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A Ghost of a Chance by harrystrulove

Format: Novella
Chapters: 16
Word Count: 40,882

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Contains Slash (Same-Sex Pairing)

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 04/12/2007
Last Chapter: 06/18/2007
Last Updated: 12/23/2007


Have you ever loved someone, but had virtually no chance with him? All Myrtle has ever wanted was for Harry to love her as much as she loves him. Now, thanks to an unexpected friendship and a little magic, her dreams just might come true. But first she must face unexpected mishaps including Amortentia, lies, crazy chases and hardest of all, herself. Can she win his love before it's too late?

Chapter 1: Hogwarts' Most Wanted
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DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Potterverse or the song used in this chapter, which is "Sitting on the Toilet" by The Moaning Myrtles.

A/N: Yes, this is a romance between Harry and Myrtle. Also, some chapters will be songfics, so if songfics are not your cup of tea, you've been warned.

For the sake of this fanfic, please imagine that Moaning Myrtle was a seventh year when she died, and thus she is Harry's age. Also, please imagine that Harry killed Voldemort at the end of his sixth year.

It was a dark and stormy night and - Okay, so it wasn't that stormy... or stormy at all, really... and the only reason it was dark was because Harry still had his eyes closed. But for the purpose of the suspense, let's just pretend it was dark and stormy.

As Ron and Hermione had been named Head Boy and Head Girl, they were in a separate compartment at the front of the Hogwarts Express, leaving the Boy Who Lived to share a compartment with Neville and Luna, who sat across from him and talked quietly amongst themselves.

Harry kept his eyes shut, pretending to be asleep so that his friends would allow him to be alone with his thoughts. It was still hard to believe that the Dark Lord was now a thing of the past. Harry had become so used to constantly watching his back wherever he went, that to this day he still had a hard time relaxing. The end of his sixth year not only ended with the deaths of Dumbledore and Voldemort, but the death of his relationship with Ginny as well. After the war, he and Ginny had tried to go back to being boyfriend and girlfriend, but something was...not quite right. They talked it over and decided that they really just wanted to be friends.

That was fine with the dark-haired wizard. He felt like he'd lost his desire for love; the romantic kind anyway.

Right then, Harry heard the door to their compartment open and instinctively opened his eyes to see who was there. He groaned inwardly and rolled his eyes at the sight of Romilda Vane.

"Hi, Harry," the prissy girl made eyes at him as she twirled her hair around her finger.

"Romilda," Harry's dislike for the girl was plain on his face as he nodded politely to her.

The pushy brunette entered their compartment and squeezed in next to Harry, leaning into him and batting her eyelashes in a most sickening way. "I missed you, Harry. I thought about you all Summer long," she purred and batted her eyes at him again.

Harry wondered if this was her idea of flirting, or if she had something in her eyes.

"Did you miss me, Harry?"

The Gryffindor didn't answer; he hadn't thought of her even once during his time off. In fact, he didn't even want to think about her.

Romilda lowered her eyelids and pouted, trying a bit too hard to be sexy. In Harry's opinion, she looked kind of like a sloth. She apparently thought that her ploy was working, as Harry cracked a smile. What she didn't know was that he was trying to suppress his laughter.

"You did miss me, didn't you?" Romilda squealed and gave Harry an unwelcome peck on the cheek before he could stop her. "You can play hard-to-get all you want, Harry Potter, but I know you want me." Before leaving his compartment, she took a red rose out of her robe pocket and pushed it at him so that he had to take it. "A little something to remind you of me," she winked before leaving Harry alone with his friends.
Myrtle was unusually excited as she hid in the wall of the Great Hall, watching the returning Hogwarts students file into the large room and take their seats at their respective house tables. Tonight marked the beginning of Harry Potter's seventh year at Hogwarts. For Myrtle, that could only mean one thing: this would be the last year that she would get to see the handsome Gryffindor. At that thought, Myrtle's enthusiasm deflated like a balloon as she heaved a loud sigh. Yes, Harry would graduate, and no doubt marry a non-transparent woman, and have non-transparent babies...

The students continued to fill the Great Hall, and Myrtle quietly watched for the boy she secretly loved. Then, as the last of the students entered, she saw him. He appeared to have grown taller over the Summer, his shoulders broader and stronger-looking than she remembered. Myrtle didn't think it was possible for Harry to get any better looking. He would've taken her breath away - if she had breath, that is.

The lonely ghost was oblivious to McGonagall's welcome back speech and the Sorting Hat's song, as she could see nothing and nobody but Harry. He was so breathtakingly gorgeous with that perfect face...those broad shoulders...that seductively rumpled hair that begged to be touched...

I don't mean to be rude
But sometimes I must stare
Only want to knot my fingers in your hair
If I tried to kiss you
Your lips would go through me

Still careful to blend in with the stone walls, Myrtle floated a little closer so that she could get a better look at those sensuous lips. She wondered what it might feel like to kiss those lips, and it bothered her to know that she would never be able to. The ghost seriously envied Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley; they had been lucky enough to get their chance with him. It broke her spectral heart at the thought of seeing him kiss those other girls, who were so much prettier and more alive than she was.

Now, as the new headmistress McGonagall dismissed the students and staff, Myrtle noticed a stunning girl with long, shiny dark hair stride confidently up to Harry and blatantly flirt with him. The popular-looking girl linked her arm in Harry's and started guiding him to the door, but Harry jerked his arm out of her grasp and left with the Weasleys and Granger. A large throng of giggling fan girls tagged along behind them, practically falling all over themselves and pushing each other out of the way to get closer to Harry.

Myrtle would've given anything to be alive again so that she could be one of those fan girls. Those girls were so lucky. They had a ghost of a chance with the Boy Who Lived And Defeated You Know Who. With a sigh, she retreated to her restroom, wishing she could be the lucky one to win his heart.

Oh Harry, you're lovely
But you never think of me
Oh Harry, I want you to be mine
But you're a real jerk sometimes


Oh no, not again! Harry groaned at the sound of the crazed fan girls who followed him and his friends on their way back to Gryffindor Tower. He'd hoped that these girls would get a life--or better yet, get boyfriends--and leave him alone. But unfortunately, now that he was The-Boy-Who-Defeated-He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, they seemed even more intent on getting close to him. He tried to ignore it all he could, but even with his friends surrounding him like bodyguards, he still could feel their prying eyes on him.

Upon seeing Harry's discomfort, Hermione pulled her wand and spun around to face the gaggle of girls, her wand pointing menacingly at them. "Populus Cohibeo!"

The restraining charm kept the groupies from following them any further. Delighted and grateful to Hermione, Harry looked over his shoulder and waved at the girls, who screamed his name and tried desperately to break through the invisible shield that held them back. "Thanks, Hermione! How long will they stay like that?"

"Oh, for about ten minutes," the bushy-haired girl replied. "By the time the spell wears off, we'll be safe in the common room."

"I wish I had fan girls," Ron muttered sulkily. Then upon seeing the look on Hermione's face, he stammered, " girl is enough for me."

"Trust me, Ron," Harry chuckled dryly, "It sucks having fan girls. Please take them all--and don't forget to take Romilda while you're at it!"

Over the course of the next month, Myrtle was extremely peeved at the countless girls who made a habit of congregating in her bathroom to pine away over Harry and share their dreamy-eyed, vomit-inducing fantasies with each other.

"Harry smiled at me in the hall today," one Hufflepuff girl sighed happily as she clutched her textbooks to her chest and did a little happy dance. "He has the most amazing smile."

"And those eyes are to die for," another Hufflepuff looked dreamy as she leaned against the sink. "They're like two emeralds! Every time he looks at me, my heart races like a speeding Bludger!"

Oh please somebody gag me, Myrtle thought to herself as the girls continued going on and on about Harry and how he looked at them here and smiled at them there, what he had for breakfast this morning, trying out for Quidditch just to be near him, and so on.

They come in here to whine
Those broken-hearted brats
Who also think that you are fine
I watch how you're smitten with every girl you see
But since I'm transparent, you can't adore me

The weeks crawled by, and although Myrtle had finally forced the fan girls out of her lavatory for good, she still saw them everywhere. The ghost always knew where Harry was because there they were, the cute, giggly little stalkers; each one hoping to be the one to catch his eye.

This time, Myrtle decided that she would try to greet Harry in the hallway. It had been so long since she'd actually seen the Gryffindor up close. She watched from a distance as a very disgruntled looking Harry emerged from his last class of the day with his classmates. Upon seeing the groupies there, Harry looked even more upset. Granger whipped out her wand and threatened to hex the girls if they came any closer, while the tall, red-haired Weasley acted as a bodyguard.

As the Golden Trio continued on their way, Myrtle casually floated by, pretending to be surprised to see Harry and his friends there. "Oh, hello Harry! Fancy seeing you here." She smiled at him and giggled. She couldn't help it, really; he turned her to mush every time he was near.

"Hey Myrtle," Harry replied distractedly, hardly stopping to look up and give her a half-hearted smile.

"Harry," Myrtle said in a little girl voice that was meant to be sexy, "Are you ever going to come visit me?"

Harry glanced up at her and blinked with surprise. "Um...I can't visit you in the girls' bathroom. Look, I'm sorry Myrtle, but I must be on my way. See you around."

After sadly watching Harry continue down the hall to Gryffindor Tower, Myrtle pouted and morosely returned to the girls' lavatory, where she belonged. As she floated in a sitting position above her toilet, she heaved a heavy sigh. Over the past several years, she'd tried everything she could think of to get Harry to take an interest in her. She smiled, she flirted, but nothing seemed to work. Myrtle knew she should just give up; after all, who would want Moaning Myrtle? But she couldn't forget about him, not when his fine form seemed to show up wherever she looked.

Can't pretend I don't smile at you once in a while
Anything just to see your green eyes and your smile
But sitting on the toilet,
All I can do is cry
Knowing that you'll never ever give me a try

Right at that moment, Myrtle heard the bathroom door quickly open and slam shut. Annoyed at whomever had the audacity to disturb her, she floated up over the stalls to see who the perpetrator was and make her leave. It was a thin girl with long, blond hair, and the girl appeared to be in need of some major psychiatric assistance as she frantically shook her head and slapped at her hair as if it was on fire.

This was probably the weirdest thing Myrtle had ever seen. She prepared to yell at the girl, but she was laughing so hard, she couldn't even get the words out. Once the ghost calmed down enough to speak, she asked, "What in Merlin's name are you doing?"

The girl looked up, and Myrtle instantly recognized her as Loony Lovegood. As Luna continued to smack her own head, she explained, "It's the googenplotzes, they're trying to nest in my hair!"

Myrtle burst into a fit of giggles. "Googenplotzes? What are those?"

The crazy blond replied, "They're tiny, invisible creatures that float above large crowds of people, looking for blond hair to nest in; they only nest in blond hair. I usually spray googenplotz repellant on my hair, but I ran out. I took a chance and went to the Great Hall anyway, but my head started to itch something fierce, and I just knew I had to get out of there!"

Looking around thoughtfully, the Ravenclaw asked Myrtle, "Hmm... have you seen any Birgunbiths? They haunt girl's bathrooms and their teeth are great for antidotes."

Myrtle laughed so hard at Luna's question, she could've peed her pants...if that was possible for a ghost. She decided that she liked Luna. The blond girl was very entertaining, not to mention even weirder than herself. Perhaps she and Luna could be friends?

"Hey Luna, maybe you should visit me sometimes. You're really funny and I don't get many visitors. If you want to, I could help you hunt for Birgunbiths."

The Ravenclaw smiled brightly at Myrtle's offer. "Yes, that sounds like a good idea." Luna turned and started walking toward the exit, when she paused and looked over her shoulder at the ghost. "You know, Myrtle, I'm glad we talked. You're a lot nicer than the others realize."

Myrtle smiled at the Ravenclaw's retreating back. Even if she could never have Harry, she could at least have a friend.

A/N: I would like to thank my betas, xelusive memoriesx and busybusybeta, for all their help and guidance throughout the creation of this story. Also, a big thank you goes out to Anony_Mouse and Poppy for helping me fine tune the flow and sentence structure in each chapter. You guys are great!  

And last but not least, I want to thank The Moaning Myrtles for inadvertantly inspiring me with their wonderful music.

Chapter 2: She's So Vane
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It was a cold November Saturday as Harry sat in front of the fire with Ron and Hermione, sipping a butterbeer and wishing to Merlin that he could somehow get rid of his fan girls. He had been looking forward to spending his Christmas holiday at Hogwarts, as he'd always done in the past. But he also knew that his legions of fan girls were planning on him staying for the holiday and had changed their plans accordingly. Somehow, just knowing that Romilda and those other girls would be there made him dread Christmas. If he wanted to be able to relax and enjoy his time off, he'd have to make other arrangements.

The raven-haired wizard glanced over at his friends, who were looking very cozy, lost in their own little world. Hermione sat in Ron's lap in the nearby chair as they acted like a sickeningly goofy couple in love. Harry was sure that they would either spend Christmas at the Burrow, or with the Grangers. As much as Harry detested the thought of being a third wheel, he was desperate to get away from his annoying little stalkers. "Guys?"

The two lovebirds didn't seem to hear him as they continued playing kissy-face and talking baby talk to each other. Harry looked away for a moment, his stomach feeling queazy from the extreme mush he was witnessing. Once the nausea passed, he looked over at his friends again, this time raising his voice a little. "Guys?"

Hermione's Arithmancy textbook slid off of her lap and onto the floor, but she didn't seem to notice. At this point, Harry realized that there was only one way to get their attention. "Oh look, McGonagall's here!"

Immediately Hermione jumped off of Ron's lap and attempted to straighten her bushy hair before snatching her textbook off the floor. Then upon turning around and seeing no sign of McGonagall, Hermione glared at Harry. "Blast it, Harry, why the hell did you have to do that? What are you trying to do, give us a heart attack?"

Ron looked rather irritated as he grumbled, "You'd better have a damn good reason for scaring us like that."

"I do," the Boy Who Lived replied earnestly. "Guys, I have a very important favor to ask of you."

Ron and Hermione turned their full attention to Harry, looking surprised and a bit concerned; it was not like their friend to ask favors of anybody. Ron spoke first, "Sure, Harry. What do you need?"

The dark-haired boy crossed his arms over his chest, and stared into the fire for a moment, as if the crackling flames would tell him how to ask what he was about to ask. Then he looked back over at his best friends. "Guys, um... I wanted to know if I could, you know...tag along when you leave for the holidays?"

His friends hesitated for a moment and exchanged quizzical looks. After a moment of silence, Hermione gently said, "Well, Harry, we're not leaving this time. Sorry."


"Yeah," Ron nodded. "Hermione's parents are off to Belgium to renew their vows and go on a second honeymoon. My mum and dad are going to spend the holidays with Bill and Fleur. And besides, we need to stay and study for the N.E.W.T.s."

"I thought you liked Christmas at Hogwarts," commented Hermione. Then, changing her concerned tone, she asked, "Does this have anything to do with all those girls who've also decided to stay for the holiday?"

Harry groaned at the mention of the groupies, causing Ron to chuckle. "Aww, is ickle Harry afwaid of the ickle fan girls?"

"It's not funny, Ron! You have no idea how annoying it is to be constantly followed and spied upon, and you sure as hell don't know what it's like to be stalked by Romilda Vane! If Romilda found out I was here by myself, she'd never leave me alone!"

"Honestly, Harry," Hermione sighed in her know-it-all tone, "why don't you just tell Romilda that you're not interested?"

"Because she doesn't listen, and she won't take no for an answer!"

Ron looked puzzled, "But why don't you like her? I mean, she's pretty hot-"

"-RON!" Hermione said with a deadly glare at her boyfriend and swatted him in the arm with her book.

"Look, the girl's obnoxious! They all are!" Harry's head was starting to hurt. He sat back down in front of the fire, and rubbed his temples with his fingertips.

"Don't worry, mate," Ron pat him on the back, amusement in his voice. "We'll be here to protect you."

Myrtle was floating about through the corridors, bored and depressed when she thought she overheard the mention of Harry's name. Flying in the direction of the female voices, she saw Romilda Vane, the little trollop who'd been trying since the start of term to snag Harry. Morbidly curious as to what this girl might be planning in order to win the Gryffindor, Myrtle hid inside the wall next to the small group.

"But it didn't work last year," one of Romilda's friends reminded her. "What makes you think it'll work this time?"

The evil, sly grin on Romilda's face told Myrtle that she was up to no good. "Oh, it'll work this time, just you wait and see. I'll just slip him the potion when he least expects it."

"How are you going to do that?" asked Romilda's other friend.

The brunette raised one perfectly manicured brow and smirked. "Easy. You see, Harry always sits in exactly the same spot every morning. First, he pours himself some pumpkin juice, then he gets up to get his breakfast. All I have to do is mix up some spiked pumpkin juice and switch the cups without him knowing. You just wait, girls. I can guarantee you, the legendary Harry Potter will be mine by the end of Christmas break."

Myrtle waited until Romilda bid her friends adieu before approaching the conniving little witch. "You're not going to get away with it, you know!"

The prissy brunette turned up her pert little nose at the spectral girl and snapped, "And what might you be referring to?"

Myrtle's angry face was mere inches from hers as she stared down the snob and hissed, "You actually think you can feed Harry a love potion? Do you really think he's stupid enough to fall for something like that?"

"Not even half as stupid as you if you try to screw up my plans!" Romilda threatened before turning on her heel and marching away from Myrtle.

As soon as Stalker Girl was gone, Myrtle went searching for Harry. She had to warn him of Romilda's plans before it was too late! She checked everywhere for Harry, but there was still no sign of the Boy Who Lived. Then she realized that there was one room she had not checked...but did she dare?

Ahhh, this is nice, Harry smiled to himself as he sank into the warm, bubbly water. Being friends with the Head Boy and Head Girl most certainly had its perks, such as knowing the password to the Prefect's bathroom. In need of some solitude, the Gryffindor had magically sealed the bathroom door shut before entering the pool-sized tub. Now, he could be completely alone...or so he thought.


Harry jumped and turned around, unpleasantly surprised to see Moaning Myrtle floating near the pool-sized tub. Bloody hell, he thought to himself. It just figures. I shut out all the living fan girls, and the dead one has to show up! The wizard frowned up at her. "What do you want, Myrtle?"

This time, Myrtle was too worried about Romilda's love potion scheme to giggle or try to hit on the handsome boy. "Harry, I don't want to interrupt your bath, but I overheard something quite disturbing, and I thought you ought to know about it."

The Gryffindor sighed, assuming that whatever she was about to say would turn out to be rather trivial. "Okay fine, what is it?"

"It's Romilda..."

Harry's head snapped up instantly, his eyes narrowing suspiciously at the mention of the snob's name. "What about Romilda?"

Myrtle wrung her transparent hands as she floated back and forth, nervously pacing. "She said that she was going to sneak a love potion into your cup one morning when you're not looking. She knows that you sit in the exact same place at the Gryffindor table everyday. She said that when you get up to get your food, she's going to take your cup and replace it with pumpkin juice laced with Amortentia... just thought you might want to know."

To Harry's surprise, Myrtle didn't stay or try to flirt with him, but simply left after giving him the message. As Myrtle's words echoed in his head, he felt his blood start to boil in his veins. That Romilda was absolutely detestible! And he would make sure that the spiked pumpkin juice never touched his lips.

The next morning, Harry poured a cup of pumpkin juice and placed it in front of his usual seat, just as he always did. As he was filling his plate with eggs and sausages, sure enough he noticed Romilda switching his cup, then discreetly slipping away. Making a mental note to thank Myrtle later for warning him, he intentionally sat in a different seat, across from his usual spot. He grinned widely as he tucked into his breakfast.

Meanwhile, Ron and Hermione sat down in the seats across from Harry and started to eat. As the Golden Trio conversed about their classes and their plans for the weekend, Harry totally forgot that Romilda's toxic Amortentia concoction still sat on the table, at his usual seat. He didn't even think about it until...

"Hmmm, this pumpkin juice tastes funny," Hermione commented after taking a few sips. "I wonder why."

Harry's green eyes widened with fright. "You didn't actually drink that, did you, Hermione?"

The bookworm rolled her honey-colored eyes, "Well of course I'm drinking it, Harry. What else would I be doing...?" The girl's voice trailed off, a strangely lovesick expression on her face. Harry watched with horror as Hermione turned around in her seat and started to blatantly stare at Romilda.

The Chosen One reached across the table to shake Hermione's shoulder. "Hey, Hermione? What are you looking at?"

Without turning around, the bushy-haired girl sighed dreamily. "Isn't she perfect, Harry?"


Hermione sighed again, "Romilda."

Chapter 3: My Guardian Angel Haunts A Toilet
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"What's gotten into her? She's acting completely mental!" Ron hissed to Harry as the Golden Trio walked together to their Potions class later that day. All morning long, their normally studious friend could talk about nothing and no one but Romilda; Romilda this, Romilda was getting very old, very quickly.

Harry merely shrugged and muttered, "Beats me." He knew bloody well the reason behind her bizarre behavior, but was hesitant to tell Ron the truth; Ron would kill him for allowing his precious Hermione to drink Amortentia. Besides, Harry knew that if it was his girlfriend, he'd kill whomever let her drink the spiked juice. Hence, he chose to keep the knowledge from Ron - for a while, anyway.

Upon entering the large classroom, Harry and Ron saw Romilda sitting at her usual table towards the front of the classroom. The cocky girl grinned at Harry from across the room, gesturing frantically for him to sit down beside her. Before Harry could say "No thanks", Hermione had shoved him aside to claim the seat next to Romilda.

Harry and Ron took their usual place at the desk kitty corner behind Romilda's table. The stuck-up brunette looked disgustedly at Hermione and opened her mouth to protest, but right then Professor Slughorn started class. As Slughorn demonstrated today's lesson, Harry was quite distracted by the sight of Hermione trying to hold Romilda's hand and blow in her ear. Romilda was doing her best to ignore the bookworm, but Harry could tell that her composure was wearing thin.

"Are there any questions before we begin?" Slughorn paused to look around at his students.

Right then, Romilda suddenly let out a high-pitched yelp and practically jumped out of her skin, drawing some curious stares and chuckles from their classmates. Looking down at the girls' feet, Harry saw the reason behind Romilda's sudden outburst. Hermione had slipped her shoe off and was attempting to play Footsie with Miss Priss under the table! In response, the snobby brunette moved her feet as far away from Hermione as possible without drawing anymore attention to herself and hissed, "Stop it, Granger!"

Despite his guilt, the Chosen One nearly cracked up laughing when Hermione grinned flirtatiously at Romilda and gave her a playful wink. It was actually quite fun to watch his stalker get a taste of her own medicine. The class period seemed to fly by, and pretty soon the bell rang to end the period. As soon as the students heard the bell, Romilda was out of her chair and walking to the door as quickly as she could, Hermione hot on her trail.

"Get away from me, you freak!" Romilda shrieked when Hermione sped up to catch up with her.

"Romilda, wait up!" The Gryffindor called after her, urgently pushing through the crowds to get to her new obsession. In the process, she practically shoved Luna into a group of Slytherins who had stopped to snicker at the Muggleborn.

Since Luna's classes were now over, she turned and went up to Myrtle's bathroom, as had become common practice for her since befriending the ghost. She rather enjoyed Myrtle's company; when she wasn't whining and moping, she was actually very nice and fun to be with. And besides, nobody else seemed to understand her or accept her quite like Myrtle did. She set her bag down beside the sinks and paused to look for her friend, but the bathroom was completely quiet.


Still, there was complete and utter silence. Luna quietly walked around the vacant restroom, peeking in each stall, finding nothing but the smell that usually lingered there. She was about to leave when she heard Myrtle's distinct laugh coming from behind her.

"Oh Luna, did you see? It was priceless!" The ghost doubled over, snorting with laughter.

"See what, Myrtle?"

Myrtle sputtered through her laughter. " Romilda Vane!"

"Oh yes, I did see that. I'm afraid Hermione's come down with a mild case of the Lubzwigs; they only come out at Christmas time, and they can make you do all sorts of crazy things."

Myrtle giggled even more at Luna's assumption and shook her head. "No, it's not Lubzwigs. It's Amortentia."

Luna's eyes became so big that Myrtle thought they might pop out of the girl's head. "Amortentia? Are you sure? Why would Romilda want Hermione to fall in love with her? Is she trying to make Harry jealous?"

"Well actually," Myrtle giggled and floated closer to her friend, "The love potion was meant for Harry..."

