Disclaimer- I still am not JKR and make no money from this fic. I don't own the characters, I'm just playing with them for my own amusement.
A/N- Christmas in 4th year chapters always seem to take longer to write and this one felt particularly painful. I'm not even done writing it. But seeing that I was at 9 pages I thought all you readers should have something to tide you all over through the holidays. Lots happens in this chap so enjoy!
Okay so now that that's done, time for my random chapter comments. Though it would pain her to even think it, Hermione might have some abilities in predicting the future. Either that or she can just read people. It's probably the latter. It's cute how the wolf tries to help Harry. And every time I read that part I still laugh. And the makeup and trowel remark is actually a joke my grandfather used to make about my aunt; according to my mom, she started "slathering it on with a trowel" as a teenager so the timing works. Apologies to anyone of Irish descent for the dancing remark.
And now that I've thoroughly confused you, enjoy the chapter!
George Weasley woke on Christmas morning excited. He got to go to the ball that evening with his girlfriend, his business was off to a great start, and it was Christmas. He moved to the foot of his bed and noticed an odd-shaped package. Well, maybe odd to some people. To George it looked like a broomstick. He opened it and stared. It was a brand new Vitesse Boreas broom. His eyes widened. "Is that a new broomstick?" He looked to see Fred staring at the broomstick in George's hands.
"Yeah," he said, finding a note tied to the broomstick. He removed it and read: To my George, I look forward to watching you play. This broom is the best broom a beater could have and only recently did they finally begin production on them. I hope you enjoy the first one off the line. Hugs and Kisses, Fleur
"Who's it from?"
"My girlfriend," George answered, smiling as he looked at the broom. "You know, the woman you said would dump me quickly because I wasn't good enough for her?"
Fred cringed. He did say that. "Where did she get you a broom like that? They don't even make them yet."
"First off the line from her dad's factory," George smiled. "Her dad owns Vitesse." Fred's jaw dropped. George carefully placed the broom on his bed. It was an amazing gift and certainly reinforced the value she placed on their relationship.
"Vitesse brooms are really expensive," Lee observed. "Are you that good a kisser George?"
George shook his head, smiling, "Lee mate a gentleman doesn't kiss and tell."
"Yeah but I'm talking to George Weasley," Lee laughed.
"I don't kiss and tell," he said, admiring the broom before moving back to his pile of presents.
As Fred opened his presents he thought about the broom Fleur had given George. It was…it was a really big gift. He felt rather stupid and rude. George never said a word against Angelina but Fred had been horrible regarding George finally getting a girlfriend. It had never occurred to Fred that George would want to follow through with the business. He'd always imagined they'd play quidditch professionally together; the shop just a dream for them to sit and dream about with a pint in hand as they watched their kids playing together. But it was obvious that George wanted the shop more than anything; even quidditch. Fred looked at George, who was smiling at a package of ingredients he'd been given by someone. He had hoped that by throwing a bit of a tantrum George would fall into line with Fred and what Fred wanted to do; but instead George had grown into his own. And there was no denying George was happy. That said, Fred really didn't want to run a joke shop. Fred wanted to play quidditch for ten years or so and retire so that he could raise a family. He wanted to be a stay-at-home dad.
Fred swallowed, "George?" His twin looked at him, "I'm sorry for what I said about you and about your girlfriend. I just never thought our goals and desires would diverge."
George looked at his brother and smiled, "Apology accepted. But next time you pull a Ron I get to prank you back into coherence."
"Agreed," Fred nodded, smiling at his twin. "So what are you naming your shop?"
"I have a few ideas I've been rolling around in my head," George said, "Just not sure which to choose."
"Well if you need a sounding board I'm available," Fred offered.
Harry woke and rubbed his eyes before smiling and getting up. He tossed a pillow at Seamus, who sat up, "Huh?"
"Happy Christmas Seamus."
"Oh, yeah," Seamus took Harry's pillow and tossed it at Dean, who yelped. "Harry did it," Seamus said.
"Jerk," Dean responded, throwing it at Harry.
Harry got up and moved to the foot of his bed, "Hey at least there're presents." The other two got up out of bed and moved to their piles.
"I wonder what Hermione got him."
