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Hermione just about got the three screaming girls to calm down and promise not to tell anyone who the flowers where from. They all agreed instantly but Hermione wasn’t sure if they would stick to it. That was until the notice went up in the common room the next morning.

“Hermione you kept this one quiet!” Padma had shrieked gazing wide eyed at the signup sheet for the Christmas Ball.

“I wasn’t allowed to say.” The twin turned to her sister.

“Oh I know what we should go as, Bollywood movie stars!” her sister instantly shrieked back and they ran to write a letter to their parents to say that they would be staying over Christmas. They ran back as soon as they had reached the door and put their names down for both staying over Christmas and the Diagon Ally trip before rushing off again.

Ginny moved forward and wrote her name down for both, as did Hermione. They moved away and made their way down to breakfast.

“So how are you doing the Diagon Ally thing?” Ginny asked.

“Anyone who is underage in fifth year has a supervised trip with four teachers, me and Malfoy and there are three more. One for the rest for the fifth years one for a large part of the sixth year and one for some more sixth years and the seventh years. These are supervised by two teachers but not as closely, I’m going to try and get Professor Harrow and Professor Anderson to do ours.”

“But will I even be in your group?” Ginny asked worriedly, “I mean I need you to help me.”

“Of course,” smiled Hermione, “I get to put the people in groups, me you and Luna.”

They sat down and Hermione gazed at the double doors longingly as she ate a piece of toast.

“Mione, he’s already sat down,” Ginny said point to the Slytherin table where Malfoy was being fawned over by Astoria. “Go and say thank you, I know you want to.”

“I can’t he is with her, she would kill him if she knew he had sent me flowers.”

“Who sent you flowers? Not Ron surly,” said Harry sitting down.

“No, Mum,” said Ginny quickly making up a story, “she said they would cheer her up.” Hermione looked at her gratefully but the redhead just winked. “So,” she continued to Harry, “what you going as to the Christmas Ball?”


The next month went by very quickly. Everyone was talking about the ball and what they were going to wear and who they were going with. Hermione had still not decided on what she was going to wear and as the date for the Diagon Ally trip loomed she was skimming everything she could for inspiration. She had heard that some people were coming as fairies. Some muggle-borns were coming as Disney characters and some as famous witches and wizards. She had even heard rumours that someone was dressing up as a dragon.

Not only was it the costume but it was the date that she had to find. Hermione had been asked out by what she felt was every boy in the entire school but she had turned them all down. She didn’t really want to go with anyone. Everyone who she knew was paired up. Harry and Ginny, obviously, Dean and Pravati, Seamus and Padma, Neville and (to both Hermione and Ginny’s delight) Luna, and Ron and Lavender. She was emerging herself into the organising of it all. She had booked a popular female singer that was all the rage that year and was making sure that the great hall was being decorated like an ice palace.

“Perfect for my costume,” Ginny winked. Harry had tried to get out of her what she was going as but she wouldn’t spill. Hermione had sorted decoration, music and food trying as hard as she could to keep her mind of Ron. Whenever she saw him, or even thought of him she ended up bursting into tears.

Still no one was talking to Ron and he usually sulked past them wearing a fairly sour expression. Harry still wouldn’t talk to him apart from in Quidditch practice and Ginny only spoke to him when she had to. The howler seemed to have made him think and she saw him acting towards Lavender the way he had been acting towards her in those last few weeks. It had made Quidditch difficult but they seemed to get on well. Ginny said that they were actually better than they had ever been now Ron had stopped shouting at everyone. He seemed to be regretting what he had done now he had seen how everyone had reacted. The papers had even turned up at one of the Quidditch practices and tried to interview him but he sulked off without saying a word.

The papers were still fully backing Hermione and more letters she could count landed on her table at breakfast every morning. The group had fun opening them and laughing about what people had put. Hannah, Padma and Luna had become a permanent feature at the table and none of the teachers looked to stop it. In fact most of the houses were starting to mix and Hufflepuffs sat at the Ravenclaw table and Griffindors sat at the Hufflepuff table. The only house that did not have any new members were Slytherin as Harry loved to point out whenever they were in the great hall.

Hermione never did get her chance to say thank you to Malfoy for the flowers he had sent. Even on the frees that they spent planning the ball Astoria was there hanging around and making stupid suggestions. She had already told Malfoy that she was going as an Arabian princess and was making huge suggestions towards him that he should dress to match her. He however told her that he knew exactly what he was going as. Hermione stuck to being head girl and tried to ignore him as much as was possible.

