~To the Waters and the Wild~
Chapter 19: The Goblet of Fire
Author's Note: Thank you so much for all the inspiring reviews and messages! I'm afraid I got a bit behind in responding to reviews, but I have treasured every word of encouragement and feedback.
If you are interested in previews of my upcoming chapters and fanfiction stories (and deleted scenes and outtakes from my stories), please check out my tumblr at paimpont. tumblr. com (delete spaces).
"Potter? Weasley? What the bloody hell are you doing roaming around the corridors in the middle of the night?" Professor Moody grabbed both boys by the front of their robes and stared at them with his swirling blue eye.
"Oh, I was just going to pop by the Great Hall and put my name in the Goblet of Fire," explained Harry, gazing in admiration at Moody's dancing eye. "Is that where you are coming from?"
Moody let go of their robes, and his beautiful robin-blue eye grew still in its socket. "I was just...inspecting the goblet, yes. Tournament security - you can never be too careful. Did you just say that you were going to put your own name in the goblet, Potter?" There was something a little bit odd in his voice.
Harry flushed a little. "Well, my own name and those of a few friends..." He pulled a small stack of parchment pieces from his pocket. "I'm pretty sure I can get through the age line, and many of my friends were rather keen on getting their names in as well, so I promised to help them out..." He gazed anxiously up at Moody. "Was that wrong? Dumbledore didn't say anything about not putting other people's names in."
Moody stood so still and silent that Harry was beginning to wonder if he really had done something wrong. But to his great relief, Moody finally smiled a lopsided sort of smile and said: "Oh, I think it will be all right, Potter. If you really think you can get past the age line, I don't see why you shouldn't put your name in. Anxious to compete, are you?"
"Well, of course!" Harry beamed up at him. "The Triwizard Tournament sounds like so much fun. You don't mind, then, if I put all these names in, and my own as well?"
Moody glanced at the parchment pieces. "No, just go ahead, Potter. But it might be best if you don't mention this conversation to anyone; I understand that you boys just want to have some fun, but Dumbledore may see things differently. We don't want to worry the headmaster, do we?"
"Of course not!" Harry smiled at Moody. Absurd as it may seem, there was perhaps a slight chance that Dumbledore would be a tiny bit anxious about the younger students competing in the tournament, even if Harry managed to get their names in the goblet. Harry knew that a lot of fairies became very fussy about rules and safety when they grew old, and he assumed that the same might be true of old humans as well. How very thoughtful of Moody to save the aged headmaster needless worry!
Harry and Ron wished Moody a good night and continued on to the Great Hall, where the Goblet of Fire was kept. Harry almost gasped out loud when he saw the Goblet in the center of the darkened room. The Goblet of Fire was the loveliest thing Harry had ever seen, but somehow it was even more enchanting at night than it had been in the daytime. It was a vast cup, carved out of smooth rowan wood and filled with flickering blue-white flames that didn't burn the wood itself in the slightest. In the shadowed hall, it looked like a luminous fountain of fire, and Harry gazed up at it in awe.
"Are you sure you can get past the age line?" whispered Ron, pointing at a thin golden line barely visible on the stone floor.
"Let's see!" Harry clutched the pieces of parchment in his hand and stepped over the line. "Yes, looks like it!" Apparently, the age line really did count Shard's age as well, which meant that Harry hadn't broken a single rule.
Harry peered curiously into the goblet. There was nothing in there, except flames and crumpled pieces of parchment students from Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons had dropped in there earlier that day.
Dumbledore had kindly invited students from two other schools of magic to come to the Triwizard Tournament as well, and Harry had been enchanted to meet many of the foreign students earlier. They were all very pleasant and friendly, and Ron had been quite stunned to see that Viktor Krum, who had played in the Quidditch World Cup, was there as well. Viktor and his friends from Durmstrang had arrived in a ship that had popped out of the lake that afternoon, but the students from Beauxbatons had had the good sense to fly in a horse-drawn carriage instead.
"Here we go!" Harry tossed the pieces of parchment into the goblet, one by one. Ron. Draco. Neville. Luna. Blaise. Fred. George. Ginny. Myrtle. Basil. Hedwig. Oooo, the pygmy owl. Ththffth, the mandrake. And Harry's own name, of course. There, that should be everyone! Hermione had not wanted Harry to put her name in, for some reason. She had said something about the intent behind the rules that Harry didn't quite catch. Since Dumbledore had said that the Tournament was for students, Harry wasn't really sure if Basil, Hedwig, Oooo, or Ththffth really had a chance, but Harry thought it was worth tossing their names in, just to see.
