Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the associated milieu belongs to J. K. Rowling and various publishers. I'm just borrowing the characters and the world for my own fun.
Author's notes: Finally I get the first chapter of this story out! I actually finished writing the first version of this story around mid-December, and back then I was hoping to get the first chapter edited and posted here on fanfiction net in a couple of days. When I read through the first version, though, I noticed that I had forgotten some things from the story and then there were also some other things that required quite a lot of editing and fixing to work out, and in the end it took me almost a month until I was satisfied enough with this story to start the final edit to smooth out the minor glitches and to fix the language.
There are still some things later on in this story that need some major work, but I'm quite hopeful that I can still post new chapters at a decent speed, and I'm actually aiming for posting about two chapters a week, each chapter being around five to eight thousand words in length, but time will tell whether I succeed in that goal or not.
As you can see, this is an alternate universe fic, which starts in the middle of Harry's fourth year, and pretty much all of the later canon (including the Prophecy) will be disregarded. This story continues on to Harry's fifth year and I have decided not to split it up to separate parts, but instead this will continue through the summer and on to the next year as a single story. I'm not sure about how long the whole thing is going to be, as I'm still doing some quite major editing and I'm not exactly sure where to end the story, but currently it stands at about 115,000 words.
I guess I should also note that English isn't my native language and there are bound to be some errors in this, although I have done a lot of work on the language and I hope that there aren't any major screw-ups with it, and I apologize for all the errors.
There will be romance later in this story and the pairing will be Harry/Hermione, so if that pairing offends you, I suggest you not to read this. But without further ado, here it is:
Harry Potter and the White Phoenix
Chapter 1 – Hermione's Secret
They went up to the Owlery. Hermione gave Harry a piece of parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink, then strolled around the long lines of perches, looking at all the different owls, while Harry sat down against a wall and wrote his letter. – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 18: The Weighing of the Wands.
After Harry had sent the letter to Sirius, Hermione cleared her throat to get his attention.
"There was something else I wanted to talk you about," she started. "You know the other Champions are older than you, and the tasks have been planned for students at least seventeen years old, so I thought that you should study ahead to prepare for the tasks. Of course it won't be possible to study everything up to the NEWT level, but if we concentrated on things that would help the most in the tournament, it would make a huge difference, I think," she rambled.
Harry wasn't very willing to do any extra studying, but he couldn't deny that she had a point there and he couldn't help sighing wearily, knowing that she was right.
"Yeah, I think you're right," he said to her, although a bit hesitantly, and she seemed to be delighted to hear that, judging by her expression.
"I already asked Professor McGonagall and she said that we could use her classroom when it's not occupied. It would really help us if we knew what the tasks are going to be like, but I guess we just have to concentrate on things that would help in many different situations. I have already made a list of some spells that you should learn, you know, things like the Stunning Spell, which will help to stop many of the magical creatures you might have to face, or the Shield Charm, which obviously helps to protect you from spells and other things that might harm you," she said enthusiastically. "We could start right now if that's OK with you?" she asked.
Harry thought about it for a moment and he realized that he didn't really have anything else to do at the moment, with Ron being a prat and ignoring him. "Yeah, I guess," he said.
"Come on then," Hermione said and she left the Owlery with Harry following her.
"There's something else that I think you could use in the Tournament, something that even the other champions probably can't do," she said quietly and secretively as they walked towards the Transfiguration classroom.
"Yeah?" he asked with some interest. He had no idea what she was talking about, but he thought that it might be something useful, though he was also sceptical about being able to learn something that a seventh year couldn't do.
"I'll tell you when we get there," she whispered to him and he wondered if it was something against the rules, because she was being so secretive, although Hermione probably wouldn't teach him anything that was against the rules. Unless it was something that might safe his life in the Tournament, another part of his mind added.
On their way, they saw a few students from the other Houses, and judging by their expressions, as they saw Harry, they didn't like Harry being in the Tournament, though None of them said anything. Hermione still gave him a sympathetic look as they walked towards the Transfiguration classroom. When they were inside the classroom, Hermione closed the door carefully, and she took a breath before starting to speak.
"I guess I should start from the beginning," she started a bit nervously. "You remember Ron's broken wand from the second year?" Here she waited for his nod before continuing. "That got me thinking that most witches and wizards are helpless if they lose or break their wand, and I started looking for books about wandless magic – it was mentioned in our first year that wands weren't really necessary, they just made focusing magic much easier. I only found several books that mentioned some famous wizards and witches that were able to do wandless magic, but none of the books actually taught how to do it – they only told that it's really difficult and takes a lot of time to learn decently, and thus very few actually bother learning it. But I still wanted to learn, and I decided to try and do it on my own with some pointers I got from a book that taught silent spell casting. It took me a lot of effort and months of time, but I was able to learn to cast a spell – the Levitation Charm – without a wand and after that it got easier to start learning other spells too, now that I knew how to do it," she told him, speaking rapidly.
