AN: I'M BACK!
Sorry everyone, that I didn't update sooner. I've spend more time in hospital this year than the last twenty years put together, the last time for nearly eight weeks for what was a pretty close call. And no, I didn't write at all during this time since I couldn't manage to bring up the energy. Now I'm better and of course back to writing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter! (Sadly! I could really use the money!)
Hope you like the new chapter! Reviews are welcome.
The first task
The few weeks until November the 24th went by fast for the three friends. Harry continued to excel in his classes and he and Hermione had a friendly competition going who would get a new spell or charm first or would hand in the better potion. Something about Professor Moody put Harry on edge. After they had extensively covered the three Unforgiveable Curses he had gone over to shields. The ex-auror was a good teacher but his shining through paranoia was something that made Harry and quite a few other students nervous in his presence.
Since he wouldn't have to compete in the tournament Harry, like everyone else, was excited about what the first task would be. The very active rumour-mill of Hogwarts discussed various theories from having to face various magical creatures to having to duel a full trained Auror. Fred and George had started a betting pool where you could bet on what the first task would be. It was rumoured that even some professors were in on the bets.
Ron was becoming more and more of a problem. He still refused to even consider that Harry was telling the truth. While he was mostly glaring and sneering at his former best friend the youngest Weasley somehow had come to the conclusion that Harry would loose his magic if he didn't compete in the Tournament. Ron spouted his theory to whoever would stay long enough to listen. Harry did his best to just shrug it off. Not for the first time he wondered if Ron had always been this way. The more Harry thought about it he had to admit that he had been too desperate for having a friend back when they met on the train causing him to cling to their friendship and forgive Ron whenever he acted jealous and rude towards Hermione and others. These days were over though and Harry doubted he and Ronald Weasley would ever be friends again.
Albus Dumbledore found himself in the unusual situation to have to give answers. He was not only pressured by the Ministry and Madam Maxime and Professor Karakoff but also by the board of governors and Sirius Black. The board led by Lucius Malfoy and surprisingly Augusta Longbottom even went so far to threaten his continued employment as the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Albus tried to find another solution but in the second week after the choosing of the champions he decided to sacrifice the imposter who was posing as his old friend Alastor.
It was Thursday the November 10th when the Wizarding World could read the following article in the Daily Prophet.
SHOCKING REVELATIONS AT HOGWARTS! CONVICTED DEATH EATER POSES AS PROFESSOR!
By Wilbert Writer
Following the choosing of the Champions of the Triwizard Tournament on the evening of Halloween investigations led by the Supreme Mugwump and Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore revealed a shocking truth. The newest addition to the Hogwarts staff in form of former Auror Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody was revealed to no one else as Barthemius Crouch Jr. impersonating the famous ex-Auror using Polyjuice-Potion to change his appearance to the famous ex-auror. Auror Moody was found in the prison-cell of his own multi-compartment trunk and immediately rushed to St. Mungo's for treatment.
Readers will remember that the only son of the former Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (short DMLE) Barthemius Crouch Senior was arrested only few day's after the fall of You-Know-Who when he and three other Death-Eaters attacked the Auror Frank Longbottom and his wife Alice and tortured them for several hours. Convicted by a trial led by his own father B. Crouch Jr. was sentenced to a life sentence in Azkaban where he was thought to have died only few months later.
A first questioning of Crouch Jr. brought to light that it had been him who put the name of the Boy-Who Lived Harry Potter in the Goblet of Fire as a competitor from a fourth school. Only because young Mr. Potters interest in the nature of magical vows as well as the rules of the Triwizard Tournament spared the fourth-year Gryffindor from having to compete in a tournament designed for seventh-year students.
On Crouch Jr.'s reasons the current Head of the DMLE, Madam Amelia Bones wouldn't release any information. It is however rumoured that Barthemius Crouch Senior is facing a hearing to determine if he knew anything about his sons plans.
Until Alastor Moody is able to take on his job as the Professor for Defence Against the Dark Arts an Auror from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement will take over his classes.
Page 2-3: Frank and Alice Longbottom, tortured into insanity
Page 4: Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody – A life of catching Dark Wizards
Page 5: The Defence Against the Dark Arts Professors of Hogwarts – Is the position really cursed?
