Can't Have It Both Ways

If you are forced to participate in a competition that's reserved for adults only, doesn't that mean you should be considered an adult? Harry gets some much needed help and advice before having some fun by allowing his marauder heritage out to play. H/Hr

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5402315/1/Can-t-Have-It-Both-Ways

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9. Chapter 9

Amelia steeled herself before entering the minister's office after receiving her summons, she was absolutely livid with the article had appeared in the Prophet and would have been here sooner if it wasn't for the Quibbler. Their acting minister had used the Prophet to mount her campaign for the full time post and found herself derailed by the truth printed in the Quibbler. Amelia was relieved, she welcomed the clean-up that had started in the ministry and had no intention of letting it slip back into the bad old ways.

She was quite certain why Dolores had sent for her and had no intention of complying with she-who-must-wear-horrible-pink-cardigans requests or orders. If her niece could face down aurors for justice then surely the head of the DMLE could do no less.

The sickly sweet voice that greeted her as she entered the room had Amelia grinding her teeth in frustration, knowing full well that this was all an act so that people would underestimate the toad like creature. "What can I do for you Madam Umbridge?"

"We have a publication printing anti ministry propaganda, I want it closed down and its owner arrested!"

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to close down the Prophet, it has printed lies for years and doesn't deserves to be called a newspaper."

Dolores stared at Amelia with her beady little eyes, if this was her idea of being intimidating then the head auror felt as if she'd just been mauled by a budgie.

"Hem-hem, I think you misunderstood me Madam Bones, the publication I had in mind was the Quibbler."

Amelia feigned surprise. "When you used the word propaganda I naturally assumed you meant the Prophet. Information, ideas, or rumours deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution or nation is my understanding of the word. Every detail printed in the Quibbler was the truth while the Prophet's only intention would appear to be to promote Deloris Umbridge. Could you explain to me Madam Umbridge just how you brought these criminals to justice? You see I was there personally, can vouch for every word printed in the Quibbler is the truth and didn't lay eyes on you anywhere near any of the action. As an auror and head of the DMLE, it worries me when people can be places where I am without me seeing them."

Dolores tried to continue her sweetness and light act but the anger in her eyes betrayed the toad like woman if you knew what to look for and Amelia was no fool. "Never the less I am the minister of magic, you will go and close this publication down today. This is a direct order."

"NO!"

The acting minister just stared at the witch, unsure how to respond since she'd never been told 'no' before. Usually people just tried to weasel out of the task and Dolores enjoyed watching them squirm as she gradually whittled away their objections until they were forced to comply. Someone saying 'no' to her face was not something she knew how to deal with. "What do you mean, no?"

Amelia squared her shoulders. "It's quite simple acting minister, you see everyone has to obey the laws of the land, just ask your predecessor. The quibbler has broken no laws and will not be closed for telling the truth, disagreeing with your version of events and you being left looking like a fool is not a crime."

"You will close down this publication or lose your job, the choice is yours to make Madam Bones."

"I don't think so acting minister, here's how it works when you're playing with the big boys. In just over five weeks Britain will have a new Minister of Magic, it will not be you and if you keep your head down Dolores I will allow you to walk away after the minister is elected. If you fight with me, I will investigate in minute detail everything you've ever done since entering the ministry. We both know that your behaviour couldn't withstand such an investigation and you would probably end up in the adjoining cell to Fudge. The choice is yours to make Madam Umbridge."

The toad's temper snapped, "How dare you speak to me like that, I demand respect!"

"Respect is earned and you have done nothing deserving of any, we both know if you reach for your wand I will decorate this office with you and that hideous cardigan. I'm well aware your usual modes operandi is to blindside your opponents but I have some very good people watching my back. Now I've got rid of Fudge's lackeys and there's no Malfoy spreading his gold around to get what he wants, we can look forward to better times. Enjoy your time as acting minister and then resign gracefully from the ministry, leave me and my department alone or we'll come after you. I have no interest in the minister's job, just as long as you don't get it."