It was getting late, and torches lit the darkened corridors of Hogwarts as Harry left the Prefect's bathroom to return to Gryffindor Tower. As most students were in their respective common rooms by this time, he felt safe enough to walk the halls alone. He rather enjoyed the sense of peace and tranquility, which had been hard to come by since his return to Hogwarts. First it was the groupies, and now he had to deal with Hermione's endless ramblings about Romilda's flawlessness and Ron's constant pouting because his girlfriend was obsessed with someone else, not to mention a girl. Between the groupies and his crazy friends, Harry was sure he'd go insane before long.

Suddenly, the dark-haired boy thought he heard something behind him, several meters away. He paused and looked over his shoulder, but he didn't see or hear anything more. Assuming it was just Mrs. Norris prowling the halls, he continued on his way. This time, he specifically made out the distant sound of a female voice saying, "There he is!"

He turned again, his eyes widening with terror at the huge gang of girls running toward him, screaming his name as if their lives depended on it. Without thinking, the Boy Who Lived started running as fast as he could.

Moaning Myrtle spotted the girls ganging up on Harry and knew she had to do something to save him - fast. Thankfully, Luna had just left her restroom and was walking down a nearby hall up ahead of Harry. She flew up to her friend at lightning speed, urgency in her voice. "Luna! Harry's about to get attacked by fan girls! DO something!"

Luna immediately nodded and went running toward Harry's direction, wand in hand.

Oh, shit! They're ganging up on me! Harry's bath turned out to have been pointless, as he worked up a sweat trying to get away from the groupies. Unfortunately, the mob from Hell could keep up with him a little too well. They were just out of arm's reach when suddenly they stopped running, looking very bewildered.

"Where did he go?" asked one Ravenclaw as she looked all around--even right at Harry--and apparently couldn't see him.

"I don't know," replied a Hufflepuff. "He couldn't have Apparated; nobody can Apparate on Hogwarts grounds."

"And what's that smell?" asked another girl, making a Narcissa Malfoy-ish face as she sniffed at the air. "It smells like rotten eggs. Come on, let's get out of here. Maybe we can figure out where he went."

As the girls turned and started walking away, Harry sniffed at his clothes and realized the he was what the girls smelled. For some odd reason, he reeked to high Heaven! Turning toward the Gryffindor living quarters, he was surprised to see Luna Lovegood emerge from around the corner. "Um, hi, Luna. Could you please tell me what just happened?"

"I cast an Invsibility Charm," the blond replied calmly.

Harry smiled gratefully at his friend, "Thank you, Luna. But how did you know-"

"Don't thank me, thank Myrtle. She was the one who told me that you needed help."

Harry was rather taken aback by this news. First Myrtle saved him from drinking the love potion, and now she saved him from the rabid fan girls? He never expected the ghost to become his guardian angel. He was most definitely indebted to her. Turning back to Luna, he smiled again. "Well, I'd still like to thank you for helping me. But can I ask you one thing?"


"Erm...why do I smell like rotting eggs?"

Myrtle was very upset the next day, when she found out that Luna had made her crush smell bad. After yelling at the Ravenclaw for screwing up the Invisibility Charm, she went storming through the corridors as she ranted to herself over the girl's stupidity. As she went on her tirade, the last thing she expected to see was Harry...and for the first time, he actually looked pleased to see her!

"Myrtle! There you are!"

Completely baffled, Myrtle stopped in her tracks, her eyes widening at the grinning Gryffindor. "W-what? You were looking for me?"

"Yeah, I was." Harry's vibrant green eyes glittered beautifully as he said, "I wanted to thank you...for looking out for me."

"Looking out for you?" Myrtle repeated like a brainless parrot.

The raven-haired hunk shifted his books in his arms. "Um, yeah, you know...warning me about the Amortentia, and sending Luna to save me..."

"And making you smell like you bathed in sewage," Myrtle added, her anger at Luna flaring once again.

"Well actually yes, that too," Harry laughed. Upon seeing the surprised look on Myrtle's face, he explained, "You see, this is the first time in ages that I've been able to walk the halls alone without anybody trying to mob me."

"So you're not angry?"

"Of course not," Harry chuckled again. Oh, it made her heart melt when he smiled like this.

Myrtle returned to her bathroom after her little chat with Harry, elated because he'd actually been warm and friendly to her, yet sad because she'd shouted at Luna. Now the Ravenclaw would probably never want to speak to her again. Moaning Myrtle scared away the only friend she'd ever had, or so she thought. Her spectral heart leapt with joy when the door opened and Luna came walking in as if nothing had happened.

"Luna!" She floated down to where the girl laid her bookbag by the sinks, seating herself upon the cumbersome-looking sack. "Oh Luna, I am so sorry! I just talked to Harry and he's not angry at all about the smell."

Luna looked up at the ghost and smiled softly. "Oh, that's all right. That's what happens when the dungleplompers interfere with spells and charms; the subject ends up stinking for about 24 hours."

Myrtle laughed. She would've missed Luna's nonsensical ramblings about nonexistent creatures. She perched her transparent form upon the ledge of a nearby sink to continue her conversation with Luna. What she was not expecting was Luna's next observation.

"You love Harry, don't you?"

The ghost's jaw dropped. Was it that obvious?

"Actually, Myrtle, I know exactly how you feel," Luna stared down at the floor with a wistful sigh. "I was in love with Ron Weasley for ages, but he only had eyes for Hermione. It broke my heart."

"Granger," Myrtle growled, thoroughly enjoying this bonding session with the Ravenclaw. "Personally, I don't know what he sees in her. She's just a plain, bushy-haired know-it-all."

Luna's big grey eyes snapped up to Myrtle's face. "Oh no, Myrtle. Please don't speak badly of her, she's very nice. I just... couldn't help how I felt. But I'm over him now." The thin blond, realizing that she hadn't asked Myrtle anything about herself, decided to turn the tables. "So how about you, Myrtle? How long have you fancied Harry?"

A gleeful smile spread across the ghost's transparent face, a dreamy look in her eyes as she giggled, "I'm rather sweet on Harry! I've been in love with him ever since he first came into my bathroom five years ago..." Myrtle's voice trailed off, her smile fading into sorrow.

Luna felt sad for her new friend as the spectral girl began to cry. She stood up and reached out to place a comforting hand on Myrtle's shoulder, temporarily forgetting that she didn't have a body. "What's wrong, Myrtle?"

"Harry doesn't love me, that's what!" Myrtle snapped in between sobs. "Who would want to love ugly, pathetic Moaning Myrtle? Do you know what I would do for one chance with him? Just one bloody chance to win his love?"

Luna gave the ghost a sad, sympathetic smile as she recalled her unrequited feelings for Ron. She had been unable to win Ron's affections, but she felt the overwhelming urge to help Myrtle win Harry's love... and she knew exactly where to start looking for help.

Chapter 4: The Materialization Tonic
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"Can you believe that the Christmas holiday is almost here?" Hermione was saying one morning as she stared obsessively at Romilda over her porridge. "That doesn't give me much time to ask Romilda to the ball."

"There's going to be a ball? Since when?" Harry gave the bookworm a clueless look. He hadn't heard anything about a ball.

The bushy-haired girl rolled her eyes and sighed. "Honestly, Harry, sometimes I think you've been living in a cave. Just yesterday they announced that there will be a Welcome Back Ball when everybody returns to Hogwarts, the night before classes resume. It's going to be so romantic," Hermione sighed, directing a goofy grin at Romilda's profile.

Harry laughed dryly to himself at Hermione's comment. The truth was that yes, Harry often felt like he was living in a cave. Due to all the throngs of fan girls who refused to leave him alone, he had resorted to hibernating in Gryffindor Tower, only emerging for classes and meals. He didn't even go to the Prefect's bathroom anymore. He felt like a prisoner in his own home. Suddenly he was snapped out of his reverie by Ron's voice.

"Blimey, Hermione, I thought I was going to be your date," Ron pouted gloomily over at his girlfriend.

Hermione smiled and shrugged, "Well, sorry Ron, but I have other plans."

"Other plans?" Ron's voice went up a few octaves. "Romilda can't even stand the sight of you. Just yesterday, she told you to get lost. Remember?"

Hermone giggled giddily, as if she'd just received a perfect N.E.W.T. score.

Ron looked at Hermione as if she'd just grown another head. "Why are you so happy about that?"

"Because," smirked the bushy-haired girl as she picked up her glass of pumpkin juice, "A few days ago, she said 'Get lost Mudblood'. Yesterday, she said 'Get lost Granger'. Don't you see? I'm wearing her down!"

"Hmmm, let's see..." Luna mumbled to herself as she carefully searched the Restricted Section for some sort of book that might have what she was looking for. The blond had cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself before entering this part of the library. Luckily, this time she managed the spell without the stench that had plagued Harry for the couple of days after his near-attack. Unfortunately for the Gryffindor, now that he no longer stunk, the fan girls were once again trying everything they could think of to get close to him.

As Luna thought about her friend and his plight, she accidentally tripped on something and stumbled to the floor. That's strange, the Ravenclaw mused as she looked down at the floor around her. She didn't see anything there, so she drew her wand and whispered "Lumos". Upon closer speculation, she thought she saw a transparent book laying on the floor just a few feet away. She reached out and gingerly touched it, trying to decide if it was real or just an illusion. She'd never seen a ghost book before. As she ran her hand over the very solid-feeling cover, the book fully materialized until it was as real and solid as any other book in the library.

"That's it!" Luna whispered excitedly. What could possibly be better than a spectral book to help her spectral friend? She started to flip through the old, yellowed pages when the book seemed to take on a life of its own. The pages started to rapidly turn themselves until they finally opened up to a page right in the middle of the book. A huge, triumphant grin spread across Luna's face as she read about a very rare and ancient potion called a Materialization Tonic. Hiding the book underneath her robe, she quickly left the library in search of Myrtle. Her friend was going to be so surprised!

Myrtle was floating aimlessly in her bathroom when Luna ran in, looking unusually excited as she held something concealed underneath her school robes. Curious to see what that something was, she floated closer. "Hi Luna, what do you have there?"

Without saying a word, the Ravenclaw pulled a book out of her robes. The ghost noticed how the volume seemed to change from solid to transparent and back, and gasped. "Merlin, where did you find that book?"

"In the Restricted Section," Luna grinned from ear to ear. "I quite literally stumbled upon it when I was...well, anyway, I tripped and there it was."

Myrtle stared at the book with fascination. "Have you any idea what you're holding in your hands?" Upon seeing the confused look on Luna's face, she continued. "It's a Libro de Indigeo. Books like those are very rare. They magically appear to whomever needs them, then disappear once they're no longer needed."

"Well, Myrtle, we most definitely need this book! Listen to this." Luna opened up to the potion recipe she'd found earlier, "The Materialization Tonic has the extremely rare ability to solidify anything it touches. This potion has been used to turn ghosts back into solid, living beings."

The ghost pondered Luna's words for a long moment then asked, "So you're going to try and make me materialize? Why?"

"Think about it!" Luna's eyes were huge with enthusiasm. "With this potion, you would finally have a chance to do things you've always wanted to do; have things you never thought you could have."

Deciding that Luna had inhaled too many fumes in Potions class, the spirit gave her friend a doubtful look. "I'm not quite sure what you mean..."

"Myrtle, if you were real again, you'd finally have a chance with Harry!"

The Boy Who Lived was sitting in a shadowed area at the back of the library, trying to remain inconspicuous. He was determined to stay in his common room, but the only thing that actually made him want to leave was Hermione and her unbearably lovesick behavior. When she started writing a sonnet about the Queen of Conceit and tried to make Harry help her with it, he knew he had to get out of there, at least until he was sure that Hermione was in bed.

Trying to get Hermione's sappy sweet verses out of his head, he suddenly heard something even more unpleasant; the sound of Romilda's voice.

"Hi Harry. We meet again." She was posed in the doorway near where he sat, one hand propped up on her hip as she leaned against the threshold.

Is that pose rehearsed? Harry wondered as he tried not to laugh. Did she have any idea how stupid she looked?

Romilda attempted a seductive hair toss, but only ended up losing her balance and stumbling into the nearest bookshelf, nearly toppling some books on Harry. Because Harry was in the shadows, she couldn't see that he was shaking with silent fits of laughter.

He groaned inwardly when Romilda pulled up a chair next to him and leaned in closer.

"Pretty cozy spot, this is," purred the brunette. "Just the two of us...alone."

"Did you want something?" Harry asked exasperatedly. He noticed the girl walking her fingers across the table toward where he rested his hand on the wooden surface. Just as she tried to snatch the hand, he pulled it away and crossed his arms over his chest.

"I want you, Harry." The smell of her strong perfume made the Gryffindor's stomach turn as she continued, "I want you to ask me to the ball."

Harry rolled his eyes. Damn it, does she have to put me on the spot like this?

"Listen, Harry. I know you're a shy guy, so I'll make this very easy for you." Much to his chagrin, Romilda leaned in closer and whispered, "My answer is yes."

"Harry, how could you?" A tearful Hermione greeted Harry the next day, looking at him as if he'd just set fire to her textbooks.

The baffled Gryffindor just gaped at his friend. "What did I do?"

As Hermione piled some bangers and mash onto her plate, she sneered, "Oh come on, Harry. You know bloody well what I'm talking about!"

Looking up from his plate, Harry raised a quizzical eyebrow and sarcastically said, "Actually, no, I don't know what you're referring to. Please, enlighten me."

"Romilda said that you're taking her to the ball! How could you, Harry? You know how I feel about her!" She shook her bushy head as she forcefully stabbed a piece of sausage and dipped it in mashed potatoes, all the while never taking her eyes off of Romilda.

Harry groaned at the mention of that girl's name. "I am not taking Romilda to the ball--or anywhere, for that matter. I don't even like her!"

Hermione glared at him, looking very insulted. "What do you mean, you don't like her? What, she's not good enough for you? She's perfect, Harry! How can you not see that?"

The dark-haired wizard muttered, "Oh, it's easy. Trust me."

Myrtle felt immense anticipation as she watched Luna adding one ingredient after another to her cauldron. The ghost never thought anybody would brew another potion in her bathroom--not after Granger's Polyjuice Potion catastrophe--but here was Luna, sitting on the bathroom floor with the bubbling cauldron. It was hard to believe that in just a few moments, she could be just as solid as her friend solid and real as Harry.

"Are you sure this is going to work?" Myrtle asked as she curiously watched the thick, bubbling substance in the blond girl's cauldron.

"It should work," Luna replied matter-of-factly. "I did everything exactly as the book instructed me to." The girls were silent as they waited for the Materialization Tonic to finish bubbling, then Luna dipped a ladle into the swampy-looking potion and lifted it up; hot, viscous liquid the color of mud dripping down into the cauldron below. She looked up at Myrtle, who was floating several feet in the air. "You might want to come closer to the floor, Myrtle."

Myrtle did as her friend instructed, floating only a foot or so above the floor. "Now what?"

"Hold still," Luna replied just before slinging the potion at Myrtle, causing it to go right through her transparent form and spatter all over the wall and floor behind the spirit.

"What the bloody hell did you do that for?" Myrtle yelled at Luna, looking angry and hurt. "This is some sort of joke, isn't it? You had no intentions at all of helping me, did you, you-"

Luna slung another ladle full of potion at Myrtle.

This time, Myrtle could feel the warmth of the substance as it passed through her. Holding her hands out in front of her, the ghost noticed her fingers slowly solidifying. Smiling gleefully at Luna, she asked, "It's really working?"

Luna smiled at the ghost and slung one last ladle-full at Myrtle. "Yeah, it's working! It's working like a Hang-gliding Googlubb on Christmas Eve!"

Just as the spirit looked down to watch herself solidify completely, she landed in a heap on the cold stone floor. Oh Merlin, I can touch the floor without going through it! Amazed and dumbstruck, Myrtle gaped down at herself as she touched her robes and held her hands up, hardly believing her eyes. After reaching up to touch her very real pigtails, she and Luna exchanged glances and squealed with delight.

"I have never been this excited before," Myrtle laughed as she hugged her only friend. Pulling back from the hug, the mousy brunette's eyes lit up. "Oh, there's so much I want to do! But first, I have to go find Harry-"

"No, wait!" Luna stopped Myrtle before she could leave the bathroom. "I don't think that would be a good idea. Not yet, anyway."

"What do you mean, not a good idea?" Myrtle shrieked at the Ravenclaw.

"First of all," Luna stated matter-of-factly, "You can't be seen walking around Hogwarts looking like Moaning Myrtle! We need to change your appearance enough so that nobody knows who you really are. And besides, there's one little drawback to this potion that I...sort of forgot to mention."

"And what might that be?"

Luna nervously wrung her hands as she shyly continued, "Well, Myrtle, you will only be alive for three weeks; that's the duration of the Christmas holiday. So that gives you three weeks to win Harry's love. If you don't get him to fall in love with you by midnight on the night of the Welcome Back Ball, you will turn back into a ghost."

A/N: Yes, I know, in real life it's unrealistic to expect two people to fall in love within three weeks' time. But people fall in love quickly in fairytales, right? And this story entails fairytale type circumstances. Therefore, I'm asking you to suspend all disbelief and imagine that it's possible to fall in love over the course of three weeks.

Chapter 5: Reinventing Myrtle
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"THREE WEEKS? That's all? Why the bloody hell couldn't you have told me that before making the potion?"

Despite Myrtle's ranting and raving, Luna remained as calm and unattached as usual. She wasn't expecting Myrtle to be happy. "Well, you did say that you wanted a chance with Harry, did you not?"

Myrtle whined, "Of course I do! But three blasted weeks? There is no way in Hell I'll be able to win his love in such a short amount of time!"

Like a mother trying to sooth an angry child, Luna gently placed her hands on Myrtle's shoulders and smiled softly as she said, "Anything is possible, Myrtle. If one Withering Willhoubee can topple a giant Whackanoggin all by himself, then you can most certainly make Harry fall in love with you by the end of the winter holiday."

Myrtle cracked a smile, as she always did when Luna started spouting nonsense about magical creatures. Whackanoggin? Where did Luna come up with these things?

"That's a girl," Luna smiled at her friend. "Now that all of my dormmates have left for the holidays, you'll be able to stay with me in my room. Let's get going and we'll work on de-Myrtle-izing your appearance."

Harry sat in front of the fireplace in his bedchamber that night, tossing one letter after another into the crackling flames and wearily watching them shrivel into ashes. That day, he received several dozen messages from his admirers, asking him to be their date for the Welcome Back Ball. He had even received a few marriage proposals from first and second year girls! What in Merlin's name made these groupies think that he'd actually want to be with them, when all they'd done was invade his personal space and privacy? All he really wanted was to be liked for himself, not the stupid scar on his head or for saving the wizarding world. If he ever did start dating again, it would have to be someone different; someone who treated him as "just Harry" instead of "The Great Harry Potter".

After throwing the last handful of letters into the fire, the wizard groaned and collapsed onto his bed. He had three long weeks ahead of him; three weeks of hiding in Gryffindor Tower, trying to avoid the fan girls and putting up with a crestfallen Ron and a ridiculously lovesick Hermione. This was going to be the worst Christmas ever.

"Okay, now what?" Myrtle was looking around curiously at Luna's room, which was beautifully decked out in blue and silver. Having been a Ravenclaw herself when she was alive, Myrtle felt a wave of nostalgia as she delicately fingered the blue velvet draperies that hung from the canopy on Luna's bed. It felt so weird to be alive again, and once again in the girls' dormitories.

Luna looked deep in thought as she twisted her wand in her hands and looked Myrtle up and down. "All right, Myrtle. What do you want to change first about your appearance?"

The brunette removed her glasses as she asked, "Do you know of any spells that can improve my eyesight? I've been wanting to rid myself of these dreadful things since the day I first got them."

Luna immediately went to her bookshelf and pulled one particularly heavy-looking volume, placing it on her desk to flip through it. "This book used to belong to my mum. It has remedies for all sorts of things." Myrtle walked up behind her friend and peered over the blond's shoulder as she read through the Table of Contents. "Hmmm, let's see here... Curing the Hippogryph Flu, Healing Ikswotandi bites, Anti-Flatulation Potions... Ah, here we are, Improving One's Eyesight."

Excitement bubbled up inside Myrtle as she watched Luna flip through the pages to the spell in question. "What does it say?" Myrtle asked as she peered over the girl's shoulder. Without her glasses, the small words looked like a bunch of blurs on the page.

"It says that in order for this spell to work, you must keep your eyes wide open as the spell is being performed." Luna held up her wand and said, "Ready, Myrtle?"

The brunette obediently opened her eyes as wide as she could.

Luna looked like a very vague shape as she uttered "Oculus Redintegro!" and poked her friend's eye with the tip of her wand.

"OW!" Myrtle glared at Luna's outline with her left eye as she closed her right eye and rubbed it protectively.

"Sorry, Myrtle, I'm just doing what the book says." With that, she once again said "Oculus Redintegro" as she poked Myrtle's other eye.

"Blast it, Luna, stop doing that!" Myrtle was about to tell off her friend when all of a sudden her vision defogged and cleared to perfection. As Luna's smiling face came into focus, the mousy girl quite literally couldn't believe her eyes. "Merlin, it worked! It really worked!"

"Now let's do something with that hair," suggested Luna. "If people see you in pigtails, even without those glasses, they'll still think you're Moaning Myrtle."

"All right," Myrtle nodded, eager to continue the makeover. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well," Luna grinned knowingly, "Harry and I have been friends for a long time now, and I've noticed that he fancies girls with long hair. Prolato!" Luna aimed her wand at Myrtle's head, and the girl's dark hair instantly began to grow. Her bangs started to cover her face, then grew past her chin to chest length, as the rest of her hair continued growing down to her waist.

Myrtle was thrilled, until she noticed that her hair was continuing to grow. As her tresses flowed past her ankles and gathered on the floor around her, she frantically shrieked, "Luna! Make it stop! Make it stop!"

Luna used her wand to cut off some of Myrtle's hair, but it kept growning. "Oh dear," murmured the blond, shaking her head. "It's growing faster than a Longdelong at tea time!"

Myrtle's hair was now wrapping itself around her body as it grew, so that she looked like a dark brown mummy. "Don't just stand there, Luna! DO something!"

Not knowing the antidote for this particular spell, Luna did the only thing she could think of. She pointed her wand once again at the brunette's hair, this time saying, "Desino!" Fortunately for both girls, Myrtle's hair stopped growing and Luna was able to magically cut through the girl's locks and set her free. By the time the blond had completely cut away all the hair that obstructed Myrtle's movement, the floor of the bedchamber looked like one enormously dark, hairy cloud that obscured the wooden floor and blue rugs.

After Luna made all the unwanted hair vanish from the floor, Myrtle caught a glimpse of herself in Luna's mirror. Without meaning to, the blond had given her a long, layered haircut that was modern and quite flattering. She still was no Ginny Weasley, but it was an undeniably big improvement. She almost didn't recognize herself. The brunette's reflection returned her smile, and her heart felt several pounds lighter. She always used to feel so ugly, but now, she actually looked...normal.

Myrtle slept for the first time in decades that night, thoroughly enjoying the feeling of the warm, soft bed and comforting blankets. She'd forgotten life's simple pleasures; the ones she once took for granted. The brunette woke up bright and early the next morning, unable to go back to sleep. She was eager to start her life again and meet Harry again for the first time. Would he recognize her at all? Could she really win his love? This rare chance with the Gryffindor seemed so surreal. As she got up and got ready for breakfast, she was certain that nothing could kill her excitement until...

"Now before we go down to breakfast, let me give you a few pointers," the Ravenclaw was saying as she pulled out a horribly garish blouse and skirt for Myrtle to change into. "Whatever you do, don't act like a crazed fan girl; Harry hates that."

Myrtle still sounded very much like Moaning Myrtle when she yelled, "You think I don't already know that? What do you think I am? Stupid?" But there was nothing she could do to stop the Ravenclaw from spouting her words of wisdom.

"Oh, and another thing," Luna added as she threw a bright orange sweater on over her purple dress, "You must stop crying and whining all the time. The Blubbering Higdugger does it, no one likes him and Cho tried it and it didn't work for her. It won't work for you either."
"All right, so how is this going to work?" Myrtle looked expectantly at Luna as they headed towards the entrance of the Great Hall. "We need some sort of plan, right?"

Cool and calm, Luna shrugged and said, "I'm leaving Hogwarts for a few days to be with my father; that's the perfect excuse to get Harry to spend some time with you. I've already spoken to McGonagall and she gave me permission to let you stay for the holiday."

