Chapter 1 : Masquerade Ball
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Harry walked down the hall and saw Ron with Lavender and made his way toward him. He stopped just behind Lavender and listened to their conversation.
“Lavender, it’s a shame we have that Masquerade ball coming up.”
“Why?” she said, sounding like a five-year-old. “It’ll be fun!”
“Well,” Harry cut in, “what Ron’s trying to say is it’ll be a shame hiding that beautiful face behind a mask.”
“Oh, Harry, you are so cute!” With that, she walked away, still giggling.
Ron turned to him. “Hey, you butted in on my chick.”
“No,” Harry said, “I was saving your butt. I’ve heard parrots talk a smoother game.”
Just then, Hermione walked up to them, a frustrated expression on her face. “Excuse me, ‘gentlemen’—” she made quotes with her fingers, “—you can’t treat girls like boy toys.”
Ron glanced around as if a fly was buzzing around his head. “Harry, did you hear something?”
She rolled her eyes. “Come out of your cave, guys. It’s the nineties.”
“It’s the nineties,” they said in unison, mimicking her. She sighed and walked off.
Just then, Neville walked up, wearing glasses with a fake nose and moustache attached, and holding a quill. “Hey, guys,” he said in a nasally voice, wiggling the quill between his fingers. “I’m kinda new here. Could you tell me where I might find the headmistress’ office?”
Harry turned to Ron, who shrugged his shoulders. “Neville, what’s wrong with you?”
Neville took off the glasses. “Darn,” he said in his normal voice. “I’m testing disguises for the Masquerade ball. How’d you guys know it was me?”
Harry frowned. “Er . . . lucky guess?” He and Ron started walking, and then Neville spotted Ginny. He put on the glasses again and rushed up to her, trying out the disguise again.
“Hey there, beautiful, I’m kinda new here, and—”
“Neville, get lost,” she said, annoyed, and walked off.
“Maybe I’ll just join a club and hit myself over the head with it!” he called after her.
In the Muggle Arts classroom, Hermione sat behind one of the many desks, head bent over the textbook. When Ginny sprinted in, she lifted her head. “Hermione! Guess what I found on my bed this morning?”
“Colin Ferrell?” she guessed sarcastically.
“No, I got a letter from a secret admirer! Listen!” She sat down next to Hermione and pulled out a piece of parchment and read aloud: “‘Dear Ginny: you are so beautiful, so fair, and so lovely. If you were mine, I’d shower you with gifts of gold.’”
Hermione smiled uncertainly, knowing she was very gullible. “Sounds like your dream man.”
“Yeah,” Ginny said dreamily. “Warm, loving, and ready to spend big bucks!” She smiled. “He said if I dare respond to leave a letter behind the easel.”
“Well, are you going to write him back?”
Ginny stared at her in surprise. “Are you crazy? Of course I’m writing him back!”
Just then, Professor Culpepper, their Muggle Arts teacher, walked in, along with practically half the class. “Hello, everyone!" she greeted cheerfully, adjusting her inch-thick spectacles. "Please take your seats." No one moved, as they had already done so. She smiled widely. "Today, everyone will sculpt another person.”
A few minutes later, Neville walked in, wearing the glasses again. “Pardon me, beautiful, I’m kinda new here. Have you seen Professor Culpepper?” Neville waggled his eyebrows.
The professor giggled. “Neville, silly boy! It’s me!”
Neville took off the glasses and threw them on the ground. “I give up!”
Hermione stood and went to the back of the classroom to get some extra parchment. She overheard Ron and Harry flirting with a blonde from Ravenclaw.
“Marina, how would you like me to be your personal model?” Harry asked. The girl smiled widely.
“Or me,” Ron said, “and if you want a better grade, I’ll take my shirt off.”
“I think I’m going to be ill,” Hermione interrupted. “Why don’t you little boys try growing up?”
Harry watched her as she hurried back to her seat in the front. He and Ron went to their own seats, and he had to smile. “Oh, yeah. Yep. That girl definitely wants me.”
“Get real!” Ron said. “Hermione’s hot for me.”
“Er, call me crazy,” Neville said, turning around, “but I think she hates both of you equally.”
“She doesn’t hate me,” Ron said. “She's our best friend. Besides," he added with a smirk, "I can see it in her eyes: she wants to kiss me.”
“Oh, please!” Harry scoffed. “Hermione will kiss me before you, and I’ve got fifty galleons to back it up.”
“You’re on,” Ron said. “The kiss has to be on the lips for at least 3.5 seconds.”
“And,” Harry added, “there has to be a witness.”