Dolores was doing her catching flies impression as Amelia continued, "Please don't take it personally, we have suffered for too long under ministers with delusions of adequacy. Our country needs and deserves a strong, intelligent, honest minister, by no stretch of the imagination is that you."

Amelia turned her back on the woman and left the office, leaving Dolores wondering how she was going to repair her shattered dreams.

-oOoOo-

Molly Weasley's dreams were beginning to come true as she sat with Percy and Penelope, moisture gathering in the corner of her eyes, the first of her son's to bring a girl home and now there would be a wedding to help plan. Arthur reappeared with a bottle of wine and glasses as they made to celebrate the happy news, with full glasses all around the head of the Weasleys proposed a toast. "To Penelope and Percy, may all your problems be little ones!"

The double meaning had Penelope blushing. She was spared further embarrassment by the arrival of an owl at the Burrow addressed to her, bearing a note that had Penelope very excited. "It's from the Quibbler offering me a job, Luna must have put a good word for me."

Arthur was chuckling, "Xeno Lovegood owns the Quibbler and trusts Luna's judgement so much, he lets her write for the paper."

"When did you see Luna?" Molly wanted to know.

"Oh we were invited to dinner by Harry last night and of course Luna lives there, it was quite a gathering and a great evening."

She didn't want to ask but needed to, "Was Ron there?"

Percy shook his head, "Harry explained that Ron was still in conflict with him and Hermione, our Fred, George and Ginny were all there and agreed Ron's behaviour didn't merit an invitation. I've written to him offering my advice if he wants it because, from what was said at dinner last night, the next move is his to make."

Molly sighed, "We tried to speak to him and Minerva actually thought about suspending him, even the twins never got in that much trouble."

Arthur asked his future daughter-in-law about her job offer, "Oh it's what I've always wanted to do and, thanks to that cheque from Harry, I can afford to take the chance. Harry spoke about our changing world last night and I don't think there is a better example of that than the contrast in today's newspapers. The Prophet looked dead compared to its rival and I doubt I'd be able to believe anything printed there ever again. The Quibbler is the future and I have a chance to get in at the very beginning of its rise, I intend to accept immediately."

Molly couldn't hold back any longer, "Ok you two, when's the wedding?"

-oOoOo-

The Hogsmead party returned full of good cheer, a smashing lunch and carrying purchases from the local stores. Both Granger girls had seen things they loved in a clothes shop so Harry had bought them, to much indignation from Dan. That was until Harry pointed out that neither his money nor credit cards were any use here, this led to Harry and Hermione being invited to the Granger home for the following weekend where lunch and any shopping would be on his betrothed's father.

They were greeted by the sight of Luna and Colin sitting at a table full of what turned out to be order forms for Harry's poster. Winky popped in with her arms full of the actual items and removed the ones that the teens had finished addressing, taking them away to be posted.

"Is that…" Harry stuttered.

"Oh Hello everyone, yes Harry this is your poster and we have quite a lot of orders. Winky is bringing bundles over as soon as daddy prints them so Colin and I can process them. If the champions poster does as well as this then Victor will easily get four thousand galleons for that orphanage."

"Can I see it?" Hermione asked anxiously.

Luna unrolled one and it literally took Hermione's breath away, she stood transfixed until a pair of arms encircled her from behind and she felt Harry's breath on her neck as he whispered lovingly to her. "They might own a poster love but my heart belongs to Hermione Jane Granger, never doubt for a second that I'm yours as long as you want me."

"That's going to be a very, very long time Harry."

"That suits me just fine love."

They were brought back to reality with Emma's words as she reached into her purse, "Ok, I don't care how much they cost but I want one!"

"Mum!"

"I don't care Hermione! We've spent years having to cover up just how brilliant our daughter is, now she has a wonderful boyfriend and I have no intention of hiding that fact as well. I'll say its new technology or something but that is going in a frame on our wall at home."

Harry stepped forward and placed his hand on the poster, as the hair and robes billowed he commanded "Stop!" while pushing some magic into it. The result was a poster that didn't move but now appeared almost 3D with the sparkle in Harry's eyes even more captivating.

"Oh Harry that's fantastic!"

