to find out if the reading of James and Lily’s will occurred or if they even had one. I would also like to get an inventory of their vaults just to be safe.”

Remus was rereading Harry & Hermione’s letter when a thought hit him. “Do you still have those mirrors that you and James used when you were in detention? We could send them mirrors so we don’t have to use owls all of the time.”

Sirius stopped his pacing and turned to face his old friend with a smile; “That’s brilliant Moony. I have them upstairs, we could charm a couple more mirrors so you and Hermione can have your own too.”

“Great, I’ll start on a list of a few spells and books that they should review. We can send a few books from the library here if we find any that could help him.” Lupin called out to Sirius’s retreating form.

A couple of hours of searching through the library Remus and Sirius had compiled a diverse list of spells and books to send to Harry and Hermione to help with the tournament. Placing everything into a trunk Remus shrunk it and put the Marauder’s password onto the small package. “I think that is everything Sirius. Now we just need a way to get this to Harry without it being intercepted.” Remus said with a look of deep thought etched on his face.

There was a loud pop and then standing before them was the oddest dressed house elf that they had ever seen before. “Uh…, hello. What can I do for you?” Sirius said to the strange house elf.

“I am Dobby sir, Harry Potter’s friend. Do you need a package delivered to the great Harry Potter, sir? Are you his dog father?” Dobby squeaked in his excitement.

Remus lost it at this point, started howling with laughter while Sirius stood there shocked, and bemused at the same time. “Yes, I am his Godfather, Dobby. Are you the elf that Harry freed?”

“I am indeed! Harry Potter has spoken of me to you before?” Dobby asked with tears in his eyes.

Sirius sat on the floor so that he was eye level with the tiny elf “He has told both of us about you. The laughing fool over there is Remus Lupin and I am Sirius Black. Would you be able to help us get this package to Harry? Only give it to him if he is alone or with Hermione Granger please.”

“Dobby would be most happy to help out kind sirs. Just call if you have any more packages for Dobby to deliver for Harry Potter!” and with a small pop; the package and Dobby were gone from Grimmauld place.

“You know, I think that was the strangest encounter with a house elf that I have ever had. I thought that only bound house elves knew that their master’s needed something and would react accordingly?” Sirius stated with wonder.

Remus looked up deep in thought as he was formulating his response “I think that elf, Dobby, bonded with Harry when he set him free and I don’t think that Harry is aware of it yet. Oh, I bet Hermione is going to have a fit over this one. You know how she can get about house elves.”

Harry and Hermione were using the map exploring one of the towers when there was a small pop and a house-elf appeared in front of them. “Dobby! What are you doing here?” Harry asked.

“Dobby has a package for you from your dog father and the wolf.” as he reached into his robes and pulled out a tiny package with a letter addressed to Harry.

“Thanks, Dobby.” Harry laughed as he bent down to take the package. “How did you know that they needed to get a package to me?”

Dobby went a bit wide-eyed and he started to shuffle his feet before he answered, “Dobby is bound to Harry Potter, sir, I had hoped to work in your family home once you were out of school.” Then in a mad rush, Dobby launched himself at the wall but before he could ram his head into the wall Harry caught him around the middle and held him still.

“Dobby, relax. You do not need to punish yourself. I’m giving you an order; never punish yourself. If you feel that you did something wrong, please come to me. You’re my friend Dobby, why would you bond to me?” Harry asked in confusion.

“I apologize, sir. It was the best way to ensure that I would be able to help you and keep your secrets. And Dobby wanted very much to be Harry Potter’s elf.” Dobby said in a rush.

Hermione had been silent during the entire exchange between Harry and Dobby. She was upset that Dobby had bound himself to Harry but she was also proud of the way that Harry was dealing with the situation. She knelt down to Dobby’s level and looked him in the eye and asked; “Dobby, are you happy being Harry’s house-elf?”

“Oh, yes Ms. Mione! Dobby is the happiest elf alive!” Dobby said bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.

