Disclaimer: I Do Not own Harry Potter
The Goblet of Fire
Harry groaned as he pushed a piece of parchment away from him, stifling a yawn. It was once again, another essay for potions, this time, on antidotes. As September drew into October, Professor Primrose steadily started to introduce fourth-year work to the class; now they began to get a general understanding of potion making, rather than just copying from the board. It also helped that the Slytherins were no longer harassing the Gryffindors and soon even Neville was starting to become to a somewhat understanding of basic potion making. Professor Primrose did note that they still weren't up to scratch to how she would have liked fourth years to be. However, they couldn't afford to do too much revision and miss out on the fourth year curriculum altogether.
Professor Moody also stepped up his game in Defence against the Dark Arts. Moody had the belief system that you couldn't learn how to defend yourself against the dark arts with a quill and parchment. After being shown the Unforgivables, the class started to learn the basic Shield Charm protego, although Harry and Ginny knew it already. Harry also managed to throw off the Imperious Curse. It seemed that tiredness was the key. And when Harry prepared himself sufficiently he managed to succeed to throw off the curse. Ginny took a little longer and had to practise for another week before throwing it off without problems. However as Moody said, Voldemort wouldn't wait for them to prepare so they still, once a week, practised in throwing off the imperious curse. Harry was slightly surprised that Moody hadn't put it on the whole class and when he mentioned it to Moody, he confessed that it was something he thought about doing but decide to wait until they had practised more first before doing so.
Plans for C.A.R.E were also progressing, the flyers were back from Luna's Dad, and the group had started to put them up in the common rooms, although not Slytherins. They had some questions asked of them, but not many people seemed that interested. Harry had a spark of an idea that could help them but wasn't sure it was even possible. He went to Fred and George, and they thought the idea was great but admitted that it would probably be impossible to do. Not to be deterred, Harry wrote to Sirius asking for advice. He wrote back stating he was researching with the help of Remus and Jo, but not to get his hopes up.
"You know groaning makes no difference," Hermione said from beside him.
"Wish I still had the Auto Essay writer," Harry said sighing.
"It was right for Mrs Weasley to destroy it," Hermione said looking over a book.
"It was not!" Harry argued. "I loved that machine. Nothing was more special than that machine."
"I'm sitting right here you know," Ginny said opposite from him scanning what she had written for her Charms essay.
"And?" Harry argued.
"That means a machine is more important than me?" Ginny asked looking up.
"No!" Harry answered quickly. "Of course not. I love you, nothing is more important than that."
"Good save," Ginny said rolling up her parchment and putting it into her bag.
"Nice to see you love me back," Harry muttered as he went back to his potions essay.
"I haven't cursed you for saying that yet," Ginny said loftily. "Is that not proof enough?"
"Good point," Harry said quickly.
"When you two have finished flirting," Hermione said rolling her eyes.
"That is flirting?" Ron asked looking at Harry and Ginny.
"Honestly Ron," Hermione scolded. "We need to move on. We still got Flitwick's essay to write, switching charms to research, and the disarming charm to practice."
"We know the disarming charm," Ginny said. "Snape taught it to us when showing up Lockhart."
"Moody still told us to practice it," Hermione said.
Harry sighed shaking his head, knowing that it was useless to argue and got up and stretched his legs.
"Do you really have time for a break Harry?" Hermione asked him.
"Yes!" Harry said.
"This is ridiculous," Ron moaned. "How much homework do they expect us to do?"
"You heard McGonagall, O.W.L's are coming up," Hermione answered.
"That's not until next year!" Ron exclaimed.
"Well if you want to fail I won't stop you," Hermione said huffing.
Ron said nothing but quietly got on with his work. Harry walked over to the stairs down to the gym. They were currently in the Room of Requirement and Harry was getting restless. So he decided to start working on the cardio machines. There was still no word on Crouch, Pettigrew, and even Snape had been off the Radar since the Quidditch world cup. Dumbledore hadn't managed to find him, and Harry was getting stressed. He had thought they had fixed things with Ginny's plan at the end of last year, but obviously, he was wrong. With no idea what the Dark Lords plans were for this year, Harry was blind. He looked up at Ginny who had stopped doing her homework and decided to sit by the fire the room had provided. He was so anxious to fix things, so his friends didn't have to live through what his future -self-did. But in trying to fix things he could have made things worse. But what was he to do? Leave Sirius in Azkaban all those years? That would be unfair on Sirius. He supposed he and Dumbledore could have broken Sirius out, but then Sirius would be stuck in hiding just was he was last time, rather than getting married in the summer. Although, it only would have been until he caught Pettigrew in the graveyard. But then, would he have been happy with condemning Sirius to that life? Rather than the one he had now? He wouldn't have met Jo if he had.
A touch on the shoulder brought him out of his thoughts, and he saw that Ginny had made her way down to him while he had been thinking. She smiled lovingly at him and knelt down beside him and whispered so the others couldn't hear.
"There's no use stressing over things we can't control," Ginny said gently.
"But that's the problem, I could control it, and the changes I made caused this uncertainty," Harry replied quietly back at her.
"The changes you've done has stopped an innocent man suffering pain he didn't deserve," Ginny reminded him.
"But at what cost?" Harry told her.
"For all you know there is no cost," Ginny said. "Harry, were you willing to condemn Sirius, your godfather, the closest thing you have known to a father apart from my dad, to a life of misery and pain just so that you were certain to know that you would end up in that graveyard? You disagreed with Dumbledore on a lot of things. Things Dumbledore did to you that made you miserable and depressed, all for the greater good. You disagreed then, and I know you still disagree now. So why question yourself when you made the decision not to do the same to Sirius."
"You're right," Harry said smiling at her. "But what happens this year is on my hands…"
"No it's not," Ginny argued. "It's on Voldemorts. I know you, you think that your actions that have caused Voldemort to change plans mean whoever Voldemort hurts now is your fault. It's not; It's Voldemorts and Voldemorts alone. Voldemort would have hurt many people no matter what you did. But what you decided to do is try and stop the ones you knew about. There is nothing wrong with that. Whatever happens this year we will be on his hands and whoever helps him. Not on yours."
"Wish I could believe that," Harry sighed.
