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An Alternate Yule Ball by Hermione_Crookshanks
Chapter 4 : The Second Task/Rita Skeeter
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 26


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I finally updated! YAY! Remember, I am skipping around and changing some things as this is the H/Hr version, not the H/Hr version with all the rest of the book in one version. Do enjoy!

All text in bold belongs to JK Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter or characters.


*****

“Hello Harry!” Ludo Bagman said excitedly, giving Harry what he meant to be a pat on the back, but almost forced Harry to his knees. “Take a breath. Just breathe. That a boy!”

Harry glared at the ground in attempt not to seem rude to Bagman while holding the gillyweed tightly in his pocket. After Harry had gotten back his breath he stood up and, as Bagman advanced towards him, most likely in an attempt to help him out again, Harry quickly ran to join the other champions.

Bagman looked rather disgruntled by this but was forced to continue on so as not to waster time. He used the same spell that he had used when he was at the Quidditch World Cup and explained that each champion would have one hour to get what had been taken from him or her. Then he blew his whistle, and the Second Task began.

Harry waded into the water and felt goose bumps on his arms from the cold; after all, it was only February. Harry quickly grabbed the gillyweed, knowing he looked like an idiot, standing in the middle of the lake like a muggle, and swallowed it. To say that it was an unpleasant experience would be greatly understating it.

He waited…and waited…and nothing happened. Suddenly, he felt dizzy. He gasped for breath, but couldn’t seem to get oxygen. His head seared and he felt as if he was going to faint. He felt a sharp pain at his throat and quickly brought his hands up to discover that he had gills. He did the only thing that he could think of – he dived into the water. He could finally breathe again, and the water was no longer cold, but fairly comfortable. He smiled to himself and then plunged down towards the bottom of the lake, which was where he figured the merpeople must be.

*****

Harry sighed with relief as he heard the song from the egg coming from what must be none other than the merpeople. After dealing with grindylows, Myrtle, and lots of seaweed, he had finally arrived to his destination. He swam quickly, through the merpeople’s city, passing many of the residents, until he came to a huge boulder where he saw Ron, Cho, a girl who must be Fleur’s little sister as she had the same exact hair, and, Harry’s heart skipped a beat, Hermione.

Hermione’s face looked pale and ghostlike so deep underwater. Her hair floated gently over her head, and, Harry thought, she looked as beautiful as ever, sleeping peacefully, unaware of the dangers around her.

He swam over to her, wanting to at least see if she was all right, when he felts strong hands grab at his arms. He struggled, but they wouldn’t let go. He turned around to find two merpeople holding him back.

“You must only take your own hostage,” they told him.

“But she should be the one I miss the most!” Harry cried. The merpeople’s face stayed stony. Harry cursed, but resolutely went over to Ron and used a jagged stone to set him free.

He decided to wait to see who had gotten Hermione. He waited patiently and then was rewarded when someone who had badly transfigured himself into a shark arrived. Harry recognized the shark headed…thing…as Krum. Krum immediately went over to Hermione while Harry gawked. Krum? Viktor Krum? Hermione was the person he would most sorely miss?

Diggory followed next and went over to Cho, quickly released her, and left.

Harry glared at Krum and then swam over and handed him the rock. He didn’t want to help him, but he didn’t want Hermione’s head to be bitten off either. With one more glare, Harry turned away. He was about to leave when he realized Fleur was still not here. Sighing, he took the rock Krum had just left on the ground as he swam up with Hermione. He sawed through the girl’s ropes, held her to his side, and began his ascent.

*****

Harry gasped for air as he broke the surface of the lake. His gillyweed had run out, and he had swum the last 50 seconds without any oxygen. He breathed heavily as he struggled to bring the two hostages to shore.

Coughing from the two he was holding let him know that they were indeed alive, not dead as he feared. He carried them as best he could to the lake’s edge where all three were hoisted up by Percy, who seemed to be nervous about Ron’s well-being, and Madam Pomfrey, who was muttering about why not just killing all the students to make her life easier.

Fleur ran over to Harry, crying about how the grindylows had stopped her. Then, after making sure her younger sister, who was called Gabrielle, was all right, she leaned over and kissed Harry on the cheek. Harry looked behind him to where he had seen Hermione to see if she had seen this, but she was a little occupied.

Hermione was glaring angrily at Viktor Krum, who was sitting next to her rather awkwardly. As Krum tried to speak to her, she wrapped the blanket Madam Pomfrey must have given her more tightly around her body and turned away from him. Harry rushed over to Hermione who looked relieved to see him. Her eyes also looked a little red.

“You’re all right!” she exclaimed. “You did it! Oh Harry, I was so worried! I thought that something had happened to you down there, you were so long!”

“You’re worried?” Harry asked, rather harshly. “I just found out that you’re the thing Viktor Krum will miss the most,” Harry whispered. For his part, Krum did his best to pretend as if he didn’t hear anything, for which Harry couldn’t help but be grateful.

Hermione blushed and looked as if she was on the verge of tears. Harry wondered why, and figured that it must be the stress from what the “Viktor Incident” might cause (that is what he was calling it now) and from wondering where Harry had been for so long.