It was even worse when December came around and it was the time for the Diagon Ally trip. They had two weeks before term finished and it was on the first weekend that two of the trips happened. The one on Saturday was the underage fifth year and it was unfortunately that this was the one they had to supervise and the one that Astoria was in. She followed Malfoy around all day having already had her costume sent over from a designer that she used regularly. She spent the time making comments about Hermione as if she weren’t there and to Hermione’s annoyance, just like all the other times, though he looked annoyed at her words, Malfoy didn’t once put her right. In the end Hermione stormed off and helped a few of the girls in one of the dress shop pick out something to wear.

It was Astoria who was moaning the Sunday of the year sevens trip to Diagon Ally. Hermione had managed to keep the numbers down very low and there were only four other sixth years accompanying Ginny and Luna. All in all that made twenty-three of them. Astoria was standing by the front doors hanging onto Malfoy’s jacket.

“Draco, why can’t I go?” she whined stamping her foot like an angry child. Malfoy prised her away from him and looked her straight in the eye. His unreadable face not flinching as she scowled.

“You can’t come because you have already been, go back to your dorm Astoria.” She stormed away moaning loudly to herself and left Malfoy with a small smile playing at the edge of his lips. Hermione and Ginny walked over to join Luna who was standing in front of Professor Anderson.

“Hello,” she said brightly.

“Hey,” Ginny said as Harry joined them. He went to snake his arms around her waist but she pushed him away.

“Oh no you don’t I’m not having you there when I get my costume,” she said defiantly.

“But Gin,” he said.

“No this is a girls only day, if you’re lucky we will meet you lot for lunch, but even that’s stretching it,” she smiled before kissing him on the cheek and pushing him towards Dean, Seamus and Neville.

Professor Harrow motioned for everyone to follow her and they all walked the long stretch down to hogsmead where they would, in-groups of four, take a port key to Diagon Ally. Pravati Patel joined them to take hers but left soon after with her sister, they had already got their costume and where going to visit George. Ginny announced that this was where she needed to go first.

“I have money from George but some of that went on that shopping spree in hogsmead in November. George is giving me some more and letting me have something that would go lovely with my costume.

The three of them made their way through the crowd towards Ginny’s brother’s shop. They opened the door carefully to find all manner of sounds and colourful items before them. Ginny instantly spied her brother whipping into the back and they followed.

“George!” Ginny cried rushing up and hugging her brother.

“Gin! Are you ok?” he asked.

“I’m fine, I want my money and my present please.”

“Always the one that wants something you are,” he joked, “hang on they are upstairs.”

Just as he was about to disappear up the back staircase he spotted Hermione.

“Mione!” he cried, “you stayed a little quite there.” He hugged her quickly. “I hope you’re ok and my brother hasn’t damaged you forever.”

“I’m fine,” she replied.

“Well if you ever need to get revenge, my shop shelves are open to you, free of charge of course, though I have heard you don’t need my help what with that stunner you sent at him, Malfoy being a gentleman and defending you and then mums howler.” She looked at him surprised at how he would know all of that. He saw the look on her face and explained. “Gin wrote everything to mum. I have to say I was surprised at him I never knew he could be like that you know he’s usually all ‘I hate muggles’ not ‘let’s defend the muggleborn’ its odd.”

“He’s not being so nice anymore,” Hermione mumbled, “he’s barely spoken to me for a month. Thanks for the fireworks by the way, they went down a treat, everyone loved them.”

“My pleasure,” he said with an extravagant bow, “now let me go fetch those things for Gin.”

He returned moments later with a bag of money and a box that looked familiar to Hermione.

“Ah dear old Muriel, may her soul rest in peace, I’m glad she gave this to you and not dear old phlegm,” George mocked as he stood with his hand over his heart. Hermione realised what was in the box. It was her goblin made tiara. Ginny must have inherited it when her aunt had died in that previous summer. She was right, it would go perfect with her outfit. Ginny glanced into the moneybag.

“George this is loads more than I’m going to need!” she cried.

“Aww where’s the harm Gin. What’s the point in being ridiculously rich if I can’t spoil my little sis when she needs it?” Ginny beamed and kissed her brother on the cheek.

“Thanks. I’ll speak to you soon”

The trio left the shop very happily. The tiara and the money in Ginny’s bag. Hermione groaned as they entered a large dress shop.