"Do believe it, because it's the truth," Ginny said taking one of Harry's hand in hers and the other placing in on his cheek. "You are the bravest and most selfless person I know Harry Potter. Everything you do is to save everyone else. Nothing bad that happens this year is your fault. It's Voldemorts. Stop blaming yourself."
"Thank you," Harry told her quietly.
"Anytime love," Ginny smiled.
"Harry, Ginny!" Hermione shouted down to them, and Ginny quickly stepped back suddenly remembering that the others were in the room.
"What were you doing?" Neville asked from beside Hermione. Ron and Luna were packing up.
"Chatting," Ginny said shrugging.
"Not snogging?" Neville asked. "Because it looked a lot like snogging."
"We were not snogging!" Harry replied.
"I don't know," Hermione said tilting her head thinking. "It certainly looked like it."
"Can we please change the subject," Ron said.
"Yes," Ginny said quickly brushing the creases out her trousers. "Food I'm hungry."
"Typical Weasley reaction," Harry said causing him to get hit.
"Well it is six," Hermione said looking at her watch. "We can have some tea and then go back to the common room and continue."
"Really? More?" Ron moaned.
"We have a lot to study for," Hermione argued lifting up her bag. "Summoning charms are coming up, we need to go down to Hagrid's and look after the Screwts at some point this week, and Professor Primrose said antidotes would be coming up soon as we need to start fourth-year work, so we need to research them."
"She didn't set any homework researching antidotes; she said they were coming up, not that we had to research them," Ron argued.
"It's always good to be prepared," Hermione countered. They finished packing up and left the room.
"You forgot to mention the Transfiguration homework McGonagall set," Ginny told her causing Ron swore.
"Language," Hermione scolded.
As they reached the Entrance Hall, there was a ruckus of students surrounding the bottom of the staircase, and it took them five minutes to walk down the last flight of steps. When they finally made it, they saw what had caught the attention of the student body.
The delegations from Beauxbaton and Durmstrang will be arriving at 6 o'clock on Friday the 30th of October. Lessons will end half an hour.
Students will return their bags and books to their dormitories and assemble in front of the castle to greet our guests before the Welcoming Feast.
"Great," Ron exclaimed. "Another feast!"
Harry and the others looked at him in exasperation.
"What I'm hungry!" Ron defended himself.
"Only a week away, though," Neville said as they continued into the Great Hall.
"Yeah, can't wait," Ron said sitting down and helping himself to some beef stew and a couple of rolls.
"What do you think the tasks will be like?" Neville asked.
"Bound to be dangerous aren't they?" Ron asked. "For people to have died before."
"But they said they had taken extra precautions," Hermione reminded them. "It's why they managed to get it re-instated."
"Harry could do the tasks," Ron mentioned.
"No I couldn't," Harry said taking a sip of his drink.
"Why not?" Neville asked.
"I would need to be alive first, and believe me; Ginny would kill me if I entered," Harry told them.
"Well kill is such a strong action," Ginny said shrugging, "more like put you in the hospital wing for the rest of the year. That sounds more than fair. Because I care about you."
"You care enough about me to enough to send me to the hospital wing for a year," Harry asked for clarification.
"Yes," Ginny answered promptly.
"Love you too," Harry said slightly unnerved.
Excitement gripped the castle as the thirtieth arrived. Students struggled to pay attention in class, knowing that Durmstrang and Beauxbaton were arriving that evening. Normally, on double potions on Friday, they would do their practical potion that they had been researching and preparing for and learning in that week in the single potion classes. But since the class would end half an hour early, Professor Primrose took what little time they had to go over what they had already learned in the first two months of her class. She announced, when the bell rang early to indicate the end of lessons, that she was pleased with the way they were progressing and was happy to see that they had at least picked some things up from Snape's teachings. Malfoy glared at her when she indicated that his godfather was a bad teacher but said nothing and exited the classroom quietly.
Harry and the others quickly rushed up to the Gryffindor common room, Luna would be studying with them later, dropped off their bags, and then headed back down to the Entrance Hall. On their way, they could see just how much harder the House Elves of Hogwarts had worked over the last couple of weeks. The floors shown with a shine and Harry expected that it was so clean that he could eat food off of it, though he decided he wasn't going to try.
When they got to the Entrance Hall, the four head of houses was lining up the students in front of the marble staircase, seventh years at the back and first years at the front. Harry and the others, lining up in their groups of houses, so Luna had to stand with her other Ravenclaws, stood waiting for the first sign of the other schools arriving. Six o clock arrived, and the students started to peer out into the grounds looking for anything suspicious that suggested the other schools would be arriving.
"Unless I'm mistaken, the delegation from Beauxbaton is arriving," Dumbledore called out from the back.
It was a sixth year Hufflepuff that spotted it first. The girl pointed to the Forbidden Forest, and the student started to scan the sky as a large object began to get bigger and bigger as it came closer to the castle.
"Oh, it's a dragon!" Screamed one of the first years.
"Don't be stupid, it's a flying house," Denis Creevy said.
"Because a flying house isn't stupid…" Harry muttered to Ginny who giggled.
A giant Carriage loomed out of the darkness as it flew closer to the castle. Large horses with wings were pulling the carriage. It flew lower, past the forest and up the lawns of Hogwarts. It zipped along above the grass at high speed, before crashing down on the lawn in front of the Hogwarts main doors. The door to the carriage swung open just as it landed and out climbed Madam Maxine.
"Wow, that's one big woman," Seamus muttered from down the line.
"She's just as tall as Hagrid," Dean muttered.
When she reached the light of the Entrance Hall, she greeted Dumbledore happily, and Dumbledore returned the greeting with just as much serenity.
"As Karkaroff arrived yet?" Madame Maxine asked.
"Not yet, although he should be here any moment," Dumbledore answered. "Would you like to stay and wait or head inside and warm up?"
"'ead inside I think, some of these students won't be used to zis cold weather," Madam Maxine explained.
"Of course, if you wish," Dumbledore said bowing and showing her the way to the Great Hall. "Just along there, our Magical Creatures Professor will be more than happy to sort out your carriage."
"Please inform zis 'Agrid, that ze 'orses only drink single malt whisky?" Madam Maxine informed Dumbledore.
