Disclaimer. Everything Harry Potter belongs to J.K.R. I only own Orion Black. :-)
Staring up at the stars through a thick canopy of leaves, Orion Black had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. It was just after one in the morning—a time when most people would be sleeping the night away. Under normal circumstances, Orion, his best friend, Neville Longbottom, and honorary brother, Cedric Diggory, would be among most people but not tonight. The three teenage wizards had hiked to the large oak tree on Stoatshead Hill where they would wait for Remus Lupin and Amos Diggory to join them in almost three and a half hours. After that, they'd locate the portkey that would take them to the Quidditch World Cup.
Remus and Mr. Diggory didn't agree with the boys staying up all night long but they had just been too excited to sleep. It was that excitement that led to Neville and Cedric's current argument. This one was on the properties of Gillyweed. It was a stupid argument but they really didn't have anything better to do. The only good thing about the argument was that it gave Orion time to think about how much had changed in his life during the past few months.
Orion had always known he wasn't exactly normal—even among wizards. He had been adopted by use of a potion when he was five by Sirius Black. He had no memory of his life before his adoption and never really cared to find out. He had been happy with his father and honorary uncle. That was until the end of his last term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when the most unlikely person started to realize the biggest secret that connected two families. Peter Pettigrew had noticed the one feature that the blood adoption potion didn't change. He had noticed the eyes Orion had inherited from his birth mother.
Pettigrew had escaped capture and was still at large but the possible danger was too much of a risk to ignore. Sirius had no choice and finally revealed who Orion's birth parents were—James and Lily Potter. That had taken a while to come to terms with. To think that his birth family had been so close for so long…and the emphasis was on the word 'family'. The adoption potion had only changed him on his father's side. Lily Potter was still technically Orion's mother, which meant Hayden and Rose Potter were his half-brother and half-sister.
It explained a lot but it also made things a little uncomfortable between Orion and the Potter children. It was probably the main reason Orion was glad Mr. and Mrs. Potter finally decided to take over teaching Hayden and Rose spells over the summer. From the few letters they had written, Mr. and Mrs. Potter weren't holding back. They wanted their children to be able to protect themselves. All Orion could think was that it was better late than never.
Neville was the only person other than Sirius and Remus who knew anything about the latest complication in Orion's life. He never asked questions and always listened patiently when Orion felt the need to rant. Neville was really the only reason Orion was as calm as he was about the whole thing. Neville had helped Orion see that it didn't matter who his mother was or who his birth father had been. Sirius had been there for the past nine years and that was what was important.
Orion winced as Neville and Cedric's argument increased in volume. It was really a bad time to have a headache but this one refused to go away. It had started two nights ago with the intensity of a migraine. The pain had been nearly gone by morning but it still ached. It was strange. He rarely had headaches like this. The last time there was anything close was near the end of his first year at Hogwarts. Strange.
"Oh come on!" Neville protested. "You can't honestly think—"
"—neither of you are going to think much of anything if you don't stop it," Orion interrupted irritably as he rubbed his forehead with his knuckles. "Can't you two find something you can agree on?"
There was silence for a long moment before Orion felt and heard a branch move. Looking down, Orion noticed Cedric climbing up the tree. He let out a sigh and closed his eyes. It wasn't a surprise. Neville had a problem with heights and Orion was rather high up.
It wasn't long before Cedric was sitting on the large branch beside Orion's. "Do you want to go back?" he asked. "If it's still bad—"
"—it's not as bad as it was," Orion said with a sigh. "It's just annoying. The Challenge is going to be impossible if it doesn't go away."
Cedric frowned. "Maybe Remus can bring a potion for it," he offered.
Orion shrugged his shoulders. "We've tried potions. Nothing seems to help and the dreams seem to make it worse."
Cedric frowned. "What dreams?" he asked intently.
Orion shrugged again. "They're not exactly dreams," he admitted. "Just muffled voices that are hard to make out. I can only catch a word here and there."
Cedric's frowned deepened. "Weird," he said quietly. "Maybe we should forget—"
"—oh no, don't you dare!" Orion interrupted with a grin. "You're not getting out of this. You promised."