Myrtle raised an eyebrow at the Ravenclaw. "That's great! But how will you get Harry and I together?"

"Just trust me," Luna replied with a wink.
Harry sat with his back to the Great Hall doors and all the other house tables as he ate, trying his best to ignore all the female pairs of eyes on him as he scarfed down his breakfast. His main objective was to get out of there as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, Hermione was once again staring dreamily at Romilda.

"Doesn't she look stunning today, Harry?"

Not in the mood for the bookworm's nausiating monologues about Romilda, he merely grunted and tried to focus all of his attention on his food.

"I bet she's a lovely dancer," Hermione sighed. "I wonder if someone's already asked her to the ball."

Ron, who had clearly heard enough, slammed his pumpkin juice down on the table, sloshing it all over the wooden surface and part of Harry's meal. Ignoring Harry's glare, the red-haired boy retorted, "Well if you like her so much, Hermione, why don't you ask her again?"

"Good idea, Ron!" the bushy-haired girl chirped before springing up from her seat and dashing over to Romilda.

Harry decided to get up and leave right then, but when he'd almost reached the doors, he felt a small hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Luna Lovegood standing before him.

"Harry, can I ask you a favor?"

Harry smiled at his friend. "After you saved me from being ambushed by fan girls? Anything!"

"You see that girl over there?" Luna pointed to a very average-looking brunette who sat at the Ravenclaw table in what appeared to be Luna's outlandish clothing. The girl sat by herself and appeared to be very shy.

The Gryffindor nodded.

Luna continued, "Well, that's my cousin Myra. Her parents had to go away for the holidays, so they sent her here to spend Christmas break with me. Thing is, I'll be leaving for a week to hunt for Purple-winged Natterjacks with my father. So while I'm gone, would you mind spending some time with her?"

Harry blinked quizzically at the blond girl. "Spend time with her?"

"Yeah. You know... show her the sights, help her feel comfortable..."

Harry thought for a moment about what Luna was asking of him. "Don't get me wrong, Luna, I'd be happy to do that for you. But...erm... why don't you just take her with you? I mean, she is your cousin."

"Because," Luna sighed with exasperation, "Purple-winged Natterjacks travel in pairs. Therefore, we have to hunt for them in pairs. We can't exactly hunt in pairs if Myra is with us. And besides, she really doesn't like doing that sort of thing. So what do you say, Harry? Will you help me out?"

The Boy Who Lived glanced over his shoulder again, noticing that Myra was the only girl there who wasn't eyeing him like he was a prize to be won. He was so annoyed and fed up with those silly girls. No matter what he did or where he went, there they were. He wanted nothing more than to be left alone, and to get away from the blatant stares and irksome giggles. Once again feeling desperate to get away from Hogwarts for a while, Harry turned back to the Ravenclaw and said, "Luna, I'll take her wherever she wants to go!"

Chapter 6: When Harry Met...Myra?
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"For the hundredth time, Granger, I am NOT going to the ball with you!" Romilda's shouting caused Harry and Luna to turn and look over at the Gryffindor table. Romilda and Hermione seemed to be playing a game of Musical Chairs as the snob tried to get away from her admirer without leaving the table. Finally, Romilda got up and left the Great Hall in a huff.

The bookworm giggled as she got up and ran out of the Great Hall after the girl. "Oh Romilda, I love how you challenge me!"

Romilda looked over her shoulder and sneered at the bushy-haired know-it-all who couldn't take a hint. She started running faster, and Granger picked up the pace as well. No matter what she did, this girl she couldn't stand had latched onto her like a pathetic little leech.

As Romilda scrambled to get away, she felt a mite irritated at Harry for not stepping in and doing something. In her mind, Harry was rightfully hers; she had claimed him as her date for the ball. But why was he chatting with Loony Lovegood in the Great Hall this morning? Clearly he must be playing hard-to-get and had no interest in the bug-eyed blond. If it were up to Romilda, that girl would be locked away in St. Mungo's psychiatric unit.

"Slow down, my love!"

As Romilda continued running, she glanced back and noticed that Granger was clutching her side and gasping for air. Thank Merlin, she smirked to herself as she darted away until she finally came to some doors that led outside. Hot and sweaty from trying to avoid the bookworm, Romilda gladly pushed open the door and stepped out onto the snowy walkway, enjoying the chilly air against her overheated face. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the cold wind that blew through her sweat-dampened tresses, until a distant male voice - a voice that distinctly sounded like Harry's - caused her to open her eyes.

Squinting into the sunlight, Romilda shielded her eyes with her hand and watched as Harry--her Harry--left the Hogwarts grounds with another girl. They were clearly headed in the direction of Hogsmeade. The brunette felt her cheeks burning with jealousy and rage - how dare he see other girls? Harry's companion had her hood covering her hair, but Romilda could recognize that hideous cloak anywhere; it belonged to none other than Loony Lovegood.

As Myrtle left the Hogwarts grounds with Harry, she shivered in the cold December air and pulled Luna's cloak more tightly about her shoulders. She couldn't help smiling; thanks to Luna, she was going to spend a lot of time with her favorite Gryffindor...just the two of them.

As they approached Hogsmeade, Myrtle couldn't hide her excitement. This was the first time in decades that she'd visited the small wizarding village. Everything was so beautiful, coated in blankets of snow that glistened like sugar in the morning light. Icicles hung from every tree branch and every building, gleaming like crystals. Everything seemed so much more magical than she'd remembered, and she had forgotten how charming the little shops and pubs were that dotted the sides of the main pathway.

Myra glanced over at Harry, and he smiled at her then looked down. It was funny how she felt so shy around him now, when as a ghost she'd had no problem talking and flirting with him. Oh, how she wished she could think of something to say.


Myrtle looked up to find the Gryffindor looking at her expectantly. She was not used to being called Myra, and therefore didn't even flinch when she heard that name. "Erm...yes, Harry?"

With an adorable lop-sided grin, Harry chuckled, "Um, I asked you if you want to go to The Three Broomsticks? We could warm up a bit before we continue looking around."

Myrtle lit up at Harry's idea. "Actually that sounds great. I haven't had a butterbeer in ages!"

Harry held the door open for Myra, then led her to a table near the fireplace. There was a huge Christmas tree in a distant corner, elaborately decorated in brilliant reds and greens. Each table boasted a candle surrounded by poinsettias, and the fireplace mantle was embellished with pinecones and snow-covered pine branches.

As the two young wizards sat and admired their surroundings, they ordered two mugs of hot butterbeer and a plate of Madam Rosmerta's Christmas cookies. They sat in silence for several moments just eating and sipping their drinks, neither knowing what to do or say.

Myra was awfully shy and quiet, and Harry wished to Merlin that she'd say something. After a moment of trying to think of a good ice breaker, Harry babbled, "So, How long have you been Luna's cousin?"

The Gryffindor flushed as soon as that question escaped his lips; he couldn't believe he'd asked something so stupid! But to his relief, Myra laughed and smiled; a beautiful, heartfelt smile that seemed to make the lanterns in the small pub shine even brighter. Harry chuckled and grinned sheepishly into his butterbeer.

"Luna's really great," Myra said as she took another cookie off the plate in the middle of the table. "Nobody makes me laugh quite like she does. She cracks me up when she starts talking about ficticious magical creatures."

"Yes, she's quite entertaining," the dark-haired wizard laughed. "And one of the nicest people I know."

"Oh, definitely," Myra nodded. Looking a bit pensive, she muttered, "She was there for me when nobody else was."

Harry wondered what exactly Myra had meant when she made that comment, but decided not to pry.

After finishing their mid-morning snack, Harry and Myrtle went browsing in the surrounding shops. Myrtle quite literally felt like a kid in a candy store when they entered Honeydukes. Walking into the little shop was like entering a child's fantasy. Rows upon rows of candy in every shape, size and color imaginable stretched from floor to ceiling. Tables and display cases, which featured the most popular assortments, surrounded them in a most enticing way.

"Look, Harry, peanut butter cockroach clusters dipped in chocolate!" Myrtle beamed from ear to ear as she bolted over to the fancy display case and peered in. "Oh, I haven't had one of these in years...and look over there!" She made a beeline for the chocolate frogs and picked up a small box that contained a frog, pausing to run her finger over the surface as if it were made of fine silk. Looking rather enthralled by this confection, she looked up at the Gryffindor, her dark eyes wide. "They still make these?"

Harry looked confused. "What do you mean, do they still make those?"

Without thinking, Myrtle explained, "Well, I remember when they first started making these, when I was just a child-"

"But that's impossible," Harry laughed. "They started making chocolate frogs back in the thirties!"

Suddenly realizing that she'd slipped, she thought for a brief moment, then stammered, " mean, when I first had one, they seemed new and exciting." Luckily, her explanation seemed to appease Harry's curiosity, and they were able to continue their outing without any more slip-ups on her part.

Over the course of the next week, Harry spent every day with Luna's cousin. He'd started out spending time with Myra as a favor to Luna, but soon came to realize that he actually wanted to be with her. Everything about the brunette fascinated him. She had this rare appreciation for even the simplest, most mundane things, as if she were experiencing life for the very first time. Looking at the world through her eyes was surprisingly refreshing. He also loved the way she slowly opened up to him as they got to know each other, like a flower in bloom. With every passing day, he discovered new layers to her personality and reveled in the depth and beauty of her character. He'd never met a girl quite like this one.

And now, it was the night before Luna said she'd return to Hogwarts. He sat alone with Myra in a torchlit stairwell, where they talked openly about various subjects. He glanced over at his new friend, and he couldn't help noticing the way the soft torchlight flickered upon her otherwise ordinary features, bringing out the curve of her cheekbones and the fullness of her dark eyelashes as she stared down at her feet.

"Harry," those timid dark eyes looked up into his, "Can I ask you something?"

Harry nodded, and watched as she hesitated a bit.

"What is it be you?"

Harry blinked with surprise; nobody had ever asked him that before. With a sigh he ran a hand through his untidy dark hair, trying to form a cohesive answer in his mind. "Well, Myra, it's...trying at times."

Myra nodded as if she understood exactly what he meant. "Yes, I imagine it must be hard, feeling like you're living in a fishbowl."

"Exactly!" Harry looked at the brunette, astonished. She had very eloquently put his feelings into words. "Everybody in the wizarding world knows every move I make; I feel like I have no privacy. I mean, I don't even want all that attention."

Myra's head jerked in his direction, her eyes wide with surprise. "You don't?"

"No," the Gryffindor shook his head. "Take, for instance, all my...admirers. They stalk me constantly, giggle at my every word, try to get dates with me... They won't bloody leave me alone! They're only interested in me because I'm The Chosen One; the Boy Who Lived...and now, the Boy Who Killed Voldemort. Sometimes I don't know if people like me for me, or if they just like me because I'm Harry Potter."

As soon as he was done talking, Harry realized that he'd just poured his heart out to Myra. It amazed him how easy she was to talk to, and how she was willing to just sit quietly and give him an ear to listen. She didn't giggle at his words. She didn't try to seduce him. She didn't treat him like he was the Boy Who Freakin' Lived. Somehow he just knew that she sincerely liked him. It was nice to feel so at ease for a change. Harry smiled over at Myra and cleared his throat. "Um, it's getting late. Perhaps we should be heading back to our common rooms."

Myra looked disappointed, but nodded and stood up. "I suppose you're right."

As Harry walked Myrtle back to the Ravenclaw Common Room, she felt like she was floating, as if she once again had no body. This past week had been absolutely amazing; a dream come true. Harry was even more wonderful than she'd originally thought. He was sweet, down-to-earth, a true gentleman...and he didn't spit in her hair, as the boys used to do when she lived before. They continued walking in companionable silence until they came to the Ravenclaw entrance, where they paused to say good night. She turned and looked into those intense green eyes, and her mind went blank for a moment.

"Th-thank you, Harry," Myrtle stuttered as she blushed and looked down at her shoes. "I've really enjoyed getting to know you. It's so nice of you to spend time with me like this. I know there has to be a million other things you'd rather do."

"Oh, no," Harry shyly. "Actually, it's been no problem at all. I enjoyed it, too."

And there really is nowhere else I'd rather be right now, Harry mused to himself.

Chapter 7: Obsessions and Revelations
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DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Potterverse or the song used in this chapter, which is "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness.

A/N: This chapter takes place during the same week as the previous chapter, only it's written from Ron and Hermione's POVs.

"There she is," Hermione whispered gleefully to herself. She had gone to the library to study, but it wasn't N.E.W.T.s or homework on her mind. No, she was more interested in studying a certain pretty little brunette. With much careful observation, she had memorized Romilda's schedule and determined that the object of her affection had a tendency to occupy the library every evening after dinner. Luckily, Romilda appeared to be alone as she busied herself with homework.

Hermione sighed with adoration; Romilda was no doubt the perfect girl for her. Not only was she beautiful and intriguing, she was smart and studious as well. The bushy-haired girl visualized studying with her Gryffindor goddess, holding hands under the table as they gazed into each other's eyes and quizzed each other on Arithmancy...

Her heartbeat accelerated as she watched Romilda run those long, graceful fingers through her silky tresses that gleamed so brilliantly in the dim light of the lanterns. It amazed Hermione how she never really noticed this dazzling creature until recently. Words could not describe the strength and magnitude of these feelings, or her undeniable desires. All she knew was that Romilda Vane held her heart in the palm of her hand.

Can't explain all the feelings that you're making me feel
My heart's in overdrive and you're behind the steering wheel

Hermione had been trying all week to get close to her love. Day after day, she invited Romilda to the Welcome Back Ball, followed her around like a puppy, and proclaimed her immense adoration for the girl. No matter what, Romilda was bound and determined to play hard-to-get. Not that the bookworm minded; it was actually quite fun to play this little game. It was only a matter of time before Romilda would forget about Harry and finally realize that it was Hermione she wanted. Persistence pays off, Hermione told herself again and again.

Right then, Romilda stood up and walked over to some bookshelves in an isolated part of the library. Seeing this as her golden opportunity to catch Romilda off-guard, Hermione slipped into the shadows and made her way back to where her love was looking intently through the volumes. The stunning beauty didn't seem to notice as Hermione snuck up behind her and reached out to touch her long flowing hair. Oh, it felt like spun silk, just as Hermione imagined it would! And she smelled divine.

Then Romilda turned around and jumped, letting out an adorably high-pitched squeal as she found herself face to face with Hermione.

"Get away from me, you perv!" Romilda shreiked as she shoved Hermione away and left that part of the library as quickly as possible.

Touching you
Touching me
Touching you
God you're touching me

The bookish Gryffindor grinned from ear to ear, ecstatic that Romilda had finally touched her! Despite Hermione's long sleeves, her arms tingled where her obsession's hands had been mere moments ago. I'm finally making progress! Hermione told herself. She wants me, I can tell by the way she pushed me!

Hermione feverishly scoured the entire library for signs of Romilda, but she had apparently returned to Gryffindor Tower, as she was nowhere to be found. So the bushy-haired girl returned to the common room as well, floating on a cloud all the way there. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts and fantasies of Romilda, that she didn't even notice Ron until she'd run into him. Without saying a word, she acted as if she didn't see him and continued on her way to the girls' dormitories, wondering which room was Romilda's.

Meanwhile, Ron frowned at Hermione's retreating back, feeling sad yet angry that his girlfriend was suddenly so obsessed with someone other than himself. "How could she do this to me?" Ron muttered as he treaded up to his bedchamber. "Why did she ditch me for a girl?"

Upon entering his room, he was relieved to see that Harry was still up and getting ready for bed. Surely spending some time with his best mate would help to keep his mind off of Hermione for a while. "Hey Harry," Ron said casually as he pulled some pajamas out of his wardrobe, "What do you say we go to Hogsmeade tomorrow, just us guys?"

Harry smiled apologetically at the red-haired boy. "Sorry Ron, I can't. I...sort of made plans with Myra for tomorrow."

Ron looked shocked and disgusted. "Luna's cousin? Again? Blimey, Harry, you've spent every day this week with that girl. When Luna asked you to spend some time with her, I don't think she meant that you had to spend every waking moment together!"

The raven-haired wizard blushed and grinned sheepishly before climbing into bed and blowing out the candle on his bedside table. "Well, I feel I owe it to Luna after she saved me from those fan girls."

Fan girls, Ron snorted to himself. He regarded Harry as a surrogate brother, and yet part of him envied the fact that Harry always got all the girls. It seemed like every girl at Hogwarts was clambering to be with the Boy-Who-Lived-And-Defeated-You-Know-Who...every girl except Hermione.

Ron's eyes snapped open and grew wide in the darkness. Perhaps his girlfriend was a...lesbian? That would explain why Hermione was never attracted to Harry, and why she never showed any interest in Viktor Krum. That must be it, Ron thought to himself. She left him not because he wasn't man enough, but because he wasn't woman enough.

"I'm more woman than Romilda will ever be," Ron grumbled under his breath.

"What did you say?" Harry's surprised yet amused voice asked from across the room.

"Er...nothing." The red-haired boy was thankful for the shadows that hid his burning cheeks from view. Hoping that Harry would assume he was hearing things, Ron turned over on his side and sulked himself to sleep.

"Just look at her," Hermione sighed breathlessly as she watched Romilda at breakfast the next day. "Everything she does is so graceful and poetic; the way she eats, the way she sips her juice... Even the way she wipes her mouth with her napkin is perfect, like a dance."

She noticed Harry and Ron exchange glances and roll their eyes, but she didn't let it bother her. If they couldn't see the utter flawlessness of the alluring Romilda Vane, it was their loss. But she - unlike the imbeciles she sat with - had an appreciation for extraordinary beauty; a beauty so unfathomable that it was all she could think about morning, noon and night. Even her dreams were filled with long-winded snog sessions with the coy little lioness.

I wanna kiss you every minute, every hour, every day
You got me in a spin but everything is A-okay

Yes, Romilda had her in a constant emotional spin but she thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, she was so determined to get close to the goddess and get her attention by any means necessary, that she was about to go plant a surprise kiss on those soft cherry lips. Then something totally unexpected happened. Romilda got up and started walking in her direction. Well, okay, she was coming from Harry and Ron's side of the table, but still, it was in her direction. Quickly Hermione looked over at her friends, feeling self-conscious. "Oh Merlin, here she comes! How do I look? Is my hair sticking up? Do I have food in my teeth?"

Before the boys could answer, her fantasy girl was standing there across the table from her. A pang of jealousy stabbed through Hermione's heart at the sight of her woman making a play for Harry, but she reminded herself that the little minx was just trying to make her jealous.

Romilda leaned forward perched on the table, as if she was trying to be seductive for Harry. "Hey Harry, what do you say we spend the day together and...get to know each other?" Romilda winked at the dark-haired boy, who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"Um, no thanks." Harry looked like he was going to be sick. It was clear to Hermione that he was being a loyal friend to her by turning down Romilda.

Harry smiled knowingly at Hermione as he continued, "I have other plans...but Hermione's free."

Hermione eagerly jumped out of her seat and grinned broadly at Romilda. "Yes! Yes! I'm always free!"

The color drained from Romilda's face before she ran out of the Great Hall screaming, with Hermione chasing her.

Ron turned and glared at Harry, who was starting to leave the table. "Harry, why the bloody hell are you trying to help Hermione get with Romilda? Whose side are you on, anyway?"

Harry looked surprised by Ron's accusation. "Sorry, Ron. I'm not trying to help them get together. I just wanted to get Romilda off my back."

Ron opened his mouth to say something else, but Harry interrupted him.

"I'm sorry, but I really must be going. Maybe tonight after I get back we can play a few rounds of Wizard's Chess."

The red-haired wizard grunted and nodded, then watched as his best mate met up with Myra, a rather homely brunette who obviously took fashion cues from her deranged cousin. Despite being upset over Hermione, he couldn't help feeling sorry for Harry. After all, he sure as hell wouldn't want to be seen with Myra. Thanking his lucky stars that Luna hadn't asked him to spend time with the girl, he got up and returned to Gryffindor Tower, where he prepared to spend the day studying all by himself.

"Let's spend some time together!" Hermione shouted as she pursued Romilda. Thanks to all this exercise she got from chasing Romilda all over the castle, her endurance was greatly improving, thus enabling her to keep up with her obsession.

"No! Never!" Romilda yelled back and quickened her pace.

It thrilled Hermione to hear those two little words because the opposite of "No! Never!" was "Yes! Always!" With Romilda, Hermione always had to read between the lines in order to understand what the brunette was really saying, but she didn't care. She believed in love and knew that her heart pounded not just from all this running, but from her undying devotion to Romilda. If only her beloved could listen to her heart, she'd stop teasing Hermione and see how right they really were for each other.

I believe in a thing called love
Just listen to the rhythm of my heart
There's a chance we can make it now
We'll be rockin' til the sun goes down

"Give me a chance, Romilda! Give us a chance!"

"Get lost, Granger! What part of no don't you understand?" Romilda kept running, but Hermione just laughed. They could keep running until sunset, that was fine with her. Anything to be in the presence of perfection.

Chapter 8: A Map to Her Heart
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After spending yet another wonderful evening hanging out and talking with Harry, a very happy Myrtle entered the now-empty Ravenclaw Common Room and did a little happy dance until a familiar voice caught her off-guard.

"Oh, hello Myrtle!"

Embarrassed, Myrtle froze in place and turned to find Luna, who looked like she'd just returned from her trip. The blond girl smiled and came up to give her a hug, then linked arms with her before going up to their dormitory.

"Either you're extremely happy, or you've been bitten by a Toe-tapping Yallapoppus," Luna cheerfully commented.

Myrtle laughed hysterically at Luna's observation and followed the blond into the room they shared. "I am very happy. Harry and I have spent literally every day together, and it has been a dream come true."

"That's great, Myrtle!" The blond shrugged off her gaudy coat and started going through the luggage that now cluttered her bed. "I'm glad one of us had a good week. As for my father and I, we didn't find any Purple-winged Natterjacks. Not one! But I was thinking about you, and I know of a way to increase your chances of winning Harry's love."

The brunette's dark eyes shone with anticipation, her gleeful smile widening. "And what might that be?"

"You've spent every single day with him for the past week, right?" Luna glanced up at her friend as she put her clothes back in her wardrobe.

Myrtle nodded excitedly.

"Well, I think it's high time you make yourself unavailable for a couple days," the Ravenclaw continued matter-of-factly. "You don't want to come across as desperate or overeager, like those silly fan girls. And you certainly don't want to cling to him like a Smotherumpus. I did that to Ron, and I don't want you making the same mistake with Harry."

Harry sat at the Gryffindor table, barely noticing Hermione's running commentary on Romilda's every move as he stared over at the Ravenclaw table. The seat where Myra normally sat was empty for the second day in a row. Of course he understood that Myra would want to spend some quality time with Luna now that she was back from her trip, but it still bothered him that he hadn't even been able to so much as say hello to her. The two girls always seemed to have something to do or someplace to go. I wonder what Myra's doing right now, Harry mused when he heard Hermione saying his name.

"Um...yes, Hermione?" He looked cluelessly at the bookworm.

Hermione shook her bushy head and rolled her eyes. "Harry, don't you listen? This is important!"

"Erm, what?"

"I asked you if you know what I should give Romilda for Christmas! I was thinking maybe some decorative combs for her to wear in that gorgeous hair of hers, or maybe a ring; the prettiest, most expensive one I can find. Or maybe I should bake her some cookies. Do you know what kind of cookies she likes, Harry?"

"Why would I know a thing like that?" Harry asked exasperatedly.

The lovestruck Gryffindor ignored his question and continued, "Well, maybe you could talk to her for me and find out what she likes, since she seems to find it easy to talk to you. She's so crazy about me that whenever I'm around, all she can do is scream." Hermione giggled and waved to Romilda, who instantly stood up and started for the doors. Taking that as her cue to follow Romilda, Hermione got up as well and ran after the girl, leaving Harry and Ron alone at the table.

While Hermione was off pursuing Miss Priss that day, Harry tried to keep his mind off of Myra by playing several rounds of Wizard's Chess with Ron. For a while, Harry seemed to be doing well with focusing on the game instead of his new friend...until Ron brought her up.

"So what's up with Luna's cousin? Is she still at Hogwarts?"

Harry froze for a moment. Perhaps Myra had left without saying good-bye to him, but that didn't make sense. After their fabulous week together, why would she not tell him she was leaving? No, that couldn't be it. He hadn't seen Luna around either, so Myra had to be with Luna, somewhere.

"Well, yes," Harry replied slowly. "She's still here. She's probably off spending time with Luna."