“Gin I don’t even know what I want to go as!” she cried.

“Well let me get sorted first and then I’ll help you and Luna.”

“Oh I don’t need help Ginny I will find my costume easily, I have most of it at the castle, I just need some shoes…” she trailed off and wandered off from the pair.

“Fair enough,” Ginny said shrugging and pulling Hermione towards a rack of white dresses. She pulled out a couple and dragged her friend to the dressing room.”

Once in there Ginny tried on a few off the dresses before landing on the one she wanted.

“This is perfect!” she cried twirling out and twirling for Hermione. She was dressed in a white ball gown that poofed out slightly from her body and kissed the floor with the netting. The bodice was decorated with white beading and it had a lovely sweetheart neckline. She quickly picked out a pair of white kitten heels and a fluffy white shrug. She quickly declared herself done and paid for the items, which Hermione shrunk for her to put in her bag.

Now it was time for Hermione’s dress. She had no idea what to go as and she had no idea what to wear. They were searching the shop for a while before Ginny stumbled across a glass case hidden in the corner. Inside it lay a pretty lace mask in pale dusty pink. It looked beautiful and both girls stared at it for long enough so that an assistant walked up to them.

“Can I help you girls.” Ginny took one look from the mask to Hermione before turning to the assistant.

“Do you have a dress to match this mask?” the assistant smiled.

“We do indeed, if you want to step through to the changing room I can bring it through.”

Ginny pushed her friend through and made her sit and wait for the dress to be brought in. The shop assistant handed it to Hermione who went and changed into it. The outfit was in two parts the dress which looked fairly long to Hermione and an off white corset. The assistant called through the curtain to tell her when she needed help and Hermione told her she would.

She slipped the dress over her head and did up the zip at the side. It didn’t look like much at first but it was really light and very soft on the skin. She smiled, it was in exactly the same shade as the mask. It was slightly long but with the pale pink heels she had been given it would kiss the floor perfectly. She called for the assistant who came in and laced the corset tight. When she had left Hermione looked at herself in the mirror. The dress fell in lovely pleats and flowed freely when she moved. Her stomach and chest was covered with the well-fitting corset that showed off her curves perfectly. The top of the dress looked better now the corset was on. The pale pink fabric bloomed at the top of the corset and thick, but light, loose straps, fell off the shoulder leaving her shoulders and arms bare. Hermione knew that with the mask and her hair up it would look perfect. She walked out of the room to show Ginny.

“Wow, Mione, it looks fantastic!” she cried.

“Yeah I know, but I don’t know if it fits with the brief, what could I say I was going as?” Ginny thought for a moment and then her brown eyes brightened.

“Juliet, say you’re going as Juliet!” she said. Hermione thought about it for a few seconds. The corset and long dress could have fit with Juliet. No one really knew what she had worn anyway.

“Gin that is a perfect idea,” she said disappearing back into the changing room and taking her outfit off.

“Is that all?” the assistant asked when Hermione had handed everything over.

“And the mask, I want the mask too,” she said. They paid for the items, which came to round thirty gallons, which according to Ginny was around one hundred and fifty muggle pounds. Hermione left the shop, after retrieving Luna who had been wondering around with a basket full of odd looking clothes, thankful that they had managed it. And in three hours at that. It was one by the time they sat in a small café with Harry, Dean, Seamus and Neville eating large chocolate muffins that Ginny had bought them curtsy of George’s money. At one point Ron skulked by with Lavender looking thoroughly miserable that he wasn’t with his friends.

Lunch was over quickly and the girls sent the boys off. They still hadn’t bought their costumes having spent most of the morning in the Quidditch shop. The girls now had one and a half lovely hours before the port key would leave for hogsmead and they would have to return home. They chose to spend it walking around Diagon Ally and visiting all the shops that they hadn’t for a while. Just for Ginny’s pleasure Hermione steered clear of Flourish and Blotts though part of her wanted to visit the shop just to see if Malfoy was immersed in the muggle books.

Unfortunately Hermione didn’t get the change to think about that for much longer. The reporters had found them. Giggling the three girls turned to make a break for it, running the entire way down the street. However almost as soon as they reached safety Hermione felt her ankle go and she lost her balance. She fell but was caught before she could hit the ground. She looked up to thank Ginny but her eyes stared into the steal grey ones of Draco Malfoy.

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