“Dobby, we know another house-elf that was freed this summer, her name is Winky. Do you know her?” asked Hermione, while Harry chuckled in the background about her nickname.

Dobby looked sadly at his feet and replied, “Yes, Dobby knows Winky. She is most upset at not being a proper house-elf anymore. She is drinking lots of butterbeer and is pining for her old master. I try to look after her in the kitchens but she is very sad.”

“Harry, we have to help her. Crouch was wrong to treat her that way and then giver her clothes. If what Dobby is saying is true, she must be really depressed.” Hermione said, clearly exasperated with the situation.

“I don’t know, Hermione. Dobby, do you think that there is anything that we could do to help Winky?” Harry asked the small elf.

Dobby hesitated but he answered in a small voice that sounded unsure of the reaction that he would get, “Harry Potter, sir. Winky wants to bond to a family again. Hogwarts keeps us busy but Winky has lived her entire life in the service of a family and she misses that terribly.”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other in silent communication for a few moments and seemed to come to the same conclusion.

“It’s okay, Harry. I think it would really help Winky and she seems to like you better than me anyway.” Hermione said.

“Okay.” Harry tilted his head to the side, called out “Winky.” and with a small pop, a disheveled house-elf in a filthy dress appeared next to Dobby.

“How can I be of, hic, assistance?” asked the obviously drunk house-elf.

Harry knelt down so that he was looking into Winky’s eyes and he spoke very gently, “Winky, would you like to be a part of a family again?”

The little elf’s eyes went wide with surprise and tears began to stream down her tiny face as she wept into her hands. “Winky would love to but no one wants a bad elf.” She said sadly between sobs.

Still speaking in a gentle whisper Harry said, “Winky, would you like to join my family? I am the only Potter left right now but someday I would like to have a family and a home to call my own. Dobby has already bound himself to me and we would be happy to have you join our family.”

Whatever reaction Harry was expecting, it was not the one that he received. Winky launched herself at Harry and latched her tiny arms around his neck, crying hysterically. After a few moments, Harry was able to calm her down and she finally looked up into his face, “Winky would love to be a part of a family again, Master Harry.”

“Alright; Winky, I welcome you into the Potter Family.” With a slight discharge of magic, Harry felt the bond form between them. Turning to Dobby, Harry knelt down and repeated the process, formally welcoming him into the Potter family too. “Please make sure that you take time off for yourselves each day because I don’t want to see you sick or injured. If you need anything, please come to me and ask. If I can provide it, I will.”

Both of the elves looked up at Harry with adoring smiles and they chimed in unison “Of course, Harry Potter, sir.”

“Um, I have one question though. What do you two prefer to wear? I know that the Hogwarts elves all have uniforms with the crest on them, or would you like to pick what you wear on your own?” Harry asked with genuine concern.

“Winky will find out what the Potter family crest looks like and will get the design for you. I would like to have the crest on my clothes to show that I am a proper house-elf.” Winky said with pride.

“Dobby would like to wear the crest too, Harry Potter, sir.” Dobby said enthusiastically.

“That would be great, Winky, I have never seen my family crest before. Of course, you can both wear the family crest. Do you have to be discreet about that here at Hogwarts? I wouldn’t want to cause trouble with the other house-elves.” Harry said, voicing his concern.

“Master is too kind.” Winky said softly. “The other elves will treat us better because we are part of a Wizarding family again.

“That’s great!” Harry said with relief evident in his voice. “I have one more question, do you two know of a room that we can train in secret? I have to get ready for the Triwizard Tournament and Hermione is going to help me train. We don’t want anyone finding out what we are doing.”

“Dobby knows of just the place, Harry Potter, sir. It is the Come and Go Room, or the Room of Requirement.” Dobby said with obvious joy at being able to help. “It is on the seventh floor just opposite of the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy. Walk past the wall three times while thinking of what you need and the room will appear. We elves use it to store things, nasty Mr. Filch has found cleaning supplies there too.”

