A/N- Been a long while, hasn't it? Between writer's block, my dog getting sick, my dog needing surgery (tooth surgery, he's totally fine now), and then the whole house getting sick with bronchitis or the flu I've been a bit preoccupied. And then there was that whole release of the original Pokemon Games in the 3DS store which was awesome and a huge time-suck. This probably isn't long enough to make up for the several months I haven't posted but hopefully it's at least enjoyable :-)
Disclaimer- I still don't own Harry Potter or any IP relating to it. I don't make money from this fic.
Oh, this chap begins where the last one ended in case you're confused.
The gardens were beautiful. Holding hands Harry and Hermione walked through them slowly, just enjoying the quiet and the company. "I love you," Harry said to her. "It feels like everything has changed for the better since we became a couple."
She kissed him, "Harry love that is super cheesy to say. Even if it's true."
He scratched the back of his head, "Really? It's not romantic?"
"Harry I think I need to show you many, many movies," she laughed. "This summer you're learning what the phrase 'chick flick' means."
"Can I still watch Star Wars?"
She leaned against him, "Yes you can still watch Star Wars."
"I've been looking forward to that," he told her. Hermione just shook her head as they walked on.
"And then on Ron's seventh birthday we got him to eat some Cockroach Clusters. Told him they were a special kind of nougat," Fred recollected to Fleur, who was leaning into George as they sat with Fred and Angelina.
"My favorite was making his toy broomstick dangle him out the window," George smiled.
"That was his eighth birthday," Fred said. "Good times. My favorite though is turning his teddy bear into a spider. He's still scared of spiders to this day."
"Why do you prank your leetle bruzzer so much?" Fleur asked.
"Ronnikins is Mum's favorite. Fred and I are kind of like middle kids in our family," George explained. "Bill is eight years older than us, Charlie is six years older than us, and Percy is two years older than us and we're two years older than Ron. So we were the middle children with Percy and Ron as bookends."
"Percy was always perfect. Perfect grades, perfect behavior, etc. Ron was the baby and always got his way and what he wanted. We were kind of forgotten. So we would prank them both. But Percy was mostly because he need to loosen up. Bill and Charlie have great senses of humor so they liked our gags and pranks. Ron would just whine to mum."
George nodded in agreement, "But there's also just Ron's attitude. He's the favorite of our mum but it's still always 'poor me' this and 'poor me' that. He just never appreciates what he has; he always wants more. More food, more attention, more money, more everything. Harry and Hermione became a couple last year and Ron wasn't happy for them. He couldn't be happy for his friends that they liked each other and were becoming a couple. He was angry that Harry wouldn't be spending even more time with him."
"Do you have any siblings?" Fred asked her.
"I 'ave a seester, Gabrielle. She ees eight years old," Fleur said. "Despite being so far apart we are very close." George smiled and slid his arm around his girlfriend. Fred seemed to have had a sincere change of heart and George was glad. Harry, Hermione, Dean, and Seamus were cool and all but he missed hanging around his twin.
Ronald Weasley was elated. His date Lavender's best friend was Parvati, who was at the ball on the arm of Viktor Krum. Naturally the two girls wanted to sit and talk, meaning Ron was sitting at the same table as THE Viktor Krum. He couldn't remember being more excited in his life. Granted the quidditch star hadn't said a word all evening but that didn't bug Ron, who stared at him in awe.
He glanced over at his brothers, annoyed that George sat with the Veela chick and Fred and Angelina. Ron was supposed to be the lucky one. The one people looked at jealously as he sat near Krum. Instead every guy in the hall had glared at George during the evening for dating the Veela. Still, he was sitting near his idol and he enjoyed that.
Harry and Hermione returned to their dorms late that night with everyone else, hiding behind their bedcurtains until everyone was asleep and they could leave. Still in their Yule Ball attire they snuck out to the Room and Harry created it. Once inside he kissed her, "You look really hot in that," he mumbled.