"It will be taken care off," Dumbledore said nodding and Madam Maxine led her students out of the cold and into the warmth of the Great Hall. The Hogwarts crowd parted so that the Beauxbaton crowd could reach the hall before coming together again to eagerly wait for the Durmstrang delegation.
They didn't have to wait too long before Lee Jordan noticed the usually calm surface of the black lake was churning, and Harry watched with the others as the Durmstrang ship rose from its depths and started to sail to the closest shore. They watched eagerly as black shapes barely lit by the castle's light walked along the deck of the ship and down the plank to the smooth grass.
They started to head towards the entrance where the student body stood waiting. Harry and the others peered eagerly trying to capture the first glance of the students of Durmstrang. Slowly the light reached them, and Harry saw them wearing thick fur coats and hats. At the back, walked two tall teachers, one must have been Karkaroff the other he wasn't sure. When they got closer to the light, however, Harry sucked in his breath in shock. So this was their plan then.
"Dumbledore!" Karkaroff bellowed as he walked through his students and reached the front to greet the Hogwarts headmaster. "How are you old man?"
"Not that old," Dumbledore laughed, "Although I must admit I am not as young as I used to be."
"Dear old Hogwarts," Karkaroff said shaking Dumbledores hand. "I would love to stand and chat, but I think it's best if we head inside, Maxine already here I take it?"
"Yes of course," Dumbledore said nodding. "Come inside."
"Thank you, it's just Victor has a cold, and the warmth will do him good," Karkaroff explained. "Severus, bring Victor into the warmth."
Through the crowd, Victor Krum appeared. But Harry wasn't jumping for joy like Ron was in seeing his favourite Quidditch player. No, Harry was glaring at the man that was escorting Victor through the crowd. Severus Snape sneered at the crowd of Hogwarts students.
"Severus!" Dumbledore exclaimed acting like he wasn't fazed at the old potions master appearance. "What a pleasure to see you again, I wasn't aware that you were a part of the Durmstrang staff."
"Headmaster," Severus said bowing his head.
"Well come on Dumbledore," Karkaroff bellowed. "When you let such an exceptional teacher in Snape here leave then you can't be surprised when he gets an exciting job in another school so quickly. Severus is our new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher. However, I couldn't leave Severus behind when we were returning to his old school. And Severus was more than eager to come."
"I'm delighted that he found such an excellent teaching post," Dumbledore said smiling. "Come let's eat."
"Snape"! Ron moaned as they sat at the Gryffindor table.
"I thought you'd be more excitement about Krum, since you have a crush on him," Ginny teased.
"I do not!" Ron said defensively. "But come on Snape! I thought we were rid of him."
"Well he can't do too much," Neville said. "He isn't a Hogwarts teacher anymore. He can't punish us."
"I go to admit I'm surprised about Krum; I didn't know he was still in school…" Ron said looking at the doors. The Students of Durmstrang was hovering around the door unsure where to sit. "Come on come sit over here."
"Where's the Beauxbaton students?" Neville asked.
"By the Ravenclaw table," Ginny said. "They're sitting next to Luna." Sure enough, they looked and saw Luna smiling politely at the French students.
"Well they better be kind," Ron said darkly.
"Why does it matter how kind the Ravenclaw students are to Beauxbaton delegation?" Hermione asked.
"It doesn't," Ron muttered. "It matters how kind the Beauxbaton students are to Luna."
Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Neville turned to Ron in shock but quickly hid it as Ron looked at them.
"That's very thoughtful Ron," Hermione said.
"She's our friend," Ron said shrugging. "I'm sure Harry will agree to curse any of them that aren't kind to her."
"Harry can't do that! Remember what McGonagall said. We have to be on our best behaviour." Hermione said shocked.
"As long as they are we won't have a problem," Harry shrugged as the Durmstrang students walked over and sat down at the Slytherin table.
"Look at Malfoy," Ron said as he was watching the Durmstrasng students. Malfoy was looking gleefully at Snape as he sat down in between Karkaroff and McGonagall.
"Hang on there are two extra chairs," Neville pointed out. "Who else is coming?"
"Well this is a ministry run event," Ginny explained. "So maybe representatives from the Ministry?"
"You don't think the Minister will be coming do you?" Ron asked.
"Don't be stupid," Hermione said. "He has more important things to do."
"Well maybe," Harry said thinking. After all, Fudge did turn up for the final task. "But I believe that it will be Bagman and Crouch, remember the world cup, they said they had been organising it?"
"Oh yeah," Ron said looking up and around for them. Sure enough, the two wizards walked through the door. Bagman looked cheerful and happy to be there, Crouch, on the other hand, looked pale white. He was obviously struggling with being under the Imperious curse, after all, he had been under it for a much longer period than last time around by now.
"He looks like he should be in the hospital wing," Hermione said noticing Crouch's appearance as well.
"Must be the stress of the job," Ron said looking at him as well. Suddenly the Beauxbaton students stood up as Madam Maxine walked into the hall and didn't sit down until the headmistress had sat down on Dumbledore's other side. As the Beauxbaton students sat down with their headmistress, Dumbledore stood up, and silence grew over the massive hall.
"Good Evening ladies, gentlemen, ghosts, and most importantly guests," Dumbledore started. "I hope that you enjoy your stay here as we will enjoy hosting you ourselves. The Tournament will officially start at the end of the opening feast, so please, eat."
The tables suddenly groaned under the weight of food. The House-elves had outdone themselves yet again. They also added food from France and Bulgaria into the mix as Harry spotted food he had never seen before.
"What the hell is that," Ron asked pointing to an exotic dish.
"Bouillabaisse," Hermione answered him. "It's very nice."
"I'll take your word for it," Ron said pushing the dish away.
"Did my eyes deceive me?" Ginny asked watching her brother. "Did Ron just turn down food?"
"That's not food," Ron said grumpily at Ginny's teasing.
The Great Hall was louder than usual with the extra students, the sounds of cutlery on the plates echoing around the hall. Hagrid tried to sneak in about ten minutes into the feast but with his size failed miserably. He did seem to have bandages around his hands, though, and it appeared that the Skrewts had found their favourite food.
"Excuse me, are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?" Fleur Delacour said walking up to the Gryffindor table.
"er…" Ron said mouth agape as he stared at her. "Yes, I mean no, you can have it."