Ron chuckled, "I bet you're glad that you don't have to entertain Myra anymore. What a dog!"

Harry paused, holding his pawn in midair as he glared at the red-haired boy. He felt his cheeks burning as he hotly retorted, "Myra is not a dog!" He stood up and stormed out of Gryffindor Tower, fuming over Ron's rude comment. His best mate was so superficial at times.

The Gryffindor took a walk down a seldomly used corridor, trying to avoid any fan girls who were lurking about on the chilly day. To his surprise, he saw Luna coming down the hallway - alone - with a small net and a device that looked a bit like toenail clippers. The kooky Ravenclaw was looking closely at the floors and the stone walls when she suddenly noticed Harry standing there.

"Oh, hello, Harry," Luna looked surprised to see him. "Care to help me catch some Lollybangers?"

"Well actually, Luna, I wanted to know if you have any idea where Myra might've gone? I haven't seen her around lately."

The Ravenclaw raised an eyebrow at him. If Harry didn't know better, he would've sworn that there was a victorious gleam in those spacey grey eyes. Then the spark was gone as quickly as it came, and she airily replied, "Sorry, Harry. I don't know where she is either. She said she wanted to go do something she hasn't done in a long time."

Harry paused for a brief moment, looking disappointed. "Oh....okay." He shifted his weight nervously as he pondered where his mysterious friend was. "Well, thanks, Luna."

"See you around, Harry," the blond girl smiled before continuing on down the hallway.

Not knowing what else to do, Harry went back to Gryffindor Tower, where he dug his Marauder's map out of its secret hiding place. He felt foolish for using the map to locate Myra's whereabouts, but he couldn't help it, really. He missed her, and she hadn't been available to spend time with him once Luna returned to Hogwarts. And since the blond girl was clearly busy with other things today, this was his big chance to see Myra again.

"Hmm, that's odd," Harry muttered to himself as his eyes scoured every square inch of the map. He saw that Moaning Myrtle was in a classroom not far from Gryffindor Tower, but he didn't see Myra on the map anywhere. Perhaps Myra had gone to Hogsmeade? Yes, that must be it. She left the grounds. Since the Gryffindor had nothing to do - and he was still angry with Ron - he decided to leave his living quarters and take a little walk.

Myrtle sat alone in an abandoned classroom with a flat sheet of parchment laying in front of her, holding a quill and small bottle of ink that Luna had so graciously let her borrow. The quiet room was so peaceful; the only sound coming from the quill as it scratched against the parchment's surface. The brunette smiled softly as she drew lines and shapes, created lights and shadows, and watched her drawing of Hogwarts come to life. Myrtle had been a gifted artist when she was alive. It had delighted her to rediscover her old love and find that she still had the talent. She was wrapped up in her own little world when suddenly, she felt like she was being watched.

Myrtle glanced up at the doorway to find Harry standing there, looking surprised to see her. "Harry?" she smiled, "what are you doing here?"

The handsome Gryffindor gaped at the girl as he replied, "I was just about to ask you the same thing. How did you get here so quickly?"

The brunette looked confused. "What do you mean? I've been here all afternoon."

"What? That's impossible. Just a few moments ago, you were..." Harry's voice trailed off as he tried to make sense of it all. Myra couldn't have Apparated; that wasn't possible on the Hogwarts grounds. So what other logical explanation was there?

Myra's eyebrows knit together with concern. "Are you all right, Harry?"

"Erm...yeah, I'm fine," Harry muttered as he walked towards her. "I just...thought Luna said she was taking you to Hogsmeade today." Approaching Myra's desk, the Chosen One's jaw dropped at the sight of her parchment. Looking at her with admiration in his green eyes, he asked, "You did this?"

Myrtle looked down modestly and nodded.

"Wow, Myra, I didn't know you could draw. This is...quite good!"

Myrtle grinned shyly down at her sketch and blushed. "Well, I haven't drawn in a long time, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it again. I drew all the time as a child. I had no friends, so I just sat in my room and drew pictures. It always gave me a sense of comfort somehow."

Harry pulled up a seat next to Myra and sat down. "What made you stop?"

Myrtle hesitated, the color draining from her face. She couldn't tell him that she stopped drawing because she had been dead. After a moment of silence, she just laughed nervously and shrugged. "I, uh...I don't know, really."

The Gryffindor looked down at her drawing again. It was amazing that she was able to draw such a wonderfully detailed picture without proper art supplies. As that thought popped into his mind, Harry had an idea... "So, Myra, are you still going to be here for Christmas?"

Ron was sitting on the couch in the Gryffindor Common Room that evening, with a butterbeer and some food he'd smuggled from the Great Hall. He'd become so tired of watching his girlfriend chase after that stupid little snob, that he now resorted to eating by himself whenever he could. He couldn't stand any more of Hermione's long-winded monologues about Romilda, much less the sight of her chasing the girl and making a complete ass of herself.

The normally hungry wizard picked at his food as he remembered something Luna had said the previous day: "Of course, it just has to be the Bubbing Boodinger. They, of course, reveal who your true love is..." This didn't help Ron feel any better. "Thanks a lot, Luna," he grumbled to himself just before Hermione entered through the portrait hole.

"Ron, will you take me to Hogsmeade?"

The red-haired boy blinked with surprise at a very desperate-looking Hermione. Had she finally come to her senses? After thinking for a moment, Ron half-smiled at his girl and replied, "Sure, Hermione."

The bushy-haired Gryffindor sighed with relief. "Oh, good. I need your help picking out a good Christmas present for Romilda, since Harry was no help. I need something that'll really grab her attention and show her how I feel about her."

Ron's face fell. She wanted him to take her shopping for Romilda? "Um, on second thought, I think I'll just stay here and study. N.E.W.T.s are coming up, you know." With a sigh, he raised the butterbeer bottle to his lips.

"Forget the N.E.W.T.s!"

Ron just about choked on his butterbeer. It just wasn't normal for Hermione to say something like that! His brow furrowed at the girl; since when had Christmas shopping become more important to her than academics? "Uh, are you feeling all right, Hermione?"

The bookworm rolled her honey-colored eyes exasperatedly. "Yes, Ron, I'm fine. Now are you going to help me, or not?"

Right then, Romilda came waltzing into the common room, but turned to sneak back out at the sight of Hermione standing there. Unfortunately for Romilda, Hermione turned around, a maniacal smile spreading across her face at the sight of her obsession.

"Romilda, we were just talking about you! What do you want for Christmas, my love?"

"Get away from me!" Romilda screamed as she scurried away from her stalker.

"I'll give you whatever you want, just say the word and it's yours!"

Ron watched open-mouthed as Romilda ran out the portrait hole, Hermione in hot pursuit. "Okay, that was weird," he muttered to himself as the door shut. Alone again, he turned his attention back to his food when suddenly, he heard Romilda's blood-curdling scream coming from outside the common room.

Chapter 9: The Snowball Effect
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"What the bloody hell!" The sudden scream caused Ron to jump off the couch and dart over to the portrait hole. He opened the door to find Hermione standing there with a goofy grin on her face as Romilda ran away as fast her legs could carry her. He could hear the brunette shouting things like "ew" and "nasty little perv" as she scurried to get as far away from Hermione as possible. Looking at Hermione, he asked, "What happened?"

The bushy-haired girl just giggled. "I almost kissed her! I was this close, Ron," she indicated with her thumb and forefinger just how close she'd come to Romilda's face.

Ron's jaw clenched. It was bad enough that his girl had become obsessed with another woman, but she actually tried to kiss Romilda? He couldn't take it anymore. "What's with you, Hermione? Why are you all of a sudden stalking that girl?"

"First of all, her name is Romilda-"

"-Yes, I bloody well know that-"

"Second of all, I'm not stalking her. She wants me to chase her. It's a little game we play." The bookworm giggled.

Ron sneered at the bushy-haired girl, fumbling for just the right thing to say. Finally, he stammered, "Well I'm tired of hearing about her! A-And if you don't stop talking endlessly about Romilda, I'll...I' something!" He turned and treaded back into the common room, scaring the Fat Lady when he slammed the portrait hole door shut.

"What is wrong with that boy?" the Fat Lady asked Hermione, clutching her chest.

The next day, Ron lounged sulkily on his bed and pouted as he watched Harry throw on his coat and scarf. The redhead had purposely pulled the red and gold curtains shut to block out the annoyingly cheerful afternoon sun, which meant that Harry had trouble seeing as he got ready for his, outing...with Myra. This is not a date, he reminded himself sternly.

"Off to see Luna's cousin again, are you?"

Harry noticed the disdain in Ron's voice, which brought pangs of guilt coursing through him. After all this time, he still hadn't told his friend the real reason behind Hermione's infatuation with Romilda Vane. Deciding that he'd tell Ron later, the dark-haired wizard turned to give Ron a crooked smile. "Yes, actually, we're going for a walk if you'd like to join us."

Ron snorted and scoffed, "Yeah, right. Ron, the third wheel. Ron, the guy who got dumped by his gay girlfriend. Ron, the guy nobody wants!"

Harry couldn't withhold the truth any longer. It pained him to see his best mate in a constant state of distress, and he decided it was time to finally come clean about the Amortentia and the mix-up. The Chosen One took a deep breath and prayed to Merlin that Ron wouldn't be too angry with him. "Uh, listen, Ron...Hermione is not a lesbian."

Ron looked at Harry, a combination of confusion and suspicion knitting his eyebrows together. "What do you mean, she's not a lesbian? Do you know something that I don't?"

Harry raked his hand through his hair, his brow furrowed. "Actually, yes, there is something you really need to know. Something I should', told you to begin with. She's not gay, she's...under the influence of Amortentia."

"She's WHAT?" Ron sat up quickly. He looked like he didn't know whether to yell, cry, or strangle Harry. "Amortentia? But how?"

Harry gulped, his throat feeling tight and dry. "Remember last year when Romilda gave me those chocolate cauldrons?"

Ron groaned and nodded.

"Well, she tried again to feed me the love potion, but this time she put it in pumpkin juice and set it down at my usual seat. I saw her switch my cup, and... I purposely sat in a different spot. Then Hermione sat in my seat, and drank the spiked juice by accident."

The red-haired wizard was silent for a moment, his face growing progressively redder until he finally shouted, "So this is all YOUR fault?" He got off the bed and took a step toward Harry, looking more furious than the Chosen One had ever seen him before.

Harry unconsciously took a step back and nodded.

Ron took another step toward the dark-haired boy, staring him down. "You knew all along and you never told me?"

"I-I didn't want to tell you," Harry stammered and took another step away from Ron.


"Because I was afraid to. I knew you'd be mad at me for allowing her to drink the juice in the first place! But it was an accident! Really!"

"An accident," Ron scoffed through clenched teeth. "I'll show you a real accident!"

Harry's eyes widened to twice their normal size when the normally jovial Ron lunged at him and tried to grab him. Luckily, the raven-haired wizard was a fast runner with lightning quick reflexes. Harry was out the bedchamber door before Ron could reach him. He ran as fast as he could down the stairs and out the portrait hole, just barely out of Ron's reach. Then he practically flew down the stairs and through a long corridor, looking for a place to hide until Ron finally cooled down and came to his senses. He looked over his shoulder at Ron, who showed no signs of slowing down.

"You'd better run, you lying little prat!"

There was another hallway on Harry's right, so he turned the corner and kept running, practically trampling the gaggle of fan girls coming at him. The girls squealed and scurried to get out of his way. As he continued running, he noticed that he no longer heard the sound of Ron's shoes echoing behind him; nor did he hear the redhead's angry voice shouting threats and curse words at him. But he did hear the voices of angry girls.

Turning around, Harry noticed that his fan girls had come to his defense. They crowded around Ron and angrily pelted him with curses and jinxes from every angle, deeming him unable to keep chasing Harry.

The raven-haired boy paused for a brief moment, torn between coming to Ron's rescue and getting the hell out of there before the groupies had a chance to turn and start chasing him again. Finally he decided to go help his friend; even if Ron was mad at him, he couldn't leave his best mate in the girls' clutches. Pulling his wand out of his pocket, Harry cast a Disillusionment Charm on himself before pushing his way through the crowd to Ron, who lay twitching and sputtering on the floor.

"Hey! I thought you said Romilda was going to be here!" As Hermione looked around at the hospital wing, she vaguely noticed Ron laying in one of the cots with his eyes closed. She glared accusingly at Harry, as if demanding to see Romilda at once. "What did you do with her, Harry?"

The Chosen One sighed, "Actually, Hermione, she's not here. But Ron is!" He gestured to where her boyfriend was laying.

Hermione acted as if she hadn't heard the part about Ron. "What do you mean, Romilda's not here?"

"Hermione," Harry narrowed his eyes at the girl, "your boyfriend is in the hospital wing. Isn't that more important?"

"More important?" Hermione shrieked. "First of all, Ron looks fine to me. Second of all, how can you even suggest that anything could possibly be more important than Romilda? She's my everything, Harry! And I'm going to find her!" With that, she turned and rushed back out the doors, her frizzy hair flying behind her.

With a sigh, Harry shook his head and approached Ron's cot. Ron lay there with his eyes shut, but the lack of snoring told Harry that he wasn't alseep. He reached out to gently shake Ron's shoulder, but the boy just acted as if he couldn't feel it.

"Ron, I know you can hear me. I just want to apologize for not telling you about the Amortentia. I should've told you to begin with, and you have every right to hate me."

Ron opened one eye. "And?"

"And," Harry continued, "Since this whole mess was my fault, I will find the antidote, feed it to Hermione and fix this whole mess myself."

Ron opened both eyes and shook his head. "No, don't."

Harry stared flabbergasted at his friend. "What do you mean, don't? I thought you wanted to cure Hermione!"

"I do," Ron attempted to sit up, but apparently felt light-headed and had to lay back down again. "But I'll take care of it myself. I think I've figured out a way to help her."

The Chosen One raised his eyebrows quizzically. "What are you going to do?"

Ron smirked knowingly. "You'll see."

The next day, Harry met up with Myra after lunch for their postponed outing. Now that he'd told Ron the truth, he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He smiled at the sight of Luna's cousin. Now he could enjoy her company without any nagging worries in the back of his mind. "Hey Myra, I'm sorry about yesterday..."

"It's all right," Myra replied as they headed for the doors. "I heard that Ron was in the hospital wing. Is he okay?"

"Yeah, he's fine," Harry chuckled as he opened the door for his companion. "He, had a little mishap."

Following Myra outside, he squinted and wished he had some Muggle sunglasses. The snow was blinding enough all by itself, but with the sun shining down on the undisturbed blanket of shimmering white, it almost hurt to look at the Hogwarts grounds. After their eyes adjusted to the brightness, they began their walk through the nearly foot-deep snow.

As the strolling students talked and laughed together, they were completely unaware of the off-beat blond who watched them from behind a tree, where she'd been hunting for Cabbage Vernies. So far, so good, Luna mused as a smile spread across her pale face. Myrtle looked so incredibly happy, and Harry was clearly growing rather fond of Myrtle. She could see it in the way he looked at the brunette, the way he seemed to light up whenever he made her smile or laugh. The Ravenclaw couldn't remember ever seeing Harry so taken with anybody, not even Ginny.

Harry spied a large, flat rock near Luna's tree, "Want to sit down for a bit, Myra?"

Luna slinked away quietly, not wanting to spoil their time together. She saw Myrtle in the distance, who seemed to have dropped her scarf and bent down to pick it up.

"Sure," Myrtle said as she retrieved her scarf. "You go on ahead, I'll be there in a minute." She was dusting the snow off of her - well, actually Luna's - scarf, when she looked up at Harry's retreating back. She didn't want to sit down, she wanted to have a good bit of childish fun. She had an idea. Her dark eyes gleamed mischievously as she slung the scarf around herself and grabbed a hunk of snow in her mittens, squeezing it into a compact ball...

"Agh!" Harry felt something cold and wet hit the back of his head and drip down his neck as he walked toward the rock. Stopping in his tracks, he turned to see Myra standing several meters away, giggling and holding a snowball in her hand. "Myra, what are you-"

Another snowball hit the front of his coat quite forcefully, knocking him backwards onto his bum in the icy snow. At this, Myra started snorting with laughter. Normally he wouldn't have enjoyed getting a snowball to the back of the head - or anywhere for that matter - but he couldn't help smiling. The Gryffindor stood up again and chuckled as he grabbed a handful of snow and started compressing it between his gloved hands. "So you want to play rough, do you? All right, you asked for it!"

The Gryffindor prepared to throw his snowball, but Myra threw another one and knocked it out of his hand. He kept trying to aim snowballs at the girl, but she was too quick for him. The raven-haired boy felt like dozens of icy cold missils were launching at him, one after another. Harry managed to throw a few in her direction, but she jumped out of the way every time. Pretty soon, he found himself running off to a nearby tree, where he stood as snowballs hit the trunk or whizzed past him. "It's a good thing the war didn't involve a snowball fight," Harry muttered to himself.

Once the snowballs stopped, Harry came out from behind the tree with his hands raised in surrender. "Okay, you got me. Now why don't we go inside and have something hot to drink?"

"Sounds good," Myra smirked as they started their walk back to the castle.

Harry glanced over at his friend and smiled; the girl was full of surprises. He never would've guessed that this intriguing wallflower would have such a good arm. After a few moments of silence, he just had to ask. "Um, Myra? Can I ask you something?"


"Where did you learn to throw like that?"

The small brunette snickered, "Well, when I was younger, all the children used to bombard me with snowballs all the time in the winter. That was their twisted idea of entertainment. So I started to practice snowball fighting when they weren't around. I got quite good at it, too. Pretty soon, it got to the point where nobody would mess with me, so long as we were outside in the snow. They still made fun of me everywhere else though---"

Harry and Myra, who were not watching where they were going, stepped onto a rather large patch of ice. They instinctively grabbed onto each other in an effort to keep from falling, and managed to regain their balance. The problem was that they were standing right in the middle of the ice, several feet away from the snow.

"Now what?" Myra asked, tightening her grip on Harry when her feet started to slip again.

Harry wished he'd brought his magic wand with him, as he could've cast an Anti-Slipping Charm. But instead, they had to figure out how to get off the ice without magic. He was surprised to find that he liked holding onto Myra. He kind of wished they could stay there in the midst of the ice a little longer, just like this. Myra looked up at him, and he couldn't help noticing the attractive rosiness of her frostbitten cheeks and lips, and the way those long, dark eyelashes seemed to have melted snowflakes clinging to them, sparkling in the sun. Her eyes were brown; dark brown. They were so dark they were almost black...

The sensation of his own feet sliding around under him woke him out of his reverie. Looking at the distance between them and the snow, Harry cleared his throat. "Well, maybe we could try to scoot our way across the ice?" They worked together, very slowly moving their feet in unison, inching their way to safety. They had almost made it off the ice when Harry lost his balance and fell. When Harry's arse hit the ice, he heard a loud ripping sound coming from behind him, followed by a very cold draft.

"What was that?" Myra's eyes were wide.

Harry flushed at least five different shades of scarlet as Myra crawled onto the snow and helped him off the ice. "Um, I think there's a rip in my trousers." He stood up and brushed the snow off of himself. When he bent down to brush snow off his slacks, Myra must've caught a glimpse of the torn trousers under his coat. She started to snicker, stopping when he looked up at her.

"Er...sorry," the brunette said, trying to keep a straight face.

As they entered the castle, he was glad that his coat was long enough to cover the hole in the back of his slacks. He took Myra to the kitchen, where the house elves magically dried the clothes they wore, then brought them mugs of hot mulled cider and warm treacle crisp for a snack. Dobby repaired the back of Harry's slacks with the snap of his fingers, and they sat enjoying their food and chatting with the house elves.

Harry walked Myra back to the Ravenclaw living quarters after leaving the kitchen. The Gryffindor felt on top of the world as he entered his common room. He noticed Ron seated in front of the fireplace, engrossed in writing a letter of some sort. Not wanting to interrupt his friend, Harry went up to their dormitory and prepared to contact Lupin via the fire in his room. The Gryffindor smiled to himself; he had a very special request to make.

Chapter 10: A Twisted Christmas
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A/N: For the sake of the story, let's imagine that one can be cured of the effects of Amortentia by consuming someone else's love potion.

"Professor Lupin?" Harry was crouched in front of his bedroom fireplace, trying to grab his former teacher's attention, but the man seemed engrossed in reading a book. Raising his voice a little, Harry tried again. "Professor Lupin! It's me, Harry!"

This time, the middle-aged man looked up from his book, raised his eyebrows at Harry and smiled. "Harry? What a pleasant surprise." He came closer to the fire. "What can I do for you?"

Harry hesitated for a moment. "This is going to sound a bit odd, but... Could you perhaps purchase some Muggle art supplies for me?"

Lupin looked puzzled. "Art supplies? I didn't know you were artistic, Harry."

The Boy Who Lived laughed; the idea of himself doing anything even remotely creative was a bit amusing. "They wouldn't be for me. They'd be...for a friend. For Christmas."

"A girlfriend?" Remus grinned teasingly.

Harry blushed and looked down for a moment. "No, just...just a friend." He tried to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"You all right, Harry? You look a bit sad."

"Oh, no. I'm fine," Harry forced a smile. "If I send you the money, could you go to, say, a shop that sells sketchbooks and drawing pencils?"

"Sure thing, Harry."

After saying good-bye to Lupin, Harry immediately placed some leftover Muggle money in a small pouch and tied it to Hedwig's leg. Meanwhile, Ron had returned from the common room and was preparing Pig to deliver the letter he had just written.

Harry looked down at the letter with curiosity. "May I ask what that is?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing," Ron replied, gesturing to the pouch.

Harry gave his friend a lopsided grin and shrugged. "Oh, it's just...well, Professr Lupin agreed to do a bit of Christmas shopping for me."

"But we live near Hogsmeade," Ron argued.

"Well..." The dark-haired boy opened the window and released Hedwig into the darkening winter sky. "It's...something you can't find in Hogsmeade."

A couple days later, Harry and Ron were eating and trying to ignore Hermione as she whined about not having anything to give Romilda for Christmas. As she went on and on about whether to give her candy, flowers or jewelry, owls came flooding into the Great Hall with packages and envelopes. One of those owls was Hedwig, who had a large, flat package clutched in her talons. Moments later, Pig appeared and dropped a smaller parcel in front of Ron. The two boys exchanged excited glances and jumped up from the table, leaving Hermione by herself. The bookworm scarcely noticed their absence as she stared shamelessly at Romilda.

Upon reentering their common room, Harry and Ron sat down together on the couch and ripped open their mail. Harry was delighted at the sight of a big sketch pad and a small box of charcoal drawing pencils. Myra will love these, Harry happily thought to himself.

"What are those?" Ron, who was not accustomed to Muggle drawing utensils, picked up the box of pencils and pulled one out, looking at it as if it was from another planet.

"They're Muggle drawing pencils," Harry replied as he snatched the pencils out of Ron's hands. "I'm giving them to Myra for Christmas with this," he gestured to the sketch pad.

"You're giving Luna's cousin a gift? Why? Do you like her?" The redhead laughed. "Is she your girlfriend?"

Harry flushed at Ron's chides, and hit him lightly with the back of the sketch pad. "She is not my girlfriend, you git! She's my friend. I give all my friends gifts." Eager to change the subject, Harry turned his attention to the small package in front of Ron. "Now let's see what's in your parcel." The dark-haired wizard watched with interest as his friend removed the wrapping, opened the box and pulled out what looked like a perfume bottle.

"You see this, Harry?" Ron held up the bottle. "This is all I need to make Hermione mine again."

"How is perfume going to cure her?"

The redhead rolled his eyes. "It's not perfume, it's Amortentia!" He removed the cap and waved it under Harry's nose.

To the Chosen One, the love potion had a very clean, fresh scent; a scent that had recently become familiar to him, although he didn't quite know why. "How are you going to get her to drink it? Pour some into her morning pumpkin juice when she's not looking?"

"Nope." Ron looked rather pleased with himself. "I have it all planned out. You see, Christmas is just a few days away. That'll give me time to buy some truffles from Honeydukes and infuse them with Amortentia. Then I'll give her the chocolate as a Christmas present. She loves chocolate, so of course she'll gobble them right up. Mylove potion and Romilda's will cancel each other out, and Hermione will be back to normal again."

"'Morning, Harry. Want to go to Hogsmeade?"

The Boy Who Lived groaned at the sound of Romilda's voice as he sat in the Gryffindor Common Room. Part of him wished that Hermione was there so that Romilda wouldn't be able to bother him. The overpowering smell of her perfume was enough to make him gag as he reluctantly looked up at the girl. That's another thing I like about Myra, Harry mused. She doesn't smell like she's been marinating in fragrance. The young man stood up and crossed his arms over his chest. "Thanks, but no."