"Probably a ball and chain."
"No that was his birthday present."
Harry rolled his eyes. Those two were ridiculous sometimes. Oh well. He'd get his revenge one day. He opened his present from Hermione. Inside the large box was a small photograph. A photograph of video games. Harry laughed. That was wonderful. "What?"
"Hermione gave me a picture of video games she's bought for me. They obviously won't work here so she had her parents take a picture and then she stuck it in this big box."
"That's actually pretty awesome," Seamus said.
"Hey Hermione got me a present," Dean said. He opened up the box to find a book, "It's an autobiography of a footy commentator," he grinned. "Harry your girlfriend rocks."
"Very aware of that," Harry smirked. Harry hoped she liked his present. Shopping for Hermione had been easy up until they became a couple. Then it became a little difficult, even if he knew Hermione would love anything he got her. There was just inherent pressure in getting a gift for a girl that was your girlfriend, lover, mate. And the wolf was about as helpful as Seamus and Dean would have been. A dead deer was not a romantic present no matter how many times the wolf killed one and brought it to the clearing to take up to the castle, though it did make Harry floss extra and gargle multiple times with mouthwash when he returned.
Hermione knew what most of her presents were even before she looked at them; people always gave her books. She thought that was rather daring, as she already had a massive collection of books. Unwrapping all of those was quick work. Harry, though, was less likely to get her a book (particularly since he'd gifted her those Morgana journals and notes on her birthday which she was still going through) so she was curious what he'd managed. By nature Harry wasn't very good at romance, but he tried really hard which was cute and made up for the clichés and lines he didn't know were lines. It was a box. "Just what every girl wants Harry, a box," she smiled, opening it to find a smaller box, "I'm going to guess George helped you wrap it."
After finding more boxes in more boxes she eventually worked her way down to a box that was a familiar size. She opened it to reveal a book. Hermione couldn't fight the smirk on her lips. The title of the book was- Super Secret Storage Compartment That Looks Like a Book. The author was, of course, George Weasley. "It's rather impressive what that boy can do with only a few galleons," she mused, opening the book to reveal a rectangle cut in the pages which held, of course, another box. "At least it isn't whiskey," she chuckled as she picked up the box and opened it to reveal a charm bracelet. She smiled. Given the level their relationship was at, this was not exactly the ideal gift. But they had to keep up appearances, which meant that they had to get age appropriate gifts rather than gifts appropriate for the seriousness of their relationship.
She picked up the bracelet. It was certainly expensive, she could see that. There was quality in the simplicity. It had a book charm, a lyre charm, a lightning bolt charm, a wolf charm. She smiled. The wolf could be explained away as when they became a couple even if it symbolized Harry being a werewolf just as the lyre represented her being Veela. Good foresight from Harry.
Harry was nearly ready to begin pacing when Hermione came down from the girls' dorm. She smiled and kissed his cheek, "Thank you Harry. I love it." He sighed in relief before finding himself dragged out of the common room. His confusion ceased when she pulled him into a broomcloset and warded it before snogging him. Not a bad way to start their first Christmas as a couple.
As they walked down to the Great Hall Harry asked, "Do you get nervous getting me presents?"
"No," she answered, "You're easy to shop for Harry. You're so grateful to get anything that it doesn't matter. That doesn't mean I don't put effort into what I get you," she added, "but it does take the pressure off."
"I was really worried about whether you'd like it."
She kissed him, "Harry whatever you get me doesn't matter. It's the thought that you put into it that counts."
"I thought that was just something girls said to their boyfriends when they got a gift they didn't like," Harry smirked.
Hermione laughed and leaned against him, "I'm sure some girls feel that way, Harry, but I mean it. I know that I'm hard to shop for; that's probably why most people get me books. That and I love books," she added when she saw his smirk, "But regardless, I'm just glad you put some thought and effort into a gift. You could have slapped a bow on yourself and I would have been happy."
"McGonagall wouldn't when I set off the alarms trying to stand at the end of your bed with the other presents," Harry chuckled. Hermione shook her head. Harry could be quite ridiculous sometimes. It was a no-more-horcrux thing that she rather liked.
