Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler

Author Notes: Well, this chapter got away from me and went in some very different direction than I was planning. I went through several bouts of writer's block, and other problems with my characters throwing tantrums. However, I did actually finish it before the end of 2010, it just spent a while in editing. *chuckles* Well, at least I finally finished it before the end of 2010 right? Anyway, I hope you like it.

Author Thanks: Thanks to Dawn, for everything she did to make this chapter wonderful.

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Chapter 8 recaps:

Harry and Draco had a potion used on them by a sentimental house-elf to make them make up from their small spat, and have sex. Harry didn’t really appreciate being forced into it, but since it wasn’t actually happening in the real world, he eventually said that he would comply.

Fudge and Umbridge finally had their trial, and both were sentenced to life in prison and their magic bound. The good thing for the wizarding world is that even if they found a way to escape, they would never be able to use magic again. Which I think is a fitting punishment for two corrupt people.

Severus found out that his voice had a magical effect on men. Several of the band members realized that in order to be his band, they had to listen to him sing for a certain period of time in order to be immune. This of course stopped the band from practising for a while.

Blaise finally started his courtship with Hermione. Hermione has narrowed down her choices to several seventh years in Slytherin, but has decided to give him the benefit of doubt considering the trouble that he’s gone through to not only compliment her, but to feed her love of knowledge.

Lastly, when we last left Severus, he was having a very intense conversation with Remus that left Severus in stunned silence.

Chapter 9 – Dates, Courtships, and Potions

Severus stared at Remus for several moments, completely stunned by the casual offer Remus had made. It wasn’t that Severus didn’t find Remus attractive, far from it, though he probably could use his potions that he had created to strengthen his bones and fix other internal injuries. The fact of the matter was, that Severus had actually thought that Remus was straight all this time. Of course, the topic had never really come up before in any conversation, but still, it shocked him none the less. Severus wasn’t blind, and he had noticed that Tonks was always trying to get Remus’ attention. Severus began to open his mouth to reply, when he felt Remus’ hand on his thigh.

“I know you are probably shocked. However, this doesn’t have to change anything between us if you don’t want it to. If you do, well, that’s great. If not, then just forget I said anything. We don’t have to start a real relationship or anything. If you just want someone to release some stress with once in a while, all you have to do is ask.”

Severus cleared his throat before replying with a slight amused smile. “You’re babbling.” Remus blushed at the comment and shut his mouth quickly. He surely didn’t want to turn Severus off if he was actually interested in pursuing something with him.

Shaking his head, Severus caught Remus’ eyes as he continued to speak. “I am, as you say, stunned. I had assumed that you were straight and dating Nymphadora.”

“Tonks… she’s--” Remus laughed softly, pausing to try to think of an appropriate word, “--nice, the clumsiness is kind of cute sometimes, on the other hand, everyone seems to be expecting us to settle down and have children. I am bisexual, actually. However, these days I have a higher attraction for men. Tonks spends about ninety percent of her time lately crying her eyes out. I just can’t stand to see a woman cry.”

Severus chuckled softly, nodding his head in agreement. “Yes, I heard Molly speaking of her crying fits after the last Order meeting. She appeared to be very distressed about the way that Nymphadora has been acting recently. You know Molly and her opinions; she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.”

“Yes, I certainly do. She was actually one of the main ones trying to get us together. I told Molly that I wasn’t interested, but it seems that Tonks claims that she’s in love with me, so Molly has taken upon herself to try to force me to be with her, and I just don’t love her. Molly can’t understand why I would not be interested in her and demanded to know what was so wrong with Tonks that I didn’t even want to date her.”

Severus sneered at the thought, “Why in Merlin’s name does she think she has the right to demand anything? It’s not her business if Nymphadora loves anyone. It also isn’t any of her business that she claims she must be in love with you because her Patronus is a werewolf now.”