"Thank you," Fleur said as she picked up the bowl and walked back to the Ravenclaw table.
"You can stop staring at her you know," Hermione huffed bringing Ron back to his senses. He had been following Fleur with his eyes forgetting to eat.
"She's a veela!" Ron said amazed.
"No she isn't, do you see anyone else gaping at her like an idiot?" Hermione snapped.
"Actually yes," Harry said looking around. "Neville was staring at her. And so are half a dozen other people."
"You're not," Hermione countered.
"But they didn't affect me at the world cup either," Harry reminded her. Hermione looked around the hall and slowly noticed a few boys staring at Fleur as she walked back to the Ravenclaw table.
"That doesn't mean anything; those boys could just be idiots." Hermione countered.
"Hey!" Neville argued, and Hermione smiled apologetic at him.
"Do you really think she could be a Veela?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Harry said nodding as Fleur sat back down at the Ravenclaw table.
When the puddings arrived, Ron moved one of the foreign cuisines closer to the edge of the table so Fleur might notice it, but she didn't look. Hermione shot daggers at Ron due to his behaviour but didn't mention anything. Ron ate while trying to catch glimpses of his future sister in law, while the others tried to ignore him and enjoy the rest of the feast.
As the food disappeared from the plates in front of them, tension and excitement filled the hall. Whispers started to grow but soon stopped as Dumbledore stood up from his seat and waited for quiet. Once you could hear a pin drop in the hall, Dumbledore addressed the upturned faces looking at him.
"The moment has come," Dumbledore started. "The Tri-Wizard tournament is just about to begin. Before we bring in the casket, I would like to explain a few things surrounding the Tournament. First I would like to introduce for those that do not know them, Mr Bartemious Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, and Mr Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports."
There was a polite round of clapping for each of the men, although Bagman got the loudest before Dumbledore continued with his speech.
"Mr Bagman and Mr Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament, and they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madam Maxine on the panel that will judge each champions effort in the tasks ahead."
The excitement grew as Dumbledore mentioned the tasks, and as if to please the crowd, Dumbledore indicated for Argus Filch to bring the casket down. Mr Filch carried a heavy looking wooden box which was engraved with jewels around the edges. Mr Filch placed the box on the table in front of Dumbledore before moving off to the side and into the shadows once more.
"The instructions for the tasks that the champions will face have already been carefully examined by Mr Bagman and Mr Crouch, who have made the necessary arrangements for the tasks to be carried out. There will be in total three tasks, spaced out throughout the school year. They will test the champions skill, nerve, deduction, danger, and above all else, their magical prowess."
"As the name of the tournament suggests, three students, one from each school, will participate in the tasks," Dumbledore continued. "They will be marked on how they perform each task and given points from the judges. These will indicate who will go on to win the Tournament. The champions will be chosen by an impartial selector… The Goblet of Fire."
As Dumbledore finished his sentence, he lifted his wand and tapped the jewelled embroidered casket three times, and it dissolved to reveal a small wooden goblet. Blue flames danced in its mouth as Dumbledore lifted the goblet from out of the casket, closed the lid, and placed the goblet back on top of it.
"Anyone that wishes to enter the tournament will have twenty-four hours in which to put forward their names. They must put clearly their name and school on a parchment and place it into the fire." Dumbledore explained. "Tomorrow night, the goblet will then select three champions, one from each school, which it deems worthy to represent their school. The Goblet of Fire will be placed in the entrance hall and will be freely accessible to all that wish to compete."
"In order for the age restriction of the tournament to be applied, I will be drawing an age line around the Goblet. Nobody under the age of Seventeen will be able to cross it, and I highly suggest upon you all, that if you are not of age, not to try to cross this line."
"Finally I would just like to say to anyone wishing to compete in this tournament, that it is a task not to be taken on lightly. Once the Goblet of Fire has selected the three champions, there is no going back, no changing your mind. By placing your name in the Goblet of Fire you are bound by a magical binding contract to compete. This cannot be altered by anyone, so please be one hundred percent certain you wish to compete before placing your name in the Goblet. Now, it is late, and one should be heading off to bed. Good luck to all of you wishing to compete."
"An age line?" Ron asked. "Will that really stop people?"
"Nah it's simple," George said coming towards them through the crowd, Fred beside him. "An ageing potion will do the trick simple."
"Doubt it," Harry snorted.
"Why won't it work?" George demanded. "It should."
"An ageing potion ages only your appearance to make you look older," Harry explained. "An age line looks at your magical core and sees how old that is. As far as I know, and I know quite a bit, there is no way to age your magical core. Grow it, yes, but age it? No."
"So there is no way to get passed the age line?" Fred said disappointedly.
"No," Harry said standing up. "Plus, I thought we agreed your shop was more important?"
"It is, it's just fanciful thinking that's all," George responded. "Plus Lee wants to enter. Got any tips for him, I'm sure you could get passed it if you tried Harry."
"Get passed it? No? Dismantle it? I suppose yes, but I do not wish to, nor do I wish to enter Lee's name in for him," Harry answered. "Plus dismantling it would let others enter. And that would be stupid of me."
"Surely anyone under the age of Seventeen wouldn't stand a chance anyway," Hermione said. "They wouldn't have learnt enough!"
"That's up to Lee to decide I suppose," Fred said shrugging. "I'll tell Lee what you said, Harry. See if he can think of another way of getting his name in."
"Only way to do that is to get someone else over the age of Seventeen to do it for him, and since almost anyone willing to do that for him would be wanting to enter themselves, why would they enter Lee and have less chance of being picked?" Harry asked them. "Just tell Lee it's not going to happen."
"Right you are Harry," George said mock saluting him before he and his brother headed off to find Lee.
"Could you really find a way?" Neville asked as they started to walk out of the Great Hall and towards the marble staircase.
"If I wanted to yes, but I don't. I don't want to. I don't want the attention, I don't want the glory, and I really do not want Ginny mad at me for entering!" Harry rattled off. "So could I? Yes, will I? Not a chance."
Even though the next day was a Saturday, the five of them got up early; Harry and Ginny got up even earlier to do their training and met Luna down in the Great Hall for breakfast. There, Luna told them that the Durmstrang students had already entered their names in the goblet that morning. She also told them that a girl named Selena Fawcett from Ravenclaw also tried to enter by using an age potion but failed and was now in the Hospital wing with a very long white beard. Fred and George, who was sitting a little further down from the group, heard this and looked at each other in relief and then nodded a thank you towards Harry.
