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Halloween At Hogwarts!!

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Halloween At Hogwarts!!

With it being the first of October, the weather was changing, and autumn was now in full bloom. The air was becoming chilly, and leaves could be seen on the cold, hard grounds. Naturally with it being October, that could only mean one thing. Halloween was on its way, and it was not long till the day of the Halloween feast, which was enjoyed by all at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. There was much hustle and bustle that day at Hogwarts. Hagrid, the grounds keeper of the school, could be seen growing a whole patch of pumpkins in his garden, by the Quiditch teams practicing during the early hours of the morning, before breakfast that day. While spiders had been enlarged and enchanted to make huge webs around the school, and could be seen scurrying around and dangling from the ceilings. Ron would squeal every time he'd see one scurrying by, or cross his path. Sometimes they wouldn't even have to be near him, he'd see one and make funny mewling sounds and run in the opposite directions. It was still early morning and the students were sat eating breakfast, as they watched the start of the decorating being done. While Ron moaned about the spiders ruining Halloween, Hermione reminisced the days of trick or treating with the other muggle born students. Harry hadn't been paying attention to the chatter around him; his mind had been elsewhere.

He was wondering about the new girl Saba, she hadn't been seen in the common room last night, and Hermione had mentioned that she hadn't come into the dorms, and her bed had not been slept in. There was talk of her escaping the school. Harry wouldn't have been surprised if Saba had somehow escaped from the school, it was the kind of stunt she would pull, if the rumours were true. She had never been happy to be here, and she'd seemed angry and miserable from the moment she'd been taken from her home. But the teachers hadn't seemed concerned by her disappearance, which made the whole thing quite bizarre. Perhaps the rumours were untrue; maybe she hadn't left the building at all. 'But then where was she?' Harry was confused. But what surprised and confused Harry all the more was Hagrid's return.

They hadn't expected him to return, it had all been so sudden. He had been away all summer on a secret mission for the Order. Harry had the feeling his return was only temporary and he would be leaving again shortly. 'But what has he been doing? And why has he come back, only to leave in a few weeks time?' Harry made a mental note to go see Hagrid at some point and maybe ask him personally. Harry wondered if Dumbledore had only bought him back to help with the Halloween decorations. Which to Harry seemed unfair, although it seemed unfair to send him away in the first place. But then Harry didn't know what Hagrid had wanted, so who was he to question the fairness of anything?

"Are you okay Harry? You seem a bit quiet this morning." Hermione's voice interrupted his thoughts, bringing him out of his reverie.

"What's Hagrid doing back at school?" He blurted without thinking.

"That's obvious, he's been asked to help grow the Halloween pumpkin ain't he?" Ron stated, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Harry leaned closer to his friends, so no one could hear his next words and began to whisper.

"Yeah but, he wasn't supposed to be back was he though? He was doing something really important. Do you really think Dumbledore would pull him out of his task to come back and grow pumpkins? Maybe he's finished his job, but that doesn't make any sense. We were told we'd have Grubby-Plank till Christmas remember." The three students turned their gaze to the staff table where Hagrid sat chatting to Professor Flitwick a tiny wizard of a man, as he ate his big breakfast. "You don't suppose he's finished his mission earlier than planned do you?" Harry mused.

"No somehow I don't think so, I have the feeling that Hagrid's mission isn't an easy one. I think Ron could be right. Dumbledore is going to want to make the school as normal, and secure as he can, to reassure the students and parents that everyone at the school is safe. Especially now that You-Know-Who is back. He doesn't want anyone to be frightened I think." Hermione replied eyeing Hagrid with concern.

"I wonder what his mission was though? Maybe we should go see him later or something. Say we've come to welcome him back. Then we can ask him what's going on." Harry said, in the hopes that they would perhaps learn what the Order were up to, and what Hagrid's purpose in the plans had been. If anything his task had seemed a curious one, and it was the one that had an affect on the three, since Hagrid was their teacher. It was strange not seeing Hagrid, and only made things more mysterious. The three agreed to meet later at some point and go see him.

"Do any of you think it's weird how Hagrid has come back and Saba has gone missing?" Harry asked after a short while, "Maybe Saba's disappearance and Hagrid's return are interlinked. Maybe she's taking over his job, while he's at the school helping with the Halloween stuff." Harry tried to make sense of his earlier thoughts; it was frustrating him that although they'd met Saba during the summer holidays, and had her living with them at Headquarters, she still remained a mystery to him. Her disappearance made things all the more frustrating, and mysterious.

"I don't think so Harry, I don't think Saba could do whatever Hagrid was sent to do. I think he had a special job, one that was especially designed for him." Hermione replied.

"So why's she gone then?" Harry countered.

"I don't know, there could be thousands of reasons, but Hagrid's business isn't one of them. I really don't know." Hermione reasoned.

"What's Saba got to do with anything? She probably ran away or something. Besides she hates Halloween, probably doesn't even want to be here for the feast." Ron moaned.

"She doesn't believe in Halloween or celebrate it Ron, there's a big difference to hating it and not celebrating it. I think she mentioned that she didn't want anything to do with Halloween; she said it was all rather silly, especially for the wizarding world. She could understand why the muggles are all interested in it, but for wizards and witches, it was Halloween every day as far as she was concerned. So she didn't see the point in it." Hermione argued back.

"She doesn't see the point in Halloween? What? Is she crazy? How can she think that the night of Halloween isn't important to witches and wizards? It's one of the most important night of history, since the year of nineteen eighty-one. Muggles don't know the half of it. We don't celebrate it the same as muggles since that date do we though? I mean for us now it's all about the night you know who was destroyed. She ought to be grateful to Harry like the rest of us are. It's the night we all celebrate Harry's success. So much happened that night." Ron was now babbling, saying anything to get them to see that Saba was insignificant, and an arrogant looser. He hadn't liked the girl, and he wasn't going to sit there and defend her, and pretend her disappearance was supposed to be something it wasn't. As far as Ron was concerned, she was a selfish brat who'd run away, and wasn't worth thinking about. He also wanted them to see how important the night of Halloween was to the wizarding world. "I mean it's one of the best things that has ever happened for us wizards, and muggles alike. It's a really big thing here in the wizarding world. That girl doesn't have a clue how big it is for us. She hasn't a clue. Halloween was the night we all got our freedom. And our freedom is all thanks to Harry. I mean how many people can sit there and say You-know-who came to their house and tried to kill them and got his own medicine? You were darn lucky that night Harry." Ron finished. Harry had balled his hands into fists as Ron's spoke his last words.

"Yeah, of course, I was darn lucky I survived, and my parents got killed while I survived. Some luck that was to loose everything in one night." Harry remarked gritting his teeth, trying to hold back on a nasty retort. He didn't want to start an argument, they'd been arguing far too much lately. But if Ron asked for it, he was prepared to argue for the sake of his sanity. It wasn't that Harry didn't enjoy, or like Halloween, it was just like any other holiday to Harry. But there was a rather sad sentiment to that particular date. He'd never thought of it much, before he'd come to Hogwarts and learned of being a wizard. And even then he hardly ever thought about it much, but now that Ron had mentioned it, Halloween had felt like a day of mourning for him, instead of a holiday at that very moment as he thought about it. It was on Halloween when Harry was only one year old that he'd lost his parents to Voldemort's evil killing spree. Voldemort had wanted to get rid of Harry. But had killed his parents instead, while he, Harry had come away with a little, thunder bolt, lightening, shaped scar on his forehead. Not to mention, Sirius ending up in Azgaban, and Harry at the Dursley's. Sometimes Harry wondered what it would've been like if his parents had survived, and what Halloween would have been like for him then. But they hadn't survived, and Harry was left to wonder, and try to have fun on a date that was of great loss to him.

