Beta Love: Glitterally

I must thank Giltterally for the prompt to help me get my creative HP muscles working again. Here's hoping it helps with the fits and starts I'm having on Paint Her Black! I'd also like the thank Pagan Ianthe for the suggestion of feathers (you'll see).

Alternate Universe (AU): Voldemort was killed at the battle at the Ministry. Harry and company returned to Hogwarts for a "normal" year. In celebration, the faculty decided to host another Yule Ball, sparking the usual gymnastics for the "right" date for the occasion. *HARMONY* H/Hg, Harry/Hermione

Disclaimer: HP and the HP universe are the propoerty of JK Rowling and her assigns. I make no money from the posting of this story.

Some Tuesday evening in November

6th Year

Draco smirked slightly as he twirled the perfect white feather in his fingers. Along the spine was engraved, "Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the Yule Ball?"

There was no way Hermione would say no. He was bringing her memories back of the first class they'd had together, Charms. The white symbolized the innocence of that meeting, and hopefully her forgiving him for the unkind things he'd said last year. Draco found, to his surprise, that his father's incarceration was strangely freeing. No more bullying at home. No more lectures on blood purity. No more demands for perfection. And in the absence of that, he could see the astounding girl in front of him. She was Muggle-born, yes. But she was bright, she was pretty, and she was loyal. He figured he could do much worse for a date to the Yule Ball this year.

He tucked the feather into his sleeve and pushed open the door to Madame Pince's domain and strode down the center aisle, ignoring the first years cowering away from his billowing robes. He knew exactly where he was going, a table near the back, just across from the Restricted Section in a little-traveled area, with almost guaranteed quiet. Yes…there she was, head buried in a book. A puff of dust lifted as she carefully turned the page. Draco ducked behind the nearest large shelf. He glanced around quickly. The coast, as they say, was clear.

He pulled the feather from his sleeve, placed it on his left palm, and pointed his wand at it. "Wingardium Leviosa," he whispered. He watched it floated over to the witch engrossed in her book. It gently descended, just brushing her nose before it settled on top of the page. Rather than picking it up, she brushed it absentmindedly to the side and turned the page.

Brow furrowed, he pointed his wand at the discarded feather and whispered, "Wingardium Leviosa!" The feather obediently rose and floated back to Hermione. Once again, she simply brushed it aside. This obviously required something more.

"What are you doing, Malfoy?"

Draco jumped at the sound of a familiar, sotto voce. "None of your business, Boot. What are you doing?" he answered, voice low.

"I'm going to ask Hermione to the Yule Ball." Terry held up a copy of an obviously old book. "I'm giving her this copy of Advanced Charms. It's a first edition. And, I've included an invitation to the ball. It's perfect."

"Well, you're too late. I'm asking her to the ball."

"How are you doing that from here?"

"Watch and learn, Boot. Watch and learn." Draco turned back and pointed his wand again.

"Wingardium Leviosa." The feather once again obediently rose from its lonely perch on the edge of the worn desk. Time to bring out the big wands. "Geminio. Geminio. Geminio." The feathers rapidly replicated and floated down around Hermione's head. She glanced up as a dozen feathers began settling around her and sighed. She leaned down to pick one up off the floor. Draco tensed slightly as her hand reached for the feather on the floor beside her overstuffed leather messenger bag. This was it. What would she say? Down, down, wait, why was she reaching in her bag? The feather was on the floor beside the bag. Draco deflated as she sat back up with her wand in hand.

"Scourgify." All the feathers disappeared.

"Buggering hell."

"That didn't quite go as planned, did it?" Terry clapped his hand on Draco's shoulder familiarly, ignoring the hostile look he received as Draco jerked away. "I suggest that you watch and learn."

Terry strode confidently from behind the bookshelf, Advanced Charms tucked in the crook of his arm.

"What are you doing, Malfoy?"

Draco knew that voice. It could have been worse. The spectacled Boy-Who-Just-Wouldn't-Fucking-Die could have witnessed his failure. He put on his best sneer. "Boot's asking Granger to the Yule Ball. I was just hanging around to watch his humiliation."

"Oh? How's he doing it?"

He rolled his eyes. "He's giving her some stupid first edition book."

"What book is it?" Harry sounded a little concerned.

"Advanced Charms or some such shite." Draco paused. "Why?"

Harry let out an audible breath. "That's a good approach. He just picked the wrong book."

"And I suppose you know the right book?"

"'Course I do, Malfoy."

