Unexpected Love: The Journey Begins

Written by J.C. Vascardi

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Disclaimer: All characters and places featured in this story that relate to Harry Potter are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers, and Warner Brothers. I'm not profiting on this story and it is not my intent to infringe on anyone's copyright or trademark. The only things about this story that I own are the characters and storylines not featured in the books.

Established Pairings: Terence/Oliver, Charlie/OMC: Noah, OMC: Edward/OMC: Ramesses, OMC: Nick/OMC: Dominick

Eventual Pairings: Harry/Cedric/OMC/OMC, plus others that I choose not to reveal at the present time.

Entire Series Warnings: Alternate Universe, Slash, Mpreg, Language, Violence, M/M Sex, M/M/M Sex, Twincest, Threesome, Foursome, Moresome, Harem

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Chapter Sixteen

Part Two

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Early the next morning, Harry found himself having breakfast at the Gryffindor table for the first time since school had started. Since Edward wanted to personally greet the Triwizard delegates from the other schools, the trainers cancelled classes for the day and allowed all their mage students who were still students at Hogwarts to slip back into their places at school, with their doubles all sleeping peacefully in the secret room off of what was now Interim Transfiguration Professor Cailan Urquhart's office, since Minerva had moved into the Headmaster's office last night.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the day off, Oliver opted to go to the Puddlemere Stadium and attend team practice, while Gavin, who had always enjoyed reading, stayed at Forest Cottage to read a few muggle novels that Roger had suggested. Of course, Gavin wasn't alone at Forest Cottage, as Nick and Dominick were also there with plans to spend some quality time together, which hopefully for Gavin's sake, included the use of Silencing Charms.

In the Great Hall, however, it was eerily quiet as the owls delivering the Daily Prophet to those with subscriptions had arrived not long ago and thus people all over the hall were busy reading the front page article.

Daily Prophet, Morning Edition – 26 October 1994

ROYAL WARRANT ISSUED FOR THE ARREST OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE!
Removed from his positions as Headmaster of Hogwarts and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.

By Sarah Blanchett, Acting Editor-in-Chief

Shocking many, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement today announced that they had received an order from Castle Camelot, signed by His Imperial and Royal Majesty King Edward himself, authorizing the issuing of a royal warrant for the arrest of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, 113. There are myriad charges including Fraud and Sedition, however, by far the most serious charge is that of High Treason.

At press time, no further details were given on the exact nature of the reasons behind the charge of High Treason, although details were shared in regards to some of the others. The Fraud charges stem from the fact that Albus Dumbledore has apparently been lying about his true power level for years now—in both speech and numerous legal documents—because it is alleged that instead of being the Grand Sorcerer he's always claimed to be, he is in fact an Archmagister, and as such, officials warned, should be considered to be armed and extremely dangerous. If you see him, you are asked to contact authorities, but under no circumstances approach him.

Also, word has come from Hogwarts, that last night during dinner in the Great Hall, The Duke of Granston, Lord Harrison James Potter, 14, acting in his capacity as a member of the Hogwarts Board of Governors made the announcement to a shocked student body that Professor Dumbledore was effective immediately fired from his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts and that the board would be accepting applications and vision statements from all current professors on staff at Hogwarts who wish to become the school's next Headmaster or Headmistress, with a decision to be made during a Board of Governors meeting over Winter Break. In the meantime, Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall has been named Interim Headmistress of Hogwarts, with Arithmancy Professor Septima Vector being named Interim Deputy Headmistress.

In a statement to the Daily Prophet, Lord Potter also announced that in his capacity as Lord High Chancellor to the Court of Pendragon, he was also ordering the immediate removal of Albus Dumbledore as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and said that he would strongly urge the International Confederation of Wizards to strip him of his authority as Supreme Mugwump, citing that nobody charged with High Treason against a member realm should be allowed to hold the office.

In a further shocking and unexpected twist, a representative of Castle Camelot has announced that effective immediately Albus Dumbledore's grandson, Brian Dumbledore, has been stripped of his Royal Star of Camelot and the position of Royal Seneschal. When asked for a reason, the representative stated that Brian Dumbledore doesn't exist and alleged that he was in fact Albus Dumbledore in disguise, who had apparently attended Hogwarts a total of three times: once as Albus, once as his non-existent daughter Katerina, and then again as Brian. When asked for comment for this article, Albus Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, 110, stated, "I always knew Albus was lying about the existence of Katerina and Brian and I've stated as such numerous times, but nobody ever listened."

Seemingly proving the possibility that Katerina and Brian don't exist an extensive search of the birth records at the Ministry for Magic turned up no results for a Katerina or Brian Dumbledore. In addition, the representative from the castle released pictures of Albus's and Aberforth's late sister, Ariana Dumbledore, who died as a teenager in 1899, as well as a picture of Albus Dumbledore himself from his Hogwarts days. Surprisingly, Katerina and Brian are dead ringers for the late Ariana and Albus as a much younger man. The pictures are included here so that in the event you see Albus, "Katerina", or "Brian" that you know to contact the authorities immediately.

"Rubbish," Ron—who'd read the article over Hermione's shoulder—said, as he swallowed a piece of toast. "Complete rubbish. Everyone knows that Dumbledore is a bloody hero."

'I'm not sure I'd go that far, Ron,' Hermione thought, although she had to admit that even with everything that Harry had told her in regards to Dumbledore leaving him at the Dursleys and forcing him to go back every summer despite knowing that they didn't treat him properly, she still had a hard time believing that such a widely respected man as Albus Dumbledore could be guilty of something as serious as high treason.

"I agree Ron," Dean said from his place a little further down the table. Taking a sip of pumpkin juice, he added, "And I still don't get who this King Edward is or how he has any authority to be charging anyone with high treason. Queen Elizabeth is the monarch."

"She's only the queen in the muggle world, Dean," Seamus said.

Harry nodded. "Yes and the truth is, King Edward actually outranks her, because he's King of the magical parts of Britain, but is also the Emperor over both the muggle and magical sections. The Pendragon monarchs have, however pretty much left the muggles to their own devices since the Statute of Secrecy went into effect."

"I highly doubt that Parliament would allow someone to name themselves emperor," Dean said.

Neville shook his head. "Considering that the Pendragon claim to the title of emperor dates back to before Parliament even existed, they have zero say in the matter. And everything in the Prophet is completely true and not rubbish, Ron."

"And how would you know that, Neville?" Ron asked.

"Because like Harry, I'm a Great Officer of State," Neville answered. "So I've seen the evidence against Dumbledore and I assure you that it's more damning than you could possibly imagine." Seeing the look on Ron's face, he added, "And no I will not tell you what the evidence is because the King himself ordered me not to."

"How could you or Harry possibly be a Great Officers of State, Neville?" Dean asked. "You're only fourteen years old and you were certainly not elected."

"Great Officer of State is an inherited position, Dean," Harry answered. "At least in the wizarding world. In the muggle world they're appointed, not elected. As for Neville and I being only 14, according to wizarding law, you're legally an adult at 17, but anyone over the age of 13 is deemed old enough to inherit titles of nobility if their family has a claim to them, which both the Longbottoms and the Potters do, having been ennobled 1,200 years ago in the year 794."

"Harry's right," Neville said. "The Potter family was given the position of Lord High Chancellor at the same time, while my family was given the position of Lord High Chamberlain, and the Ollivander family was given the position of Lord High Secretary of the Privy Council. All three families were also given the title of Lord High Constable, which rotates between us with the reign of each new monarch. Harry's family held the title while King Edward's grandfather was on the throne, but it moved to my family as soon as he died and King Edward became King."

"If Longbottom is in charge of the armed forces we're all doomed," Ginny mumbled.

Hearing the comment, Harry turned to Ginny and pinned her with the most severe look he could muster as he said, "Ginny I suggest that you never utter such a comment in my hearing ever again or you might find yourself locked in a dungeon to think about proper manners." Ginny's eyes widened at this, but she said nothing, as Harry shook his head and said, "Ginny, you won't be aware of this but Neville has already planned a complex military operation involving special forces from more than one country, and both King Edward and the other Lords of the Thirteen, including myself, were very impressed."

This caused surprised looks, as Harry added, "Neville and I did not ask for the positions we hold. They were granted to our families 1,200 years ago in perpetuity until the end of time in magically binding contracts that were charmed by Merlin himself."

"Merlin is a myth," Dean said.

Neville smiled. "I'll be sure to tell him that the next time I see him, Dean."

Hermione's eyes widened. "You've met Merlin?"

Neville nodded to Hermione, "His portrait, yes." Turning to Dean, he said, "So having talked to him, I can assure you that he's no more a myth than you or I are, Dean. And before you ask, neither is King Arthur, since he and Merlin share a portrait." With a grin, he added, "I'm sure many of the girls at the table would agree with me that they're quite hot, but unfortunately they only have eyes for each other."

"I thought Arthur was in love with Guinevere," Ginny said.

"Sorry, no, he was in love with and married to Merlin," Harry said. "In fact, they were soulmates. They did, however, have twin children named Arthur and Guinevere, which resulted in those two names often being mentioned together. Anyway, next time I see them I'll ask if they'd like a copy of their portrait moved here. Other than the royal residences, their only other frame is at my family's castle, so I don't know, they might enjoy getting out and meeting people. They did mention being a bit bored after over a thousand years."

Before anyone could say anything else, a drum roll sounded throughout the hall, as a pair of the royal guards—both equipped with ceremonial halberds—entered the room. Minerva quickly stood up and said, "Students and staff, please stand," moments before the royal fanfare began playing and everyone throughout the hall stood up. Seconds later, Edward and Ramesses appeared in the doorway and as they crossed the threshold, one of the guards hit the end of his halberd on the floor and said, in an obviously Sonorused voice, "Presenting His Imperial and Royal Majesty, the King-Emperor of Albion and Iwernia and Emperor of the Empire of Camelot, Edward Pendragon. Accompanied by his fiancé, His Imperial Highness Prince Ramesses Ptolemy of Egypt."

There were a few murmurs throughout the hall as Edward and Ramesses made their way down the center aisle towards the Head Table. For those who had not attended the World Cup, which included many of the muggle-born, this was the first time many of them were ever even seeing Edward Pendragon. For those who had attended the World Cup and thus knew about Edward picking suitors, they were understandably confused about where Ramesses came from, as he was not mentioned as one of the King's suitors before now.