"Sorry Harry, I didn't mean it like that." Ron said sheepishly.

"Then what did you mean?" Harry asked. "I'm beginning to think Saba is right. Halloween is stupid, and I'm beginning to not like it myself."

"I just meant that Saba was wrong to think Halloween is stupid, especially in the wizarding world. We've got a reason to celebrate as much as the muggles. Their reasons are dumb, it's just a stupid reason to go out dressed like us isn't it?" Ron said defensively.

"Oh yes of course. The wizarding world has so much to celebrate, all thanks to me, how silly of me. I didn't realize I had to enjoy and celebrate the day Voldemort was beaten by a baby, after he killed my parents!" Harry hissed, as he seethed with rage.

"What?" Ron asked with surprise at Harry's outburst. He couldn't understand why Harry was so upset, "You never seemed bothered by Halloween before." Ron said causing the few Gryffindor students nearby, who happened to hear parts of the conversation to pay complete attention now. Everyone who'd been listening waited with bated breath for Harry's reaction, they knew it wouldn't be good, but it was what made the whole thing worth listening to.

"Shut up Ron!" Hermione growled, and then to Harry she said, "Ignore Ron Harry, he's an idiot. He doesn't understand when it comes to people loosing family members, his are all still alive." She glared at Ron daring him to say more. There was an awkward silence, as Harry and Hermione stared with hostility at Ron. Harry broke his angry stare and looked away. Hermione took the moment and began uttering, "You dim wit, He lost his parents that night, do you really think he wants to remember Halloween like that? She whispered harshly to Ron, hoping Harry wouldn't hear, but she hadn't been quiet enough for his ears, and he had heard. From the corner of his eyes, Harry could see Ron was beginning to realize what he'd said and looked sorry for it.

"I'm sorry mate, I just didn't think." Ron apologized. Harry knew he meant it. But it was too late for Ron to take back his words, they'd stung Harry and no matter how much he wanted to forget the whole thing, the words had stung and Harry was finding it hard to forgive Ron properly. But instead of causing another fight, he decided to at least try and let it go. He would eventually forgive him, but right now, Harry was feeling too hurt and betrayed by his best friend.

"It's ok." Harry replied half-heartedly. Not really meaning his own words. Because he had expected Ron to at least try and understand where he was coming from. Without saying anything more, at the first sign of the teachers leaving the hall to signal the end of breakfast, Harry too stood up; grabbing his bag Harry made his way to his first lesson without Ron and Hermione.

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The rest of the day hadn't gone any better. The trio hardly spoke during the day, and Harry seemed rather distracted and dejected throughout every lesson. He hardly paid attention to what had been said, and had gotten into trouble in two of their lessons, causing the teachers to look at him with concern. Lunch had been a silent affair, and Harry hardly spoke to anyone. Hermione had tried to start a conversation with him, and tried to cheer him up. But had failed miserably. In the end everyone felt it was just best to leave him alone, which he was grateful for. By the time the lessons had all finished, Harry had forgotten about seeing Hagrid and spent most of the evening brooding over the fact that everyone enjoyed a day that held so much bad fortune in his life.

The majority of the students had gone down to the Great Hall to decorate before dinner. Hermione tried one last time to get Harry in a better mood and to make him forget their argument, he seemed so miserable and she hated seeing him that way. She'd asked him to join them with the decorating, but Harry had rejected her invitation and efforts to include him. Harry wasn't in the mood to take part in the preparations of Halloween; Ron's words had taken all the excitement and fun out of Halloween for him. And so realizing nothing would get Harry to change his mind, she decided to let him be.

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That evening Harry didn't feel like eating dinner in the great hall with the rest of the school. He wanted to be alone. He didn't feel he was good company at the moment, and his mood had turned sour. He wasn't even sure why he was so miserable today of all days, it wasn't as if Halloween was today. There was still at least four weeks till the day itself. But Harry had felt it had already arrived with a vengeance, reminding him he was alone. Perhaps it was seeing the staff and students getting ready for Halloween that had set him off. It was as though no one really cared about him, and how he was feeling. It was a double celebration for the wizarding world. It was the day Voldemort had been sent packing, the day the wizarding world, and the rest at large, had been given a temporary freedom, and all thanks to Harry, the boy who lived. So Harry had eaten alone in the common room. That night Harry hopped into bed early, and tried to fall asleep.

As soon as he'd fallen asleep, he began to dream of the long, dark corridor. Searching, and groping in the dark. Rushing past door, after door. Harry realized he was back there again, back at the ministry of magic. Looking for something, but what? What was he looking for? It was urgent he find it, that was for sure. But how was he to find what he didn't know existed? Harry's dreams were troubled and dark. when suddenly he was woken by a loud thudding from somewhere in the room. Harry woke with a start.

"What's going on?" He asked groggily, and squinted into the darkness. But nobody seemed to hear him. Grabbing his glasses and putting them on, Harry realized the noise hadn't been in the room. His room mates were all still fast asleep. Had he imagined the sound? It was quite possible, since he'd heard it in his sleep, but Harry didn't think so. Getting out of bed, Harry tiptoed out of the door and made his way to the common room. But it had been empty. So what had he heard? Harry was confused, had it been Peeves? Harry was about to leave the common room and head back up to the dorm, when something caught his eye, stopping him in his tracks.

Hesitantly he walked towards the now, empty fireplace. Where usually a warm, glowing fire would be slowly burning, with flames dancing to an invisible tune that only they could hear. Lying on top of the cold, burnt coal was a stark white envelope, that seemed to standout against the black of the coal. Harry gingerly picked up the envelope, turning it in his hand, examining the mysterious object. As though doing so would reveal it's secrets all in one go. But to no avail, Harry could not seem to gleam much from the envelope itself, except for the dark, curly script which spelt out his name in large bold letters. He could just make out the shape of the letters in the dark. 'So someone has been here.' Thought Harry, and taking his eyes away from the envelope, he carefully looked around the room, squinting into the darkness, and strained his ears, listening for any tell tale sounds of an intruder. But there was no sign that anyone was lurking in the dark.

Once Harry was sure he was truly alone, he carefully and quietly made his way back to his room, grabbed his wand and crept downstairs again, scolding himself for not bringing it before. 'What if the intruder had still been there? What then?' Once downstairs, Harry used his wand to light the fireplace, and sat on the closest armchair to the fire, so he could read in the light. Cautiously breaking the wax seal on the envelope, Harry picked out the piece of parchment that lay within, and began to read the strange message that had been left for him.

"Halloween is upon us very soon, it is time you lost more than your parents on this festive occasion. If you want your friends to survive, then you must figure out the clues that will be left to help you save your precious friends. But if you fail.....Tick, tock Potter! The clock is ticking. Your first clue, snow white and the seven dwarfs! Your Halloween friend!"

