Author Note: Ok, seeing as Igot absolutely NO reviews for my previous chapter, I have decided to put this story on hiatus until further notice. I was quite disappointed that NO ONE bothered to leave a review for the last chapter. And according to the 'hits' counter, people did read it. (What happened?) So, to put it plainly and simply, Idon't feel like continuing with this story, if it isn't appreciated.

Besides, I have a couple of other story ideas I want towork on. One is going to be a Cedric/Hermione fic. And the other is going to be an A/U BtVS/HP crossover...

Perhaps if I get like twenty reviews,the spirit might move me tocontinue with thisfiction, otherwise to quote Andrea Bocelli- Its "Time To Say Goodbye"...

DISCLAIMER: Don't own it; Never Have, Never Will...

CH. 22

Time just seemed to fly by, and before anyone knew it the Winter Ball was only one week away. And the Hogsmeade weekend was upon them. Everyone was excited for the Ball, but there was also an edge of anxiety too. Harry had finally asked Ginny to the Ball (much to Ginny's delight), and today every student that was a fourth year or older was in Hogsmeade, doing some last minute shopping for the Ball, and getting their outfits.

It had been lucky for both Hermione and Ginny, but Madame Malkin had been able to make the dresses for both girls, though it hadn't been cheap. Ginny had gotten some from her own savings stash (all that time working for Fred and George), while Hermione's parents had sent her money from her bank account to purchase her stuff. So they not only had their dresses, but they had gotten shoes to match, and a matching wrap.

Next order of business for both girls was make-up and other items; and while Ginny and Hermione were doing that, both Harry and Ron were getting fitted for their tuxes. So it was a very busy day in Hogsmeade. Though after every thing was done; they met up in the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer, and to catch their collective breaths, before going back to Hogwarts.

The next week was a stressful one for the teachers, because most students were very scattered of brain, so there attention span was less than it should have been. Professors Snape and McGonagall were the only ones fully able to rein in the students shenanigans. Finally the end of the week came, and the teachers breathed a sigh of relief.

After dinner on the Friday evening before the Ball, the Head Boy and Head Girl were to meet all the prefects to start setting up for the Ball. With Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin; keeping watch over the whole thing. It took roughly two hours to get everything set up (with both Professors help). And the Great Hall was charmed to look normal, so that no one would know what the decorations looked like until the night of the Ball.

The next morning was filled with anticipation. And the Triplets, Ginny, Neville, and a bunch of fellow Gryffindors went outside to have a snow fight, and just generally have fun until it was time to go get ready. It was a relaxing morning for everyone. They only came in to have lunch; but then they went back outside to continue with the fun. But at around three-thirty, Hermione, Ginny, Lavender and Parvati headed back up to Gryffindor tower to start getting ready for that night. And as expected, the fight for adequate bathroom time was fierce. But an agreement was reached, and the girls each had a fair amount of time.

After showering and washing her hair Hermione put some of her special hair-straightening potion in her damp hair working it through the ends to the roots of her hair; using her wand to blow her hair dry. Once her hair was dry, she put a bit of styling wax with glitter in her hair. And once all that was done she used her wand to put her hair up into an elegant high chignon, but with a few tendrils of fringe framing her face; and then she wrapped a strand of silver tinsel around the chignon.

Next for Hermione was her make-up. She had decided to go with a shimmering a dark silver eye shadow on the whole eyelid, with a pale golden color on her brow bone, inner corners, and along the lower lash lines. Ending with sparkling glitter mascara on her lashes, along with new (a/n: shameless plug) Diorshow Ice Pearl mascara on the tips. A crimson cheek stain, and finally a pale pink plumping, lip gloss on her lips. And to illuminate her shoulders and décolleté she used (a/n: another shameless plug) Benefit Hollywood Glo Body Lustre.