Shortly after telling everyone to stand, Minerva turned into her tabby cat form and ran under the Head Table, before turning back into her human form so that she'd be in front of the table to greet the royal guests, instead of behind it. As the royal couple arrived at the steps leading up to the Head Table, Minerva curtseyed and said, "Welcome to Hogwarts, Your Majesty and Your Highness."

"Thank you, Professor," Edward said with a smile to his trainer. "It's a pleasure to finally get to see Hogwarts. I so wanted to come here as a child for school, but sadly the Captain of the Royal Guard used his ability to overrule me on all matters relating to my personal security to nix that idea." With a grin, he added, "I'm told by my tutors that I wasn't fun to deal with for a few months afterward."

Minerva smiled. "Well, you are the King, so I imagine you were used to getting your way, Sire."

Edward nodded. "Indeed, I was. I like to think that I've matured since I was an eleven-year-old boy, however."

"I'm sure you have, Sire," Minerva said. "You are, after all, getting married to a very handsome prince."

Ramesses blushed slightly, as Edward nodded and leaned over to kiss Ramesses on the cheek, before saying, "He is very handsome, isn't he?" He didn't say it aloud, but in his head, Edward was thinking, 'I so can't wait for the wedding night – though I imagine Ram is looking forward to it even more.'

Pulling out her wand, Minerva waved it as she mumbled a spell under her breath which caused the entire dais that the Head Table occupied to get bigger, as a round table with two throne-like chairs, one slightly smaller than the other, appeared. "Have you and Ramesses eaten, sire? I'm sure the house-elves would be more than happy to fix breakfast for you. Afterwards I can take you on a tour of the castle before the delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrive."

Speaking for the first time, Ramesses said with a grin, "No actually we haven't. Edward wanted the full Hogwarts experience, including eating a meal in the Great Hall."

Minerva smiled. "Well, if it's the full Hogwarts experience you want, sire, perhaps I should summon the Sorting Hat and let it make you—and Ramesses if he wishes—honorary members of one of our four houses?"

Edward got an almost child-like gleam in his eyes at this offer, as he said, "I'd like that very much, Professor, thank you."

Minerva nodded. "Prince Ramesses?"

Ramesses was quiet for a moment, before he nodded. "Sure, why not?"

"All right, then both of you stand just there and we'll do a little impromptu Sorting Ceremony," Minerva said. Once the two royals were standing where the unsorted first years usually stood while waiting to be sorted, Minerva waved her wand and said, "Accio Sorting Hat!"

It took a few moments, since the Sorting Hat was upstairs on its usual shelf in the Headmistress's office, but after a moment the hat flew into the room and into Minerva's outstretched hand.

"You know I don't like being summoned, Minerva," the hat complained. "If hats were meant to fly through the air they'd have wings."

"I'm sorry, but your services are needed," McGonagall said. "His Majesty and his fiancé, Prince Ramesses of Egypt, want the full Hogwarts experience and would like to be honorarily sorted."

"Very well then," the hat said. "Honestly, I was a little miffed that I didn't get to sort young Edward years ago, as I did countless generations of his family before him. And it'll be interesting to sort a Ptolemy again, as it's been over 700 years since I last did it. So, put me on my stool and I'll see what I can do to give him and his fiancé the full experience."

While Minerva was waiting for the Hat to arrive, Septima ducked into the antechamber and retrieved the stool used during the Sorting Ceremonies, which she now handed to Minerva who placed it in its usual place before setting the Sorting Hat upon it. After a few moments, it began to sing.

Welcome dear students and royal guests,

You might not think I'm good-looking,

But don't let appearances fool you,

I'm smarter than you may be thinking.

There's nothing hidden in your head,

That the Sorting Hat can't see,

So go on and try me on so I can tell you

In which of our houses you should be.

At this the Sorting Hat finished singing and said, "Much shorter than I usually do, but then I usually have a whole year to contemplate each song and don't have to come up with something on the fly."

Minerva nodded. "Very well, then," as she conjured a scroll and handed it to Septima, as she said, "Since you're the Deputy now, I believe this is your job, Septima."

Taking the scroll from Minerva, Septima nodded and said, "Indeed. I suppose it is," before unrolling the very short scroll with only two names on it and picked up the Sorting Hat in her other hand. "When I call your name, please come up and sit on the stool." Edward and Ramesses nodded, before Septima said, "Pendragon, Edward."

Coming up and sitting down on the stool, Edward looked uncertainly at Septima and asked, "The crown won't interfere will it?" Edward was wearing a jeweled gold circlet, although since it was only around his head and not covering it, Septima said, "No, it shouldn't," before she lowered the Sorting Hat onto the king's head.

"Hmm, perhaps it would be best to remove the crown, Your Majesty," the hat said aloud. "Its magic is causing interference that's making it difficult for me to read you."

Edward nodded, as Septima lifted the Sorting Hat off of Edward's head far enough that he could reach up and remove the golden circlet from his head, which he held in his hands as Septima placed the hat back on his head. After a moment, the hat said, in Edward's mind, 'Ah, much better. As I said I was a bit miffed when I found out I wasn't going to be sorting you, so I'm glad to finally be getting the chance. I've always enjoyed looking into the minds of Pendragons, because I do enjoy feeling that small kernel of Merlin's magic—which I must say is stronger in you than it was in your father or grandfather, but then I assume that's because of the Last of the Line protections.'

'You know about those?' Edward thought.

'Yes, sire, I do know about them,' the hat confirmed. 'I've read the minds of over a thousand years' worth of Pendragons, Potters, Ollivanders, and Longbottoms and you're certainly not the first one of the four to be affected by the Last of the Line clause. Besides I was there when Merlin created the spell, even though I was a hat by then. Most people these days believe that I was Godric Gryffindor's hat, and I was for a time, but prior to that I was Merlin's, who gave me to Godric Gryffindor as a gift when he finished his apprenticeship with Merlin.'

'What sort of magic actually allows a hat to talk and sing and think?' Edward asked, curious. 'I've certainly never encountered any spells that could do that to normally inanimate objects.'

'I'm not surprised,' the hat replied. 'The spells were of Merlin's creation and were decidedly dark, so he never published them because he thought they were too dangerous to have in the hands of the general public, since before I was a hat, I was actually a human.'

'Wait, a human? How is that possible?'

'In life my name was Will. It was so many years ago now that I don't even remember my own surname, but I was a childhood friend of Merlin's. We grew up together in the village of Ealdor in the Viscounty of Sarn. Of course that was years before your ancestor King Arthur unified Albion and Iwernia under his rule, so back then Ealdor was part of the Kingdom of Essetir, ruled by King Cenred when I was still alive. Anyway, a few months after Merlin moved to Camelot, Ealdor began to be regularly raided by bandits and King Cenred refused to help, so Merlin's mother went to Camelot to petition King Uther for help.'

'Well I can't imagine that Uther was very receptive.'

'I'm told he was compassionate towards Hunith—Merlin's mother—and wished that he could do something about the village's plight, but he obviously refused because sending Camelot troops across the border into Essetir would have been seen as an act of war. However, after Hunith headed back to Ealdor, Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana snuck away and helped the village. As the battle was winding down, with the majority of the bandits defeated, I took a crossbow bolt to the chest that was meant for Arthur. Merlin couldn't bear the thought of losing me, so he bound my memories and consciousness to his hat, essentially making me immortal since a hat can't die.'

Edward remained silent as he wasn't really sure what to say and he could see the students in the Hall starting to look a little restless.

After a moment, the hat—Will—said, 'Anyway, I should get busy and sort you before everyone starts thinking you're a Hatstall, which you're not because looking into your mind, while I can say that you have traits admired by all four houses, your intelligence and studiousness are by far your strongest traits— honestly speaking over two dozen languages fluently? In addition to being able to read and write in all of them? Where does your family find such tutors, anyway? They're the very definition of cruel and sadistic taskmasters." Not waiting for an answer, Will said, "So, the decision is clear,' as it paused to stop talking in Edward's head and shout, "RAVENCLAW!"

Needless to say the entire Ravenclaw table was on their feet and cheering, because it was a huge honor for them to have the reigning monarch be placed, even on an honorary basis, in their house. The members of the other houses, meanwhile, while they did applaud, all looked rather sad that they hadn't gotten Edward, and their applause wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as the Ravenclaws. As Septima lifted the Sorting Hat from Edward's head and he put his crown back on his head, Minerva smiled as she looked at her watch and said, "Four minutes and forty-seven seconds. You were almost a Hatstall, Your Majesty."

Deciding not to reveal the details of his conversation with the Sorting Hat to the entire school, Edward grinned and shrugged, as he stood up from the stool and went down to the Ravenclaw table. He would be sitting and eating at the small round table that Minerva had conjured, but that didn't mean he couldn't go down to the Ravenclaw table and greet some of his new housemates.

Septima now said, "Ptolemy, Ramesses," as Ramesses took a deep breath, stepped up and sat down on the stool. Taking the golden and jeweled circlet from his head—which was actually an engagement gift from his father and had several Egyptian hieroglyphics engraved in it—he then nodded as Septima lowered the Sorting Hat onto his head.

'Well, well, a Ptolemy,' Will said in Ramesses' mind. 'As I said it's been over 700 years now since I last had the chance to sort one of your family, so this is a rare treat indeed.'

'I'm surprised that one of my ancestors attended Hogwarts,' Ramesses said. 'Egypt has its own school of magic, so we usually don't attend foreign schools.'

'Indeed,' Will agreed. 'In this case, however, the person in question was a younger son of the Pharaoh who was married off to one of King Edward's ancestors—the Crown Prince of that era in fact— when they were both only ten years old. So, the following year they both attended Hogwarts.'

'Now that you mention it, I think I recall reading about that in my studies.'

'They were definitely a good match for each other,' Will said. 'In fact, much like you and Edward, they were actually soulmates. Although I honestly couldn't say if you and Edward are them reincarnated. I suppose it's a possibility, but determining such things is beyond my ken. Anyway, let's see here, where to put you?'

'I admit I don't really know anything about the Houses here,' Ramesses said. 'I gather there's four of them, but beyond that I never bothered to learn about them since it didn't really seem necessary if I was never actually going to attend this school.'

If a hat could nod, that's what it felt like Will was doing at this point on top of Ramesses's head, as he said, 'Indeed, there are four of them, named after our four founders, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. Both Godric and Rowena were apprentices of Merlin, while Helga was an apprentice of Dakota Le Fey, the husband of Morgana Le Fey, of whom Salazar Slytherin was an apprentice.'