“Deal.” Ron and Harry shook hands and sat down, both planning how they would get their kiss.
* * *
After class Ginny put her letter on the back of the easel and hurried out of the classroom. She smiled at Ron as he walked into the room, where Hermione was finishing up her sculpture.
“Nice sculpture,” he said, and she looked up. “You’ve got talent!”
“Ron, what are you doing here?” she asked. “All the bimbos are out buying diet butterbeer.”
He laughed. “Good one! Actually,” he sat down beside her on the sofa, “I came here to apologize. Look, I thought about what you said, and I think it’s time I change how I act towards women.”
“Get outta here,” she said, waving it off.
“No, really. I just hope you can forgive me . . . please?”
Hermione shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “Okay, I accept your apology.”
“Great, thanks. Erm . . . have you seen Parvati? She’s my model, and if she doesn’t come . . . well . . . I’m going to flunk.”
“I think she’s sick,” Hermione said. “I can help you, though.”
“You’d . . . you’d model for me?” Ron said, sounding pleased. Hermione nodded, a slight smile on her face. To add to the do-gooder charade, he waved his hand. "Nah, I couldn't ask you to do that." With this display of selflessness, he felt certain she would be impressed, and would be even more willing to help. However, when he glanced at her, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to work. Crap! Think fast, Ron! “Well, if you insist!” he half-yelled, grabbing her arm and leading her the back of the room. He gestured toward the chair, and she sat down, smiling at his apparent courtesy. Just then, Neville walked in, she frowned.
“Don’t mind me, I’m not even here.”
Ron laughed softly. “Neville. What a weirdo. Now, Hermione, can you pucker your lips? I’m going to call my sculpture, ‘Young Girl On the Verge of a Kiss.’”
Hermione nodded. “Like this?”
She puckered her lips exaggeratedly, and Ron smiled. “Good, but lacking realism. Maybe if we pretend to kiss for, say, 3.5 seconds, you could hold the pose and—”
“Does it have to be that real?” she said, standing.
“Reality is the best guide. I want to win—I mean, get an 'O' on this sculpture. Please.”
He pointed at the chair, and she sat down again. She closed her eyes and puckered her lips again, and Ron moved in for the kiss . . .
“All right! She loves me!!”
They turned to see Neville standing by the easel, holding an envelope and parchment.
“Neville, what are you yelling about?” Ron demanded, thoroughly irritated.
He suddenly looked very suspicious. “Nothing. Never mind. I’m not here. You didn’t see me.” Without any delay, Neville ran out of the room. Ron raised one eyebrow and narrowed his eyes, looking at Hermione. She seemed confused, but thankfully, not suspicious of any foul play. He'd just have to get his kiss another time.
* * *
Late that night, Harry escorted Hermione up to the seventh floor.
“Thanks for the date tonight,” she said. “I really love the Phantom of the Opera.”
“Well, it’s the least I could do for being such a jerk.”
“Wow. I’m having some effect on people. I should become a shrink.”
Harry smiled, then turned to face the empty wall. Suddenly, a door appeared, and he opened it for her to go in first. Inside, a table was set for two, lit by candlelight.
“And where’s that special waiter I hired?”
Sitting on the floor by a fireplace, sat Neville, wearing a waiter’s uniform, and writing on some parchment, saying what he was writing. “My beloved lotus blossom . . . no . . . dear . . . dearest love . . . perfect!”
Harry took a roll from the table and threw it at Neville. He looked up. Get over here! Harry mouthed, and he walked over to them. “Hello. I'm Neville, and I'll be your witness. Waiter!" he corrected, then chuckled nervously. "I meant, I'll be your waiter."
“Just tell us the specials,” Harry muttered.
“We have chicken, steak, pork chops, and little green peas!”
Harry forced a smile. “We’ll have the pork chops.”
Neville turned to a house elf that appeared out of nowhere. He whispered something, and the elf scurried out the door. Then Neville went back to his letter.
“Didn’t you like the show, Harry?” Hermione asked him.
“Well, I only saw half of it. I was too busy watching you.”
“Get outta here,” she laughed, looking down at the table. As she did, a faint blush spread across her face. Harry couldn't help but notice that it complimented her skin tone very well. Whoa, where did that come from? he wondered. Shaking his head slightly, he pushed the thought out of his brain. He was just wrapped up in the moment, the candlelight was getting to him. Once they left, he'd be fine. Focus, Harry, he told himself. You're so close! Focus on getting your kiss!
After dinner, Harry moved his chair around so he would be able to kiss her. They talked for a few minutes more, and then Hermione said, “Harry, this has been one of the nicest evenings I’ve spent with a guy.”
