Your Words Are Harsh, Hals!

Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios

After lunch, Ivan checked the Marauder's Map and headed in Hermione's direction.

They met in a corridor.

Yvonne hurried forward, but Hermione seemed distracted, walking along with her head down, as if she did not see him.

"Hermione!" Ivan called out, but she did not respond, and he had no choice but to step in front of her.

"Ah? Ivan, what can I do for you?" Hermione looked up at him, her eyes red, as if she had just noticed him.

Yvonne could see that something was wrong, but she couldn't put her finger on it, so she forced herself to ask, "Have you thought about the ball, Hermione?"

Hermione's face hardened at Ivan's words, her brown eyes glaring angrily at him for a moment before she snorted. "I thought you invited someone else? Why are you asking me?"

Ivan was baffled. 'When did he invite anyone?'

Before he could figure it out, Hermione hit him hard on the shoulder and ran off, clutching the book to her chest.

Yvonne looked over her shoulder to see Hermione leaving, but the witch was no longer there, and instead there was the sound of thudding wood on legs — only seconds before she saw Moody coming down the corridor.

"Hales, I've finally found you. I don't have time to explain. Come with me!" Moody said sternly as soon as he saw Ivan.

"Can't you see I have some business to attend to? Professor Moody? Could you give me a few minutes, if you please? We can always do this later." Ivan rolled his eyes and sighed. He had to find out why Hermione thought he had invited someone else.

"No, we can't delay, Hulse, there are not many opportunities like this…" Moody shook his head, speaking urgently, his face grim, his magical eye scanning the area to make sure no one was around before he lowered his voice and continued.

"Crouch is going to discuss the next match with Bagman this afternoon, and he just happens to be out of his office! It's a rare opportunity … and we've only got half an hour of security, tops!"

Ivan hesitated, but did not move.

"Did you just invite Miss Granger to a ball?" Moody asked, slightly irritated.

He did not want to waste his time on emotional instruction for a young boy at such an important moment, but it seemed he had no choice.

Ivan didn't really want to answer that.

Moody did not hesitate to point it out. "Obviously easy, you failed?"

"You can't say that!" Ivan shook his head firmly.

"It's not a big deal to be rejected by a girl, and even if you were a Hogwarts champion, you wouldn't be famous enough to make everyone like you!" Moody said quickly. "You might be able to change your target, and there will be plenty of girls waiting for you, and they'll be ecstatic!"

Ivan's brow furrowed, and Moody could tell he didn't like the sound of this, so he changed his tone.

"But I don't think it's that bad. Everyone at school can see that Miss Granger is very fond of you…" Moody looked at Yvonne with his normal eyes, which he rarely did, and suggested instead.

"I think you should learn to be tough, Hales! Sometimes a hug is more practical than any words, and those witches are always insecure and desperate to know…"

"Are you going to give me some emotional guidance, Professor Moody?" Yvonne interrupted, giving him an odd look. "But if I'm not mistaken, you're still single?"

It's weird how a single man dying alone gives emotional advice to a teenager in the middle of a relationship…

"Don't get me wrong, just because I'm single doesn't mean I've never been liked, Hals! When I was an Auror at the Ministry of Magic, I had countless admirers. All I ever did was focus on catching Dark Wizards!" Moody said angrily.

"Really? You're sure?" Yvonne asked, looking at his face, which looked as if it had been scraped with a knife.

Moody's ferocious face twitched as he read Ivan's mind.

"I suddenly see why Miss Granger refused you…Hales!" he said.

"Yes?" Yvonne looked at him in surprise.

"It must be because you're such a pain in the ass!" Moody complained.

Yvonne had nothing to say to that. He was silent for a moment, then sighed and said, "Well, as you planned, we'll search Crouch's office now!"

"That's right! It's not too late to go! Take care of this and you'll have plenty of time to comfort your little girlfriend." Moody raised his eyebrows and, unable to wait any longer, took Ivan by the wrist and led him upstairs.

Ivan did not resist as Moody led him to Crouch's office.

He had figured out why Hermione had said that, and Ivan had not forgotten that he had been followed two nights earlier.

It seems likely that Hermione was the one following her, having seen her and Luna saying goodbye in the Tower of Ravenclaw — perhaps more?

It doesn't matter how much she saw, but Hermione may have misunderstood.

Ivan's heart was sick at the thought, even though he knew why and understood that he would be able to mollify Hermione by explaining himself.

But … this was the second time in the school year that Hermione had been angry with him, and Ivan wondered if there would be a third or fourth time after he explained.

He admitted that it was his fault for repeatedly breaking his promise to write to Hermione (though he did not think it was a very serious mistake).

This time was different, as Hermione refused to practise Legilimency with him, and he was understanding of her difficulties and approved of her memory-protection, so he chose Luna instead…

Yvonne had not expected to be seen by Hermione, nor had she expected Hermione to trust her so little, that she would have preferred to confront her instead.

The more Ivan thought about it, the more frustrated he became, which was why he was willing to come with Moody to find out what was going on, rather than going straight to Hermione to explain.

He thought they all needed time to calm down and think, not just Hermione, but himself…