"I can tell you think so," she smirked. Harry grinned and they kissed. "How did the others' dates go?"
"I don't think Seamus really had a date date," Harry shrugged. "George and Fleur obviously had a real date but they still haven't shagged. I didn't smell him on her when I danced with her. Draco's didn't seem to be a real date but he did enjoy himself. Dean's was definitely a date and they were both very nervous."
"Harry I'm Veela. I can tell all of that too," she reminded him.
"Oh yeah. I forget that sometimes," he smirked. Hermione rolled her eyes and took off her shoes, leaning on him for support. "Do you think George is her mate?"
"I don't know," Hermione answered. "I can only tell by blasting him with allure and I don't think Fleur would like that."
"Yeah probably not," Harry admitted, slipping out of his shoes. "Did you have fun?"
"I did enjoy getting to dance with you," Hermione smiled. "You were surprisingly good at it."
"You know how I get when I want to do something," Harry smiled, "I'm a bit obsessive like that."
"Well it has certainly paid off in many ways," she mused, watching him take off his outer robe. "Although you took longer to learn to dance than you did to learn other things."
"I have a confession," he said, moving toward her, "I wasn't as interested in learning to dance as I was in learning to fly a broomstick and to pleasure you."
"I'm shocked," Hermione said, her eyes sparkling with humor though the rest of her face didn't give the sarcasm away. She smiled as he pulled her against him, "Why I do believe that Little Harry wants a playdate."
"Can we not call him little?" Harry asked. "Wounds my masculine pride."
"Because that is so fragile," she teased, slipping her hand into his trousers.
"Well I-" Harry fell silent as Hermione's hand started to move. She kissed him and all conversation ceased as Harry quickly got her undressed.
"How about we call it your basilisk?"
"Well it does like moist, dark caves," Harry smirked as he snuggled with her. She rolled her eyes. "I guess king of snakes works."
"I was being sarcastic," she said.
"It still sounds like a good nickname," Harry winked. He then found himself being tickled, "Hermione! Stop!"
"No. You get punished for the feigned wounded masculinity," she smirked as she tickled his sides.
George walked with Fleur through the school, "You told me before that Veela mate for life."
"Oui, zat ees true," Fleur nodded.
"Does that mean that I'm your mate? I mean, you've never said it and I get why; I mean Harry was probably elated to learn that Hermione was his mate. He's never had anyone to depend on like that before so it was the greatest thing ever. I'm just an immature prankster looking to open up his own shop. Plus there's the fact that England isn't exactly the most hospitable place for Veela."
Fleur stayed silent as he spoke. George seemed to be on a roll. "And my family is really weird. My mum is a demanding, controlling, manipulative woman. My dad has no spine and obsesses about muggles while also kind of looking down on them like they're rats in a cage. My eldest brother works for goblins and doesn't ever want to settle down, my second oldest brother loves dragons more than people, Percy is a pompous, arrogant, obnoxious twit, Fred is just like me but more obnoxious and loud. Ron is a jealous, lazy berk who wants everything handed to him and my little sister set a basilisk loose on the school and still dreams of marrying Harry Potter. I'm the most normal member of my family and quite frankly, that's kind of sad."
It was taking all of her willpower not to laugh as George's odd monologue continued, "I mean, I'm awesome. Like really awesome. And funny and handsome and charming and witty and a good dresser and I have a great smile and did I mention my sense of humor? But dinner with my family is like going to the zoo. Or maybe a mental asylum would be a better comparison. Ginny is in one, after all. And Ron will probably gawk at you all the time, allure or no. Because he's a bit dim and easily manipulated. Fred probably will too and he'll make lewd suggestions because he has zero filter and no sense of being proper. So I can understand not wanting to be with me. The awesomeness that is me doesn't really cover the screw-ups of my family. Although I think it'd be a pretty tight comparison."
