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An Alternate Yule Ball by Hermione_Crookshanks
Chapter 7 : Fears Become a Reality
 
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I apologize for taking so long to update. I needed inspiration...yes, I realize this is based off the book, but it's different...know what I mean? Anyway. It seems the GoF movie was my fix, so here it is, the next chapter. I'm rather proud of it...I think it's much better written (sentence structure wise, etc.) then my previous ones...although I seem to be having trouble with that passive voice...like now...heh.

Well, wish I could say I owned Harry Potter...but being sued is not on my top ten list. So...Rowling owns Harry Potter, the GoF plot, the other characters, blah di blah. You know the deal. And if you don't...okay, I'd be a tad scared. Enjoy!

Oh yeah...everything in bold = Rowling's...except not much is this time around. YAY ME! LOL.


*****

Hermione flipped through a book, her heart racing. If she was right…if she had actually figured it out…then that cow of a reporter, Rita Skeeter, would never bother her, Harry, Hagrid, or anyone else that mosquito buzzed around, again.

Although Hermione regretted leaving Harry early on the day of his final task, she was also grateful for this opportunity. It meant she wouldn’t have to concentrate on what was to come, on the danger Harry would soon be in.

Hermione’s heart raced faster, and she knew it was from the anticipation of what Harry would face in the maze. She had been so certain while practicing with him that he received all the proper spells, hexes, charms, etcetera, he needed to complete the maze and return safely (never mind winning – that was the last thing on her mind), but now worried that it wouldn’t be enough.

Hermione continued to skim books, and almost let out a scream as she found what she was looking for. She resisted, as she knew Madam Pince would kick her out of the library in a second if she made such a racket .

Hermione read quickly: “Animagi are humans who have the ability to turn into another species…I already knew that, thought Hermione. She read on. “It is illegal for anyone to be an animagi without having already registered with the department for…” Yes. Yes! She had her! Hermione quickly switched to a catalog, which listed all the registered animagi. Sure enough, McGonagall was listed, but there was no Rita Skeeter, or, as Hermione thought with a smile, a James Potter or a Sirius Black.

Hermione’s eyes darkened as she realized that Peter Pettigrew’s name wasn’t listed there either. If only they had known…if only someone told… “If only” became a mantra in her brain, and she sighed and closed the book, leaning her forehead against the cool surface of the table.

This brought her train of thoughts back to a place she didn’t want to be – to the possible rising of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Hermione breathed in deeply as she thought about the nightmares Harry had this year. She was worried, and the fact that someone unknown entered Harry into the Triwizard Tournament, most likely in an attempt to kill him, scared her even more.

Just one more task, Hermione said to herself in an effort to be calm. One more and this is all over.

Realizing she had an exam in only five minutes (and thanking Merlin she began studying for it three months ago), she gathered her books and raced to join the other two who made up their trio in History of Magic. Maybe she could tell Harry one more spell to study before the exam began…

*****

Hermione rushed into the Great Hall, halfway through lunch. She was certain she passed the History of Magic Exam with flying colors, and was eager to tell both Ron and Harry what she discovered in the library (she went back after Exams to double check that she was correct). However, at the sight, and surprise, of Mrs. Weasley and Bill surrounding Ron and Harry, Hermione decided now would not be the best time.

Harry looked up at her and asked, “Are you going to tell us – ?” But Hermione simply shook her head quietly, tilting it slightly towards the adult Weasleys as an explanation of her refusal. Harry gave a quiet, “Ahh…” to show that he understood and Ron rolled his eyes, in a pleasant manner, at Hermione's secretiveness.

Hermione turned to Mrs. Weasley with a smile on her face, but it quickly left as Mrs. Weasley greeted her coldly. Hermione realized, with a sinking heart, that Mrs. Weasley must have read that horrid article about the triangle in Witch Weekly.

“Hello,” Hermione said quietly. Hermione looked desperately towards Harry, and he quickly took over.

“Mrs. Weasley, you didn’t really believe that horrible thing that Skeeter woman said in Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione has never cheated on me.”

“What?” Mrs. Weasley asked, surprised at being confronted. “Er…of course not! And congratulations on the two of you becoming a couple!” She finally offered Hermione a warm smile, to which Hermione returned, glowing happily.

However, the happiness Hermione felt quickly decreased as time passed by, plate after plate of food eaten (on the part of everyone but Harry, Hermione, and probably the other champions, who were all too worried about the upcoming task), and it finally disappeared when Dumbledore announced it was time for the champions to head over to the stadium. The schools were to follow five minutes later to watch.

“You-you’ll do great Harry,” Hermione whispered to him in a chocked whisper before he left. “Just…just remember all the spells we’ve gone over…”

“I will,” Harry assured her.

“And Harry?” Hermione said, swallowing hard.

“Yeah?”

“Stay safe. Please?”

Harry blinked. He hadn’t realized how apprehensive Hermione was. “Hermione, don’t worry,” he comforted her. “If they wanted to do something, they would have done it already. It’ll be fine. Now, I have to go or Bagman will kill me…”

Hermione watched dismally as Harry left her. He hadn’t even given her a kiss goodbye. He did have a lot on his mind…and she was going to see him again in a few hours. That was certain.

Even so, Hermione was often optimistic about situations, but today, she was sadly pessimistic.

She rubbed her temples with her fingers. “Let him be all right,” she begged silently as she followed the crowd to the Quidditch pitch, where they would observe the final task.

*****

“For God sakes, breathe Hermione!” Ron exclaimed as Hermione anxiously overlooked the Quidditch pitch, ripping a stray piece of paper into tiny bits.

