Harry and his friends slowly left the Great Hall with the other students. There was whispering all around them as people discussed what the headmaster had said in his last words. Harry wasn't sure what was going on. He turned to Hermione with a confused look.
"Do you have any idea what is going on, what this tournament is?" He asked in a whispered tone, holding his arm around Dawn's pouch to protect her from pushes in the thick of students. While he loved carrying her over his heart like he had done when she had been an egg, in crowds he just wished she were old enough to sit on his shoulder, as Hedwig did so often. But Dawn was too young for that and the risk of her tumbling down because her feet couldn't hold on to him was one he wouldn't take at all. The small bird cooed at him from below. All the shifting and rocking due to him standing up had woken her up and Harry could feel in the bond...she was not amused.
Hermione shrugged her shoulders looking forward so she did not bump into someone. The murmurs around them made it a little hard to understand her.
"I have no idea. I think I may have read something about it in Hogwarts a History, but I can't remember. But it is probably a tournament between our school and the other two."
On that note, Katie Bell, who happened to file out of the hall with the others, chimed in.
"That's right. I heard the Triwizard Tournament is a contest between three schools for" She raised her fingers in air quotes. "Eternal glory and fame. Also, there is probably a prize." Harry snorted at that. Why would he ever want that? Ron's eyes lit up on that notion and he turned his head to Katie in interest. "Every school selects a champion, or better an impartial judge selects it and those representatives fight in contests against each other." Katie stopped shortly because someone bumped into her from the side and she called the younger Ravenclaw out on it.
"It hasn't been around for quite some time because people died and it was considered medieval. So yeah, who knows why they would reinstate it." Harry nodded at her in thanks. She smiled at him, turning away to talk to Fred and they came to the door, where the three friends heard a disliked voice.
"Oh yes, of course, father told me about the tournament weeks ago, I mean he is head of the board of governors after all. What kind of father would hold back such information? He will probably talk to the judge, making sure only the purest would get to be the representative of our school." The sneering tone was loud, quite obvious it wasn't just said for the person he addressed. Harry turned his head looking at the Malfoy's slick blond hair, on whose arm Pansy Parkinson was hanging. The girl stared at him with a grin on her face, batting her eyelashes at the blond teenager.
"Really? That is good. I mean only the best families should represent us right?" She asked with an admiring tone. Draco laughed and turned his eyes, staring over the shoulders of the others at Harry.
"Yes, well said. We wouldn't want someone who happened to slither in, in dubious ways to do that right? Only someone with the right heritage and not some hand me down family should do it. Maybe I will ask father to put in a good word for me. Who knows."
"You are so right Drake. What do you thin..." Their words got lost in the distance as they descended to the dungeons. Harry grumbled and turned up the stairs. Ron snorted in disgust.
"Stupid Malfoy. I was wondering what high he would ride next now that you are Heir of House Black and a Lord yourself." Ron balled his hands into fists and Dawn, feeling Harry's anger, stuck her head out and chirped at him. Harry frowned and gritted his teeth.
"I don't really care but the 'hand me down family'. Do you think that was a dig at Narcissa?" He asked with an unnerved tone. Ron tensed up a little. He found it still unnerving that Malfoys mother lived with Harry and Sirius. He had kept his mouth shut due to the looks Harry had given during the train ride, but he still thought that it wasn't good. The Malfoys were bad people after all and she was Draco's mother.
Hermione instead answered, disgust in her voice.
"Probably. To even say the things which he did to his own mother. He is such a cockroach!" The girl huffed angrily and Harry couldn't help but smile a little bit at it. Hermione was a righteous one after all and it suited her well. Harry nodded.
"Yeah, he's a git." He stroked over Dawn's head and then looked up while walking the stairs to their tower. "Let's talk about something besides that slimy guy all right?" The other two nodded and Ron leaned over to Hermione.
"Do you know anything about the other schools Dumbledore mentioned? Mom said Durmstrang is a dark school but I've never heard of the other." Hermione tipped her lip with her index finger, something she often did while thinking and walking. Normally she would bite down on her bottom lip but she had once told Harry she had bitten it bloody quite a lot as a child and so she did it not while walking.
"Yeah, that is what I heard too. Durmstrang has a pretty grim reputation. It is a school for a few countries in the east of Europe, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine and so on. They are rumoured to teach the Dark Arts and some more. Also, I think they don't pick up Muggle-borns, but I can't say that for sure. Their school changes position every year, each year in a different country. But apart from that, there is little known." Harry was amazed by that. A jumping school? That sounded amazing. "Does it just teleport?" Hermione shook her head.
"Not what I heard. Rumour has it has chicken legs and walks there. But that is just rumours, you know?"
Harry nodded. Rumours in the magical world were even worse than in the muggle one because you never knew if it was even possible. "What about that other school, the German one?" Hermione nodded at that.