Fleur, recognizing the area of the castle they were in, pulled George into an abandoned and empty classroom. And she kissed him. Surprised, George didn't know what to do right away. Then he returned the kiss. When they parted she smiled at him. "Do you want me to answer your question Zhorge?"
That was a much harder question for him to answer than he expected. But he had brought it up for a reason. "Yes I do. If I'm not that doesn't mean we have to break up right away. And if I am I want to know."
"You are not my mate," Fleur answered. "I just enjoy my time wiz you Zhorge."
"I really enjoy it too," George smiled. "So I have to ask, what's it like to find your mate?"
"According to my muzzer it eez love at first sight. Djour mate feels eet too, according to my fazzer."
"I don't think Hermione and Harry saw it as love at first sight," George frowned.
"But zhey were pulled toward each other, yes? Zhey were drawn toward one anuzzer."
George thought back on the couple's first year. It wasn't insanely strong but they were sort of pulled toward each other. In their second year when Hermione had been petrified by the basilisk Harry had been beside himself. And third year they were nearly inseparable. "I see your point," George nodded.
"Finding your mate ees not somesing zat eez as easy as eet eez for 'Ermione und 'Arry. Some people do not find zair mate until zey are in zair there-tees," Fleur explained. "I am sure I will find zhem, though. No matter 'ow long I must search."
"Well whoever they are they're very lucky to get you."
"Zank you Zhorge," she smiled, kissing his cheek, "you are very sweet man."
January at Hogwarts always seemed to fly by, in Harry's opinion. Before he knew it, February was upon them and he and Dean were sitting in the headmaster's office along with the three champions. "It was always the intention that the champions learn the second task beforehand and so I will divulge it. Mr. Potter, Mr. Thomas, I will give you detailed diagrams again. You proved your trustworthiness in the first task."
"Thank you sir," Dean nodded. The headmaster then went into general detail about the second task.
"So what are you and Hermione doing for Valentine's Day?" Dean asked as they walked back to the Gryffindor Common Room after Dumbledore had dismissed them.
"We're going to exchange gifts and probably just be nausea-inducing levels of sweetness and adorableness," Harry smirked.
"Kind of like Christmas then," Dean grinned, dodging Harry's punch to the shoulder.
"Ha ha. So not funny. What are you doing with your girlfriend Daphne?"
"I don't know. I've never had a girlfriend before. Girls are difficult." Harry just nodded. He disagreed, but he understood where Dean was coming from. Dean scratched his head, "What are you really doing with Hermione?"
"The best advice I can give you is get to know her and get her something she would like. Hermione doesn't care so much about physical gifts, though she likes flowers and the occasional gift of chocolate," Harry admitted. "Hermione would rather I did something. A picnic by the lake, a trip to the movies, a walk in the park. We can spend time together and just enjoy each other's company. That's what she likes the most. I'm not saying Daphne is the same; I don't even know her. But don't limit yourself to just getting her a present."
Dean nodded his understanding. "Daphne doesn't really…I mean getting her to open up is like trying to pry an oyster open."
"Well that can be difficult," Harry frowned. He did want to help his friend. "How about you think about what you already know about her? Things she's talked about, things you've observed; stuff like that. You're an artist, mate. Play to your strengths."
Dean suddenly lit up, "You're brilliant Harry! Thanks!" Harry watched his friend run the last length of hallway to the Gryffindor common room, smirking. Wait until he told Hermione that Dean said he was brilliant. And with relationship advice no less!
Valentine's Day was upon them faster than expected. And it sucked. The Daily Prophet had written an article about the Yule Ball and it had been uncharacteristically factual. Then on February 13th it published 'reports' that Fleur was Veela and was using her allure to control George Weasley. Not just George though. There were three articles which included mentions of Harry, Dean, and Seamus among others and according to Rita Skeeter Fleur was making them fight over her, including targeting George's two brothers who were at the school.
