A3vum: Nathaniel Greengrass' character is something that will be explored in a lot more depth later on, around Book 5. I actually have really big plans for a subplot involving Daphne, Astoria and Nathaniel that should blow your mind.
Dark Serpent Cat: What makes you think Harry isn't doing what he can to get stronger? In case you haven't noticed, Harry is getting really far ahead in his studies. You must also remember that there is very little Harry can do with the resources he has right now. The only way he could get better at, say, dueling, is if he had someone who was willing to train him. Right now there is no one who would be willing to do that because of how young he is.
Harry will eventually, at some point, start training his friends, but it won't be for a while. Likely until Voldemort has already returned. Right now, he has enough on his plate that adding training a bunch of children to fight against a currently NOT resurrected Dark Lord and his death eaters is not something he is capable of. He isn't superman.
And I have no considered using plant magic, but will certainly think about it. Thank you for the idea.
nogoalielikeme: Don't worry about being harsh or critical. You have a point and want to make it. Now allow me to make a counter to your point. Harry is perfectly aware of what's going with Lisa, at least on his side. He simply in denial. From his point of view, until that moment where puberty hit him harder than a bludger, Lisa Crawft has always been something of a little sister. But now he's seeing her in a whole new light and doesn't know what to do. Naturally, he is simply going to shove these thoughts to the side, deny they exist, and try to live like nothing is happening.
Concept human: Just because he knows what spell chains are doesn't mean he can perform them. Chaining spells is very advanced magic, far above NEWT level. The fact is, Harry is just not that skilled yet. He'll get better with practice, but that'll take time.
PaultheEwok: Harry Potter got trapped by Lucius scheming because despite what everyone seems to think, he is not perfect. He can be fooled. Lucius Malfoy has decades of political experience under his belt. Harry has only been in the political arena for a little over a year. He might have read a bit on politics, but let's face it, books aren't everything. You can't learn everything from a book, and sometimes the only way to become good at something is to experience it first hand.
And yes, the only reason Kingsley Shacklebolt was brought into to teach defense was because of the Chamber of Secrets. The reason he was not the defense teacher at the beginning of the year is because of his work as an auror. The fact is Shacklebolt only became the teacher because Madam Bones is loaning his services to Dumbledore. No other reason.
serialkeller: sorry, I don't write Gary-stu characters.
sanbeegoldeiwhitey: His political skills have not regressed. The difference between this Yule Ball and the one last year is that Harry has lost almost all of his advantages. In an even playing field between Lucius and Harry, Lucius would win simply because he has more experience. That's what happened here.