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A/N – yay for this next chapter! I’m so glad I’m going to be able to keep my word and get this out to my wonderful readers in a timely manner. I hope to be a trusted author soon so that way I can finish this story faster. Oh and by the way, I posted a Meet The Author thingie so feel free to take a look. Enjoy!

Chapter 10: The Suitors GameAngelina approached Hermione with a bouquet of roses. Everything was explained to her. All the eligible males lined up before Hermione waiting for her to hand out roses to those who she favored. The Suitors Ball would immediately end and everyone would go home and the suitors would retire to their rooms provided by the twins. The quidditch match would take place the next morning at dawn. Between now and then, Hermione had to privately visit each suitor and inform him which team he would play on.

Hermione knew exactly what she was going to do.

“Thank you all for attending tonight. I hope you all had a wonderful time,” Hermione said as she took the roses from Angelina. With Fred and George flanking her sides, Hermione went straight to Harry to give him the first rose. He grinned at her.

“How surprising,” George muttered as he rolled his eyes.

“Not necessary, George,” Hermione muttered back while keeping a perfect smile as she gave the next rose to Lee Jordan who was ecstatic at this point.

“Oh thank you so much Hermione! Wow!”

Hermione had moved on though. Ron blushed a shade to match his hair as she gave him a rose. The twins snickered but held back any comments. Next, Hermione gave Neville a rose. No one knew whether to be surprised or just accepting. Hermione laughed as Dean and Seamus gave each other a high five when she gave both of them roses. She also smirked when their faces fell as she gave the next rose to Oliver Wood.

“What a great opportunity to get to know you better,” Oliver grinned.

“We’ll see, Wood,” Hermione winked at him.

Victor Krum received the next rose and felt the need to go down on one knee and proclaim, “I promise you, Hermione. I will show you how I deserve this honor.”

Everyone gave him a weird look, but Hermione smiled and said, “I’m sure you will Victor, thank you.”

Hermione hesitated before handing out the next rose. Reluctantly she handed it over to Blaise who smirked.

“Do not make me regret this,” Hermione muttered to him.

Blaise grinned and answered, “You’ll only regret not choosing more worthy opponents for me to prove myself to you against.”

The other suitors rolled their eyes at the remark and Hermione moved on.

“Do you think you can be one of those people who care for me too?” Hermione asked as she gave Draco a rose.

It was a rhetorical question she had asked with a smirk, but he answered quite sincerely, “I already am.”

Hermione blushed and gave the next rose to Justin Finch-Fletchly who was beaming with arrogance.

The next rose she gave to Roger Davies, “Thank you for a wonderful dance.”

“Anytime,” he smiled at her.

And then, Hermione surprised them all. She took the next to last rose and handed it to Fred.

“I can’t..I mean…You can’t…This isn’t…” and he took one meaningful glance at Angelina who smiled at Hermione.

Hermione whispered to him, “If you love her, then lose and prove it.”

He gulped and couldn’t reply.

The last rose she stared at for a moment. She stood in front of George and everyone watched as she slowly raised her eyelashes towards him and handed him the rose.

“I don’t understand,” he muttered.

“It’s time you joined the battle,” was all she answered.

“Well done, Hermione,” Angelina congratulated her as everyone made their ways to their rooms.

“You’re not angry?”

“No. Finally Fred will have to decide what his heart truly wants.”

Hermione smiled and was glad Angelina understood what Hermione was trying to do for her.

“have you picked the teams?”

“Yes. Dean, Neville, Krum, Lee, Justin, Roger, and Fred will be on one team. Oliver, Seamus, Harry, Ron, Draco, Blaise, and George will be on the other team. And you will be the official referee, correct?”

“That’s right. The losing team will have to leave immediately. Well obviously not Fred and George, but the others. And you have to accept that whoever the winning team is will be the only suitors you can choose from. You understand?”

“I think so. I guess I should start letting them all know now which team they’ll be on.”

“Normally, you’re supposed to give them support too. You know…a reason worth fighting for.”

Hermione looked bewildered, “I’m not having sex 14 times tonight!”

Angelina laughed, “nothing like that, just words of encouragement, or some affection.”