Half way through breakfast they heard cheering from the entrance hall and Angelina Johnson came smiling sheepishly into the Great Hall and sat down at the Gryffindor table informing them that she had just out her name in the Goblet of fire. Congratulations were thrown her way as the Gryffindors hoped in earnest that it was a Gryffindor that represented Hogwarts. Harry knew differently, though he did genuinely say well done for Angelina's bravery in entering. Once the cheering at the table quietened down, Ron turned to the others and asked what they were going to do that day.
"…and please don't say more homework," Ron snapped. "We've been doing homework non-stop all week!"
"What about Hagrid's?" Harry said. "We haven't been down to see him yet, and it's been two months already!"
"Two months back at school already, time fly's by," Ginny said shaking their head.
"Sure we can go down to Hagrid's, as long as we don't have to deal with anything Screwt wise," Ron said darkly. "I get enough for them in class!"
So after breakfast, the sextet headed out of the castle and down the sloping lawns towards the forest and Hagrid's hut. Halfway down they saw a line of Beauxbaton students following Madam Maxine up the slopes and into the entrance hall, obviously going to enter their names into the Goblet of Fire.
"What do you think will happen to the students that don't get picked from Durmstrang and Beauxbaton, stay here or go back to their school?" Ron asked as they continued down to Hagrid's.
"Stay here I would expect. Maxine and Karkaroff are the judges, so they're staying, and I doubt anyone would expect the group of students to head back to their schools in a different country on their own, even if they are of age," Hermione answered.
"Where do you think they are staying anyway?" Ron asked.
"Well, I guess since the Durmstrang people headed back outside after the feast last night, on their ship. Plus, if the carriage is big enough to bring the Beauxbaton students from France all the way to the north of Scotland it's big enough to allow them to sleep there as well I expect," Hermione answered Ron again.
Hermione was right, because as they reached Hagrid's hut, the Beauxbaton's massive carriage came into view, parked not fifty feet from Hagrid's front door. Harry walked up to the front door and knocked, waiting for Hagrid to answer.
"'ere you are!" Hagrid boomed as he opened the door and saw who it was. "Thought you lot forget about me!"
"Do you know how busy we've been?" Harry said then stopped dead still as he saw what Hagrid was wearing. He was wearing his very best, brown hairy suit, with a white shirt and a checked yellow and orange tie. He had also apparently placed mountains amount of hair jell to try to get his natural wild hair to lay flat. Succeeding, he put the excess amount down in a ponytail.
"Why have you stopped?" Ginny asked as she came through the door and saw what Harry was staring at.
"Oh wow, nice clothes Hagrid," Ginny said as she eyed what Hagrid was wearing.
"Thanks, brough' 'em just this morning down in 'ogsmeade," Hagrid said smiling.
"They're very nice," Hermione said while elbowing Ron to try and get him to remove the disgusted looked he had on his face.
"Oh yeah sure," Ron said as he rubbed his side. "Handsome."
"Well come in, come in, I'll make tea," Hagrid said as he ushered the group into his house. "How was yeh week?"
"Tiring" Ron moaned. "The amount of homework the teachers are giving us."
"Well O.W.L's are commin' Ron," Hagrid explained. "We teachers set this much work now because it's only a small example of what yeh goin' to get next year. Let yeh get used to tis much before you get swamped next year. I'll tell yeh, next year yeh won' know what's hit yeh."
"Is it that bad?" Hermione asked anxiously.
"It all depends on how well yeh do in class see," Hagrid explained. "A lot of it is just revision the teachers give yeh to make sure that yeh know what yeh doin' and if you can handle the pressure. Get you use to the feelin' of being on edge cause I tell yeh, when yeh in those exams, the stress can get to yeh."
"Sounds like a nightmare," Ron muttered.
"I have faith in yeh lot," Hagrid said beaming.
"How's the Skrewts doing?" Luna asked.
"Alright," Hagrid beamed. "It's just that they started killin' each other, so I had to separate them, put them in boxes. Teh out by the pumpkin patch, got abou' twenty left.
"That much?" Ron said disappointedly.
"I know, I know, it's not a lot," Hagrid said misunderstanding Ron's displeasure. "Tea anyone?"
While Hagrid bustled about with the silver pots and cups, talked turned to the upcoming Tri-Wizard Tournament.
"Anyone tried teh get passed Dumbledore's age line yet?" Hagrid asked them.
"One that we know off," Ginny answered, "She got a beautiful white beard because of it."
"Ah yes Dumbledore did tell us what would happen," Hagrid chuckled. "If you want teh be older, why not go to the extreme? I'm sure the white beard will be gone by this evening. Teh be honest I didn't think I would ever see the Tri Wizzard Tournament played again."
"You've seen it before?" Ron asked amazed.
"Ye, its 'mazing," Hagrid said. "Tuff, though, not many people will be able to handle what teh champions got to do. The first task, can't wait, but I won't say. Don't want teh spoil the surprise for yeh."
"Not even a little hint?" Neville asked.
"My lips are sealed," Hagrid said smiling.
As the morning turned into afternoon, rain started to pelt against the windows in Hagrid's Hut, and the air began to cool down rapidly. Hagrid set up his fire in the hut carefully, and they spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting by the warm fire chatting and relaxing, escaping the stress of school work. Hermione talked to Hagrid about house elves, he was reluctant at first, telling Hermione there's no point changing anything since the house elves liked their job.
"Do you like your job?" Hermione asked him.
"Sure, I love meh job," Hagrid answered confused.
"What if you had to change your clothes to rags, what if you had to be forced to go do your classes, even if you were sick with the flu? What if every time you got a little detail wrong, you had to personally injure yourself?" Hermione rattled off. "Just because the house elf's like what they do, does not mean we should be allowed to mistreat them! You should hear the things Dobby had to endure from the Malfoys!"
"It's just teh way it is Hermione," Hagrid said frowning.
"The way it is is wrong!" Hermione answered.
"Well, I suppose when yeh put it into context with what they do with ourselves it doesn't seem right," Hagrid said thinking. "But they are happy!"