Cedric winced. "I promised before I knew all the facts," he protested.
Orion's grin widened. "Too bad for you," he teased before his tone became more understanding. "It won't be that bad, Cedric. Really. It's just supposed to be a bit of fun between friends."
Cedric snorted. "Only you, Orion, would have people like them as friends," he grumbled.
Orion stared at Cedric with a raised eyebrow. "You are getting a Firebolt out of this, aren't you?" he taunted.
Cedric glared at Orion. "Which is the only reason I'm keeping my word," he said suspiciously. "There isn't something else you're not telling me, is there?"
Orion looked offended. "Who me?" he asked innocently. "Why would I hide anything from you?"
Cedric's eyes narrowed. "Orion," he growled.
"Orion, you better tell him," Neville shouted from the ground. "If you don't he'll take it out on me!"
Orion let out a dramatic sigh. "Fine, have it your way," he said before grinning. "There really isn't much I haven't told you. When we get to the World Cup we're supposed to go directly to the stadium. A representative will be waiting for us and show us to our seats. We'll be sitting with Viktor's parents—they're very nice people so your dad should get along great with them. Once final practice is done, we'll be taken down to the changing rooms and given a shirt to put on over our clothes. I believe we're wearing green and they're wearing red."
"I've got that part," Cedric said uncomfortably. "It's the part after that I'm not so sure about."
Orion's eyes widened in realization. "You're nervous?" he asked. Cedric nodded. "Cedric, it's just a bit of fun. They're professionals and we're obviously not. I don't expect to win although it would be great to get close."
Cedric visibly relaxed. "Really? You know I'm not as strong as you are in the air."
Orion snorted. "Please," he said dryly. "Cedric, you're better than I am. The only difference between us is I pull more tricks than you do. For me, flying is about freedom. For you, it's about catching the Snitch. You've always been a Seeker. I've always been a flyer." Cedric stared off with a thoughtful look on his face. Orion had to hold back a laugh. "Where's all this doubt coming from? You know you can't have that if you're going to participate in the—"
"—I have to be selected first," Cedric interrupted before glancing down at Neville.
"Don't worry about me," Neville yelled up. "I was there when Sirius started ranting about the stupidity of the Ministry. He didn't even realize we were there until it was too late. We've been sworn to secrecy though so don't spread it around."
"I won't," Cedric said quickly. "Dad only told me because he was hoping I'd enter."
"Better you than me," Orion said seriously. "I'm just thankful the danger won't be focused on me this year. I've had enough of that to last a lifetime."
"Thanks," Cedric said sarcastically. "Now I feel so much better."
Orion shrugged his shoulders. "Can you blame me?" he asked. "I've done the research on the Triwizard Tournament. I know how dangerous it is. That's why I can't believe they brought it back. Would it be too much to ask for one peaceful year at Hogwarts?"
"Actually, it was relatively peaceful until you started your first year," Cedric said nonchalantly.
"I agree," Neville added thoughtfully. "I think its fate. Whenever a Potter and Black are at Hogwarts, it has to be chaos."
Orion cringed. If Neville only knew the real chaos hadn't even begun yet. "I think everyone would prefer the chaos of the older generation than what we've been facing," he said dryly.
"You have a point," Cedric conceded. "None of that's really been your fault so it's not like we can blame it on you. Potter, on the other hand, that's a different story."
"None of it was Hayden's fault either," Neville said defensively.
Cedric repositioned himself on the branch so he could stare down at Neville. "Don't you think it's a little coincidental that this stuff with You-Know-Who starts happening exactly when Potter comes out of hiding?" he asked suspiciously. "It's like You-Know-Who was waiting for him."
Orion frowned. That was certainly one way of thinking except for the small fact that Voldemort hadn't been after Hayden. His target had been the Philosopher's Stone. Hayden had just prevented him from succeeding. "Voldemort's always been a problem," Orion said distantly, "and always will be until he's finally destroyed. He's spent thirteen years as a wraith, abandoned by his 'faithful' followers. He's getting impatient—very impatient."