Miss Priss pouted. She was trying again to be sexy, but only made herself look even dumber than usual.

Harry sighed with exasperation. "Look, I've got to get going."

"Well before you go, I wanted to give you something." Romilda held a folded piece of parchment, which she slipped into his pocket before he could stop her. "Later, Harry." She winked at him suggestively, then strutted away.

Harry just about cracked up when the little snot attempted to climb the girls' stairs while swinging her hips excessively. Once again, his thoughts turned to Myra, and he smiled. Unlike Romilda, there was nothing fake or unnatural about his friend. Myra was always very real and genuine...and she didn't walk like that!

With much effort, Romilda finally managed to strut her way up to the girls' dormitory entrance. Suddenly Hermione, who must've been hiding, jumped out in front of her from behind the doorway. A very startled Romilda lost her balance and started to fall backwards off the staircase.

"Be careful, my love!" Hermine exclaimed. She quickly grabbed the brunette by the shoulders before she could fall, then tried to kiss her.

"GET OFF OF ME!" Romilda screamed and shoved Hermione, then ran out the portrait hole with the bushy-haired girl following close behind.

The last thing Harry heard before the Portrait Hole door shut was Hermione's voice shouting, "Oh Romilda, you're such a tease!"

Later that afternoon, Harry and Myra took a leisurely stroll around Hogwarts as they talked and laughed. They were completely engrossed in conversation when they suddenly heard...

"Harry James Potter!"

Harry looked up to see Romilda Vane strutting angrily up to him and Myra, looking very much like a jealous girlfriend. She turned her nose disgustedly up at Myra and accusingly asked him, "Who's she?"

As if she has the right to know, Harry scoffed bitterly. He looked apologetically at Myra and narrowed his eyes at Romilda, who acted as if Myra was dirt under her fingernails.

"What are you looking at, you ugly little dweeb?" Miss Priss gave the girl a Malfoyish sneer.

Myra immedately burst into tears, her bizarre Luna-ish dress flowing behind her as she scurried away. Harry called out to Myra, but the girl kept running and hid herself in a room down the hall.

Romilda smirked at Myra's retreating back, then raised an eyebrow at Harry. Her voice full of mock pity, she scoffed, "Aww, your friend didn't want to hang out with us. I guess it's just you and me now. So what's with the little mouse, Harry? Are you trying to do her a favor by making her look cool?"

Harry's jaw clenched, his fists balling up by his sides as he glared down at the haughty brunette. After taking a few deep breaths, the Chosen One hissed, "She is not a mouse. Her name is Myra, and she just happens to be a good friend of mine."

The arrogant girl let out an annoyingly high-pitched laugh and breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, all right, she's a friend. That would explain it."

"Exactly what is that supposed to mean?"

"Oh, nothing," Romilda sighed and shrugged nonchalantly. "It just wouldn't make sense for the great Harry Potter to be dating a two when he could easily have a perfect ten."

"If being a two means that you're smart, and kind, and interesting, then yeah, I guess she is a two. But let me tell you something," Harry pointed an angry finger at the nasty little witch. "That girl you so rudely insulted has more beauty than you will ever have!" With that, Harry turned on his heel and stormed away from the snob, who for once was at a loss for words.

The Chosen One went to the door of the room that he thought contained Myra, which was left slightly open. He felt a combination of anger at Romilda and sorrow for his friend as he knocked softly on the door.


She didn't respond, but when he listened closely, he could hear her crying. He slowly pushed the door open to find Myra standing there with tears streaming down her cheeks. Harry never was very good at dealing with emotions, but he wanted to be there for her. So he took Romilda's note out of his pocket and transfigured the piece of parchment into a handkerchief, which he held out to her.

Harry felt a certain sense of satisfaction as Myra blew her nose on Romilda's letter. It broke the Gryffindor's heart to see those dark, puffy eyes looking up at him, with flushed lips still trembling. He wanted to wrap her in a comforting embrace, but hesitated, unsure if that was the right thing to do. He reached out to pat her shoulder, then pulled back. It scared him how much he wanted to hold her. But he didn't want her to think he was trying to take advantage of her or the situation. Harry realized his feelings for Myra had gone above and beyond friendship. Somehow, without even trying--just by being her charmingly quirky self--Myra had captured his heart and soul. But did she feel the same?

After Myra's sobbing subsided, she looked up at him, sniffling and wiping the tears off her cheeks. In a hushed voice, she said, "I feel so foolish, standing here crying like this in front of you."

The Gryffindor shook his head. "No, don't. Romilda is the one who should feel stupid, not you. Don't listen to her. She's just a nasty person who think she's better than everybody else."

Myra looked down and nodded as she twisted the handkerchief in her hands. She looked up again and said, "Um, Harry, I hope you don't mind, but I think I'd like to go back to Ravenclaw and just be alone for a little while."

Harry was disappointed, but understood. He walked Myra back to the Ravenclaw living quarters in a companionable silence until she spoke again.

"Thanks," the brunette whispered in a barely audible tone. "Nobody has ever defended me before."

Harry smiled sympathetically at the girl, and wondered exactly what she meant. She normally wasn't given to making such bold statements. But as she was probably feeling vulnerable right now, he chose not to press the issue or stick his nose in her business.

For Harry, Christmas couldn't come soon enough. He was anxious not only to have Hermione back to normal again, but to give Myra her presents. The Gryffindor couldn't wait to see the look on her face when she opened her new art supplies!

Myrtle had also been looking forward to Christmas, although she wasn't expecting to receive any gifts. This was her first holiday alive again, and this time she actually had friends to share it with. Christmas morning came, and Myrtle was shaken awake by a small hand on her shoulder.

"Myrtle, wake up! It's Christmas!"

The first thing Myrtle saw upon awakening was a pair of huge silver eyes, which were even larger than normal with childlike wonder and excitement. The blond grinned broadly and grabbed her hand, pulling her out of bed.

"Come on! Get dressed so we can go see what gifts the Washoos left for us!"

"Washoos?" Myrtle laughed and rubbed her eyes sleepily.

Luna grabbed a hairbrush and started running it through Myrtle's rumpled tresses. "Well of course! Washoos are little elf like creatures that leave gifts under Christmas trees."

The brunette chortled and started to leave the room in her nightgown when Luna stopped her.

"No! Wait!" Luna dragged Myrtle over to her wardrobe.

"Why can't we just go down to the common room as we are?" Myrtle whined.

The Ravenclaw went through her clothes until she came to a hideous red and green frock, which she shoved into Myrtle's grasp. "Well, if the Washoos see you in your pajamas, they'll turn all of your gifts into lumps of coal!"

Deciding not to question Luna any further, Myrtle changed into the garish dress and followed her friend down to the common room. Luna gave Myrtle her gift, a two-inch-thick book of magical creatures and some peanut butter cockroach clusters. "Thank you, Luna!" Myrtle hugged the blond. Then her smile faded. She hadn't ever thought about buying any Christmas presents, and even if she had, she didn't have any money. "But I didn't get you anything," her brow furrowed with concern.

Luna smiled, "That's all right, Myrtle. I didn't expect you to." Her big eyes glanced up at the clock as if she might be running late or expecting something to happen.

Myrtle laughed, "What? Are the Washoos coming back at a certain time?"

The Ravenclaw didn't answer. She stood and walked over to the Ravenclaw entrance, her long straggly hair swinging behind her. When she opened the door, Myrtle faintly heard her talking to someone, but couldn't see who it was. Then Luna crossed the room, giving her a knowing smile before she went up the girls' dormitory stairs.

"Where are you going?" Myrtle wondered what she'd done to make Luna suddenly leave like that. Perhaps she really was upset about the lack of a Christmas present? Suddenly, she heard footsteps coming from the living quarters entrance and looked up, her jaw dropping with unexpected glee. "Harry?"

The handsome Gryffindor approached her bearing a smile and a large, flat package. He wore a green hand-knit sweater with a big "H" on the front, and black dress slacks. The sweater matched his eyes, which shone with Christmas cheer and...something else she couldn't quite make out. "Merry Christmas, Myra!"

Myrtle blushed as he sat down next to her on the blue and silver couch, placing the package on her lap. She definitely wasn't expecting this. The girl blinked at him with surprise and stuttered, "Is th-this for me?"

"Of course," replied the Gryffindor with a twinkle in his eye.

Myrtle was too stunned to move for a moment. No guy had ever given her a gift before.

"Go on, open it!" Harry grinned excitedly.

Once she overcame the initial shock, Myrtle smiled back at him and started to unwrap it. Her hands were a little shaky, but she managed to remove the parchment to reveal a brand new sketch pad and a set of drawing pencils.

"Muggle art supplies," she gasped. She hadn't used a pencil since before she died, and nobody had ever given her a sketch book before. When she was alive, she used to make do with drawing on random scraps of paper, the sides of paper bags, whatever she could get a hold of. She'd only dreamt of being able to afford her own drawing pad. And now, Harry had somehow acquired these gifts just for her. "How were you able to purchase these? Without leaving Hogwarts, I mean?"

"I had a friend pick them up for me," he smiled timidly.

This was by far the sweetest, most thoughtful gift anyone had ever given her. And the fact that Harry went to all the trouble of getting Muggle art supplies made it even more meaningful. She looked up again at the beautiful young man and smiled, tears of joy glistening in her eyes and clouding her vision. "Thank you, Harry. This is the best gift ever!"

The Gryffindor grinned, "You're very welcome."

As Myrtle gave Harry a 'thank you' hug, she thought she vaguely heard the sound of Luna's voice hissing, "Yes!" from the girls' staircase.

"Ron, have you seen Romilda? I wanted to give her this." Hermione held up a small box, the kind of box that could only contain a ring of some sort.

Ron held the Amortentia-laced chocolates behind his back as he smiled and replied, "Sorry, Hermione. I haven't seen her anywhere, but since we're both here, I'd like to give you your gift."

The bookworm looked less than thrilled when Ron held the package out to her. "Um, thanks, Ron. You really shouldn't have." She gave the package a look of disinterest and accepted it with reluctance.

Right then, Romilda started down the stairs, cautiously peering out from behind the girls' entryway. At the sight of Hermione, she started creeping back up the steps. The bushy-headed girl heard her footsteps and turned, spotting her just before she could get away.

Ron groaned when Hermione threw down his unopened gift in favor of chasing Romilda up the stairs. A few seconds later, he heard Romilda screaming as she ran back down the stairs with Hermione chasing her out the portrait hole. The redhead angrily plopped down on the couch and kicked the box of chocolates. How would he ever feed the love potion to his girlfriend if Romilda was always around?

It had been a wonderful Christmas morning for Harry. Just as he had hoped, Myra loved his gift. They spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the Ravenclaw Common Room with Luna, who kept them in stitches talking about various nonexistent magical creatures as if they were real. He never thought he could have so much fun doing absolutely nothing.

When he went to the Great Hall for lunch, he was expecting to see Ron and Hermione back together again, just like the good ole days. To his surprise, Hermione was missing in action and Ron was looking especially miserable.

"She wouldn't eat the chocolates," Ron muttered as he picked at his roast. "She wouldn't even open the bloody box!"

Harry felt bad for his best mate. "Don't worry, Ron. We'll figure something out. Maybe this evening I can convince her to try one."

The redhead gave him a doubtful look. "And how are you going to do that?"

That afternoon, Ron elected to hibernate in their room and feel sorry for himself. Harry tried to cheer him up by reminding him that Hermione was not a lost cause, but the red-haired boy wouldn't hear of it. "I can't wait 'til that bloody love potion wears off," Ron grumbled before disappearing under the blankets.

After dinner that evening, Harry entered the common room and spied Hermione's gift laying on the floor. The Gryffindor picked up the still-unopened chocolates, then set them down on the table by the couch. He felt sorry for Ron; Hermione had left them untouched all day long. Harry was beginning to doubt that the bookworm would ever eat them unless she thought they were from Romilda.

Suddenly, Harry had an idea. He magically changed the color and pattern of the giftwrap, then went up to his bedroom, where he fetched a quill and ink. Ron's snores covered up the sound of the quill scratching against parchment as Harry scribbled out a quick love letter:

To My Love,
Sorry about giving you a belated Christmas present. Please accept these chocolates as a symbol of our love.


The Gryffindor hastily cast a spell to make his own handwriting look neater and loopier, more like a girl's penmanship. As a result, the 'V' looked sort of like a 'W', but he didn't worry about it. He went back down to the vacant common room with the note he'd just written, trying to be quick in case anybody saw him.

Romilda, who was on her way downstairs from the girls' dormitories, noticed Harry dart across the room. She hid just inside the girls' entrance, lurking in the shadows as Harry placed a pretty pink package and a letter on an end table near the couch, as if to surprise someone with a Christmas gift. Of course, that someone just had to be her; who else would it be? The Weasley girl was dating someone else now, and Loony Lovegood and mousy little Myra were in Ravenclaw, so the gift clearly wasn't for either of them.

Harry snuck back up the boys' stairs, and an arrogant smile spread across Romilda's face. "I knew it! He does want me," she giggled to herself as she crept down to the pink package. The Boy Who Lived clearly had a romantic side, and he was good at hiding it; maybe too good. But that was all right with Romilda; after pursuing him for ages, he was finally coming around.

The snotty brunette eagerly seized the package and tore off the shiny parchment to reveal a box of delicious-looking chocolate truffles. "My favorite!" Romilda squealed with delight; it was clear to her that Harry was secretly observing her and knew exactly what she liked. She popped one candy into her mouth and savored the rich explosion of flavor. The filling tasted like amaretto, mocha, and some other flavor that she couldn't quite make out. But nothing tasted better than sweet victory. Yes, the great Harry Potter was now hers; hero of the Wizarding world, Quidditch captain...

Ron plays Quidditch, too! Romilda's thoughts were quickly turning to Harry's red-haired friend. All these years she'd seen him as Harry's goofy sidekick, but he was actually quite dashing, especially in those red and gold Quidditch robes that accentuated his fiery hair and brought out the adorable golden freckles that peppered his handsome face. She had the sudden urge to find the tall boy and kiss each of his freckles, one by one.

She reached for another chocolate when she remembered that they were from Harry. Oh no! Romilda's eyes grew wide. I hope Ron doesn't think there's anything going on between me and Harry! She looked back at the table where she had found the chocolates, and saw the sheet of parchment still laying there. Wanting to get rid of it before Ron could find it, she grabbed it and saw what it said. At the bottom of the page were the initials "R.W."

Romilda breathed a sigh of relief and laughed. Of course! The candy and note were from Ron. Harry was just helping him out by strategically placing the gift and letter where she'd find them. All these years, Ron had harbored a crush on her, but she'd been sidetracked by his famous friend. She couldn't even remember what she had seen in Harry to begin with.

A/N: Some of you may wonder why Harry gave Myrtle Muggle art supplies instead of magical ones, when he doesn't know whether or not she's familiar with Muggle things. My answer is quite simple. It would've been a lot harder for him to acquire Muggle art supplies than magical ones. Therefore, Muggle supplies would make a much more meaningful gift because of all the time, effort and planning that went into getting them for her.

Also, in this story, students of different Houses are allowed to enter one another's Common Rooms, at least during the winter holiday.

Chapter 11: A Different Kind of Beauty
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A/N: I do not own the Potterverse, or the song used in this chapter, which is "Mysterious Ways" by U2.

Ron woke up on Christmas night. It had been noon when he laid down, but now the room was filled with twilight's eerie shadows. He lay there for a moment, just rehashing the sight of Hermione throwing the chocolates on the floor. He didn't want to leave the sanctuary of his bedchamber, but his stomach was rumbling ferociously and demanding to be fed.

The Gryffindor walked down to the common room, which appeared to be empty. He was on his way to the portrait hole when he noticed a half-empty box of chocolates - Hermione's box - laying on the table by the couch. A big smile lit up Ron's face; clearly Harry had kept his word and convinced Hermione to eat them. He felt like going upstairs, waking Harry up and giving him a big hug. He finally had his girl back! "Yes, the madness is over!"

"It sure is."

A pair of feminine arms wrapped around him from behind, and he smiled gleefully. Hermione had stayed up waiting for him! Surely she must've felt terrible about pursuing Romilda and would consent to a marathon make-up snog. But when he turned around, his ecstatic grin faded into horror and confusion. "Romilda?"

"Hi Ronnie," she purred as she threw her arms around him and started to snuggle up to him. "You're absolutely right, my love. The madness is over."

The redhead detangled himself from her arms and started to back away slowly, but the girl kept coming closer. Romilda had been borderline stalking Harry for ages; why had she all of a sudden changed her mind? Had she given up on Harry? Was she trying to get Hermione to hate her by coming on to her boyfriend? Then he looked again at the open box of truffles, his eyes widening with realization. "Um, Romilda? Did you, by those chocolates?"

Romilda now had him backed up against a wall. "Well of course I ate them, Ronnie. And I wanted to thank you for the lovely gift." Leaning in closer to him, she whispered in his ear, "They're delicious."

"AH!" Ron felt the brunette start to nibble his lobe and clumsily scrambled to get away from her. Eager to create some distance between himself and Romilda, he hurried over to stand behind the couch. When Romilda bounded onto the red and gold cushions and leaned in for a kiss, he moved to the far end of the couch. "I-I-I thought you liked H-Harry."

"I did," the girl shrugged and came closer, while he backed away. "But I've been thinking...about you. About us."

"There is no us!" The red-haired wizard ran behind to the other side of the couch.

"Don't be silly, love. You know we belong together!" Romilda smiled and teasingly started to act like she was going to run after him from behind the couch. Ron was about to bolt for the front of the couch, when she made a sudden move as if she was about run around to the front as well. They carried on like this for a few moments, until Romilda faked him out. She made like she was ready to start chasing him from behind, so he turned and ran to the front of the furniture. By the time he realized she had tricked him, it was too late. She ran up and wrapped her arms tightly around him.

"I got you now, Ronnie!" She pulled him down onto the couch and was trying to snog him when they heard footsteps coming from the girls' stairs.

"Romilda? Is that you?" Hermione came down into the common room with her wand tip lighting the way, her smile turning into venemous anger at the sight of her girl looking very cozy with Ron.

"Go away, Granger! Ron and I need some privacy!"

"Oh no we don't!" The wizard pushed Romilda away and jumped up off the couch. "This is not what it looks like, Hermione!"

"It had better not be!" There was rage in her eyes as she pointed her wand threateningly at Ron's chest. "I will fight for her, Ron!"

"You stay away from my man!" Romilda threw herself protectively over Ron like a human shield.

Hermione lowered her wand, her furious features softening. "Oh Romilda, Ron doesn't love you, I do!"

Ron looked over at the candy on the table, then back at Hermione, who looked like she didn't know whether to hex him or chase Romilda. "Um, Hermione?"

The bushy-haired witch pointed her wand at his face and narrowed her eyes. "Yes, Ron?"

"Uh... Would you like some chocolate?"

Harry left by himself for breakfast the next morning, since Ron seemed to have decided to sleep in. The Chosen One wondered where Hermione was, but was kind of glad he didn't have to listen to her Romilda ramblings today. In fact, Miss Priss wasn't there, either. That's strange, Harry mused to himself. Strange but wonderfully liberating. He was tucking into his porridge when his best mate came in looking like a walking zombie.

"Merlin! What happened to you?"

Ron didn't say a word, but was clearly enraged about something. The redhead filled his plate with pancakes, then started eating very quickly and forcefully.


"You will never guess what happened last night," Ron grumbled after taking a swig of milk.

"Well I noticed Hermione's chocolates were just about gone this morning. So she must be back to normal, right?"

Ron turned as red as his hair and stopped to glare at his friend. "No, Harry, she's not all right! She didn't eat any of the candy."

Harry froze and gaped at his best mate with horror. "Well, then, who did?"

As if on cue, Romilda entered the Great Hall and made a beeline for Ron. Looking very worried, she threw her arms around him from behind and planted a big kiss on his cheek before he could back away. "Oh, Ronnie, I'm so sorry that awful little Mudblood tried to hex you last night!" She reached out to run her fingers through Ron's red locks, but he pushed her hand away.

Harry tried not to laugh at the sight of Romilda fussing over Ron. He wanted the old Hermione back as much as his friend did, but it was still amusing to see Ron get a taste of what it was like to be the object of Romilda's obsession. Not pleasant, is it? Harry smirked to himself as he got up to leave the table.

Myrtle couldn't wait to use her new pencils and drawing paper. As she sat in the Ravenclaw Common Room, she happily took a sharpened pencil from the box and opened the sketchbook up to the first page. Looking around at the common room, she decided to draw her surroundings. Most people didn't notice the gentle sheen of the wooden floor, or the fascinating textures of the rough castle walls as the light from outside illuminated the unique beauty of each individual block of stone. But as Myrtle worked briskly to capture all the shapes, textures, lights and shadows around her, she felt an appreciation for the everyday, mundane things that the other Ravenclaws never stopped to notice. Drawing had always been a way to make herself feel at peace with her surroundings, a way to temporarily forget her problems and worries...

The brunette was so wrapped up in her artwork, that at first she didn't even notice Luna entering the quiet room. Finally coming out of her little art-induced trance, Myrtle smiled at the sight of her friend. "Hi Luna, did you find any Yerginfloogins?"

The blond sighed and shook her head. "No, I didn't. But I did find a certain Gryffindor..."

Harry came walking in behind Luna, who went upstairs to give them some privacy. The raven-haired boy looked down at the sketch pad and asked, "Um, are you busy? Because I can always see you later-"

"-No, please sit down!"

The Gryffindor plopped down next to her on the blue and silver couch, and raised his eyebrows at her nearly finished drawing of the common room. "Wow, I don't see how you do that. So how do you like your new art stuff?"

"Oh I love it!" Myrtle grinned excitedly at him. "Thank you again."

The two students sat there for a while, losing track of time as they chatted and enjoyed each other's company. As they talked, Myrtle couldn't help but notice the striking lights and shadows on Harry's charming face...the texture of his perpetually messy hair...the cute little facial expressions that were uniquely his own... She had the overwhelming urge to capture the way he looked at this very moment. Myrtle smirked as a great idea dawned on her; the perfect Christmas gift. A gift from the heart.

"Harry, can I draw you?"

That evening after dinner, Myrtle went to the seventh floor, approaching the wall across from the dancing troll tapestry. Her pencils and sketch pad were clutched securely under her arm as she summoned the Room of Requirement, then went inside. She would've drawn Harry in the common room earlier that day, but he had suggested using the Room of Requirement instead. The brunette looked around the room with satisfaction. She agreed this was a rather brilliant location for drawing his portrait, as nobody would be coming in or disrupting her concentration.

The room had turned into a Muggle-style art studio. There were counters and cabinets full of paintbrushes, paints, erasers and other art supplies. There was even an easel for her sketch pad and a cushy chair for Harry to sit in for his portrait. As she waited for Harry's arrival, Myrtle placed her sketch pad on the easel and set up her pencils and erasers on an attached tray. It was thrilling to her to have her own art studio, even if it was just for tonight; she felt like a real professional!

She was opening up her pad to a fresh sheet of paper when Harry walked in, looking especially gorgeous. He had clearly taken special care to look nice for his portrait session. He wore a green dress shirt that perfectly matched his eyes, and dress slacks that he usually only wore for school and special occasions. His hair was untidy as always, but that was fine with Myrtle; that was part of what made him Harry.

"I hope this is all right," the Gryffindor gestured to his outfit.

"Yes, that's...more than all right. You look great!" Myrte beamed.

Harry looked a mite bashful at her compliment, and stood there awkwardly with his hands in his pockets. "Um... What do you want me to do for the picture? Where do you want me?"

"How about on that seat there?" Myrtle used her pencil to point out the chair directly behind him. He sat rather stiffly, since he wasn't used to being drawn. The brunette chuckled. "Loosen up, Harry! You look like you've been petrified."

"But how should I pose?"

"Don't worry about posing. Just sit the way you would normally sit. Pretend we're just hanging out together in your common room or something."

She watched Harry start to relax and take on a more natural pose, leaning back with his elbows resting on the arms of the chair.

"Perfect." Myrtle closed her eyes for a second, took a deep breath and ordered her heart to stop pounding so loudly. Then she used her pencil to start mapping out where his head and shoulders should go, and sketching a general outline of his body onto the paper. As she started to draw, her stomach fluttered. She wondered if Harry was as attracted to her as she was to him.