Never had George seen the Great Hall so full during winter break. He moved toward Fleur, who was already sitting at the Gryffindor table. He sat down next to her, "Thank you for the broom," he said to her, kissing her cheek.
"I am glad you like eet," she smiled. "I quite like your present too."
"What did George give you Fleur?" Hermione asked as she sat down opposite the other Veela. Harry sat down opposite George.
"My Zhorge geeves me snowglobe of 'Ogwarts 'e makes 'eemself. Eet even 'as a button to make snow come out."
George looked at them and grinned, "It's tentatively called Winter Wonder-Globe. I'm thinking I can put a few different miniatures in but Hogwarts seemed the best first choice."
Hermione smiled, "That sounds really cool George. When you get your own shop you could put a miniature of that in it."
George nodded. Fleur kissed his cheek, "My Zhorge ees so brilliant." George put his hair color to shame, he turned so red at his girlfriend's praise.
"Fleur got me a Vitesse Boreas; first off the line," George said trying to get the topic off of his inventions.
"My fazzer did me a favor," Fleur shrugged.
"Vitesse has great brooms," Harry nodded approvingly. He looked at Hermione, "Vitesse is releasing four new broomsticks named after the four gods of the wind. Boreas is designed for beaters and keepers because of its stability, Notus is for chasers because of its agility and turning capabilities while maintaining speed, and Zephyrus is for seekers as it is the fastest and has precision turning. It's not as fast as the Firebolt, but if the Firebolt is a Ferrari then the Zephyrus is a Porsche. It's not the very best, but it's probably the best cheaper alternative."
Hermione nodded in understanding. Then she frowned, "That's only 3 brooms. What about Eurus?"
"That's their new kids' broom. It's kind of like the Cleansweep or Comet lines, except obviously higher quality. They are universal and unspecialized so kids can just fly around on them and while you can play quidditch on them, it's kind of like training wheels on a bicycle; you fly on it until you know which quidditch position you're best suited for."
"That's pretty clever," Hermione nodded.
"Und a good use for ze unlucky god," Fleur winked.
Fred entered the hall and walked toward them before sitting down with Lee and Angelina. George looked at him before looking at his friends, "Fred apologized this morning to me. But I think in part it's because of my new broomstick."
"You think he wants you to ask Fleur to get him one?"
"Sounds more like Ron than Fred," Harry mused.
"I just don't like how he apologized after he saw my broomstick. Either he wants one or he's sincere."
"George suspicious of Fred," Hermione tilted her head, "Never thought I'd see that."
He looked at Harry and Hermione, "Am I being paranoid?"
"Yeah a bit," Harry nodded. "Sound more like me than you."
"Zhorge, I zink zat 'Arry ees a bad influence on you." That had Hermione doubled over in laughter as Harry pouted and George nodded in agreement.
Breakfast was spent in good spirits for all; even the perpetually sulking Ron and nervous Neville had smiles on their faces. That the two had become good friends surprised Harry, but then Harry was friends with Dean and Seamus so if Ron wanted a friend in the dorm his only option really was Neville. The two seemed to have more in common than anyone might have expected.
It had snowed the evening before and so after breakfast Harry, Hermione, Dean, Seamus, George, Draco, and Blaise had a snowball fight with some other students joining in. They went in not long before lunch and the afternoon was spent with Hermione watching Harry, Dean, Seamus, George, Fred, Lee, Ron, and Neville playing Exploding Snap while she read one of the journals Harry had given her on her birthday. Morgana was incredibly brilliant.
Around four she kissed Harry and reminded the boys that the ball began at six so they should get ready soon before she headed upstairs to her dorm. "Why do girls take so long?" Ron asked. "Even Hermione seems to think it'll take a couple hours."
"Just something girls do," Fred shrugged.
"Well think about what girls here wear. School uniforms that aren't very flattering and robes that make them look like nuns. Now's their chance to get all dressed up and feel pretty and feminine," Harry said. "So they want to do it all up right and show everyone how good they can look."
The other boys all stared at Harry with blank expressions before George smirked, "And that is why Harry was the first to get a girlfriend. You lot are clueless."
