A/N – so chapter 11 isn’t validated yet, but I’m totally going to start working on 12 so that you all, my wonderful reviewers, don’t have to wait as long! :D I love yall, just so you know. So with out further ado…oh and J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter & co., but I’m sure if you didn’t already know that, you wouldn’t be reading this! This chapter is definitely longer than the last one, so enjoy!
Chapter 12: Eliminations
Draco was furious. He did not lose. Ever. And this wasn’t going to be the first time. While everyone was shouting in either protest or triumph, Draco calmly caught the attention of Fred Weasley, who was trying to calm down Oliver Wood.
“A word please,” Draco drawled.
“Just a moment, Malfoy,” Fred hardly looked at him.
Draco pulled gently on Fred’s arm to pull him away from the chaos, “No, I think this deserves immediate attention.”
“Now listen, Malfoy, no matter what you say, Hermione’s decision is final, and nothing you do is going to change…”
“Oh, I think things can be changed quite easily, Weasley,” Draco whispered as he drew Fred over to a secluded hallway.
“What are you playing at?”
Draco pulled from his lavish robes a medium sized bag clinking with wizard coins.
Fred hesitantly asked, “I’m not selling Hermione to you if that’s what….”
“Oh please, Weasley, I’m not that heartless. And I believe you’re not that stupid to accept such a small amount for our dear Hermione. This payment is just a little insurance premium.”
“What do you want, Malfoy?”
“To stay in the game.”
“You’re already out.”
“You can change that.”
“How could I…”
“The game was a fluke, everyone knows that. If anything it was tied. As provider and caretaker you can determine the game to be invalid.”
“That would put us back at the beginning. I’m not sure if Hermione could take that.”
“Then set some qualifying limitations.”
“What did you have in mind?” Fred said as he accepted the bag and surveyed the huge amount inside. It was plenty enough money for Fred and George’s inventions for many years to come.
Draco smirked and let out an evil laugh, “So easily corrupted.”
“I wouldn’t call it corruption,” Fred said as he closed the bag and tucked it way under is not as nice robes, “Just smart business policies.”
“Call it what you wish,” Draco smirked as he walked away.
Fred promptly went to go find George.
“Fred we have some problems.”
“I know George, but I think I have some sort of a solution.”
“Oh good,” George let out a sigh of relief.
George continued to look worried, “she disappeared into her room. No one can get her out. Not even Harry.”
“Well that’s a problem.”
“yeah. I don’t know what’s come over her. She seemed like such a sane girl to begin with.”
“Listen, George, I need to talk to you about something,” Fred whispered quietly as he pulled out the bag of money.
George’s eyes lit up, “Fred where did you get that?”
“Let’s just call him an investor,” Fred whispered back as he nodded towards Malfoy who was in quiet conversation with Blaise. George picked up the hint.
“What does he want?”
George rolled his eyes, “That’s likely.”
“He wants us to announce the quidditch game invalid. And then eliminate suitors based upon a qualification.”
“What qualification would that be?”
“I guess that would be up to us to decide.”
“Maybe we could let Hermione decide?”
“You think that’s wise, George? Hermione isn’t quite sane at the moment.”
“We could let her see everyone one last time. Then at the end she can tell us what qualification she wants.”
“We never said this was going to be easy.”
Meanwhile, Hermione was preparing herself to go back out and face everyone. She felt so foolish for her decision on the quidditch match. What was she thinking? She obviously picked the wrong team. Harry met her as soon as she exited her room.
“Is everything ok?”
“I’m fine, Harry. Where are Fred and George?”
“Right here Hermione,” Fred answered as they approached.
“We need to talk to you,” George added.
With one pointed look from the twins, Harry slowly left the group.
“What is it?” Hermione asked almost afraid of what horrors awaited her next.
“We’re afraid that the quidditch match is going to be invalid,” Fred said gravely but firmly.
“OH thank goodness!” Hermione let out a huge sigh of relief. Both twins looked at her oddly.
With a quirked eyebrow George added, “We ask that you see each suitor one more time. Then set a qualification that each must have in order to continue. Do you think you can do that?”
“I guess I don’t have a choice.”
“There are always choices,” George whispered.
“Apparently not for me,” Hermione replied back acidly, “Can we start this already?”
“Of course,” Fred answered for George who was still recovering from Hermione’s tone.
Harry saw Hermione first. Which was a good thing. He helped lighten her mood.
“What if I just picked you right now?” Hermione asked while they were wrapped in each others arms on her bed after quite the extensive make out session.