Dan had to suppress is laughter at his wife's reaction, brought about by the anticipation of his sister's face when she laid eyes on this. He was honest enough to acknowledge that Agnes was a stuck-up bitch and her seventeen-year-old daughter was every bit as conceited as her mother.

When they were younger, the competitiveness of both girls pushed Hermione even harder in her studies. Their daughter had no trouble surpassing the older girl academically, much to the annoyance of Brenda and her mother. Since Hermione started Hogwarts that competitive comparison had been taken away from Emma. His wife was then left defenceless as she was swamped by tales of Brenda's achievements without being able to reply. Over three years of frustration would be countered by Harry's poster and he almost felt sorry for Agnes, almost.

Colin handed Emma an envelope, "Mrs Granger, these are for you"

She opened it to find normal pictures of Harry and Hermione, some he had obviously taken before they got together but even in these you could see how close these two were. One had been posed for in the last few days and with no more than a glance you could feel the connection flowing between Harry and Hermione, Emma was overjoyed. "Colin these are brilliant! A professional photographer would be proud of these, you really are a very talented young man with a camera."

Colin tried not to blush but stood just that little bit straighter at the praise his work received, he gave the pictures of the Champions to Harry whose appreciative low whistle made Colin's day.

The one that Harry liked best was where they tried for a formal pose, standing with arms folded and staring confidently into the camera. Well at least they tried until Harry burst out laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing and set the other three off. The image looked like four friends having fun, comfortable with and enjoying each other's company. This was exactly the image that they wanted to project but Harry would have to check with the other three first.

"Emma's right Colin, your pictures are brilliant. I'll have to talk with the other champions to pick our favourite before sending it off to Xeno. Luna your father will also be getting a cheque to cover him for materials, I never expected anything like this many people to want a poster of me."

Harry had his arms back around Hermione, "I'm sorry love, I never considered how you would feel about this. If this many boys had posters of you on their walls then I wouldn't be too happy, I want you all to myself."

Before Hermione could answer, Luna interrupted. "Oh no Harry, this is only the small amount we've got left to deal with. We've been at it for hours with Sirius and Remus helping as well before they had to go into the castle, they're working on their lessons for Monday."

-oOoOo-

Harry was in his room having just changed into his pyjamas when Hermione entered. "Hermione didn't I just say good night to you? What are you doing here love?"

She came over and sat shyly on the bed beside him. "Harry I really feel we need to talk about us." Seeing the panic on his face she quickly reassured him, "No Harry, you're mine and that's not going to be changing. Every time I kiss you, I fall for you a little bit more and that's what we need to talk about. If we don't discuss this I'm going to end up just pouncing on you, I love you so much but have no idea how to control this."

"Hermione I know exactly what you're talking about and I'll never push you into something we're not ready for, we are going to be each others 'first' for everything so there is no rush as far as I'm concerned. Looking back I think I've loved you since our first meeting on the train, I knew for certain that time you were petrified and I missed you so much. I would rather wait until we're sure before doing something that we later regret, your smile alone is enough for me Hermione so hugging and kissing feels like heaven. Let's take our time and enjoy where we are now without worrying about how far we should go."

Hermione leaned in and gently kissed him, "Harry how did I get so lucky?"

"Hermione, I have asked myself that question many times since Halloween and I still haven't come up with an answer. Now kiss me and get back to your own room before your parents see you and jump to the wrong conclusions."

As Hermione happily complied with Harry's wishes, her father made his way to the room he shared with his wife, tears glistening in his eyes. Dan had caught sight of his daughter entering Harry's room and was ready to barge in when he heard them talking, he was so glad something made him stay his hand.

Emma was concerned when Dan entered, he was normally very level headed and kept his emotions under control. She wondered what was wrong until he choked out an answer.

"I think we've just spent the weekend with our son, all that's missing is Harry loving golf and the lad would be perfect!"

-oOoOo-

Breakfast in the great hall was taken over by the flock of owls delivering their very precious cargo, Harry's poster. The squeals of delight that reverberated around the grand room would have had Snape dishing out detentions at a rate only matched by the speed a machine gun spit's out bullets. Thankfully he was no longer in the castle and the new head of Slytherin didn't appear to disapprove of witches drooling over posters of his godson.