Harry needed a bit of time to process all that she had said, and he still wasn't sure he had understood her. "So you can... cast spells without a wand?" he asked.
"Well, that's what I said. Only a few spells, though and I need to concentrate on it very intently," she said and lapsed to a short thoughtful silence.
"Here, look," she said and she put her wand down on one of the desks and took a step away from it, before closing her eyes. She relaxed her arms at her sides and took few deep breaths, before opening her eyes eyes again, and now she was looking intently at the wand on the table. She lifted her right arm in front of her, with her hand open and fingers relaxed, and her brows furrowed in concentration. Slowly she lifted her hand up and Harry was surprised to see the wand on the desk starting to rise up and levitate in the air!
After the wand was at the level of her head, she stopped and seemed to be concentrating even harder. Her lips moved, as she muttered something under her breath, and she flexed the fingers of her right hand. The wand sailed through the air towards her and she caught it with her right hand. Then she looked back at Harry, and when she saw him staring at her, mouth agape in surprise, she couldn't help blushing a bit at his stare.
"Of course, that wasn't a real Summoning Charm – I haven't learned to do that wandless yet – just a modified Levitation Charm that moved the wand towards me," she said quickly and, as he still seemed to be at a loss of words, she continued speaking. "As I said I can only do few spells, and I need to concentrate a lot, so it's not really useful with everyday magic, but it could help you if you lose your wand or something like that," she said.
Harry seemed to finally recover from his surprise. "You can do wandless magic?" he blurted. "But how? When did you have time to learn that?" he asked.
"Uhm, well, like I said, I started our second year and I continued through last year. You know, that's one of the reasons I was so overworked last year, and I really couldn't have done it without the time turner and still go to all of the classes. I just spent some time almost every day to practice and, well, that's it," she said.
"Do you really think I could learn that? If it took you more than a year, then how am I supposed to learn it in just a month?" he asked sceptically.
"Well, yes, I think you could. I had no one to teach me and it took me a long time to figure out how to do it and, especially, how to practice it. I think you could learn a couple of spells by Christmas – not for the first task, but there is still the second and the third task," she told him and she was looking quite enthusiastic about it.
Harry wasn't convinced, though. "Are you sure I can do that? I mean, Why aren't more people able to do wandless magic if it isn't more difficult than that?" he asked.
"As I said, it takes a very long time to learn enough spells for it to be of any use. You know, everyone could, for example, learn half a dozen languages if they just studied hard and long enough! Most people simply don't bother with wandless magic because they think that it takes too long to become any good at it, several years actually. But you would only need to learn a few useful spells, like the Summoning Charm to summon your wand if you lose it," she explained.
He thought about it for a moment and he couldn't help thinking that wandless magic was something too difficult for him to learn. But still it wouldn't hurt to try and it would be incredibly useful in some situations, if he did manage to learn it.
"OK, I'll try," he said. "But if I don't manage anything by, say, the first task, then we'll use the time for studying something else," he told her.
She looked thoughtful for a moment and he thought that she was going to object, but then her expression changed and she nodded her acceptance. "That's fine with me," she said. "Do you want to start practising right now?" she asked.
He wasn't looking exactly thrilled about it and he didn't answer her verbally, but he did sit down and he looked at her expectantly.
She took a moment to gather her thoughts before she started to speak again and this time she was using her lecture voice. "As you know, wands are only used to make focusing magic easier, while the actual magic comes from your own body. The wand, kind of, collects the magic that flows out of you and forms it to the spell you want to cast. In wandless magic you, obviously, need to focus the magic and form the spell by yourself, without a wand, using just the natural ability to alter magic that every witch and wizard possesses. That's the difficult thing that takes so much practise, though once you learn it decently, it should become quite easy, although you will still need a lot of concentration," she explained and then lapsed in to short silence to think about something. She looked around and saw a worn quill on one of the desks. She went to get it and returned with the quill, setting it down on a desk in front of him.
"Right, I think we should start with silent spellcasting and some simple spell. Casting a spell without an incantation takes a lot more effort and requires you to focus more of your magic consciously and because of that, it is quite a lot more difficult than normal spellcasting with an incantation, but it should make the leap to wandless magic smaller," she told him. "Let's start with the Levitation Charm on this quill, as it's a very simple Charm and I don't think you should have any trouble with learning to cast it without the incantation with some practise, and later without your wand," she told him and he nodded in understanding and acceptance.
"OK, here's what you should do: first do the Charm, say, five times with the incantation to get a feeling of the magic for the Charm and then on the sixth try, do it without the incantation, with just the wand movement," she instructed him. "You can think about the incantation in your head on the sixth try, but don't say it aloud," she added as an afterthought.
Harry stood up and, feeling a bit foolish, he lifted his wand and did the Levitation Charm – "Wingardium Leviosa" – five times on the quill, each time letting the quill levitate just a few inches up from the table, before letting it fall back. On the sixth try he did the swish and flick motion with his wand but didn't say anything. Nothing happened and Harry turned to look at Hermione with a questioning look.