"I know a little bit more about that. They are a little bit more open than most schools about what they do. Of course like every magical school their location is unplottable." Harry raised his head in surprise. "That's normal? I thought that was a Hogwarts quirk." They walked down a corridor and Hermione shook her head.
"No, it is quite normal. Gathering magical children somewhere is quite dangerous. An attack could always occur. That happened four hundred years ago in Italy, ever since every school has done it. But like we all know Hogwarts is somewhere in the Scottish Highlands, Hohenehr is somewhere in a region of Germany called the Schwarzwald, somewhere in the south. Apparently, it was founded around a windmill and grew primarily underground. There is a deep connection with the dwarfs. There are even dwarfs teaching at their school, at least there were. They don't have houses as we do, but they are categorized into professions when they start their time there. Their subjects also differ from ours, for example, they have a Healer course, which sounds really exciting."
Harry raised an eyebrow when he heard that. "You know quite a lot about that school." Hermione blushed at that, shaking her head.
"Yeah in our second year I read about it because of I...I considered switching schools you know? Hohenehr is quite tolerant about Muggle-borns, due to their own history in the Grindelwald war and I considered transferring there." Ron stared at her with a little open mouth.
"but...but Hogwarts is the greatest wizarding school there is!" He called out, surprised. Hermione snorted a little at that.
"Have you ever spoken to someone who hasn't gone to Hogwarts and said that?" Hermione asked him with a disapproving look. While she did consider Hogwarts as the greatest school there is, her interest had been awoken by that. "Why is Hogwarts the best? Who defines that? What would people from elsewhere say about this?"
"Uhmm...I...I don't know I never have asked...but we have Dumbledore!" He looked at Harry seeking help. The boy just shrugged equally helpless.
"That might be, but we can't know for sure. I mean the person who said it the most is Hagrid. And while I love him dearly, and we should totally visit him soon, you both know how much of a...supporter of Hogwarts and Dumbledore he is." That made Harry and to some extent, Ron thinks. It was right, Hagrid stated quite often Hogwarts was the greatest wizarding school in the world, but he was really biased.
They finally arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady and after learning the password from the prefect 'Mouse tunnel' they finally got to the common room. Harry smiled at the sight and his heart grew quite a bit. Before this summer THIS was more home to him than anything. The red and golden couches, the warm hearth and the thick carpets made it so warm and cosy. The three of them quickly got into a nook at one of the windows, huddling together. Harry took Dawn from her pouch and let her jump around their knees. Then he leaned back smiling. He looked around the room. In the corner, Oliver and the Chaser girls were huddled together, while the girls tried to cheer up their sad captain. Oliver had taken the loss of Quidditch very badly. The Creevey brothers were walking around, Colin showing his gaping brother everything. Harry just hoped they wouldn't come over, gaping at him too. Some first-years jumped in panic when Fred let some fireworks loose behind them before Ginny started scolding him and his brother in a way Harry made think of their mother. He chuckled a little at that. Neville was sitting at the hearth talking to Dean and a surprisingly tanned Seamus. Harry remembered he had said he and his parents would be in Africa for the summer. Parvati and Lavender were eagerly talking about something, from what Harry knew was probably fashion.
"So those new classes sounded really interesting, I think it is about time to integrate something like that, what do you think?" Hermione asked, crossing her legs and folding her hands over her knees. Ron just shrugged, while Harry nodded slowly.
"It's more class, so more work like we don't have enough." The redhead said with a grumbling tone. Harry, on the other hand, shook his head slowly.
"I don't know Ron, I think this is actually good. I mean over the summer I learned so much from Narcissa about the wizarding world and that was just etiquette and we only just scraped the tip of the iceberg. Do you have any idea how lost you are in this world coming from the muggle one? I mean...literally everything is different. So a course where you learn this is quite nice I think." Ron again shrugged, crossing his arms.
"Yeah, I have noticed sometimes you are baffled by the most normal things. I kind of get that, but why do I need to learn about the muggle world?" Hermione groaned at him and pointed out.
"Ron, there could be a time where you need to go there, like really go. I mean we had Miss Mal...Miss Black over and she was totally surprised by the most normal muggle things, like telephones. Even your dad, whose job is muggle stuff, has asked me once if a ball pen was used to write on beach balls." Harry chuckled at that and thought back when Mr Weasley had questioned him intensely about the use and the proper handling of a rubber duck.
Ron grumbled at that shaking his head.
"I still don't see the point. Yeah, I don't know a lot of muggle stuff and I'm not like Malfoy and hate muggles but I just can't imagine myself living in the muggle world so what good is this?" He said with a defiant tone. Hermione snorted and was about to start a lecture when Harry got up. While he did love his friends dearly, he knew them well enough to know this would be a long discussion and if he didn't leave now both of them would try to pull him to their sides.
So he pointed across the room at the corner.