They watched as Terry tried in vain to get Hermione's full attention. She acknowledged him and fanned through the classic book before setting it aside. The Ravenclaw paused awkwardly, but she'd already turned her mind back to the book lying open on the table in front of her.

"What are you two doing here?" Harry and Draco jumped at the sound of Justin's voice just behind them.

"We're watching Terry try to ask Hermione to the Yule Ball," Harry answered. "He failed." He smirked as the wizard in question headed back in their direction, shoulders slumped. He noticed the box in Justin's hand. "Why are you here?"

Justin flushed. "I, ah, I was going to give Hermione these strawberries." He opened the box and nine chocolate covered strawberries rested on a bed of garnish. They each had a letter, spelling: YULE BALL?

"I'm impressed. Think the way to her heart is through her stomach, Fletchley?" Draco sneered.

Terry arrived back from his failed mission. "Did you see that? She didn't even look at the cover leaf. Just flipped through it and set it aside." His disgruntled tone said it all. "Wait, Harry, Justin. What are you two doing here?"

"He's going to ask Hermione to the Yule Ball." Harry neatly sidestepped the question.

"Oh! What are you doing?" Terry lifted the lid on the box. He looked impressed. "Good idea, mate."

Justin squared his shoulders and walked quickly to Hermione. He offered the box to her, but the confidently squared shoulders drooped when Hermione held her hand up, palm facing him, moving in a negative motion. He moved dejectedly back towards their hiding place.

"She's allergic. Wouldn't even look at them," he muttered to his fellow wizards.

"You're all amateurs."

"I guess you think you can do better?" Terry demanded.

Harry's brows rose. "I didn't say I was here to ask her to the Yule Ball." A loud boom sounded outside the windows. All four rushed to see if there was anything going on. Fireworks spelled out "Hermione, will you go to the Yule Ball with me?" Oohs and ahhs echoed from around the library.

Hermione remained at her desk, turning pages at an astounding rate, pausing briefly on specific passages that caught her interest. A first year ran up to her. "Hermione! Come quick! You need to see this!"

She looked up briefly. "Is something wrong?"

"No, no, but you need to see this."

Seeing that they were about to be spotted, Harry, Draco, Terry, and Justin all melted back into the stacks. Even Harry tensed up a bit. "Damn Seamus."

The first year dragged Hermione to the window. "Look!"

"Oh, Orion is bright tonight. Thank you for pointing that out. I'll have to go up to the Astronomy Tower before lights out."

"No, no, there were fireworks! And they - " But Hermione had already started back to her desk and her abandoned book.

All four hidden sixth years breathed a sigh of relief.

Draco was the first to return to the topic. "But you are going to ask her, aren't you?"

Harry shrugged shrugged. "Maybe." He moved out from behind the bookshelf. "Hermione."

Instantly, her head snapped up, and she closed the book she'd been so captivated by and turned to face him. "Harry. Is it time to head up already?" She smiled.

Draco's face paled. One of his feathers was still on the table where it has slipped under her book.

"No, that's not for another hour and a half." Harry sat down, facing her rather than the table, and picked up the feather, twirling it absently in his hand, watching the graceful movement of the soft barbs. She waited patiently for him to continue. He looked back up. "Hermione, would you be so kind as to be my date for the Yule Ball?"

A wide smile split her face. "Of course!"

Harry wrapped her in his arms and pulled her close. "Great." He let her go. "I'll see you after you head up the Astronomy Tower?"

"Of course." She returned to her book. Harry reached over and picked up Advanced Charms, white feather still in hand. He stacked them.

"Hey, Hermione?"

"Yes, Harry?"

"Do you want me to go with you to the Tower?"

"I'd like that." She smiled as he walked away. "Wait! Come here." She waved him back over.

He returned to her side; she pulled him down and whispered his ear. "You'll give those back Draco and Terry?" He nodded. "And that was really clever of Seamus, wasn't it? The fireworks."

Harry grinned. "I thought so. I liked Justin's strawberries too, but you didn't see those, did you?" He pressed a quick kiss to her cheek before he stood and said, "Okay - I'll go back to Gryffindor for warmer cloaks and meet you here at half nine." Harry stood and walked back to the hiding place. He handed Draco the feather and Terry the book.

"The feathers were a nice touch, but she's not a big fan of them. I could have told you that Hogwarts: A History would have worked and that she was allergic to strawberries. See you boys at the Yule Ball. Good luck finding dates!" He waved jauntily and headed for the door.

A/N: Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, please drop me a review!