“Yes, I caught a glimpse of it last week actually. She sent me a message about the next meeting of the Order. I was amazed to say the least,” Remus said, his head shaking in disbelief. “Anyway, that’s enough about her, and back to the previous conversation. What do you say, Severus?”

“I think that… I would be amenable to some sort of… liaison between us.”

Remus smiled happily and reached for Severus’s hand, only to have Severus stand up and walk away with a slight frown on his face. Puzzled, Remus watched Severus intently.

“I must tell you something though, before we take this any further, and I want your word that you will not tell anyone about it.”

“You know you can tell me anything. If this is about anything bodily related, I have scars of my own you know.” Remus smiled reassuringly.

“Well, actually, it is bodily related as you say. My apparent appearance no longer reflects my actual one. I mainly use it to keep up my facade. It helps when a spy has several secrets,” Severus replied with a grin.

“What do you mean this isn’t how you look anymore? I don’t detect a Glamour, and I can usually smell them from far away.”

“Well, then my spell has been perfected. It is an accomplishment to have a spell that is completely undetectable by werewolves.”

“What exactly is this spell?” Remus stated with an awed look upon his face. “I didn’t know that you wrote your own spells. When did you learn to do that?” he asked curiously.

“I started inventing spells when I was young, in Hogwarts actually. I have always had an affinity with spell making, though I was more interested in potions. I went on to study with several master spell makers after school. Needless to say the Dark Lord was very impressed with me.”

Remus blinked several times, his face showing his obvious disbelief. “You started inventing spells when we were children? You know, now that I think about it, I seem to recall a spectacular piece of spell work back then, one where you turned Sirius upside down and sliced off his trousers. Was that one of yours?”

"Yes, it was two different spells actually, and I invented both of them. The spell was actually the same one Potter used to embarrass me. He stole it from me several weeks before he pulled it on me. He must have gotten hold of my spell diary without my knowledge, I still can't figure out how though. I have a rather large collection of spells of my own creation. I had many years to specialize in them. If I didn't want to do other things after I retire, I might actually go into the spell-making field. If not, perhaps I could do a little freelance work for the division."

“I must say, Severus, I am impressed. Though, what is it that you are planning to do instead? That is, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Promise me you won’t laugh? I am sort of baring my soul here.”

“I promise, Severus. I doubt that you could say anything that would make me laugh, unless you decided to become a model for some Wizarding fashion house. That just wouldn’t fit your personality.” Remus chuckled at his own joke.

Severus scowled at Remus. “I will have you know, that I could easily become a model, and I would be successful too.” Severus crossed his arms in front of his chest and made several movements across the front of his body with his hands. Moments later, Remus would swear that he wasn’t even looking at Severus Snape.

Severus grinned at Remus’s reaction. It was more than he had hoped for. Remus was attracted to the old Severus, but he was in complete lust over his new appearance. Severus’ normally greasy looking hair looked soft as silk, and cascaded down his back in gentle waves, which was much longer than his normal style. Severus had his spell cover his hair so well, that Remus wouldn’t have even known that he had changed his hairstyle.

“I… wow, I… I don’t know what to say other than, you look better than Lockhart on his best day, and what can I do to get you to share this wonderful potion with me?”

“I could accommodate you with a sample of my potions, and teach you the spell to cover it. I need to patent it first, before allowing it to become public.”

“You have a deal, Severus. If the only thing it could do is clear up my scars, I would be the happiest man alive.”

“Oh, it does much more than that. It is a series of potions that I invented that you take over several days' time. The regimen heals internal injuries, fixes your complexion, and other problems. It will get rid of all your scars, fix broken bones, and prevent you from scarring severely in the future. Now, usually you take a dose which ensures you look much better for a specific time, the length of which depends on whether your dose is regular or large but if you had someone use the Cruciatus Curse on you, then you would only need to take a small dose to repair the damage. I have used it for several years now, and have had no ill effects.”

“I must say that is an impressive set of potions. I am sure many people would be interested in it. What made you invent it?”