"That's OK, Harry, it will take some time and practise," Hermione encouraged him. "Just try it again, but this time take a deep breath first and try to concentrate only on the thought of levitating the quill," she added.
Harry did as she told him to do and then tried it again but still the result was the same; nothing happened on the sixth try when he tried it silently. Hermione encouraged him to try again several times, and told him to try to concentrate fully on thinking about levitating the quill, and trying to feel the magic flow out of him when he did the spell normally. After he had repeated the exercise about twenty times, without any visible improvement, he started feeling frustrated.
"I don't think I can do this. I can't feel anything special when I cast the spell," he complained.
Hermione thought about it for a second, and she almost jumped when she realized something. "Try putting more power to the spell!" she blurted. "Try making the quill levitate up as fast as you can on each try and then try it silently. Putting more power on the spell should help you to get a better feeling of the spell," she told him.
He did as she told and concentrated on the thought of levitating the quill, before casting the spell once again, and this time he pushed as much of his magical power on the spell as he could. The quill quickly jerked a couple of feet up in the air and when Harry released the spell, the quill started floating down slowly.
"Oh," she said, realizing that the quill wasn't the best thing to practise on, and she looked around for something better. She noticed a bookshelf that had several worn books in it and she went to the shelf and took the most worn looking book she found.
"Try levitating this book, it's much heavier than the quill and you should be able to push more magic on levitating it. Then try it on the quill silently," she said as she put the book down on the desk, next to the quill. "But float the book down gently!" she added before he had the time to try it again.
This time he had to put more effort on the Levitation Charm, just to get the book to rise from the desk, but even the book jumped up quickly when he pushed all the magical power he could on the spell. After he had levitated the book five times he tried it silently on the quill, and this time the quill jerked.
"Did you see that, Harry?" Hermione said excitedly. "Try it again!" she urged him.
Harry repeated the spell five times on the book again and then tried it on the quill silently and it jerked again. He tried it several times more and each time the quill moved just a bit, sometimes more, sometimes less, although it didn't really levitate in the air. With Hermione's encouragement, he did the exercise for plenty of times, but he didn't improve any further from random jerks and soon Harry started getting frustrated again.
"I think that's enough for now," Hermione told him, when she noticed his frustration. "We can continue tomorrow," she added, when she realized that they had been at it for more than an hour already.
Harry sat down on a chair, relaxed, and closed his eyes – the constant spellcasting had him feeling a bit tired. After a moment he opened his eyes again and looked at Hermione, who had sat down too. The practising had distracted his thoughts, but now that he wasn't doing anything, Harry was reminded of Ron and what Hermione had said earlier that day about Ron being jealous about him getting all the fame. Thinking about that immediately sunk Harry's mood and he really wanted to push Ron out of his mind until Ron would grow up.
"That wasn't so bad after all. I don't think I mind doing this until Christmas, knowing that it will help me with the Tournament," Harry said to Hermione and he really meant it – spending some time each day to make sure that he didn't make a fool of himself in the Tournament wasn't that bad. "If I continue to improve, that is," he added and seemed a bit sullen.
"Oh, I'm sure you will," Hermione encouraged. "It just takes a lot of practise but gets easier after you learn your first wandless spell," she said and lapsed in to a short silence. "So, do you think you're ready to continue?" she asked.
"Continue?" he said dumbly. "I thought we were finished for the day?" he asked.
"For the wandless magic, yes, but you should really learn some new spells too. I thought that we could start with the Shield Charm today," she told him.
Harry groaned. It seemed that Hermione was pushing him for quite a full schedule of studying, and he realized that he should have expected this – she was Hermione after all. He hated the voice in his head that told him that she was right and that it would make sense to study all he could; it might actually save his life on one of the tasks.
"Let me just sit and rest for a few minutes and then we can continue," Harry said and Hermione didn't protest.
He sat quietly for a few minutes, just letting his mind rest, trying to push everything unpleasant out of his mind for a while and instead his thoughts strayed to wandless magic and all the possibilities it held. He thought that it would be really cool to be able to do wandless magic, especially as almost no one else seemed to be able to do it – if only it didn't take so much effort to learn. He also thought about Hermione learning it on her own and there were a few things that puzzled him about Hermione's story, when he thought about it more closely.
"Hermione?" he asked, getting her attention. "When did you have time to practise wandless magic and why didn't you tell us about it?" he asked puzzled.
"Well, I didn't want to tell you anything before I could actually do it and then, I guess, I just never got around to telling you about it and I wasn't even sure that you would be interested in it, because it was basically extra studying," she said to him normally, but then she smiled before continuing. "When do you think I practised? Where did I spent a lot of time where you didn't usually follow me?" she asked with a teasing smile.
Harry thought about it for a moment and he realized quite soon what she meant. "The library!" he said and she nodded. "So, instead of going to the library you went somewhere to practise wandless magic?" he asked.
