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With winter's cold weather came hot tempers. Ron had been silently fuming ever since last week when Liz hugged Seth in front of the entire school. This attitude had caused Ginny to be become even more upset with her brother than usual over his stupidity at letting her go. Hermione, hoping to calm tensions, intervened only to be yelled at to butt out from both Weasleys. As you can guess, the confrontation was anything far from pretty.


Hogwarts last remaining days before the dance were filled with non-stop gitter from the girls and quite a few moans and groans from the boys who were not looking forward to the required ballroom dancing period before the band would play. Cho was utterly excited about finally going to the ball with Harry and hard as he could to convince her of his equal anticipation he doubted that she believed him. His only remaining energy was placed in the words spoken by Bianca "We've got a dare Potter".


It was Friday morning and the tension surrounding Harry was doing little to cheer him up with his situation involving Bianca. Hermione merely read the current book placed in front of her, refusing to speak if it only resulted in getting yelled at. Ron was literally swallowing his cereal probably unaware that some of it was dripping onto his robes. Neville starred at his bacon as if it held the silent questions that were swimming around his head by the frantic look upon his face. Ginny, avoiding the Gryffindor table was instead sititng with Luna looking happy and content. Harry felt unable to talk to anyone that he was even thinking about resorting to talking to Moaning Myrtle.


"Oh for goodness sakes will someone say something?!!" spoke Harry in a moderate, but stern tone


"I don't know Harry, Ron is it ok if I talk?" asked Hermione sarcastically obviously eager to release her quick tongue


"Like I give a damn" he brutally replied


Her eyes narrowing with resentment, Hermione picked up her book and stormed out of the Hall. Harry and Neville watched until her figure disappeared, turning back to Ron who refused to face their glances.


"Wow Ron, you just earned yourself 10 points for being a jerk" spoke Neville before walking over to Luna and Ginny who were ushering him over to them


This comment coming from the usually quiet and reserved Neville seemed to have broken the red-head's trance. He released a breath of air, speaking without looking at Harry.


"I deserved that didn't I?"


"I'd be lying if I said you didn't" answered Harry


"It's amazing to me that you haven't hexed me into oblivion by now" he said


"Why's that?" questioned Harry quietly


"Because Bianca told you to stay away, the exact treatment I gave to Liz" he replied finally turning to look at his best mate expecting to see some blood rising.


What he saw was Harry merely letting his words sink in without any signs of anger. "Well then we should have something in common now; not letting them get away" he said before leaving, remembering that he forgot his book in his dormitory.


After leaving his room looking messier than before, Harry was rushing out the portrait hole and towards his first class of the day History of Magic. Turning the last corner before he'd reach the hall that led to his class, he was suddenly face to face with Liz. Suprised, he fell forward , his elbows breaking his fall on the concreate floor. He was utterly confused about whether or not he really did see Liz.


"Geeze Potter, never knew you as the Clumsy type" spoke a soft voice above him


Rolling on his back he opened his eyes to find an amused Liz watching him. "Oh thank God I'm not going crazy".


"How in the world did you manage to move so quickly?" he asked as he slowly picked himself up from the ground


"Well in order to avoid making a fool of myself like you did, I merely leaned a little to the side" she replied showing her ability to move air-like within a matter of seconds


"Thanks for re-stating the obvious of my not so graceful landing" he said with a weak smile


"Any time" she added with a grin


The pleasantness of their conversation soon reached its last dying moments. Liz could hear the questions dying to be released within her mind, but she worried that asking would only make things even more harder. Harry could do little to keep his curiosity in its right place.


"How's Bianca?" he asked quickly, his focus anywhere but on the witch


"I was wondering when you'd ask....she's ok, well as well as she can be" said Liz pausing between words


"Is everything ok?" he persistently questionted


"Harry, I'm honestly not sure how much I should tell you without making things more difficult for either of you,....but just know that there's not a day that goes by without her thinking about you" she answered calmly


"I need to get to class" she said simply before she began walking away


Harry stopped her before she could get any further away. "So does Ron" he said


Liz turned wide eyed as if all her prayers somehow had just been answered. Her lips quivered for a moment, she wanted to know Ron's current thoughts on the situation, but it scared her to know how easily she could let herself fall for him again. She needed to avoid such things at all costs. Polietly she nodded at his statement, then took her leave.