Hermione gestured toward the candles. “I like this romantic stuff. Most guys take me to the library.”
“Well, I guess I’m not most guys. And I’m having fun too. A lot more than I expected.”
She smiled. “And I like your new attitude toward girls.”
“Really?” Hermione nodded, and then he said, “Well, I love your smile.”
“Would you like to take a closer look?”
Hermione closed her eyes and moved toward Harry. He did the same until something dawned on him; he looked at how her hair, once bushy but now a sort of wave, flowed down to her waist. He took in how the dress she wore brought out her curves—curves he never knew she had. And he remembered the thought that had crossed his mind earlier about her blush. He was falling for her! He couldn’t kiss her. Plastering a smile on his face, he said loudly, “Boy, this has been a great evening, huh? Let’s get out of here!” Harry forced a laugh. “I’ll just, er . . . take care of the check.”
What check? Hermione thought.
Harry walked over to Neville, but halfway there, he had to stop and look at Hermione again. She was adjusting her dress, and in the process, exposing a lacy white fabric, if only for a split second. Harry exhaled sharply, tearing his eyes away. When he got to Neville, he wore a puzzled expression, “Harry, what happened? You blew it! You could’ve kissed her and won!”
“Neville, I can’t kiss her.” He sighed. “I like her.”
* * *
The next day, Harry and Neville discussed things alone in the common room. “Now,” Neville said, “give it to me one more time. You didn’t like her, so you wanted to kiss her. Now you do like her, so . . . you can’t kiss her.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Right!” he exclaimed, feigning joy. “You finally got it!”
“I do? I don’t even know what I’m talking about!”
“Neville, listen,” Harry said, sitting down in one of the armchairs. “I could’ve kissed her if I wanted to, but it wouldn’t be right because of the bet.”
“But Harry, if you don’t kiss her, Ron will win.”
Harry rolled his eyes again. “I don’t care about the bet,” he nearly shouted.
“Harry Potter doesn’t care about a bet? The world’s going goofy!!!”
He turned to Harry, who was furious. He pointed toward the door. “Go,” he said firmly. “Just . . .” Neville stood and obliged.
As he left, Ron walked in. “Hey, Harry.”
“Ron!” Harry stood up and walked over to him. “Er, listen; I want to call the bet off.”
He smiled. “No luck, eh?”
“No, I was just thinking it’s not really a good bet anyway. I mean, who wants to kiss Hermione, right?” He felt like a complete hypocrite saying this, but he was fighting for the greater good, so he forced a laugh.
“Yeah, sure,” Ron said, laughing with Harry. Then he said, “I’m not buying it, Harry.”
Harry’s smile faded as he walked away. “Ron, I’m serious. It’s not the right thing to do to a girl.”
Ron stopped and turned. “Hey, I’m not kissing any guys!”
“That’s not what I meant, okay? Let’s just call the bet off.”
“No way. I’m not falling for your honesty routine. The bet is still on.” He turned and walked upstairs to the dormitory, leaving Harry alone in the common room. Merlin, Harry thought, shaking his head. What am I going to do?
* * *
Whenever I think of you, the air fills with the sweet scent of roses . . .
Ginny smiled at the letter she’d just found in her bag. Neville walked up to her.
“Hello, Ginny," he greeted her jovially. He smirked at the sight of a very familiar sheet of parchment. "What do you have there, pray tell?”
“It’s a love letter from a secret admirer! I don’t know who he is, but I’m sure he’s Mr. Right!”
Yes! “Have you told him how you feel?”
Ginny frowned and thought about this for a moment. “Well . . . sort of.”
“Tell him that . . . your heart is filled with love, and that your lips ache to tell. Secret admirers love that kind of stuff!”
Ginny grinned in amazement. “Wow, Neville, that’s good! Come on, you’re helping me write a letter!”
She linked arms with him. “I’d love to,” Neville said.
* * *
Harry walked into the common room, and saw Ginny sitting on the couch, looking over some scraps of parchment. She stuffed them into her bag as he came in. Odd. Harry brushed it off, and went up to her. “Er, Ginny, I need your advice on something.”
“Sure, Harry, what is it?”
“Well, there’s someone I like, but I haven’t told her yet, because there’s . . . there’s a problem.”
“Like what? Ugly boots? Bad hair?”
“No, actually, it’s because of a secret.”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “Did you just say secret? Ohmigosh!”
Harry frowned. “What’s the matter?”
“Oh, nothing. Please, continue.”
“Ummm, okay. Well you see, if I tell this girl about the secret, I think I might lose her.”