"I will go and cheer up Oliver. He looks pretty down." He turned around whispering to the small black hatchling in his hand.
"Come, girl, let's try to cheer up our captain what do you say?"
The excited chirp about new attention was all the answer a smiling Harry needed.
"No! You will not call him!" Narcissa stood in the middle of the sitting room, glaring at her cousin. Her arms were crossed and she struck an imposing figure. Sirius scrunched his face, tilting his head.
"What? Why not? Just a short call to see if he has arrived safely." He said waving his communication mirror. Narcissa placed her fingers over her forehead sighing deeply. Sirius had been this way the entire day. First, when they had come home he had sat just there, staring into the air and seemingly not reacting. After that he had walked through the house, his hands in his pockets and had gotten on her and Kreacher's nerves, asking them what they were doing. When they answered he had just said aha and kept on walking only to return twenty minutes later to ask again. It had annoyed Narcissa to no end and Kreacher while he would never say so, had problems keeping his work up from all that. Finally, around three o'clock Narcissa had finally snapped and yelled at him to stop sulking and if he wanted to do something there was quite a bit of estate work and two proposals from a member of the Wizengamot on his desk. Sirius had grumbled and retreated, only to sulk through the house even more, but he didn't stick his head in through the door any more. Narcissa had taken mercy on him and flooed, begrudgingly, Remus Lupin to keep him company. It had worked somehow, at least Sirius stopped moping through the house like a twelve-year-old any more.
Lupin had stayed until almost midnight and had kept Sirius company, they had talked about past times, what they would do, revenge on Malfoy and everything else. But mostly they had talked about Harry. Sirius had been so caught up with the boy, he had not had real-time for his friend up until now, besides that one morning and that was mostly calming Sirius embarrassed nerves. So Remus told him all about Harry's last year from his perspective while Sirius talked a lot about the ways Harry was like Prongs and Lils, a matter they both agreed on dearly. They had chuckled and laughed, and for a while, Sirius mind had forgotten the fact that the boy wasn't there this evening. But then had come the time when Remus had to leave. He had a meeting in the morning about a smaller estate's legal problem and said he needed to rest. Sirius had walked him to the floo and hugged him. After wrestling a meeting for dinner in two days time, he had finally left and Sirius had sighed. When he returned to the sitting room, his plan had been calling Harry on his communication mirror and this was when Narcissa found him. She pointed out her hands.
"First of all, it's almost midnight. Harry is probably sleeping and if he isn't he should be by now. Also don't you think Professor McGonagall would have contacted us if something had happened? The train arrived hours ago Sirius." She stared at him. Sirius slumped a little deeper into the couch.
"Yeah I know, still I just want to know if he is okay." Narcissa sighed, shaking her head.
"Siri, listen I know it is difficult, believe me, I would like to floo to Draco right away, I have the same feeling every year too, but they are growing up. They are at school, they have their friends and they have to have their own lives. Also, you promised Harry no every evening call-ups, remember? Let him have his time. He misses you and he will call, I promise." Sirius stared at her nodding slowly. "All right, I will wait until he calls me tomorrow," Sirius said with a downtrodden voice. Narcissa groaned, pressing the palm of her hand against her forehead.
"Yes, but don't be disappointed if he doesn't call tomorrow either, or the day after. He is a teenager, remembers and this...this is the time when they leave the nest. He will have classes, friends, probably girls and definitely Dawn on his mind. So lower your expectations okay?"
Sirius stared at her for quite a while not saying anything, then he nodded slowly. "I guess you are right. I had a lot on my mind at that time too." She nodded in agreement, then walked up to him.
"I will head to bed. Don't stay up too long all right?" She leaned down and kissed him on the cheek, before heading to the door. "Good night Siri."
He waved at her. "Night, Cissy." After the door closed, he just sat there, thinking about nothing special. Harry would be in his bed by now, sleeping and having wonderful dreams of an awesome school year or the girl he liked. Sirius knew the feeling of returning to Hogwarts and it was wonderful, but it meant that he was not here, so Sirius would need something to do. He couldn't just hang around a half year and wait for Harry to return. Well, he could, because he was rich, but still. Maybe he should floo Greengrass tomorrow to talk about their endeavours of destroying Malfoy. Yeah, that might be right. Sirius rose, still in thoughts and headed up the stairs. He considered sleeping in front of Narcissa's door again but not now. He cast a spell to notify him when cries came from her room and moved on. Also, he had a little plan for Remus, and maybe...when he was away the next morning he could prep his cottage. He stopped in front of the door with Prongslet on it. He opened the door halfway and stared into the dark room, leaning against the doorframe. He could almost see Harry sleeping in his bed, but he didn't. The room felt so empty without his dark-haired godson living in it. Was that how his mother had felt when he ran away? A shudder run down his spine. Of course not! He was the white sheep of the Black family. His mother had been delighted when he had been gone, Sirius was certain. He closed the door after a moment, in a quiet way like his Prongslet was sleeping in there and he didn't want to wake him. He walked over to his own room, closing the door behind him.