Letting the silence engulf him, Harry continued forward to his History class. Luckily it seems the Professor was late himself and so the raven haired boy merely took his seat next to his best mate who took notice of his presence as he remained silent. Class went by rather quickly, unfortanetly that did not mean Harry had any idea what the teacher was talking about the entire time. He'd ask Ron later, the teen had oddly been paying attention during classes, a new tactic that he guessed was due to his goal of keeping his mind far from a certain element.


Potions was next and though Tonks was a lively teacher that made learning rather enjoyable, it was highly probable that his eyes would continuously wander over to Bianca. He and Ron made small talk about the upcoming match against Slytherin that would take place Saturday morning before the dance. Hermione was waiting for them in front of the doors as more students piled the entrance. Her expression was filled with forgiveness as if she was willing to forget entirely about what happened that morning.


"I'm sorry for the way I've been acting Hermione" he told her


"I get it Ronald really, but that's no reason for you to take your anger out on me" she responded respectively


"You're right, you don't deserve this, and I was actually wondering if you'd like to attend the ball with me" he spoke with much more confidence than either of his friends were expecting from him.


Hermione was actually hoping that such an offer would arise, and even with the prediction an image still flashed across her head; Draco Malfoy. Their recent crossings had been non-existent for it seemed he was now avoiding her at all costs. She understood little about what his actions meant and now with the dance becoming closer with every passing day she could feel her desire to know about his plans growing. It all summed up to a very confused and high-strung bookworm whose books attempted to calm with each inked word.


"I'd enjoy that Ron" she said with a smile


"Just as friends of course" added the wizard


"See now wasn't that nice?" stated Harry with a sarcastic girlish tone


The Golden Trio laughed, a sight not seen for quite some time. The now relaxed mood surrounding the friends was dissimilar from what a certain Slytherin was attaining. His ears vaguely picked up what the Weasley was saying, but he clearly heard when he had asked Hermione to accompany him to the upcoming ball. These occuring event didn't surprise him, but what did was the stinging sensation coursing throughout his veins. He honestly had no one to blame but himself, he had after all been avoiding her within the last week trying to sort out him emotions. Deciding the only thing that might make things better was to talk to her, he and the rest of the class entered the potions class room.


All students shuffled into the room, as Tonks sat at the front of the class awaiting the arrival of the last of her group, which turned out to be the four elements. Logan took a seat at the far end of a row with the girls in the middle and Seth at the other end. It was as if the boys were forming some type of protective barrier. As Tonks began addressing her seventh years Harry glanced to see Bianca. She appeared to be listening intently with her hair half way down and a light blue clip keeping it up. He felt his insides grumbling with frustration over his inability to be near her.


The speech continued until she had them pair up to conduct the "Trinkstef" potion. From what Harry had listened to, it was apparently suppossed to create some kind of homing device on the drinker allowing others to locate them. One by one the names were called out.


"Longbottom and Thomas"


"Green and Aqua"


"Flame and Zambini"


"Potter and Finnigan"


"Malfoy and Granger"


Hermione felt her heart drop into her stomach. Now she would really couldn't avoid talking to Draco. The wizard on the other hand found their new partnership to be exactly the silver lining that he was looking for.


'Well, if he can avoid me then there's no reason why I can't give him the cold shoulder' thought Hermione


"Weasley and Gustero"


Harry's head shot up at the newly emerged dilema. Seth's eyes were bearing straight into the red-head as if warning him to even attempt anything that he would be against. Before Ron could even wrap his mind around what Tonks had just said, Liz snapped.


"That's going to be a problem for me"


"Well then, nows your chance to un-problem it" responded Tonks with a raised eyebrow


"All I'm asking is that you put me with someone else, anyone else" pleaded Liz


"Ms.Gustero I happen to know Mr.Weasley and last time I checked he didn't bite anything that wasn't food" said Tonks attempting to ease the students' worries


"Great, thanks for the warning, but I still need a new partner" insisted Liz, her tone raising to a level inappropriate when speaking to your teacher


"You can either work with him now or I'll make sure that he's your partner from now on until the end of the school year!" replied Tonks in an authorative voice


"Tempting offer.....think I'm going to have to take it" added Liz sarcastically as she rose from her seat


"Everyone can thank Ms.Gustero for the time necessary outside of class today in order to write your second half of this activity" added Tonks as the students began putting their potion together with complaints over this new information.