The end result was a deluge of howlers Valentine's Day morning all from alleged 'supporters' of the boys filled with vitriol and threats toward Fleur. And it only got worse as some letter writers included vile things like bubotuber pus designed to harm the recipient of the letter. And when the howlers exploded, those sitting at the table were covered in it.
The Great Hall looked more like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre than a dining hall before breakfast was even half over. But if Harry thought he'd ever seen anger before in his life, it paled in comparison to the expressions on the faces of Dumbledore and Maxime. Even in pain from the pus Harry was in awe (and some terror) at the old headmaster whose wand sent the remaining howlers firing into the air before he destroyed them with a fiery whip. Then the headmaster, who moved quicker than lightning in Harry's opinion, raised his wand and bellowed out, "This school is closed to all post owls!" There was a flash of light in the Great Hall and Harry realized that the school was responding to his commands.
Snape, Pomfrey, Sprout, and Scrimgeour were soon at their table and Harry heard Snape and Pomfrey calling for things that would suddenly appear. Snape took hold of Harry's head, "Hold still Harry it's on your scar. I need a wet cloth!" The cloth appeared and Harry closed his eyes as Snape very carefully removed the pus before applying some sort of salve, "Keep your head tilted back for three minutes. The salve will be dry after that."
Harry didn't even have time to say thank you before Snape was tending to Dean, who had been sitting next to him. With his head tilted back he couldn't see his girlfriend, who had been sitting across from him and next to Fleur. "Hold Harry still," Harry heard Snape say before he felt two hands on his shoulders firmly holding him back. Harry hadn't realized he was even moving.
"Is Hermione okay?" Harry asked.
"Is not looking good," he heard a Bulgarian accent say. Harry had talked to a few Bulgarians since they'd arrived at Hogwarts but this one he recognized from the library. It was Krum, "Puffiness is already going down from your head."
"I don't care about me. What about Fleur and Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Your school nurse is taking them away with Madame Maxime and your Headmaster," Krum answered. "You must stay still. Surely Hermy-own-ninny would not be happy if you were hurt worse because of her."
There was truth in that, so Harry stopped moving and tried to resist the wolf's urge to rip apart the people who had harmed his mate. It made sense just how powerful that feeling would be but he'd never felt it before and given how in tune he'd become with the wolf over the past months this felt almost strange. The hall was loud and he couldn't hear anything from his friends, "Is Dean okay?" He asked.
"Your friend has it on his face," Krum answered. "Professor Snape is taking care of him."
Harry was in immense pain just from the gunk being on his scar so he couldn't imagine what Dean was going through. "What about the others?"
"Your other friend has it on his arm," Krum said. "You were very lucky to only get a little on you."
If Krum thought Harry was lucky then that didn't bode well for the others in Harry's opinion. "I really need to get to Hermione," Harry said.
Krum looked at the clock before helping him up. Harry looked around. Plenty of people at the table were getting treatment either from a professor or from a house elf. Harry stood up and looked at Krum, "Thanks for helping me."
"I go with you," Krum said. "I am not liking newspaper targeting Miss Delacour."
Harry and Krum hurried to the infirmary. "Hermione?" Harry nearly shouted as they arrived.
"She's over here Harry," Dumbledore said. "Some house elves assisted me in caring for her." Hermione was wrapped in bandages nearly from head to toe. Harry sat down next to her bed and stared at her, the worry etched in his face.
"What about Fleur?" Harry asked.
"She's being cared for by Madame Pomfrey and some healers from St. Mungo's. Hogwarts has an emergency floo-line directly to the hospital." Dumbledore looked at Harry's scar, "You were lucky to not be covered as much as the others Harry."
"Not feeling lucky right now," Harry said, looking at Hermione's unmoving body. "She's just asleep right?"
"The pain was quite severe so we gave her a potion to put her into a dreamless sleep," Dumbledore answered. "She won't wake for some time. But I doubt you're leaving her side no matter what."
"I'll be right here," Harry said. "Until Hermione leaves the hospital wing I'm not going anywhere."