"Yeah, that's what I did quite often," she answered a bit sheepish.
They lapsed into a silence again, and after a moment things that Harry didn't want to think about started circling around in his mind again; thoughts about the Goblet thing, Ron, and the whole Tournament. He tried to push those thoughts out of his mind and, instead, tried to think about things that he enjoyed – like Quidditch and flying. But that only made him miss those things even more and did nothing to improve his mood.
"OK, I'm ready," he said, when he realized that the studying would at least distract him from all the unpleasant thoughts for a moment.
She then started to eagerly teach him the Shield Charm – or "Protego" Charm as it was called by its incantation. Hermione herself couldn't actually do the charm yet, though she knew the wand movement and the incantation, and she learned it quite quickly while they both practised it, though her shield did look rather weak. That was proven when Hermione asked Harry to shoot some weak jinx at the shield to test its strength and Harry's Jelly-Legs Jinx passed right through the shield, almost hitting Hermione. They continued with the Shield Charm for a long time, and during that time Harry didn't manage more than just a wisp of smoke that didn't look anything like the Shield Charm was supposed to look like, and the smoke also vanished almost immediately.
After they finished studying for the day, it was already dinner time, but Harry didn't feel like eating. He was hungry of course, not having eaten anything since the morning, but he wanted to delay meeting the rest of the school for as long as possible. So, when Hermione left for the Great Hall to have dinner, Harry returned to the Gryffindor tower and, to his dismay, he realized that he still had most of his normal school work to do.
Harry felt really grateful for Hermione when she brought him a bit of food from the Great Hall, and even more so, when she also helped him with his homework. After he had finished working with most pressing of his assignments, it wasn't very late yet, but he still felt quite tired and he decided to retire to his dormitory and go to sleep early.
For some time, perhaps a quarter of an hour, Harry spent just lying there on his four-poster bed, trying to relax before going to sleep, and he tried in vain not to think about the Tournament or the fact that everyone, including Ron, seemed to think that he had entered himself in the Tournament. It was useless, however, and the thoughts kept popping up in his mind, so he decided that he might as well go to sleep. As he changed to his pyjamas and got under the blanket, he really hoped that the next days were going to be better.
The next morning it was Monday already and Harry couldn't avoid the rest of the school any more. At the breakfast it was clear that most of the students didn't like Harry being in the Tournament, with the Gryffindors being the most notable exception. The Slytherins, of course, didn't need a reason to hate Harry whenever he got fame and recognition, but the Hufflepuffs and the Ravenclaws had usually been in good terms with the Gryffindors. Now, the Hufflepuffs apparently felt that Harry had stolen the limelight from their House by being chosen as another Hogwarts Champion, and it was quite understandable as their House seldom got much attention. The Ravenclaws had always been closest to the Hufflepuffs and most of them seemed to side with them, disliking Harry for being in the Tournament.
The Gryffindors, on the other hand, treated Harry like some kind of a hero for outsmarting the Goblet and getting himself to the Tournament, with the exception of Ron and Hermione, and Harry wasn't very fond of that kind of attention either. Ron still wasn't talking with Harry and it seemed that Hermione was the only one that actually believed in him, and she was the only one that treated him normally. As if that wasn't enough, Hermione's prediction proved to be a correct one and the Prophet had a large article about the Tournament and it especially mentioned that, despite his young age, Harry Potter was one of the Champions. With all that, Harry was feeling quite miserable from the very beginning of the day.
It didn't get any better later that day. They had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs and it seemed that even Professor Sprout – the head of Hufflepuff, who was usually very fair with everyone – had a grudge against Harry. The Care of Magical Creatures class they had with the Slytherin and Malfoy had expectedly tried to get a rise out of Harry. There was just one bright spot in the day, and that was when Harry learned that at least Hagrid believed that he hadn't entered himself in the Tournament.
When they were finished with the classes, Harry and Hermione again went to the Transfiguration classroom to practise for the Tournament. Harry was actually glad for that, because it got him away from all the other students, and it wasn't that bad to spend time with Hermione, even if they spent it by studying, when compared to being stared at by other students. This time Hermione did some homework, while Harry continued the same silent spellcasting exercises he had done the day before, though this time he really managed to do the Levitation Charm silently, and not just make the quill jerk.
After that Hermione instructed him to try doing it with less normal castings prior to the silent one, as the next step would be to learn to do the silent spell spontaneously without getting the feeling of the magic for the spell with normal, non-silent castings of it. He managed to drop down the number of normal castings he required to just two and he still managed to levitate the quill silently on the third try quite well, although the quill did wobble a bit. He was feeling quite optimistic that in a few days he might be able to cast the spell silently without any prior normal castings of it and Hermione shared his sentiment.
After that they also continued practising the Shield Charm – Hermione too practised that, as she wasn't satisfied with her own shield yet – and this time Harry managed a weak shield, while Hermione's shield was getting stronger each time she tried it. This time, when Harry cast some weak jinxes to test her shield, she was quite satisfied to see that her Shield Charm could now hold against a weak jinx or two.