Harry looked at the note, and re read it several times. So his friends were in danger, but from who? or What? Harry couldn't think what the note might have meant, but he knew he had to think fast. And what did a child's story book have to do with it, and a muggle one at that? Harry's couldn't think what any of it could mean, and felt tired just thinking about it. Folding up the paper, he held onto it and went back upstairs to his room. He would think about it in the morning. Perhaps it was some stupid joke, but for now he would sleep. Once in his room, Harry noticed a book on his bed, and went to see what it was. Looking down, he read Snow white and the seven dwarfs, written in huge, gold lettering upon the hard cover. Harry turned to see if any of the others had put it there for a joke.

"Ron." He whispered. "Are you awake?' But no reply came. He could hear the snores, and shallow breathing of the other boys. And nearly jumped out of his skin when he noticed nearly headless Nick floating inches away from his bed. The ghost gulped before speaking.

"Ah hello Harry." He greeted, almost too cheerily.

"Hi Nick, erm, is this book yours?" He asked. Harry thought he saw Nick flinch, but couldn't be sure.

"No I don't believe it is. I only came to see if everyone was asleep." He said, and started to shimmer and fade into the night, with a grin on his face.

"Wait!" Called Harry, but it was too late. The ghost had gone, leaving Harry alone in the dark.

"What's going on?" Asked a groggy Ron.

"Shut up guys!" Came an angry sleepy voice from Seamus's bed. "Some of us are trying to sleep here!"

Ron sat up on his elbows, and looked at Harry with questioning eyes.

"Nothing." Sighed Harry, "go back to sleep. I'll tell you in the morning." Ron fell back onto his pillow and fell back to sleep within seconds. Harry made his way to his bed, and placed the note under his pillow, then put his glasses and wand back in their respectable places, before climbing back into his waiting bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he too fell asleep as Ron had done earlier. And he slept a dreamless sleep, with no more thoughts of the strange note and mysterious book left on his bed.

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Chapter Text

The next morning found Harry in a bad mood. He went down to breakfast that morning with a headache, and as he got to the Gryffindoor table, he noticed there was much excitement and chatter in the great hall, as the students piled food onto their plate.

"What's everyone so excited about?" Asked Harry glumly.

"Oh yeah you weren't there last night at dinner when Dumbledore announced it were you?" Asked Ron, as though that was suppose to explain everything.

"When he announced what?" Asked Harry feeling rather annoyed at Ron's simplicity. He had no time for any of this.

"Dumbledore announced that this Halloween we're having a fancy dress party. Everyone is to dress up in a costume, and there will be a ball, and disco type thing." Hermione chirped, as though this was the best news ever.

Harry grimaced and made a face. "Oh brother, not another event like the yule ball." Harry rubbed his temple, trying to soothe the now growing headache.

"What's wrong with you?" Asked Ron, spooning a dollop of porridge in his mouth, as fast as it would go.

"I didn't sleep all that well. Someone was in the common room lastnight." Harry replied, causing Ron to drop his spoon.

"What?" He and Hermione shouted in unison. "I didn't hear anything. You sure Harry?" Ron eyed Harry carefully.

"Well of corse you didn't hear anything Ron, you and the rest of the world were snoring away, fast asleep."

Hermione looked thoughtful, and asked "but who? Maybe it was just someone who couldn't sleep, and went down for a bit to think or something." She replied.

"I don't think so Hermione, when I went down to check what all the noise was about, there was nobody there. Why not stick around, if it's nothing."

But Hermione already had an answer to that. "Look, maybe they were going for a walk or something, and maybe they bumped into something on the way out." Harry refused to believe that theory, it still felt like an intruder, besides he had the note. And he had been glad he'd bought it with him to breakfast. He had wanted to show them, to see what they had thought of it.

"Look I don't think that sounds right either Hermione. I think you and Ron are in danger. I found a note in the fireplace. Look." He explained, pulling out the mysterious note.

Both Ron and Hermione leaned forward, and took a close look at the note, and read the strange message inside. "Could someone be playing a Halloween joke, do you think?" Asked Ron, and Harry thought of the Gryffindor ghost, standing by his bed.

"Maybe, I don't know. I saw Nearly Headless Nick in our room, standing by my bed. But why? Maybe he's playing a joke. But something doesn't seem right. Have either of you seen him today?" He asked. Both Hermione and Ron shook their heads.

"It's probably nothing Harry, don't worry about it. It's probably Nick having fun." Sighing Harry tucked the piece of parchment back into his robe pockets, and silently ate his breakfast with the rest of the students.

Harry had forgotten about the note, as the day wore on. His mood had gotten better as he sat in Defense against the dark arts class. Umbridge had been her horrible self, and had made them work hard, copying from books. But to the satisfaction of the students, one of the spiders helping to decorate the school, had landed on her head, and Harry could've sworn it was one of Aragog's children. The spider was a lot bigger than an average spider, and had patterns swirling across it's body, and stripes along it's hidiously, thick, hairy legs. It crawled on her hair and down her face, making her scream and jump around the classroom, and once the spider was scuttling across her desk, she had gotten out her wand and desperately tried to curse it. Missing every time, and splintering tables and furniture as she did so. Harry ignored Ron's wimpering, and his tight grip on Harry's arm. He was enjoying himself too much to care. There was a kind of satisfaction seeing her in terror, and watching her suffer.

By the time the spider had disappeared in a hole in the wall, the classroom was a tip. Chairs and tables were broken, and the students were backed in a corner, avoiding being hit by a flying curse, and watching with rapt attention. Books and ink were strewn all over the floor, where tables had fallen to the floor. There was no point in continuing the lesson, and Umbridge dismissed the class. Most students gathered their things with their wands, and made a dash for the door, just in case she changed her mind.

"Did you see the size of that spider? It was huge!" squealled Ron, still clutching onto Harry.

"Yeah it was brilliant! Did you see her face?" Laughed Harry. Hermione scowled,

"you shouldn't laugh at teachers Harry." But Harry didn't care, he'd had fun and enjoyed himself for the first time all day. The rest of the day went well, with Harry's mood soaring high. By the end of the day the whole school had been talking about it, and Harry joined in enthusiastically with the conversation, with Ron protesting by his side.

At dinner McGannagal came over to Hermione and asked her to see Dumbledore before she headed back to the common room for the night.

"The headmaster wants to see me?" She squeaked, as McGannagal gave her the instructions. "Yes Miss Granger, it's important you see him urgently, so please do go after you have finished dinner. Good evening Miss Granger." And without a backward glance McGannagal was heading back to the staff table.

"Dumbledore wants to see you?" Mused Ron, "but why?"

Hermione hadn't been too sure. "I don't really know, maybe it has something to do with my lessons. Perhaps it might be about that thing in third year." She said, feeling a little calmer. she couldn't see why else the headmaster would want to see her, it must have been something to do with a time turner. Perhaps he was giving her another year to use it. Nothing more was said about Dumbledore's mysterious request to see Hermione, and the evening wore on with the subject of the spiders returning to the table, to Ron's utter desmay.

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That night in the common room, spirits were high, as Dean and Sheamus were re-enacting the scene in Umbridge's classroom.

"Do you guys mind, and quit talking about that?" wailed Ron.

"What's the matter Won, Won" Asked George,

"Scared of a big fat spider?" Cackled Fred.

"Shut up!" He yelled.

"Hey that's not a bad idea for a Halloween prank." Thought Fred, and the twins went off to discuss ideas for pranks that involved giant spiders.