“Well, I was mainly looking to heal internal injuries left from Dark curses and broken or deformed body parts. I was tired of people making fun of my nose, and since it was my Muggle father’s fault it was that way to begin with, I wanted to fix it. Astonishingly, it had a side effect that basically made all my scarring go away, cleared up my complexion, and made my teeth straight and perfectly white. I then noticed that my hair looked really out of place with my newly improved body, so I invented a potion that fixed my hair and gave it length, body and wave using several new ingredients I read about in a recent Potions journal. Needless to say, I was so changed that I knew I had to invent something to put some of my features back to normal or someone might become suspicious.”

“I would say so. I am sure it helps in your mission to be unassuming as well. People would pay far too much attention to you if you went around like that.”

“Yes, they do in fact. I usually go out without a Glamour when I want to be someone other than hated Professor Snape. You would be surprised at the number of offers I have received. I turned them down, of course.”

“Oh, of course!” Remus smiled. “Naturally, I thought that you were already attractive, just more so now. Anyway, what ingredients were they, if I can ask? You know I have an interest in potions, and I am sure that though I may not understand everything you say, I will be an attentive listener.”

“Well, the article said that certain doses of astragalus root, dandelion root, sarsaparilla root, and ligustrum berries will help with skin health, and aloe leaf, rosemary, nettles, anise, help with hair issues. It was a really fascinating article, and it took me a couple of tries to get the ingredients just right.”

“Well, that does sound interesting. Actually, seeing the results, I am not surprised at the number of propositions you have received. I wonder what it would do for me; perhaps my bones will stop aching so close to the full moon.”

“That is a possibility. I do have to wonder what it will do with the curse in your body. Perhaps it will lessen the effects felt before and after the full moon. I am sure you would appreciate not having to lie in bed for a day or two after transformations.” Severus said as he pondered the possible effects of the potion on a werewolf.

“No idea, let’s hope so. I could use any help with it. Perhaps I could take some after to speed recovery. Though, have you had any addictions with it so far? You did say you had been using it for several years.”

“I don’t use it all that often except for after a visit with the Dark Lord. He does so like his curses. It shouldn’t bother you if you only take it once or twice a month.”

“That’s good; I wouldn’t want to get addicted to it. Especially, if something horrible happens to you, and I couldn’t get it anymore.”

“You have to understand though, that it’s still at an experimental stage and I do not really know whether there might be side effects for someone other than myself, but, well, I hope you won’t have that problem.”

“Me, too, Severus. Me too.”

“Now, that we have that conversation out of the way, what was your soul baring aspiration?” Remus asked eagerly.

“To sing…” replied Severus with a smirk.

Remus sat totally stunned for several minutes before he began to grin. “I could see that, with your sexy voice and all. I believe I even heard it once when we were children and had an irresistible urge to pounce you. Luckily, Sirius and James were able to hold me back. I never did understand why I reacted that way.”

Severus cleared his throat softly and gave Remus a lopsided grin. “Well, I suspect that I may have a bit of Siren blood in me. I had to Stun a couple of teenagers and force them to listen to me for a week before the urge to pounce me subsided.”

Remus laughed. “Let me guess… you are joining Draco’s band?”

Severus nodded. “Yes, luckily, they can stand to listen to me now. For a while after our debut we're going to have to erect a ward around the stage to keep people off it.”

“That is a very good idea, Severus. Don’t want them attacking you in the middle of a set.”


It had been two weeks after Severus and Remus had agreed that Remus would be the next test subject for the potion now dubbed: Restituo Valetudo. It was a slightly nervous Remus that trekked down to the dungeons after dinner Friday evening. He had been speculating for weeks now what he might look like after the change. Severus said he had filled out quite a bit after his change since Severus had the tendency to skip meals when he was working on a project or other research. Since Remus had many lean years in his adult life, perhaps he would finally stop looking so mousy and finally look like he might have if the curse hadn’t been raging in his body since his tenth birthday.