Crouch jr.'s arrest resulted in a flood of angry retorts of reader's on how a known Death Eater, even though polyjuiced, could have been able to infiltrate Hogwarts and impersonate a known former Auror and very good friend of Albus Dumbledore for over two months. Not only that, he had tried to enter their national hero Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived no less in a tournament designed for adult witches and wizards. Especially Dumbledore was taking a lot of heat when people found out about the confrontation between Harry and Dumbledore in the Great Hall.
For Neville the article about his parents resulted in craning necks and whispering of other students. The shy Gryffindor found himself in the centre of attention and was subjected to many pitying looks from Ravenclaw's, Hufflepuff's, Gryffindor's and even some Slytherin's. Something he felt very uncomfortable with. Hermione and Harry supported him as good as they could. Especially Harry knew exactly how Neville felt, having been subjected to the same treatment since his return to the Wizarding World.
The week before the first task Neville got a letter from his grandmother. Augusta Longbottom was very pleased that Neville had made friends with the Potter heir. She was shocked by how young Harry's education about what was expected from him as the heir of a Noble and Ancient House had been neglected in such a way. She too wasn't pleased to read what had happened to Harry and his friends over the last three years and Augusta wrote her grandson in no uncertain terms that he was to confirm that she would be happy to teach both Harry and Hermione everything they needed to know. Neville grinned widely when he read the letter to his two friends down by the lake.
Finally the day of the first task had come. No one really wanted to pay attention in the classes that morning and even the teachers with the exception of Snape, MacGonagall and Binns did not even bother to go on with their lessons. Flitwick discussed the History of the Triwizard Tournament in Ginny's class much to the Ravenclaw's and Gryffindor's interest while Moody's stand in explained magical contracts and unbreakable oaths to the fourth year lions and snakes. As stated by the Daily Prophet Kingsley Shacklebolt was an Auror. At the moment he was on leave from his active duties to teach until the real Alastor Moody would be able to take over DADA.
Auror Shacklebolt teaching style was very hands on and reminded Harry and his friends of how Remus Lupin had taught them in the year before. Many students wished Auror Shacklebolt would stay for the rest of the school year.
Hermione, Neville and Harry took seats in the stands that had been magically erected on the clearing near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. They were soon joined by Sirius and Remus. All of what Harry estimated to be about two thousand seats were filled with students, parents, Ministry Officials and other spectators who wanted to see the first task. Harry and his friends had seats in the upper part of the stadium a good distance from the platform were Minister Fudge, the judges and the Board of Governors were seated.
Minister Fudge stood and cast a sonorous at his throat:
'Welcome witches and wizards, welcome to the resurrection of a century old tradition.' The minister's voice rang out to the anxious crowd. 'The Triwizard Tournament!' cheers broke out through the stands. 'Three champions, one of each of the competing schools Beauxbatons, Durmstrang and Hogwarts will struggle in three magical tasks. I now welcome you to the first task of the first Triwizard Tournament for over four hundred years!' another round of cheering followed the opening of the Tournament and Minister Fudge gave the word over to Dumbledore.
'Welcome! Welcome, students, parents and guests!' Dumbledore greeted, smiling amiably at the assembled crowd. 'Before I announce what the first task will be I would like to thank Minister Fudge for his kind opening of this event. I also give my thanks to the Department of International Magical Co-operation as well the Department of Magical Games and Sports and their heads Mr. Barthemius Crouch and Mr. Ludo Bagman. They have worked hard to make this Tournament happen.' The crowd reacted with applause. 'Now I don't want to keep you waiting any longer. Each of the three champions is tasked to collect a golden egg. Each of these eggs will have to be recovered from a nest of a breeding dragon.'
Harry felt himself pale. Beside him Hermione gasped and grabbed his hand. On Harry's other side Neville too gasped and unconsciously grabbed the shorter boy's sleeve. Behind them Sirius hand gripped Harry's shoulder.
'No way!' the dog-animagus whispered completely shocked.
'They are insane!' Remus growled beside him, echoing Harry's thoughts as he unbelievingly stared at Dumbledore and the rest of the judges. 'Students against a nesting dragon! A dragon! That's….!' The werewolf struggled for words.
'Thank Merlin you don't have to compete.' Hermione finally said, causing the Marauders and Neville to pale further at the thought of Harry having to compete in the tasks. Harry could only nod and vowed to never ever ignore a gut feeling again.