"I didn't learn that until after Hermione became my girlfriend," Harry said. "But I did learn this summer that when girls work hard to look good it's to impress the boys they're interested in. So a compliment about how they look all done up matters to them even if to me Hermione could look great wearing a barrel or a burlap sack."
"That's very good advice Harry," Dean said.
"I think snogging Hermione makes you smarter," Seamus teased.
"That must be why you asked a Ravenclaw," Harry retorted.
"Better than having a snake ask me," Seamus smirked at Dean.
"I'm sorry you're not as irresistible to women Seamus," Dean grinned, "but you know what they say- vanilla's nice but chocolate is the best."
"I suddenly feel the urge to smack you both on Hermione's behalf," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
"Might want to. She might be able to sense their stupidity," George said.
"Hermione's scary like that," Ron agreed.
Harry cut his hair using the charm Draco had taught him before he took his shower and got dressed. "These dress robes aren't too bad," Harry said.
"Yeah," Dean nodded, "Harry do you know how to tie a bowtie?"
"Hermione's dad showed me," Harry said, moving to help his friend, "Hermione says they go to this dentist gala ball thing every year so he had to learn how to tie it." Harry tied it, "So why did Daphne ask you?"
"I don't really know," Dean answered. "She's really attractive. But I don't think I've ever really talked to her. Did Draco say anything?"
"Just that her dad is a well-known fence-sitter. He's a shrewd businessman but when it comes to even things like Voldemort he doesn't want to choose sides. Then after the fact he will say that Voldemort was wrong and evil."
"Gee sounds great," Dean said in a monotone, sighing.
"Just because he's like that doesn't mean Daphne will be. Draco said she doesn't really talk much."
"I do wonder why she asked me," Dean said. "I mean, is it because I'm your friend? Or is it my new fame? Or…"
"Or it's that she thinks you're good-looking and you're a nice guy," Harry squeezed Dean's shoulders, "take a deep breath. And just enjoy yourself. Even if it doesn't go anywhere." Dean took a deep breath and nodded. He could do that.
Hermione looked at her outfit in the mirror. It had needed to be altered and Fleur had graciously offered to help with that and so Hermione had tried it on earlier in the week and Fleur had quickly taken her wand to it. The result was a gown that fit her like a glove; not unlike how it had before the Veela had awakened and her body had begun to change. "You look gorgeous Hermione. Harry's eyes are going to pop out of his head," Lavender said.
Hermione smiled, "Thanks Lavender. You look good too." For Hermione's taste, Lavender was using way too much makeup like she always did but some girls simply liked to cake it on. Hermione had an aunt that her dad joked, 'Slathers it on with a trowel,' and Lavender at least wasn't that bad. "Who are you going with?"
"Ron Weasley," she answered. "The better question is who is Padma going with?" Hermione raised an eyebrow and Lavender elaborated, "She won't tell me. It's so irritating!"
"Well you find out soon enough right?" Hermione asked. Lavender nodded. "So just relax. I hope you have fun tonight."
"You too," she said, "it was very shrewd of you to make Harry your boyfriend last year. You've had more time to train him."
Hermione laughed, "Harry didn't need training. He's just a sweet guy naturally."
"Yeah you're lucky. There's very little boyfriend material in Gryffindor. The good ones are already taken."
"That's what women always say Lavender," Hermione winked. "Maybe you just have to look a little harder. Or find someone easy to mold." Lavender nodded in quiet contemplation.
Harry was stunned when Hermione walked down the steps to the girls' dorm. Seamus and Dean both smacked him on the back to make him snap out of it, "Wow," Harry said as she stepped off that last step, "You look amazing Hermione."
"Thank you Harry," she kissed him, "you look incredibly handsome."
"Moreso than usual?"
"A little bit more than usual," she teased. She looked at the boys, "You two look nice too."
"Thanks," they both said. Harry offered Hermione his arm in dramatic fashion, making her laugh as she accepted it.
"He left as soon as he could," Dean said.
Dean and Seamus met their dates near the Great Hall, like most students whose date was someone from another house. "Hi Daphne," Dean said, swallowing when he saw her. She was wearing red dress robes and looked, to use Harry's words from earlier, simply amazing.
"Hello Dean," she gave a small smile.