As he stepped into Severus’ private lab, he quietly watched Severus finish a potion and place it aside to cool. Carefully, Severus picked up an empty vial and began filling it, labelling each of the vials in his careful spidery handwriting. After he finished, Remus continued to watch as he placed the majority of them on the shelf and grabbed two of them.

“We should probably retire to the bedroom; it would be less painful to lie down while the potion works.”

Remus nodded, swallowing hard as he followed Severus to his bedroom.

“Now, I know you are nervous, but I promise that I will be here to help you through the changes. I didn’t have anyone myself, so it will be good to be able to observe from a second-hand account.”

Remus grinned. It was just like Severus to think of it as one big experiment. Remus just hoped that he survived with his pride intact. It didn’t help, that as Remus lay down on the bed that a sleek black cat scattered out of the room, making the wolf inside want to follow and play with it. Remus shook his head slightly, who knew Severus was a cat person.

“Severus, how long have you had a cat?” Remus asked.

Severus stiffened. He had hoped that the feline would not be seen. “It was a present for my last birthday. From what I understand, Minerva decided that I needed something to live for. I tried telling her that I didn’t want a pet. I even tried getting rid of it, but it kept coming back. I had no recourse but to keep it. His name is Aldwyn.”

“That’s a great name, I like it,” he replied.

After he took the potions, it took several hours of uncomfortable urges to move and the feeling of bones shifting to fall into a comfortable sleep. Not that Remus wasn’t used to falling asleep with his bones shifting, aching, adjusting, but this was different than his normal transformations. It was more uncomfortable than truly painful, but Remus was definitely happy that there was a potion that gave him slight pain relief.

Despite the discomfort though, Remus thought that it was definitely preferable to his normal transformation. At least he would be keeping his right mind through the process, and be able to see positive changes to his appearance afterwards instead of feeling like his body was dying every month.

Severus had told him that the worst of it should be over and the changes should be complete by the time he woke up. It was with that in mind that Remus finally fell asleep that evening.

In the morning, Severus conjured a tall mirror and stood Remus in front of it. Severus had been secretly admiring the potion’s effects most of the morning. He had watched his friend, soon to be lover, go through the necessary changes to fix his health during the night. It was much harder on Remus than it probably had been on Severus. Remus seemed to have a lot more internal problems to fix than Severus did. However, considering Remus’ normal appearance of looking so sick and weak all the time, Severus could say without a doubt that his potion was going to be a big hit.

Remus stared into the mirror, touching his face, trying to make sure that it was still him. When he noticed the mirror copying his actions, Remus fell back on the bed in shock. He had gained several inches in height; his hair was slightly longer and had a golden sheen to it that it hadn’t had since he was a young child. He definitely no longer looked ill. In fact, one could say Remus was glowing with health. He had rosy cheeks for the first time in his adult life, and he felt more alive in his human body than he had in years.

He quickly fumbled with the bathrobe and uncovered his body, not caring that Severus was in the room. All of the self-inflicted scars from his nights as a werewolf were gone, including some of the deeper ones. Even the mark left from his werewolf bite was gone, which was a miracle in itself. Perhaps Harry would like to use the potion when the war was over. If it could remove curse scars that would definitely be beneficial for him. Remus would ask him later about that.

Severus stood grinning at Remus and winked. “Well, I must say that I do good work. I haven’t ever seen you look this healthy. There were points in our lives where I was afraid you would topple over. How was the pain, was it too unbearable? I didn’t have as many internal injuries as you do.”

“It was mostly uncomfortable. My bones ached quite a bit, but that was probably them correcting damage.” Remus paused a second as he registered the rest of what Severus said. “Why, Severus, is that a compliment I hear?”