"Uh, I've never done this before." There was a hint of vulnerability in the Gryffindor's voice.

Myrtle grinned as she continued drawing. "That's all right. There's a first time for everyone." As soon as those words left her lips, Harry turned bright red. She laughed nervously and muttered, "Sorry. I didn't mean it like that."

Harry chortled at Myra's little slip-up. He was trying to stay cool and calm as she drew him, but inside he was anything but. Despite all the clothing he wore, he almost felt naked. When she looked at him, studying every aspect of him, he felt as if she could see right through to his soul. It was a very...intimate experience.

He watched the artist who gazed so intently at him, and felt all warm inside. Sure, Myra wasn't as physically attractive as Cho or Ginny, but if he had to choose, he would gladly pick Myra over either girl any day. She seemed to have a certain...something that had been lacking in the prettier girls. He just couldn't quite put a finger on what that something was.

She looked so serious as she intently worked on his portrait, her intense eyes darting back and forth between him and the sketch pad in front of her. She seemed to emit a light from within, like the moon; mysterious and beautiful...and he wanted to bask in that light.

Let her pale light in to fill up your room

It had now been several months since Harry and Ginny had mutually agreed to stop seeing each other. Ever since the breakup and the defeat of Voldemort, romance had no longer been of interest to the Boy Who Lived. He'd been too busy trying to dodge and hide from the throngs of googly-eyed girls who stalked him wherever he went.

You've been living underground, eating from a can
You've been running away from what you don't understand

But he didn't want to run away from this girl. She was different; a perfect combination of quirky uniqueness, personality and innate sweetness, all wrapped up in an air of mystery. Harry had the bad habit of pushing away the people he cared about. It was something he'd always done in an attempt to protect them. Now that he no longer had to worry about protecting anybody from the Dark Lord, he was free to open himself up. And he knew somehow that it was all right to give his heart to Myra.

She'll be there when you hit the ground
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways

Harry sat there for Merlin-knew-how-long, just observing everything about this truly exquisite young woman. He quietly admired the creaminess of her fair skin under the flickering torch light, adored the way her long hair kept flopping in her eyes as she worked. The Gryffindor couldn't help noticing the way Myra's collar bone peeked out from under the rounded neck of her blouse. She wasn't a classic beauty by any means, but she had her own special brand of attractiveness. Her looks were growing on him in a big way.

"All right, Harry, I'm just about done."

The Chosen One was a mite disappointed that the portrait session was over. He would've been content just to sit there all night and watch Myra's graceful, fluid movements as she worked. But still, he was eager to see the finished product and crossed the room to where she stood, putting her pencils back in their box. When he saw his likeness on the paper, he couldn't believe his eyes. Myra had not only captured his physical appearance, but something else as well. Perhaps she was staring into his soul when she drew him, whether she meant to or not. The picture practically vibrated with thought and emotion.

Myra turned to watch Harry's reaction to seeing his portrait, and her brow furrowed. "What's the matter, Harry? Don't you like it?"

"No, I love it! Thank you!" Harry turned to the girl and smiled. "Can I keep it?"

Myrtle grinned and removed the pad from the easel, careful not to smudge her drawing. "Of course, Harry. In fact, think of it as a belated Christmas gift. But first, let me cut a mat for it and frame it for you." She walked over to a nearby counter, where she found mat board, a straight edge ruler and a sharp knife specifically made for mat cutting. She wanted to do things the Muggle way, as her time and effort would be more meaningful than if she simply used magic to mat and frame the art. The brunette started to cut into the mat board, but the board was so thick that her knife got stuck. She tried a few times to tug it through the thickness, but she didn't have the strength.

"Need some help?"

She smiled up at the Boy Who Lived. "Yes please." Myrtle stepped aside and allowed Harry to try unsticking the blade, but he too had some difficulty. He started trying to use force to get the knife to budge, holding the cutting tool in his right hand while his left hand held the mat board in place. His left hand was a little too close to the sharp end of the blade.

"Harry, move your hand out of the way! You're going to-"

"OW!" The Gryffindor succeeded in getting the blade unstuck, but sliced the palm of his left hand open in the process.

Myrtle grabbed a rag off the counter and wrapped it around Harry's hand. "Go sit down in the chair," she instructed him. "I'll mix up a quick healing potion."

A little cauldron appeared on the counter along with a cabinet full of the ingredients she needed. She was amazed that after all these decades, she still remembered how to make a healing potion. As she started adding ingredients to the cauldron, she mused about fate and destiny. Had Luna never run out of Googenplotz repellant, she never would've entered Myrtle's bathroom that fateful Fall day a few months ago. And if she and Luna had never become friends, she would still be a ghost with no chance of winning Harry's love.

"What are you thinking about?" Harry asked as he watched her make the potion.

Myrtle smiled to herself, "Well, I'm thinking about how many dragon scales I need for this potion, and...thinking about destiny."

"What about it?"

"It's funny how everything in life just seems to fall into place, like the universe has some sort of divine way of bringing people and events to us," Myrtle commented as she added more ingredients to the small cauldron. "Everything happens for a reason, at least that's what I've always believed."

"You mean like the cut on my hand?" Harry asked jokingly.

The girl shrugged and laughed. "Yeah, that too, I guess."

Harry chuckled. Myra was always such a joy to talk to about virtually anything. And when she spoke of unexplainable things such as fate and destiny, he found her insights very endearing and fascinating.

Let her talk about the things you can't explain

When the potion was finally done, it let off a very pungent odor that was so overpowering, it made Harry feel dizzy. He was glad he was sitting, or else he might've fainted. Myra, who must've been holding her breath, walked over to him with no sign of dizziness, then knelt down in front of his chair, placing the cauldron next to her on the floor.

"Let me see your hand."

Harry obediently held out his wounded hand, palm up. Myra carefully removed the partially bloody cloth from his hand. His skin tingled as she gently placed her hand under his and held it still.

Then Myra reached down with the other hand, dipping her fingers into the thick, white paste she'd concocted. "This won't hurt a bit," she murmurred just before gingerly running her medicine-coated finger tips over his cut.

The potion felt warm and comforting against his palm, heating up the longer it remained on his skin. "It's getting rather hot," Harry grinned lopsidedly at the girl.

"That means it's working." Myra gently blew on the Gryffindor's palm. He knew that she was just trying to make sure the potion didn't get too hot, but the feeling of her breath on his skin gave him goosebumps and an odd sensation in the pit of his stomach. He had to admit that he rather enjoyed basking in Myra's attentions.

The unused remainder of the potion vanished, taking with it the horrible smell. The brunette whispered an incantation over his cut and touched his palm. She glanced up at Harry with a spark in her eye and blushed, then looked down again. He loved making those dark eyes twinkle. They were warm and comforting, like the sky on a balmy Summer night. Even her shiny dark hair reminded him of the dusky sky.

To touch is to heal...
And if you wanna kiss the sky,
You'd better learn how to kneal
On your knees boy

Fully healed now, Harry got out of his chair to kneal in front of her so that he could look directly into those beautiful eyes.

Myra looked puzzled. "Harry, what are you doing?"

"Something I've been wanting to do for a while now." He felt as if the Golden Snitch was fluttering around in his stomach as he reached out to touch Myra's long, dark tresses. The Gryffindor didn't know whether or not this girl would welcome his advances, so he hesitated before touching the soft locks.

Myrtle was dumbfounded. Was Harry Potter, dare she think it, actually interested in her? As more than a friend? His slightly shaky hand caressed her hair, his eyes searching hers as if seeking permission to touch her. A soft smile spread across her face, and Harry in turn smiled. His hand slowly moved from her hair to her face, where his fingers brushed against her cheek, tracing her cheekbone and jaw line. He seemed as if he was trying to memorize her features.

Feeling shy, Myrtle started to look down. Harry placed his fingers under her chin and gently raised her head, so that her eyes met his once again. Cupping her chin in his palm, his thumb shakily traced the outline of her lips, sending surges of electricity coursing through her.

One day you'll look back, and you'll see
Where you were held
How by this love while you could stand there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

Harry's face was slowly inching closer to hers, and a million questions flooded Myrtle's brain. Oh Merlin, he's going to kiss me! Should I open my mouth? Or should I keep it closed? What if I'm a lousy kisser? I hope my breath doesn't stink... She'd never been kissed by anybody before, and now the man of her dreams was so close she could feel his breath on her face.

Suddenly, they heard a bit of commotion coming from the corridor just outside the Room of Requirement. The two teens paused for a few moments, but they heard nothing else.

"It was probably just Peeves." Harry turned back to Myra and smirked. "Now where were we?"

They were about to kiss when they heard it again, only louder. It sounded like several people running around in the hallway, their shoes echoing on the hard stone floor. Fed up and annoyed with the perpetrators, Harry and Myrtle went to the door to see what was going on. What they saw was something very odd and unexpected.

Myrtle looked up at the Chosen One and asked, "Um, Harry? Why are Romilda and Hermione chasing Ron?"

Chapter 12: Kiss the Girl
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A/N: There seems to have been some confusion at the end of the previous chapter, when Myrtle asked why Romilda and Hermione were chasing Ron. Some of you thought that Hermione was cured and was now chasing Ron. It was actually Hermione chasing Romilda, who was chasing Ron, but it looked like both girls were chasing him.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes I got the title of this chapter from a song on The Little Mermaid.

"Harry! Help!" Ron's voice was urgent as he tried to get away from Romilda, who was running away from Hermione.

Myra looked perplexed as Harry ran after the students, drawing his wand in the process. He quickened his pace until he was right behind Hermione.

The bookworm looked over her shoulder at Harry. Apparently thinking that Harry was chasing her, Hermione said, "Harry, why are you chasing me? I don't like you in that way! I love Romilda, remember?"

"Relax, Hermione," the Chosen One panted as he tried to keep up with the Amortentia Trio. "It's not you I'm after, it's Ron!"

"WHAT?" Ron gave Harry a horrified look as he ran for his life. "Harry, please tell me you didn't eat my chocolates!"

Harry shook his head. "No, I didn't mean it like that! I meant that I'm coming after you to save you."

Ron breathed a sigh of relief, but then saw Romilda ganging up on him with a crazed ball-and-chain look in her eyes and panicked again. The redhead didn't have his wand, and therefore had to depend on his best mate to save him. "Harry, do something! Quick!"

Harry did the first thing that came to mind. He cast a Shield Charm on the corridor, creating an invisible barrier that kept Romilda and Hermione separated from Ron's side of the hallway. Romilda was trying like mad to break through the charm to get to the red-haired boy until Hermione decided to take advantage of their trapped situation. When Hermione tried to grab Romilda and kiss her, the girl temporarily forgot about trying to get to Ron. She bolted away to the stairs, the bushy-haired teen following close behind.

"Thanks, mate." Ron clapped Harry on the shoulder as he gasped for air.

"May I ask what's going on here?"

Harry turned to see Myra standing before them, looking very bewildered. "Um...tell you what, Myra. Ron and I will walk you back to Ravenclaw. We'll explain everything on the way there."

Later that night, Myrtle and Luna sat together in their dormitory, sipping hot cocoa as Myrtle explained what had happened outside the Room of Requirement.

"So let me get this straight." Luna looked thoughtful as she sat on the edge of Myrtle's bed. "Ron gave Hermione Amortentia-laced chocolates, and Romilda ate them by accident?"

"That's right," the dark-haired witch nodded.

"So now Hermione is obsessed with Romilda, who is infatuated with Ron?"

"Exactly." Myrtle took a sip of hot cocoa and shook her head. "I wish I knew the cure for Amortentia... But it was pretty funny to see the three of them chasing each other all over the bloody place." She giggled.

Luna poked at her marshmallows with her fingertip. "I still say that Lubzwigs must've had something to do with this. I mean, why else would Romilda do a crazy thing like eat someone else's candy?"

Lubzwigs or not, Myrtle knew that something had to be done about the Amortentia. The next day, when she and Harry headed over to Hogsmeade, they searched high and low for a cure. Unfortunately, the shopkeepers claimed that they did not sell any love potions; therefore, they didn't carry the antidote either.

"What are we going to do?" Myrtle sighed as they left the last shop together.

Harry smiled down at Myra's profile as they walked down the snowy cobblestone walkway. It was so sweet the way she wanted to help Ron and Hermione. Then he looked ahead to The Three Broomsticks. "Don't worry, Myra. Ron's brothers sell Amortentia. I can owl them when we return to the castle. I'm sure they'd have the remedy. But right now, why don't we get us something to eat?"

The Gryffindor held the door open for Myra, then entered behind her. The small pub was still decorated for the holidays, red and green candles sitting on every table surrounded by poinsettias. The delightful aroma of cookies and butterbeer filled the place, making Harry's stomach growl. The Chosen One noticed that the table they had occupied before was empty. He gestured to the table and asked, "Would you like to sit there again?"

Myrtle nodded. Without thinking, she automatically grabbed his hand before starting to walk with him. Then, realizing that she may have been too bold, she blushed and muttered an apology. She released Harry's hand, only to have him snatch hers back. The surprised brunette looked up to find Harry's vibrant green eyes on her as he grinned and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. She smiled and looked down as they strolled to the table, hand in hand.

Somehow the touch of Myra's hand gave Harry an adrenaline rush similar to the rush he got from flying. The Gryffindor reluctantly let go to take the seat across from her, and thought about what had happened the previous night. He really wished that he could've kissed the brunette. The wizard's fingers tingled as he recalled the silkiness of Myra's hair, and the softness of her face when he touched her cheek. In his mind, Harry started to plan his next attempt at kissing the girl when suddenly...

"Ow!" Harry raised his eyebrows quizzically at Myra, who'd kicked his foot under the table. The brunette smirked and gestured toward Madam Rosmerta, who stood here waiting to take his order. "Er, sorry," he mumbled before ordering a hot butterbeer and a plate of fudge for them to share.

Myrtle ordered a butterbeer as well, then turned back to Harry. Her love had been off in his own little world for a moment there, a goofy grin on his face as if he'd been fantasizing about someone; possibly someone other than herself. Although logically Myrtle knew that Harry's feelings for her were growing stronger, her insecurities were creeping in little by little. The night of the ball loomed progressively closer, and she was a mite concerned about her destiny. She didn't want to return to her pathetic existence as a ghost; she wanted to stay here...with Harry.

Madam Rosmerta placed the fudge and butterbeer in front of the teens. Harry watched Myra's face go from happy to sad and pensive, a far away look in her dark eyes. In that instant, she reminded him of Moaning Myrtle--without the glasses and pigtails, of course. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen the ghost since before the Winter holiday commenced, which was rather odd.

Harry laughed to himself and shook his head. The mere idea that there might be any kind of correlation between Myra and Moaning Myrtle was preposterous. The Gryffindor glanced up at the girl sitting across from him, who was munching on a piece of fudge and staring into the fireplace. Myra's eyes met his, then she grinned and looked down in that adorably bashful manner he'd grown so fond of.

The Chosen One's smile faded as reality came crashing down on him. Myra was only staying at Hogwarts until the end of the holiday, which was coming up fast. He knew he would miss everything about her; her quiet charm, kindness and inner beauty. Harry adored just being with her, and the truth was that he was falling for her. Hard. As he drank in every detail of the brunette's profile, he made a decision. He was going to do everything he could to make their final days together as memorable as possible.

The overcast Winter sky was darkening by the time Harry and Myrtle started heading back to the castle. The two teens talked and laughed as they treaded through the snow to the castle doors.

As always, Harry was quite the gentleman, opening the door for Myrtle then walking her back to the Ravenclaw living quarters. Since this was the usual dinner time at Hogwarts, the corridors were completely vacant. Myrtle listened to the sounds of their shoes echoing against the floor until they came to the Ravenclaw entrance, where they paused to say good-bye.

Myrtle lingered outside the door, hoping that Harry would try to kiss her again. "Um, thanks for everything, Harry. I had fun today."

"So did I," the Gryffindor smiled softly.

Not wanting to appear overeager, Myrtle said "good night" then turned to go inside. To her pleasant surprise, Harry grabbed her hand and stopped her.

"Myra, wait."

The brunette turned around, anticipation bubbling up inside her. The man of her dreams started to lean into her, his beautiful face slowly coming increasingly closer. She was breathlessly drowning in two pools of brilliant green when suddenly...


The couple was rudely startled out of their otherwise romantic moment by the sound of a screaming girl. They turned to see Hermione chasing Romilda down the hallway as if her life depended on it. As soon as the two girls were gone, Myrtle looked again at Harry. Although they were both a mite frustrated at the interruption, they tried to laugh it off.

"Well, shall we try again?" Harry asked half jokingly.

Myrtle balanced on tiptoe as the Gryffindor leaned towards her again. At that very moment, a frantic-looking Ron came running up to them. The girl groaned inwardly as the redhead turned to his friend.

"Harry, I need your help. Would you mind walking with me back to Gryffindor Tower, just in case Romilda tries to attack me again?"

The brunette could tell that Harry was trying to hide his exasperation. "But Ron, you know how to perform a basic Restraining Charm. What do you need me for?"

" in numbers?" Ron laughed nervously. "Besides, I left my wand in our room."

Harry looked regretful at having to leave. "I'm sorry, Myra. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay," the brunette replied half-heartedly. "I guess I'll see you later then." Myrtle attempted a smile before going inside and trudging up to Luna's bedchamber. The brunette scarcely noticed Luna standing there as she came in and flung herself onto her own bed, burying her face in the pillow.

"What's wrong, Myrtle? You look upset." Luna came to sit on the edge of the brunette's bed, her large silver eyes full of concern. "Is everything okay between you and Harry?"

Myrtle lifted her head and sighed, "Oh yes, everything's great...but it seems like every time Harry tries to kiss me, someone interferes!" She laid her head back down on the pillow and groaned with frustration.

The blond Ravenclaw patted her shoulder with a comforting hand. "Well at least Harry wants to kiss you."

"Yes, but it's not bloody happening!" Those dark, pleading eyes looked up at Luna with urgency. "I only have a few days left, Luna! At this rate I'll never get to kiss him." Myrtle rolled over onto her back on the bed, staring up at the canopy as worry creased her brow. She wanted that first kiss to happen - not just that, but she also wanted Harry to fall in love with her. Her time was running short.

As if Luna had read her mind, she said, "Don't worry, Myrtle. Everything will work out. You'll see."

"I haven't played this in a really long time." Myrtle was playing a game of Wizard's Chess with Harry in the Gryffindor Common Room the next day. Her memory of how to play was a little fuzzy, but she was still giving the Gryffindor a run for his money. "Checkmate."

Harry smirked and shook his head as he watched her queen destroy his knight. "You amaze me, Myra. You draw, you snowball fight, you're the only person besides Ron who can beat me at Wizard's Chess. Is there anything you can't do?"

"I'm a terrible dancer," the girl chuckled.

The Gryffindor laughed. "Me too. You should've seen me at the Yule Ball..." Harry's voice trailed off. He'd forgotten all about the Welcome Back Ball, which was now just a few nights away. The ball was his last chance to be with Myra before her departure.

"Is something wrong, Harry?"

He looked up at the brunette and felt nervous. Although he'd spent lots of time with her over the past couple weeks, he still got sweaty palms and stomach butterflies at the thought of asking her to the ball. The Gryffindor glanced over at the couch in the center of the common room, then back at Myra. "Uh...let's take a little break from Wizard's Chess. Do you mind?"

"Not at all."

The Chosen One went to sit down on the couch, Myra plopping down next to him. He ran a hand through his messy hair, then gave the girl an awkward smile. Just ask her, you idiot, he chided himself. After a long pause, the Gryffindor cleared his suddenly dry throat and said, "Myra, there's something I wanted to ask you."

Myra held his gaze and nodded for him to continue.

Harry fidgeted with the hem of his shirt as he said, "Well, um... You see, there's this ball the night before classes start up again. And I was wondering if you, want to be my date? That is, if you can stay for the ball?"

Myrtle's heart started hammering in her chest. Had she heard him right? He wanted to take her to the ball? A huge smile spread across her face as she replied, "I-I'd love to!"

The Gryffindor looked relieved and excited. "Okay, great."

Myrtle laughed nervously and looked down at her hands, which were folded in her lap. Harry reached over to take her hand in his, and she glanced up into those lovely malachite eyes. As the Boy Who Lived held her hand, he reached up with his free hand to brush a stray lock of hair out of her face. Then his fingertips tenderly caressed her cheek. Myrtle smiled; Harry made her feel loved and appreciated, two things she had never really felt when she was alive.

Harry leaned in to kiss the brunette, and was only a few inches from her face when the Portrait Hole door came crashing open. Myrtle and her Gryffindor watched in bewilderment as Ron, Romilda and Hermione bolted into the common room and started chasing each other around the couch - with Harry and Myrtle still sitting there. The three students were completely wrapped up in their little game of cat and mouse; Ron running from Romilda, who was running from Hermione.

Myrtle exchanged puzzled expressions with Harry. "We're trapped. Now what are we going to do?"

Right then, Headmistress McGonagall came charging through the Portrait Hole. "What in Merlin's name is going on here?"

At the stern tone of McGonagall's voice, the Amortentia Trio finally stopped running and turned their attention to the angry woman. Ron looked downright scared, while Romilda kept trying to touch his arm and comfort him. Hermione glared at Ron and forcefully squeezed between the redhead and Romilda to separate them.

McGonagall glared at Ron, Romilda and Hermione over the rim of her glasses. "I want to see the three of you in my office at once!" Then the headmistress looked at Harry, "I would like a word with you too, Mr. Potter."

Myrtle sat quietly on the couch and watched McGonagall leave with the four Gryffindors, Romilda trying to dodge Hermione's touch and Ron keeping his distance from Romilda. Harry lagged behind the group, looking apologetically over his shoulder at Myrtle as the Portrait Hole shut.

Later that night, Myrtle and Harry went for a walk on the snow-covered Hogwarts grounds. Their breath emerged like puffs of silvery smoke in the moonlight as they chatted about what had happened in the Gryffindor Common Room, and the surprise visit from Headmistress McGonagall. Harry didn't seem too worried - in fact, he appeared calmer than she'd ever seen him - but the brunette still couldn't resist asking about it.

"So, Harry... What happened in McGonagall's office?"

Harry cast a lopsided grin at her, the soft celestial light playing upon his handsome features. "First, McGonagall gave Romilda and Hermione the antidote to the Amortentia. Then once the girls were were back to normal, McGonagall got Ron and Romilda to confess to using the love potions."

"How did she manage that?"

The Chosen One laughed, "Well, Myra, nobody wants to mess with the headmistress, especially when she's angry."

"Oh," Myrtle giggled. "And how about Hermione? How's she doing?"

The Gryffindor sighed, raking his fingers through his hair. "Well, first she yelled at me for one hour straight because I was the one who left the love potion out where somebody could drink it. Then she told me off for not helping her, and for letting her make an ass of herself. Looking back, I really should've done something... But I just figured the potion would eventually wear off. And besides, I didn't want Ron to get suspicious. And I certainly didn't want to fight with my best mate during the Christmas holiday."

"Nobody would want a fight at this time of year." Myrtle felt a wave of sympathy for Harry and placed a comforting hand on his arm. "I just wonder why McGonagall wanted to see you in her office. I mean, it's not like you were the one who made the Amortentia."

"That's true," Harry shrugged. "But I guess she figured that if Ron and Hermione were involved, then I must be involved as well. And since Romilda was chasing Ron around the couch, that made her involvement pretty obvious. But Ron and Romilda were responsible for bringing the love potions into Hogwarts, so they both got detentions tonight. And McGonagall took fifty points from Gryffindor."

At this point, Myrtle had run out of things to say. As she and Harry strolled quietly through the snow, Myrtle looked up at the velvety blackness above. The twinkling stars appeared to be winking at her, as if they knew something she didn't. The brunette cast a sideways glance at Harry, inadvertantly catching the Gryffindor looking at her as well. Myrtle laughed nervously and looked down. If it hadn't been so dark outside, he would've been able to make out the crimson flush of her cheeks.

Harry took her hand and guided her over to a particularly romantic spot near the castle. The moon shone down on a cluster of ice-coated bushes and shrubs, giving them a mystical, other-worldly gleam. Myrtle didn't remember ever seeing this side of Hogwarts before.

"Myra," the Gryffindor's voice was low as he took both of her hands in his, a gleam in his eyes. "Now can I kiss you?"

Myrtle jokingly replied, "So long as nobody stops us this time."