“I guess I can do that.”

“Of course you can.”

“I can’t believe they’re actually going to compete for me,” Hermione almost whispered.

“Is it really that difficult to imagine? You’re so beautiful Hermione. An amazing woman. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wouldn’t endure more to just have a chance to be with you.”
 
Hermione smiled, “I’m hardly anything compared to you, Angelina. You’re such a powerful person. You’re so collected and mature. I don’t know how you do it. You’re a big reason I’ve made it this far through this whole fiasco.”

Angelina grinned, “I’m not sure how I do it either sometimes. And don’t worry, I’ll continue to help you.”

“Promise? Will you stay with me tonight? I don’t know if I can control my nerves without you.”

“Of course,” Angelina smiled.

“I guess I should get started,” Hermione responded as she made her way to the first room.

“Dean, I wanted to wish you luck,” Hermione stated after she had told him the team he would be on.

“Thank you, Hermione. That means a lot to me.”

“Well goodnight,” she said not really knowing what else to say. She wasn’t exactly good at this encouragement and affection thing.

“Hermione, wait.”

“yes?”

“I just wanted you to know…if I win tomorrow…I mean when I win tomorrow, I’ll be winning for you. And not just for you in the literal sense,” Dean blushed, “But to prove to you that I really want to be with you. I know you might not realize it. We don’t know each other very well, but I promise I can make you happy. And I’m going to try with all I have to prove that.”

Hermione was speechless. Dean had never spoken that way to her and she didn’t know how to respond. What would Angelina do?

Hermione kissed his cheek, “I’m sure you could make me very happy, Dean. I wish you the best of luck.”

She left quickly before anything else could happen that she wouldn’t know how to handle.

“I will win for you,” Neville announced after she told him what team he would be on. Hermione wondered if they were all supposed to tell her that.

“Thank you Neville.”

“Did you ever imagine in all our years at Hogwarts that we would one day be in this situation?” he asked her.

“Hogwarts was a long time ago,” Hermione answered.

“Yes, I know. I was such a weak person back then.”

“No Neville, your heart was the same heart. You were the same great person as you are now. You just show it more now,” she smiled at him.

“So you’ve noticed?”

Hermione giggled, “We’ve all noticed a change, Neville. I’m glad that you’ve found confidence in yourself. It shows you’re ready to love others when you can truly love yourself.”

“Oh I am ready, Hermione. I’m ready to love with all I have.”

Hermione blushed and answered, “you should get some rest. Good luck tomorrow.”

Krum smirked after Hermione told him his team and he asked, “And I suppose I’ll be playing seeker for my team?”

“I suppose so,” Hermione answered, “you don’t mind do you?”

“Of course not. I would do anything to prove myself to you, Hermione. I care for you so much more than these other blokes. Surely you must know that.”

“This isn’t about the others,” Hermione answered, “It’s about me. I want you to show me that you care for me, not show the others, not anyone else. That’s how I will be deciding in the end.”

“Then that’s what I will do,” he answered and then grinned as he grabbed her waist softly, “So do I get a good luck kiss?”

Hermione paled and she tried to back away, “good luck, Victor.”

He kissed her anyways. His mouth was powerful. She had difficulty finally breaking away. Her heart dropped and her stomach turned in knots. She felt drained as if the kiss had sucked out her very soul like a dementor. She cast one last glance at the friend she thought she knew before she turned hurriedly to go to the next room.

“Is everything ok, Hermione?” Lee Jordan asked as she entered his room. He was already in pajamas and ready for bed.

“Everything’s fine, Lee. Just a bit preoccupied.”

“worried about tomorrow?”

“Why should I be worried? I’m not the one competing in a physically demanding game for some girl.”

“Not just any girl, an amazing one,” Lee grinned.

Hermione tried to smile, “I just wanted to tell you what team you would be playing on tomorrow.”

Lee was excited as Hermione wished him luck after telling him his team. Hermione felt just a little bad that Lee had such high hopes. She knew that she would never pick him in the end.

Justin Finch-Fletchly answered his door in his robes, although somehow managed to remain quite dignified throughout the visit as Hermione told him the team he would play on.