Severus scoffed at the idea. “No, a compliment would sound much better than that. You look great Remus; it looks like it took several years off your age, which is very good. You look younger and healthier.” Severus paused for a moment, looking Remus over again. “Is the wolf close the surface? I can’t tell how you’re feeling, you do seem very calm though.” At Remus’s nod, Severus smiled. “Perhaps with tonight’s dose the wolf can be pushed further away still.”

Remus grinned, practically bouncing with excitement. He had noticed that the wolf, always lurking inside, seemed distant as soon as he woke up, and it was getting close to the full moon. Perhaps Severus was right: with a few more doses, perhaps they would have finally found the cure for werewolves. He tried not to be hopeful about it, any help is appreciated. If they had found a cure for lycanthropy, then he would be the happiest man on the planet.

Hermione was just sitting down to breakfast, when the post owls started delivering the morning mail. It wasn’t unusual for her these days to receive mail that wasn’t the normal newspaper. It had been several months since someone had started courting her, and she hadn’t even gathered enough courage to tell Harry and Ron. It wasn’t that she was ashamed that a Slytherin was courting her, but she didn’t really know what to tell them.

Just as she started to fill her plate, an owl landed next to her. In his beak was a package with her name on it. She reached up to grasp the box, and the owl quickly took off. Knowing from experience that she shouldn’t open her gifts at the table, she swiftly put the package in her bag after doing a very quick spell to check for harmful contents. Hermione was curious what her suitor had sent this time, but she didn’t have much free time until next period.

Hermione wasn’t about to let Ginny know that she received another package. Ginny had been harassing her for several weeks wanting to know if her brother was sending her the gifts. Even though Hermione told her several times that he wasn’t, and to mind her own business, she kept asking.

Several hours later, after double Transfiguration, Hermione was able to sneak into her dorm and open that morning’s package. She was surprised to see a very small book and some paper that was shrunk inside the box. Waving her wand, Hermione enlarged the two items and began to read the note.

Dearest Hermione,

Hello beautiful. I hope that these books will help us communicate better. I found them at the bookstore one weekend, and bought a pair of them. It was actually rather easy to link them together. Anyway, think of it as a journal or something that I can read. When there are new messages, the cover will glow red, if I am writing at the time that it starts to flash, it will glow green. If you would like to schedule a time, we could actually write at the same time; have a proper conversation. Let me know when that might be.

Your Suitor

Later that afternoon during her free period, Hermione curled up on her bed and thanked Merlin that she had her own room this year. She could imagine what would happen if Lavender or Parvati were around, she would have to ward her bed to keep them out.

Picking up her quill, she tapped the tip against her chin, pondering what to write. She definitely decided that her suitor was Blaise, but she obviously couldn’t call him that until she was sure. She was first suspicious when she noticed the distinct owl that delivered her letters delivering mail to Blaise. Eventually, she decided on something simple for her first message.

Hello. Thank you for the very lovely gift. It was very thoughtful of you to think of an easier way for us to communicate. I think it is very practical and very interesting way to get to know you better. I was finding it rather hard to get up to the owlery each day to find an owl. Please write to me at 9:00 p.m. and we can “chat” then.

By the way, can you please give me something to call you? I am sort of tired of writing My Suitor with every message.

Satisfied with her first entry in the book, she closed it and looked up at the clock and began to panic. “Oh, no! I am going to be late for Arithmancy!” She quickly jumped off the bed, and stuffed the book under her pillow, making sure to place a non-snooping ward on her bed, and quickly left the room.

Later that evening, she pulled out her book and noticed that she had a reply.

Buona sera mia bella, gentile ragazza. Thank you for indulging me. I find myself thinking of you often, and I have been looking forward to getting to know you better. Why don’t we ask each other questions, and go from there?

You can call me Le Feu. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I guess I was too busy thinking of you, and it didn’t cross my mind.

Hermione sat laughing softly, and smiled. He did have a great sense of humour.