Harry's homework was, again, left to be done after the extra study with Hermione, and by the time he was finished with the most of their homework assignments – leaving the ones that weren't urgent for a later day – he was already feeling pretty exhausted. Still, he didn't want to go to bed yet, but instead he wanted to have some time off of everything. So, not being able to relax with Ron and play chess, or something like that, he decided to just sit in the front of the fire for a moment. He couldn't help thinking about how miserable he was feeling about everything that was happening, and it actually reminded him of his second year, when almost everyone had thought that he was the Heir of Slytherin; but this time it was even worse, as now even Ron wasn't there to support him, and it seemed that Hermione was the only one of the students that actually treated him decently. He sighed wearily and apparently that was heard by Hermione, who sat down next to him, looking sympathetic.
"I wish there was something I could do," she said to him and he noticed that she wasn't looking very cheerful either – not that she ever was lively, but she seemed to be somewhat down too.
Harry felt somewhat guilty, because he was quite sure that she was down because of him. "It's not your fault," he said, wanting to lift her spirits. "And you are helping me. You are the only one that believes me, and besides you are helping me practise. I wouldn't know what to practise for the Tournament myself and probably wouldn't have started doing anything before it was too late, anyway," he continued earnestly and she seemed to brighten just a bit. "I just wish it wasn't always me," he added darkly.
She seemed to be at a loss of words and just patted him on the shoulder in an act of comfort. They sat there in silence for some time, until Harry started feeling really tired – not physically, but mentally – and he decided to retire to his dormitory. Still, despite the tiredness, sleep didn't come easily for him with so much running through his head and he twisted and turned in his bed for a long time before finally falling asleep.
It didn't get any better for Harry during the rest of the week, either; the classes were quite awful and every day after the classes he spent a few hours with Hermione for extra study before doing his homework and he was starting to tire of it all pretty quickly. By Friday morning Harry was feeling totally worn out and the prospect of double Potions class that day just darkened his moods considerably.
He somehow managed to get through the day until the Potions class, but just as they were waiting for the class to begin, Malfoy had to show up wearing a badge that read "Support CEDRIC DIGGORY – the REAL Hogwarts Champion!" and of course he had to start insulting Harry even further. Harry managed to control himself, even when Malfoy's badge had flashed "POTTER STINKS", but when Malfoy had started insulting Hermione too, it was the last straw for him and all the frustration and anger he had felt during the week finally broke out of his control. Angrily, he fired a spell at Malfoy, but Malfoy was too quick for him and responded with a spell of his own. Their spells hit each other mid-air and were reflected off to random directions; Harry's curse hit Goyle in the face, while Malfoy's curse hit Hermione and her teeth started growing rapidly.
Of course, Snape happened to arrive just at that moment and it was no surprise that he was his normal biased and vindictive self. He ordered Goyle to go to the Hospital Wing, who was now spouting ugly boils in his face, but he just insulted Hermione, whose front teeth had already grown below her chin.
Hermione ran away with tears in her eyes and Ron started shouting insults at Snape, while Harry was seething inside and tried to refrain from doing something really stupid. He didn't really hear Snape giving Ron a detention for insulting a teacher, nor did he hear Snape urging them all inside, as he tried to regain the control of his anger. Harry was certain that he'd explode if he had to endure a double class with Snape and so he simply walked away from there. He could hear Snape calling after him, as he stormed off, but he didn't pay any attention to Snape's words, though he did hear the word "detention". At that moment Harry didn't really care one bit if he was in detention for the rest of his life – he just had to get away from it all.
Harry didn't know where he was going to, but soon he found himself in the Entrance Hall and he decided to head outside. He walked towards the lake and when he got there, he released his temper on a stone on the shore, kicking it angrily to the lake. Luckily it wasn't a big stone and he didn't really injure his foot, though it did hurt – but at least the pain helped him to regain some control of his temper. After about fifteen minutes of walking around and cooling down, Harry was feeling calm enough to realize that he was certainly in trouble for his actions, and that he had probably gained at least a week of detention from Snape – he would be expelled if Snape got his way, but Harry was quite certain that that wouldn't happen.
There was no point in going back to the Potions class, because it wouldn't change Snape's punishment in any way – and actually it just might make it worse if Harry did show up there. So, he decided to head for the Hospital Wing instead and see if Hermione was there and if she was okay. All the students were in their classes at the moment, and Harry didn't meet anyone on his way to the Hospital Wing, but when he got there, he saw that Hermione was indeed there and now her teeth also seemed to be back to their normal size.
"You all right, Hermione?" he asked her, when he was close enough that she noticed him.
"Oh yes, I'm fine," she replied and smiled at him. Harry was suddenly struck with a thought that she now looked somehow different, especially as she smiled. Her smile quickly changed to surprise, however, when she realized who it was talking to her.
"Harry? Why aren't you in Potions?" she asked him.