Blinking suddenly, Orion shook his head as if to clear out the thought and frowned in confusion. "Sorry about that. I don't know where that came from."
Cedric stared worriedly at Orion. "Are you sure you're all right, Ori?" he asked cautiously. "Maybe your headache and those dreams are affecting you more than you thought."
Orion shook his head stubbornly. "I'm fine," he insisted. "It's probably just from my research on Voldemort's past. You should see Dad's file—it's huge."
Silence fell and Orion took to staring at the stars again. Instead of returning to his previous thoughts, Orion forced himself to think about the Quidditch World Cup…and the Seeker's Challenge. Orion had been ecstatic to hear Viktor Krum had become Seeker for the Bulgarian team. Viktor was a flyer just like Orion. They both loved the freedom of being in the air. Viktor just happened to be a bloody brilliant Seeker too which led to him being on an international Quidditch team at the age of seventeen.
It was actually Viktor who came up with the idea of having a Seeker's Challenge. He had joked about testing Orion's 'progress' after all these years to make sure Orion was accessing his potential. Orion had pushed it further by proposing teams—Krum and Aidan Lynch, the Seeker for the Irish team, against Orion and a local Seeker of his choice. Cedric had been Orion's first pick. Cedric was calculated Quidditch player like Lynch. Both of them tended to focus completely on the game instead of enjoying themselves. The only difference was that Cedric knew Orion a lot better than Lynch knew Viktor. Cedric knew he would have to keep one eye on Orion to make sure Orion didn't do something reckless.
Lynch had been hesitant at first to even consider playing a game before the start of the World Cup but everyone seemed to agree that it would be good publicity. Shortly after Lynch agreed, announcements were set out claiming that the Seeker's Challenge was a once in a lifetime event to witness. Orion and Cedric's names had been withheld so most of the fans were constantly debating who had been chosen to represent the British Ministry. Many professional Seekers were discussed but all denied being asked to participate. No one even considered Hogwarts students. They were certainly going to be surprised.
The Seeker's Challenge itself was rather simple. The first team to catch the Snitch twice would win. There would be no violence and no maneuvers that would risk Viktor or Lynch's ability to play in the game that would start immediately afterwards. Everyone had easily agreed to that restriction. As much as they wanted to win, no one wanted to see someone get hurt just for a little bit of fun.
With all the publicity, Viktor had easily arranged for the Firebolt that would be given to Cedric, the only player in the Seeker's Challenge that didn't already own one. Cedric had protested at first but Viktor had been rather stubborn. It was the least the supporters could do since they were making so much money already.
The World Cup would be decided between Ireland and Bulgaria. Personally, Orion knew Ireland had a better team as a whole. Viktor was really the only reason Bulgaria made it to the finals. Orion expected Ireland to win but he knew Viktor wouldn't take anyone out-flying him. If the game didn't go in Bulgaria's favor, Orion had a feeling Viktor would take the game in his own hands.
Orion closed his eyes and let his mind wander from thoughts of Quidditch to the Triwizard Tournament. He still thought the Ministry was mad to bring it back only to help improve the public's opinion which was still tarnished from the incident in June which resulted in Peter Pettigrew escaping custody because of a Dementor attack that the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, authorized. In addition to losing a Death Eater, the order had almost cost Mr. Potter, Hayden and Rose their souls.
It was easy to guess why the Potter family wasn't happy with Fudge at the moment. The last Orion heard was that Mr. Potter was still debating whether to confront Fudge in front of the Wizengamot. Mr. Potter was justified to do so but taking on the Minister of Magic publically wasn't exactly wise. A public legal battle could be disastrous for both sides.
Even though Fudge's popularity was on a steady decline, enough of the right people had their foot in his door to help him along. Those were the people who Mr. Potter would hesitate to anger, not Cornelius Fudge. They would bring every skeleton out of Mr. Potter's closet and hang it up for the entire wizarding world to see. On the other hand, revealing Fudge for the incompetent prat that he was would create the risk of his benefactors putting someone even more unpleasant in office. With the state of things, that wasn't a risk that should be taken.