"Is my name in?" Ron sounded breathless.
"Yes, it is!" Harry stepped back over the age line and stood admiring the flaming goblet for a few moments. "Now all we have to do is wait for the Goblet to decide!"
The Goblet of Fire seemed to have a hard time making its mind up. Impatient whispers ran through the Great Hall as the blue-white flames flickered, turned red - and then turned back to blue again.
But finally, the Goblet spit out a small charred piece of parchment. Dumbledore caught it deftly in his hand and read out loud: "The champion for Durmstrang will be Viktor Krum!"
There was a lot of clapping and cheering at this announcement, and Krum himself looked very pleased.
Another piece of parchment descended from the Goblet, and Dumbledore read: "The champion for Beauxbatons will be Fleur Delacour!"
A girl with hair the color of moonlight stood up, and there was even more clapping.
Ron gazed at her in fascination. "Oh, Merlin, she is beautiful! Is she a veela or something?"
Harry shrugged. "Probably. What's the matter, Draco?" For some reason, Draco was glaring at the girl as if her moonlight-hair was some sort of personal insult directed at him.
"Nothing," muttered Draco. "Ron, can you pass the gravy? Hello? Ron?"
"Sorry," muttered Ron absently and passed Draco the carrots.
"Another name is coming out of the Goblet!" Fred leaned forward. "This is the Hogwarts one!"
At the front of the hall, Dumbledore reached out for the small singed piece of parchment that flew towards him. He peered at it over the edge of his half-moon spectacles and read out loud: "The Hogwarts champion will be... Oh, dear? What is this? Harry Potter?"
A loud cheer rose up from the Slytherin table, and quite a few other students and staff members joined in as well. Ron looked a little disappointed at first, but then he shook Harry's hand warmly and congratulated him. Harry noticed that some of the professors looked a little worried, but Hagrid and Moody were both clapping hard.
"Harry?" Dumbledore glanced over at the Slytherin table. "Harry, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?"
Harry nodded and smiled at the headmaster. "Yes, but I didn't cheat or anything. The age line just let me through."
Dumbledore shook his head slowly. "Oh, dear me. Fairy magic is powerful, I suppose. Harry is, strictly speaking, too young to compete, but if the Goblet chose him, I don't think there is much we can do about this." He drew his breath sharply. "But... what's that?"
Behind him, the flames of the Goblet had turned red again, and to everyone's astonishment, another piece of charred parchment popped out of the flaming cup.
Dumbledore blinked at the parchment in surprise, but reached out and caught it. A hush fell over the Great Hall as Dumbledore read: "Harry... Potter?"
A confused murmur ran through the crowd. Dumbledore looked up at the Goblet with a frown. "Oh, dear. The Goblet must not be working properly. It spit out Harry Potter's name twice. Well, I suppose there is really no doubt as to who the Hogwarts champion is, then!"
Scattered laughter was heard around the room. Dumbledore signaled to Harry, and Harry jumped up and joined Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour as they headed out of the room. There was a lot of clapping and cheering, and Harry waved eagerly at his friends among the students and staff as he walked by.
Harry blinked in surprise. What was happening? Dumbledore had told him that he had to come and get his wand weighed before the tournament, and Harry had been happy to oblige. But then a lady in raspberry colored robes had appeared out of nowhere and thrown Harry into a broom closet! To Harry's amazement, her nails - which were as long and sharp as talons - were painted in the same color as her robes. How very odd! She was carrying a bag made out of a dead crocodile, and as Harry watched, she pulled a feather the color of new birch leaves and a piece of long parchment out of the crocodile's belly.
"So, Harry," said the lady, who introduced herself to the feather as Rita Skeeter, "why did you decide to enter the Triwizard Tournament?"
"Well, it sounded like fun," said Harry. "Excuse me, what happened to that poor crocodile?"
"Never mind the crocodile," said the lady firmly. "Now, you have faced deadly danger before, haven't you, Harry?"
To Harry's surprise, the feather immediately started writing on the parchment all by itself. Harry Potter, a delicate fragile orphan child raised by fairies who fed him on moon-dew and made him little clothes out of rose petals, finally speaks out about his death-wish...