"You look incredible," he said.
"Thank you." Daphne Greengrass was often called the 'Ice Queen' of Slytherin, in part for her lack of emotion and also for her appearance. She was very pale and with platinum blonde hair. That meant that the blush that followed Dean's compliment stood out quite noticeably. Dean smiled. Harry was right. Daphne did like him. "You look very nice too."
"Thanks," he looked at her, "have you had a good Christmas so far?"
"I usually go home with my little sister so it's kind of weird, staying here for a change," she said. "But I certainly couldn't miss the Yule Ball."
"I usually go home too," Dean said. "But there was no way I was going home and missing watching Seamus try to dance."
"Is he that bad?"
"Well he's Irish," Dean laughed. Daphne giggled. "Actually, we got our lessons from Hermione and Fleur. Draco too. And Hermione and Fleur both graded me as safe for your feet."
"I'll have to thank them," she smiled.
"They do want it known that they're not liable for any sore feet though," Dean winked. Daphne giggled.
Harry was enjoying watching all of the awkward couples. A quick glance at Hermione confirmed that she found it amusing too. "Nice to not feel so nervous and awkward around each other," he whispered into her ear.
"Oh I don't know," Hermione mused, looking up at him, "I do enjoy seeing awkward Harry here and there."
"So this morning was good for you?"
"That was nervous Harry," Hermione leaned into him, "a completely different version of my handsome, charming, occasionally witty boyfriend."
Harry pouted, "Just occasionally?" She winked in response.
Soon they all entered the Great Hall, Hermione and Harry sitting at a table joined by Daphne and Dean, Draco and Padma, and Seamus and Su Li. They made sure to leave room for George and Fleur to be able to join them. "Where are the Champions?" Seamus asked.
"They have to sit at the head table for the dinner," Hermione said, "but Fleur said that they would join us as soon as they could."
"Sitting up there would not be fun," Harry frowned.
"Just you and two other couples and the professors," Dean's nose wrinkled, "Professor Scrimgeour is alright and Professor Dumbledore too but can you imagine trying to make conversation with McGonagall or Snape?"
"Professor Snape isn't that bad," Draco said, "he's just…"
"He just doesn't much care for being a professor," Daphne finished.
"That definitely shows," Seamus muttered.
"I don't think I'd like being on display eating," Hermione changed the subject.
"Or having to open the ball dancing," Padma said, "even if you're proficient that's a great deal of pressure."
"I wouldn't want to do it," Draco said. A few of the others nodded in agreement. "Not you Harry?"
Harry shrugged, "I've had to deal with many things since I entered the magical world. And I've learned one thing. No matter what, with Hermione by my side I can face it and together we always conquer it."
Draco looked at Hermione, "How do you deal with him when he's this cheesy and lame?"
Hermione gently brushed a stray hair from Harry's face, "Usually I just snog him and enjoy how adorably clueless he can be." Harry beamed, making Dean and Seamus laugh. Draco rolled his eyes.
Once everyone was seated the Champions entered the hall with their dates. George and Fleur looked quite good together, and Fleur looked absolutely stunning in her powder blue dress robes. Cedric entered with Cho behind them. Last came Viktor Krum. Harry's eyes widened, "Parvati?"
Harry and Hermione stared at each other, shocked, before looking at Padma who looked just as surprised as they were. "No wonder she wouldn't tell Lavender," Hermione said. Harry tilted his head and she elaborated, "Lavender was complaining that Parvati wouldn't tell her who her date was. I certainly wouldn't have said a word about being his date."
"From shame or to avoid the fangirls?" Draco asked.
"Well he's certainly not my taste," Hermione smirked. "But definitely the latter." Krum had tried to get her to go with him once more after that day in the library. In response he had found himself turning into a very large yellow canary. After that he seemed to get the message.
"Parvati looks excited," Dean pointed out.
"Krum doesn't," Padma said.
"He never looks anything but grumpy and annoyed," Draco shrugged.
"He does that very well," Seamus chuckled.
