Thanks for the kind reviews folks. I used the canon quotes because it takes a little while for an AU to diverge from the canon timeline. Since I started the divergence half-way thru GOF, in general the main events will be mostly the same. The differences will come in the characters, plus I'll use different POVs for the tasks to avoid quoting.

Why Susan?-I had seen the SS & COS before I'd ever read the books, so I thought she was a significant character. A lot of stories discribe her as a blond (Two good stories are No, Thank You & Thank you, Ms Bones). But, I use the image of Eleanor Columbus from the movies and she's a redhead. If anyone has seen her recently, I'd like to match Susan's appearance. She's credited in Rent, but I didn't see her.

Moonpetal Lily's critiques: I probably would've written them a little differently. But since I'm uneasy editing already posted chapters, let's chalk the first one up to Parvati being annoyed with Ron. For the 2nd one, the image I had in mind was when Harry blew up Aunt Marge in POA.

Two Scoops of Rita

Harry's first class after Christmas was Care of Magical Creatures. It went bad almost immediately. First off, no Hagrid and the only explanation his replacement offered was "He's indisposed" Professor Grubbly-Plank made Harry think of Professor Snape.

The best thing about the whole class was that Harry got to show up the old bit…er…witch when she ordered all the boys away from the unicorn "He seems friendly enough to me, Professor" Harry said, when the creature approached him. He had to settle for just annoying the Professor, though. He didn't get any points. Worse, for Harry, were the constant superior looks that Draco Malfoy was giving him throughout the class.

As the girls moved away with Professor Grubbly-Plank, Draco smirked and pulled out a page from the Daily Prophet. "This little article explains where the big, ugly oaf went" he said with a smirk "He ran away" Several Slytherins laughed along with him.

"Gimme that, Malfoy" Harry growled, snatching the article from him.

Draco drew himself up proudly and said "If I may quote one prominent student from that article. My friend, Vincent Crabbe got bit by a Flobberworm and I was attacked by a hippogriff"

"All this is garbage and you know it, Malfoy!" Ron snarled. He snatched the article out of Harry's hands, ripped it, balled it up and threw it at Draco.

Surprisingly, Draco's only response was amused laughter "Oh don't worry Weasel" he chortled "There's an even better one about Potter's antics at the Ball. But we'll see that at lunch when the mail comes in. Fortunately, my father is well connected enough that he was able to make sure an owl rushed a copy to me this morning"

The return of Professor Grubbly-Plank with the female students ended further discussion as she began lecturing "Now, the unicorn species name is…"

Harry could barely pay attention to the lecture. He wanted to slap that smirk off Draco's face so badly.

The class bell rang and everyone jumped up to leave. But Professor Grubbly-Plank stopped them with homework "A roll of parchment on the unicorn, please. Due by Friday. Now you may go" she said.

"Wasn't that the most fascinating lecture?" Hermione said as they were walking back to the castle.

Harry ignored her question "Rita found out about Hagrid being part giant" he said

"What? How?" asked Hermione "Do you suppose she overheard him telling Madame Maxine?"

Ron shook his head and said "No way, that happened in the garden. I would've seen her"

"Outta my way!" Parvati snapped, pushing past Ron.

"What's her bloody problem?" asked Ron angrily.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him and said "Maybe the way you treated her at the Ball"

"She disappeared on me" countered Ron.

"You ignored her - " Hermione began.

-Here comes another one-Harry thought

But she stopped as they entered the Hall.

Draco looked positively gleeful. He was sitting casually on the end of the Slytherin table. He had clearly just been waiting for Harry to arrive. There were copies of the Daily Prophet all over the place "Tsk, tsk Potter. Bit of a heartbreaker, weren't you?" he said

"What are you going on about, Malfoy?" asked Hermione.

"Guess you're not so bad after all, Granger" Draco replied "See, the great Miss Skeeter even apologized to you. Here you go, Potter, consider it a Christmas gift. Sorry it's late." Then he tossed the paper at Harry.

Harry was immediately offended by the title. The letters threw sparks into the air to make sure they drew maximum attention.


By Rita Skeeter

In the interest of journalistic accuracy, I your humble reporter, must announce that I have possibly made an error. My previous column reported that Hermione Granger, long time companion of Harry Potter, appeared to be playing with the affections of our tragic hero.

Last night, as I am sure many parents are aware, Hogwarts played host to a Yule Ball in honor of the TriWizard Tournament. The Great Hall was magnificently decorated in a lovely winter theme. Most students were very smartly attired for the occasion. Though, without naming names, I mention one outrageous outfit that looked as if Merlin himself was too young to know when it was created. At any rate I digress.