The girl could hardly believe it when Harry leaned in to kiss her. Sure he had been trying for the past twenty-four hours to do this, but now it was about to happen. For real! As his flawless face slowly inched closer to hers, a million self-conscious ramblings ran through her mind, just like that night in the Room of Requirement. She started to panic as the Gryffindor cupped her face in his hands...


Myrtle could feel his breath on her face as he murmured, "Yes, Myra?"

"Does my breath stink?"

"Your breath is fine," Harry chuckled softly.

"Oh good, 'cause I think I had too many onions with my-"

Her words were cut off by Harry's warm, soft lips drowning her fears in a pool of unfathomable joy. Myrtle had absolutely no idea what she was doing, as she had never been kissed before, so she simply followed his lead. His strong arms wrapped around her and tightened protectively, taking the chill from the December air. Her stomach and heart fluttered wildly as she lost herself in this perfect, magical moment.

Myrtle's arms instinctively wrapped around Harry as the Gryffindor continued lavishly adorning her lips with sweet, lingering kisses. She was tempted to pinch herself, just to make sure this wasn't a dream. Kissing Harry was even better than she'd ever imagined it might be.

Still holding her close, Harry lifted his head just enough to look into her eyes, and smiled. Myrtle thought about all those years she had spent as a ghost pining away for him, and all those annoying interruptions that had occurred within the past day. She'd waited so long for this moment. As the brunette smiled gleefully up at the Gryffindor, she knew that she would do it all again if she had to. Harry was more than worth the wait.

Chapter 13: If Only He Knew
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"It finally happened! He kissed me!"

Luna and Myrtle squealed excitedly and hugged, jumping up and down in their dormitory as if they'd just won a large sum of money. This was a lighter-than-air feeling that Myrtle could only get from Harry; like nothing she'd ever felt before.

"How was it?" Luna asked teasingly, a mischievous gleam in her eye.

The brunette's smiled and giggled. Her lips still tingled, and even now, she could almost feel his arms around her. She mockingly shook a finger at the Ravenclaw. "Now, Luna, you know it's not right to kiss and tell... but I'll tell you anyway!"

Luna's silver eyes shone with happiness for her friend as she sat down and made herself comfortable on the edge of Myrtle's bed. It was so nice to actually see Myrtle so happy. The brunette, who still appeared to be in a Harry-induced fog, had stars in her eyes and looked unusually flushed.

"It was positively wonderful," Myrtle giggled ecstatically. "Oh Luna, his lips were so soft and warm. He held me so tightly that I couldn't even feel the cold air." She wrapped her arms around herself and fell backwards onto her bed, then looked up at the blond. "I never thought this could happen to me. I still find it hard to believe..."

"Well, believe it. He not only kissed you, but asked you to the ball!" Luna stood up and grabbed Myrtle's hands, pulling her into a standing position. "So what are you wearing to the ball, Myrtle?"

The brunette's face fell at the question. She'd been so engrossed in her first kiss that she had totally forgotten about the ball. What was she going to wear? She didn't have any dress robes! As her mood plummeted, she sank back down onto the mattress. "Oh Merlin, what was I thinking? I can't go to the ball with Harry."

Luna raised her eyebrows with surprise. "Why not?"

"Because," Myrtle sighed and stared at the floor, wringing her hands in her lap. "I haven't anything to wear. And besides, I have no money to purchase dress robes. I guess tomorrow I'll...tell Harry that I can't go after all." She looked up again to find Luna scurrying across the room to her wardrobe. Wasn't the Ravenclaw even listening to her? Offended and hurt, Myrtle spat, "Oh sure, don't mind me. I'm only sitting here pouring my heart out to you-"

Myrtle's voice trailed off as she watched Luna pull the world's most beautiful dress out of her wardrobe. The blond then smiled at Myrtle and started walking toward her with it. The formal frock was made entirely of burgundy silk, with long bell-shaped sleeves and a flared skirt; a dress fit for a princess. The brunette assumed that Luna was showing off what she would be wearing to the ball, and was shocked at her friend's audacity...until the blond Ravenclaw wordlessly held the dress up to Myrtle as if checking to see how it would fit her.

"Yes, this'll do nicely," Luna muttered approvingly.

"Uh, what are you talking about?"

"The dress robes, silly!" Luna laughed. "I think they will look stunning on you for the ball."

The brunette could hardly believe her eyes or her ears. Eyeing her friend with disbelief, she whispered, "You bought me a dress for the ball?"

Luna shook her head. "No. Father bought these new dress robes for me, but I prefer the silver ones I wore last term. Besides, I think this dress would look much better on you."

The blond girl cast a Levitating Charm on the dress so that it would float in front of Myrtle's body as she stood before the full length mirror. Myrtle gasped; she could hardly believe her eyes. The burgundy tone of the fabric brought color to her face, flattering her dark hair and making her deep chocolate orbs sparkle. Myrtle's hand slowly glided down the front of the simple-yet-elegant dress, enjoying the smoothness of the cloth under her fingers. She turned to Luna with tears of joy stinging her eyes.

"Thank you, Luna. I love the dress!" Her voice shook as she embraced her friend.

"Don't mention it," Luna laughed softly. "You deserve it. And on the night of the ball, you'll look lovelier than a Venetian Razzelfairy in a bed of roses!"

Harry sat by himself on the common room couch that next afternoon, sorrow and elation battling each other in his heart and mind. The Gryffindor was sad at the thought of Myra leaving in a couple of days. It wasn't fair; here he was, falling for someone whom he might never see again.

And yet at the same time, he was on cloud nine as he remembered their unforgettable kiss on the Hogwarts grounds the previous night. She had fit so perfectly in his arms, like she was the missing puzzle piece that completed him. When he kissed Myra, she gave him the impression that she'd never been kissed before. There was a sweet innocence and naivety about her; a certain vulnerability. The Gryffindor closed his eyes and smiled as he mentally replayed that moment in time. Unfortunately, the most annoying sound in the world caused him to snap out of his daydream and open his eyes.

"Hi, Harry."

The Boy Who Lived glared up at Romilda, who twirled her hair around her finger and looked vacant. Much to his dismay, the snotty brunette seated herself on top of the coffee table before him and struck a cheesy pose.

"What are you doing?" Harry groaned with exasperation.

Romilda said nothing and laid down on her side across the tabletop, propping her head up with one hand while the other hand was on her hip. "A countless number of guys have asked me to be their date for the Welcome Back Ball, you know."

Harry just about choked trying to hold back his laughter. Countless is right, he mused to himself. There aren't any to count!

Romilda continued, "But I turned them all down, because nobody else will do. I won't settle for anything less than the great Harry Potter." She attempted a seductive hair toss, but leaned back a little too far and ended up falling off the table.

The Chosen One shook with silent fits of laughter. Real smooth, Romilda.

The clueless girl got back up, looking a mite embarrassed as she sniffed, "I meant to do that."

Sure you did. Harry stood up and walked past her to the dormitory stairs.

As he started climbing the steps, Romilda called after him, "Meet me here in the common room at seven o'clock the night of the ball. I'm wearing purple, so wear something that'll match my dress."

Harry's jaw clenched. This girl had some nerve. The wizard paused and turned to face her, then cheerfully replied, "Thanks, but no thanks. I already have a date."

Romilda gaped at Harry's retreating back, then crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. How could he keep rejecting her like that? If she didn't know better, she'd swear that he had no interest in her. But that was impossible! How could he say no to the hottest girl at Hogwarts?

The snob spent the rest of the day and all that evening trying to learn the identity of Harry's date. It infuriated her that he'd pushed her aside once again. She was determined to find that lucky little bitch, and do whatever it took to break them up before the big night. Romilda had always been good at manipulating people to get exactly what she wanted, and this situation was no different. As there was a pared down number of students who stayed for the holidays, she was able to successfully chat with almost every girl in the castle. By morning, she had ruled out every girl at Hogwarts...every girl except Luna and Myra.

The day before the ball, Myrtle and Luna sat together in The Three Broomsticks, drinking butterbeer and chatting about everything that had happened since the start of the winter holiday.

"Can you believe that three weeks ago, you were a ghost?" Luna mused in a slightly hushed voice before biting into a cookie.

Myrtle shook her head. "When you brewed that potion in my bathroom, I had no idea that it would actually work."

"Well, lucky for you, it did," Luna grinned from ear to ear. "And now you get to be with Harry!"

The former ghost sighed and raised her mug to her lips, a sinking feeling in her stomach. Sure, she got to be with the Gryffindor, but only until midnight tomorrow night. She felt extremely anxious as she sipped her butterbeer.

The spacey blond patted her hand. "Relax, Myrtle. You have nothing to worry about. You'll never have to go back to being a ghost. Ever. In fact, you have more of a chance of getting trampled by Wergemfoofers!"

The corners of Myrtle's mouth twitched as she struggled to keep a straight face. "I'm serious! I just want everything to go smoothly tomorrow night."

"It will," Luna replied calmly.

The brunette stared into the honey-colored depths of her mug and frowned. She hated lying to Harry about her true identity, but she wanted more than anything to win his love. "Harry would never love me if he knew who I really was."

The Ravenclaw gave Myrtle a sympathetic smile. "Of course he would. Harry's a lot more understanding than you give him credit for."

The brunette shook her head. "Even Harry wouldn't love Moaning Myrtle."

As the two girls continued their discussion they were completely unaware of the girl who sat at an adjacent table with her nose in a book, a wide-brimmed hat hiding her face. Behind the book, Romilda's eyes widened with surprise and glee. Myra is really Moaning Myrtle? The cocky girl smirked deviously as the perfect plan began to take shape in her pretty little head. Exposing the little mouse was going to be so much fun...

Chapter 14: The Devil Wears Purple
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DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Potterverse or the song within this chapter, which is "You and Me" by Lifehouse.

On the morning of the ball, Myrtle woke up with excitement and grief swirling in the depths of her gut. The big day was finally here; her last day as a flesh and blood human. She was looking forward to the ball, yet at the same time worried about what would happen that night. Would the Gryffindor proclaim his love and save her from her ghostly fate? Still laying on her back, the brunette heaved a heavy sigh.

Luna, who was already up and dressed, came to her bedside and plopped a gaudy dress on top of her. "Get dressed, Myrtle! We're going to be late for breakfast!"

Myrtle glumly looked at the clock. The past few weeks had gone by so fast, that she had trouble keeping track of the time and day. It seemed like only yesterday that Luna had brewed the Materialization Tonic in her bathroom and made her solid again. But now, time had flown by without warning...

What day is it? And in what month?
This clock never seemed so alive
I can't keep up and I can't back down
I've been losing so much time

The brunette dragged herself out of bed and started getting ready to go to breakfast. She couldn't wait to be with Harry that night. And yet, she didn't want the night to come because that might mean the end of her time with the Gryffindor. Nerves and apprehension took Myrtle's appetite away, but Luna refused to let her skip breakfast.

"It's the most important meal of the day," Luna lectured as they headed for the Great Hall. "Even the Starvinmarvin doesn't skip breakfast. And besides, you'll need lots of energy for the ball tonight."

Myrtle followed Luna to the Ravenclaw table and took a seat across from the blond girl, too preoccupied to notice the pair of green eyes that watched her from the next table.

Harry kept glancing over at Myra, who seemed to be troubled by something as she picked at her breakfast. It looked to him like Luna was trying to comfort her or cheer her up. He wanted to see her, wanted to find out exactly what was wrong. Also, this being their last day together, he wished to speak to her at least once before the ball. The Chosen One looked down at his half-eaten oatmeal, then over at Ron and Hermione. As he started to stand up, the happy couple paused to look at him.

"Where are you going, mate?" Ron asked curiously.

The raven-haired wizard gave his friends a lopsided grin. "Well, uh...I'm going over to the Ravenclaw table to see Myra."

He ignored Romilda's greeting and cheesy hair toss, and made a beeline for the girl he already missed. As soon as Myra and Luna were aware of his presence, they stopped talking and turned their attention to Harry. "Hi Myra. Luna." He smiled and nodded to the girls. Noticing that every other girl at their table was now giving Harry her undivided attention, he felt the need to get Myra alone. "Myra, can I talk to you? In the hallway?"

As they headed out the Great Hall doors, there was so much that Harry wanted to say to her; so much he was feeling at this moment. But where to begin...

"Is everything all right, Harry?" Myra's dark eyes were full of concern and uncertainty, as if she were expecting to hear bad news.

"Yes, everything's great," the Boy Who Lived grinned nervously. "I just...have something I want to tell you..." Harry's voice trailed off as he looked at those soft pink lips. He wanted to embrace her and kiss all of her worries away, but restrained himself. Now was not the time for physical displays of affection. Instead, he reached down and took her hands in his as he mentally tried to form some sort of coherent verbal expression of his feelings.

"Myra, I'm not good with words, but I just wanted to say that I..."

The brunette smiled and looked expectant. "Yes, Harry?"

"I, um... I think you're"

"Punctual?" Myra gave him a funny look.

The Gryffindor couldn't think straight. He knew what he wanted to say - it was right there in his heart - but somehow he just couldn't find the right words.

All of the things that I want to say just aren't coming out right
I'm tripping on words
You've got my head spinning
I don't know where to go from here

Harry shook his head. "I'm sorry, that came out wrong. What I wanted to say was, I think you're, special. And...well, I'm glad that density has brought us together-"

"Density, Harry?" Myra laughed that wonderful laugh of hers.

The Gryffindor cracked a smile and chuckled. "I meant to say destiny. I'm glad destiny brought us together. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it's true."

"Me, too." Myra looked down shyly for a moment, then looked back up at him.

Harry wracked his brain for a better way to tell her what he so desperately wanted to say, before she had a chance to leave Hogwarts - and possibly his life - forever. But all he could come up with was, "So... I'll meet you in the Ravenclaw Common Room at seven?"

"All right," Myra smiled. "I'll see you then."

The young couple was silent for a moment, neither teen wanting to leave just yet. Harry found himself gazing once again at Myra's lips and not knowing how to tell her. Perhaps a kiss would be the best way to convey his feelings, after all. The Gryffindor gently pulled the brunette close, wrapping his arms around her waist and inhaling the clean, natural scent of her chestnut hair. He stood like this for a long moment, just trying to memorize her with his senses.

Myrtle raised her head to look into Harry's eyes. Those intense green orbs were practically begging her to stay; glistening with warmth and...something that might've been love. Unfortunately for Myrtle, she was unable to practice Legilimency on him and find out for sure.

Harry's lips met hers with a sweet yet fiery passion. As she kissed back with mirrored longing, she felt her heart becoming increasingly lighter and more hopeful.

That evening, she was still thinking about the Gryffindor as Luna helped her get ready for the ball. Luna's dormmates eventually returned from their vacations and entered the large bedchamber, all abuzz with excitement as they scurried about with their dress robes and makeup. The girls had apparently decided to go elsewhere to prepare for the ball, as they were in and out of the room in a matter of minutes, leaving Luna and Myrtle alone again.

Luna offered to help Myrtle with her hair as they changed into their dress robes. The brunette was hesitant at first, not wanting to get mummified by her own locks again. But the Ravenclaw managed to convince her to try a different hair spell. With the flick of her wand, Luna bewitched Myrtle's hair to twist and shape itself into a fancy updo. The blond then opened a box full of enchanted hair pins, which levitated and secured themselves in Myrtle's hair to hold the style in place.

"Lovely," Luna grinned excitedly and clapped her hands together as she admired the brunette's hair. "And now for makeup-"

"Makeup?" Myrtle shrieked. When she'd lived before, her strict Muggle parents had brought her up to believe that only trollops wore face paint. Even now, she still couldn't quite shake that preconception. "You're not going to make me look like a street walker, are you?"

"Of course not," Luna replied as she grabbed her wand. "In fact, you won't be wearing any makeup at all. You'll simply look like you're wearing it." With that, the blond girl waved her wand at Myrtle's face and uttered, "Decoro!"

Myrtle closed her eyes for a moment, feeling the sparks from Luna's wand touch her face like specks of warm powder. Then she opened her eyes and looked at Luna, who gasped at her.

The brunette's first thought was that the spell must've backfired. Hey, this wouldn't have been the first time one of Luna's spells didn't turn out as planned. "Luna, why are you looking at me like that? What happened to my fa..."

Myrtle's voice trailed off as she turned to look at herself in the vanity mirror. The brunette barely recognized the girl staring back at her. She could see now that Luna wasn't gasping in horror, she was in awe. The Decoro spell had accentuated Myrtle's best features without making her look trashy. And thanks to the hair spell, her tresses had curled and piled themselves attractively atop her head, a few stray strands cascading artfully around her face. Myrtle's dress was slightly off-the-shoulders, showcasing her milky skin.

"Is that really me?" Myrtle's voice shook as she began to cry tears of joy.

"Yes, it is." Luna's reflection smiled at her in the mirror and gave her a handkerchief. "Luckily, with the Decoro spell you don't have to worry about your makeup smearing."

Myrtle dabbed at her eyes and smiled at the Ravenclaw. "Thank you, Luna. For the first time ever, I actually feel...pretty."

Luna smiled and gave her friend a hug. "You are pretty, Myrtle."

Then Myrtle's ecstatic smile faded, her eyes clouding over as she said, "But tonight is my last night as a living person. What if Harry doesn't tell me he loves me? What if...what if he doesn't love me?"

Myrtle sank down onto the edge of the Ravenclaw's bed and Luna sat down next to her, putting a comforting arm around the brunette's shoulders and giving her a reassuring squeeze. "You have nothing to worry about. Harry's crazy about you, I can see it every time he looks at you."

The brunette's face lit up as her dark eyes met Luna's. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Luna grinned back at her. "And when Harry sees how beautiful you look tonight, his heart will pound like a dozen thumplabobs in a tin box!" The blond looked up at the clock, then back at the brunette. "Harry should be here right about now. I'll go and let him into the common room. Don't move."

With a sigh, Myrtle sat quietly as Luna went to check for Harry. It was incredibly nerve-wracking, not knowing whether or not she'd still be a solid person after midnight. Her destiny was in her beloved's hands, and he didn't even know it.

The brunette stood up and began pacing back and forth, her burgundy heels clacking against the hard wood's surface. The second hand on their bedroom clock was a constant reminder to her that time was running out. She paused before the full length mirror and wrung her hands, wishing to Merlin that she could foretell the future. Myrtle was about to start pacing again when Luna opened the door and poked her head in.

"Ready, Myrtle?"

The brunette took one last look at her own reflection. Taking a deep breath, Myrtle turned to her friend and smiled. "I'm ready for anything."

Harry was a bundle of nerves as he waited outside the Ravenclaw living quarters on the night of the ball. He wore dark green dress robes that brought out his eyes, but were very uncomfortable. His collar was so stiff, it felt like he was wearing cardboard around his neck. The Gryffindor hoped to Merlin that he'd be able to make their last evening together as fun as possible. He also hoped that he and Myra would be able to keep in touch after tonight. He was deep in thought as a small blond with huge grey eyes opened the door and peered out at him.

"Hello, Harry." Luna smiled at him and let him into the Ravenclaw Common Room.

He followed the Ravenclaw to the bottom of the dormitory steps, barely noticing the stares and giggles of the other girls who occupied the room as he scanned the crowds for his date. "Luna, where's Myra?"

"I'll go get her." The Ravenclaw hurried up the girls' stairs, the skirt of her silver dress making a swishing sound as she moved.

A few moments passed, but they seemed more like hours as Harry waited for his date. The Gryffindor heard the whispers of his fan girls as they speculated about whom he'd chosen as his date for tonight, but he ignored them and eagerly watched the staircase for Myra's arrival.

Luna returned to the common room. Looking very excited, the blond announced to Harry, "She'll be right down!"

Turning his attenton back to the dormitory stairs, Harry's heart literally skipped a beat as he watched Myra descending the steps. His whole face lit up as his eyes took in every aspect of this vision in burgundy. She wore makeup that drew attention to those lovely eyes of hers. Her hair was up, which seemed to make her neck appear longer and more graceful. The dress had a fitted, off-the-shoulder bodice that drew attention to her alabaster skin and flattered her figure. Her lips and cheeks were beautifully rosy, echoing the color of her robes.

Myra smiled shyly at him as she descended the final step, and stood before him. She seemed a bit self-conscious, as everybody in the Ravenclaw Common Room was looking at her and Harry.

"You look beautiful," the Gryffindor murmured huskily Myra's ear. Everybody else in the room just kind of faded into the background as Harry gave Myra a long, sweet kiss. They could stare all they wanted as far as he was concerned. Only one thing really mattered to him right now, and that something was right here in his arms.

Cause it's you and me and all of the people with nothing to do
Nothing to lose
And it's you and me and all of the people
And...I can't keep my eyes off of you

Harry lifted his head just enough to look into her eyes, and smiled. As Myrtle happily took the arm he offered to her, she turned to Luna and asked, "Are you coming with us?"

The blond girl grinned and shook her head. "Neville is supposed to meet me here; I'm afraid he's running a bit late. You two go on and we'll meet you when we get there."

Myrtle was on a cloud as she practically floated out of the common room, and down to the Great Hall on Harry's arm. It seemed that Harry couldn't stop sneaking glances at her all the way there. Every time she looked at him, he smirked timidly and put his head down. He acted as if she was the most stunning girl he'd ever seen in his life.

Entering the Great Hall was like walking into a winter wonderland. Everywhere they looked, icicles hung from various objects in the room, gleaming magically in the dim light of the floating candles overhead. The vast dance floor looked as if it were made of ice, but upon closer speculation was not slippery at all. There was a stage at the far end of the dance floor, which also appeared to be made of ice. Each table was covered with a fabric that looked uncannily like snow. Breathtaking bouquets of ice-coated flowers sat in the center of each table, in ornately carved ice vases.

Harry and Myra met up with the newly reunited Ron and Hermione, who seemed to be more in love than ever. Shortly after, Neville and Luna arrived and joined them as well. As the formal pre-ball dinner commenced, Harry couldn't help noticing how unusually tense Myra was tonight. She showed very little interest in her food, and barely said a word to him or their friends. The Gryffindor placed a gentle hand on her arm, "Is everything all right,, Myra?"

Myra, who apparently didn't notice his near slip-up, stared down at her lap and nodded. "I've never been to a ball before. I'm just nervous, that's all."

"I heard that there's supposed to be a rock band playing here tonight," Ron commented after sipping his drink. "Who do you think it'll be?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I really don't care myself. I'll take classical music over rock any day. Whoever they are, I just hope they're not too terribly loud."

"You sound like my parents," Ron muttered as he cut into his pork chop. Upon seeing Hermione's glare, he added, "Um...I meant that in the utmost endearing way."

Talking, laughing and the clinking of silverware filled the Great Hall as the band discreetly came out onto the stage. Right when Ron was noticing the band members, Romilda went strutting by in a slinky, strapless purple dress.

The redhead's jaw dropped, "Great Flying Doxies!"

Assuming that Ron was checking out Romilda, Hermione glared ominously at him and kicked him under the table. "You can put your eyes back in their sockets now, Ron!"

Ron shook his head, "No, no, no! I wasn't looking at Romilda, I was referring to the band!"

"What?" Hermione looked confused.

Ron raised his voice a bit so that Hermione could hear him over the noisy crowd. "Great Flying Doxies is the name of the band! I can't believe you've never heard of them, they're the biggest thing since The Weird Sisters! You see that guy there?" The red-haired wizard pointed to the man at the front of the stage. "That's their lead singer, Barnabus Wittenburg."

Hermione watched as McGonagall stepped onto the stage and greeted the group. "Well, they're probably only popular because their lead singer looks like Harry."

The Chosen One, who had been too focused on his date to notice the band, looked over at the stage. He had to do a double-take; the bloke chatting with McGonagall could've easily passed for his brother. The other girls in the Great Hall were going crazy over Barnabus Wittenburg, but not his Myra. As the headmistress gave a little speech, he squeezed Myra's hand under the table and gave her a meaningful smile. She really did look lovely tonight, but it was her heart and mind that held him captive. There had always been something special about her; he'd seen it all along.

There's something about you...
I can't quite figure out
Everything she does is beautiful
Everything she does is right

After McGonagall gave a brief introduction, the Great Flying Doxies began to play. The Great Hall quickly filled with excited screams and cheers, students abandoning their tables in favor of the dance floor.

Harry watched Luna and Neville get up and dash off into the crowd, Ron and Hermione following close behind. The raven-haired boy felt a mite self-conscious about his two left feet, but reminded himself that Myra couldn't dance either. Running a nervous hand through his hair, the Gryffindor turned to his date. "Um, Myra, would you like to..." He wordlessly gestured to the dance floor.