Two loud cracks snapped Orion out of his thoughts. Carefully sitting up on his branch, Orion searched for an opening in the leaves until he spotted the new arrivals. Remus and Mr. Diggory were easy to recognize, even in the darkness. Of course, it probably helped that Mr. Diggory was talking rather loudly in an excited tone. Orion had to hold back a laugh. Sometimes Mr. Diggory could surpass Sirius in acting like a child on Christmas.
"Neville!" Mr. Diggory cried happily. "I see you're still awake. Where are Cedric and Orion?"
"Up here, Dad," Cedric said in a somewhat bored voice. "Should I even ask how much coffee you've had?"
"—about half a pot," Remus interrupted with a smile. "I tried to stop him, Cedric, but you know how sneaky your father can be."
"Sneaky?!?" Mr. Diggory asked in an offended tone. "You can't blame me for wanting to stay awake for my son—"
"—not now, Dad," Cedric interrupted, "and don't you dare bring it up. No one's supposed to know who's in the Challenge."
Mr. Diggory stared up at Cedric for a long moment, looking extremely offended. "I beg your pardon, aren't I the parent here?" he demanded.
"It's debatable some days," Cedric muttered quietly before speaking up. "We're meeting another group, right?"
"The Weasleys, I believe," Remus answered. "You boys have everything?"
Orion reflexively grabbed the chain around his neck which held his broom, transfigured as a simple silver charm. It would have been a little too obvious walking to the stadium with a Firebolt in his hand. "Everything we'll need," Orion answered. "We don't need much since almost everything's provided."
Remus nodded as he leaned against the trunk of the tree. "Should I bother saying how much I don't agree with this?" he asked.
"No," Orion, Cedric and Neville said at the same time causing all three of them to burst out into laughter.
It wasn't until the sky started to lighten that Orion and Cedric climbed down and started looking for the Portkey. With every minute that passed, Orion could feel his excitement building, pushing away any hint of tiredness. Now if only the rest of his headache could go away, everything would be perfect.
"I found it!" Cedric called out from the other side of the hill, holding up a moldy-looking old boot.
"A boot?" Neville asked dumfounded as he hurried over. "Why'd they use a boot?"
"Portkeys have to be inconspicuous, Neville," Remus said patiently as he took the Portkey from Cedric.
"And a disgusting old boot in the middle of nowhere isn't the least bit suspicious," Orion said sarcastically with a grin earning a smile from Remus.
"So, how long do we have?" Neville asked eagerly.
Mr. Diggory checked his watch. "About fifteen minutes," he said and glanced up at the top of the hill. "Arthur's group better hurry it up or they'll miss it."
"Should we go look for them?" Cedric offered.
"No, Arthur knows to be here on time," Remus answered although he was staring at the top of the hill too. "I'll bet it was difficult to get Ron out of bed this early."
Orion and Neville snorted. It was almost impossible to get Ron out of bed without some sort of food as a bribe. "They may have to drag him here," Orion said.
Neville laughed. "Nah, Fred and George wouldn't let that happen," he said with a knowing grin on his face. "They'd prank him first to wake him up."
Orion and Cedric winced. "Let's hope that didn't happen," Cedric said. "Something like that would attract attention."
"In all honesty Cedric, I don't think Molly and Arthur would have allowed Ron out of the house without fixing the damage first," Remus said. "Ah, I believe that should be them."
It was then that Mr. Weasley's voice could be heard. "Now, we just need the Portkey. It won't be big…Come on…"
"Over here, Arthur!" Mr. Diggory shouted. "We've already got it!"
A large group of dark figures hurried over the hill. With a little bit of squinting, Orion was able to pick out Hermione's bushy hair as she walked beside two other girls. One must have been Ginny with long hair and about a head shorter than Hermione. The other's hair was even longer than Ginny's but nearly the same height. It had to be Rose. Orion couldn't think of anyone else who the Weasely's would invite. Mr. Weasley was leading the group with two figures of identical height at his side, which were most likely Fred and George. That meant that Hayden and Ron were the ones lolling behind.