"Oh, I, um... I walked out of there," he said, not looking at her.
"In the middle of the class? Harry, you shouldn't have done that!" she reprimanded him, clearly disapproving his actions.
"No, I um... I left before the class even begun. I think I got detention for it, too," he admitted.
"Oh, Harry..." she said sadly, but she didn't reprimand him any further and actually she seemed sympathetic.
"I know, I shouldn't have done it, but I just... I had to get away from it, or I would have exploded," he said and sat down on a chair close to her. "So, you really OK?" he asked her again, wanting to change the subject.
"Yeah, I am. It took Madam Pomfrey just a minute to shrink my teeth back to normal. I just... didn't feel like going back there," she said looking down.
"Yeah, neither did I really," he admitted and they lapsed in to a silence that was soon interrupted by a breathless Colin Creevey hurrying through the doors to the Hospital Wing. He seemed delighted when he noticed that Harry was there.
"Harry ... you're needed ... upstairs, there's a ... photoshoot ... for the champions!" Colin told him breathless. He was clearly excited about it all and had a bright smile on his face.
"Oh. Well, see you later, Hermione," Harry said to Hermione as he stood up.
"See you," Hermione replied and Harry left, following the excited Colin Creevey.
Harry was rather glad that Colin was out of breath, and needed a few moments to regain his breath, before he started talking and asking Harry questions about the Tournament and everything. Fortunately for Harry, just in a moment they were in front of a classroom where he was apparently supposed to go.
Harry knocked on the door and it was opened immediately. He was quickly ushered in and he saw that it was a rather small classroom with several people already there. The three other Champions were present and so were Ludo Bagman, Dumbledore, Madam Maxime, Professor Karkaroff and Mr. Crouch. To Harry's surprise, Mr. Ollivander, who had sold Harry his wand over three years ago, was also there, and then there were also two others that Harry didn't know; one of them was clearly a photographer and the other was a witch in magenta robes.
Ludo Bagman told that they were in here for the Wand Weighing – a traditional Triwizard Tournament ceremony where the Champions' wands would be checked that they worked perfectly for the Tournament – and there would also be a photoshoot for the Champions. The witch in magenta robes – or Rita Skeeter, as she introduced herself – was a journalist for the Prophet and she wanted an interview with Harry, but luckily Harry was saved from it when Ludo Bagman stepped in and told that they would begin the Wand Weighing ceremony immediately, as they were already running a bit late.
All the Champions' wands were checked by Mr. Ollivander with all the judges of the Triwizard Tournament present and everyone's wand seemed to be in good enough condition. After that they had a short photoshoot; they were photographed together and separately and to Harry's dismay, the photographer (and especially the Skeeter journalist) seemed to have a specific interest in him. After the photoshoot, the Champions were dismissed for dinner, but Rita Skeeter seemed to be interested in talking with Harry. This time he was saved by Dumbledore, however, before she even had time to ask him again for an interview.
"Harry, could I have a word with you?" Dumbledore asked him and Harry saw that Rita Skeeter was looking rather sour.
"Of course, Professor Dumbledore," Harry replied a bit nervously – he was quite sure what this was about.
He followed Dumbledore out of the classroom and inside another one. This one was empty and judging by the dust everywhere, it hadn't been used for some time.
"Harry, I heard that you walked out of Professor Snape's class," Dumbledore started seriously.
"Yes, I did, sir," Harry replied abashed, not quite looking at the Headmaster.
"I'm sure that it's not easy with everything weighing down on you, Harry, but that doesn't excuse you to disrespect the teachers. Professor Snape gave you a week of detention and I'm afraid that he is rather correct in his punishment. Walking out of a class and skipping it without a good reason is a serious offence against the school rules," Dumbledore told him.
Harry had expected that and he wasn't the least bit surprised, but still he felt miserable at having to endure a week of detentions with Snape above everything else that was happening.
"However, in the current situation, I thought that spending a week in detention with Snape would be an unfair disadvantage to you, considering the Tournament," Dumbledore continued and Harry looked at him hopefully. "Now, I believe you have spent your evenings practising for the Tournament with Miss Granger?" Dumbledore asked him.
"Yes I have, sir," Harry replied, not knowing where Dumbledore was heading with his question.
"Ah, I thought so. I, of course, can not help you with that, but there is something else that wouldn't interfere with your training that much and would it would still be a proper punishment for breaking the rules. So, instead of having your detention with Snape, you are to report at my office, starting this evening, after dinner. You should bring your books and your homework assignments with you," Dumbledore told.
Harry felt immensely relieved, but also slightly nervous as he hadn't had detention with the Headmaster ever before. "Yes, sir," he replied.
Dumbledore didn't seem to have anything further to say and Harry decided that it was a good time to ask the Headmaster a question that had bothered him lately.
"Sir? Do you have any idea of who might have put my name in the Goblet?" Harry asked.