"What the hell is wrong with you?" demanded Bianca as she stood besides Liz


"I didn't mean to go off on her like that it's just,.......never mind you wouldn't understand" retorted Liz


"Then help me to understand" responded Bianca softly


"Maybe we should be doing our potions" finished Liz as she walked away towards a quiet Ron


Summoning all her existing courage, she looked straight at him. His lips wriggled in his search for the right words to say. Her stare faltered as she realized how much of a humiliating situation she just put him in, but the sympathy quickly faded as she remembered their meeting in Hogsmeade.


"Let's finish this quickly Ronald" spoke Liz in a formal tone


"Yeah" was all he could say


On the other side of the room, an even more distant relationship was taking place. Draco had merely placed the items on their table when Hermione took off like a Firebolt dropping this into that and mixing this much with that amount. His eyes could barely keep up with her rapid movements. Afraid of distracting her current focused state, he stayed quiet until he no longer felt capable of doing so.


"Are you sure you don't need any help?" he asked


Hermione didn't reply, she wanted to know how far he would go to get her talking and to be honest, doing this potion by herself seemed like the easiest way to get it done leaving only the write-up part left which would be done later in the day.


"Incase you didn't notice my hands are empty" continued Malfoy


Silence.


"Just tell me what to grab and I will" he said


A hidden grin.


"Ok, no not in that manner, oh bloody hell Hermione when I talk to myself I feel retarded" he shouted


"Really, so a week of avoiding me must have been a week of pure stupidness huh" she responded


"I was not avoiding you and I didn't know it mattered to you that much" he said


"It doesn't!!" she vented


"Well by the sound of your voice, I'd say things were really bothering you" answered Malfoy


"Well you must have cheese or food in your ear, because I'm PERFECTLY FINE" shouted Hermione, earning numerous confused glances in her direction


"You're completely right, I think I heard it that time" he said sarcastically 


For the first time in weeks, the young witch finally peered up to look at the Slytherin. Her heart fell short of its rapid beats, and she attempted to turn quickly in order to avoid showing signs of her growing nervousness. As a result, a bit of the potion mixtures splashed on her hand. Cursing silently, she looked around for something to clean the stain with, grateful that it wasn't one of the more hazardous substances. Deciding to finally do something, Draco gently took hold of Hermione's hand.


With her mouth a-gape she stuttered "What're you doing?"


"Helping you, you know, it's what friends do....or so I've heard" replied Malfoy attempting to ease his decietful pulse in his wrist that had contact with Hermione's hand


"Bet you picked that up while you were harrassing someone huh?"


He chuckled as he slowly ran small circles on Hermione's wrist. Taking his time until he was certain that all of the mixture has been removed, he peered at Hermione's expression, noticing how beautiful she looked when she allowed herself to be vulnerable. No longer was this untouchable barrier surrounding her, but rather a light breeze that brought a smile that was entirely unexplainable. He felt a sudden rush of emotion come over him, and had it not been for the arrival of Tonks, he wasn't sure what would have occcured in the following seconds.


"Excellent work. You two make quite the team"


Sub-conciosuly and much to the dissapointment of Granger, he quickly dropped her hand. The two students awkwardly looked into their cauldron noticing how the potion appeared to have been finished and was the exact shade of red that Tonks had explained.


"Close enough I suppose" commented Tonks at Ron and Liz's potion, as she returned to the front of class


"I'm terrible at Potions" spoke Liz


"Join the club, ironic though this is probably the closest I've come to making a decent potion and neither of us are qualified for the job"  he joked


"Ha, guess our relationship is nothing but a big fat paradox" she laughed at the saddness of the situation


"Why not make life a little interesting....." he trailed off noticing her change in demeanor


"Look if you want to completely forget the dare about us dancing, I understand" she whispered, her eyes falling towards the floor


"No" said Ron fierecely as he moved to stand closer to her


"God, could you be any more of a mystery Ronald?" she retorted with a painful blaze in her eyes


"Our dare is the only thing I'm looking forward to" he stated truthfully


"Well what if I want to call off the dare....what if I can't take it anymore?" her tone raising ever so slightly as she grabbed her belongings and fled the room moments before Tonks dismissed everyone.

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