While Harry sat with Hermione Dumbledore and Krum both had eyes on the room that Fleur was in. Madame Maxime soon exited and looked enraged, "Dumbly-door my student is in a very dangerous condition!"
"I have already contacted the aurors. Justice will be done," Dumbledore assured her. "My concerns are very much your own. We have many injured students."
Maxime's eyes landed on Hermione's hospital bed, "How ees your Miss Granger?"
"She will be fine, I'm sure. Professor Snape is a master brewer and salve maker and he's already making up a large batch. I believe she will make a full recovery and be unscarred. Fortunately we got to her quickly."
Harry, who had been engaging in silent prayer to Apollo, lifted his head at the headmaster's words. "Sir what about Hermione's parents? Someone should really explain to them what this stuff does."
"I quite agree Mr. Potter. Amelia Bones will be contacting them directly once we have something to tell them. If you want to use the floo to contact your godfather I can grant you that access. I'm afraid the no owl post rule holds for all Hogwarts' owls as well. The school has indicated that all the school's and students' owls made it back before the decree was issued."
Emma and Dan Granger were sitting down to breakfast when they were visited by Amelia Bones. "Harry's with her?"
"Yes and from what the headmaster said Harry won't be leaving her side until she leaves the hospital wing."
That set both parents at ease. "What does this stuff do?"
"It causes intense pain and swelling. If it's removed quickly the swelling isn't as much of an issue though the pain lingers. The staff at Hogwarts moved quickly to help your daughter and Miss Delacour. You can't contact her just yet as the headmaster has used Hogwarts' wards to close the school off to owls for safety. In a few days your daughter should be able to remove most of the bandages and there will be no permanent damage."
"And someone sent this pus to Miss Delacour?"
"As soon as I leave here I will be putting Rita Skeeter and the Daily Prophet to the sword and we will find whoever sent the pus I promise you. People will be punished for this."
"Thank you for coming to tell us personally Madame Bones," Dan said. "We don't want to keep you from hunting the people who caused our daughter harm. I hope they resist arrest."
Amelia wasn't one to smile on the job but she did at Dan's words. "I will keep you apprised. The headmaster will be giving me daily reports on the conditions of the students harmed."
"And Harry is okay?" Emma asked. "He wasn't hit with that pus?"
"Just a small amount on his forehead where his scar is. It seems he had dropped his fork and was bending to pick it up when the howler exploded. The potions master took care of him quickly before moving to the more seriously injured."
Dean's bed was placed opposite Hermione's and Daphne Greengrass sat next to him. Next to Dean's bed was Seamus. George and Fred had both been hit by the goop and Ron and Angelina sat by their bedsides. Harry'd never seen Ron look so quiet or sullen. Around lunchtime Malfoy arrived and walked to Hermione's bed, "How bad is she?"
"Professor Dumbledore said she'd make a full recovery and that she wouldn't be scarred. Professor Snape is making some special salve for her. Seeing her like this is horrible though," Harry's brow creased as he looked at his unmoving girlfriend, wrapped from head to toe. "This is worse than the basilisk."
Draco did think being covered in bandages like a mummy was disturbing. He looked at Harry, "How is Fleur?"
"They had three healers from St. Mungo's working on her along with Madame Pomfrey," Harry said. "But an hour or so ago they left. Madame Pomfrey didn't say anything about it. She looks stressed so I didn't ask."
"What about the others?"
"Dean's head and hands got hit, Seamus' arms got hit, and George and Fred got it in their faces and their hands and arms. Hermione and Fleur got it the worst."
"Other people in the hall have minor injuries," Draco said, "the professors took care of all of them. Classes were cancelled." Harry didn't say anything, just continued to stare at Hermione. "You need to eat Harry."
"I know. I'll eat. Hermione would kill me when she wakes up if I'm not taking care of myself. But I'm not leaving her side. The headmaster said he'd have a house elf bring me meals."