Finally, she was ready to go get dressed. Exiting the bathroom, she wasn't surprised to see that Ginny was almost finished dressing, while Parvati and Lavender had yet to finish with their hair. She quickly put some moisturizing hemp (a/n: damn, another plug) body butter on. She then put on a white lace garter belt and matching sheer white stockings. After that was all done, she got her dress out of her wardrobe, and proceeded to put it on. She was immensely pleased to note that it fit like a glove. She then put on her shoes and elbow length white gloves.

Looking at her clock, she saw that she had twenty minutes to spare. Hearing her name called, she turned around and saw that Ginny was walking towards her. "By Merlin, Hermione, your dress turned out better than expected!" exclaimed Ginny.

"Yours is also amazing too Gin. Harry won't know what hit him!" Hermione smirked cheekily, causing Ginny to blush almost the same shade as her hair. And it was true, Ginny's dress was a perfect fit for her as well, and she looked absolutely amazing. Somehow the sky blue color offset the deep rich red color of her hair. Ginny's hair was held up with some beautiful silver hair clasps. And she had glitter on the outer corners of her eyes, and a glitter on her bare shoulders and décolleté. She looked like she had been hit with fairy dust, but the effect was gorgeous.

"So are we ready to head down to the common room and wow all the boys?" Hermione joked.

"You know it. We'll be a smash," Ginny said, while Hermione grabbed her faux fur-lined cloak.

Down in the common room, both Harry and Ron were pacing impatiently, while waiting for their respective dates. Hearing the click of heels on the stone steps, Harry turned to look at the door leading to the girls dorms expectantly. Hermione was the first to appear, and Harry's jaw dropped. Good grief, she looked stunning. It was hard to believe just how much Hermione had changed. So totally different from the buck toothed know-it-all she was in first year. If it wasn't for the fact that he considered her a sister, he would most definitely fancy her. Ginny came down next, and Harry was certain he heard some of the wires in his head just fizzle out.

Ron looked at his little sister, and part of him wanted to go and cover her up, but another part of him was proud to see just how beautiful a woman she was becoming. Looking over to Harry, he could see the shell-shocked expression on his face. The big brother of part him made a note to have a little discussion with his best mate concerning his little sister. He, like Harry, was stunned at just how far along Hermione had come from first year. She was definitely gorgeous, no doubt about it. But, he now considered her more like a sister, than when he was younger, and fancied her for a girlfriend.

As for Hermione, she couldn't believe just how handsome her boys looked in their formalwear. She was as proud of them as could be. And she was reminded of just how far along the three of them had come since first year; and that come what may; they would always remain loyal to each other.

Finally breaking from his stupor, Harry cleared his throat. "Hi Ginny, you look beautiful tonight."

"Thank you Harry. You look smashing yourself," Ginny said coyly, "And Ron, you look fabulous."

"Thanks Ginny, you too," Ron said, turning to Hermione he added, "And might I say Mione that you look absolutely gorgeous."

"Thank you Ron. You're looking quite the hottie yourself! And you as well Harry."

"Thanks 'Mione. You are smokin' hot tonight," said Harry, "Shall we go down now?"

"Yes, let's go," Ginny said, "Ron we'll meet you down there, ok?"

Ron agreed, because Lavender hadn't come down yet. So with Hermione leading the way, Harry and Ginny followed her out of the common room. Standing outside the doors to the Great Hall stood Matthew, waiting for Hermione. He looked resplendent in his tuxedo. Seeing her, Matthew smiled.

"Hermione, you look absolutely gorgeous! You make Cinderella look like a hag," said Matthew.

Giggling slightly at the compliment, Hermione blushed and said, "You are quite the smooth talker Matthew Slade! You certainly make a dashing figure, all dressed up as you are."

"Why thank you so kindly, Miss Granger." Matthew said with an elaborately sweeping bow. Holding out his arm, "Shall we go on in now?"

Taking a hold of the proffered arm, Hermione said, "Why yes kind sir."