Once the Champions were sitting at the head table Dumbledore spoke a few words and their menus appeared. Dinner was impressive and delicious. After that the Champions opened the floor by dancing and everyone at Harry and Hermione's table watched, amused at the various abilities of the champions. George and Fleur were easily the most comfortable with what they were doing; Viktor Krum moved easier than someone of his build would be expected but the real entertainment was Cedric and Cho. Cedric looked like he was concentrating immensely on the task at hand and it was also obvious he didn't like being the center of attention. Teasing aside most of their table preferred watching George and Fleur dance. "Those lessons paid off," Harry said to Hermione.
"Let's see how you do before we declare that," Hermione teased. Draco bit back a laugh at that.
Albus Dumbledore sat at the head table, gazing at his students and guests. So much had changed since the previous Christmas. He would never have imagined that Harry and Draco would sit at the same table, let alone laugh and tell jokes to one another. That Hermione Granger and the Malfoy heir could become friends. And he'd certainly worried that the school would not embrace their guests; yet Miss Delacour had found friends and a boyfriend in Hogwarts. Harry and Dean's commentary, something he'd worried would have accusations of bias being hurled at him, was loved by the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students. Madame Maxime had even told him that she was impressed with the two boys' professionalism.
But the true excitement for Dumbledore was the imminent destruction of Tom Marvolo Riddle. The previous evening Rufus and Amelia, with the headmaster, had finally destroyed the last horcrux. They had all felt the divine presence as they made their way through the Gaunt home to find the ring. And the temptation he felt to put the ring on and see his sister had vanished nearly as soon as it arrived. Destroying it had also been quite easy. It seemed the gods wanted the horcruxes destroyed.
Or perhaps, Dumbledore mused as he watched Miss Granger and Mr. Potter dancing together, Miss Hermione Granger had prayed to her patron Apollo and the god had granted her request and stopped he who was harming and sought to harm her mate by making the entire task easier for those with the power and ability to stop Voldemort. Either way, tonight Tom Marvolo Riddle was being thrown through the Veil by goblins, Amelia Bones, and Rufus Scrimgeour who would be returning after the deed was done. The proceedings were all top secret but the results would be revealed to the world.
Harry enjoyed dancing with Hermione, but he was especially pleased to see that his two friends were enjoying their dates and not harming those dates' feet. George and Fleur danced toward them, "'Allo 'Arry and 'Ermione," Fleur smiled, "we switch partners, yes? I weesh to dance wiz ze 'ero of England's Wizarding World."
"I reckon you'd get loads of stares dancing with Hermione," George deadpanned making Hermione laugh.
"My George eez so seely," Fleur kissed his cheek, "but I zink we should switch partners for zis song."
"Sure," Harry said, "but I do think George is right. Hermione's the hero. I'm just the dashingly handsome sidekick."
"Gods preserve us Harry's picking up the Weasley twin ego," Hermione sighed, shaking her head as she accepted a pouting George's hand.
"I am wounded! I resemble that remark," George said as they began to dance.
"You definitely do," Hermione nodded. "Enjoying the dance George?"
"I like dancing," he said. "You get to be the center of attention and I rather enjoy that."
"Really? I hadn't noticed," Hermione teased.
"I know I just really hold it in all the time," George said seriously before grinning.
Harry and Dean were getting drinks for their dates when they saw Rufus entering the Great Hall, "I wonder where Rufus was," Harry said.
"Dunno but Dumbledore looks pleased." Harry looked to see that Dumbledore was smiling.
"Well it looks like good news so I guess that's good," Harry said. He looked at Dean, "How's your date going?"
"I think it's going well. Never been on a date before so it's hard to tell." Harry would disagree with that statement but he wasn't going to tell Dean that it was actually easy to tell. "I think I'm going to ask her to take a walk in the gardens with me."
"Do you want a second date with her?" Harry asked.
Dean was silent for a moment before speaking, "Yeah, I think I do." Dean accepted the two butterbeers, "Are you and Hermione going to walk through the gardens?"
"Probably," Harry nodded. "Just have to remember not to snog her silly because she's so beautiful in that gown tonight."
"Like you two need an excuse to snog," Dean snorted.
"No but they help us get alone time," Harry winked with a grin.
"You two are so weird," Dean shook his head.
"You say weird, I say in love," Harry smirked, accepting his drinks and starting to walk back to their table.