“Would it be what you really wanted?” Harry asked a bit fearfully. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for this.
“Isn’t it what you want?” Hermione sat up and looked at him.
Harry had trouble answering as he got up too and started to stand, “Hermione, I think you need time to make this decision.”
“Time only makes things confusing.”
“It’s better to be confused now, than regret a mistake later.”
“You’ll never be a mistake, Harry.”
“Let’s hope so,” Harry smiled kindly and gave Hermione one last kiss before leaving and sending in Ron.
Ron had flowers for Hermione. Flowers that seemed to be jumping from one color to the next.
“The flowers from the Burrow’s garden?”
“Yes,” Ron blushed.
“They’re really beautiful,” Hermione smiled.
Before Ron handed them over they turned a deep shade of red. And stayed there for quite some time. Hermione knew they expressed feelings. She quickly grabbed them and set them by her bed as they changed quickly to a bright shade of yellow.
“Hermione, I really do care about you,” Ron started.
“I know, Ronald,” Hermione smiled again, this time not so easily. Why was this so awkward?
“I would do anything for you,” Ron continued, “That’s why if you want me to leave so you can pick someone you truly want, just say the word. I would leave right away and…”
“Ron, don’t be ridiculous. Of course I want you here,” Hermione said impatiently.
Ron blushed crimson and asked, “Really?”
“Who else am I going to turn to when I really need a friend?” Hermione asked as she grabbed his hands.
Instead of blushing more, Ron just smiled. Not a goofy kid smile, but a content grin. He held that grin as he bent down to give Hermione a soft kiss.
“I was hoping you would say that,” he said as he started to leave.
Neville came in next and let her know that whatever her decision that he only hoped the utmost happiness. Dean, Seamus, and Oliver were quite the same, except they added that they were only sorry that the quidditch match was so ill-played.
When Krum entered Hermione’s room, she cringed. He was smugly smirking as he held out his hand to reveal the golden snitch that he caught.
Hermione commented coldly, “The game was announced invalid, Victor. It doesn’t matter than you won anymore.”
“Hermione, you know that it does. It doesn’t matter the outcome of the game, in the end I’m the ultimate winner. I caught the snitch.”
“Catching something doesn’t mean you win,” Hermione said flatly.
“Oh, I really think it does,” Krum said darkly as he came up closer to Hermione. She backed up in fear and knocked over a lamp. It broke with a loud clash, which Hermione was partly grateful. In another second Fred was the room.
“Is everything ok?”
Hermione looked pale, “Fred, I think it’s time for Victor to leave.”
“What did you do to her?” Fred asked Krum angrily.
“Nothing,” Krum looked confused, “Hermione, what’s wrong with you? You know I’m the right choice. Stop all this nonsense and just pick me.”
“I’m sorry, Victor,” Hermione sounded sincere, “But I don’t think we would work out. Please leave.”
Krum’s face turned quite violet as his hands flinched, “You must be joking,” he said angrily as he came closer to her, “this is a joke right?” he yelled right in front of her.
Hermione resisted the urge to squeak as Fred grabbed hold of Krum and started pushing him out the door, “You need to leave now.”
“I’m sorry Victor,” Hermione called out as he heard him shouting at Fred in the hallway.
Inwardly she sighed with relief. That’s one less problem and suitor to worry about.
“That relieved to see me? I know it’s been a while, but I thought you’d be able to survive a little bit without me,” Blaise smirked.
Hermione rolled her eyes, “Really Blaise, can you only think of yourself?”
“Naturally. But occasionally you pop into my mind as well.”
“I thought so too,” Blaise joked, “Really though, Hermione. You’ve made quite the spectacle of this whole thing. It really is quite amusing.”
“Amusing to some, I suppose.”
Blaise raised an eyebrow, “you’re not amusing yourself with all this?”
“How can I? My feelings aren’t being considered in this. No one cares.”
Blaise approached her. She could feel his arms close to her and wanted nothing more to feel them around her. She could hear his breathing and smell the old book smell that she loved about him.
“I really think someone does. At least I do.”
Blaise took her arms in his hands and pulled her closer to him and whispered, “Oh very much so.” And he kissed her. A long pleasant kiss that left Hermione smiling as he left the room to send the next guy in.
“Please tell me that you are not falling for Zabini,” Draco droned.
“And is something wrong if I am?” Hermione challenged back.
“More than you can imagine,” Draco stared back at her. His stare was so intense that she didn’t feel like she could challenge him again. She just nodded.