"I don't like what those two are up to." Ron moaned.

"Speaking of Halloween, does anyone know what sort of games and things we could play at the Halloween party?" Asked Hermione.

"Games like what?" Someone asked from among the crowd.

"I don't know, Halloween games like apple bobbing." Almost everyone in the crowd looked at Hermione in a funny way, with confused faces. And Hermione smacked her palms to her head, realising the wizarding folks probably hadn't heard of such a thing. It was after all a muggle type game. "I'll show you. Tomorrow out in the Quidditch pitch. We'll need to ask Hagrid to pick some apples for us, and we'll need a large bowl, or smallish barrel or something to put them in. Hagrid is bound to have something. I'll ask. Just be there tomorrow after class." She ordered, and everyone promised they'd be there.

Once Harry, Hermione and Ron were seated alone in the common room, Harry asked Hermione what Dumbledore had wanted. "Did Dumbledore want to see you about the time turner?" Harry asked,

"Sorry?...Oh that, yes that's what it was about after all." She mumbled,

"See, nothing to worry about.' Reasured Ron.

"Wait, what if we used the time turner to find out who left the note, then we'll know what it's about and catch them red handed." Exclained Harry with new excitement.

"What! Harry no! We can't do that. Dumbledore's trusting me with this, and I'm not going to betray his trust. Sorry but I'm not doing that." She huffed, getting up and marching towards the stairs to go up to bed.

Harry sighed. "I guess that's out of the question then." His mood had deflated, but he wouldn't give up, he would find the person who left the note, and he would end this game, or whatever it is.

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The next day had been a cold and blustery day, a weak sun had shone in the sky. By the time evening had come, the sun had given up trying to come out, and had disappeared. Leaving a cold gust of wind in it's wake, as the students gathered on the Quidditch pitch, milling around Hermione. Who had found a small barrel, and had filled it with water. News had travelled fast in the school, and a majority of the student body had come to see what stunt Hermione would pull. Which had even included the Slytherin students, who claimed they were only there to see what rubbish things muggles called fun. Although Harry had suspected, they were just as curious as the rest of the school, and were too afraid to admit they were slightly interested themselves. The only person who seemed unhappy to be there had been Draco Malfoy. Who seemed to have had very little choice in the matter, since nearly all his friends were there.

"Where are the apples?" Called Hermione, looking around the crowd of people standing nearby. "Has anyone seen Neville?" She asked when no one replied. As though on cue, Neville came bounding across the playing field, dragging what looked to be a heavy sack of some sort.

"Here, they're in this sack." Gasped Neville, as he stopped by Hermione, dumping the sack to the ground and bent down, holding his knees and breathing hard. Hermione ignored Neville's tired gasps, and opened up the sack and started taking out big, red, juicy apples, and dropping them into the barrel of water.

Once all the apples had been put in, and sat bobbing away on the surface of the water, Hermione began to explain what they had to do. And the crowd gathered closer around her.

"Ok, so now we have the apples in the water, what you have to do is, you have to try and pick the apples with your mouth. But you're not allowed to use your hands, they have to be tied behind you, or you have to keep them behind your back. Either way it doesn't matter. It's more challenging with them tied behind you, because you're not likely to touch them or anything and cheat." See explained, looking around the crowd of students. "I happen to be one of the best at bobbing apples." Smirked Hermione as though daring everyone into a challenge to try and beat her.

"But that seems impossible!" Cried a young Hufflepuff student. "You can't pick them with your mouth, they'd just float away. And they're so big, you wouldn't be able to hold one in your mouth just like that." He yelled. Hermione had been ready for the wizarding bunch to say something like this.

"Yes it's not easy, but it's not impossible either. Look, here let me show you." She said, and put her hands behind her back, and bent her head over the barrel and began to try grabbing apples into her mouth. It took a few misses before she finally managed to get one into her mouth, and pulled it out truamphantly. Holding up the apple in her hand, she smiled. "See, it's doable. So who wants a turn?" She asked and bit into the apple with a grin, "mmm, not bad" and swollewed the apple. But before anyone could take up the challenge, Hermione had fallen to the floor, with a loud thud, and the apple fell from her hands and rolled onto the grass.

As Hermione crashed to the floor, the students jumped back in shock.

"Is this suppose to happen?" Asked one person,

"is this normal?" cried another.

"No, no this isn't suppose to happen." Replied Harry, "Hermion, what are you doing?" He asked, but Hermione lay still, unmoving and not responding to his calls. "Hermione if this is some dramatic joke, it's not funny." But Hermione still lay motionless, and Harry bent down to see if she was still breathing. He felt her pulse, and sighed in relief, she was alive, but was unconcious. Harry was worried now, the note in his robe pockets began to haunt him. 'was this part of the sinister plan? Was this the beginning of something terrible?' Harry couldn't be sure. Something made Harry pick up the apple, and look at where Hermione had bitten. The students who could see, gasped, as did Harry. There was a dark red liquid oozing out of the yellow flesh of the apple.

"Neville, where did you find these apples?" He asked.

"Hagrid gave them to me. I think Hermione asked him to get some for her early this morning, and then she told me to go fetch them before you guys arrived." He stammered.

"Go get Hagrid Neville." He commanded, but Neville couldn't move.

"Is she dead?" Stammered Neville.

"Go now!" Harry demanded. And this time the large boy did move and ran as fast as his legs would carry him.

"She's alright, she's got to be." Wailed Ron, who'd crouched down to see if Hermione was still alive. "I bet it's a joke, Dumbledore said there will be a bit of a mystery game at Hogwart's this halloween. This is it, this is what he meant, I'm sure." Harry couldn't believe his ears,

"what are you talking about Ron?"

"Dumbledore said.."

"I heard what you said Ron! When did he say this?" Harry interrupted.

"At dinner yesterday, you weren't there Harry. He said there would be a mystery game for us to play this halloween." Ron looked pale and scared.

"Look at this apple Ron, does this look like a game to you? Look at her. I don't think this is a game do you?" Herry felt a sudden anger, "what kind of mystery would this be? Not a fun one would it?" Ron didn't know what to say.

"Cor blimey, even we wouldn't stoop that low with jokes" came Fred's nervous voice. "It sure don't look like one.' Agreed George.

Suddenly there was a cruel laughter somewhere in the crowed. "So the mudblood is dead. I guess muggle games aren't so bad after all. It makes it easier for us to rid those dirty mudbloods without us touching them." Cackled Draco.

"shut up Malfoy!" Ron growled jumping to his feet. "She's not dead!"

Malfoy smirked, "so! she will be soon enough. No one to help fight your battles Weasel." He laughed, Ron bought out his wand.

"Leave it." Cried Harry and grabbed Ron's arms. "We're wasting time."

"I hope you can save her Harry. It looks like she's not waking up. tick tock. You don't have long if that's poison." Malfoy laughed as he walked away, taking his entourage with him. Harry looked around the crowd and pointed at a fourth year boy.

"You! Go get Dumbledore and be quick! Don't stop for anything! Hurry now!!" He jabbed. The boy ran without saying a word, and hurried away into the castle.

Before anyone could say anything more, Hagrid had reached the crowd of students and asked what was going on, in that loud booming voice of his.

"We think Hermione's been poisoned," Harry explained showing Hagrid the apple. "Where did you get the apples from Hagrid?" Harry asked.