“Tell me,” she said brightly, “does she happen to have a unique fashion sense?”
Harry thought about it, then said, “Yes, actually, she does.”
She nodded. “A good student, intelligent, well-bred, that kind of thing?”
“Incredibly,” Harry said, knowing all these things were definitely Hermione.
Ginny smiled. “This is fantastic!” Harry lifted an eyebrow. “I-I mean, for you. Now Harry, you absolutely have to tell her how you feel about her—as soon as possible!”
“Okay. Thanks, Ginny.”
He hugged her briefly, then left the common room. Ginny picked up the letter she had written and kissed it. “This is for you, Harry . . . my secret admirer.”
* * *
Ginny ran up to Hermione in the Great Hall, who thankfully sat alone. “Hermione! I found out who my secret admirer is! It’s Harry!!” She sat down. “Oh, by the way, hello.”
Her face fell. “Harry? You mean our friend, Harry Potter?”
“Yes! Oh, he is so cute! He wanted to tell me right out, but for some reason, he was too shy.”
Hermione forced a smile. “That’s . . . really nice, Ginny. Harry’s . . . a really great guy.”
“Yeah,” she said dreamily, then stood up. “Well, I’m going to see if he’s answered my letter. Bye!”
She ran out of the Hall, just as Neville walked in. “Hi, Ginny! Bye, Ginny!” Then he went over and sat next to Hermione. “Where was she going in such a hurry?”
“She’s all excited about her secret admirer,” Hermione snappedbitterly.
“She is? That’s terrific!!”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “She’s thrilled, but I think he’s a real jerk.”
“Hey!” Neville said defensively.
“And a hypocrite!” she added angrily.
“No, he’s not, he’s a Methodist!”
Ignoring his comments, Hermione went on. “A two-timing rat! She’s in for a big disappointment when she finds out what Harry’s really like.” She rested her head on her fist.
“Harry? Ginny said Harry is her secret admirer?”
“Yes, and while he was writing her love letters, he was treating me to a romantic dinner!”
Neville patted her shoulder. “Don’t feel bad, Hermione.”
She smiled. “Thanks, Neville.”
“Harry only treated you to a romantic dinner to win the bet.” Then he realized what he’d said. “Oops!”
Hermione turned to him. “Bet? What bet?”
“Erm . . . I forget! Gotta run! Bye!” He tried to leave, but Hermione caught his arm.
“Not so fast!" She pulled out her wand and pointed it at his lips. "Talk, or lose that tongue forever.”
“Yikes! Er . . . Ron and Harry kinda had a bet going about who could kiss you first.”
“Oh, they did, did they?” she said through her teeth. “Well this is one bet they’re both going to lose!”
“Great!” he said in a squeaky voice. “C-can me and my tongue go now?”
Hermione let go of Neville, and he ran out of the Hall. She sat down again and punched the palm of her left hand, thinking of a way to get back at them.
* * *
Ginny found Hermione in the common room and hurried over to her. “I got another letter from Harry!”
“Yeah, big deal.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
Hermione forced a smile. “I’m sorry, Ginny. I’m just a little out of it today. What did he write this time?”
She pulled out the letter. “‘My dearest: I know my identity is causing some confusion, so I’ve decided to declare my love for you in person. Look for me at the Masquerade ball. I’ll be a Golden Snitch.”
“I should have known his costume would have something to do with Quidditch,” Hermione said.
“Here he comes now!” Hermione saw Harry walking through the portrait hole and she tightened her hand around her wand. “Hermione, don’t say a thing about the letters.” Hermione nodded, and then Ginny’s eyes went wide. “Ohmigosh, I need lipstick!”
She hurried away, and Harry walked up to Hermione.
“Hey, Hermione, I need to talk to you.”
“Oh, about our romantic night out?” she guessed, feeling the anger boiling up.
“Er, yeah, actually. This isn’t easy for me to say, but I owe you an apo—”
“Hi, Harry,” Ginny giggled flirtatiously. “You look handsome today. But then, you always do on Friday.”
“Well, thanks, Ginny, but Hermione and I are—”
“I’m in the way,” Hermione said, walking away. “Why don’t you two talk?”
“But Hermione, I need to talk to—”
“We’ll talk later,” she interrupted, and then left the common room.
Harry stared after her, wondering what was wrong. “Well, I gotta go,” Ginny said. “But look for me at the Masquerade ball tonight. I’ll be dressed as a cat. Meow,” she added with a smile, then hurried off. Harry raised one eyebrow, wondering why she was in such a good mood.