“I suppose you’re quite proud of yourself for causing so much chaos earlier,” Draco smirked.
“Well, a little chaos never hurt anybody.”
Draco grinned, “as long as you’re not a part of it, correct?”
“Why yes, it’s more fun to watch it, I suppose.”
Draco just smiled, but Hermione was curious, “You didn’t seem very phased by any of it though? Are you immune to chaos or something?”
“No, I just know to live above of it.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, “Yes of course. The great Draco Malfoy. Always above such petty confusion.”
Draco chuckled, “You’re lucky you’re not some insubordinate. I would have you wishing that your thoughts couldn’t even come up with those words.”
Hermione challenged back, “Doesn’t sound very threatening to me.”
“Oh really?” Draco growled playfully as he moved closer to her. She could feel is presence invading hers. Although it was a bit exciting, she was extremely intimidating. She couldn’t answer.
“I guess you just need a few lessons in submission then,” Draco murmured as his mouth moved closers to hers.
“And what makes you think you’re the one to teach me?” Hermione asked. Draco didn’t answer though. He had closed the gap and was kissing her, quite in control of the situation. And Hermione didn’t mind at all.
She was still grinning from her experience with Draco as she saw Lee, Justin, and Roger. All of which she could hardly remember their words of endearment and wishes for her to find happiness.
“You seem distracted,” Fred finally asked after speaking with her for a few minutes.
“Making your decisions, I suppose?”
“I’m getting there.”
“I’m going to ask you to leave me out of this, Hermione. Please.”
“Why?” Hermione’s eyes held spunk with the challenge.
“You know why,” Fred answered darkly.
Hermione shrugged and continued nonchalantly, “Well, with no reason, I really can’t consider…”
“I want Angelina and I to work out.”
Hermione’s eyes went bright at the answer, “You’re going to become serious with her?”
“I would like to.”
“That’s all you had to say,” Hermione grinned like a cat as she ushered him out of the room, “Consider it done!”
“You seem to be in a happy mood,” George commented as he entered as his brother left.
“Well I was,” Hermione became quite somber.
“is it really all that bad?”
Hermione didn’t answer.
George sighed, “You don’t have to make this difficult, Hermione.”
“Oh yes, because choosing my future partner is suppose to be super easy,” Hermione rolled her eyes.
“No, but you don’t have to throw such tantrums. You could act a bit more sane!”
“Sane, George? You want me to be sane? You’re the one who came up with this idea!”
“To help you! To help you become happier!”
“I was happy!” Hermione shouted back.
“No, Hermione. You were numb. And now you’re feeling things. And even if that means having you feel anger towards me, then so be it. I’d rather you hate me then have no feelings at all.”
“I don’t hate you, George,” Hermione said softly.
“That’s good, because you still have to put up with me.”
Hermione crossed her arms, “you’re so impossible.”
“I’m impossible? You’re practically a nightmare.”
Hermione turned a bright shade of red, “How dare you!”
“I’m sorry, Hermione. I really didn’t mean it that way,” George winced. He had gone too far.
“And how did you mean it?”
George couldn’t answer. She was so frustrating. He wanted to just grab her and kiss her and tell her how crazy she was making him. But he took a step back instead.
“I just mean, that everything will be better once this is all over. Have you made your decision.”
Hermione tried to search George’s face for some hint or clue to what he felt. But she knew she had no hope anymore of regaining that semi-spark she had with George. Why was he so shielded against her?
“Yes. I know the qualifications.”
“What are they?”
Hermione came close to George, still searching him. He looked a bit timid and unsure. And she was right there looking up at him so expectantly. He leaned down a little, just in case she decided to whisper her decision. Her gaze was attracting him. His face moved closer to hers. Hermione’s eyes gently closed as their heads tilted and came closer. He wanted to feel her lips so bad and he was so close. Her jerked suddenly away.
“Everyone’s waiting for your decision, Hermione.”
“Then they shall have it,” Hermione said with all the sadness she could let her voice carry without letting the tears that were pooling in her eyes fall freely down her face. She tensed up and walked outside her room, “I’ll make the announcement myself.”
A/N – Wow, so this was so longer than I intended it to be! I feel so good actually having this chapter finished and waiting to be put in queue for validation. It makes me feel like a dependable author that we all know I’m not. ^^ Anyways, I hope everyone loved this chapter. Please let me know and review! Oh, and feel free to check out my “Meet the Author” page. It’s kinda cool. Til Next time!