"My godfather is already working on the salve. He's the best at potions so she's in good hands." Seeing that nothing was going to help Harry at the moment Draco got up, "Make sure you eat. I don't want Hermione to punch me again for not making sure you took care of yourself."
Harry smiled at that and nodded, "Thanks for coming. I just think right now I need to be here with her alone."
"All right if you're sure. You going to sleep here too?"
"I'd sleep curled up at her feet before I'd leave her side," Harry said sincerely. "She needs me to protect her and I couldn't stop that letter but I can protect her right now."
"Eat," Draco ordered him before leaving the hospital wing.
Harry looked around the hospital wing. Madame Pomfrey had shooed the other visitors out, though Daphne and Angelina had put up a fight with her before they'd left. Seamus had been allowed to leave but those with it on their faces were to remain behind, all asleep thanks to sleeping potions. He looked at Hermione. Her head was almost completely wrapped. There were holes for her nostrils and her lips were visible but her lips looked puffy too. Snape had given him a salve to rub on them every hour to make the swelling go down. He'd also given Harry a pain potion which he told him how to administer, just a spoonful every 2-3 hours or so.
"Dobby is bringing youse lunch," Harry accepted the tray from Dobby, "Is Mistress goings to be okays?"
"She will be eventually," Harry said. "Thanks for lunch Dobby."
"Dobby and Winky can watch over Mistress."
"No Dobby I need to do this," Harry said. "Hermione isn't waking up without me here."
"Dobby can sits with Master Harry sir anyway. Dobby likes Mistress. Dobby is not wanting her to be hurt."
"Thanks Dobby," Harry smiled, "you're a good friend." A very proud Dobby sat down next to Harry. Harry ate his lunch with his elf friend mostly in silence.
Dumbledore sat in his office with Karkaroff and Maxime. Cedric Diggory and Viktor Krum were there as well. "Miss Delacour is no longer in critical danger, however there is no way she could participate in the upcoming task."
"Ze contract ees clear," Maxime said. "Eef she does not compete she will lose her magic."
Dumbledore nodded, "The option before us seems to be to cancel the tournament. I have contacted Gringotts and they can get the goblet here tonight so we can cancel the tournament. Miss Delacour will not be able to be moved anytime soon so if the Beauxbatons contingent would like to stay at Hogwarts until she is feeling better we are happy to continue to host your school."
"Zank you Dumbly-door. We will stay. Fleur will not be left alone by 'er school."
Dumbledore looked at Karkaroff, "I extend the same offer to Durmstrang and its students."
"We will stay another couple of weeks before leaving," Karkaroff said. "Thank you for the hospitality."
"Amelia will make the announcement," Dumbledore said. "I think she will know exactly what to say."
Madame Pomfrey let Harry sleep in the hospital bed next to Hermione's, which Harry moved close to his girlfriend's bed before getting into it. "I love you Hermione," Harry said, fighting his instinct to touch her unconscious body. She'd slept all day and all evening, which Madame Pomfrey said was intentional because of how severe her injuries were. With Winky deputized to apply the salve to Hermione's lips and give her the pain potion through the night Harry settled down to fall asleep.
He woke the next morning early. Hermione was stirring and Harry dispatched Dobby to get Madame Pomfrey while he sent Winky to get some sleep. Harry rubbed his eyes and sat up, "Hermione it's okay. I'm right here," he said.
Madame Pomfrey soon arrived, "The bandages will need to be changed again. Mr. Potter…"
"I can change them," he said. "I won't hurt her."
The mediwitch was about to argue when Dumbledore appeared, "Ahh Poppy is Miss Delacour doing well?"
"I was just about to change Miss Granger's bandages if Mr. Potter would leave."
"I'm not leaving sir."