Ramesses nodded in understanding, but remained silent as Will said, 'Hmm, let's see here I see intelligence and wisdom, which would suggest Ravenclaw. However, I'm also seeing cunning and ambition in equal measure, which would suggest Slytherin. And bravery and chivalry would suggest Gryffindor and loyalty and a good work ethic which would suggest Hufflepuff. My, my, Ramesses, you are indeed a true rarity, as I don't often come across students who stump me as greatly as you. True Hatstalls, in which I take more than five minutes to sort someone because I can't choose between two or more houses, only happen about once every fifty years or so. Professor McGonagall was a Hatstall when she was eleven, as I couldn't decide between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw for her.'

'So what happens when you can't decide?'

'I usually will take the students' preferences into account and place them in the house that they want. Which, honestly, I think I'm going to have to do for you, Ramesses, because you are indeed a rare case. In fact, it's been a few centuries now since I encountered someone who stumped me so greatly that I couldn't figure out which of four houses to place them in. Usually it's a tie between only two of them, although a little over a hundred years ago, I did have trouble sorting one of our former Defense Against the Dark Arts professors, Galatea Merrythought, who fit in Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Slytherin in equal measure. In the end, I chose Gryffindor, since that was her personal preference.'

Ramesses took a moment at this to give it some thought and determine which personality traits he personally valued more than others. In the end he decided that while he did appreciate the merits of bravery, intelligence, and cunning, he put a greater importance on loyalty. 'I think Hufflepuff suits me best, as I do greatly appreciate loyalty.'

'Very well then, if you're sure?' Will asked, prompting Ramesses to nod, at which point Will shouted, "HUFFLEPUFF!"

Much like the Ravenclaws had for Edward, it was now the Hufflepuff table's turn to have all of their students stand and cheer because it certainly wasn't every day that they got a prince who was engaged to be married to the reigning monarch placed in their house. As Septima lifted the Sorting Hat from his head, Minerva smiled and said, "Congratulations, Ramesses, you've just joined a very small group of people, myself included, who were true Hatstalls. The hat took five and a half minutes to decide whether to put me in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, ultimately deciding on Gryffindor obviously."

"You timed it I assume?" Will asked, since he obviously knew that she'd timed Edward's sorting.

Minerva nodded. "Yes, I did—five minutes and fifty seconds. So, Prince Ramesses, if you don't mind my asking, which other house was the Hat contemplating for you?"

Ramesses smiled as he noticed the ears of just about every student in the hall perk up, clearly interested in the answer to that question. "It was considering Gryffindor," several Gryffindors smiled at this, "and Ravenclaw," murmurs started up all over the hall at this, "and Slytherin, too."

"All four houses?" Septima asked. "I don't think I've ever heard of a student who stumped the Sorting Hat that badly."

"Oh, it's happened," Will the Sorting Hat said. "Although the last time was a few centuries ago. In the end, I knew I couldn't possibly make a decision where Prince Ramesses was concerned, because he possesses traits that all four houses value in equal measure. So I let him choose."

Several audible exclamations of "He chose Hufflepuff?!" could be heard from the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin tables, while the cheers and applause coming from the Hufflepuff table got even louder.

Ramesses, meanwhile, looked a bit confused by the reactions from the other tables, as Minerva shook her head and said, "Pay the naysayers no mind, Your Highness. There's house-rivalries and many of other houses tend to look down on Hufflepuff, although if you ask me there is no valid reason for it because Hufflepuff is just as good as the other houses," and casting a severe look at the students, she added, "and yes that includes Slytherin. Now please, quiet down everyone, and go back to your breakfasts. After we've all eaten however, I ask that you remain in the Hall, as I have an important announcement to make that many of you will enjoy."

Ramesses briefly went down to the Hufflepuff table to greet a few of the people sitting closest to the head table and shake a few hands, just as Edward had, before both of them retreated to the small round table that Minerva had conjured. Not long after they sat down, the table filled with a myriad of food choices which included—much to Ramesses' surprise—some foods he recognized as being staples of the magical diets of both Egypt and Byzantium, which were not standard fare in Albion.

About half-an-hour later, after the vast majority of the people in the Hall had finished eating, Minerva stood up and said, "Now that we're all eaten, I'll make the announcement I mentioned. My predecessor felt that with the Triwizard Tournament this year it would be prudent to cancel the Inter-House Quidditch Cup. I personally disagreed and argued that it should go on as planned, with the Triwizard tasks scheduled around the various Quidditch games, but in the end I was overruled. Now, that I'm the Headmistress however, albeit at least temporarily, I've decided to reinstate the Quidditch Cup."

As expected, several people throughout the Hall cheered at this. Tapping a glass with her spoon to quiet everyone down, Minerva said, "I'm happy that announcement pleases you. Now, since it was decided to cancel the Cup, team captains were never chosen for this year, which I will remedy now. Gryffindor will be Angelina Johnson. Ravenclaw will be Roger Davies. Hufflepuff will be Cedric Diggory." Minerva paused here and said, "And finally Slytherin's team captain will be Head Boy Terence Higgs, who will be assuming the chaser position recently vacated by Marcus Flint."

Marcus looked angry, but before he could speak, Minerva said, "Don't bother arguing, Mr. Flint, as I've already spoken to your father and he agrees with the decision." Marcus visibly deflated at this, as any argument he might have been about to launch into died on his lips.

Addressing the entire Hall, Minerva said, "As a special addition to the normal round of Quidditch Cup games and the Triwizard Tournament, once our foreign guests from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons arrive I will speak to Headmaster Karkaroff and Headmistress Maxime about possibly arranging for a few special exhibition games, allowing the Hogwarts teams to play against teams fielded from the students of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. These extra games, however, assuming they happen and I can't guarantee that they will until I speak with the Heads of their respective schools to see if they're interested, will have no bearing on the Inter-House Quidditch Cup, since it obviously wouldn't work very well for Durmstrang or Beauxbatons to win the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup."

Minerva remained silent for a few moments, allowing the students time to digest what she'd just said, before she added, "Now, since our foreign guests are arriving today at noon, classes are cancelled for the day and will resume tomorrow. Thus any assignments that any of you had due today, will now instead be due tomorrow. That's all for now, thank you. You're dismissed."

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Later that day at noon, Edward, Ramesses, and most of the Hogwarts staff and student body had gathered outside of Hogwarts to watch for the arrival of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang delegations. Two exceptions were Harry and Neville, who were both inside the castle discussing important matters of family business with their seneschals, not the least of which was going over the potential candidates to replace Dumbledore as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. Given the relative newness of the news and the shock of it, nobody had yet stepped forward as an official candidate, but Robert and Augusta felt that there were several who might potentially make an attempt at the top seat.

Neville knew that he'd have to make his first public appearance at the Wizengamot as Lord Longbottom, since he'd now need to be officially installed before Augusta could resume voting on behalf of him and the Longbottom family. Already installed, Harry didn't technically have to attend and could just send Robert to vote on his behalf, but Harry couldn't help but think that maybe he should attend in person. Robert and Augusta were both of the mind that it wasn't strictly necessary, but that there were probably some members of the Wizengamot who would appreciate it if he showed that he was taking the matter seriously enough to attend in person.

"By Ra, its cold out here," Ramesses said, as he moved his gloved hands up and down on his arms, hoping the movement would generate some heat.

"I quite agree," Edward said as he moved to stand behind Ramesses and wrapped his arms around him in a tight embrace, hoping not only to provide his fiancé with some warmth but also himself. "I grew up at the Winter Palace in the Duchy of Penderleath and while we did have some cold weather, I don't recall anything quite this biting."

"Welcome to the Scottish Highlands, Your Majesty," Minerva said with a smile. "Although I suppose I can probably do something about the cold."

"If you can, please do," Edward said, as Ramesses nodded in agreement. "I'm sure everyone would appreciate it."

"Well, it'll require me to show everyone here that I'm a mage," Minerva said, "but then I suppose if I keep the headmistress position past Winter Break, it'll have to go on the letterhead, since it's a tradition going back to the founders for the school head's power level to be listed and unlike my predecessor I would never lie about it."

Septima smiled. "I think 'Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, Archmagister' will look quite impressive and I'm sure you'll be staying on, Minerva."

"That's up to the governors to decide," Minerva said as she summoned her staff to her hand, which caused several of the other staff members and students who weren't close enough to overhear Edward, Ramesses, Minerva, and Septima talking to gasp, as they'd never suspected that Minerva was, in fact, a mage. Of course, until this moment, the only people at Hogwarts that she'd told were Rolanda, Septima, Pomona, and of course Regulus, as the five of them were as far as they knew, the only mages on staff.

Turning to the students, Minerva gave them her sternest look, as she said, "Students, for those of you who aren't aware, this staff means that I'm a mage. Mages are very rare in Albion as for some reason that I couldn't begin to speculate on," this was a lie because she could, but she didn't feel like arguing with some of the students at this point, "the birth rates of them have drastically decreased over the years. There was a time, a few hundred years ago, that witches and wizards were as rare as mages are now, because the vast majority of the magical populace were sorcerers or sorceresses, which for those of you who haven't studied the power scale are above witches and wizards in terms of their raw magical talent.

"More powerful than a sorcerer or sorceress is a mage and they were also once a lot more common than they are now. Above mages are magisters, who were rarer, but still more common than they are now. Even rarer than witches and wizards, however, were people who could truthfully claim to be in the magus range on the power scale. And nobody since Merlin has ever reached the level of Archmagus, which is the ultimate pinnacle and represents a mage with so much raw power and magical talent that it's hard to measure it by any conventional means."

Pausing for a moment to allow the students to digest what they'd just heard, Minerva said, "Now, I'm going to cast a few mage-level spells to make us all a bit more comfortable while we wait, but I must warn you all not to even consider attempting these spells yourselves, because witches and wizards lack the necessary power to cast mage-level spells and doing so would be very hazardous to your health. Not only will you short out your wand and render it useless, you would very likely drain your magical core to such a degree that assuming you managed to survive, which quite frankly would be a miracle, you'd end up as little more than a squib for the rest of your lives."

Edward grinned at this and said, "In other words, don't try this at home, kids."

"Quite," Minerva said as she grasped her staff in both hands and drove the blade into the grass as she incanted, "Praesidium Tholus Maxima!" Within seconds the dome of magic erupted outwards from Minerva's staff to cover everyone standing outside of Hogwarts and while it was still cold, the shield did block the biting wind, so it was still a help. She wasn't finished, however, as she conjured a stone and transfigured it into a large brazier with visible runes carved into the sides of it which she held the gem of her staff over as she incanted, "Incendium Tempestus Minutus!"