Sirius and Remus had both called house meetings this morning to introduce themselves to their new charges, Remus had the advantage of teaching most of Gryffindor last year while Sirius was still trying to get used to dealing with crowds again. That, and trying to work out how Harry had ever talked him into this in the first place.

Doing so directly after the poster had been delivered was a deliberate ploy, as the whole mood in the hall lifted, Sirius couldn't help but think he needed all the assistance he could get. The marauder was pleased at the number of Slytherin witches who received the poster though only Millicent was openly gazing at her copy. He wondered if this was going to move her crush from Victor to Harry, watching him and Hermione together though had him positive that was going to be an unfulfilled wish. Hermione was clearly the future Mrs Potter.

As Remus headed for the lions den, Sirius envied his friend as he made his way down to the snake pit. Sirius had some ideas that he wanted to put across and things that definitely needed to be said but a lot would depend on how receptive the students were to having a former Gryffindor as head of house.

He entered the packed common room to silence, just what he didn't need, a tough room and him out of practice.

"Ok ladies and gentlemen lets get right down to it, we have six weeks to turn this house around or get out the sorting hat. If anyone would like to transfer to Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor right now please let me know and we'll save all of us from wasting our time." Sirius realised this was very Gryffindor of him but, on a timescale of six weeks, there was no room for finesse in the battle for Slytherin hearts and minds. It was shape up or ship out time.

When Sirius had finished explaining what needed to happen he asked if they had any questions, that may have been a mistake as it looked like every hand went up. This was going to take a good while longer than he thought, he just hoped Remus was doing better in Gryffindor.

Remus was greeted like a returning hero, he explained up front that he was a werewolf and what that entailed. "For a couple of days a month I'm pretty unbearable to be around and then on the night of the full moon I drink a potion and sleep on the rug. I will be staying in Harry's accommodation and anyone who needs me while I'm there call for an elf named Dobby, he will contact me immediately."

No Gryffindors had a problem with this and all were looking forward to a history of magic lesson that didn't make them fall asleep.

-oOoOo-

The other champions loved the same picture and so did Xeno, he asked if Penelope could do an interview with them to accompany the picture so it wouldn't just be a repeat of their bio's Luna had written for the poster. All agreed and the print date was set for Saturday. The Quibbler had increased its publication to twice weekly and its circulation was off the chart, well at least off the ones that Xeno had used in the past few years.

The three seekers all went into the training room while Fleur asked if she could use the library, Hermione of course accompanied her.

The three were practicing spells against dummies and Harry was taking some good natured ribbing. "Seriously Harry, I think every witch in the castle has one of your posters, even McGonagall was seen getting a delivery that was suspiciously shaped like all the others."

Victor joined Cedric in teasing the youngest champion. "Fleur said there were quite a few owls entered the Beauxbatons carriage, I dare say Madam Maxime has one as well."

"Oh great!" Muttered Harry, "That's all I need, Hagrid thinking I'm trying to poach his girlfriend."

All three laughed at the image of Hagrid challenging Harry to a duel over the fair maiden's hand before Harry reminded them that this time next week it would be their poster up on every ones walls. The girls would look at the three seekers while the guys would be ogling Fleur with three Quidditch players.

Cedric brought up his only concern with the poster. "Don't you think the Prophet will come after us if we give interviews to the Quibbler?"

"Well they can't come after me because I have sold exclusive rights to the Quibbler until the competition is over. The Prophet can't even print my name, never mind my picture."

"I didn't think the Quibbler was wealthy, I'm surprised they could afford you?"

"It wasn't about money Cedric, more about trust. Luna was there when I told you what the first task was but I know that will never make the Quibbler. I trust Luna as a friend and it also blocks the Prophet's lies. I sold my writes for one galleon and it's probably the best deal I've made!"

Victor wasn't sure if it was his ears or his English skills that were letting him down, "You sold exclusive rights for a Galleon?"