The first champion that entered the stadium was Cedric. He would be facing a compact dragon with dark green and blue scales and a snout that reminded Harry of Marge Dursley's dog Ripper. Ludo Bagman had announced the beast as a Swedish Short Snout. They watched Cedric transfiguring a rock into a Labrador. It was an impressive piece of magic even for seventh-year student. The diversion seemed to work when the Short Snout went after the dog.
Harry froze when the dragon hissed furiously at the Hufflepuff seeker. Yes, he knew he was a dragomouth but it still surprised him that he could understand the magnificent creature.
'Away! Away from my eggs! Thief! Vermin! Away, or I'll kill you!' the dragon hissed furious. Harry stared at the dragon in utter fascination. So dragons were sentiment! – Something even dragon experts were in disagreement with each other. He only listened with half an ear to Bagman's running commentary, watching with mixed feelings when Cedric made his way towards the nest. He had managed well over half of the way when the dragon lost interest in the Labrador turned rock and turned his attention to the seventh-year Hufflepuff. The enraged Short Snout continued to hiss warnings and let out an enraged roar when the Hogwarts champion reached the nest and grabbed the golden egg.
'THIEF!' it roared and an enormous jet of flame erupted from its mouth. Cedric dived out of the way as fast as he could but was graced by the flames, than the audience erupted into cheers when the first champion completed the task. Dragon handlers steered the enraged creature out of the stadium.
The Short Snout was replaced through a slim dragon with beautiful moss green scales, longish snout and bat-like ears. Harry at once recognized it as a Welsh Green, one of the few dragons still native to the British Isles.
Fleur Delacour entered the stadium her wand drawn and her head held high. Harry didn't recognize the spell she used. The dragon, which too had started hissing warnings towards the nest-robbing witch, seemed to be in some kind of trance. The French witch quickly made her way towards the nest and grabbed the golden egg. She had just made her way half back when the now sleeping dragon snored and a jet of fire caught her robes. Fleur screamed in panic before she used her wand to put the fire out with a jet of water. Than she too reached the finish area and the audience cheered and clapped for the Beauxbatons Champion.
Harry hadn't cheered for any champion's success, a fact that was drawing more and more attention from other spectators. Both dragons' furious screams still ringing in his ears he didn't notice. Instead he felt more and more at unease how the organizers of this event used these magnificent creatures as a sensation in this event.
The Chinese Fireball was a beautiful dragon with a lion-like head and glittering red and gold scales on a snake-like body. Victor Krums approach was swift and brutal. Aiming at the head he blinded the Fireball with what looked like cutting curses. The dragon screamed in pain and trampled half of his eggs. At this point Harry was furious. Without another word he stood and left the stadium, leaving Hermione, Neville, Sirius and Remus stare after him.
Upset, sad and angry Harry left the stadium with fast steps. Deciding that he needed to be alone for a while Harry went down to the lake, where Hermione, Neville, Sirius and Remus found him over an hour later. Hermione sat down beside him while Sirius came down on his other side.
'Thought, you would be here.' The bushy haired witch said quietly. 'You were pretty upset ealier!' Way to state the obvious Harry thought and snorted. He still didn't look at anyone his eyes trained on the lake.
'I still am!' he answered, earning himself a startled look from everyone but Sirius, who had a look of dawning understanding.
'Why?' Neville asked hesitantly. Green eyes flashed in annoyance. Than the black haired boy sighed.
'I told you about my Test of Talents this summer?' he began. Neville and Hermione still looked confused.
'Dragontongue!' Sirius spoke for the fist time. 'You could understand the Dragons!' his son nodded.
'But dragons are not sentiment!' Hermione started. 'All the books say so!'
'Yes they are!' Harry contradicted her, his voice sharp. Ignoring the hurt look she gave him he continued: 'They were warning the champions not to come near their nests.' He shuddered, remembering the furious beasts hissing. 'They were so angry and scared.' Harry looked away from the lake and Hermione and Remus could see the tears in his eyes. 'Did you know that Chinese Fireballs are almost extinct? There are only seventeen confirmed Fireballs world-wide. Thirteen of them are male. Fireballs only mate every ten to twelve years. The nest down in the stadium held about fifteen eggs. How many of them were still whole after the dragon trampled most of them in her pain? Four? Five? And for what! A stupid Tournament to amuse the masses!'