All the students looked on in wonder as a small firestorm began raging inside the brazier, the runes glowing and presumably keeping the flames from spreading beyond it. The heat from the fire, however, quickly spread throughout the shield dome and made everyone a lot more comfortable. Some even removed their gloves and scarves and stopped holding their cloaks shut quite as tightly, as while it wasn't a summer day, it also didn't feel nearly as cold as it had seconds ago.

Ramesses said, "Thank you, Professor. I'm clearly going to have to practice my Warming Charms, because growing up in Egypt I'm not used to this kind of weather."

Before Minerva could respond, Seamus Finnigan pointed at the sky and exclaimed, "Look!"

Everyone turned to look where Seamus was pointing and saw something in the distance, getting progressively closer, but still too far away to make out clearly what it was. Whatever it was, it was clearly larger than a hundred broomsticks and as it got closer, one of the new first years—Hufflepuff Eleanor Branstone—panicked as she shrieked, "It's a dragon!"

Standing nearby, Cedric knelt down, put an arm around his panicking eleven-year-old housemate and said in a soothing voice, "Calm down, it's not a dragon," before he looked up at the sky and asked, "It looks more like… a flying house?"

"Houses don't fly," first-year Slytherin Graham Pritchard pointed out, as Gryffindor Natalie McDonald said, "Why don't you try telling that to the one in sky?" even as Dennis Creevey asked, "Have you never seen the Wizard of Oz?"

"The wizard of what?" several of the nearby wizarding raised students who'd heard the question asked.

Before Dennis could say anything, however, Edward squinted a bit and said, "Actually, that's not a house, it's a giant carriage pulled by… are those Abraxans?"

"Abraxawhat?" Dennis asked, clearly confused.

"Abraxan," Cormac McLaggen said. "They're a magical breed of winged horse, although they're generally quite a bit larger than most horses you've probably seen, as they're more in line with the size of an elephant."

Using the same spell that Thomas had used during the Camelot operation to increase his visual acuity, Minerva said, "Those are indeed Abraxans, a dozen of them by the looks of it, pulling a powder blue carriage the size of a house." After a moment, as the carriage turned enough for her to see the side of it, she added, "And from the crest on the door, I'd say the Beauxbatons delegation is arriving."

A few minutes later, as the carriage flew over the Forbidden Forest and came in for a landing, many of the students looked awed as they saw the huge palomino horses, all the size of elephants with white hair and large, powerful wings, got close enough that everybody could see what they were. Dennis jumped back a bit, accidentally stepping on his brother's foot, as the horses' hooves which were easily the size of dinner plates hit the ground. Moments later, everyone could see the carriage bounce up and down a bit as it's huge wheels also hit the cobblestones of Hogwarts' main driveway.

As the carriage finally came to a stop seconds after crossing through the protected area of Minerva's shield dome, the horses neighed and tossed their heads, showing off their fiery red eyes, as they folded their wings. A moment later, the door of the carriage opened and a blond-haired teenage boy hopped out of the carriage as he fumbled slightly on something beneath the door which everyone soon realized was the steps that folded under the carriage, before he moved backwards, his back ramrod straight as a black heeled boot that was easily the size of a child's sled emerged from inside the carriage, and several people gasped as they realized that the boot was attached to one of the largest women that any of the students had ever seen.

"Well that explains the size of the carriage and the horses," Natalie whispered to Dennis, who nodded his head in agreement.

"She's as big as Hagrid," Cormac whispered to his dorm mates, Jonathan, Sage, and Tanner, who all nodded in agreement.

"Ah Madame Maxime," Minerva said as she stepped forward to greet the woman. "Welcome to Hogwarts."

"Professor McGonagall, iz zeet not?" Maxime asked in heavily accented English. "I was expecting Professor Dumbly-dorr."

Minerva nodded, "Yes, I am indeed Professor Minerva McGonagall, the new Interim Headmistress of Hogwarts." At Maxime's confused look, Minerva added, "Since it was only in our local papers this morning, I imagine the news hadn't reached France before you left, but our Board of Governors has seen fit to dismiss him from his post as Headmaster."

"No, I 'ad not 'eard that. Why?" Maxime asked.

Edward stepped forward at this and said, "Probably because they felt it wouldn't be prudent to keep him on after I ordered a warrant for his arrest for high treason."

Maxime's eyes widened, as Minerva said, "Madame Maxime, please allow me to introduce His Imperial and Royal Majesty King Edward Pendragon."

Maxime curtseyed, although at her height, she was still quite a bit taller than Edward and everyone else, as she said, "Zis is a most uneexpected pleasure, Your Majesty. I was not eexpecting a royal welcome."

Edward smiled. "My dear Madame Maxime, it's not every day that Albion receives such distinguished guests as yourself and your students, so I felt that it was my duty to greet you personally." Of course, what Edward didn't say aloud was that the main reason he'd opted to greet the delegations personally was because he'd had word from King Willem-Reinier of the Netherlands that his daughter, Princess Alianna van Oranje, was part of the Durmstrang delegation and he wanted to be there to greet her personally, since Edward's late mother was King Willem-Reinier's sister and thus Alianna was one of Edward's cousins.

Maxime practically beamed at this as she motioned to the students and three adults standing behind her. "Allow me to introduce Professor Genevieve Prevette, the Professor of Charms at Beauxbatons," a black-haired woman in a fancy black and red dress curtseyed, "And our 'Erbology and Transfiguration teachers, Professors Jean-Luc Lavoisier and Stefan Delaney," as a handsome blond-haired man, who was standing next to a brown-haired man both nodded at McGonagall and bowed to Edward. "And of course ze students we've brought for the tournament."

Minerva smiled as she said, "I was under the impression you were only bringing two of your professors with you Madame Maxime, but no matter as I'm sure the house-elves can prepare suitable guest quarters fairly quickly."

"'Zat won't be neecessary, Professor," Maxime said. "Professors Lavoisier and Delaney can share, as they're a married couple. I was only planning on bringing two of ze professors but when Professor Lavoisier was one of the random drawn, I invited 'iz 'usband to accompany us, as it would be unfair to ask them to spend almost an entire school year apart."

Minerva nodded. "Well, then I'll make sure the house-elves make some changes to make the room prepared for them more comfortable for two people. Anyway, did you wish to wait outside with us for the Durmstrang delegation to arrive or head inside?"

Noticing the flaming brazier and the shimmering field of magic over their heads, Madame Maxime said, "Normally I think I'd be inclined to say 'ead inside to warm up a bit, but it's not nearly as cold as I eexpected it to be."

Professor Prevette nodded and said, in a voice that wasn't as accented as Madame Maxime's, "It's the brazier and shield dome causing that, I imagine, although I've never seen magic quite like it. Is it Protego Maxima?"

Shaking her head, Minerva said, "No, Professor, it's a maximized mage-level Dome of Protection and the brazier is lit with a controlled mage-level Firestorm," as she summoned her staff back to her hand as she'd originally vanished it after casting the spells, "as I'm an Archmagister."

"Vairy impresseeve," Madame Maxime said, clearly not expecting that revelation. "I was unaware that 'Ogwarts 'ad any mages on ze staff."

"We have five of them, actually," Minerva said, surprising a number of the students and staff from both schools. "Although, I shall refrain from mentioning who other than myself they are, as it's not up to me to reveal that information."

"Of course," Madame Maxime said, with a nod of her head. "You were Deputy 'Eadmeestress were you not?"

Minerva nodded, as she motioned towards Septima. "Yes, I was. That post for the time being now falls to our Arithmancy teacher, Professor Septima Vector."

"For the time being?" Stefan Delaney asked, in a crisp British accent, suggesting that he wasn't native to France, despite teaching at Beauxbatons.

Septima nodded. "Yes, the Board of Governors will be making a final decision over the Winter Break, as they wanted to give all the professors on staff a chance to apply and submit their visions for how the school should operate in the future, including perhaps ways to improve it."

Jean-Luc Lavoisier nodded and said, "A worthy goal. My husband attended Hogwarts, actually, so I know a bit about the school and I must say I was surprised at how short a period of time students attend Hogwarts and the lack of a broader subject base."

Filius stepped forward at this and squinted at Stefan Delaney for a moment, before he said, "Ah, yes, Stefan Delaney, I thought you looked familiar. Ravenclaw, class of '78, isn't it?"

Stefan nodded at his former Head of House. "Yes, it is. Hello Professor Flitwick."

"May I ask what you mean by those statements, Professor Lavoisier?" Edward asked, with an obviously perplexed look on his face, which stemmed from his always being told that Hogwarts was, hands down, the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Of course, he should have realized that the people telling him that were his tutors—who'd all attended Hogwarts—and thus they were probably biased.

Jean-Luc smiled and said, "I meant no disrespect, Your Majesty, however at Beauxbatons, the students study for France's OWL-equivalent for six years instead of five and then study for the NEWT-equivalent for three years instead of two." Looking contemplative for a moment, he then added, "And I believe Durmstrang is actually four years for their NEWT-equivalent."

"Arithmancy is also a required class for all first through sixth year students, rather than being an elective," Stefan added. "We also have a summer program for muggle-born and muggle-raised students the summer before their first year to teach them about wizarding culture and many of the things that the wizard-raised students already know coming into the school."

Maxime nodded, as she said, "'Aving seen ze class list at 'Ogwarts I can also say zat zere are quite a few elective classes that we offer at Beauxbatons that are not offered at 'Ogwarts, alzough I believe it is because zey 'ave been classed as 'dark' by your Mineestry, even zough zey are not."

"Hmm," Edward said, as he looked at Minerva. "We shall definitely have to look into that, as it sounds like Minister Fudge and his predecessors, while empowered to do so, may possibly have gone overboard in granting my royal assent on certain things, such as laws that required the governors to make changes to the Hogwarts curriculum." With a shake of his head, he then motioned Ramesses forward and said, "Anyway, Madame Maxime, Professors, please allow me to introduce Prince Ramesses Ptolemy of Egypt whom I shall be marrying this coming Saturday."

Ramesses held out his hand, which Madame Maxime shook as she said, "A pleasure to meet you, Your 'Ighness and congratulations to you both. You do, if a may say so make a vairy 'andsome couple."

Edward smiled. "Thank you, Madame. I admit that our union is a political match, although I have grown very fond of him and I hope to one day say that I love him."

Ramesses returned the smile. "Yes, same here."