For just a moment Dumbledore looked tired and old, but then he collected himself and took an apologetic expression on his face. "I'm afraid that I still don't have any clear idea of who it might have been. But rest assured that I'm doing everything I can to find out the one responsible for that and meanwhile we're also taking measures to make certain that the tasks will be as safe for the Champions as possible," he said heavily and lapsed into a short silence. "Now, unless there is something else, I think you should head down for dinner," he added much more cheerfully.
Harry did as he was told and he hurried off to the Great Hall, wanting to avoid meeting the Skeeter woman if at all possible. When he got to the Great Hall, he noticed that Hermione and Ron were already there, sitting at the Gryffindor table. There was an empty seat on the other side of Hermione and he aimed for that seat and sat down to eat.
While eating, he told Hermione briefly about the Wand Weighing and the photoshoot – Ron pretended not to listen, but Harry was certain that Ron heard him. Harry also told her about the week of detention he had and she wasn't delighted to hear about that; it would mean less time to practise for the Tournament. She told him that Ron had also got detention for two nights with Snape and Harry didn't want to say about his detention being with Dumbledore, instead of Snape, in front of Ron.
Harry didn't have much of an appetite, as he was still a bit nervous about the impending detention and he ate only a little before saying a hasty "see you" to Hermione and heading towards the Headmaster's office. When he got there, the door was closed and he didn't know the password for the gargoyle that guarded the door to the office, so he leaned against a nearby wall to wait. He didn't have to wait for long before Dumbledore came from the direction of the Great Hall.
"Ah, Harry, you made it here before me," Dumbledore said to Harry jovially and then he turned to the stone gargoyle. "Lemon drop," he said the password to the gargoyle and the door sprang open, revealing the spiral staircase up to the Headmaster's office. He gestured for Harry to go in and Dumbledore followed behind him.
When they were both inside the office, Dumbledore led the way across the office, towards a small door and through the door to a smaller room. The only things in the room were a simple desk and few bookshelves, all full of books, and the room looked quite neglected. Harry looked around, wondering what the room was used for.
"This room was originally intended for the apprentice of the Headmaster, but it hasn't been used for that for a couple of centuries, as apprenticeships are quite rare these days," Dumbledore told Harry. "I mostly use this room to store books, but sometimes I also use this room when I don't feel like working in my office and want something simpler instead," Dumbledore added as an afterthought.
Dumbledore then took a roll of parchment from a pocket of his robe and offered it to Harry. "Here is the Potions assignment from Professor Snape that you were given today and which you are to do in today's detention. You should find most of the required information from your Potions book, but there is also a selection of reference books, should you need them, in that shelf," Dumbledore said and pointed to a bookshelf, where Harry noticed some Potions books that were familiar to him from the Hogwarts library. "You may do your work here and I'll come see you later," he added and left to his office.
Harry shuffled to the desk, sat down and took some parchment, quill, ink and his Potions book from his backpack. He read the assignment from Snape and sighed wearily; he was to write three feet about the antidotes to the most common poisons and it would take him easily two or even three hours to write that. Somewhat reluctantly he started working on the assignment.
It seemed to take him forever to check some of the most common poisons and then find the antidotes that helped against them and then make an essay out of the information, and when he was finally finished with it, he had only two and half feet of text. Not wanting to do any more research, as he felt that he had enough facts for the essay, he rewrote parts of the assignment and added some words or useless facts here and there, and he managed to get it to the required three feet without doing any major work. He had no notions of it being a essay worthy of an Outstanding but he was sure that it was good enough to pass, even with Snape's strict standards, and that was quite enough for him.
He reread the essay to make sure that there weren't any bigger mistakes in it and then he stretched a bit; sitting there hunched over the essay had him feeling achy and stiff. Checking his watch, he saw that it was just few minutes past half past seven and he had been there for about two and half hours. Dumbledore had been to the same room a couple of times; he had once taken a book from one of the several bookshelves and a few minutes later he had returned the book, looking thoughtful and Harry had briefly wondered what Dumbledore was doing, but then he had concentrated back on his essay.
After a few minutes of just sitting there, just when Harry was starting to feel restless and wondered if he should find Dumbledore and tell him that the he was finished with the Potions essay, Dumbledore appeared and noticed that Harry was looking rather relaxed.
"All finished, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered and sat straighter in the chair.
"Let me see," Dumbledore said and briefly looked at his essay, just glancing through it quickly, and he seemed satisfied. "Then you're free to go. See you tomorrow, after the dinner," he said.
"I will, sir," Harry replied.
Harry quickly gathered his stuff and returned a book he had used to check some things for the essay to the bookshelf, where he had taken it, and then he left. By the time he reached the Gryffindor tower it was a quarter to eight already. Ron was there in the common room playing exploding snap with Dean and Seamus, and he didn't notice Harry enter the room. Harry thought that Ron was looking quite sour, and despite Ron acting like a git, Harry couldn't help feeling some sympathy towards him for having his detentions with Snape. Harry also noticed Hermione, sitting on one of the couches, reading a book and he made his way towards her.