“That sounds perfect Dobby. Thanks. I will call you two if I need anything. Please feel free to help Hermione with anything that she might need, she is very important to me.” Harry said while looking at the two elves.

Two small pops later Harry and Hermione were all alone in the tower again. Hermione was beaming at Harry with a look of pride in her eyes. “That was a great thing that you did for Winky. While I don’t like the idea of slavery, the change in her was amazing once you bonded and Dobby looked so happy after you formally welcomed him too.” With a look of excitement on her face, Hermione pulled Harry to his feet and said, “Now let’s go and find the Room of Requirement, I’m dying to see what the room can provide for us and to find out what Snuffles and Remus sent us.”

Harry and Hermione arrived at the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy and after a brief discussion decided that Hermione would be the one to ask the room for what they needed. When the door appeared, they stepped inside and the door sealed itself behind them. There were dozens of bookcases that lined one of the walls with a fireplace, a desk, a sofa, and a table arranged in the corner of the small makeshift library. The other side of the room had a dueling area with practice dummies, targets, some workout equipment, and a small changing area with a shower. Harry looked over at Hermione and smiled, “I love magic.” He said with quiet reverence.

They walked over to the table in the library area, Harry pulled out the shrunken package from Remus and Sirius, and they read the note together. With a big grin on his face Harry pulled out his wand, tapped the package, and said, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” The package quickly expanded into a small trunk that was surprisingly light.

After they had categorized all of the items in the trunk, and kept a mirror each, Hermione looked deep in thought. “Harry, we can’t leave this stuff in here so I think that we will have to shrink the trunk and one of us should carry it around at all times. Some of those books are dark and we could get into trouble if they are in our possession. They definitely would be in the restricted section if they were a part of the Hogwarts Library.”

“You’re right, of course. It’s a very light trunk, even when it’s at it’s normal size, so I think we could just shrink it and one of us can carry it around in our pocket. I do not want to risk leaving it in our book bags. The trunk is amazing though. How did they get all of this stuff in there? My school trunk holds less stuff and it feels like it weighs a ton.” Harry said with a touch of awe in his voice.

“I think that they must have enchanted the trunk like most Wizarding homes to be bigger on the inside. The feather-light charm is nice too. That trunk would be too heavy for either of us to lift otherwise.” Hermione said to Harry. Suddenly, she got a slight gleam in her eyes and a new book appeared on the table next to her bag. She picked it up, and opened the cover to inspect the contents. A big smile spread across her face and she turned to Harry still smiling. “This is great; this book tells how to enlarge items magically and how to add all sorts of other enchantments to them. This means that we could charm our bags to be lighter and to hold more once we learn these spells!” Hermione almost squealed in her excitement.

Harry pulled out his mirror and while looking at it said, “Sirius Black.”

There was a momentary flicker in the mirror and then Sirius’s face appeared. “Hello, Harry, Hermione. I see you got our package okay. These mirrors are the ones that your father and I used at school to talk to each other while we were in separate detentions. We also made the second pair of mirrors so all four of us could have one. It will get a little warm when someone calls you. To answer just say their name back into the mirror and they will both be activated.”

While Harry was gazing at the mirror in his hand, Hermione picked up her mirror, stepped a few paces away, and called out, “Remus Lupin.”

“Hello, Hermione.” Remus said with a smile on his face. “From the look on your face I think that you want to know how to charm another set of mirrors? The magic may be a bit beyond you right now but I will gladly do that for you. Who do you want them for?”

“My parents, if they can use them.” Hermione said with a hint of hope in her voice. “They only get letters from me using Hedwig, or a school owl, and I thought that this would be better. I miss talking with them.”

Remus looked pensive for a moment before replying, “I don’t know if they will work or not for non-magical people, but we can at least try. If it doesn’t work, have one of the house-elves pick up the mirror from them.”

“Thank you, so much!” Hermione cried happily. “Do you happen to have a book on how you created all of this or is it something that I can get from the library easily?”