"Poppy I think in this instance Mr. Potter would be best suited to care for his girlfriend," Dumbledore said. "Besides you have some students in here who can be released this morning that need your attention." The mediwitch knew better than to argue with the headmaster but she still thought it distasteful for the girl's boyfriend to be changing the bandages. "I will have a house elf assist them," he added, trying to appease the pureblood witch's sensibilities. The mediwitch moved to check on Dean and Dumbledore pulled the curtains around Hermione's bed closed to give them privacy. Dumbledore was not certain if Veela, whose skin was known to be blemish free, would heal faster or not but while he was certain he couldn't do much to protect Miss Delacour's secret from getting out he could in fact help Hermione's stay secret.
Harry'd first noticed that Hermione's lips looked normal when he woke up which was why he insisted he change the bandages. He didn't know if Veela healed quicker than non-Veela when it came to skin damage and he didn't want Pomfrey to know. Very carefully Harry unwrapped Hermione's face to reveal a swollen face with marks not unlike a burn victim might experience. "Harry?" She asked, her voice cracking.
"You're safe," he assured her, accepting the cup of water Dobby poured for her. "Here, drink this," he helped her take a few drinks, "Are you in any pain?"
"I feel stiff," she said.
"Well you're covered almost completely in bandages. If you're in pain there's a potion Snape made for you."
"No pain," she said.
"I'm going to unwrap you," Harry smiled at her, "I'm so glad you're awake Hermione." She gave him a small smile and Harry carefully unwrapped her bandages to reapply the salve. "You're still beautiful to me," he said, gently kissing her lips after he'd reapplied the bandages. "Do you need anything?"
"I'm hungry," she said.
Harry looked at Dobby, "Can you get Hermione some breakfast please Dobby?"
"Dobby is happy to helps Mistress," Dobby answered, vanishing instantly.
Harry helped Hermione go to the bathroom before putting her back in the bed and kissing her again, "I think you should take more pain medicine just to be safe," he told her.
Hermione nodded her acceptance of his words and Harry poured her a spoonful of the medicine. When Dobby arrived with the food Harry fed her. After that was complete he kissed her, "How do you feel?"
"My whole body itches," she answered.
"I could have Dobby grab a book and then I could read to you. That should keep your mind off things," he said, gently placing his hand over her bandaged one.
"How is Fleur?"
"You two got hit the worst," Harry answered. "And I think they had 3 healers working on her so she might have got it worse than you. Professor Dumbledore says he cared for you along with some house elves."
Harry stopped talking as the door to the ward opened. He looked up to see Professor Snape approaching with a newspaper sitting underneath a box in his hands. He stopped, "Where is Madame Pomfrey Mr. Potter?"
"She's taking care of Fleur I think sir," Harry said. "She might have gone elsewhere I'm not sure; Hermione woke a little bit ago and I've been taking care of her."
Snape looked at the bandaged girl, "How are you feeling Miss Granger?"
"Stiff," she answered. "And itchy."
"I have a special salve that should prevent scarring," Snape sat the box on an empty bed and removed a bottle, "Have her bandages already been changed?"
"Yes sir," Harry nodded.
"Well the next time instead of using the salve you've been using use this one. It will reduce scarring and soothe that itch. Bubotuber pus is a nasty thing and has used up nearly all my potion and salve stores."
Harry looked at Snape, "What would have happened if Fleur and Hermione hadn't been taken away so quickly?"
"First the pus burns. Then it inflames the skin. Next it swells the area it's in contact with," Snape said. "Getting it off in the first two steps makes everything much easier to heal and fix. The third stage makes recovery longer but still possible."
"What comes after the swelling?"
"In severe cases the skin bursts. After that death is the only outcome," Snape answered. Harry's blood ran cold. "Like I said, a nasty thing. We moved quickly though. The three boys over there should be free to leave today. Miss Granger might be able to leave in a few days. Miss Delacour is the concern. She was the target and got it the worst. Now, just tell Poppy what the salve does. There are other bottles in there with more of the salve you've been using. I marked them for her. And as I was walking up Dumbledore told me to give you this," he handed Harry the newspaper. "Now I get to go back to the dungeons to check on my cauldrons before classes begin. Dumbledore already told us you're excused Potter," he added. "Make sure Miss Granger drink plenty of fluids and eats as normally as possible."