“Hush!” Hermione snapped, feeling bad for treating Ron horribly, but at the same time too obsessed with Harry’s life to really care - she'd apologize later.

“How soon until you think Potter kicks the bucket,” a cruel and laughing voice asked behind Hermione. She whipped her head around to come face to face with, unsurprisingly, Draco Malfoy.

“What did you just say?” Hermione hissed, eyes glaring. Her fingers unconsciously curled into fists.

“Just wondering if you wanted to place a bet,” Malfoy replied, his eyes glinting evilly. “Tell you what – if he dies in under 20 minutes, I’ll give you double whatever you bet, seeing as you’re the one who’s shagging him.”

“How dare you!” Hermione said angrily. “You prat…you know nothing! You…” She stood up quickly and was about to climb over her seat to tackle Malfoy when Ron, in what he hoped was the last time he’d ever be in Hermione’s usual position, grabbed her by the back of her shirt and pulled her back down to her seat with a thud.

“Don’t,” Ron whispered. “He’ll just get you in trouble.”

“I want to kill him,” Hermione informed Ron in a quiet voice.

“Not as much as someone probably wants Potter dead,” Malfoy called towards her. His hearing was, apparently, immaculate.

This time, Ron’s head turned. “I swear Malfoy,” he threatened. “If you say that one more time, I will not stop her when she attacks you.”

“Why should I be afraid?”

“Because, besides having previously attacked you last year,” Hermione reminded him, glaring at him, “I happen to know that nice little ferret spell,” Hermione finished. She smiled as Malfoy’s confident face flickered away. He quickly left, Crabbe and Goyle behind him, muttering about mudbloods. Hermione could care less now. All her attention was on Harry, who was now entering the maze, along with Cedric. Then Krum followed, and, finally, Fleur.

All that was left to do was wait for Bagman to announce, who was watching the maze from above, who had touched the cup first. The people around Hermione struck up conversation, but all she could do was keep her eyes on the maze, desperate for any sign of Harry’s safety, fearing any sign of impending danger. She pushed binoculars to her eyes, hoping that she could see something. But it was useless – the maze was too dense.

She felt her heart stop as, a few hours later, red sparks covered the sky. She gave a sigh of relief, however, when she found that Krum and Fleur came out of the maze. She noticed that they were both unconscious, and this didn’t improve the horrible and foreboding feeling she had concerning what was to come.

An hour later, Bagman’s voice rang out through the crowd, “Harry and Cedric are currently standing next to the cup – together. It looks as if this might be a tied Hogwarts win. And, yes, they’re both reaching for the cu- Oh my God!” Bagman cut himself off, his tone filled with shock.

Hermione’s heart sped up to a rate she didn’t know existed. Something was happening. Something she didn’t want to happen. Something she knew meant danger. She stood up as an object swirled into the air and disappeared.

“It’s a portkey!” Bagman’s voice echoed in disbelief. “The Triwizard Cup was a portkey. What is going on here?”

“Hermione!” Ron shouted as Hermione raced out of her seat and down the steps, heading to the Quidditch pitch. He tried to follow her, but as the crowd pushed forward to see what happened (they were too afraid to get close to the maze), he couldn’t get any further, but was just pushed to the edge of the tower.

Hermione’s breath grew ragged as she raced down flight after flight of stairs. She ignored Dumbledore as he instructed the crowd, “Something has happened. Everyone, stay in your seats, remain calm, and whatever you do, do not approach the maze!”

Her feet finally felt grass as she left the last steps. She ran towards the maze, her hair flying everywhere, her eyes blinded by tears, screaming, “Harry! Harry!” Suddenly, she felt two pair of hands holding her back.

“Miss Granger!” a voice cried out. Hermione recognized it as Professor McGonagall as she struggled to escape the hands that were holding her. “Stop this now!”

“Harry!” she cried out, pushing towards the maze. She wasn’t going to let Harry down. She needed to be there, to help him, to save him. She hated this feeling of uselessness. During the adventure to stop You-Know-Who from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone, she had saved Harry from the Devil’s Snare and from possible poisoning. In their second year, she was the one who made the polyjuice potion – who confirmed it wasn’t Malfoy. It was she, even in a petrified form, who had helped Harry save the school by earlier discovering what the monster was. Last year, it was because of her that Buckbeak and Sirius both escaped a horrible fate. But this time – this time it was different. For the first time since she met Harry Potter, as the one who cared about him more than anything in the world, she was completely useless to him.

“Harry!” she called out again, in vain, breaking down in sobs. “Let me go!” she screamed, trying to pry open the hands and arms around her. “Let me go!”

“She won’t calm down,” said the voice of Professor Sprout, who was obviously holding Hermione as well.

“I realize that,” McGonagall said through gritted teeth. It was hard enough to control a distraught student, but it was worse when it was a student you knew to usually have complete control. “Miss Granger, you must calm yourself down or I will be forced to do so myself!”

Hermione ignored them. All that mattered was that Harry could be in a life or death situation right now. Why wasn’t anyone doing anything?

She continued to struggle, continued to scream, and as she did, she heard McGonagall’s voice, who said, clearly upset, “I’m sorry for what I’m about to do Miss Granger… Stupefy!”

As Hermione felt her mind let go and surrender to the blackness, she repeated in her head, frantically, as if it was the only thing that mattered in the world, Let him be safe, let him be safe, let him be safe, let him…

*****

And that ends this chapter...yep. Story's almost done. I can't wait to move on to OotP...except the part I want to write doesn't come until, like, the middle. @_@ -_-

Thank you so much for reading and, if you do, reviewing!

I'll try to update soon...

Juggling multiple stories is SO much fun... :rolls eyes:

~Hermione_Crookshanks


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