“It would be in the restricted section at Hogwarts, so I’ll send you a copy. Did you find the list of spells that we sent along too? There is also a little book without a title, about the size of a diary that you two should look at immediately.” Remus said with a big smile.

Sirius was half listening to Remus’ conversation when he heard him mention the book. “Hey!” Sirius shouted. “I wanted to tell them about the book.” By this time, everyone gathered around two mirrors, having shut down the others.

“What book are you two talking about?” asked Harry. Turning to Hermione, he said, “Did you notice a small book without a title? I didn’t see it when we were unpacking.”

Hermione stepped over to the stack of books and after a few seconds, she came back with a triumphant smile on her face and the book in her left hand. “Here, I think that you should look at this.”

Sirius, Remus, and Hermione were all grinning from ear to ear at Harry while he opened the cover. The book looked well read, the edges worn, and some of the pages were dog-eared. As he began to read, the smile on his face grew to match the others. “This is wonderful! You two and my dad wrote a book on how to become Animagi?” Harry was running his fingers along the spine of the book with reverence.

“That book contains all of our notes on the entire process. It should aid you two immensely and speed up the process. The books on Animagi in the Restricted Section are basically useless, that is why there are so few of them around.” Sirius beamed at the way Harry was looking at the book. “There are also some supplementary books that you should read that will help you along. They are listed in the front of the journal.”

Hermione was peering over Harry’s shoulder at the list of additional books and noticed that they were included in the collection from the original Marauders. Looking up at the mirror, Hermione smiled and said, “Thank you both for the help. Harry, I think that you should drop a couple of subjects and add Runes and Arithmancy instead. Divination isn’t worth anything with that old fraud teaching, and History of Magic is worthless with Binns droning on about Goblin wars the entire time.”

“That’s a good idea, Hermione. I think Harry would benefit much more from those classes. Besides, we used a lot of runes and Arithmancy to create the map. They are also very helpful with wards and spell crafting.” Remus said with enthusiasm.

Sirius put in his two Knuts worth by adding, “I agree with Remus and Hermione, Harry. You can do independent study in history and divination if you want to take those OWLS at the end of your fifth year. I know that you will be starting a year behind, but I think that between Hermione and Remus that they can catch you up to your year mates in about six or seven months.”

The direction the conversation was taking surprised Harry, but he realized that they were all correct. He had only taken those classes because Ron wanted to. “I think that you are correct. I really hate having my death predicted every week by that old fraud, Trelawney, and it is such a chore to even stay awake with Binns droning on in that monotone of his. I’ll talk to McGonagall this weekend so I can get my schedule adjusted.”

There was a small pop behind them and then they heard Winky call out, “Master Harry Potter has missed dinner. Winky and Dobby will bring you two some food.” There was a second pop and Dobby appeared with a picnic basket.

“Thank you both for remembering that we hadn’t eaten. Would you like to join us?” Harry asked his two house-elves.

The response was immediate; both of the elves broke down crying saying that they were not worthy and how great Harry Potter was for offering to eat with lowly elves. Before their rant could get too much further Harry piped up, “Please relax. It would be an honor if the two of you would eat with Hermione and me. You can tell me a bit about yourselves and what you like to do and how things should be done in a Wizarding home.” Turning back to his mirror, Harry said to a smiling Remus and Sirius, “It looks like we have to go now. I will call you tomorrow to talk. Thanks again for all of your help.”

After a nice dinner where Hermione and Harry spent the majority of their time trying to get Dobby and Winky to eat with them, they decided to spend the rest of the evening relaxing and reading on the couches provided by the Room of Requirement. Hermione had picked up a book on the history of the Triwizard Tournament and curled into the corner of the sofa facing the fireplace. Harry was reading the journal written by his dad, Remus, and Sirius with a smile on his face. It was a quiet moment to end a stressful day and both teens were happy to spend it in each other’s presence.