"Little clothes made out of rose petals? Death wish?" Harry stared at the parchment. "Excuse me, but I think your feather is broken. Maybe this will help." He reached out and gave the lovely green feather a little spark of fairy magic.
The feather froze for a minute, but then it stared writing again: Harry Potter, who has a piece of broken wizard in his head and a handsome Voldemort in his pocket, admits that he put the names of a mandrake, two birds, a basilisk, and a dead student in the Goblet of Fire...
"What? What is this nonsense-? Stop that!" The lady smacked the green feather with a taloned hand, but the feather kept writing: When asked about his love life, Harry Potter confesses that his first kiss was with a dementor...
The lady snatched the feather out of the air and stuffed it back into the crocodile. "Oh, great. Now I have to get a new Quick-Quotes Quill. What an inconvenient time for my quill to malfunction." She flung the broom closet door open and stomped off.
Harry was ever so excited about the first task. Hagrid, who seemed to know something about what was planned, had promised Harry with a broad smile that it would be something wonderful. "Professor Moody keeps saying that I should give yeh a hint," he whispered to Harry, "but I don't really want ter ruin the surprise. Oh, yeh are going ter love it, Harry!"
And Hagrid was right! Harry felt like dancing as he stood inside the big tent on the morning of the first task with Viktor and Fleur and listened to the exciting noises coming from outside. Harry could hear them quite well through the cheering and clapping from the crowd of humans outside: The deep voices of three dragons! No wonder Hagrid had been walking around with an expression on his face like that of a child anxious for a friend to open his birthday present!
Harry could tell that Viktor and Fleur were overcome with emotions as well. Viktor, a little flushed with all the excitement, stood quite still, staring down at his wand with an intense expression, his lips forming a series of silent spells. Fleur was pacing back and forth so quickly that her long hair was flapping behind her like a flickering beam of moonlight.
And then it began! A round, smiling man by the name of Bagman played a little game with the three of them first: Each of the champions had to put their hands into a purple bag and pick a tiny dragon with a number on it. To Harry's delight, he got a miniature Hungarian Horntail with the number three on it. He petted the little toy dragon and smiled at Bagman: "So now we get to ride on the real dragons outside?"
"What?" Fleur spun around. "Surely, ze little boy is joking?"
"Ride on the...?" Bagman stared at Harry for a moment, then burst out laughing. "Good one, Harry! Glad to see that you have a sense of humor, even on this solemn occasion! No, I can assure you that we don't expect anyone to ride on the dragons! All you have to do is collect the golden egg. Mr. Krum - you are first!"
Viktor nodded briefly, opened the flap in the tent and stepped outside. Harry could hear cheers from the crowd. But a few moment later, he heard a great sound, like the roar of thunder, raising above the voices of the spectators. Uh oh. Someone was speaking Dragon, and she was not happy!
*What are you doing with my egg? That's my baby! Bring him back right now!*
"What is he doing?" cried Harry. "Oh, Mr. Bagman, we must tell Viktor not to do that! He's taking an egg from the dragon!"
But Mr. Bagman dragged Harry back from the tent flap. "He's supposed to take the egg from the dragon, Harry. Each one of you has to collect the golden egg. That's the whole point of this task."
"But..." Harry stared, wide-eyed, up at Mr. Bagman. "You can't take a dragon's baby away! That's a terrible thing to do! The mother will be so upset!"
"What?" Mr. Bagman looked a little flustered. "The golden egg doesn't belong to the dragon, Harry. But because it's placed among the real eggs, the dragons will try to protect it anyway, which makes the task more challenging."
Harry didn't really see how stealing someone's adopted egg was any better than stealing their other eggs, and he opened his mouth to protest. Bagman, however, clamped his hand firmly over Harry's mouth. "Shhh, Harry. It will be fine. Ah, it sounds like Mr. Krum was able to retrieve his egg! Excellent. Your turn, then, Miss Delacour!"
Fleur nodded and headed out of the tent, her wand clutched firmly in her hand.
Harry squirmed, but Mr. Bagman wouldn't let him go. "Just wait a few minutes, Harry. Your turn is next!"
"But what will happen to the baby dragons? Will they give them back at the end?" muttered Harry into Bagman's hand.