"Think of it as protection Victor, only they paid me."

"I can see the benefits Harry and, though I'm not as famous as you two, do you think the Quibbler would offer me the same deal? I really don't want to read in the Prophet that Sprout is having my love child or even worse Trelawney!"

The image of Cedric and Sprout was not one that Harry needed but effectively made his point, Victor apparently agreed. "I too have a problem with newspapers printing what their imagination says about me, if you trust this paper then I also would like the protection."

Harry thought for a moment before answering. "They are still a newspaper and you have to realise that if we do something wrong they will print it. I promise you it will be the truth, not some fantasised version, and you would have the right of reply."

Both nodded but it was Victor who spoke. "I would be very happy with that, even being allowed to choose our own picture today was a new but very good experience. Your young friend is a very talented photographer."

"Ok but I think we should speak to Fleur and see how she feels about this before contacting Barchoke, you are all of age and Luna can sign for the Quibbler so the deal could be done today. The Prophet will have a seizure when it discovers all four champions are unavailable to them."

Fleur was currently chatting away to Hermione with both girls constantly switching languages, thus helping Hermione with her French and Fleur with her English. The two found they had a surprising amount in common, their love of books, music and theatre to name but a few. Hermione knew she shouldn't have been surprised at Fleur's intellect but had fallen into the classic 'dumb blond' trap. Fleur Delacour was definitely blond but certainly no dummy and Hermione felt she could be a great friend.

Fleur was very impressed with this young girl but she should have expected that, anyone who could win the heart of Harry Potter would have to be exceptional. It was unusual for her to be this comfortable with someone. Boys usually drooled over her while girls didn't like to be around her because of the drooling boys, none of the other girls got noticed with Fleur there. She smiled while making an observation. "Hermione, did you know that every time you mention Harry your whole face just lights up? It is a very beautiful thing to witness. When did you first know that you were in love with him?"

She was trying not to blush. "I liked him since we met but his friend wasn't nice to me. Ron eventually insulted me so badly that I ended up crying in a toilet at Halloween, thinking I was going to return home. A troll was let into the castle by Voldemort and, just my luck, it ended up in the same toilet as me. I thought I was going to die until Harry came crashing through the doors with a look of determination on his face like nothing I've ever seen before, he tried to distract the troll away from me but when that didn't work Harry jumped on it's back."

Fleur was having trouble believing a boy who was only eleven at the time could do such a thing, she had a very high opinion of Harry but it would appear that even that was an underestimation. She could feel the emotion pouring off Hermione as she described the unfolding drama.

"I couldn't believe it, here was the boy I had been trying to get close to risking his life to save mine. Ron was there too but I only had eyes for Harry. Later that year I almost told him and nearly kissed him as Harry went off to face Voldemort, part of me still wishes I had but I wouldn't swap what we have now for anything."

Hermione was starting to get upset. "These girls may have his poster on the wall but to them he's some mythical figure, not my boyfriend who has a dark wizard determined to kill him. Voldemort is not gone and he won't quit until one of them is dead."

Fleur put her arm comfortingly around Hermione. "I think now I begin to understand. Harry is a very powerful wizard who has faced danger, even death on many occasions and you have been right by his side. Even now he still looks to you for guidance and there is no question whose opinion matters the most to him, you are both very lucky to have found someone so special so young."

Hermione couldn't agree more but they were interrupted by the boys returning, Fleur liked the idea that no lies would be printed about her so quickly agreed to the Quibbler deal as Dobby was dispatched to speak to Barchoke.

-oOoOo-

All week the castle had been buzzing about how much better Hogwarts was with good teachers in place. Black in Defence, Remus in History and Potions was unrecognisable now that Dumbledore taught it. This did not make Ron Weasley feel any better and he'd just been asked to stay behind by Professor Dumbledore, he didn't know what he'd done wrong but was about to find out.

"And how are things for you Mr Weasley? How are you coping with your best friends living outside the castle?"

"I don't have any best friends Professor Dumbledore."

"Nonsense my boy, of course you do! This little spat will soon blow over then both will realise just how good a friend you've been to them in the past, never fear Mr Weasley."