"They are ignorant!" Hermione continued. "They are happy because they don't know any other way of being treated. They like what they do, that's not a problem, but the wizarding world has taken advantage of that and their kind and enslaved them to their will, and it's not right! We don't want to force the house elves free; we just want better conditions for them!"
"Well, that sounds reasonable, what would I have teh do?" Hagrid asked, and Hermione beamed.
After Hermione talked through C.A.R.E's goals, and what they wish to achieve in the future, Hagrid happily signed up, and Hermione handed him a badge. Harry was intrigued by the difference they were making. Harry knew previously, Hagrid outright refused to sign up, but then last time Hermione was trying to force freedom on the elves. This time she wasn't trying to force freedom, just get then to be better treated, and Hagrid happily seemed to follow. Maybe this wasn't going to be as difficult as Harry thought. Harry made a mental note to remind himself to talk to Dumbledore about their announcement plans.
Soon enough twilight was upon them, indicating it was time for them to head back up to the castle and hear the announcements of the champions. Harry was getting very nervous, sure Snape was here, working with Voldemort, but what if the plans had changed? What if the scheme, with Snape, was not to put his name in the goblet of fire, but something else?
Hagrid put away the plates and cups and said he was going outside to freshen up, causing Ron to look even more concerned. While they waited, Harry heard Hagrid's name called and through the window, they saw Hagrid waltz over to Madam Maxine smiling happily.
"He fancies her," Ron said looking through the window.
"Well I'm sure Hagrid doesn't get much dating opportunities," Ginny said smiling. "Personally I'm happy for him."
"No one else finds it weird?" Ron asked the group.
"Love is love," Luna said shrugging.
"Hang on he's leaving!" Neville said, and as they looked, they saw Hagrid walk in arm and arm up the lawn with Madam Maxine.
"He just left us!" Ron exclaimed.
"Love does that to you," Luna said walking to the door and opening it. "Come on before we are late."
Ron, who was still mumbling about the rudeness of Hagrid leaving them behind, followed Luna and the others out of the cabin and up the lawns towards the warmth of the castle. The air had gotten much colder as they had been enjoying the warmth of the fire in Hagrid's hut and Ginny shivered slightly pulling her robes around her. Harry rolled his eyes as he wandlessly cast a warming charm, first at her and them himself and the others.
"You know I must remember that spell," Ginny said smiling thankfully at Harry.
The group walked up the lawns, spotting the Durmstrang students following Karkaroff just in front of the Beauxbaton students. They followed the foreign students up to the castle and into the Great Hall. They quickly took their seats, Luna sitting down at Ravenclaw's table for the Halloween feast.
Harry was nervous; this was it, this was when they find out of things had indeed been fixed or not. Would Voldemort be going with the same plan? But with just Snape in place of Barty Jnr?
"Any guesses on who it's going to be?" Ron said as he took a bite of pumpkin pie.
"Fingers crossed for Angelina yes?" Hermione said.
"I've never known you to be this excited about sports Hermione," Ginny said intrigued to her.
"Well, it is exciting, plus I hang around with you, Harry and Ron. If there is a group more enthusiastic about sports in Hogwarts, I'll eat my hat. Something had to rub off," Hermione explained.
The Halloween feast dragged by for Harry as he waited for the feast to end and the champions to be announced, but end it did. The talked doubled for a couple of minutes before Dumbledore stood and the hall fell silent in anticipation.
"Well, the Goblet of Fire is almost ready, one more minute I think before we can announce the first champion," Dumbledore said smiling. "When the champions are announced, may they please come up to the staff table, and then walk along it to the antechamber, where they will wait for the first instructions. Now, it's time…"
Dumbledore waved his wand, and the candles around the hall extinguished, so the only light filling the hall was produced by the dancing flame of the goblet. The hall waited anxiously as the blue flame danced hypnotically in the darkness. Then, as if someone had flicked a switch, the flame turned blood red, and a piece of parchment flew up into the air. With the agility of someone half his age, Dumbledore picked it out of the air and unfolded the parchment as he looked at the name.
"And the champion for Durmstrang will be… Victor Krum!" Dumbledore announced, and there was a polite round of applause from the hall. Karkaroof could be heard congratulating him over the applause which was some feat as the hall was deafening in cheering from the Durmstrang student body. Krum rose from the middle of the Slytherin table and walked silently up to the staff table and off to the side to the antechamber. The clapping died down as Krum disappeared from view and the attention soon turned back to the Goblet.
The flames once again turned colour, and another parchment floated up out of the fire. Dumbledore once again caught and held it aloof as he read the name on the parchment.
"The Champion of Beauxbatons is… Fleur Delacour!" Dumbledore announced and the hall erupted in polite clapping. The Beauxbaton students, however, didn't react as well the Durmstrang. Most of the girls sobbed in disappointed while the boys threw daggers at Fleur as she gracefully stood up and walked along to the staff table and then along into the side chamber and away from view.
Now the anticipation had reached tipping point. It was the turn of the Hogwarts champion, and the whole school watched the goblet closely and quietly, waiting for the moment where it would turn red and announce the champion for the homeschool. The Goblet turned red and the hall held its breath as the announcement of the Hogwarts champion was made.
"And the champion for Hogwarts will be… Cedric Diggory!" Dumbledore announced. The Great Hall erupted in cheers as Cedric Diggory stood up from the Hufflepuff table and walked half the length of the hall to the staff table, where he followed his predecessors before in walking along it and into the side chamber. The applause was deafening and lasted way longer than any other. Cedric was already out of the Hall and into the antechamber before it started to die down.
"Yes, Yes, congratulations," Dumbledore started, "Congratulations to our three Champions. Now, for those that didn't get chosen, and for those that weren't of age, it is now your duty to cheer on your school's champion. By doing so will…."
But Dumbledore didn't get any further as the goblet once again turned red and fired out a slightly burnt piece of parchment. Dumbledore reacted quickly and plucked it out of the air before straightening it out and read it. Harry closed his eyes and waited. Ginny enclosed her hand around his and squeezed in support. It was a long time coming before Dumbledore announced…
The room was deathly quiet, as Harry opened his eyes, relief flooding through him. Ginny was looking at him with a fierce look. Harry turned to look at Ron, Hermione and Neville who was staring at him in shock. Sighing, Harry stood up, squeezed Ginny's hand one more time, and then started to walk towards Dumbledore. As Harry walked along the tables between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, the hall began to come alive in muttering and whispering. McGonagall, Maxine, Karkaroff and Snape had all stood up and watched as he walked.