"Forgive me, Your Majesty, but I was at the World Cup," Stefan said, "and I thought I'd heard a rumor that you had selected a number of suitors to consider? I have a brother who lives here, so he keeps me abreast of what's happening and he hasn't mentioned anything about you making a decision where they were concerned."

Edward nodded. "Indeed, I have not yet issued a statement to the press about that, but I have decided to release all of them. None of them did anything wrong, I just decided that they weren't right for me at this time. Although I won't rule out the possibility of possibly taking additional husbands at some point in the future."

A few eyes in the Beauxbatons delegation widened at that, which prompted Edward to add, "I suppose that may shock some of you, but it's bound to be in all the papers eventually that I do plan to take a page from Ramesses's father Pharaoh Seti's book and take multiple spouses. I am the last living Pendragon after all, so I have quite a bit of work to do in repopulating my once proud dynasty."

Madame Maxime nodded. "Yes it was a great tragedy wat 'appened to your family, Your Majesty. Please accept my condolences."

"Thank you, Madame Maxime," Edward said.

Turning to McGonagall, Maxime said, "About ze 'orses…"

"You needn't worry, Madame," Minerva said, anticipating what she was about to say. "I'm sure that our Keeper of the Keys and Grounds, who's also our gamekeeper, will be more than happy to care for them as soon he finishes dealing with another matter."

"She didn't call him the Care of Magical Creatures professor," Ron whispered to Hermione, who nodded as she wondered if that meant anything. She loved Hagrid, but she did have doubts about his fitness to teach classes, considering that he didn't have a single OWL or NEWT to his name and had in fact been expelled from Hogwarts in his third year. Not to mention his tendency to believe that extremely dangerous magical creatures like dragons were simply misunderstood or thinking that Acromantulas were cute and cuddly.

'And then there's the Blast-Ended Skrewts,' Hermione thought. 'A clear violation of the Ban on Experimental Breeding. I'm honestly surprised that Malfoy or someone else hasn't reported Hagrid to the authorities yet. I don't want him to get in trouble, but still…'

The next few moments passed relatively quietly as Madame Maxime and Minerva continued talking, although Hermione was only half-listening. She heard the words 'single-malt whiskey' but couldn't say what the context was as she gazed out at the Black Lake. A short moment ago, the surface of the water had been calm and still, until all of a sudden it wasn't, as bubbles and waves began forming and suddenly a huge whirlpool formed in the center of the lake. Noticing that everyone was gazing up at the sky, she pointed towards the lake and said in a loud voice, "Look at the lake!"

Several pairs of eyes shifted towards the lake to watch the disturbance, as Eleanor Branstone—who had significantly calmed down thanks to Cedric's reassurance—asked, "Is that the giant squid doing that?"

Cedric shook his head and said, "In six years at Hogwarts, I've never seen the lake do that and I've seen the squid plenty of times, so I'm going to say no."

"Agreed," Terence said, as a few of the other older students also nodded.

Suddenly a long black pole came up out of the center of the whirlpool and as she spied the rigging, followed shortly after by a crow's nest, Hermione gasped. "It's a ship's mast!"

Moments after Hermione said this a huge skeletal ship that looked like a resurfaced wreck moved up out of the water, as several large sails depicting a horned skull beneath a double-headed eagle were unfurled. Within a matter of seconds the ship sailed from the center of the lake to the shore, and moments later there was a splash as the anchor was dropped, followed by a thud as the gangplank was lowered and the spectators could see people disembarking from the ship and walking up the hill towards the castle.

It took a few moments for the group to reach the assembled Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students and staff, but after a moment, a severe looking man wearing a heavy white coat trimmed in silver fur led the group up the hill. He was followed by two adults, one male and one female, and a dozen or so students of both genders, all draped in heavy fur cloaks of varying quality. As he reached the top of the hill, the man at the head of the group called out, "Dum…" and then not seeing who he'd meant to address, asked, "Where's Dumbledore?"

"First off, Professor, please allow me to introduce His Imperial and Royal Majesty King Edward Pendragon," Minerva said, motioning towards Edward. Karkaroff's eyes widened a bit and he bowed his head, but otherwise said nothing. Minerva then continued with, "And to answer your question, Professor Dumbledore no longer works here," as she explained the reasoning behind it.

Moments later, a feminine voice asked, "Eddie, is that really you?" as a girl wearing an exquisite and clearly very expensive fur cloak and hat stepped forward. "You've certainly grown since I saw you last."

Edward smiled. "Ali, it was twelve years ago, so I rather think that was bound to happen." Looking the girl up and down, he added, "You've certainly grown up from the annoying little girl I met all those years ago."

"Annoying? I could never be annoying," Alianna van Oranje said as she came to a stop in front of Edward, who quickly pulled her into a hug. It wasn't perhaps the most royal thing to do, and he was sure his tutors would be bemoaning his breach of protocol, but with the entire Pendragon family being murdered when he was only two years old, Edward wanted to remain close to what family he still had left and refused to let protocol get in the way of that.

"I beg to differ," Edward said with a grin, "but it is good to see you, cousin."

"You too, Eddie," Alianna said with a smile as she pulled back.

Edward raised an eyebrow and asked, "You do realize that you're the only one I allow to call me that, right?"

Alianna nodded, before she noticed Ramesses and looking him up and down, she asked, "And who is this gorgeous young man?"

Ramesses blushed, as Edward laughed. "Down girl. This is Prince Ramesses of Egypt… my fiancé."

"Drat," Alianna mumbled under her breath, loud enough that only Edward, Ramesses, and one of Alianna's classmates standing behind her heard it. "All the cute ones are either gay or already taken."

At this a male classmate behind Alianna cleared his throat and said, "Um, Ali, you're also taken, I might add."

"And who is this?" Edward asked.

"My boyfriend, Ethan Delrossi, Duke of Tarentum," Alianna said.

"That's a Byzantine title originating in Italia, is it not?" Edward asked.

Ethan nodded. "Yes, Your Majesty. My father," he motioned towards a tall, black-haired man who looked to be in his mid-to-late thirties, "is Lord Rafael Delrossi, the Grand Duke of BrundisiumSouthern Italia."

Edward looked a bit surprised at that as he addressed the man that Ethan had just identified as his father and said, "I'd thought you were one of Durmstrang's professors."

Stepping forward, Rafael said, "You weren't wrong, Your Majesty, as I am Durmstrang's Professor of Astronomy. As for my title, I inherited it when my elder brother died without issue, but thankfully for me, Emperor Justinian is perfectly willing to allow me to hand over all the administrative duties of the Grand Duchy to my seneschal, as I have very little interest in actually running it personally, as teaching has always been my true passion."

"Ah, I see, well, welcome everyone to Hogwarts," Edward said. Turning towards Minerva, he asked, "Perhaps we should all head inside?"

"Of course, Your Majesty," Minerva answered. "Hogwarts students, please return to your houses for the time being. Prefects please ensure they stay there for one hour, while I get our guests situated in the guest quarters." Terence, the Head Girl, and the prefects nodded as they began herding the Hogwarts students into the castle.

Once they were inside, Minerva turned to the two foreign delegations and said, "If you'll just follow me, we've had guest quarters set aside for all of you." Looking specifically at Karkaroff and Maxime, she said, "I've had the house-elves clean and prepare some of our empty, unused classrooms for your use while you're here. Also, Madam Professor Griselda Marchbanks of the Albion/Iwernia Wizarding Testing Authority and a few of her examiners who have also passed their ICWATs have agreed to come and assist in making sure your students continue to receive proper tutelage in all of their subjects while they're here."

Karkaroff nodded, but said nothing, as Maxime said, "Zank you, Minerva, zat sounds acceptable."

-o-0-o-

Much later that evening, after curfew, Harry was under his invisibility cloak, checking the Marauder's Map occasionally, as he snuck downstairs to the dungeons. Every one of the houses had two private suites of rooms meant for the Head Boy and Head Girl, which were only used if the head student was a member of that house. Thus, currently, the Slytherin Head Boy quarters was being used by Terence Higgs and this was where Harry was sneaking. Turning into the corridor that Harry knew held the door that granted non-Slytherin students access to Terence's rooms, Harry moved to the door and after quickly checking the map to see that no one was around, raised his fist and knocked.

Harry could hear movement inside the room and a moment later, the door opened to reveal Terence, who looked like he'd been getting ready for bed, since he was currently shirtless and wearing only a pair of silk pajama bottoms. Seeing nobody at his door, he looked confused for a moment, until he felt an invisible hand on his chest pushing him backwards. "It's me, Liam," Harry whispered as he crossed the threshold into the room.

"Harry?" Terence asked. "How?"

Closing the door behind him, Harry pulled off his invisibility cloak. "As long as your family has served mine I'd have thought that you'd know about the family heirloom invisibility cloak."

Running a hand over the cloak that looked like liquid-silver in Harry's hands for a moment, Terence said, "I'd heard about it, but until now I'd never actually seen it." With a shake of his head, he said, "So, Harry, what brings you to the Head Boy's quarters at this time of night? Over an hour after curfew? You do realize that as the Head Boy I can not only take points but assign detention, right?"

Harry smiled, "I'm aware of that, but I figure since you're oath bound to be loyal to me, you won't be doing that."

Terence sighed. "Can I just say that you almost sound like a Slytherin when you talk like that? And no, I suppose I won't be. So, why are you here anyway?"

"Well, the Sorting Hat did want to put me in Slytherin," Harry revealed, which caused Terence's eyes to widen. "So it doesn't hurt to get in touch with my Slytherin side every now and then. As for why I'm here, I need your help, Liam."

Deciding to ignore the Sorting Hat revelation for now, Terence asked, "With what?"

Harry grinned. "I need you to give me the password to the prefect's bathroom and then I need you to go find Cedric, bring him there, and make sure we're not disturbed for an hour or so."

"You're not asking for much are you, Harry?" Terence asked. "You do realize that since you're not a prefect or a Quidditch captain that you're not allowed in the prefect's bathroom, right?"

Harry nodded. "Yes, I'm aware of that Liam, which is why after you've brought Cedric up there, you'll be standing watch. I have the Marauder's Map, but I figure I'll probably be too distracted to pay attention to it. So, once Cedric and I are safely in the room, I'll give you my cloak and the map and it'll be your job to make sure we aren't disturbed."

Terence groaned as he thought about the nice, soft bed that he'd been just about to crawl into when Harry knocked. "You're actually asking me to stand guard outside of a bathroom while you and Cedric hook up? Really, Harry?"