"Do you really think so sir?"

"Of course I do my boy, Harry has even stopped speaking to me so that demonstrates just how confused he is at the moment. It's a real pity too because he could have used both our help for the competition. I just hope your brother Charlie doesn't bring any that are too vicious, poor Harry is so much younger than the other champions."

"Charlie's coming here for the competition? That's great, I haven't seen him in ages. Don't worry sir, his friends look a bit rough but they're really nice guys."

Albus was trying to work out whether the boy was playing it cool or was really that stupid. "It wasn't his friends I was worried about Mr Weasley, though they will be here in their official capacity."

Ron was bemused, "Official capacity? What's that professor?"

"Well Ronald, my official capacity at Hogwarts is Potions Professor." He gave a sigh of relief, as the boy's face clearly displayed that the Knut had finally dropped.

"Oh, so Hagrid is finally getting some dragons for Care of Magical Creatures? He will be pleased but since Harry and Hermione stopped taking that course I don't see how it would help Harry?"

Albus was at a loss to understand how someone who was a walking encyclopaedia on Quidditch and a child prodigy at wizard's chess could be as thick as Thestral shit about everything else! "You are of course correct Mr Weasley, Mr Potter would have no interest in learning that your brother Charlie and his colleagues are bringing four dragons to Hogwarts!" Albus watched the boy leave his class while thinking he would have to get Hagrid to warn Harry, telling his large friend not to mention his name would certainly insure Harry knew the information came from Albus Dumbledore.

Ron was sitting inhaling his lunch, thinking that Dumbledore had finally lost the plot when the number four hit home. Hagrid wouldn't need four dragons for care but there were four tri-wizard champions. The thought of having to face a dragon actually made his fork pause on the way to his mouth, this was not a disaster though as he already had enough food in there to last him for the next five minutes.

The youngest male Weasley now had other questions to answer. Do I tell Harry about the dragons? And if the answer was yes, how the hell should I go about it? He remembered Ginny mentioning that Harry was going to the Grangers for the weekend, why he wanted to spend time with muggles was beyond Ron but this bought him some time to consider the problem.

The speared food resumed its frantic journey into the black hole that began Ron's digestive system, nothing was that important it couldn't wait until after lunch.

-oOoOo-

They had finished their lessons for the week and Harry was looking forward to staying at Hermione's, he could sense something was bothering her though. "What is it Hermione? If I've done something wrong you're going to have to tell me, clueless male here remember."

She smiled before putting her arm around him. "It's not you Harry. I spoke to mum on the mirrors last night and she told me Aunt Agnes freaked out at your poster, mum wishes she had videoed it."

"I thought that's what she wanted to happen so what's the problem?"

"The problem is she didn't believe mum, practically called her a liar. So mum mentioned that we were coming home for the weekend…"

Harry now understood, "So I take it that I'll be meeting your relatives at some point then? Don't worry about it love, compared to the Dursleys and Aunt Marge they will be pussy cats."

Harry couldn't miss the look of concern on her face. "It's just that everything I've ever had, Brenda wanted it too. I'm sure she'll be all over you like a rash."

"Hermione, if Fleur can't tempt me away from you then I highly doubt there's any reason to worry over this stupid cousin."

This earned him a kiss. "I'm not worried about you silly, I'm worried about me! If she lays a hand on my betrothed, the punch that Malfoy got will seem like a love tap. Maybe I'll just give her an incredibly bad case of acne, that would probably hurt the vain bitch more."

"If she lays her hands on me, I'll deal with it. There is no way I'm putting up with someone I've never met pawing me like a piece of meat and won't be shy about telling her so. If she deliberately sets out to hurt you with her behaviour then I can assure you I will not sit there quietly and let it happen. You, Miss Granger may not be allowed to perform magic out of school but I can. Where would you like the first boil to appear, her nose or her chin?"

Hermione drew him into a hug. "I'm not going all possessive on you Harry, our friends hug and kiss you and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Even Fleur is now kissing you on the cheek, but with Brenda it's personal with a long history behind it. She's very competitive but out of meanness, she can't bear to see me with something she can't have or get, it's been like that since I was four. Aunt Agnes just laughed it off as children being children but mum used to get livid."