Harry reached Dumbledore who nodded towards the antechamber and Harry sighed before walking along the staff table and followed in the other champion's footsteps. As he walked past Snape, he looked scathingly at him, and Harry returned the favour. Harry reached the antechamber, prepared himself for what was to come and walked through the door.
Cedric, Krum, and Fleur were waiting in the room, Krum was by the fire, Fleur was pacing, and Cedric leant against the wall. Fleur stopped passing as Harry walked through the door.
"They ez wanting us back in ze hall?" Fleur asked Harry, thinking he was a messenger.
"Not really no…" Harry sighed, but he couldn't explain any more as the door he just came through opened up, and Bagman came striding into the room.
"Extraordinary, extraordinary!" Bagman announced as he walked into the room and towards Harry. "This is unique, but what excitement! Ladies and Gentlemen, as weird as it may seem, may I introduce you to the Fourth! Trio Wizard Champion."
All three of them stared at Mr Bagman in shock as he continued to smile at the three of them.
"Fourth…" Krum said standing up.
"Champion yes!" Bagman said excitedly. "Amazing isn't it!"
"Oh, vary funny!" Fleur said laughing.
"It's not a joke Madam, Harry's name just came out of the goblet!" Bagman announced. Loud mumbles came from behind the door, and suddenly Professor Dumbledore, Madame Maxime, Professor Karkaroff, Professor McGonagall, Snape, Moody, and Mr Crouch came striding through the door.
"Madame Maxime!" Fleur said as soon as she saw her headmistress, "Zey are sayin zat zis little boy is to compete with us!"
"What is ze meaning of zis Dumbledore!" Madam Maxine demanded.
"You are not the only person who wishes to know," Karkaroff said going to stand next to Krum. "I was not aware the host school was allowed two champions, or have I not read the rules thoroughly enough?"
"Cest impossible!" Madam Maxine announced. "'ogwarts cannot have two champions! It is most unjust!"
"You have brought us here under misinformation Dumbledore!" Karkaroff announced.
"Don't go blaming Dumbledore for Potter's misdeeds," Snape drawled. "It is Potter that should be answering your questions as to why he felt the need to break school rules and enter himself into the tournament."
"But I didn't!" Harry said entering into the conversation.
"But of course 'e is lying!" Madam Maxine announced.
"Really? You know me so well you can tell if I'm lying or not?" Harry asked her. "I was under the impression that we hadn't met yet, and as I know occlumancy, you couldn't have used leglimance to read my thoughts, which Snape has tried three times already in the past five minutes, which by the way Severus is illegal if anyone wanted to know."
The room was deathly quiet as Harry stared at Snape before continuing to speak.
"I did not enter my name in the Goblet of Fire," Harry told them sternly.
"And we are meant to believe that?" Karkaroff demanded.
"Believe what you will," Harry said turning to him. "I am telling the truth."
"How would he get past the age line?" McGonagall asked.
"Oh that would have been easy," Harry said before McGonagall threw him a look.
"That didn't help did it?" he asked.
"You got past the age line!" Karkaroff demanded.
"No!" Harry replied. "I have already said I did not enter my name in the Goblet of Fire! I may have had the knowledge to do so, but that does not mean I did. I do not want to be in this tournament!"
"We zhould believe that zhould we?" Fleur asked. "Everyone in zeir on schools was wizhing to be picked! Everyone were 'oping to represent their schools! It zis an opportunity of a lifetime! Many would die for this chance!"
"Maybe someone is hoping Potter will die for it," Moody said quietly.
"What a thing to say, Moody!" Bagman said shocked.
"Wouldn't surprise me," Harry said darkly. "Someone has tried to kill me every year I have been at this school; having someone want to kill me this year isn't a surprise anymore."
The room was deadly quiet after that announcement.
"Oh Really? I would think we would have heard if someone was trying to kill the Boy who Lived every year," Karkaroff laughed.
"You didn't hear about Peter Pettigrew escaping Azkaban then?" Harry asked him.
"Surely this zis just an exaggerated story used as an excuse for Potter to enter himself," Madam Maxine said.
"Believe me, or don't, I did not put my name in the Goblet of Fire," Harry repeated.
"It would take someone very powerful to fool the Goblet into picking Harry as a fourth champion," Moody said. "They would probably have to cast a confusion spell on the goblet, making it think there are four schools instead of three, and simply added Harry's name under the fourth. As the only student, the goblet was bound to pick him."
"You have given this much thought Moody," Karkaroff sneered.
"It used to be my job to think as Dark Wizards Igor, as you well know!" Moody hissed at him.
"Not now Alastor," Dumbledore said sharply. "This is a very stressing circumstance, but it seems, for now, it is something we must come to accept. By Harry's name coming out of the goblet of fire, he is entered into a magically binding contract, which if he were to break would be severe for him. Unfortunately, for now, he must compete."
"But Dumbledore…" Maxine started.
"My dear Headmistress, if you know a way to break the magical contract binding Harry to compete, without harming Harry, then please, we are listening," Dumbledore said looking at her. Maxine however, said nothing. Karkaroff looked furious, but he too stayed silent.
"Shall we get on with it then?" Bagman asked the room rubbing his hands together. "Barty! You want to do the honours?"
"Very well," Crouch said slowly nodding. As Harry looked, Crouch looked worse than he did earlier, being this close to him allowed Harry to see the effects of what the imperious curse was doing to him. "Gather round, gather round, now, the first task is designed to test your daring, quick thinking, and above all else, courage, in the face of the unknown."
"It will take place on the twenty-fourth of November in front of the students and judges. The champions will only be permitted your wand and must not accept any help from other students or teachers. After the first task has been completed, they will receive information regarding the second task. The champions must not accept any help from students or teachers when preparing for these tasks. The Champions are also exempt from the end of year tests. You will be taken your N.E.W.T's during the summer at your own pace."
"That is everything is it not Albus?" Crouch asked him.