With that he left the hospital wing and Harry looked at the newspaper's headline-
Triwizard Tournament Cancelled!
By Ritchie Nutt
Late yesterday evening Amelia Bones, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, announced that the Triwizard Tournament hosted by Hogwarts has been cancelled. The tournament has already faced an uphill battle as conspirators attempting to force Harry Potter, The Boy-Who-Lived, to participate in the hopes of luring him away from the school and using him in an attempt to resurrect their fallen leader, Tom Marvolo Riddle aka 'Lord' Voldemort, were found and arrested shortly before the school year began attempting to impersonate a Hogwarts professor. The organizing of the tournament then fell to Albus Dumbledore, who made changes to prevent such a thing from coming to fruition.
When asked for the reason why Madame Bones responded, "This morning Beauxbatons champion Fleur Delacour was sent many howlers, at least one of which was filled with bubotuber pus. Miss Delacour was grievously injured by it, as were a number of Hogwarts students including Miss Hermione Granger, Misters Fred and George Weasley, Mister Dean Thomas, Mister Seamus Finnigan, and Harry Potter himself. Miss Granger and Miss Delacour are both in serious condition and, assuming Miss Delacour recovers from her injuries, there is no way that she could recover in time to participate in the second task to be held in seven days. As the consequence of not participating is to lose your magic, the three headmasters of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang have agreed that terminating the tournament is the only option they were left with."
Madame Bones then spoke about the incident which caused the tournament to be cancelled, "Already we have arrested Rita Skeeter for her vicious slander of Miss Delacour. The Triwizard Tournament was meant to inspire new friendships and ties between students of various countries and schools. Instead a guest has been targeted for the crime of being a beautiful and talented young witch. Any small amount of research actually conducted by Skeeter would have shown her that Mr. Potter and Miss Granger are a couple and Miss Granger is very good friends with Miss Delacour. Perhaps because Miss Delacour's boyfriend is a twin Skeeter couldn't tell the difference between the boys but the boys' girlfriends, Miss Johnson and Miss Delacour, most definitely can."
"The DMLE will find whoever sent the bubotuber pus to Miss Delacour and nearly killed not only her but Harry Potter, his girlfriend, Miss Delacour's boyfriend and his brother, and Mr. Potter's two best friends. We owe it to our guests to show just how seriously we take such actions. Justice will be swift and demanding. I can promise you that."
We can only hope that the students and headmasters of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang do not judge Britain because of the horrific actions of a few. This tournament was meant to shine a bright light on Britain and Hogwarts, instead it has only showcased darkness.
"Wow," Harry said after he finished reading. "Amelia Bones can be as scary as the headmaster."
Hermione spoke, "Harry how are the others doing?"
"Snape got my scar clean quickly. I got lucky in that it didn't hurt me because he was so fast. Dean got some on his face and arms, Seamus got his arms hit, and Fred and George both got it on their faces and arms too. But you heard Snape; they should be okay today. And Seamus got to leave last night."
Her glare was not diminished by the bandages she was wrapped in, "I'm okay Hermione. I swear it."
Harry washed up in the bathroom before changing into fresh clothes while Hermione rested under Dobby's watch. He had managed to convince her that he was okay, at least. Dean, Fred, and George had been permitted to leave the ward. George's questions about Fleur had been unanswered by Madame Pomfrey. Harry was grateful that the headmaster had interceded on his behalf with the mediwitch.
Then a thought had struck him. The headmaster knew Hermione was Veela. There was no other explanation for why Harry should be the one changing the bandages except that Dumbledore was worried Hermione being cared for by Pomfrey would mean she could be outed as Veela. If Dumbledore knew and George had worked it out seeing Ron react to Hermione and to Fleur, how many other people knew that Hermione was Veela?