"Oh er, I got them from a shop in Hogsmeade. I di'n't think they'd be a problem Harry." Hagrid looked hurt that Harry could accuse him.

"I"m not saying it's your fault Hagrid. I'm just trying to figure out how this happened." Hagrid looked at Hermione,

"she's getting cold, she needs to be taken inside." Looking at Hermione, he noticed her blue lips, and ashen face. Hagrid picked her up, and rushed off into the castle with Hemione, and Harry ran to follow him in, with half the school following in tow. He could no longer feel the biting cold, just fear and confusion, how did one stupid muggle game turn into a disaster? Harry did not know, but all he knew was this was not how it was suppose to be.

                                                              **********

As they entered the castle, Dumbledore and the head of houses were upon them, with the scared fourth year boy, who'd gone to get help. The students were ushered away to their common rooms, there was not much they could do now. Ron and Harry followed Hagrid and Dumbledore to the hospital wing. Once inside Harry showed Dumbledore the apple, and Dumbledore looked rather grave.

"This is very serious." Dumbledore had asked many questions, "We need to find who did this, but I do not wish for you boys to go looking for trouble. You must let us do the hunting. I will have Severus make us a potion to revive Miss granger. There is nothing to be done here." Dumbledore advised, and the boys were left to sit awhile, before they were made to leave.

Once they were alone in the hospital wing both boys began to voice their opinions and questions.

"What are we gonna do Harry?" Asked Ron.

"We're going to find who did this." Harry whispered.

"But Dumbledore said..."

"I know what Dumbledore said. But we can't just sit here and do nothing. There must be a way to help Hermione. I think this has something to do with that note I got." Harry mused.

"But who would do that? Who left that note? We're never going to find them Harry." Harry thoght about what Ron had said,

"tick tock. Malfoy said the exact same words. Do you think he could've done it?" Harry thought.

"I wouldn't put it past him. But how would we prove it though Harry?" Harry wasn't sure how they would prove it, but he had to try something. Or perhaps they could think of that later. He had decided they needed to find a way to help Hermione first. Although Dumbledore had said they would have an antidote for her, he wasn't convinced that was the answer. This wasn't just any poisoning, there had been some form of malice about it, but the note had said it was up to Harry to save her. But how? He had felt so lost and miserable and by the time they'd left the hospital wing, Harry had felft he'd already lost Hermione. But he was determined he would not let them win, whoever they were.

 

Chapter Text

At dinner that evening the students had eaten with less enthusiasm than the night before. Most of the students were now afraid, and confused. They, like Harry did not believe that this had anything to do with the mystery games that Dumbledore had spoken of. There seemed to be too much at stake, and Hermione's life seemed to be in danger. And the students felt their own lives were at jeopardy. No matter how much Umbridge and the ministry tried to convince them that Voldemort hadn't returned, the students were ready to believe he had, and he had taken his vengeance on poor Hermione, who was only trying to teach them a new game.

How could something that had started off as pure fun, turn into something so horrific? The students didn't know, and almost throughout most of dinner, they looked in Harry's direction. Almost hoping he would have answers which he clearly didn't. He had been just as confused as them, and as frightened, but not for the same reasons. His fears, unlike the other students was not for himself, or of Voldemort. But for Hermione's life, since now he believed she was in grave danger.

The chatter in the great hall was minimal, so it hadn't been hard for Dumbledore to gain order in the hall before he spoke. Once the students fell silent, he spoke with much seriousness.

"As you know, Miss Granger is in a very bad way." He began, looking around the hall, training his eye over all the tables, and staring long and hard. "We are taking this very seriously. Professor Snape is at this minute working on an antidote to revive Miss Granger. Should any of you know, or have any ideas as to who could have been involved, it is important that you come to me or the staff and let us know. We will be doing a thorough investigation of the student body. There have been some ideas that some students are thrilled with what has occurred. But I assure you, we do not tolerate behaviour as serious as this." He turned his gaze upon the slytherin table, and with sternness, causing all smiles to vanish. "Should I find poison among any of your possession, yes that's right, Miss Granger has been poisoned. And should we find, or suspect a student with such an item with their belongings, there will be severe consequences indeed." After giving his speech Dumbledore had dismissed the students, asking the heads of houses to lead them out. And making sure that everyone's rooms be searched, and everyone be interviewed.

It had been a long night, and the mood of the common room in Gryffindor tower had been sombre. It was late when the search and interviews had ended, but no one felt like sleeping, and so the students sat in the common room in deep thought. Even Fred and George were less boisterous, and sat quietly thinking. Ron broke the silence,

"I wish Hermione was here. She'd
know what to do." There were murmurs of agreement throughout the room.

"Well Hermione's not here is she? She's been poisoned. Look, we've done this before remember? With the basilisk. If we could save Hermione then, then we can surely save her now. We've just got to figure out how to wake her up, that's all." Harry tried to reasure the room at large.

" Yeah With a bit of Hermione's help. She had that piece of paper in her hand didn't she? This time it's different. We don't have anythng this time, and we don't know what we're up against. No clues at all. We're stuffed." Ron slumped his shoulders and sank into his chair.

"No! we're not giving up that easily, we do have a clue. I just need to figure it out, and how it fits in. We need to try think like Hermione, then we'll know and understand." Nobody in the room seemed convinced by Harry's words, and he couldn't blame them. Everyone was now scared they'd loose Hermione. Harry wanted to join them in their sorrows, wanted to give up. But he couldn't, he was determined he would find the answers and save her. Even if it meant he'd be doing it alone. It seemed to look that way by the minute. Even Ron had given up. No one spoke for the remainder of the evening and by midnight, slowly by slowly, the students began to go up to bed without saying a word.

That night Harry struggled to sleep. He couldn't help but think of the note, and think of the night before. He tried to remember if anyone had acted oddly, or suspiciously that day. Malfoy seemed to be the only person he could think of that would want to cause malice, and hadn't he said the words 'tick, tock' to Harry? Perhaps it had been a coincident, but Harry couldn't be sure.

He hadn't liked the way Malfoy had said it, he had to find out if it were really him. He would ask Malfoy the next time he had a chance to talk to him, he'd make him talk and spill the beans. He didn't know how yet, but somehow he would. He tried to think what Hermione would do, but he couldn't think how she would tackle it. "Think, think, think, come on, what would Hermione do?" He whispered,

"Dunno," came Ron's whispered response. He hadn't expected anyone to hear him, and hadn't realized he'd whispered too loudly in the dark.

"She'd be running off to the library to find some answers, wouldn't she?" Harry knew Ron was right, she probably would've done exactly that.

"I don't think the library will help us this time though Ron. I doubt we'd get answers from a book. Not this time. It has something to do with that stupid note I found." Harry thought for awhile and tried to think of that night again. A sudden thought had occurred to him, he couldn't understand why Headless Nick had been in their room. What had he been doing? He didn't know, but made a mental note to ask the ghost, the next time he saw him.

**********

The next day was grey and sombre, and the student's mood had matched the weather. Lessons had been quiet without Hermione for Ron and Harry. And both boys looked to where Hermione's empty seat was, and wished she had been there. No one had the answers to some of the tricky questions in class, and so even the teachers began to want Hermione back. It frustrated them to see that hardly any of the students were bright enough to answer the questions, but then it could have also had something to do with lack of self esteem, and no one liked to be wrong. So the teachers sighed and answered their own questions.