“I hope to play well tomorrow to prove myself to you,” he told her as she began to leave.

“You don’t have to prove anything to me,” she answered.

“Of course. This is what this whole thing is about Hermione. It’s to prove to you that your future husband will go through almost anything to be with you.

“Why though? It seems ridiculous.”

“This is Fred and George we’re talking about, what did you expect?”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“You could end all of this and just choose somebody.”
 
Hermione couldn’t answer. She knew she couldn’t choose anybody right then and there. Her heart wouldn’t let her.

She finally answered, “good luck tomorrow, Justin.”

Roger Davies was next. She told him quickly of the team he would play on and then went on to thank him for the wonderful dance she shared with him.

“I know we didn’t talk much during Hogwarts, but I enjoyed myself so much at the ball with you. Probably more than I did with anyone else that I danced with.”

Roger smiled, “Thank you for this opportunity, Hermione.”

She wished him luck and then left for the next person.

Fred was peeved as she told him the team he would play on, “I just don’t get why you did this? I mean…George…yeah I could figure that one out. He had it coming. But why me? You cannot tell me you’re remotely attracted to me. I mean, no offense, I’m attracted to you, but you and I both know I can’t make you happy.”

“Number one I did it because you two kept from me the fact that the providers and caretakers could become suitors. Number two I did it for you. I hoped that if you started thinking that you didn’t want to be with me then you would start thinking of you wanted to be with. Shouldn’t you be able to happy too?”

“I suppose, but that’s not really your concern.”

“Just because I’m not your provider and caretaker doesn’t mean I can’t care whether you’re happy or not.”

“You’re right Hermione, I’m sorry,” Fred looked sincere, “but what if I don’t lose tomorrow?”

“Promise me that you’ll finally become official with Angelina and I’ll see what I can do.”

Fred grinned, “you draw a hard bargain, Hermione, but I think I have no choice but to accept.”

Hermione smiled, “Good. Now get some rest. You have a big game to lose tomorrow.”

Fred chuckled as Hermione left him alone with his thoughts of Angelina.

“You seem to be in a good mood,” Oliver Wood commented after Hermione told him his team, “Excited about tomorrow’s game?”

“Hm?” Hermione answered distracted, “Oh, I’m just happy knowing that some things do work out and love eventually wins.”

“You’re exactly right. Love will always win.”

“I’m not sure about always.”

“Of course it does, Hermione. Even when it appears love has lost everything, it’s in that moment that you realize that it doesn’t need anything but itself to be a winner. Love is a peculiar thing like that.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Of course I am,” Oliver grinned, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m teaching Hermione Granger a lesson in love.”

Hermione laughed, “I can. Love is uncharted territory to me. I’m afraid I keep falling into traps and facing enemies I never knew existed.”

“Don’t worry, Hermione. I’ll be here to fight for you.”

“You don’t have to do that, Oliver. I can fight my own battles.”

“I have no doubt that you can, Hermione. But at least let a gentlemen try?” he grinned.

Hermione giggled, “I’ll see what I can do. Good luck at the game.”

Seamus was very excited to see Hermione and almost didn’t catch what she was saying when she told him what team he would play on.

“This is going to be so awesome. I’ve been playing quidditch for years. This will be a match for the history books.”

“Um..yeah.” Hermione looked confused. Why was quidditch so amazing?

“Are you excited, Hermione? Will you be watching?”

“Of course, the whole time,” Hermione tried to smile.

“I’ll play my best, just for you.”

“I’m sure you will,” she wished him good luck and then left quickly rolling her eyes. Boys and their quidditch.

And there was one boy she could not wait to see. Harry Potter was sitting on his bed when she entered his room. She quickly joined him and kissed him fully on the mouth.

“Good luck tomorrow,” she grinned and told him the team he would play on.

“If I didn’t know better, Hermione, I would say you set me up to win,” Harry laughed.

“Oh you better, Harry,” she said and bit his lip before kissing him again.

“Is everything alright, Hermione?” he asked after they had kissed for a bit.

“Yes. Why?”

“I don’t know, I just thought you might be a little stressed or something with everything that’s going on.”