"So you won't mind if I kiss Millicent?"

Hermione burst out laughing. "Oh Harry, you'll make her year, now if you can get Victor to kiss her to!"

Harry was laughing as well. "Not sure I can manage that but I did promise her so I want to do this before we head to Crawley."

"You do realise every witch in the castle is going to be so jealous of her?" Understanding suddenly flashed through Hermione, "Oh Harry, that's why you're doing this. Millicent has been teased about her appearance since starting Hogwarts so my betrothed is going to make her the envy of every witch in the castle, if not the country. Come here you!"

Millicent might have to wait a while longer as Harry was currently otherwise engaged for the moment.

-oOoOo-

The Wednesday edition of the Quibbler had slaughtered Dolores Umbridge, it had rubbished her claims of playing any part in the investigation never mind apprehension of Fudge, Malfoy or Crouch Jr. Hundreds of witnesses would swear she wasn't in Hogwarts while patrons of the leaky Caldron were sure she had an extended lunch in the pub that day.

Barty Crouch Jr. was also seen and heard by hundreds of people and now every Quibbler reader since he was on the front page, bound to a chair and being questioned by Amelia Bones.

The paper was calling on ministry curse breakers to thoroughly examine the minister's office to discover if there had been some malicious spell cast that made the occupants lie so blatantly.

It also, due to overwhelming public demand, contained another order form for Potter's poster.

Dolores was desperate for some positive press, that picture of Bones could get the bitch elected to this office if she wanted and Dolores was determined to get a picture like that. Which was the reason why the acting minister was currently sitting at the Hogwarts staff table as dinner was being served. She had a few announcements to make but needed the champions here before she made them, Dolores thought her luck was finally changing as the four walked in together along with a few others. Wasting no time she headed for the podium to deliver the announcements she was sure would be well received.

The sickly sweet voice was back in full force. "Hem-hem, could I have your attention please. I am acting minister Umbridge and I have a few announcements I'd like to make regarding the tri-wizard tournament."

It was just as well Dolores didn't have eyes in the back of her head as McGonagall's glare was terrifying. This woman had just appeared, then decided to address her students without even the courtesy to ask for permission. She would be having a chat with the acting minister later!

Dolores carried on regardless. "Tomorrow there will be a 'weighing of the wands' ceremony and pictures taken of our champions, the country is desperate to know them so this will give all of us that opportunity."

"Sorry, but I'm afraid that's just not possible!"

Dolores was shocked to be interrupted and almost let her composure slip when she realised just who had interrupted her. "Mr Potter, do you have a problem with that?"

"Apart from the fact that I've made other arrangements for my weekend, then yes. I have a contract with the Quibbler that prohibits me appearing in any rival publications."

She gritted her teeth, "Never mind, we still have another three champions…"

Dolores was interrupted again, this time in a Bulgarian accent. "Again you are in error acting minister. All four champions have deals with the Quibbler, legally prohibiting any other publication printing stories about us."

"But how are the public going to find out about the tournament?" She demanded.

"Oh that's easy, we've already given interviews and will appear on the front page of tomorrows Quibbler." Dolores couldn't take her eyes off Potter, the entire hall couldn't take their eyes off him as he headed directly for the Slytherin table and a certain young witch. "Millicent, I promised you a signed poster and here it is. We will be signing no others and this is a thank you for the courage you displayed over the badges incident." Harry kissed the girl on the cheek while giving her the champion's poster.

Millicent would put beetroot to shame, her blush was that deep but with trembling arms she unrolled the poster. The sight of the three most gorgeous wizards in the castle had her heart racing but when her eyes caught 'to Millicent, love from Victor' she squealed, loudly!

Girls from every corner of the hall descended upon her to gaze at the treasure she held in her hands, Harry's voice instantly silenced them as they were desperate to hear what he was going to say. "That is tomorrow's front page of the Quibbler and there's an order form inside, again all the money is going to charity."