"What baby dragons?" Bagman sounded puzzled and moved his hand away from Harry's mouth.
"The ones inside the golden eggs! The ones we are supposed to steal."
Bagman blinked. "Inside the eggs? Oh, there are no baby dragons inside the golden eggs, Harry. The eggs are made of real gold, and the only things inside are the clues for the next task."
"Really?" Harry could finally breathe again now. "Oh. Oh, that's a relief. But... er... do the dragon mothers know that?"
"Probably not." Bagman let go of Harry and pushed him toward the tent opening. "Oh, very good - it sounds like Miss Delacour managed to secure her egg as well. Your turn, then! Make us proud, Mr. Potter!" He shoved Harry out of the tent.
There was a lot of clapping and cheering from the crowd, but Harry wasn't in the mood to stop and wave at his friends. He ran straight up to the Hungarian Horntail, who hovered like a giant black thundercloud before him. *Touch my eggs and die!* she roared.
*Hi!* shouted Harry in his best Dragon. *Down here! Can you hear me?*
The dragon froze for a moment. Then she gazed down at Harry, a puzzled expression on her face. *When did you hatch, little one? I didn't even see you come out of the egg.* She lifted a huge black wing and peered under it. *One, two, three, four... No, my eggs are all here. Whose egg did you hatch from, then?*
*Oh, I'm not a baby dragon,* explained Harry. *I'm human - look, no wings!* He flapped his arms so she could see.
The Hungarian Horntail leaned closer, inspecting Harry with her great luminous yellow eyes. *Hmmm. You do look funny, and you are very small. But you speak like a dragon. Are you sure your wings didn't just fall off?*
*Oh, I'm sure!*
Harry could hear voices yelling something from the crowd now; both Moody and Bagman were shouting something about using magic. But Harry ignored them and turned back to the Hungarian Horntail.
*There seems to have been some mix-up with the eggs. Could you please explain to your dragon friends that the eggs that were stolen from them were not real eggs? Apparently, the golden ones are all fake, and there are no baby dragons in them.*
*What? Are you sure about this?* The dragon peeked under her wing again. *But... But what about my golden egg, then? The pretty one they gave me to raise?* Harry saw a glimmer of gold among the eggs that were tucked under her wings.
*I don't think there's anyone in there. Sorry.*
The dragon rolled the golden egg out and stared at it in indignation. She put her head closer to the egg, apparently listening to see if she could hear anyone moving inside. Then she straightened up, and her vast yellow eyes flashed with fury. *You are right. It's not a real egg! They have tricked me!*
*I'm afraid so.* Harry felt very bad for the dragon.
The Hungarian Horntail drew herself up to her full height. *I don't like being tricked. I hate being tricked. Oh, now I'm really ANGRY!* Little tendrils of smoke began to rise from her nostrils, and Harry sensed that this was the beginning of a full-blown dragon fit. He took a few quick steps back.
*They tricked me, and they tricked my friends! With FAKE eggs!* The dragon's voice rose to a storm. She flung herself at the golden egg with a roar and stomped on it, hard. The egg shattered, but as it did so, a strange high-pitched squeaky sound came from it. The sound was soon drowned out by the dragon's bellowing, however, and soon there was nothing left of the egg but a little pile of gold dust. The Hungarian Horntail surveyed the crowd, which was shrinking back before her. She spotted Viktor and Fleur, clutching their golden eggs, and lunged for them. Viktor and Fleur both dropped their eggs and ran, and within seconds, their eggs had been reduced to gold shards as well.
*There!* The Hungarian Horntail stopped to draw her breath, and she looked down at Harry. *I feel much better now.*
A thin, feeble voice squaked from the pile of golden rubble: "where... voices... hour...look..."
"Oh, shut up!" snapped the Hungarian Horntail and stepped on the egg shells again. And the egg shells obediently grew quiet.
For some reason, Mr. Bagman was not looking well. He kept dabbing at his forehead with a large handkerchief, and he muttered something under his breath about a disaster. "How will the champions get their clues now?" he whispered. "And how can the judges even begin to assign points to what happened out there when all the eggs got broken?"
