Ah, here is another chapter, without so long a wait. Feel loved, peeps, because life is just as busy as ever. As a note, answering a question I got a while back and forgot about, the technology in this fic has been brought forward many years. Instead of the technology of the nineties, I'm giving them the tech of today. Because, frankly, it's more awesome. Yup. Enjoy.
Harry had not been pleased with the day's Defense lesson. Mad-eye Moody—while an interesting teacher—had no right to use the Unforgiveables in class. He may have proven a point, but a lot of children had left that classroom unhappy and shaken.
'My Harry, are you well?'
Startled, Harry jumped slightly, and then shook his head. 'I'm fine, Hedwig. Just a little annoyed by class.'
'Yes,' Hedwig agreed. 'There is something wrong with the one-eyed one.'
'Wrong how?' Harry asked with a frown.
Hedwig paused, and Harry could feel her confusion. 'I do not know, my Harry. I am sorry.'
'Don't worry about it, love,' Harry replied fondly. He looked u when Hermione ran up and grabbed his hand, tugging on it impatiently.
"Harry come on!" she squealed, her face lit with excitement. "The other schools are coming!"
"Oh, right!" Harry exclaimed. He couldn't believe he had forgotten about that. He and Hermione ran to the Entrance Hall and joined the mass of students that had congregated there.
Harry staved off any boredom during waiting by listening to the conversations around him (it was not eavesdropping, thank you very much.) He learned about the latest cosmetic spells, how Daniella was now going out with Robert instead of Dan, and how one of the student's cats was pregnant. He snickered quietly when Malfoy loudly proclaimed that they way the Hogwarts students travelled to school was far more dignified than anything the other schools could come up with. One of the Slytherin first years promptly told the young heir that a train was, in fact, a muggle invention.
'Somtething comes,' Hedwig murmured, and Harry looked out over the grounds.
A huge, flying carriage appeared, pulled by the largest horses Harry had even seen. And he had thought Roy to be impressive (which he was, for a non-magical horse). When it landed, the doors opened and out stepped a giant of a lady. Dumbledore kissed her hand and she led forward a group of her students.
"Veela," Ron whispered, staring at the Beaubaxtons girls with wide eyes. Hermione gave the redhead a disgusted, and somewhat heartbroken look. Harry merely shook his head; he still couldn't really see the appeal.
Hushed whispers broke out and people pointed towards the lake, where a massive ship could be seen. A dignified, if squirrelly, man stepped off, greeting Dumbledore and leading forward his own group of students.
"Oh. That's Victor Krum, that is," Neville said, blinking in surprise. Harry, too, was shocked; he hadn't realized that Krum was still in school.
There was something of a procession as the two visiting schools entered Hogwarts. Harry, though, turned to the four massive Abraxan horses, which were all staring at him with large, baleful eyes. "I'll visit you soon," he murmured, patting the closest one on the nose. He hadn't noticed that the creatures had slowly been moving towards him.
He really needed more sleep. His awareness of his surroundings was beginning to suffer, and that could be dangerous, considering his past. He shook his head again, following his friends back into the school.
The Great Hall had two extra tables, although the visiting students were encouraged to mingle with the Hogwarts students, which many did. Harry tiredly sat with his friends, suddenly feeling rather exhausted. Ron and Neville filled his dinner plate, seemingly used to doing so, and Harry began to mechanically eat.
"How are you doing, Nev?" Ginny asked in concern. "I heard about Defense."
Neville blinked at her in surprise, before smiling slightly. "I'm fine, thanks. Moody actually talked to me afterwards. Gave me a book on exotic plants as well."
"That's nice of him, "Hermione smiled. She glanced Harry's way, making sure the boy was still eating. They all tended to mother him when he got this sleepy. "Who do you think will get picked as Hogwarts Champion?" she asked.
"I heard Cedric Diggory was entering his name," Ginny replied, taking a bite of pudding.
"He'd be a good choice," Ron spoke up. "But I'd be happier if a Gryffindor got chosen." He shrugged. "House pride and all that."
"Angelina said she was going to enter," Neville added, causing the others to grin, if a little worriedly.
"Harry," Hermione scolded fondly. "Don't fall asleep here." Harry blinked up at her, and she gave a small smile. "Puppy pile?" she asked their surrounding friends, as Harry gave a large yawn.
"Puppy pile," Neville, Ron and Ginny nodded in unison.
Puppy piling had started last year, although Neville had only joined in once. It was where they would make a nest of blankets and pillows in front of the common room fireplace and all curl up together for the night. They didn't puppy pile often, so when they did the prefect tended to ignore it. Nothing untoward happened, and Harry and Ginny seemed to sleep better for it. Sometimes homesick or scared first year would join them as well.
They had never figured out if McGonagall knew about this act, but she hadn't said anything against it. So, while all the other students were gathering around the Goblet of Fire to watch the entering of names, the five lions were curled up in front of the fire, sleeping soundly.
When the other Gryffindors entered, much later, their loud conversations were hushed, and they quietly tip-toed around the pile of teenagers. A few grabbed blankets and pillows and joined the nest, but most just smiled and went on to bed.
At about two in the morning, Minerva McGonagall made her nightly check of the Gryffindor common room. She smiled at the children piled in front of the fire, noticing that tonight Angelina and Alicia, as well as two first years had joined what she had started to called the Pride. "About time," she whispered. She had noticed how tired Potter had been looking recently, every teacher had, and McGonagall knew he always looked well rested after a puppy pile.
So, checking to make sure the fire was still strong, she readjusted a blanket over one of the first years, and left the group to their sleep.
She never noticed the sleepy emerald eyes watching her as she walked out.
A much rested Harry was laughing at a story Ron had been telling about Charlie when they entered the Hall for the Halloween feast. With any luck, this Halloween would go much better than any of the others. Sirius and Remus had already wished him a happy holiday but both had been a little subdued by the anniversary of their friends' deaths.
To be honest, Harry was as well. His parents were dead, after all, and Malfoy and his goons had been taunting him about it all day. But his parents had been dead for thirteen years, and he had learned to deal, as nothing would be bringing them back. So he tried his hardest to make the best of the day.
The Hal was buzzing with excitement, and the Hall grew silent as the Goblet of Fire was unveiled. It flared, and a piece of paper shot out of it, to be caught by Dumbledore.
"Victor Krum, Champion of Durmstrang!"
Cheers broke out as the large seventeen year old stood and walked to the antechamber off the side of the Hall. Again, the fire rose, spitting out another paper.
"Fleur Delacour, Champion of Beaubaxtons!"
More cheers, as the pretty blond with obvious vela heritage curtsied and left the room. The tension mounted as the fire flared again.
"Cedric Diggory, Champion of Hogwarts!"
Harry joined in on the enthusiastic cheers as Cedric to join the other two Champions. The Hufflepuff was a good choice of champion for the school, and although Harry was worried, he was excited to watch the upcoming tournament as well. But the cheers died as the fire flared once more, and piece of parchment shot out of the goblet.
Dumbledore caught it, read what was on it and looked towards the Gryffindor table, his face grave. And Harry knew what the parchment said even before Dumbledore voiced it.
The thunk of Harry's head hitting the tabletop was the only sound resounding throughout the otherwise silent Hall.