“Oh you mean the whole having to choose a husband thing? Yeah, I’m getting over it.”

Harry looked at her oddly.

“Ok, it’s stressful, ok? I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to choose. And I don’t want some silly game to choose for me either. I don’t want to think about my future or being happy or moving on. I just want to stay where I am right now. Right here with you.”

Harry tried to smile and kissed her forehead, “Hermione, I will always be here for you. But you really can’t mean that you want to stay the way you are forever. I know you. You have ambitions and dreams. And I know deep down you want to reach them. Don’t worry. You’ll get through this and everything will be ok.”

“Harry?” Hermione whispered.

“yeah?”

“Promise me something.”

“Anything.”

“Catch the snitch for me tomorrow.”

“I’ll try.”

“No, you have to. If you really love me. If you want to be with me. Catch it ok?”

Harry gulped and kissed her instead of answering. She was talking nonsense, he figured. It wasn’t long before she started crying again. He rocked her softly, hoping she would fall asleep. But she didn’t. She calmed down enough and muttered something about having to tell the other suitors their teams before she left.

Ron looked at her worriedly as she told him his team. She still had tears in her eyes from talking to Harry.

“Who hurt you?” he finally asked.

“No one, Ron. I’m fine, honest. Just a bit emotional.”

Ron surprised her and enveloped her in a hug.

“It’ll be ok, Hermione. After all this is over, you’ll be happy again. I promise.”

“I hope so, Ron,” Hermione sighed as she hugged him back. His arms were warm and caring. She looked up at him and smiled, “You’ve always been there for me.”

“Not as much as Harry, but I try,” Ron was beginning to blush.

Hermione closed her eyes and slowly moved her face closer to him.

“thank you,” she murmured as she kissed him softly. It was the hope and spark he needed to keep fighting. She wasn’t sure why she did it. Probably because she was still emotionally weak from talking to Harry. Nonetheless, Ron was beaming by the time Hermione left his room.

“I trust you’re well?” Draco asked. Hermione stared at the pajama-clothed Draco and held her breath. Did he have to look that good all the time?

“Speechless again?” Draco smirked.

Hermione really tried to get her senses together. She stumbled through telling him what team he would play on. Draco just nodded.

“Everything should work out fine then.”

“Draco, tell me something,” Hermione whispered.

“Anything,” Draco said hesitantly.

“Were you really a Death Eater?”

Draco’s eyes darkened, “No, I wasn’t.”

Hermione seemed to sigh with relief.

“Voldemort was always weak. I knew he would fall. It made no sense to become his follower. He lost his opportunity for power. That opportunity has moved on.”

“To who?” Hermione asked, a tad bit afraid.

“It doesn’t matter,” Draco tried to smile, “you have other things to worry about.”

“So you really don’t hate muggle-borns?”

“Is this what all this is about?”

“Just something Blaise said…"

“Forget Zabini. He forgets sometimes who’s in power and in charge. I promise he won’t say anything again.”

“That’s not really the problem. It’s just…”

“Hermione, I’m telling you there is nothing to worry about. You’re safe. You never have to worry about your heritage again. That’s all in the past. A new power is rising. A power that cares only how powerful you are, not how powerful your ancestors were.”

“What new power?”

“It doesn’t matter. You should get some rest before tomorrow.”

“But…”

Draco stood right before her and said firmly, “That’s enough. I’m not telling you anymore.”

Hermione almost squeaked and Draco’s eyes softened as he saw a glint of fear in her eyes. He touched her cheek softly, “Don’t be afraid. I’d never let anything bad happen to you.” And he kissed her softly. And she let him.

Hermione was still smiling faintly as she left Draco’s room and went to Blaise’s.

“Why hello there,” Blaise wolf whistled when he saw Hermione.

“I’ve just come to tell you your team, Blaise,” Hermione stated promptly.

“Ah, such a shame then,” Blaise pouted.

She told him his team and started to leave and then turned around, “Blaise, I have a question for you.”

“It’ll cost you.”

“Fine.”

“Go ahead then.”

“What’s the price for the answer?”