The more Hermione read the book about the Triwizard Tournament, the feeling of dread grew with each page. Sighing, she put the book down and looked up at Harry. He was still reading the journal with a smile on his face. “Harry.” Once she had his attention Hermione continued, “I think that the tournament is designed to test you in the most difficult ways possible. The first task challenges your bravery and quick thinking skills. That leaves a wide range of topics and strategies that we have to plan for. Historically, the first task has been to get past, or retrieve an item from, a large magical creature.”

Harry had marked his page and placed the journal on the table in front of him. Taking a moment to compose his thoughts before he spoke, Harry finally said, “We need to find out what the first task is going to be. I am positive that the headmasters from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are going to help their students prepare. The question is how do we find out?”

Hermione was gazing into the fire, lost in thought, before she suddenly smiled. Harry gave her a questioning look and she turned to face him completely. “We can have Dobby and Winky listen to the professors to see if any of them talk about the tasks. Dumbledore certainly knows what each task is and so will Mr. Crouch. Witches and Wizards don’t consider house-elves people, just a part of the background, so they won’t really pay them any attention.”

“That’s a brilliant plan, Hermione! We can have Dobby and Winky just pay attention as they go about their regular duties in the castle. One of the teachers is bound to slip up eventually and then we can begin preparing in earnest. We should probably talk to Hagrid too. I really like him but he cannot keep a secret at all. Why Dumbledore tells him stuff sometimes really puzzles me.” Harry trailed off, lost in thought again.

Hermione thought that Harry had a great idea and she told him so. “Why don’t we head back to the tower and get some sleep? I know that you want to talk to Professor McGonagall in the morning and I would like to check a few things in the library too. Why don’t we meet up after breakfast?”

Harry nodded his ascent, they put their books back into the enchanted trunk, and Hermione pocketed it before they exited the room. They walked back to the tower side by side in silence. Both of them lost in their thoughts about what they were going to do tomorrow. When the reached the common room Hermione pulled Harry into quick hug, whispered good night, and she headed off to her room.

Ron was getting ready for bed when Harry walked into the fourth year boy’s dormitory. Before Harry could even make it to his bed, Ron had swung his legs over the side of his bed and accused, “How come you didn’t tell me how to put my name in the Goblet? I’m your best friend, you should have told me!”

Dean, Neville, and Seamus looked on in silence as Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I didn’t put my name in the Goblet of Fire. Someone else put it in under a different school name. Moody thinks that they used a Confundus Charm on the Goblet to make it think that there are four schools competing. If you cannot accept that then you do not know me at all. Good night.” Harry pulled the curtains closed and climbed into bed, his mood ruined by the confrontation with Ron.

Harry awoke before his dorm mates Sunday morning and headed down to the common room to wait for Hermione so that they could go to breakfast together. Fifteen minutes later, she came down the stairs and they went down to the Great Hall. After a light meal, they parted ways with Harry promising to meet up with Hermione in the library as soon as he was finished talking with McGonagall.

Walking up to the staff table Harry stood silently in front of Professor McGonagall waiting for her to acknowledge him. “Mr. Potter, what can I do for you this morning?”

“Could you spare a few minutes to talk about my class schedule when you are finished with breakfast Professor?” Harry asked Professor McGonagall.

“Certainly, Mr. Potter, give me a few minutes and I’ll meet you in my office.” said Professor McGonagall, as she smiled down at him before returning to her meal.

Twenty minutes later, Harry and Professor McGonagall were sitting in her office behind the transfiguration classroom. “What can I do for you, Mr. Potter? Time tables are set to be handed out at dinner tonight.”

“I was hoping to change my course schedule. I wanted to drop divination and history and add Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Hermione has offered to tutor me so I can catch up to my year mates. I don’t mind starting with the third year student’s professor.” Harry stated with a pleading note in his voice.

“Why do you want to change your schedule Mr. Potter? It is a bit unusual and you will be in class with the third year students in those two new subjects.” McGonagall asked Harry politely.

