In Chapter 22, Harry realizes the First Task is nothing compared to trying to get a date for the school dance. Let’s go!
It’s amazing how much pressure is off of Harry now that the First Task is over and he and Ron are friends again. They are enjoying goofing off during Transfiguration class when Professor McGonagall makes an announcement.
“The Yule Ball is approaching — a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will be open only to fourth years and above — although you may invite a younger student if you wish —
“Dress robes will be worn,” Professor McGonagall continued, “and the ball will start at eight o’clock on Christmas Day, finishing at midnight in the Great Hall.”
This causes Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil to dissolve into giggles and look towards Harry. Professor McGonagall continues to say that she expects all of the Hogwarts students to be on their best behavior. After class is over, she takes Harry aside and tells him that the champions (and their dance partners) are expected to start the ball. Harry is terrified because he absolutely cannot dance, but McGonagall is adamant. He will dance. It is his duty as a champion of the school.
This causes Harry to spend the day watching girls walk by, moving “in packs,” so he can’t get someone alone to ask them. Deep down he really wants to ask Cho Chang, but she’s always surrounded by friends as well. There are a few girls who straight up ask him to the dance, but he’s too flustered to do anything about it. Harry also remembers Hermione saying that the girls only liked Krum because he was famous, and has a feeling that this is the only reason anyone is asking him out.
On the plus side, there aren’t as many unpleasantries in the hallways now. Harry thinks that Cedric told the Hufflepuffs to lay off since Harry had given him the hint about the dragons. The only thing he’s worried about now is the prospect of Rita Skeeter publishing a horrible article about Hagrid, but nothing has come out yet. According to Hagrid, Rita Skeeter didn’t even really mention the skrewts — she only wanted to talk about Harry.
Meanwhile, everyone is talking about the upcoming Yule Ball.
Rumors about the Yule Ball were flying everywhere, though Harry didn’t believe half of them — for instance, that Dumbledore had bought eight hundred barrels of mulled mead from Madam Rosmerta. It seemed to be fact, however, that he had booked the Weird Sisters. Exactly who or what the Weird Sisters were Harry didn’t know, never having had access to a wizard’s wireless, but he deduced from the wild excitement of those who had grown up listening to the WWN (Wizarding Wireless Network) that they were a very famous musical group.
It’s gonna be some party, from the sound of it!
Some of the teachers are trying to keep the students on task, others have given up. Hermione keeps trying to get Harry to look into the mystery of the golden egg, but Harry is not worried about it. It’s Christmas, after all! He deserves a break! And he has until February to figure the thing out. He’ll be fine.
What’s not fine: Harry and Ron still don’t have dates to the Yule Ball. Fred shows them how easy it is by asking Angelina to go with him, but that doesn’t really inspire any confidence. Ron doesn’t want them to end up with “a pair of trolls.” Hermione takes great offense at this.
“Oh I see,” Hermione said, bristling. “So basically, you’re going to take the best-looking girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?”
“Er — yeah, that sounds about right,” said Ron.
Ron, you are so clueless, it almost hurts. Wow.
By the next day, it’s getting down to crunch time. Harry points out to Ron that at least Ron has the option of going stag if he wants to. Harry has to find a partner. They make a deal: by the end of the day, they will have dates. Harry decides to suck it up and just ask Cho if he can speak to her. Which goes fine, even if her friends start giggling. Cho seems like a nice girl and I think she genuinely likes Harry at this point in the story, if not the same way he likes her. Harry finally spits out the words, but Cho says that she is already going with someone else: Cedric Diggory. She does seem really sorry about it though. Like I said, she’s a nice girl. I’m sure she didn’t want to hurt Harry’s feelings.
His experience was much better than Ron’s though. Ron tried to ask Fleur Delacour to the ball.
“She looked at me like I was a sea slug or something. Didn’t even answer. And then — I dunno — I just sort of came to my senses and ran for it.”
Aw, poor Ron.
They have a laugh about how Neville had asked Hermione to the ball, but Hermione had told him that she was going with someone else. They suspect that Hermione just told him that because she didn’t want to go with someone like Neville, but they are shut down by Ginny. She tells Hermione, who just arrived, that the boys have both been turned down big time by their intended dates. This leads to Ron really sticking his foot in his mouth.
“Hermione, Neville’s right — you are a girl . . .”
Ron, this is not a good way to start this.
“Oh well spotted,” she said acidly.
“Well — you can come with one of us!”
“No, I can’t,” snapped Hermione.
“Oh come on,” he said impatiently, “we need partners, we’re going to look really stupid if we haven’t got any, everyone else has . . .”
Ron, Ron, Ron, you really need to shut up now.
“Just because it’s taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!”
Hermione shuts him down but good. And he deserves it. He was taking it completely for granted that Hermione was as much of a loser as he was. Ron still tries to say that she’s lying, but Ginny sets him straight. Hermione is not lying. She has a date to the ball, and no, Ginny is NOT going to tell him who she’s going with, because that’s Hermione’s business, so there. I like Ginny.
Ron suggests that Ginny go with Harry, which would have made her very happy a few years ago, but Ginny tells them that Neville asked her and she said yes, because as a third year, she wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. So now Neville has a date and you don’t, Ron. How do you feel about that?
Harry sees Lavender and Parvati in the common room and decides that enough is enough. He walks up and asks Parvati to go with him. She giggles, but says yes. He asks if Lavender will go with Ron, but she’s already going with Seamus. Parvati suggests Hermione, and is surprised when she hears that Hermione already has a date. Instead, Parvati suggests that Ron take her sister Padma, who’s in Ravenclaw. Glad to be done with the whole thing, Harry agrees.
See you next time for Chapter 23!