“I’ll decide after I answer the question.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and then asked, “What do you know about the new power that’s rising?” 

Blaise’s eyes glazed over and he nodded, “Draco is becoming very powerful, Hermione. You must already know that. He has so much more wealth than just wizarding wealth. He has connections in all parts of the world. He might not be a dark lord, but he’s definitely a man of power.”

Hermione nodded, “He has power over you.”

“I guess you could say that. He keeps my family rich. But I have something Draco doesn’t have.”

“And what is that?”

“Skills,” Blaise grinned.

Hermione laughed and Blaise continued, “And now for you to give me my payment.”

“And what would that be,” Hermione asked still laughing.

“A good luck kiss,” Blaise smirked.

Hermione stopped laughing and glared. She quickly pecked her lips against his.

“There, I’ll be going now.”

“Wait just a minute,” Blaise grabbed her arm and embraced her.

“Let me show you what a real kiss is,” and he brought his lips down upon hers much to both of their enjoyment.

Hermione was quite confused as she made her way to George’s room. She had done a lot more kissing that she would have liked tonight. And she didn’t know what to say to George. It was easier than she thought though once she finally got to his room. She told him quickly what team he would be on and tried to ignore his dark looks.

“Why are you doing this to me, Hermione?”

“Doing this to you? You, George? I could be asking you the same question.”

“Don’t you dare, Hermione. You can’t even begin to imagine how much I care for you. How much you’re tormenting me right now.”

“Tormenting you?” Hermione started laughing hysterically, “I’m the one who’s up for grabs for a quidditch match.”

George didn’t answer and Hermione began to leave.

“Wait.”

“What is it?” Hermione answered annoyed.

“Please don’t think I’m doing this to torment you, Hermione. I just want you to be happy. And if that means I have to show you by competing for you myself, then I’ll do it. Just know that in the end, I want you to be the happiest. It’s going to be the hardest thing in the world if I do this because in the end, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get past my selfishness and let you be with someone who could make you happier than me.”

Hermione didn’t know what to say. Did George just confess his love for her? She couldn’t understand.

“I doubt anyone could make me happy at this point. Good luck at the game, George.”

George let his head slump down as Hermione left. No matter what he did, her happiness seemed to be getting farther and farther away.

“Why does he do this to me?” shrieked Hermione to Angelina once she got back to her room.

“It’ll be ok, Hermione. Just wait and see.”

Hermione sat on her bed next to Angelina and started crying, “No. No it won’t. How am I supposed to find someone who is going to love me if all everyone cares about is if I’m happy or not? What does love have to do with happiness? Can’t I be miserable and in love?”

“Shhh,” Angelina tried to soothe Hermione as she wrapped her arms around her and started rocking her. Hermione soon fell asleep in Angelina’s arms.

Dawn came quickly. Everyone assembled at the Hogwart’s quidditch pitch. Fred and George got special permission to use the field for the game. Hermione sat by herself and waited to see her fate be decided by a game she barely understood. The teams lined up against each other with Angelina in the middle. Dean, Neville, Krum, Lee, Justin, Roger, and Fred on one side and Oliver, Seamus, Harry, Ron, Draco, Blaise, and George on the other.

The game started quickly. Hermione watched as goal after goal was scored. The boys were playing nasty and Angelina called several fouls. Victor and Harry, as the seekers and captains of their teams, were seen several times swooping quickly across the field for the snitch, but neither had caught it yet. Victor’s team had 0 points (Thanks to Blaise’s amazing guarding skills) and Harry’s team had 150 (thanks to Draco’s fantastic scoring abilities).

Finally the snitch was spotted. Harry and Krum raced for it. Everyone seemed to pause the game and watch the two race towards the little golden ball. Krum caught the snitch. Angelina blew her whistle to call the game. At that same time, Draco had put the quaffle in for one more goal.

The game was over. And yet, for Hermione, it had just begun.

A/N – I realize that the actual “game” was really short. XD but the chapter is the longest I have written for any fanfic! Just like to mention that all this belongs to J.K. Rowling of course. Please review and let me know what you think. I love to hear from readers. Also, I have a meet the author page for any questions. Thank you once again for reading this far!

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