Well, hello Le Feu, I am assuming that you are speaking Italian. Giving away something about you so close to home hmmm? You know, this is so much more convenient than writing by owl, and it’s much quicker too. At least now I won’t feel guilty asking your owl to fly back and forth to bring you letters. I love being able to be anywhere and be able to write you. Right now I am curled up on my bed, and not one person knows what I am doing. I was getting tired of being pestered by my friends about your owl. He’s very distinctive.

After a few moments, words began appearing in the book.

Yes, I am speaking Italian. My mother made sure that I know several languages including, French, Spanish, Italian, and some Russian. I am glad that you like the books. I am sure my owl is glad that he doesn’t have to fly as much, he’s a Northern Hawk Owl. He isn’t normally found in this part of the world. The closest habitat was in Russia, where I went on a trip with my mother several years ago.

Hermione smiled, she had already looked up the kind of owl he was, but she knew that he probably already knew that she did.

He’s very beautiful; I don’t think you ever did tell me his name. I was actually rather surprised that he started bringing my mail. I would have thought you would continue using the school owls.

As Hermione waited for a reply, she hoped that he realized that by sending her such an easy to spot owl that he was almost ready to confirm her suspicions on his identity.

Thanks, his name is Aiekin. You know, I'm amazed at how far we've managed to come since the beginning of our courtship. It’s funny how I was so worried about whether or not this was such a good idea. I really worked myself into a state over whether I should write but I'm so glad I did. It’s so nice being able to sit and write to you any time I want.

Hermione sat fidgeting while trying to figure out what to reply with. With him bringing up how far they'd come recently made Hermione realize that she couldn't put off telling Harry and Ron for much longer. Finishing the conversation she sat and began planning how she could tell them, with the least likelihood of an explosion from one or both of them.

Several weeks of band practice flew by before Draco started getting a feeling that something between him and Harry had changed. They were still dating, and their problems seemed to have worked themselves out. However, he started to get the feeling that something had happened that he just couldn’t place. Harry wasn’t really acting suspiciously, but it just seemed like he felt closer to Harry than he had in weeks prior.

He had been having very realistic dreams that seemed to be based off real life. However, considering he was positive that he and Harry hadn’t had sex yet, it must be his imagination; it wasn’t possible that he could have had sex with Harry and completely forgotten it. Unless, of course, he was Obliviated or it had been potion induced.

After he thought that, he suddenly remembered something very important. In one of his dreams his house-elf had been present. As Draco realised he couldn’t remember the whole dream he tried to find out what had happened from the only resource who might know.

“Mipsey,” Draco called.

“Master, what can Mipsey be doing for you?”

“Mipsey, has something happened recently, something to do with me and Harry?” he asked quietly.

Mipsey hung her head miserably but didn’t answer.

“Mipsey,” was ground out by the now disturbed blond, “tell me what you did.”

“I is not meaning to hurt Master. I is doing what is best.”

“Which is what?”

“I is putting a potion in Master’s and Master’s friend’s drink. Master and Him drink it and then no more problems. Just like Mipsey did for old Master and Mistress.”

“Mipsey, Harry’s not going to like this and it's all your fault. Don’t make me give you clothes.” Draco spoke calmly despite his shock, or maybe because of it; he wasn’t really sure himself. “Or next there will be clothes.”

He sat down suddenly, glad there was a chair near. “Oh, hell, I’m repeating myself.”

“Oh Merlin, Harry doesn’t know. He can’t know. He’s going to kill me, no he’s going to kill you.”

“Is Master going to tell him?”

“Tea, Mipsey, now,” Draco commanded the elf, as he thought about what he should do., “I really don’t want to tell him I took his virginity in a dream. Because of an interfering house elf. Not a good idea, I can imagine the hell I’m going to go through once he finds out anyway,” he shuddered, “--although at least we don’t have to keep arguing anymore. I just hope he’s reasonable about Mipsey, there aren’t many as well trained as her anymore.”

“Mipsey, where’s that tea?”