It was his cave and he knew it looked ridiculous. No colour matched the other and the posters looked like that of a fourteen-year-old, motorcycles and other 'cool' stuff, and Women. Women with huge boobs, slim waists and well...only slightly in a state of undress. He grinned over to the newest one. Wilda Griffith a young chaser girl of the Holyhead Harpies was leaning forward on her broom in a seductive way. She had made a deal with the 'Wizards wand' magazine for a quite...revealing shooting.
Sirius flopped on his bed and he put his hands behind his head staring up to the ceiling. The ceiling was painted in a crude graffiti of a wolf, a dog, a stag, a doe and a lion cub jumping around and having fun. He grinned proudly at his own piece of art. It wasn't very artistic, but he did it himself and he was proud of it. At the moment the stag and the wolf hunted the dog in a playful manner while lion cub was sleeping cuddled up to the doe.
Sirius pulled out the mirror again, staring into it. He knew he just needed to whisper Harry's name and soon he could speak to him. Should he? Just short? He knew Harry wouldn't mind. He would understand. On the other hand, it would look pathetic and he would deprive him of his sleep. On the other, other hand Harry would know he was thinking about him and that he cared for him. On the other other other hand, Harry knew that. He had told him many times. On the other other other other hand, did he? Harry was so fearful about losing his love, he would need to remind him. Should he? Or not? With a groan, Sirius ruffled his hair and groaned even more. This was all a big circle. Screw it!
Sirius whispered a name. For a moment it was quiet and the mirror stayed the same. Then it changed a suddenly became clouded only to reveal a bedside. The field of view shifted and a face came into view. Unruled hair stuck to all sides, making him chuckle a little inside. Eyes used to glasses squinted at him and squinted more because it was well light on his side of the connection. A very annoyed grumble came from the other side.
"Sirius. What is going on, is something wrong?" The figure put on glasses, almost poking its own eye with it.
He shook his head, smiling while he snuggled deeper into his pillow.
"No, I just wanted to talk to you, you know, see how you are." The person just blinked at him, staring to the side for a moment.
"What? What time is it?" they asked.
"A few minutes after midnight." Now the person frowned at him.
"So you woke me for no good reason? You know full well I get up early in the morning. Dear Merlin, Sirius I have a meeting at six in the morning you know that right?" Amelia Bones groaned, blinking more, her voice angry.
Sirius stared at her for a moment, before he cast down his eyes.
"Yeah, I know Melia, sorry. It just..." He trailed off looking down into his own lap. "The house feels so empty without Harry here I just. Sorry, this is stupid, sorry I woke you up." Amelia frowned even more and there was a little shuffling in the field of view when she sat up in her bed. Suddenly her side of the connection turned brighter and she squinted again, obviously having turned on a bedside lamp.
"So you have empty nest syndrome?" She asked, pulling her blanket up to her chin and propping her pillow behind her back for a more comfortable sitting position. He nodded, before chuckling.
"Weird right? I mean, Harry was here what? Six weeks? Still, it feels like forever you know?" Amelia smiled at him and nodded in sympathy.
"Yes, I know what you mean. When Susan first went to Hogwarts, I felt like the house was too big for me. What should I do all day and I have a full-time job. You know at first..."
They talked about half an hour before Sirius felt a tingle in his magic. He sat up more straight, looking at the door. Then he looked back down again. "I'm sorry Melia, I have to go. Thank you very much for talking with me, I'm sorry I woke you. I know you told me not to call you on stupid matters. It helped a lot."
Amelia chuckled waving off from this. "No, it's fine Sirius. This wasn't a stupid matter, call again if you need to. But maybe not tonight, I have to get up in four hours." He grinned nodding and saying goodnight to her. When the mirror turned reflecting again, he got out of his bed and walked to the door. After opening it he turned into Padfoot and tapped outside.
On silent paws, he tapped down the hallway in a slow manner. When he reached Narcissa door he barked once quietly and lay down in front of the wooden construct. From behind, there was sobbing to be heard. After a short while, the door opened and the sobs turned louder. Narcissa came out sniffing and crying. She wore a morning robe over her sleeping gown and her hair was pulled up in a not so fashionable manner. She sat down next to her door, her back against the wall. Padfoot got up and placed his head in her lap, nuzzling up to her. Cissy's hands found his neck and fondled with the fur. For a while, she sniffed and just cried. Then a broken sentence came out.
"H-He wouldn't e-even t-talk t-to me, n-not even saying g-goodbye. Oh god, I miss him."
Sirius nuzzled closer and gave the rejected mother all the comfort he could. But he knew it wasn't enough, it would never be enough.