"I believe so," Dumbledore said nodding. "Very well, Madam Maxine, Professor Karkaroff a night cap?"
They both huffed and declined, leading their students out of the room.
"Very well, Harry, Cedric, may I suggest you head back to your common room's, I'm sure your houses are both eagerly waiting to celebrate," Dumbledore said to the two Hogwarts students. They both left the room and re-entered the now empty Great Hall.
"So, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?" Cedric asked as they made their way to the Entrance Hall.
"I've already said no," Harry said sighing. "I know no one is going to believe me, but that doesn't mean I did."
"Do you really think it might be a plot to kill you?" Cedric asked clearly not believing that was the case.
"Someone been trying to kill me each year, so why not," Harry said seriously.
"You've kept that quiet if that's the case," Cedric said as he stopped to turn off towards the Hufflepuff common room.
"Because everyone will want to jump up and celebrate that madmen are trying to kill you each year," Harry drawled.
"I suppose," Cedric said uncertainly. "Anyway see you, Harry."
Harry sighed expecting this and said goodbye to Cedric. Harry walked along the corridors thinking. He was glad the timeline had been fixed but was he prepared for what would come towards him the next couple of months? Sure he would have his friends, Hermione would believe him obviously, and Ginny already knew the truth. How would Ron react? Ron knew him better, and they were more like brothers, but Harry couldn't help think about how he reacted last time, would he be jealous again? And what about Neville and Luna? Would they believe him?
Harry didn't head towards the common room; he knew that Ginny would be waiting for him in the Room of Requirement, so soon he arrived at the portrait of Barnarbas the Barmy, and walked through the door. There the scene before him surprised him, Ginny standing by the fire apparently stressed out while Hermione was standing in front of her, they were obviously just having an argument. Ron sat at the table frowning, while Neville and Luna sat side by side grimacing.
"Er hi?" Harry said uncertainly as he closed the door behind him.
"Hi, that is all you have to say!" Hermione said rounding on him.
"Huh?" Harry asked confused.
"You said you wouldn't enter into the tournament mate," Ron muttered.
"And I didn't," Harry said sighing.
"So your name came out of the Goblet by magic did it?" Hermione said angrily.
"Well actually…" Neville started but stopped as Hermione threw him a look. Harry was thrown by Hermione's actions.
"I didn't put my name in," Harry said once again.
"Well, you did say you could if you wanted too," Ron said quietly.
"I also said I wasn't going to because it would cause Ginny to worry too much," Harry said walking into the room. "I wouldn't cross Ginny you know that!"
"So, if you weren't planning on entering the tournament," Hermione stated, "then what is up with all the training?"
"We told you," Harry sighed.
"And I don't believe you," Hermione said. "I'm sorry, but you suddenly start training just as the Tri-Wizard Tournament was announced. And then suddenly your name comes out of the Goblet of Fire."
"We started training in the summer!" Ginny retorted.
"And you knew about the tournament in the summer," Hermione answered back.
"You believe I put my name in?" Harry said hurt.
"Oh come on Harry," Hermione said. "Isn't it obvious?"
"No," Harry said hurt that Hermione didn't believe him.
"Well, it's not like either you or Ginny acted surprise when your name came out," Hermione argued. "I watched the two of you!"
"I didn't put my name in!" Harry shouted. "Why don't you believe me?"
"With all your secrets, is it really a surprise?" Hermione countered. Harry watched Hermione in shock.
"Ron?" Harry asked looking at him.
"Well you have to admit, it looks dodgy," Ron told him.
"I wouldn't do that to Ginny; I wouldn't put her through that," Harry said quietly. "Can you at least believe that?"
Ron frowned, thinking.
"Neville? Luna?" Harry asked desperately.
"I believe you, Harry," Neville said. "Why would you lie to us?"
"If you say you didn't, you didn't," Luna said shrugging.
Well, at least Luna and Neville believed him.
"Hermione, I didn't put my name in the Goblet, I wouldn't do that to Ginny," Harry whispered to her.
"I wish I could believe you," Hermione said shaking her head. "But I just don't, with the sneaking around and all the secrets, it just makes sense that you were planning this from the start."
"Really? because it only looks obvious to you," Ginny snarled.
"You know," Hermione said, and Harry could see Hermione shaking slightly, "Last month we had this whole conversation where you said you still wanted to be friends, that you wanted to let us in. And I've waited, this whole month I've waited, no questions, no demanding to know anything. I've waited and waited for you to see that you could trust us."
"Instead, all we get is still more secrets, and now you are lying to us when we already know the truth, I guess you really don't want to be friends anymore."
"Hermione no it's not like that," Harry said desperately.
"I've had enough Harry," Hermione sighed. "I'm tired of the secrets and the sneaking about and the lies. I'm tired, Harry. I've had enough of waiting for you to trust me, to trust us. Without trust, there is no friendship, so I guess there isn't a friendship anymore."
"Hermione no," Harry said shocked at what was happening.
"I'm sorry Harry," Hermione said walking towards the door, "But you leave me with no choice." And without a backwards glance, she walked out of the room.
"Ron I really didn't," Harry said turning desperately to him.
"Ron, do you think Harry would do that to me?" Ginny said gently. "Put me through this? Do you really think Harry would cross me? Or that I would be defending him now if he did?"
"No," Ron said shaking his head. "You wouldn't. So say Harry didn't put his name in the Goblet of Fire, who did?"
"Snape," Harry said at once.
"You think Snape did?" Ron said frowning.
"I'm sure of it, but without proof, there is nothing we can do," Harry sighed sitting down.
"I always thought it was wrong to trust him," Ron hissed.
"So you believe me?" Harry asked hopefully.
Ron looked at Harry and Ginny.
"I believe you would never hurt Ginny on purpose," Ron said. "Last year wasn't your fault, and a misunderstanding as Ginny kept telling us over the summer. And knowing how close you two are and have been since you were young, no I don't think you would do this to Ginny."
"You don't think I was in on this too? Like Hermione?" Ginny asked.
"You helping Harry enter into a dangerous tournament where he could get himself killed? No sorry, that is never going to happen," Ron sighed. "Why does everything always happen to you, Harry?"
"Believe me," Harry said finally sitting down. "I wish I knew."