Hermione paced nervously in the Room of Requirement waiting on her two best friends. She couldn’t believe that she was about to tell Ron and Harry that she was being courted in a pureblood tradition. The Slytherin part wouldn’t really matter to them since they were both dating Slytherins. However, it didn’t stop her from being nervous. She was sure that she knew who her suitor was, but she was having too much fun watching the changes in him to say anything.

He had not been seen with any girl in some time, and Hermione was pleased that he was actually taking everything seriously. She never really did believe that his reputation was completely true. Some of the girls that claimed that they had slept with him were known to tell lies about their supposed conquests to look cool to the other girls. It seemed he had a reputation and girls that got him to sleep with them, or spread around that they did, were suddenly noticed by the other males in the school.

Hermione found it utterly ridiculous that in order to be noticed by the boys at school they had to pretend to have sex, or actually have sex with someone. She was glad that she had caught his attention with something else. Her suitor actually cared about her mind, and had stated several times that he was tired of empty-headed girls who couldn’t even carry on a conversation without giggling.

She could tell that he was rather intelligent himself, and that was nice. Though she had once thought she would become Mrs Ron Weasley, Hermione realised that they just didn’t have enough in common to really have a long lasting marriage. It was around that time that she had started dating Fred, which had caused several months of uneasy silence between Ron and her. Luckily, they had eventually gotten over the silence and moved back to being good friends.

Several moments later, the door opened and Ron and Harry walked in. They could tell that Hermione was clearly very nervous about whatever secret she had been keeping from them. She was pacing back and forth in front of a softly burning fire, talking to herself and wringing her hands in the edge of her shirt.

They’d figured that this nervousness had to do with the packages and letters that she’d been receiving, and Harry was sure that she had her own secret admirer. Harry, of course, had his own secret. He knew who liked his best friend. He had seen Blaise at the owlery sending off a package that, later that morning, showed up in Hermione’s place.

Harry was glad to see the change come over his band mate and friend. Hermione seemed more confident about herself and Blaise had settled down with a good purpose. It was actually surprising that the young man he now considered a friend was courting his best friend. If this had happened several years ago, Harry would probably have been quite upset. However, now that he had gotten to know the Slytherin, he realized that there was so many things that he didn’t know about students in the other houses.

Pulled out of his musings, Harry noticed that Hermione was speaking about what was troubling her. She acted like she had rehearsed what she was going to say for several hours, and was repeating it from memory.

“I know that you’ve seen the mail and several packages that have been coming to me on a fairly regular basis lately, and I wanted you to know that...” she paused, looking even more nervous. “I’mbeingcourted,” Hermione exclaimed in a rush.

Harry looked at Hermione oddly, and replied, “Well, I normally only say this to Ron, but huh?”

“Okay, I’m sorry...” She stood there for several minutes, trying to calm down before speaking again, wringing her hands in her shirt. “I said I’m being courted. I am pretty sure I know who it is, but just in case I am wrong, I don't want to embarrass myself by telling you who it is.”

Ron sputtered slightly before exclaiming, “Courted? By who? I thought you and Fred had broken up?”

Harry elbowed Ron slightly in the side and shook his head. Ron knew better than to mention Fred for any reason. Their break-up was something that may still hurt Hermione, and Ron knew he shouldn’t be bringing him up in a conversation about someone else that was trying to marry her. Ron shrugged and muttered his apologies to Hermione before lowering his head to look down at the cold stone floor.

Hermione smiled at Harry's protective nature and cleared her throat, causing Ron to look up at her. “It's okay; it's all right to mention his name now. It's not like we didn’t part ways as friends or something. We both knew that with his schedule it just wouldn’t work. I did have no idea that someone else would notice that I was available and decide to take advantage of it. It's rather charming in a way, more romantic than I would have thought, actually. He's been really sweet to me; he even sent a journal for us to converse in to save our owls from tiring out.”

Harry and Ron smiled at their friend, and something made Harry curious. 'I wonder how much she really knows. Well, let's ask her.'