Remus, like many other of the professors was chaperoning the Ball tonight. Remus wished that he did not have to be here; running herd on at least a hundred (or more) hormonal teenaged witches and wizards. True, he didn't have anything better to do, but he would rather not see Hermione tonight. He knew she was being escorted to the Ball by Matthew Slade, the transfer student from America. And although he had no right, he was immensely jealous. He wished that he could be the one basking in Hermione's presence. He now knew what the wolf had been acknowledging all along; that he was falling for Hermione. He wanted her with a fervor he hadn't felt in so long. But alas, he had mucked it up. She had wanted to be with him, but he kept trying to be all proper and moral; refusing to admit what he felt for her. Pushing her away…

Well, he got what he wanted. She had moved on. And now the joke was on him. Remus had been too late. She was on the verge of starting something with someone far more suitable for her. Not someone old and broken like himself.

During all his morbid thoughts, the students started coming in. Looking towards the door, he waited to see a glimpse of the Trouble Triplets and their dates. He spotted Harry come in with Ginny on his arm, and Harry looked like he was in awe. Ginny certainly did look beautiful tonight. If Remus imagined just a little, he could almost believe that it was James and Lily walking into the Great Hall. Remus felt a small pang in his heart at the thought of his two friends.

And there; Hermione walked in, on the arm of the young Hufflepuff: Matthew Slade. She looked like an angel in her white ball gown. Merlin, she was absolutely breathtaking! 'Be still my heart' thought Remus.

Remus soon lost sight of Hermione as more and more students flooded into the Great Hall. So many young people; resplendent in their collective finery. As the students made their way to the tables set up for dinner, the tables shrinking or enlarging to fit the needs of the groups of people sitting with friends, Remus made his way up to the chaperones table. Sighing heavily as he sat down, Remus was sure it would end up being a long, stressful night.

Dinner was wonderful; or it would have been, if Remus hadn't spent it brooding over Hermione, and pushing the food around on his plate. After the dinner dishes were cleared away, the DJ began to spin the music. Many of the students got up and went out onto the dance floor, as a foggy mist slowly covered the ground, to give a more enchanting ambiance. The first song was an upbeat tune called "Get This Party Started" by some Muggle named Pink.

Hermione was having a blast with Matt, but deep down she couldn't keep from wishing that she was here with Remus. But Matt was a funny guy and a fairly good dancer too. But, she was in dire need of a break, so that she could get something to drink. So, miming drinking something to Matt, she pulled him off the dance floor. Walking over to their table,

"Whew, I don't know about you, but I am in desperate need of a drink," Hermione said while wiping the perspiration off her forehead with a handkerchief from her purse.

"Yeah, I could do with a drink. Why don't you have a seat while I go fetch us some punch?" Matt said.

"I'd appreciate that. Thanks."

As Matt went to get drinks, Hermione spotted Remus sitting at an empty table a few tables down, looking over in her direction with a wistful, forlorn look on his face. Catching his eye, she beckoned him over. He stood up and approached her table.

"Hello Professor Lupin, how are you doing this evening?" Hermione asked.

"I am doing well, thanks," Remus replied, "How about yourself? Enjoying the Ball?"

"Oh yes, I am having a marvelous time; Just taking a breather."

"That's good. I hope you don't mind, but I thought it would be appropriate to mention that you look quite beautiful tonight."

"Thank you very much," Hermione said while lowering her gaze to her hands and blushing. "You look quite smashing yourself."

"Why thank you fair maiden," Remus joked in an exaggerated fashion, "Perhaps if your dance card isn't too full, you might save me a dance towards the end?"

"Certainly Professor," Hermione responded.

And seeing Matthew approaching the table, Remus stood up and said "Well, I best take my leave now, your date is heading back this way; until later."

"Ok, until then Remus."

Matt made his way back to the table, as he handed Hermione her drink, Matt asked curiously "So what did Professor Lupin want?"

"Oh, he just stopped by to say hello," Hermione said nonchalantly.

"I see."