“It’s not as if I asked for it,” Hermione said indignantly, her eyes changing from watery to fiery. “Apparently I was the thing both you and Krum would miss the most. Since you also had Ron, they decided to let me be Krum’s damsel in distress.” Hermione’s eyes flared at these words. “What’s more,” she whispered, “the self-absorbed git just told me that he loved me. And asked me if it were possible to meet sometime in the summer!”

“What?” Harry asked quickly, chancing a glance at Krum. “Krum...what?”

“Yes, loves me,” said Hermione, obviously upset by this. "And thinks it's apropriate to have me come over during the summer."

“But what…how…?” Harry didn’t seem to be able to find the words.

“Apparently,” Hermione said icily, “he was going to ask me to the Yule Ball in the library the day you came. Apparently he’s liked me all along.”

And then it clicked. “That’s why he was glaring at me for so long!” Harry exclaimed. “It all makes sense!” Hermione made a little noise that made it clear this was not the response she was looking for. “Sorry,” Harry apologized. “But what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know!” Hermione exclaimed. “Can’t you just…talk to him? He doesn’t seem to get that I’m your girlfriend!”

Harry sighed. “I’ll make you a deal. If he asks you again, I’ll talk to him, all right? Honestly, what trouble could he have caused so far?” Then something caught his eye. “Stay still,” he instructed Hermione as he reached over. “There’s a water beetle in your hair.”

*****

The answer to how much trouble would be caused came the next day.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron had been eating happily at the Gryffindor table at breakfast, talking about how Harry had managed to stay in first place, if tied, despite his mess up. They were interrupted, however, by a flock of owls, which came to Hermione, who looked very surprise. Only one held the Daily Prophet that she had subscribed to. The rest were all letters.

Malfoy then came sneering up to their table. “I think this might interest you, Granger,” he said, throwing a magazine at her. Hermione picked it up gingerly as Malfoy returned to the Slytherin table.

“What is the bloody hell is this all about?” Ron said in an undertone.

“No idea,” Hermione said, a bit dazed. She began reading the magazine and gasped. “Now really! I don’t believe her!”

“Rita Skeeter?” Harry asked immediately. He scooted over a bit to look over Hermione’s shoulder to read. He noticed that Hermione was biting her lip. This must not be good.

Harry Potter’s Secret Heartache.” He read. What was she talking about? He read on. “A boy like no other, perhaps - yet a boy suffering all the usual pangs of adolescence, writes Rita Skeeter. Deprived of love since the tragic demise of his parents, fourteen-year-old Harry Potter thought he found solace in his steady girlfriend at Hogwarts, Muggle-born Hermione Granger. Little did he know that he would shortly be suffering yet another emotional blow in a life already littered with personal loss.
Miss Granger, a plain but ambitious girl, seems to have a taste for famous wizards that Harry alone cannot satisfy. Since the arrival at Hogwarts of Viktor Krum, Bulgarian Seeker and hero of the last World Quidditch Cup, Miss Granger has been toying with both boys' affections. Krum, who is openly smitten with the devious Miss Granger and has already invited her to visit him in Bulgaria over the summer holidays.

However, it might not be Miss Granger's doubtful natural charms that have captured these unfortunate boys' interest.

‘She's really ugly,’ says Pansy Parkinson, a pretty and vivacious fourth-year student, ‘but she'd be well up to making a Love Potion, she's quite brainy. I think that's how she's doing it.’

Love potions are, of course, banned at Hogwarts, and no doubt Albus Dumbledore will want to investigate these claims. In the meantime, Harry Potter's well-wishers must hope that, next time, he bestows his heart on a worthier candidate.


“This is ridiculous!” Harry exclaimed. At the trembling look on Hermione’s face he said, “I will kill that woman!”

“I can’t believe she did this,” Hermione whispered, tears prickling her eyes. “That horrible, awful woman!” Her voice grew stronger as anger took over. “Making up rubbish like this. Just to ruin our lives!” Hermione threw the magazine angrily at the table, and then reached over for a letter. She read it and gasped, glaring at it.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Harry reached over and read it. “You are a wicked girl. Harry Potter deserves better. Go back where you came from muggle.

“They’re all the same!” Hermione said frantically. “All of them! ‘Harry Potter can do much better than the likes of you.”” She opened the next letter and let out a small scream. Bubotuber pus had gushed out of the enveloped and engulfed her hand. Hermione began to cry as she tried, to no avail, to get the pus off.

“Go to the hospital wing!” Ron said immediately. “We’ll tell the Professor what happened!”

Hermione nodded and got up. Harry went to follow her, but she turned around quickly. “You are not missing class!”

“But Hermione…”

“No. It means a lot to me that you want to come, but I will not be responsible for your dropping of grades.” Hermione’s eyes filled with tears again as her hands erupted in sores. Harry, knowing she was in great pain, nodded his head and let her go along. He turned back and went with Ron to Herbology, trying to figure out how to get back at Rita Skeeter.

*****

Like it? Please review! Thank you! Remember: I purposely skipped around and changed some things for the purpose of the story. So yes, I realize that there was no Sirius, no points announced, and that the publication of the article and the letters were all merged into one day.

Thanks for reading!

~Hermione_Crookshanks

And thanks for waiting!


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