"Yes, really, Liam."

Terence sighed. "Fine, I'll go put some clothes on and then I want to see this Marauder's Map, as I've been curious about it ever since you first mentioned it at the cottage."

Harry nodded. "Yes, I'll teach you how to use it once you're dressed."

Twenty-minutes later, Terence was dressed and had been shown how to use the Marauder's Map, although for the moment, Harry retained possession of it and his cloak as he snuck up to the fifth floor and made his way over to the fourth door to the left of the statue of Boris the Bewildered. Terence, meanwhile, headed for the Hufflepuff Dormitories to collect Cedric. As the Head Boy, he was allowed to be out after curfew so while he did see Professor Babbling patrolling the halls on his way, she didn't question or stop him.

Reaching the door to the bathroom, Harry whispered, "Pine fresh," and let himself in, as all the lights lit automatically upon sensing someone in the room. One thing that Harry had not known prior to Terence telling him was that there were security charms on the door to the prefect's bathroom that would not allow anyone of the opposite gender to enter the room while it was in use. So, the female prefects, Head Girl, and female Quidditch captains didn't need to worry about the boys coming in while they were bathing and vice versa. The security charms would not, however, prevent same-sex people from entering the room while it was in use and thus Terence standing guard outside the room was still necessary.

Since the lights had been off when he entered, Harry assumed correctly that nobody else was in the room, so he removed his cloak and pocketed the Marauder's Map, as he headed over to the massive swimming pool like bathtub. He supposed if he'd never heard anything about the prefect's bathroom, he would have been shocked at the size of the tub, but living with three prefects—one of whom was now Head Boy—and a former Quidditch captain at Forest Cottage, Harry had heard plenty about the prefects' bathroom and it definitely lived up to what he'd imagined.

Turning on a few of the taps to start the tub filling, Harry debated whether he should wait until after Cedric had arrived to get undressed. With a mischievous gleam in his eye, he opted to start getting undressed, although for modesty sake so that he wasn't completely naked when Terence came in to get his cloak and the map, he decided that he'd leave his red boxer-briefs on, at least for the moment. Of course, he'd also stuffed an extra pair in the pocket of his trousers so that he'd have a dry pair in case he ended up using the ones he was currently wearing as swimming trunks. He wasn't entirely sure if Cedric would be open to what he was planning, but he could hope.

Not long after Harry had dropped his trousers and toed off his socks, the door opened and Terence and a rather confused looking Cedric entered the room. Before either of them could say anything, Harry pulled the map from the pocket of his trousers, picked up his cloak and walked over to Terence, handing him both, as he said, "You know what to do."

"Yeah, yeah," Terence said, thankful that he'd taken a Pepper-Up Potion when he'd ducked into his bedroom to get dressed, because otherwise he was sure that he'd be asleep before the hour or so that Harry had requested was up. "Have fun, guys," as he threw the cloak over him and retreated for the door, mumbling, "The things I do for my lord."

"Er, Harry? What's going on?" Cedric asked.

Harry smiled. "I missed you and thought we could spend a little time together." Harry wiggled his eyebrows a little at this and that combined with his tone left little doubt in Cedric's mind what Harry was talking about.

Cedric blushed, as he said, "Harry, we're not even dating yet."

"True, but we have to start somewhere, right? And we're both teenage boys, so you can't tell me you haven't thought about it."

"You know I've thought about it," Cedric said. "I told you as much back in your room at the cottage, remember?"

"I remember, so what about it, Ric? If you're not comfortable doing anything, we can just soak for a little while and chat. I understand that you're still dealing with your inner demons, so I don't want to rush you into anything you're not ready for." After a moment, he added, "Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how far I'm ready to go myself, because as you know I am a virgin, but I figure who better to have my first experience with—no matter how far it ends up going—than my soulmate?"

Seeing that Cedric was struggling to make up his mind, Harry decided to pull out the puppy-dog eyes, hoping that it would convince the older teen.

Shaking his head, Cedric said, "Oh, that's so not fair, Harry, how can I possibly say no with you looking that?"

Harry pouted his lips a little in addition to the puppy-dog eyes and said, "Easy, don't say no."

"Oh, I swear you'll be the death of me, Harry Potter."

"I hope not, because I much prefer you alive."

Cedric laughed. "Yeah, me too." With a sigh, he asked, "You've thought of everything haven't you? The prefect's bathroom over an hour after curfew when nobody's likely to be using it. You've even recruited the bloody Head Boy to stand guard outside."

"Well, he did swear that oath of loyalty to me," Harry said with a grin. "So, I figured I may as well take advantage of it every now and then."

"I guess."

"I mean I probably could have called for Tilly and asked her to bring a couple of my guards over, but I figured that might be a little too conspicuous if anyone saw them standing outside the door, since technically speaking I'm not supposed to be in here. Of course, I suppose since I do co-own the school and I'm a Governor, there's not much the professors could do about it."

"Yeah, I suppose not," Cedric said, "although I don't imagine that the other governors would really like you using your position that way. Not that they can really do much about it since you're a Duke and the Lord High Chancellor, but it's probably best to try to stay on their good side, Harry."

With a nod, Harry said, "True. Well, I won't tell them if you won't."

"Um, yeah, I think I'll definitely not be telling the governors which includes my father that I'm meeting up with Harry Potter after curfew in the prefects' bathroom to do… well, whatever it is that we end up doing that my father would definitely not approve of."

"Well, then we're good. So, why don't you strip out of some of those clothes? We can keep our underwear on for now and just soak in the tub for a while, and maybe chat. If anything more happens, well, we can cross that bridge when we come to it."

Cedric sighed. "Yeah, okay," as he began to remove his school robe. He wasn't sure why but he was feeling a little self-conscious about taking his clothes off in front of Harry. His year mates in the Hufflepuff dorms had seen him completely naked so he didn't understand why he'd suddenly feel self-conscious about being nearly naked around Harry. Of course, then again, Harry was his soulmate and had made it rather clear that he was hoping they might if not go all the way and have sex tonight, that they'd at least do something of a more than friendly nature. Which is definitely not something that Cedric had ever done with any of the boys he shared his dorm room with, considering that they were all straight and he was deeply closeted.

Taking a deep breath and summoning his courage, Cedric dropped his school robes onto the floor near Harry's discarded clothes, before pulling off the t-shirt he was wearing under it to reveal his toned chest and abs. He couldn't help the blush that creeped up when he could see Harry licking his lips and clearly enjoying what he was seeing. Toeing off his shoes as he undid his belt, Cedric took another deep breath, before unzipping his trousers and pushing them down to reveal a pair of yellow boxer-briefs with a black waistband.

"Do all Hufflepuffs wear yellow and black underwear or is it just you?"

Seeing the grin on Harry's face when he said it, Cedric knew the younger boy didn't mean it as an insult but instead as a joke, so Cedric, deciding to play along, nodded and said, "Yes, actually, they do. We have a gift shop off our common room and it's a rule that we all have to wear yellow and black underwear. House pride and all, you understand."

Harry looked a bit shocked, as he asked, "Really?"

No longer able to keep a straight face, Cedric laughed. "No, Harry, I'm only kidding. We don't have a gift shop and that's not a rule. I've only seen the boys in my dorm room and my teammates on the Quidditch team in their underwear, but I can say that most of them don't wear yellow or black. I wear it more often, but then I've always been partial to the colors even before starting at Hogwarts."

"Ah, okay, well then, get your socks off and then we can soak in the tub," Harry said, as he saw that the taps had turned off now that the tub was full of water, complete with bubbles in a variety of colors. Strangely enough, yellow, red, black, and gold were the dominant colors. Harry had never seen black bubbles before, but he'd stopped questioning the things that magic was capable of producing a long time ago.

Toeing of his last sock, Cedric said, "Okay, socks are off."

Neither boy moved for a moment, however, until finally Harry summoned his Gryffindor courage, moved so that he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Cedric—which thanks to the growth potions that he'd taken was actually possible since he was now only an inch or two shorter than Cedric instead of nearly a foot when they'd first entered training—before clasping the older teen's hand in his. Cedric looked down as he felt Harry's hand grasp his own and he smiled, as they moved into the tub together, still holding hands.

"Oh the water feels so nice," Cedric said, as he leaned against the side of the tub and could feel all of his muscles relaxing in the nice, hot water.

"Yeah it does. After the last few days, I definitely needed this."

"Huh, I'll bet. I have some idea what it's like to be in charge of a noble family, as I've been trained since birth as the spare heir, just in case something happened to Noah, and then of course when he was disowned, I got even more experience, but to actually be the lord of the family and then to have the added responsibilities that go with your title on top of it. I'm not sure I could deal with that kind of stress."

"It's definitely been stressful," Harry agreed, as he let go of Cedric's hand and swam over to other side of the pool, were he grabbed two small towels from a basket near the corner, before moving back to his previous position next to Cedric, making sure not to get the two towels wet. Rolling one of them up he said, "Lift up your head up for a moment."

Cedric did as Harry asked, confused for a moment, but smiling when he realized what Harry was doing. "Thanks Harry," Cedric said as he laid back again, only this time with his head on the softer surface of the rolled up towel instead of the tiled floor surrounding the in ground pool.

"You're welcome," Harry said, as he rolled up the other towel and then rested his own head on it.

Nothing was said for a few minutes, as the two boys both took a deep breath and laid there, their eyes drifting closed, as they just let the hot water relax them and wash away all the stresses that life had presented them lately. Finally, after a moment, Harry asked, "So, Ric, you think you'll enter the tournament?"

"I don't know," Cedric said after a moment of silence, as he took some time to contemplate the question. "I know my father wants me to, because from the little flashes of memory I've gotten from my double when I'm asleep, I can see that he's been dropping hints ever since the arrival feast when Dumbledore first announced the tournament. I'm sure he figures that Triwizard Champion—especially if I win—will look good on my resume." Turning his head slightly to look at Harry's profile, he added, "I've told you about him wanting me to be the youngest Minister for Magic in history."

Harry nodded, as he turned his head to face Cedric and asked, "Yes, you did. But beyond what your father wants, and more importantly, what do you want?"

"I think I might enter," Cedric answered after another moment of quiet contemplation. "You saw it earlier when RJ chose to be in Hufflepuff. Everyone at the other tables seemed so shocked by that decision, as if actually wanting to be a Hufflepuff is so hard to believe. So, I have thought that maybe entering the tournament might earn some respect for my house if I get chosen."