Dolores was livid, the rug had effectively been pulled from under her but she still had one ace left to play. Not as effective publicity wise but at the moment she would take anything positive she could get. "Hem-hem, you are to be applauded for your initiative and generosity, you four are truly worthy champions." She almost felt sick saying those words as the bastards had denied her the opportunity of a front page picture with the four champions. Her idea of making herself so popular, Bones wouldn't be able to touch her was disintegrating at a fast rate of knots.

"I feel that it is only fair then that the ministry sponsor a ball on Christmas day, here at Hogwarts in honour of our four champions." Dolores couldn't see anyway she could lose with this idea, she also couldn't see McGonagall now on her feet and ready to let rip. A Bulgarian beat her to it.

"Once more you are in error Madam, all four champions have already made arrangements for the holidays and will not be in Scotland on Christmas day."

All pretence at congeniality left Dolores Umbridge at that moment. "You all signed a magically binding contract and will do what you're bloody well told!"

"It has already been established beyond any doubt that I did not sign any contract but that fact aside, the contract was to compete in a tournament. We are not here to be rented out like mannequins to whoever wishes to use us for their own ends. There is no mention of a ball in the rules therefore it needs the agreement of the champions, not their schools, to go ahead. As you have just heard, we have made our own plans for Christmas and it doesn't include attending your ministry run events."

Albus just couldn't resist trying to play mediator, that and he wanted the boy in the castle over the holidays. "Harry, though not in the rule book this is a tradition of the competition. Would you really deprive Miss Granger the chance to attend a Christmas ball?"

"How can something be a tradition when it hasn't happened even in your lifetime? Not much of tradition when it hasn't taken place for a couple of centuries!"

Before Harry lost his temper the hall was treated to the strange sight of Fleur with her arm around his betrothed. "Sorry Hermione, Harry wanted to surprise you with our plans. Victor made a promise to the orphans he would visit on Christmas eve so we are all going with presents and the gold from that poster, on Christmas morning we leave Victor's house and arrive at mine. The French Ministry holds a world famous ball every year and we all have invitations, Professor Dumbledore will be able to read about it in the Quibbler as Luna and Colin are also invited." Fleur addressed the acting minister and staff, "This competition is to promote a spirit of cooperation between us and that is exactly what we intend to do, regardless of obstacles placed in our path."

Dolores was now clutching at straws, "Mr Diggory, I notice you haven't said much?"

"Oh please don't think that I in any way disagree with my friends here, they were doing such a good job I didn't feel it necessary to add anything more. I would say though they did forget to mention that we will all be spending Boxing Day at my house."

There was an implied threat in her voice now, "Doesn't your father work at the ministry?"

"Why yes acting minister, we keep telling him to run for the now vacant minister of magic position. It's about time we had somebody honest in that job."

That final jab was the one that delivered the knock out blow, Dolores was beaten and slinked back to her half eaten dinner. Minerva had sat back down when it became evident the champions had the measure of Madam Umbridge, these four were a powerful force for change in their world. Harry Potter appearing at the French Ministry's ball after telling the British one to basically make like a turkey and 'get stuffed' would send shockwaves through their country. There was no doubt the pictures would again be front page and leave our magical community asking if there government was really so bad that the boy-who-lived would rather go to France.

With the acting minister now heading back to her seat, the attention once more switched back to Millicent, allowing Harry and Hermione to say a few goodbyes and slip quietly out.

"Sorry you heard our plans like that love, I wanted to surprise you after I asked your mum and dad."

"That's ok Harry, though I think they had wanted to spend the holidays with us."

"Oh I'm so glad to hear that since they're invited to Bulgaria, France and the Diggory's."

Harry had just earned another reward kiss so didn't get to finish telling her that they would all be bringing in the New Year on a private beach in South Australia, he would save that for later.

When the couple got their breath back it was Harry who spoke. "This weekend I get to face your cousin, then next weekend a real dragon, do you think I'll ever be able to be just Harry?"

"Listen Lord Potter, your most important title is my Harry!" Hermione took her betrothed's arm and activated her portkey home.

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