Hermione stood just outside the Great Hall, and then saw Ron walking out. Now was a great time to take action. “Ron!” He turned. “I think I found the right pose. How's this?”
She puckered her lips; Ron looked around, smiling. He leaned toward her, and next thing he knew, she’d pushed him into the wall. He put a hand to his aching head. “What was that for?”
“Don’t play stupid with me, stupid! I know all about the bet!”
He looked at her abruptly. “You do?”
“Neville told me. It’s okay, I can take a joke. But Harry pretended he liked me. That really ticks me off.”
“Look, Hermione, I’m sorry.”
“Forget about it. In fact, I thought it over, and I want you to win the bet.”
“Why, so you can get back at Harry?”
“Is there anything wrong with that?”
Ron shrugged. “Not by me. What’s your plan?”
“I’m going to let you kiss me in front of Harry at the Masquerade ball. What’s your costume.”
“A bludger bat.”
“Okay, Ron, meet me at the punch bowl at nine o'clock for your big kiss. You’ll know it’s me, because I’ll be dressed as a Golden Snitch.” With that, she ran her finger across his jaw and walked away.
* * *
That night, Hermione dressed as a wildcat, and saw the Golden Snitch walk in. She hurried over.
“Hi,” she said. “It’s me, Hermione. We can talk later, but you’ve got to go to Ginny right away! She knows you wrote the letters! She’s thrilled you’re her secret admirer! Isn’t that great? She said meet her at the punch bowl at nine o'clock for a kiss. She’s dressed as a bludger bat.”
The Snitch ran over to the punch bowl immediately.
Meanwhile, Ron had come in, wearing his bat costume. Lavender Brown, dressed as a cowgirl, saw him. “Oh! Excuse me, Mr. Bowling Pin, do I have any lipstick on my teeth?”
He took off the top part, revealing his head. “Er, no you don’t. And I’m a bludger bat.”
“Oh!” she giggled. “That’s really cute!”
She skipped off, and Ron rolled his eyes.
Hermione felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned and found herself face to face with the Phantom of the Opera. “Hey, Ginny, it’s me, Harry.” Her heart sank and she looked at the Snitch.
“Harry?” she hissed.
“Hey, I like your cat costume. Listen, I feel really bad, because Ron and I made this stupid bet about who could kiss Hermione first.”
She rolled her eyes behind her mask. “Meow,” she said.
“Well, you see, something happened between us on our date, which is why I didn’t kiss her. I wanted to lose the bet. I didn’t want to hurt her.”
Hermione nearly cried. “Meow,” she said softly.
Harry frowned. “Can’t you say anything else, Ginny?”
She gulped. “Purr?”
He blinked, then shrugged it off. “Look, I need your advice. I want to tell Hermione I like her, but how do I do that without losing her?”
Oh, Harry. Pulse racing, stomach churning, she lifted her hand and pulled off her mask, thus revealing her true identity. “You just told her.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Hermione! I thought you were Ginny!”
“Never mind that, who’s the Snitch?”
Harry seemed confused. “Who cares?”
Meanwhile, the Bat and the Snitch were dancing. Then the Bat whispered something, and they both took off their hats. When Ron and Neville saw each other they screamed.
“What are you doing here?!” Ron shouted.
“I thought you were Ginny!” Neville said quietly.
Ron's eyes darted around the hall. “Neville, no one saw us. You won’t tell anyone, I won’t tell either. Deal?”
“Deal!” Neville put his hat back on and Ron ran off.
Harry and Hermione watched from the other end of the room and he realized what was going on. “Wait a minute, you thought I’d dressed up as the Snitch and you were setting me up!”
“Well, you have to admit, you deserved it. At least, I thought you did.”
“I’m impressed,” Harry said, and they started dancing as a slow song came on. “Very creative.”
“I hope Ron thinks so too.” They both laughed. “So, now what do we do?”
Harry pretended to be thinking about it. “Hmmm . . . why not finish that kiss we started the other night?”
Hermione smiled as he leaned toward her. Just before they kissed, she let out a happy “Meow.”
Ginny walked in and saw the Snitch. She smiled. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for!” He turned to face her. “I know who you are, and I love you!”
She put down the handheld mask she’d brought, lifted his hat, and screamed shrilly before passing out.
Neville caught her in his arms. “Now, this is what I call true love!”
A/N: My favorite episode of Saved By the Bell! To any of you who have never seen it, it's fabulous! Season five, episode . . . either seven or eight. Anyway, that's really not that important. What is important is that you leave a review for me. It doesn't have to be long or detailed, just a few simple thoughts will suffice! I'm not picky!
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