“Well, I only took those two classes because Ron signed up for them. I am tired of Professor Trelawney predicting my death in every lesson and I am sure that it will only get worse with the tournament. History of Magic is a terrible class. I can learn more on my own just by reading the textbook. Why is a ghost teaching that class? All he does is drone on about the Goblin Wars.” Harry realized that he might have stepped up on a soapbox and gone a bit too far with what he had said.

Professor McGonagall surprised Harry by bestowing upon him a smile that reached her eyes. “I’m proud of you, Mr. Potter. I think that you could give Ms. Granger a run for her money if you really wanted to. Your work in my class is very good once you grasp the theory. I will approve your changes and let the other professors know that you will be in those classes. You will need to order the books by owl, but I’m sure that Ms. Granger could lend you her textbooks from last year.”

“Thank you very much Professor. I’ll do my best to not let you down.” Harry stated and he walked out the door of her office to join Hermione in the library and give her the good news.

Walking into the library, Harry found Hermione at her favorite table with a small mountain of books surrounding her. He sat down next to her and pulled a book towards him. “Did you find anything useful?”

“I found a few things about the tournament and I don’t really like what I discovered. You have to compete in every event, even if you don’t complete a task, so there is no point in just throwing the tournament.” Hermione said in frustration. “How did your talk with Professor McGonagall go?”

Harry smiled, and proceeded to tell her about getting his schedule changed. He also mentioned that Professor McGonagall told him that she was proud of him for doing the right thing. “Hermione, could I borrow your texts from Runes and Arithmancy? I can owl order some new ones this week.”

“Of course Harry. I will even give you my notes so you can read ahead and catch up to the rest of the class. If you have any questions just ask and I’ll do my best to explain it.” Hermione stated simply.

“Thanks.” Harry had picked up one of the books on the Triwizard Tournament that Hermione had on the table and was flipping through the chapters idly. He came across one chapter that caused him to start reading in earnest. After completing the chapter, he put down the book and looked over at Hermione. “Hermione,” when she put down her book and looked up at him, he continued speaking, “Do you think that there will be a traditional ball with this tournament too?” Harry handed her the book that he had been reading and pointed to the chapter on the Champions Ball.

“I’m sure there will be. Dress robes were a part of our school lists this year. Did you get yours?”

“I don’t know. Mrs. Weasley did all of my school shopping for me while we were at the World Cup. If she didn’t, do you think that I could get a set in Hogsmeade before the dance?”

“I think so. Gladrags has a store near the Three Broomsticks. If you do not like the ones that she selected, or did not get, we can go down together and pick something up for you. Do you know how to dance, Harry?” Hermione had a smile on her face as she asked Harry about dancing.

“Uh, not really. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of three schools by being the only champion that cannot dance. Do you know how to dance? Could you teach me?” Harry pleaded with Hermione.

“Of course, Harry. I would be happy to teach you how to dance. I am positive that the room will provide us with music to help you learn. My parents taught me how to dance this summer when they saw dress robes on our lists.” Hermione noticed that Harry had a longing look on his face when she said this and she realized that Harry must have been thinking about his mother teaching him how to dance if she had been alive.

“Thanks. I don’t think that I would be comfortable learning how to dance in front of a bunch of people and I know that I’m going to be rubbish at dancing.” Harry said miserably.

Hermione leaned over and grabbed his hand. “No you won’t, Harry. You are very graceful when you are flying and if you treat dancing just like Quidditch, you will be fine.”

Suddenly, Harry had a panicked look on his face, as if he had realized there was something that made him extremely nervous. “Hermione, I’ll have to get a date for the ball won’t I?” When he saw her nod, he looked up at her and said, “Would you go to the ball with me?”

Hermione’s smile was radiant. She looked happier than he had seen her in ages. “I would love to go to the ball with you, Harry.”

He felt as if he had one less burden to bear now that he had a date. Harry relaxed and smiled back at Hermione while giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “Thank you. Is there anything that I need to buy for you? I’ve never been on a date before.”