Miss Granger appeared, not on Harry Potter's arm, as many including myself might have expected. Rather, she spent the evening in the company of Viktor Krum, the Durmstrang champion. I find myself torn about this. As a graduate of Hogwarts, I feel rather betrayed by Miss Granger's choice of escorts. But as a woman, I say WAY TO GO! A woman scorned and all that.

Which brings me to Harry and his activities that night. His date, one Virginia Weasley, age 11, was far less attractive than Miss Granger would've been. And don't even get me started on the colors of her dress. To this reporter, it is apparent she was selected for her naiveté. The young girl quickly fell victim to the legendary Potter charm that he appears to have inherited directly from James, as any witch in her mid 30s can attest to. And my grandmother acknowledged a brief liason with Harry's grandfather. After their quite amorous tour of a very secluded part of the courtyard, for which they were disciplined, Harry was seen to be groping Susan Bones, niece of Amelia a member of the Wizengamot. Susan is an older girl and considerably more developed than poor little Virginia. Harry was also reported to have been in intimate company with two other girls, although I was not able to confirm these reports.

Either Ginny was a faster reader, or she had gotten to the article before Harry had. Because, just has he was finishing, she ran past with a tear streaked face. At that same moment, a yell of "I'm gonna ram that bitch's wand up her arse!" came from the Hufflepuff table.

"Ten points for your language, Miss Bones!" Professor Sprout exclaimed "And an additional ten for threatening violence!"

Draco and his buddies just laughed. In fact, Draco almost rolled of the table "Don't know how this day could get better!" he said through his laughter.

"Malfoy!" Harry snarled, about to give in to a desire to throw him across the Hall.

Hermione stopped him "Harry! Go after Ginny!" she said.

"Right" he said. Ginny's trail was easy to follow. It was a straight line for the Gryffindor Common Room. He was close enough to hear the sound of the Fat Lady's picture slam shut. He reached it and impatiently yelled the password.

"No reason to be rude, young man" she replied "Try again"

"Open the bloody door" Harry growled, his fists clenched. The Fat Lady made him apologize twice and repeat the password before finally opening. He looked around and quickly spotted Ginny sitting near the fireplace, sobbing. "Gin" he said as he gently touched her shoulder.

Ginny pulled away "I actually thought you liked me" she sobbed

"I do" said Harry "Last night was the happiest night of my-" he reached out.

"Then how could you?!" asked Ginny and then she ran for the stairs yelling "I HATE YOU HARRY POTTER!"

Harry had an absolutely devastated look on his face when Hermione and Ron came in.

"My God, Harry what happened?" asked Hermione as she wiped the tears from his cheeks.

"She hates me" replied Harry in a strange, far away tone.

"Not a chance, mate" Ron said cheeringly "My sister's had a thing for you forever"

Turning a dazed look at Ron, he asked "Then why would she say it?"

"Wait here" Hermione said "I'll go talk to her, okay" Harry shrugged.

She was hardly out of sight when Harry said "C'mon Ron, we'll be late for Potions"

"Er…Harry…we still got twenty minutes of lunch left" replied Ron.

When Hermione came down with Ginny in tow the first thing she asked was "Ron where's Harry?"

"Ginny, you don't really hate Harry, do you?" Ron asked.

Ginny threw herself at him "Ohh noooo Ron, never" she cried "I was just so upset over that article. And well, Harry just came in before I had a chance to sort through it. I was so horrible to him. I just wanna fix this as fast as possible. Where is he?"

"Well, you saw what he was like, Hermione" said Ron. She nodded so he continued "Well, he got even…ahh…weirder"

Hermione shook her head impatiently "What does that have to do with Harry not being here?" she demanded.

"That's the thing" Ron answered "After you left, he started talking about being late for Potions and left"

"We'll talk to Harry" Hermione said.

Ron rubbed her back, saying "Everything will be fine, I promise"

"Thanks Ron" said Ginny "You too Hermione. Tell him how sorry I am"

"You'll be kissing again in no time" Hermione said

Ron gave her a dirty look and grumbled "Too much information"

"Come on Ron" said Hermione "We don't want to be late. And Ginny has Defense and History" They left at a brisk pace. Despite that, they arrived a minute late.

"How nice of you to join us" Professor Snape sneered "I'll have five points from you Weasley, and you as well Granger. Now take your seats!" Millicent Bolstrode arrived even later, but he continued his lecture "…Today's potion is the Polyjuice Potion. Does anyone know the ingred-" Hermione's hand shot straight up "That is, other than the know-it-all"

Harry put his hand up and rattled off the correct formula.

"Obviously copying off Miss Granger. Five points from Gryffindor, Potter" said Snape.