"Amos!" Mr. Weasley said smiling as he strode over and shook Mr. Diggory's hand. "And Remus, I didn't know you got tickets!"
Remus smiled innocently. "Some friends had a few extra and asked us to sit with them," he said as he shook Mr. Weasley's hand.
Mr. Weasley blinked before shifting his attention to Orion, Neville and Cedric. "Hello boys, I'm surprised you all look so awake."
Mr. Diggory and Remus laughed. "They haven't been to bed yet," Remus said as he winked at Orion. "They were too excited to even consider it."
Mr. Weasley gave Remus a knowing look. "Some of mine were the same way. I think the boys are more excited for the Challenge before the game than the game itself."
Remus' face didn't change in the slightest. "Yes, it should be quite a show," he said before glancing at the rest of the crowd. "Hello Fred, George. I trust you two are staying out of trouble."
"Who, us?" the twin closest to Orion asked. "Whatever do you mean?"
"We've been nothing but saints," the other added.
Mr. Weasley let out a sigh. "I don't think you're mother would agree," he said.
"Why hello there girls," Remus said as soon as Hermione, Ginny and Rose reached Mr. Weasley. "I hope you've had a good vacation."
Rose didn't waste any time and rushed to Remus, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Remus!" she exclaimed. "I've missed you."
Remus wrapped an arm around her. "I've missed you too, little one," he said gently. "Have you managed to keep your brother in line?"
Rose looked up at Remus with a large grin on her face. "It's been hard but Mum's helped."
Orion shifted his weight and looked around Mr. Weasley to see three figures reaching the rest of the group. Hayden's messy hair was easy to pick out and Ron's lanky body was a clear giveaway. It was the tall, lanky person with messy hair—messy hair that could only belong to…
A hand immediately rested on Orion's shoulder. "Good morning, Hayden, Ron, James," Remus said pleasantly.
"Hello Remus," Mr. Potter said as his eyes shifted to Orion. "Is Sirius working?"
Remus squeezed Orion's shoulder gently. "The team is finishing up some security detail and I believe they're handling security for the Challenge—"
"—really?" Ron asked excitedly. "They're going to meet Krum?"
It took a lot of work for Orion to keep a straight face. It just seemed so weird to hear people talk about Viktor with such admiration and judging from the annoyed looks on Fred and George's faces, Orion could only assume that this was normal for Ron. It made Orion wonder how hilarious an introduction would be.
"They're going to make sure nothing happens to Viktor or Aiden before the match begins," Remus corrected. "Now, I believe it's nearly time. Everyone gather around."
Orion stayed by Remus' side, avoiding Mr. Potter's gaze as much as possible. He really wasn't ready to face Mr. or Mrs. Potter yet. He was still too angry with them to think rationally. It wasn't just that they abandoned him after the potion mishap. It was mostly because they now wanted him in their lives. They wanted to pretend like they had never turned their backs on their friends and son.
One by one, everyone reached out and touched the old boot. It was more difficult for Mr. Weasley's group since they all carried bulky backpacks. Remus and Mr. Diggory had shrunk everything which was so much easier. Sure, they weren't supposed to use magic but they really didn't have time to do everything the Muggle way today.
"All right," Mr. Weasley said eyeing his watch. "Three…two…one…"
The Portkey activated. Orion felt the tugging behind his navel and quickly closed his eyes. He could feel Remus and Neville on either side of him. They were all speeding forward in a howl of wind. Orion quickly bent his knees and prepared himself for impact. Any moment now…
Orion's feet slammed into the ground making it a struggle to remain upright. Neville fell over and, from the sounds of it, several others fell with him. Opening his eyes, Orion noticed that only he, Remus, Cedric, Mr. Diggory, Mr. Weasley, and Mr. Potter remained standing.
"Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill," a voice announced.
A/N: And here is a start of The Goblet of Fire. This is actually the book I've been waiting to write so I'm excited. Hopefully that means faster updates. :-) As soon as I have chapter 4 written, I'll post chapter 2.