Harry nodded. "For the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a Hufflepuff. All the ones I've met are decent and loyal people who really don't deserve the scorn that some of the other students give them. Nick and RJ don't, and you certainly don't."

"Thanks Harry, but I have to ask, are you saying that because you actually believe it or because I'm your soulmate?"

"I truly believe it, Ric. Even before I met Nick and RJ, I had a very high opinion of you ever since last year when you tried to get the Quidditch game that the Dementors interrupted replayed. I can't imagine that was a popular decision with many of your housemates, so it took a lot of guts to make it and I definitely respected you for it."

Cedric nodded. "Yeah, for all of the talk about how Hufflepuffs are supposed to be loyal and value fair play, I'm afraid many of my housemates would prefer to put loyalty to our house ahead of being fair to others. Personally, I don't see why there can't be a balance between the two."

"I suppose the house rivalries have gotten out of hand to an extent," Harry said, as he found Cedric's hand under the water and held it again, which made Cedric smile. "I know in Gryffindor there's a very much an 'us against them' mentality when it comes to the other houses, but then I suppose that's not really that hard to believe considering that nobody ever really encourages us to work together with people outside of our individual houses."

"True. You know, I've sometimes thought that maybe one way of doing that might be to add some private study rooms to the library that could be reserved by study groups to use. They could probably make it a requirement that you need to have two houses represented at a minimum to reserve a room, but if there's a higher demand than there are rooms, then the study groups with more houses get higher priority. It might be hard going at first, but I think there's plenty of people who would appreciate the private room, because even being a library, when it's busy, it can still get a little too loud to study in. And you can forget about the common rooms, because that's practically impossible."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, that could work, actually, although I think there'd have to be some kind of monitoring charm set to make sure that couples aren't reserving the room for trysts."

"Well, that could probably be remedied by requiring four people from at least two houses to be a part of the study group, but yeah I get what you're saying."

Silence fell over the room for a moment, before Harry decided to give in to his desire to kiss the older boy, who hopefully wouldn't be totally repulsed by the idea. Still holding Cedric's hand, Harry moved so that he was in front of the older teen, who looked at him with a questioning look as Harry moved a little closer and whispered, "Would it be okay if I kissed you?"

Cedric smiled, but instead of answering Harry's question, he closed the distance between them and brought their lips together in a slow and tentative kiss. It was Harry's first kiss ever and although Cedric had kissed a few girls that he'd gone on a date or two with in his attempts to hide his sexuality, he'd never worked up the courage to kiss a guy before. But Harry had done his best to make him feel comfortable and the hot water of the bath had helped to relax him sufficiently that he felt ready to take this step.

After a few moments, both boys were feeling a bit more confident and the kiss became less tentative and more passionate, as Harry moved his arms so that they were resting on Cedric's shoulders, his hands clasped behind the older boy's head. Cedric, meanwhile, wrapped his arms around Harry's waist, pulling him forward so that their bodies were flush against each other as he deepened the kiss a bit by using his tongue to lick Harry's closed lips, which prompted them to open and give Cedric his first real taste of Lord Harrison Potter… and he had to say that he definitely liked it.

They were both very into the kiss, but as all good things had to come to an eventually, Harry and Cedric broke their kiss and rested their foreheads against each other's, as they simply looked into the other's eyes for several moments. After catching his breath, Harry grinned and said, "That was bloody brilliant."

Cedric grinned and said, "Yes, it was quite good. Far and away better than any kiss I've previously had, but then those were with girls, so they were pretty much unmitigated disasters." After a moment, Cedric said, "I hope you won't be upset, Harry, but I really don't think I'm ready for anything more than what we just did."

"That's fine, Cedric," Harry said with a reassuring smile. "I'm not really ready either to be honest. Although I do hope that we can at least do what we just did again."

Cedric grinned as he said, "Oh I think that can definitely be arranged," as he leaned forward and gave Harry a peck on the lips, "again," another peck, "again," another peck, "and again. You'll be bloody sick of it."

"I sincerely doubt that's even possible, Ric, but I'll definitely enjoy finding out."

-o-0-o-

The following evening in the Great Hall, found the four Hogwarts houses seated at their normal tables, while the Head Table had been expanded to provide enough room for Edward and Ramesses to join the Hogwarts staff at their table, while two additional tables were setup between the Head Table and the house tables, one each for the students and staff from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. As the dessert courses appeared on the tables, Minerva stood and made her way over to the podium, as Septima tapped her goblet to get everyone's attention.

"Attention students of all three schools," Minerva said. "Exactly one hour after dinner this evening, the Goblet of Fire will be placed in the Entrance Hall and those of you who wish to put your names forward as your school's champion, need only write your name and the school you attend on a piece of parchment and put it in the goblet. You will have until this time on Halloween to enter, at which point our three champions will be selected during our annual Halloween feast."

Minerva paused for a moment, before she added, "Now, as was previously mentioned to the Hogwarts student body when the tournament was first announced, I would remind all of you that no student under the age of seventeen is allowed to compete and I will personally be drawing an Age Line around the goblet and trust me when I say that those of you under seventeen will be in for a very nasty surprise if you attempt to bypass it."

As expected many of the younger students complained about how unfair it was that they weren't allowed to enter. After a moment, McGonagall quieted everyone down, as she continued. "As a further warning, the same nasty surprise will befall any student over the age of seventeen who attempts to put a name in the goblet other than their own, so don't do it. I would also remind you that putting your name in the Goblet of Fire constitutes a binding magical contract that is as unbreakable as a Gringotts' contract, so if your name is chosen during the champion selection, you will be required to compete and there's no way out of it."

After another short pause, Minerva said, "I realize that the lure of a thousand galleons and eternal glory are powerful motivators, but I would also caution every person thinking about entering the tournament that these tasks are not for the faint of heart. Remember that in the past, people have been seriously injured and even died while competing in this tournament, so it's not to be taken lightly. If you enter, make sure that you're ready to face what will very likely be the most difficult, challenging, and potentially life-threatening tasks of your lives. You have been warned."

With this, Minerva returned to her seat, as the students from all three schools began talking amongst themselves as they ate dessert. Despite the warnings, there were still plenty of underage students complaining about not being allowed to enter and plenty more who were of the right age who seemed to completely disregard Minerva's warnings. But then when faced with the fact that people had been injured or died doing something, it was too often human nature to think, 'Well, that was them, not me. I'll be fine because nothing bad will ever happen to me.'

-o-0-o-

Just over two hours later, there were plenty of students milling about in the Entrance Hall, where some benches had been placed so that people could sit down and watch people putting their names in the goblet. Sitting off to one side of the room was Edward, Ramesses, Harry, Neville, Roger, Blaise, and Terence, engaged in light conversation. A few of the Slytherins had given Blaise and Terence confused looks, not understanding why they'd be hanging out with two Gryffindors, but then again since the beginning of the school year it had become almost normal to see Terence and Harry interacting, what with Terence being Harry's seneschal's son and all.

Blaise was really the one that confused most people because he tended to keep to himself a bit more often, leaving many of the Slytherins to believe that Blaise was trying to get close to the King for whatever reason, which was something they could respect, so they pretty much left him alone. Hermione was also sitting with the group, although she was paying more attention to the book in her lap then to the conversation as she put the finishing touches on an essay for Professor Black's class. Ron was nowhere to be seen but then he and Harry had been drifting apart a bit this year, as Harry's double had begun hanging out with other people outside of the so-called Golden Trio, which for some reason that Harry couldn't fathom didn't seem to sit well with the youngest male Weasley.

Edward sighed. "Being here is rather bittersweet. I love that I finally got to come to Hogwarts, but I hate that I missed out on the whole experience of being a student here."

"Personally, I can't say that I mind not attending Hogwarts," Ramesses said, "but that's more to do with the climate than anything, because it's too cold here for my taste."

"RJ, I rather think you'd better get used to the weather," Terence said with a grin. "You're marrying Edward, after all, and he plans to make you his co-ruler so that pretty much suggests that you're going to be living here for a while."

Edward grinned, as he wrapped an arm around Ramesses and pulled him close, which thanks to the fact that they were wearing matching black jumpers made it hard to tell where one ended and the other began. "Liam's right, Ram. You're definitely going to be here for a while, like the rest of your life. I'm not saying we'll never go on vacation back to your native Egypt or visiting your relatives in Byzantium or France, but you will be here primarily. Well, not here at Hogwarts, specifically, but I do have houses all over the country, including one here in Scotland."

Ramesses nodded and was clearly having trouble keeping a straight face as he asked, "They are heated right? And have hot water? Because that's a deal breaker, Edward. No heat or hot water, means soulmate or not I'm going to have to back out of this engagement."

Edward laughed. "Don't worry, Ram, there's heat and hot water at all of my estates. Just because I grew up in Albion doesn't mean that I like the cold any more than you do." With a grin, he added, "Besides I know you're not going to back out of this engagement, simply out of fear that you might end up like Neferkamin."

"Neferkamin?" Blaise asked.

Harry grinned. "One of RJ's many, many, many brothers. He was one of the top three potential picks for Edward in terms of securing a marriage alliance with Egypt, but ultimately he picked RJ. Neferkamin, however, is thirty-five years old and like Ramesses, until he's actually married, wears a chastity belt, so RJ ending up like him would mean another fifteen years of not being able to see Little RJ."

Ramesses blushed, "Can we please change the subject?"

"So, just how many brothers do you actually have then?" Roger asked, clearly intrigued by Harry's 'many, many, many brothers' comment.

Ramesses grinned. "Well, there's Neferkamin, Djoser, Nikare, Menkare, Amenhotep, Sneferu, Khufu, Khafre, Khyan, Neferkare, and Khaneferre, just to name a few of them."

Hermione, who had now finished her essay and begun paying more attention to the conversation, asked, "That's a few?" at the same time that Blaise asked, "There's more?"

Ramesses nodded. "Yeah, there's definitely more. From his seven wives, my father has, including me, a grand total of 137 children, 64 of those being sons." Grinning at the wide-eyed expressions on everyone's faces, he added, "Additionally, with his countless mistresses, he also has another 260 illegitimate children, although it's important to note that those are only the ones that he's acknowledged as being his, so it's quite possible there's more than that."

Blaise shook his head and said, "Forgive me if this is crossing a line, RJ, but how does your father find the time to rule an empire? I'd think he'd have to spend ninety percent of his day in bed to have that many children."

"Not to mention recovering from getting all those children," Neville said. "I mean, damn, he must have superhuman stamina."