"I'd love to." The brunette put her hand in his and laughed. "Let's go make fools of ourselves!"

Meanwhile, Romilda hung back in the shadows and watched with disgust as Harry took Myra's - well, actually Moaning Myrtle's - hand and led her onto the floor. The sickeningly happy couple looked more like they were tripping over each other's feet than dancing. If she hadn't been feeling so jealous, she might've laughed out loud at them. However, the sight of Harry with someone else was enough to drive her bloody mad.

"What does he see in her? I'm a thousand times prettier than she is!" Romilda muttered to herself as she sneered at Myrtle.

Then the snob remembered the conversation she'd heard between Myrtle and Loony Lovegood the previous day, and the outer corners of her lips turned up into a devious smirk. She was eagerly anticipating the stroke of midnight, and Myrtle's return to being a ghost. But first, she was going to expose the mousy girl and show Harry how wrong he was about her. Then he would, of course, ditch the little liar and finally be hers once and for all.

The band played one fast song after another. Romilda watched Harry and Myrtle like a hawk, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to set her plan into action...

After a while, Great Flying Doxies began to play the first slow song of the night. Harry and Myrtle pulled each other close and slowly swayed to the music, gazing into each other's eyes and looking very much in love. The contented look on Harry's face made Romilda absolutely sick to her stomach. He should be looking at ME like that! The prissy brunette narrowed her eyes at Myrtle and whispered, "It's showtime!"

Romilda squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, then haughtily strutted across the dance floor to the happy couple. Discretely sneaking up behind them, she loudly asked, "Can I cut in, Myrtle?"

Chapter 15: Pollywinkles
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"No, you can't cut in..." Myrtle's voice trailed off at the sight of Romilda Vane standing before them, a smug look on her pretty face. The former ghost realized, much to her horror, that she'd just responded to her real name in front of Harry. Wait a minute, wondered Myrtle, how does Romilda know who I am?

Harry stood there for a moment, looking perplexed. "Myra, did she just call you Myrtle? What's going on?"

"I'll tell you what's going on, Harry." Romilda looked rather pleased with herself as she said, "Myra isn't who you think she is. She's a liar and a cheat, and she's been playing you since the day you met her."

Fear clenched Myrtle's heart tightly in its iron grip. Not knowing what to do or say, she looked at the Chosen One, who glared at the rude girl. "You are absolutely detestible, Romilda. Having you as a stalker was bad enough, but now you're trying to turn me against Myra?" The wizard turned to his date. "This is ridiculous! Tell her who you are, Myra."

Oh Merlin, why is this happening? Now Harry will never love me! Myrtle's eyes filled with tears, her voice weak and trembling as she whispered, "I can't. I really am who she says I am."

Harry eyed her with confusion and disbelief. "But that's not possible. Moaning Myrtle is a ghost."

"Was a ghost," Romilda smugly corrected the Gryffindor. "Loony Lovegood cast some sort of spell that made her solid. I heard them talking about it the other day." She ran her index finger seductively along the sleeve of Harry's dress robe as she purred, "But don't worry, love. She'll turn back into a ghost at midnight."

Harry jerked his arm away from Romilda and stared perplexed at Myrtle. "Is this true?"

Myrtle nodded quietly, tears streaming down her cheeks. She thought it must all be a dream; that surely she would wake up to find herself crying on the toilet as a ghost once again. She couldn't believe that Romilda had found out her secret!

The look on Harry's face was like a knife through her heart. As the truth began to sink in, he looked so sad and crestfallen. Then the pain in his eyes seemed to give way to anger. His voice was low and barely audible as he said, "You lied to me."

Myrtle's voice cracked as she cried, "Harry, I never meant-"


The other couples on the dance floor turned their attention to Harry, but he didn't seem to notice. His furious sage eyes remained on Myrtle. She found herself wishing she were a ghost again, just so that she could disappear through the wall and escape this hellish moment. "Harry, please-"

"I don't believe this." The Boy Who Lived shook his head at Myrtle. "I thought we had something special, Myra...or Myrtle, or whoever you are! Here I've been baring my soul to you, and all this time you were just playing with my feelings!"

Myrtle sobbed, "No, that's not true!"

Harry's eyes glistened with tears as he hissed, "I've heard enough of your lies. I never want to see you again!"

The Gryffindor's heart shattered into a million pieces as he watched Myrtle run crying out of the Great Hall. As her retreating form disappeared through the double doors, McGonagall grabbed him by the arm and pulled him aside.

"Harry James Potter, what is the meaning of this?" The headmistress pressed her lips together so tightly, her mouth looked like nothing more than a wrinkly slit as she glared at him over the rim of her glasses. "This ball is meant to be a celebration, not a place for students to air their dirty laundry. Your behavior will not be tolerated, Mr. Potter. I'm going to have to ask you to leave the ball at once."

Myrtle was still crying as she entered the bathroom she had once haunted, and looked around at the familiarly dismal lavatory. Home sweet home, she mused gloomily as she kicked off her dreadfully uncomfortable heels. She hadn't been here since the night Luna brewed the Materialization Tonic. She was hoping that she'd never have to see this place again.

But now, thanks to that little skank Romilda, she would forever be haunting her toilet, and feeling even more sad and lonely than she did before the past three weeks happened. Part of Myrtle wished that Luna had never brewed that potion. Had she never spent so much time with Harry, she never would've fallen so hopelessly in love with the Gryffindor. And she wouldn't have known the unbearable pain of losing him; the pain that would now haunt her forever.

The girl trudged listlessly to the stall she once haunted - the stall she'd still be haunting for centuries to come - and sat down on the edge of the toilet. As she buried her face in her hands and sobbed hysterically, Myrtle cursed Romilda for destroying her chances with Harry. Then she cursed herself for being such a bloody fool.

"Myrtle, are you there?"

The former ghost paused at the sound of Luna's voice. She felt somewhat angry at her friend. After all, Luna was the one who had made her solid in the first place. If the blond hadn't tried to 'help' her, she wouldn't be in such a state of emotional chaos right now. Now she would never be the same again, and it was all Luna's fault.

The Ravenclaw's footsteps approached her stall, stopping just outside the door. "Myrtle?"

"Go away!" The brunette started to bawl very loudly. "This is all your fault!"

Luna stood outside Myrtle's stall and frowned at the floor. She felt terrible for Myrtle; first getting publicly humiliated by Romilda Vane, then getting dumped by Harry for all of Hogwarts to see. The Ravenclaw silently vowed to give Harry a piece of her mind when she saw him next. "Myrtle, I just want to help-"

"-oh, I think you've already done more than enough!" The brunette threw the stall door open and scowled at Luna, poking the girl with her finger as she shouted, "You and your stupid Materialization Tonic! You didn't stop to think about what might happen if I was alive again, did you? Didn't it even occur to you that I might end up even worse off than I already was?"

The blond girl gave Myrtle a sympathetic look. "But Myrtle, you got to be with Harry-"

"Yes, I did!" The brunette sniffed. "And now he doesn't want to have anything to do with me!"

Trying to be optimistic, Luna softly said, "There's still time."

Myrtle laughed bitterly. "Time for what exactly?"

Luna just stood there and looked worriedly at her friend. There was no way to talk sense into the former ghost, but she knew that despite what Myrtle did or said, it wasn't too late.

Minutes had turned to hours, and Romilda patiently awaited the return of her obsession. She had seen him leave the ball after a word with McGonagall, and wondered where he could've gone. Wasn't he going to come back and dance with her now that the little mouse was out of the picture? Surely he must've realized by now what a big mistake he'd made, and that Romilda was the girl for him. But now, it was going on eleven o'clock, and there was still no sign of The Boy Who Lived.

The bored brunette leaned against a wall as she sulkily watched the other couples on the dance floor. This is the most boring ball I've ever been to, she sighed to herself. Romilda then turned her attention to the Great Flying Doxies' lead singer, Barnabus. She hadn't really paid attention to him since she was so wrapped up in waiting for Harry's return. But now as she watched him perform, she found herself thinking that he was actually pretty hot. In fact, he could've been a branch right off of the Harry Potter family tree. If she couldn't have Harry right now, then Barnabus Wittenburg would do nicely.

Romilda decided that maybe it would do Harry some good to see her with another man - or, at least, find out that she'd been seen with someone else. Yes, Harry would most certainly get jealous and want her all to himself. Putting on her most seductive smirk, the girl strutted catlike to a vacant part of the dance floor, near the stage, and began swaying her hips to the music. When Barnabus looked her way, she gave him her sexiest stare. As she worked her magic, the singer couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of her. "Putty in my hands," the snob muttered under her breath.

After finishing their song, the band took a quick break. The cocky brunette noticed Barnabus standing by the refreshment table, where he dabbed at his glistening forehead with a handkerchief and sipped a drink. Not wanting to appear overeager, Romilda strutted by and winked at him, then walked past Neville and Luna.

That conniving little witch! Luna seethed as she glared daggers at Romilda's back. The Ravenclaw was generally not an angry or vindictive type of person, but she detested the prissy girl for hurting Myrtle. As she watched Romilda blatantly flirt with Barnabus Wittenburg from across the room, she found herself trying to think of a way to get back at the snob.

"Um, excuse me. Could you please tell me who that girl is over there?"

Luna and Neville turned their attention to Barnabus, who smiled and gestured in Romilda's direction. "The girl in the purple, what's her name?"

"That's Romilda Vane," Luna replied with a smile.

Barnabus looked in Romilda's direction as he asked, "Would you mind introducing us?"

An uncharacteristically devious grin crossed Luna's face for a moment. Then, turning to the singer, she innocently replied, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I don't think that would be a very good idea."

Harry's stunt double raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Um, why not?"

Luna sighed and shook her head. "I'm afraid she's been possessed by Pollywinkles."

"Pollywinkles?" Barnabus looked confused.

"It's a demon that brings people to temptation," explained the blond Ravenclaw. "It possesses a random body, then seduces its prey."

Barnabus chuckled. "I've never heard of such a thing. Really, how do you know that she's possessed by this Polly-whatsit?"

"Well," the blond leaned in as if she were about to tell him a deep, dark secret. "First of all, if you were to see Pollywinkles in its true form, it would look very...purple. Thus, it's very common for the possessed person to wear head-to-toe purple and be drawn to purple things."

The singer looked down at his purple shirt and paled a bit.

"Also," Luna continued nonchalantly, "the possessee will often sway her hips excessively when she walks, and flirt shamelessly with Pollywinkles' prey. You may also notice the possessee displaying highly bizarre behaviors, such as moving with sudden jerking motions or talking to herself."

As if on cue, Romilda jumped as if something bumped into her and started muttering to herself as she jerked her head around, trying to figure out who or what had startled her. The young man's eyes widened.

"When Pollywinkles chooses you as its prey, the best thing to do is run for your life. Get as far away from it as you can because once you're in its clutches, it..."

"It what?" The singer was clearly buying Luna's story, and looked rather alarmed.

"I can't tell you; it's too devastating."

Barnabus looked over at Romilda, who was walking across the room toward him, swaying her hips in an almost comical fashion. His voice was desperate as he begged, "Please, you must tell me! What happens when you're in Pollywinkles' clutches?"

"The demon will rob you of your hair, your looks and your sanity. And it'll take your voice from you as well."

"My voice?" Looking at Luna, the singer put a hand protectively over his throat and gulped. Then he noticed that Romilda was now just a couple of meters away, turned and ran away as fast as he could.

Romilda, who apparently thought he was just being shy, tried to catch up with him as he dashed out the double doors.

Chapter 16: Harry's Choice
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"Who ever heard of a ball without music?" Statements such as this could be heard in the form of hushed whispers, as the students waited restlessly for the Great Flying Doxies to start performing again. The lead singer seemed to have mysteriously vanished and was now nowhere to be found. At about half past eleven, McGonagall stepped up onto the stage and raised her hand to get the students' attention.

After all the whispering halted, the headmistress made a quick announcement. "I regret to inform you that the Great Flying Doxies' lead singer, Barnabus Wittenburg, had to leave the ball early for reasons unbeknownst to us." The students groaned and uttered complaints, all of which were stifled when McGonagall signaled once again for silence. The elderly woman continued, "But in Mr. Wittenburg's absence, the remaining band members have agreed to play until the ball ends at midnight."

As the music started up again, Ron turned to Luna and Neville. "Am I imagining things, or did I see Romilda chasing Barnabus out of the Great Hall earlier?"

Hermione sighed. "Well of course she's going to chase him. She's obsessed with Harry, and Harry's not here right now. So she found herself a reasonable facsimile."

"They're probably snogging in a broom closet right now," Ron snickered.

Luna and Neville looked at each other knowingly and laughed. Luna smirked and replied, "Well, they're certainly not snogging. That much I know."

"Do you know something we don't?" Ron eyed the Ravenclaw with curiosity.

"Actually yes, we do," giggled Luna. "Let's all sit down, and I'll explain everything."

It was about a quarter till midnight. The distant sound of music coming from the Great Hall taunted Harry's ears as he stared down at the shadowy steps he sat upon and sighed loudly. The Gryffindor couldn't help shedding a few tears as he cradled his head in his hands, thinking about the girl who'd deceived him. Harry couldn't believe that Moaning Myrtle had become a living person just long enough to manipulate him into falling in love with her. He wondered how the ghost had tricked Luna into concocting that potion for her to begin with. The wizard had known for ages that the ghost was sweet on him, but he never suspected that she would do something so sneaky and underhanded.

"You got me real good, Myrtle," the Gryffindor mumbled under his breath. "I hope you're happy with what you've done..." Here he'd spent the past three weeks with the most amazing girl, only to find that she wasn't who he had thought she was in the first place.

As Harry continued with his little pity party, he barely noticed the sound of approaching footsteps or the swishing of Luna's gown as she approached his spot on the stairs. He just wanted to be left alone, so the Gryffindor ignored his friend and hoped she'd take the hint. But alas, the blond girl stopped directly in front of him, so that he was sitting in her shadow. The raven-haired wizard reluctantly looked up at the girl. He was surprised to see a livid scowl on her normally calm face, her hands on her hips.

"Harry, you bloody prat!"

The Gryffindor raised a quizzical eyebrow at the Ravenclaw. "What are you talking about?"

Luna sighed and rolled her eyes with exasperation. "Myrtle, of course! Who else would I be talking about? Why did you yell at her, Harry?"

I don't believe this, Harry mused as he stood up to face the girl. "Well isn't it obvious? She LIED to me! And I can't believe you allowed her to trick you into making that damn potion!" The Boy Who Lived laughed bitterly. "I thought she was so honest and sweet, but really she's just as deceitful as Romilda-"


Stunned by Luna's sudden outburst, Harry paused immediately. He'd never heard Luna raise her voice before.

The blond took a deep breath, then lowered her voice and continued, "Myrtle didn't fool me, Harry. That potion was my idea!"

"So you're saying you helped her lie to me?" The Gryffindor shook his head in disbelief and glared at the girl who was supposed to be his friend. "So YOU deceived me as well!"

The small blond witch suddenly seemed quite intimidating as she stared him down, her eyes unusually ominous. Her voice lowered to a growl as she spoke through clenched teeth. "Now you listen here, you dim-witted Dikkenheddin-"

"What did you just call me?"

"That's not important, Harry, but I'll tell you what is! Myrtle loves you-"


Harry was most definitely not expecting what happened next. Luna Lovegood - the gentlest soul he'd ever met - slapped him hard across the face. Words failed him as he stared at the angry Ravenclaw and rubbed his stinging cheek, his eyes wide with shock.

After what seemed like forever, Luna finally broke the silence; her voice enraged yet a bit sad. "Myrtle is only guilty of wanting a chance with you. She loves you, you git! And now thanks to you, she'll turn back into a ghost and spend the rest of eternity heartbroken! Is that what you want, Harry?"

The Gryffindor sank back down onto the steps, feeling hopeless and dejected. Of course he didn't want Myrtle to be broken-hearted. Yet at the same time, he was still upset with her for deceiving him. Finally finding his voice again, Harry spat, "Well it's not like I can do anything about it-"

"Yes, you can!"

"What?" He looked up at Luna, wondering if he'd heard her correctly. Was she saying what he thought she was saying?

"You can save her!" Luna glanced over at the clock at the foot of the stairs, then back at Harry. "She has fifteen minutes left before she turns back into a ghost. If you love her - if you really love her - you will get up off that sorry bum of yours and find her before it's too late! If you can find her and give her the one thing she wants, the only thing she's ever really wanted...then and only then will she live. The choice is yours, Harry."

The Ravenclaw turned and stormed down the steps away from the Gryffindor, leaving him to ponder what she'd just told him. As Harry remained on the dark and lonely staircase, Luna's words echoed in his mind: Myrtle is only guilty of wanting a chance with you... She loves you... You can save her...

Then memories of the past three weeks began to flood Harry's brain. He thought about all those deep and engaging conversations they'd had, and her rare ability to find beauty in even the smallest, most mundane things. A gentle smile tugged at the corners of Harry's mouth as he remembered the day of their snowball fight. She had fit so perfectly in his arms as they scooted their way across the ice...until he fell on his arse and ripped his trousers! The Gryffindor chuckled.

Then he remembered that night in the Room of Requirement, when she had drawn his portrait; the way she had looked in the dim torch light, her dark eyes staring into his soul... and the sweet innocence of her when he kissed those soft lips for the first time.

Oh Merlin, Luna's right! Harry mentally kicked himself for being so foolish. Did it really matter that the girl he loved was none other than Moaning Myrtle? He glanced up at the clock, his eyes widening with horror. He'd already wasted five minutes of his precious time. Now he only had ten minutes left to save her, and he had no idea where to look first! The Gryffindor stood up and dashed down the corridor. Oh, no! What have I done?

Myrtle had been crying for hours in her bathroom. Now she stood before a dusty old mirror, staring at her own pathetic reflection. Her eyes and nose were all swollen and puffy. Her red cheeks glistened with a mix of new and old tears, her rosy lips trembling with regret and dispair.

"Why?" Myrtle yelled at her reflection, throwing her hands up in the air. "Why did this have to happen to me? It just figures. I finally get a chance with Harry and someone has to screw it up!" The fed up girl kicked the wall, forgetting that she wasn't wearing any shoes. She grabbed her now-throbbing foot and sank to the ground as she shed a fresh batch of tears. Leaning her head back against the wall, Myrtle stared sadly up at the bathroom ceiling. In a matter of minutes, she'd once again be able to penetrate the walls and ceilings of Hogwarts. Once again, she'd be sad and lonely. Without Harry.

"Harry probably never loved me anyway," the brunette muttered to herself. "I mean, why would he want me when he could have his pick of any girl in the Wizarding world? There are so many other girls who are prettier, and more popular..." As she sat there alone with her thoughts, Myrtle considered something she hadn't thought of before. What if Harry was just pretending to be attracted to her? What if it was some sort of cruel joke?

"Yes, that must be it," Myrtle told herself spitefully. "He didn't mean any of it. He's been pretending all along, and tonight was just a good excuse to ditch me for good." The brunette's instincts were telling her that she was wrong, but her emotions had a tendency to override her logic.

Myrtle sniffled and whispered to herself, "Face it, Myrtle. Nobody will ever love you, and you'll be haunting this bathroom until the end of time."

Five minutes left...

Harry scurried through the Gryffindor Common Room and up to his bedchamber, where he feverishly tore through his drawer and pulled out his Marauder's Map. His heart pounded like mad as his eyes spotted Myrtle in her bathroom on the second floor. Harry immediately bolted down the stairs and out of Gryffindor Tower as he stuffed the map into the inside pocket of his dress robes.

The Boy Who Lived started to climb the nearest stairwell when the stairs started to change - with Harry on them - until he was facing in the wrong direction. The Gryffindor sped up the stairs with lightning speed and started looking for the girls' bathroom, only to realize that he was on the wrong floor. Cursing the blasted stairs, he hurried over to another staircase and ran down the steps before they had a chance to change.

Two minutes left...

Now on the second floor, Harry could see the door to Myrtle's bathroom off in the distance. Wanting desperately to get to her before time ran out, the Gryffindor practically flew down the long hallway, whizzing past the paintings that looked at him as if he'd lost his marbles.

Ninety seconds left...

Harry threw the bathroom door open, and entered to find Myrtle standing there in her stocking feet. For a moment, she looked surprised to see him. Then she glared at him and spat, "Go away, Harry!"

He just stood there, not knowing what to do or say next, but wanting to save her.

"I said GO!"

Harry tried to think of something to say; some way to give her whatever it was that she really wanted. "I'm sorry, Myrtle!" His voice shook with emotion as he said, "I never should've left you or called you a liar...I was just hurt, that's all! I don't want to lose you!"

45 seconds left...

Myrtle treaded up to Harry, looking even more remorseful and angry than she had looked as a spirit. Her dark, tear-filled eyes never left his as she said, "All I ever wanted was to love you, and for you to love me back. Do you know what that's like, Harry? To want something and know that you can never, ever have it?" She sniffled and wiped her nose on the sleeve of her dress, then started tugging pins out of her hair so that it tumbled down carelessly around her shoulders.

Harry was awestruck by how beautiful Myrtle looked at this very moment. "Myrtle, listen to me, please-"

Myrtle scoffed, "I thought maybe you'd give me a chance if I were an actual, living person again. But I was wrong. After all, who would want poor, ugly, moping, Moaning Myrtle?" She choked back a sob and dashed around the corner away from Harry, slamming the door to the stall she once died in.

15 seconds left...

"Myrtle, come out, please!" Harry pushed on the door of Myrtle's stall, but it wouldn't budge.

Myrtle yelled back, "I suppose you and your...popular little friends are going to get a good laugh, when you tell them how you fooled Moaning Myrtle into thinking you cared!"

5 seconds left...

A tear streamed down Harry's cheek. He didn't know how to save Myrtle from her ghostly fate, so he said exactly what was in his heart. "Myrtle, I more than care! I... I love you!"

Right then, the clock in the corridor tolled midnight. There was no sound coming from inside the stall, which told him that he was too late. As the Chosen One leaned his back against the door and hung his head, the repetitive bong of the grandfather clock cruelly mocked him. Another tear trailed down his cheek as he whispered, "I'm sorry, Myrtle."

The stall door opened, causing Harry to fall backwards into the stall, accidentally knocking a very real--and very solid--Myrtle onto the toilet and landing in her lap.

Harry's eyes widened when he felt a body - not porcelain - cushioning his fall. Still sitting in the girl's lap, he turned to look at her, unfathomable happiness filling him. A smile spread across his face. "Myrtle! You're alive!"

The brunette said nothing, but smiled and nodded, this time crying tears of joy. Was this really happening? Had Harry's love really rescued her from turning back into a ghost? This was undoubtedly the happiest moment of her entire life. It seemed so surreal, knowing that she would never again haunt this bathroom. Never again would she be lonely. Myrtle happily basked in Harry's affections as he embraced her and kissed her as if his life depended on it.

Harry excitedly planted kisses all over his beloved's face, ecstatic to have her back. The Gryffindor grinned down at the girl as he reached up and brushed the tears from her cheeks. Cupping her face in his hands, he murmured, "I love you, Myrtle."

Myrtle's smile broadened. Her voice cracked as she said, "Would you mind repeating that?"

The Gryffindor smirked. "I love you."

"No," Myrtle shook her head and laughed, "I meant the part with my name."

"Myrtle," Harry purred as he looked into her eyes.

The former ghost breathed a sigh of relief and happiness. It felt so good to hear his voice saying her given name with such warmth and tenderness. Reaching up to touch his chiseled cheek, she whispered, "I love you too, Harry."

The Boy Who Lived gave her a long, soft kiss, then chuckled. "I guess this means no more spying in the Prefect's Bathroom."

"Guess so," Myrtle giggled.

Harry gently stroked her hair as his soft, gentle eyes searched hers. "Can you forgive me for being such an ass?"

Still shedding joyous tears, the former ghost nodded and started to laugh, but ended up hiccuping instead.

Harry and Myrtle shared a very deep and passionate kiss, and the Chosen One felt as though his heart would literally burst from all the love and unfathomable happiness it contained. Harry had almost lost her forever due to his own foolishness. But miraculously, here she was, still alive; still his...and he silently vowed that from this day forward, he would never let her go.

A/N: The end! I'd like to thank all of you for taking the time to read and review my story. I hope you enjoyed reading about this most unusual ship:)

And a very special thank you goes out to my betas - xelusivememoriesx and busybusybeta - as well as my critics, Anony_Mouse and Poppy. I truly appreciate you guys helping me make the most of my story!