“We can get a corsage for me and a boutonniere for your dress robes that match each other. I don’t know of any Wizarding flower stores but I’m sure Neville could help us pick something out and put them together.” Hermione said while still smiling at Harry’s straightforward, innocent, manner. “Don’t worry, Harry. We have months before the ball, it is traditionally around Christmas. Do you want to tell people that we are going to the ball together if they ask?” Hermione’s voice sounded hopeful but concerned at the same time.

“Sure. I mean, I don’t fancy being hounded by a bunch of girls that I do not know who all want to go to the ball with The-Boy-Who-Lived. I’m glad that we are going to the ball together.” Harry spoke with conviction.

Hermione had another big smile on her face after listening to Harry tell her that he was happy that they were going to the ball together. In truth, she was worried that she was not pretty, but Harry didn’t see her that way at all. He knew her and accepted her for who she was, not what she looked like. What Hermione did not realize, was that Harry did think that she was beautiful and that he was the lucky one.

Packing up her books, Hermione stood up and asked, “Would you help me put these back on the shelves and then we can go practice a bit?”

Harry stood up, grabbed the second stack of books, and began putting them back on the shelves. “Sure. Can we stop by the dormitory first? I want to grab a couple of things from my trunk.”

“Okay. I’ll meet you back here in a couple of minutes.” After gathering up the books, Hermione was moving between the shelves with practiced ease.

When they had finally entered the Room of Requirement, Hermione asked Harry, “What did you need in the dorms?”

“I decided that I am going to keep the map and my cloak in the new trunk now. My school trunk isn’t really that secure and I don’t want to risk losing either of those items.” Harry stated.

The Room of Requirement looked the same as it did when Hermione had first called it into being the day before. Looking around in wonder at all the room provided, Harry walked over to the library area, took off his cloak, and draped it across the back of the couch.

He flopped down onto the couch after grabbing the spell list from Sirius and Remus out of the resized trunk. Hermione had come over and was sitting on the other end of the couch with her feet tucked under her as she began reading one of the books about the history of the tournament. After about an hour of reading, Harry wanted to try a couple of the new spells. The Room of Requirement responded by providing a practice dummy in the dueling area.

Getting up from the couch, Harry called over to Hermione, “I’m going to try out a few of these spells that Snuffles and Moony gave us.” He walked over to the dueling area and stood fifteen feet from the practice dummy. Pulling his wand from his sleeve, he called out, “Reducto.” The force of the spell knocked the dummy back about six feet and left a smoking chest plate with a hole in it where his spell had hit.

Hermione had put down her book and was watching Harry practice. When she saw what the spell had done to the training dummy, she got up from her spot and joined Harry in the dueling area. “Harry, do you mind if I practice with you?”

“No. Do you know the wand movement for Reducto?”

Hermione gave Harry a look that plainly conveyed that she did indeed know the spell and proper wand movement. Harry smirked at her and reset the training dummy on the platform, then stepped behind Hermione so he would not distract her.

“Reducto.” Hermione cried aloud while taking aim at the target. The spell knocked the dummy almost three feet back, the hole in the chest was only about half the size of the one that Harry’s spell had created. “Wow. That is a strong spell. I didn’t do as much damage as you did though. I always knew that you were a powerful wizard.”

“Thanks, Hermione, but I’m nothing special. I may be powerful but I’m not a great wizard or anything.” Harry said softly while looking at the damaged training dummy.

“Harry, please look at me.” When he had turned to face Hermione, she continued. “You are a powerful wizard. The difference in our results clearly shows that. I do believe you will be a great wizard one day. You have already done some amazing things that most adult wizards and witches will never do, nor would most of them want or be able to.” Hermione said with conviction. Seeing that Harry was about to argue this point, Hermione held up her hand and cut him off before he could begin. “Trust me, Harry. You are becoming a great wizard and an even better man.”
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