"Well, he'd say it's because he's a living god," Ramesses said. "Although, between us, I can tell you that the court potions master spends a good amount of time brewing various potions to help my father recover from his activities that I really don't want to think about. I think he may also make use of a Time-Turner. Plus, it's also important to note that there's several sets of multiples among that number. For example, I'm the seventh-born son of my parents, so there's six sons before me, along with eight daughters. Four of those sons and two of those daughters are sextuplets, so they all came from only one pregnancy."

"I'd just like to state for the record," Edward said, "that while I do intend to take multiple husbands and have lots of children in order to repopulate the Pendragon family, the Hells will freeze over and the gods will decide to release Kronos from Tartarus before I even consider having that many children."

Ramesses grinned. "Good, because honestly it is an excessive amount of children." After a moment, he said, "Honestly, I think my father's large number of children is possibly why he allows Gringotts' to send curse-breakers into the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Part of it is because at one time we thought the dead needed all those treasures for the afterlife and in time we realized that clearly wasn't the case since it was still there sometimes centuries later. But, I think father might also be trying to pad the family coffers so that when he passes on, he may, hopefully, be able to leave all of us with enough money that we're be able to afford more than one pack of chewing gum."

Everybody laughed at that, before Edward said, ""I'd always wondered why the Egyptian government was actually allowing Gringotts' to raid the tombs of its' past kings."

"Yeah, well, as I said our opinions and beliefs changed over time," Ramesses said. "Eventually we realized that the dead didn't need all that wealth for the afterlife, so we stopped placing it in the tombs and began recovering what we could from the existing tombs. The belief now is that we'd rather all those riches be back in Egyptian hands, than the hands of tomb robbers or the filthy muggles looting the tombs."

Hermione, obviously, bristled at that comment. "Filthy muggles? Do you have a problem with muggles, Ramesses?"

Ramesses shook his head. "Not all muggles, no, but I do rather dislike the ones employed in the archaeological field who see nothing wrong with looting tombs and taking everything inside of them—including the mummies—to display in their museums. If it was just the material wealth they were taking, I wouldn't mind it as much, since we do the same thing. However we never remove the mummies from their tombs, because it's wrong to remove them from their final resting places. Especially so that they can be gawked at in a museum or even unwrapped so that the muggles can do tests on them. How would they react, I wonder, if someone did that to their honored dead?"

Everyone was silent for a moment, before Hermione nodded and said, "I never thought about it that way. I've seen a few mummies on display at the British Museum, but I'd never really taken the time to really think about the fact that it was a person with a family. The fact that they died thousands of years ago doesn't mean that they aren't still worthy of respect or that their remains should become a museum exhibit. And you're right, I seriously doubt people would react well if say Queen Victoria's remains were put on display in a museum."

Harry shuddered, as he said, "I imagine there's some people who would have a truly morbid enough sense of curiosity that they'd go see such an exhibit, but me personally? No thank you, I don't want to spend an afternoon looking at dead people."

Moments after he finished speaking, Harry's attention was drawn towards the Goblet as a large group of Hufflepuffs entered the hall, all egging Cedric on, who was clutching a piece of parchment in his hand. 'I guess he decided to enter. Would it be wrong if I said I almost hope he doesn't get picked? I think plenty of people think Minerva was just trying to scare them when she said the tournament was dangerous, but knowing what the first task is, I know it wasn't just a scare tactic.'

"Well, that's that," Terence said, as Cedric put his name in, as his housemates all started congratulating him and wishing him luck. "Cedric's name is in the goblet."

"Yes, it is," Edward said, before he turned to Terence and asked, "You entered though didn't you?"

Terence nodded. "Yes, I did, but I figure I'm the Head Boy so it'd look bad if I didn't enter."

After Cedric and his housemates left the hall, another group of students from Beauxbatons, consisting of two girls and three boys, came over and entered their names, one at a time. Recognizing one of the girls, Terence called out, "Hey Victoire, over here."

The two girls in the group turned towards Terence's voice and one of them smiled as she and her friend came over. "Hey Liam."

Before Terence could respond, Victoire and her friend scanned the faces of the people that Terence was sitting with, which is when their eyes went wide upon seeing Edward and they quickly curtseyed, as they both said, "Your Majesty."

Edward smiled, "Relax ladies. In case you couldn't tell from my clothes I'm in casual mode right now, so just think of me as another Hogwarts student." Turning to Terence, he asked, "So are you going to introduce us?"

"Meet my half-sister, Victoire Blanchett," Terence said with a smile. "And this is her best friend, Fleur Delacour."

After a few pleasantries were exchanged, Victoire lightly punched Terence in the shoulder, as she asked, "Liam, how could you neglect to mention that you're friends with the King?"

"I didn't mention it, Vic," Terence said, "because Edward and I aren't friends, at least not yet. We only just met each other about a week or so ago."

"And 'ow did zis meeting come about, Liam?" Fleur asked. As Victoire's best friend for a number of years now, Fleur and Terence had met before now since Terence usually spent two to three weeks every summer in France with his mother and half-siblings, which coincidently meant that he'd met many of their friends. Of course, that was likely to change now that his mother was the new Acting Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Prophet.

"Well, I'm sure that either Vic or I has mentioned that my dad is the seneschal for the Potter family?" Terence asked, which prompted Fleur to nod and Terence to grin as he motioned towards Harry and said, "Well, Fleur, Vic, meet His Grace Harrison James Potter, the Duke of Granston and Lord High Chancellor to the Court of Pendragon—aka my dad's boss and The-Boy-Who-Lived."

Playfully slapping Liam's shoulder, Harry said, "Liam, you know I don't like the whole 'Boy-Who-Lived' thing, so don't call me that or I may have to seriously reconsider ordering you to run down Diagon Alley starkers."

Neville, Roger, and Blaise laughed at that, while Edward and Ramesses both chuckled lightly. Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry but said nothing because she knew he was kidding or at least she hoped that he was, while Fleur and Victoire looked confused.

It was a blushing Terence who said, "Since both my dad and stepmum work for Harry at Seacliff Castle, both them and I have sworn an Oath of Loyalty to him, which not only means we have to keep his secrets, but also do whatever he tells us to do." Looking at Harry, he shook his head and said, "It was the portrait of his father James Potter—who was one of Hogwarts' most legendary pranksters—who decided to plant that particular seed in Harry's mind, much to my chagrin."

It was at this point that several cheers sounded throughout the Entrance Hall as Fred and George Weasley ran triumphantly into the room, both grinning from ear to ear, as they each held a potions vial aloft. Knowing that they'd been upset about the age rule and having heard a rumor that they planned to use an aging potion to get past it, Hermione shook her head and called out, "It's not going to work."

Coming over to Hermione, Fred asked, "Oh yeah?"

"And why's that, Granger?" George asked.

Moving her hand in a circular motion, Hermione pointed at the golden line surrounding the Goblet of Fire and asked, "You see this? This is an Age Line – McGonagall drew it herself."

"With her staff, I might add," Harry said with a grin.

"So?" Fred asked Hermione, as George looked at Harry and asked, "So?"

"So, McGonagall is an Archmagister," Hermione said. "You honestly think that something as simple as an Aging Potion is going to fool an Archmagister's Age Line?"

Fred and George looked at Hermione for a moment, then at each other, then back at Hermione as they grinned, nodded, and said in unison, "Yes."

Moving to stand on a bench that was within jumping distance of the Goblet of Fire, Fred and George toasted each other with their vials as they both said, "Bottoms up!" before looping their arms and each downing the vials in their hands before jumping into the circle around the goblet. When nothing bad happened, everyone assumed it had worked and cheered as Fred and George lifted their arms and dropped the parchments with their names on them into the goblet, to many cheers from all over the room.

Harry, Hermione, Neville, and the others in their group looked momentarily shocked that it had worked, but then suddenly, it became apparent that it hadn't worked, when the flames turned red and two pieces of paper were ejected from the Goblet and the next second, Fred and George were both hurled high into the air and away from the goblet, but before they could land, they felt the front of their robes being caught in sharp claws and several screams sounded throughout the room, for standing there grasping Fred and George in its front claws was a full-size Hungarian Horntail.

The Horntail wasn't attacking, however, as it turned its giant head and looked first at Fred then at George and then shook its head, before to the shock of everyone it spoke, in Professor McGonagall's voice, "I did warn you, did I not?"

The next second the Horntail melted away only to be replaced by McGonagall, who was still clutching the front of the Weasley twins' robes. "Both of you will serve detention for attempting to illegally enter into a tournament you were warned you couldn't enter."

Despite the fear that many of the students had felt just moments ago upon seeing a dragon in the Entrance Hall, many of them now started laughing their heads off as Fred and George's red hair turned grey and grew several inches, they both sprouted long grey beards, and they found themselves leaning over as they both developed bad hunchbacks. McGonagall just shook her head and said, "I should let both of you stay this way for a few days to teach you a lesson, but I suppose that would be cruel and unusual punishment, so both of you off to see Madam Pomfrey and she'll put you right again."

As Fred and George hobbled off towards the Hospital Wing, McGonagall looked at everyone in the hall and said, "Let this be a lesson to all of you not to try to fool my age line, because it's not going to work." Throwing her arms up, McGonagall shocked everyone by turning into a phoenix and then disappearing in a flash of flames.

Hermione and several others were wide-eyed, as Hermione asked, "She can turn into a dragon and a phoenix?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, she's an Archmagister, but she's also a Shape Mage, which allows her to turn into any magical creature she's physically seen and gain full access to its abilities while in that form." After a moment, he added, "Don't ask me how I know that, because I'm afraid that's classified, so I really can't tell you, but I think it's clear she's definitely not someone you should mess with."

-o-0-o-

To be continued.

Okay, so I hadn't intended to end the chapter here, as I had intended to also include Edward and Ramesses' wedding, their wedding night, and the Triwizard Champion selection, but the muses have been inspiring me lately on one of my original works, so I wanted to take some time to concentrate on that and figured since I had this much already written, I'd split the chapter here and give y'all something to tide you over for the time being.

So, what did you think of this chapter? Possibly one of the biggest events was the scene in the Prefect's Bathroom. I hadn't originally intended to have any Harry/Cedric interactions until they returned to Forest Cottage in Chapter Seventeen, but in the end I decided that I had to add a scene in the Prefect's Bathroom while they're both at Hogwarts. Hope you enjoyed it.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? I love hearing from my readers, so feel free to contact me in a review, by email, my Yahoo group, or on Twitter JVascardi.