"Harry!" she said surprised, when he sat down next to her. "So, you're having your detentions with Dumbledore instead of Snape?" she asked when she recovered from her surprise.
"Yeah, I am. I just didn't want to tell it in front of Ron,," Harry said.
Hermione looked unhappy about something. "Yes, Ron told me that he is having his detentions with Snape, starting from tomorrow, and Snape had also told him that you would be having your detentions with the Headmaster instead. Ron didn't seem very happy about it," Hermione finished sympathetically.
Harry decided to ignore the information about Ron. "Dumbledore thought that it wasn't fair for me to be in detention for a week with Snape, not having as much time to train for the Tournament as the other Champions," Harry told her.
"So, what did you do in the detention? He didn't train you himself, did he? That wouldn't be fair, you know, because he's one of the judges and knows the tasks beforehand," she asked him.
"No, he had me doing homework. I had to make a three feet long assignment for Snape. I guess he makes me do my homework in the detentions, so that I would have time to practise for the Tournament at other times," Harry told her.
"So, you don't have any urgent homework left?" Hermione asked brightly. "That means that we still have some time before the curfew to practise!" she added and jumped up, but then she seemed to remember something. "Oh, you also had an owl and I took the letter from it. Wait a moment," she said and rummaged through her backpack. She produced a letter from inside the backpack and offered it to him.
Harry opened the letter eagerly, when he saw that it was from Sirius, and he read through it quickly, making sure that no one else besides Hermione was around to see the letter. Harry was excited to read that he'd have a change to talk face to face with Sirius in just two weeks. He'd have to stay up late and make sure that no one else was in the common room, but that wasn't a high price to pay for a change to talk with Sirius. Harry also felt a bit relieved to read that Sirius thought that he was safe in Hogwarts with Dumbledore and Professor Moody around, despite someone managing to put his name in the Goblet.
Harry decided to send a reply to Sirius right away. He told Hermione briefly about what Sirius had said, before writing a short reply, and then he left towards the Owlery with Hermione following him.
"Harry, we'd still have some time to practise," she reminded him as they walked out of the Gryffindor tower through the portrait hole.
"Fine, but I'm having at least tomorrow off," Harry replied and she didn't protest, even though she looked like she wasn't quite happy about it.
After he had sent the letter, they quickly made their way to the Transfiguration classroom and they still had an hour before the curfew. This time they spent all their time practising wandless magic and by the time they were finished – just in time to get back to the Gryffindor tower before curfew – Harry was already quite confident in casting the Levitation Charm silently and Hermione told him that on Sunday he could start practising the Charm without his wand. She also said that he was progressing really fast and that he might be able to do the Charm without a wand in just a week or two more of practising.
While they had practised, Harry was again reminded by the fact that Hermione had seemed to look somehow different that day in the Hospital Wing, and now he thought that there really was something different about her. As they walked towards the Gryffindor Tower, Harry finally decided to ask her about it.
"Hermione? You know, I've been wondering that you look somehow ... different," he said tentatively, not knowing how she would react to him talking about her looks.
"Oh, you have?" she asked smiling and Harry was, once again, struck by the feeling that she looked different. Thinking about it more closely, he realized that she had used to have quite big front teeth but now they looked smaller and they were average sized, actually.
"Your teeth!" he said when he realized it. "You shrunk your front teeth?" he asked.
"Of course I did. You thought I would have wanted to keep those fangs from that curse?" she asked him.
"No, I didn't mean that," he replied. "I meant that, erm, your teeth are smaller than they used to be, not that there was anything wrong with them before," he said, being a bit afraid of offending her.
Instead of being offended, she smiled. "When I went to the Hospital Wing and Madam Pomfrey started to shrink my teeth, she told me to tell her when they were the right size and I let her shrunk them a bit smaller than what they used to be," she told him.
"Oh, well, they look nice," Harry blurted before he caught himself and he felt foolish immediately after saying it. It was what he had thought, but he hadn't meant to say it aloud and he really thought that he was getting too comfortable with Hermione, spending so much time with her. He felt the need to say something else, to correct himself, but he couldn't come up with anything quickly.
He was spared from having to say anything, though when Hermione smiled at him. "Thanks," she said and they continued walking towards the Gryffindor tower in silence.
When they got there, Harry noticed that Ron was still there, just sitting, doing nothing, and he was looking just as sour as he had been before. Ron's expression seemed to go even sourer when he noticed Harry entering the Common Room and he stood up and made his way up to the boys dormitory. Harry sighed wearily and sat down on one of the couches in the room.
"He'll come around," Hermione said to him, sitting next to him, but Harry wasn't so sure. Hermione got the same book she had been reading earlier and continued reading it, while Harry just sat there, staring at the fire and wishing that two weeks would pass quickly so that he'd have a change to talk with Sirius. After some time, he said good night to Hermione and left to go to sleep. He was feeling really tired and sleep came quite easily for him that night.
To be continued...