Then both sat in companionable silence, watching the other revelers while they drank their beverages. Upon finishing his drink, Matt asked, "Are you ready to cut a rug again?" Draining the last bit of her drink, Hermione put her glass down and stood up, "Yes quite, let's go."

As the night progressed, and Hermione was asked to dance by Harry, then she had a dance with Ron, and even Neville asked her for a dance. But she still danced plenty with Matt too. With all the dancing and socializing, the time slipped by quickly, and before she knew it, the Ball was almost over, when she felt a light tap on her shoulder; turning to whomever tapped her, Hermione was face-to-chest with Remus, "May I have this dance?" he requested all while bowing gallantly. Looking to Matt she said, "Do you mind Matt, I did promise the Professor a dance?"

Acquiescing, Matt nodded and went over to talk with Ernie and Hannah. Remus gently grasped Hermione's left hand in his right hand, and he placed his left hand on her waist, while her right hand came to rest on his left shoulder. The song the DJ played was a slower tempo song (A/N: in case you're wondering, in my mind the song I picture is Travis Tritt's 'Anymore'. I'll leave the lyrics towards the end so you will understand much better.

At first, Remus and Hermione danced in silence, listening to the lyrics of the song. As he was listening to the lyrics, Remus was working up the courage to confess his feelings to Hermione. Clearing his throat, Remus spoke somewhat shyly, tentatively, "I know I said it before, but I just wanted to say again, that you look absolutely breathtaking tonight Hermione; you definitely look like an angel in that dress."

Blushing from the sincerity of the compliment, Hermione whispered, "Thank you Remus that means a lot to me."

Plucking up his nerves Remus dove right into his confession; "Hermione, I have a bit of a confession to make, and to be honest I'm not sure how well it will be received all things considered."

Looking into his eyes she asked, "What is it Remus?" all the while mentally crossing her fingers in hopeful anticipation.

"Well, do you remember the incident in my office a few months ago?"

"And which incident would you be referring to exactly?" she asked, knowing all the while which incident he was speaking of.

"You know, the time after your birthday, when we kissed."

"Yes, actually I do remember, quite well as it happens."

"And do you recall the things I said afterwards?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I was so totally wrong about how I handled that. I'll be honest with you, seeing all those boys hanging around you, trying to be the sole focus of your affections has been killing me. I've been feeling intensely jealous of those boys. The only reason I pushed you away was because I was frightened by the strength of my feelings for you. Those kisses stirred some many emotions I've kept hidden for so long."

"I see. So what exactly are you saying Remus?"

"I was hoping that maybe, if you still feel something for me, if we could perhaps give it a go. Try to get to know each other better, and go on a date or something?" Remus asked, trying to keep any hope from creeping into his voice.

"And if I were to give it a shot, what would be my guarantee that you won't go running scared, if things get serious?" Hermione questioned somewhat harshly. "I mean from my perspective, this all seems so left of center. I don't want to bother getting invested in this if you are going to make tracks the second you cannot handle it."

"I understand where you're coming from, really I do, but I'm begging you to give us a chance. Give me a chance to prove how much you mean to me."

Softening her resolve, Hermione relented; saying, "Ok Remus, I'm willing to give us a chance. But please, don't make me regret giving this a chance. Meanwhile on the inside, Hermione is doing back handsprings.

ANYMORE: By Travis Tritt

I can't hide the way I feel about you, anymore

I can't hide the hurt inside keep the pain out of my eyes, anymore

My tears no longer waiting

My resistance ain't that strong

My mind keeps recreating a life with you alone

And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you anymore

Let me make one last appeal to show you how I feel about you

'Cause there's no one else I swear

Holds a candle anywhere next to you

My heart can't take the beating

Not having you to hold

A small voice keeps repeating deep inside my soul

It says I can't keep pretending

I don't love you, anymore

I've got to take the chance or let it pass by

If I expect to get on with my life

My tears no longer waiting ohh

My resistance ain't that strong

But my mind keeps recreating a life with you alone

And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you, anymore