“Hermione, I am curious. You said that you had a pretty good idea who your suitor was. What clues are you going on?” asked Harry.

“Well, like I said, I’m unsure of whom exactly it is, but I have a pretty good feeling.” Hermione sighed, wishing that Harry hadn’t pushed her for answers. “I guess since I have been keeping it a secret I can tell you what I know. Although, it is a bit embarrassing to be honest. It was something I’ve been noticing for a while since I became your band manager. Every time I walked into the room, I got the distinct impression that I was being watched. Considering everyone in the room was either with someone or at least dating around, it didn’t take me too long to figure out that there were only two choices that it could be.” She started, pausing to catch her breath as she continued to ramble.

“Considering Wayne has been dating men for several years now, I figured that it had to be Blaise. I was surprised at first, thinking that perhaps he needed help with his homework or something. However, when I thought about it, he was always getting top marks in the classes that he had with me, so it couldn’t be that. Of course, that‘s when I realized that the supposed, 'Slytherin Sex God of the dungeons,'--" she paused and used her fingers to quote the phrase, “--hadn’t been dating anyone in several months. The few girls that have tried to pretend that they were dating him, or at least having sex with him, were quickly stopped in their tracks by Blaise mentioning that he wouldn’t ever sleep with them and to give up trying. It was around then that the courtship letter arrived, and I was pretty sure that it was a Slytherin considering the outlined courtship. When I’d decided it was Blaise, I resolved to give him a chance to prove that he wasn’t the guy he was rumoured to be. I also noticed that the owl delivering my mail from my suitor was also landing on Blaise’s shoulder at least once a day.”

Harry grinned at Hermione's brilliant deduction. After Harry had noticed the package to Hermione show up, he had confronted the Slytherin about his friend and was pleasantly surprised by what he was doing. Hermione had always been a romantic at heart, and the fact that she was being courted like a princess, probably made her quite happy. He had, of course, pulled the normal brother routine and told Blaise that he better not be joking or playing with her feelings. It was rather amusing to watch Blaise moon over Hermione. The Slytherin lit up when she entered the room, which he tried his hardest to hide. However, though Blaise may be a Slytherin, he had a really hard time hiding his feelings for Hermione, so that no one would notice. It was touching that Blaise cared so much when he barely knew her. He just hoped that once he really got to know her, that he would still want her. Hermione had the tendency to scare most sane men away with her brilliant mind. Luckily, Blaise had an intelligence that was equal to Hermione's and really should have been sorted into Ravenclaw instead of Slytherin. Of course, the same thing could be said about Hermione.

“I knew that you would figure it out quicker than Blaise gave you credit for, Hermione.” Hermione began puffing up, ready to spew her righteous indignation that Harry knew about her suitor before she did, and Harry decided to put her anger to rest before she could reply. “Before you get mad at me, I only found out last week and he begged me to keep quiet about it. However, since you know, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to confirm your theory.”

Hermione sighed. It didn’t really matter that Harry knew in the long run. “Well, at least I know that I am right. How did you find out, Harry?”

“I was a little down, and decided that going up to visit Hedwig would help. While I was there, I saw him sending a package. It was later at breakfast that I noticed the owl and the same package deliver itself to you. Needless to say, I confronted him shortly after. I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t pulling some sort of practical joke on you, or attempting to hurt you in any way,” Harry replied.

Hermione smiled at her best friend. She could always count on Harry to protect her. “It must have been a good conversation if you agreed to keep his secret.”

Harry nodded. “I was satisfied by his reasoning actually. I thought it was romantic: kind of reminded me of the sweet letters that Draco has sent me this year. Though is it just me, or is it funny that all three of us are dating Slytherins?”

The trio laughed at the irony, and made their way to the exit. Things seem to be working out well for their personal lives. However, what nobody knew was that Voldemort was planning a huge attack on the Ministry that would leave it crippled.

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