After classes had ended, Harry and Ron went down to the hospital wing to see Hermione. As they entered the infirmary, they were greeted by Dumbledore and some of the teachers.

"Well Severus, do you have the antidote?" Asked Dumbledore as the boys sat down beside the hospital bed where Hermione lay.

"Yes headmaster." Snape handed Dumbledore the goblet, which held the liquid that would revive her. As the liquid was fed to Hermione, everyone waited with bated breath. Nothing seemed to happen after several seconds.

"Is it normal to take this long to revive someone with this potion do you think?" Asked McGanagall, who looked rather pale to Harry.

"Severus?" Asked Dumbledore looking at the potions master. "No this is not normal. It should have had some affect by now. The potion is not working." Snape frowned and looked thoughtful, if not a little worried.

"Now what?" Squeaked Flitwick, who had been watching with rapt attention. Dumbledore bent forward and checked her pulse.

"What if he didn't give her an antidote? What if he's poisoned her?" Harry had jumped out of his seat and was looking hard at Snape, he wouldn't have put it past him. After all, hadn't he shown Dumbledore the dark mark on his arm. A tattoo branded on the arms of Voldemort's death eater followers?

"Harry please!" Cut in Dumbledore before he and Snape would start rowing. "This is not the time, nor the place for such accusations. Miss Granger is still alive and has a pulse, if it were poison, she would be dead. Now please your friend is in dire peril, and needs help. Professor Snape has been working tirelessly, and very hard to make this antidote to bring back your friend. I trust Snape, as should you. Time is short, we do not have time for this. I will not discuss this any further is that clear? In the meantime Severus I wish for you to try another antidote please. If you can think of any other potions that might work. Try making more than one different types, I would greatly appreciate it." Snape looked grave.

"Yes Headmaster, I will try, but as I have said before, I have never seen such poison before, this is a new kind. But as you wish, I will make other antidotes."

"Thank you Severus." Dumbledore dismissed Snape. And soon he and the other teachers had left too, leaving Harry and Ron alone with Hermione.

Harry felt helpless sitting by Hermione's bed, not knowing what to do. The antidote hadn't worked, what if none of them worked. Snape had said he'd never seen anything like it before, what did that mean?

"What are we going to do Harry?" Ron looked at Harry expectantly, waiting for an answer, but Harry didn't have one.

"I don't know Ron, but I think we need to talk to Malfoy, see what he's done, and find out what kind of poison this is. Oh and I need to talk to Headless Nick too." Ron was confused,

"Headless Nick? But why?" Harry wasn't sure how he was linked but he had to know.

"Because he was in our room the other night, when I found the note. I want to know what he was doing there." It was a long time before Harry or Ron left Hermione, but when they'd left it was nearing dinner time. Neither boy seemed hungry, but went to the great hall to eat anyway.

On the way to the great hall they bumped into Draco Malfoy, the Slytherin had been talking and laughing with a group of boys from his house, they had been leaving the great hall. Harry went up to Malfoy and pushed him hard,

"What have you done to Hermione? What did you put in those apples?" He asked roughly. The pale, blonde boy smirked at Harry,

"What you think I did that to the mudblood?" He laughed and looked at the groups of boys, and faced back to Harry. "Sorry to burst your bubble Potter, but it wasn't me. I wish I'd been the genius to think of that. Let me know when you find the culprit won't you?" He smirked.

"You're a liar!" Yelled Ron,

"believe me Weasel, I'm not lying this time. If I'd done it, I'd be boasting about it across the whole school by now." But Ron wasn't convinced,

"no you wouldn't, Dumbledore would have your head if you did and you know it." Malfoy had stepped a notch closer and whispered in a menacing voice,

"I'm not afraid of that old fool. Father and a few others will have him arrested, you mark my words." Ron was about to bring out his wand, but Harry had stopped him.

"I believe you this time Malfoy, but your wrong about Dumbledore being a fool, or being arrested. One day your dad will get what's coming to him." Without stopping Harry pushed past the smirking boy and dragged Ron along with him.

Harry had been so certain it had been Malfoy, but now he wasn't sure. Malfoy had been telling the truth, he could somehow tell that Malfoy had meant what he had said, no matter how much he wanted it to be him. So now they were back at square one, but they still had to talk to Headless Nick, who by some form of luck was sitting at the end of the table.

"Hello Nick," Harry called as he made his way to the table and sat down by the twins.

"Ah Harry, sad to hear about Hermione. How's she doing?" Harry wasn't too sure of what to make of this.

"She's not good Nick. But can I ask you a question? What were you doing in our room the other night?" He asked. He had felt bad for asking, but it needed to be done. Harry was loosing his mind.

"The other night? Oh yes of coarse, I was.. err checking if everyone was in bed." Nick replied nervously.

"But why?"

Nick thought about his reply and said, "Proffessor McGannagal heard a noise in the common room, it was quite loud, and wanted to know who it was, and to make sure everyone was in bed. She wanted me to report anyone out of bed." He grimaced.

"So there really was someone in the common room after all." Harry whispered almost to himself.

"Did you find anyone in the common room?" Harry asked full of hope. "No, but I did see you out of bed." Nick smiled. Harry felt disheartened and didn't speak to anyone else for the remainder of dinner.

The atmosphere in the Gryffindor common room had almost gotten back to normal, but there was still a sort of hush about it. Most people were talking in low murmurs, as though they were already mourning Hermione's death. "Well I guess we're back to square one again. We have no idea who did it, or how to bring Hermione back. All we know is Hermione's in big trouble, she's alive now, but if we can't find a way to save her, she'll be dead on Halloween." Harry sighed.

Ron went pale thinking of Hermione's fate.
"We don't have long then, but what can we do?" Just then Ginny and Neville came over with Fred and George.

"Are you guys still trying to find a way to help Hermione?" Ginny asked. "Why not go to the library? That's what she would have done. Surely there must be something in there that might help." Everyone thought for awhile.

"Ron and I had already thought of that last night, I don't think a book will save Hermione this time." Harry replied, and wondered weather he should show them the note. He knew it had been linked somehow, but how?

"Actually I think it can, I found this book. It's called Snow white and the Seven dwarfs." Came Neville's voice, breaking into everyone's reverie. Everyone looked towards Neville. "Well it sort of seems similar to Hermione's situation doesn't it? Heh heh" Neville gave a nervous laugh.

Harry leaped up out of his chair and starting shouting, "That's it! That's it Neville you've got it!" Causing everyone in the room to sit in silence and watch him. Harry stood and looked around the room, "My gosh! Why didn't I think of that. Look, I think this book Snow White does have something to do with it. It must do." Harry sat down again, his excitement suddenly diminished, "But how does that help?" Nobody dared move or say anything. Finally Ron broke the silence.

"How's this similar, what is this book?" Everyone looked to Neville,

"Where did you find that book Neville?" Harry asked,

"Er I found it on the floor near your bed, you must have dropped it. I don't know why you'd read something like that Harry, never thought it was your kind of thing?" Neville blurted.

"What's Harry's sort of thing? What's the book about? More importantly how's it similar to Hermione's situation?" Ginny questioned.

"Oh it's about this girl who bites into this apple, and she falls dead, because the apple is poisoned. Just like Hermione." Neville grinned.

"It's not funny." Ron accused.