Harry muttered something and Ron snickered. Hermione nudged him

"Care to share your joke with the rest of the class, Potter?" asked Snape.

Harry shrugged "Nothing's good enough for you, is it?" he asked angrily.

"Silence Potter!" Snape ordered "Or I'll have you in detention"

Harry laughed sarcastically "Nothing new there, either" Every face in the room focused on Harry.

"How dare you?! You arrogant little…" Snape was furious.

Harry slammed his fist on the desk "You've been saying that about me since day one!" he shot back "You don't know me, Snivellus!"


By dinner time, the story was all over the school. But neither Snape nor Harry were present. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall were missing as well. The Gryffindor table was sharply divided.

"We're gonna be in so deep we'll never get out of the hole" said Seamus resentfully.

Several upperclassmen agreed with him, but one Seventh Year girl didn't "Snape's been doing this for years" she said "About time someone gave him an earful" Ron cheered for her.

"A month ago you woulda been agreeing with me, Weasley" Seamus pointed out.

Ron snarled at him "Shut up, Finnegan"

"I feel like this is all my fault" said Ginny, she was on the verge of tears.

"Partially, yeah" Hermione replied. Ginny started sobbing

Ron glared at her "Nice job Hermione!" he snapped.

"Sorry" Hermione said sheepishly.

Nothing was resolved by the time dinner ended. Later, as curfew approached, everyone went to bed except for Ron, Ginny and Hermione. When Harry finally appeared it was almost eleven. Ginny was asleep, leaning on Ron.

"Hi Hermione, hi Ron" he said tiredly

Instantly rushing to his side, Hermione fussed over him "Oh Harry, we were so worried" she said "I can't believe what you said to Professor Snape"

"Long overdue, just like what's-her-name said" said Ron.

Hermione frowned and asked "Are you in any trouble?"

"Can we talk about it tomorrow?" he asked, yawning

"I guess" Hermione replied, hesitantly "Uhh…Harry…Gin's been waiting, too. She's really worried. Can you talk to her? Please?"

Harry shrugged "I dunno" he said "I spent most of the day with someone who hates me. I really can't handle any more."

"WHA!" Ginny exclaimed, suddenly, in response to Ron poking her in the side.

Harry turned away, saying "I'm going to bed"

"No! Wait Harry!" she yelled. She scrambled off the bed and landed on the floor with a thump "Sonufa-"

"You said you hated me" said Harry, still looking away.

"And I'm so sorry" Ginny sobbed "I wish I could somehow un-say it. Please look at me"

Harry turned, there was hurt plainly written in his expression "Not one thing in that article was true" he said "You saw what happened with Susan Bones. Besides Rita didn't even get your age right"

"Or my name" Ginny replied with a faint laugh.

"I didn't notice" said Harry, some of his pained expression fading.

Ginny took a step closer to him "It's not important" she said "I'm really sorry about what happened. Can we…I dunno…forget it ever happened?"

"I'd like to" said Harry. Ginny tried to hug him, but he backed away shaking his head. "I need to think" he said "A lot's happened today, and I really need some sleep. I'll…uhh…talk to you later" This time he did leave.

Ginny felt her heart break as he left. She let herself fall into a chair "He's not gonna forgive me, is he?" she sobbed "I can't believe I did that"

The next day was Friday, Thank Merlin! Gryffindor sang Harry's praises. They hadn't lost any of the expected massive points they'd expected to and were still in the thick of the Cup race. Even better, everyone was talking about how Professor Snape didn't seem to be targeting them. At least not as blatantly. The entire school was buzzing with rumors. But Harry wasn't talking, not meaning he was just not saying anything about the argument. Other than to answer a question in class, and only when he was called on, he hadn't said a word all day.

"Potter must be too good to join us" Seamus commented at dinner.

Hermione and Ginny had to keep Ron in his seat "Why don't you sit with Malfoy" he suggested, coldly.

No one saw Harry that night, either. So it was a big surprise when he appeared at breakfast, smiling. "Hey, Seamus, what happened to your hair?" he asked jovially.

"Sod off, Potter!" snapped Seamus as he tried to hide his suddenly blond hair.

Harry shrugged and grabbed a piece of toast "Morning Ron, 'Mione" he greeted.

"Have a seat, mate" Ron offered as he slid to make room between him and Hermione.

Shaking his head, Harry replied "No thanks, I'll talk to you guys a little later, OK"

"Are you OK, Harry?" Hermione asked "You've hardly talked to anyone since-"

Harry interrupted her saying "Ask me again later" Then he headed for where Ginny was sitting with her dorm mates. He tapped her on the shoulder and said "Hi"