"Oh, I'm sure you will figure something out, Ludo." McGonagall had entered the champions' tent. "The next task is months away, anyway. Congratulations on your fine work, everyone! I am just here to remind the champions that Hogwarts will host a traditional Yule Ball this year in your honor, and that the three of you will be expected to find a dance partner and open the Yule Ball." She glanced at Harry and added quickly: "A human dance partner, Mr. Potter."
"Oh." Harry was crestfallen; for a moment, he had imagined how much the Hungarian Horntail would enjoy a nice party after this afternoon's ordeal. "Human. Right. I'll try to think of someone, Professor."
"I'm so sorry you lost so many points for the first task, Harry." Tom had drifted out of the diary as soon as the other Slytherin boys were asleep, and he sat leaning against Harry's pillows.
Harry shrugged. "Oh, I don't mind being in last place. Both Fleur and Viktor were much better egg-thiefs, even if the dragon took their eggs in the end. Listen, Tom, there is something I want to ask you: I'm supposed to find someone human to dance with at the Yule Ball, and you are my favorite human. Do you think you'll be able to step out of the diary long enough to come to the Yule Ball?"
Tom's silver eyes shone. "You want me to dance with you? What an enchanting idea, Harry! I would love to come to the ball with you, but I don't know if it will work. I don't seem to be able to emerge from the diary for very long, and somehow, I don't think that Dumbledore and McGonagall will be terribly happy to see me dancing with you at the Yule Ball. I'm worried that they would try to take the diary away from you if they knew that I am in it, and I couldn't bear for that to happen..." He kissed Harry gently on the forehead.
Harry nodded. "You may be right. I don't want to lose you, Tom. You are my dearest friend in the whole world."
Tom smiled. "You definitely need to stay away from Rita Skeeter and her Quick-Quotes Quill, Harry! Imagine what she would do to that poor pen if it writes that a piece of Voldemort's soul is your dearest friend."
Harry thought about it for a moment. "I don't know if she would even believe it. She seemed to think the feather was all wrong when it wrote that my first kiss was with a dementor."
Tom sat still for a moment, just looking at Harry. Then he said: "Then maybe she won't believe it if it decides to write about your second kiss either." And he leaned forward and touched his lips to Harry's mouth. It was a very light kiss, little more than a breath, but it made Harry's heart stand oddly still for a moment before it suddenly remembered to beat again, even harder than before.
"Oh," whispered Harry.
"I'm sorry." Tom was flushing a little. "Did you not like that?"
Harry drew his breath. There seemed to be very little air in the room, all of a sudden. "Oh, I did, Tom. I wish... I wish you could come to the ball with me." He didn't see how he could possibly want to dance with anyone else after kissing Tom.
"Me too," said Tom softly. He glanced around at the sleeping Slytherin boys. "But I suppose you will have do go with one of the other students, just as a friend..."
Something stirred under Harry's pillow. *Harry needs a date for the Yule Ball? I have an idea...*
*Sorry, Basil,* said Harry quickly, petting the little basilisk. *I'm afraid I can't bring you either. Professor McGonagall said that I have to bring someone human. They are quite picky about these things, apparently.*
Basil uncurled himself solemnly. *Well, I know a human who would probably be very happy to go with you as a friend. He's been rather bored for a long time, and I happen to know that he is a good dancer. There is just a small matter of un-petrifying him first, but you can find a way to do that, can't you? A little fairy magic?*
Tom and Harry stared at each other for a while. Then they both smiled.
Tom petted Basil on the head. *Basil, my friend, you are a genius.*
As it turned out, Basil was right. Once Salazar Slytherin had been un-petrified and shrunk down to size, he was quite thrilled about going to the Yule Ball with Harry.
"I can't wait to find out what has happened to the school in my absence," he muttered as he headed up from the Chamber of Secrets with Harry. "Hopefully, all changes have been for the better, or they will hear from me!" He glanced curiously at Myrtle as they walked through the bathroom, but Myrtle just smiled from her toilet and stared admiringly at Salazar's long ringlets and elaborate old-fashioned clothes.
As Harry and Salazar stepped out into the corridor, they ran into Professor McGonagall. McGonagall frowned. "What were you doing in there? That's the girls' bathroom, Potter! And who on earth is this? Merlin, he looks like the portrait of... No, it can't be..." McGonagall clutched at her chest. She looked as if she was going to faint.
"Mr. Potter," she whispered. "Who... what... who... is that?"
Harry beamed at her. "My date for the Yule Ball, Professor!"