"Wait he has a point." Fred interjected,

"So how'd she get saved?" George inquired.

"Simple, she was kissed by a handsome prince, and she was bought back to life." Neville was pleased with himself, grinning as though he had given them the solution to their problems.

The silence had been deafening and Neville's grin had dropped from his face. "Sorry." He mumbled. But nobody had heard, and quite suddenly the whole room had been full of laughter, except Harry, who couldn't see what was so funny.

"We had no idea you were into smutt like that Harry." Fred looked ready to burst.
"Yeah What is that rubbish anyway? It sounds like a girl's bedtime story." Goerge continued, and looked as ready to burst as his brother.

"It's not mine, It's a muggle story for kids. I found it on my bed the other night, but I don't know where it came from. I saw Nearly Headless Nick by my bed the other day, and I think he left it there as a joke. But maybe it's not a bad thing. Maybe Nev's right. There's something quite similar to this story, so maybe the answer is in there somewhere." Slowly the laughter had died down, and everyone thought about what Harry had said.

"So you mean Hermione would have to be saved the same way as this Snow White chick?" Asked Fred incredulously.

Harry thought about what Fred had said, it seemed to make sense, and why not? "Yes I think she does." Harry felt confident now. Things were perhaps moving forward.

"Cor blimey Harry, where are we going to find a prince from?" Came Ron's voice shattering Harry's hopes.

"Maybe it doesn't have to be a prince." Stated Ginny, "maybe it just has to be someone handsome, you know a handsome guy." She looked around the group hoping everyone would agree.

"That could work." Harry agreed.

"But Harry and I don't know what a handsome guy looks like." Ron moaned. Ginny huffed at her useless brother.

"That's why you'll have me help you dummy." She huffed.

"But in the book, it said that the prince was in love with Snow white, he really fancied her, and thought she was pretty. Maybe the person who kisses her has to 'like' Hermione." Insisted Neville. If everyone had felt hopeful before, they no longer felt it now. There hopes began to deflate again.

"Okay is there anyone in the room that likes Hermione?" Harry looked around the room, Ron's ears began to go red, but no one else had come forward. "So no one here likes Hermione, I mean like, likes Hermione then?" He was fast loosing hope.

"Well it's not like she's pretty or anything" Lee Jordon, grimaced. "TAKE THAT BACK!" Yelled Ron, his face going red, and ready to kill. "Woaw! Ron, calm down. You'd think you had the hots for her, the way you're acting." Both twins snapped, grabbing both Ron's arms to stop him going for Lee Jordon, who happened to be their best friend.

"Do you fancy Hermione?" Ginny smiled sweetly at Ron. "NO!" Ron gasped. "Don't be stupid Ginny." But this did not put Ginny off,

"Oh come on Ron, someone's got to kiss her. It might as well be you."

"Hermione's gonna kill me." Thought Ron.

"Well if you don't do it, then I'll just write to Victer Krum then. I'm sure he'll be glad to do it." Ginny scoffed, feeling disgusted with her brother.

"What? No. Don't bring that idiot into it. Hermione deserves to be woken with someone with at least some class Ginny." Ron protested. After a while of arguing with Ron it was decided that anyone who wanted to try could kiss Hermione, they would hold a gathering and get as many people to try the next day. Ron hadn't liked the idea, but in the end he had to agree. He'd tried putting forward many other ideas, but Harry had already decided that this was the only way. The clue had said Snow White, and Harry was convinced that this was the clue to saving Hermione. They had to save her the same way Snow White was saved in the end. And that's the idea that stuck with the group, and that was how they would save Hermione.

Chapter Text

Kiss of Life!

Harry stood and admired the handy work of his room mate Dean Thomas, who'd offered to make the posters for the kissing event. He could see the hopes of Gryffidor students spreading throughout the school, in order to help Hermione. Harry had seen crowds of students around the posters earlier in the day from the other houses, and felt it could be a success if they could get as many people as possible to help. Maybe among them there would be someone who actually liked Hermione, and could help wake her up. This was starting to remind Harry of another children's fairy tale from the muggle world. It was becoming sleeping beauty by the minute. Who would have ever thought a child's fairy tale could ever become so real. Whoever did this must either be a muggle born with little imagination, or someone who loves fairy tales, and had a sick idea of making them real for them. Harry had heard of psychologically deranged people, but was shocked to find it existed among the magical world too. Which only meant that being magic was no better than being muggle, and it seemed magical deranged people were much more dangerous than the norm. Harry grimaced and tried to push the thoughts away. Shrugging away the thoughts Harry went to his lessons with high hopes of bringing Hermione back.

Lessons were a drag, and no one hardly paid much attention to Hermione's empty seat as they had at the beginning. Perhaps people were getting used to not seeing her, or they were getting confident that nothing more was going to happen, and decided Hermione was the target after all. And that the intended target had been got, so no one else was in the firing light. Harry didn't know what they were thinking, and this worried him. He couldn't be sure if people would turn up later this evening or not, as he couldn't tell their moods. It all seemed to be fine earlier, there seemed to be some interest, or perhaps he had imagined it. He hoped it wasn't any of those, and only half paid attention to the teachers till the end of the day.

When lessons had ended Harry ran to the hospital wing. Once again he'd found the teachers and Dumbledore, trying yet again another potion. Which was another failed attempt, leaving the staff baffled and tense. Once again Harry and Ron were left to sit by Hermione's bed, but Harry didn't sit for long, as he marched to where Madam Pomfrey had her office and barged in, startling the now angry nurse.

"What is the meaning of this Potter?' She wailed as he barged in. Harry explained what he was planning and had organized, and tried to convince her to let the students into the hospital wing. At first she would not have any of it, but after much arguing, and stubbornness she agreed to let the students in.

So later that evening Harry and Ron returned to the hospital wing, with the rest of the gang, to anticipate the arrivals of the rest of the student body. Neville began to pace the ward, biting his finger nails, making the rest of the group feel restless. But soon enough, slowly by slowly, groups of students began to trickle in. Harry had been surprised at the number of boys who'd turned up to try, he hadn't expected so many. Once he was sure there was a good number of students, he began the kissing parade. Many boys had tried, and failed. Many more students arrived, and also tried, but no matter how many boys tried, nothing seemed to work. Harry had asked the group at large if any of them had actually liked Hermione, and a majority had gone red in the face saying they hadn't, but just wanted to try and see if they could help. Many people nodded in agreement. Harry began to despair.

When it came to Neville's turn to kiss her, he walked up to the bed nervously, tripped over Crookshanks who'd somehow managed to sneak in, and lay by the bed, and fell face forward, doing a somersault into the air and landed on the other side of the bed missing completely.

"Well I guess he's head over heals about her." Laughed the twins and everyone burst into laughter, causing poor Neville to go red in the face. Getting up he sat on a chair not too far away with a book to his nose, hiding his face in embarrassment. Once everyone had their go, Harry turned to Ron and asked,

"You want a go?" Ron looked aghast, "What me?" The whole room waited with bated breath to see what Ron would do.

"Yeah why not, everyone else has tried and it hasn't worked." Harry tried gently.

"What? You mean kiss Hermione on the lips, you mean?" He asked gulping and looking at the sleeping girl.

"Well yeah! Where else did you think? On her arse? Dummy!" The twins yelled in unison.

"Shut up guys! If you're so concerned, why don't you try!" Ron yelled back, going red in the face.

"Don't mind if we do," They both replied and both ran to the bed, one on each side, and bumped heads, knocking each other over as they both went for the kiss together. "Ouch!" Groaned Fred, "Nope it's gotta be you little brother." Grinned George.

"Why don't you try." Came Ginny's voice, looking at Ron pleadingly.

"I dunno Gin, kissing Hermione that's just..." He couldn't finish his thought.

"Please Ron." She pleaded,

"I can't do it, I don't want people watching me do that. Besides what about Hermione's dignity?" Ron tried to get out of kissing her, but it didn't seem to be going as he expected.

"What dignity? A bit late for that don't you think? She's been snogged by the whole school, with everyone watching, except by the one boy she really likes. What a shame." Ginny sighed.

"What do you mean?" Ron was baffled now, "Hermione likes me?"

Ginny grinned, "Yeah, she does."

"Did she tell you that?"

"No but.."

"Then how do you know? NO Ginny! Don't make excuses, you don't know that Hermione likes me so don't make it up!" Ron was furious with Ginny, thinking she had only said those things to make him kiss her.

"But she must do, she doesn't have to tell me, I can feel it. And the way she looks at you Ron. I know she does." Ron hadn't been sure weather to believe her, but he could feel his heart rate speed up and a sort of fluttering in his chest. He hoped Ginny was right, but he wouldn't kiss her without being sure.

"I dunno Ginny, I just can't." He sighed and slumped onto the chair near Hermione's bed.

Everyone began to leave with disappointment. "Maybe this wasn't the way to bring her back. All this for nothing." Ginny looked at Hermione with a long face.

"No," Harry argued, "It must be the way, the note said Snow white, so we have to be right, we just didn't find the right person." Ginny and the rest of the group looked to Harry,

"What note?' They asked, looking at Harry, waiting for an answer.

"Doesn't matter." Said Harry. "We're not going to save her on time. She'll be gone on Halloween." Harry looked despairingly at Hermione before standing up ready to leave.

"I'll write to Victer Krum." Ginny said, and she also got ready to leave. Soon one by one the hospital room began to empty till only Ron and Harry remained.

"Well" sighed Harry, "I guess we failed. You coming?"

Ron looked at Hermione lying in the bed. "No, I don't think so. Not yet. I think I'll sit by her bed for a bit."

Harry made for the door, and Ron didn't see him stop and watch. Once Ron was alone, or so he thought, he looked to Hermione and spoke to her. "Hey Herm, I know you can't hear me, but I love you ya know. I'm sorry I couldn't kiss you back there with the others looking. I just couldn't bare them staring at me you know. Maybe..Maybe I should, you know try?" He knew he wouldn't get a response, perhaps he didn't want one. Ever so gently, Ron leaned closer to Hermione, till he was inches from her face. "Don't kill me." He whispered, and went in to touch his lips to hers. He closed his eyes, as his lips touched hers. Her lips were surprisingly soft, for someone who'd been sleeping for days without food or water. She didn't kiss back, but that was ok, he didn't need her to. The world had already fallen away, and it was just him and her. He didn't hear Harry come back into the room smiling, watching them. Ron felt so happy, and overjoyed, he was finally kissing her, kissing Hermione, and she would never know it. But just as suddenly, he remembered why he was kissing her, remembered she was half gone to the world, and felt she was never coming back. Tears began to fall from his eyes, falling onto Hermione's cheeks. He gently let go and stood back up again, and turned to go.

"Goodbye Hermione." He whispered, wiping the tears away. He nearly jumped out of his skin, when he saw Harry standing there grinning at him. "I thought you'd gone?" He croaked,

"I did, but err, I forgot my wand. Oh here it is." Harry lied, hoping Ron would believe him, but before Ron could say anything more, Harry's eyes grew wide, and his grin grew wider. "Hermione! You're awake."

Hermione opened her eyes and looked around her. "Harry!" She cried, "You did it! You saved me." She wailed. Wiping Ron's tears from her face with confusion. "Have I been crying?" She asked, "I'm feeling quite hungry. Is it dinner time yet?" She laughed. Ron turned and stood gaping at Hermione in shock, and Harry laughed with Hermione. "You figured it out. But who woke me?" She frowned.

"Eerr, no one." Ron blushed. "Some kid, you probably never seen before. Didn't catch his name." Ron mumbled, anad looked away.

"Oh, well never mind, I'm awake now, and it's probably thanks to you both for figuring it out." Hermione ran to both boys and hugged them both.

"So who won the apple bobbing competition?" Hermione asked, even though she knew the answer already.

Ron looked at Hermione incredulously, "You've been poisoned, and nearly died, and you ask who won?"

"Err, well after you got poisoned, people got a little put off, you can't blame them really though can you?" Harry interjected.

"I guess I'm still apple bobbing champion then." Grinned Hermione.

"Doesn't it bother you that someone tried to poison you?" Asked Ron. Who was now beginning to worry that Hermione may have been effected by the poison after all.

"Oh Ron! Stop trying to ruin my mood, I'm alive aren't I? I aught to be greatful, and it's all down to you two. Now lets go to dinner, I'm hungry." Hermione scowled, and turned to leave the hospital wing.

Once Madam Promfrey heard the commotion, she came running in to see what all the noise was about, and fussed over Hermione, and wouldn't let them leave till she'd checked her over thoroughly. The headmaster and teachers were summoned. They seemed confused, apart from Dumbledore who had a twinkle in his eye, and looked at the students as though he knew something they didn't. Once everything was in order, and Madam Pomfrey had finished her examination of Hermione, the students were free to go and have dinner in the great hall where everyone else had been waiting. As they had entered the hall erupted with loud claps and cheers, and the school celebrated Hermione's return.

That night Harry and Ron had gone to bed early, and as they lay in the dark, Harry asked, "Why didn't you want Hermione knowing it was you who saved her?"

Ron thought for a while, "I don't know, I guess, well, what if she doesn't like me that way..?" Ron's response trailed off. He didn't want to think of the worst, or what would happen if Hermione found out, and rejected him. Harry knew his friend was embarrassed and didn't ask no more. That night Harry lay awake long after the rest of his room mates. He couldn't sleep, for thinking of who had poisoned Hermione. Everyone was convinced it was over, it was finished and they had nothing to worry about. But Harry wasn't sure, and even if it were over, they still didn't know who it could be, or why. Those thoughts troubled him, and he couldn't sleep. But just as sleep came, he heard tapping on the window. Looking up, he saw a dark shape against the sky, as he looked in the direction of the noise. Getting up, Harry put on his glasses, and saw an owl fluttering outside. Opening the window Harry let the bird in, and saw it had something tied to it's leg. He removed the letter, and as he did, the owl flew out of the window leaving him alone in the dark once more. Closing the window, Harry untied the string that tied the note, and unfolded the parchment, and slowly read the now familiar curly writing, written in bright red.

It's not over Harry. There will be more.

Harry felt a shiver run down his back, as he read the note. He looked around the room, as though the person was there with him, but no one was there apart from his sleeping room mates. He looked out of the window, but the Hogwarts grounds stood empty. He thought he saw movement in the forbidden forests, but he couldn't be sure. It could've been his imagination. Either way, he didn't think they would still hang around whoever they were. Tucking the note away, Harry climbed back into bed. It was a very long time when Harry finally managed to fall asleep.

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