Harry Potter and the Scīenra Cwēna
AN: This story is a divergence in Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts, with only a few small changes to canon prior to the start of the story. If you feel that I have unintentionally forgotten some point, please let me know.
This story will be Harry Potter / Hermione Granger / Fleur Delacour. I do not think of myself as "bashing" any character in particular, but opinions may vary. I only hope that you enjoy reading it, as I am most assuredly enjoying the writing of it.
"It requires a penetrating eye to discern a fool through the disguise of gaiety and good breeding." - Fielding
It was a bad day of Divination, by any standard Harry Potter chose to employ. The trouble had really begun at breakfast when Ron, Hermione, and Harry had overheard Lee Jordan in hushed conversation with the Weasley twins. They had been advising their sometime pranking partner that the gold owed to them by Ludo Bagman, paid out under duress, had disappeared not long after the debacle at the close of the Quidditch World Cup. In the wake of this revelation, Harry was too busy keeping Hermione from making further remonstrations about irresponsible gambling to notice the darkening of Ron's expression.
Lunch was worse. On the way to class, Harry could still hear Hermione's irritated voice ringing in his ears about his foolish decision to abandon any pretense of trying in Divination. Walking behind him, Ron remained silent.
Matters did not improve when Trelawney chose to zero in on Harry's tragic past and its undeniable course toward an ever-more-tragic future. This made him irritated on a good day; Hermione's rather bitter tirade made the class seem all the more useless and empty. Harry felt Ron's gaze on his scar, along with the rest of the class's attention, and did his best not to try to cover it up with his hand. While the teacher continued to speak, the sense of frustration and irritation gave way to a new feeling: shame. Shame that he was here, wasting his time, being exhibited like some bizarre idol, some totem of fate's mystery, some circus freak.
Exactly, Harry reflected bitterly. Like a freak.
Why was he spending his time in Hogwarts, the one reliable refuge from his cursed muggle relations, in the company of a so-called teacher who treated him with practically the same callous disregard they did? There had to be something more useful and less embarrassing that he could do with his time. He did his best to think over the options and ignore the class for the rest of the afternoon.
Muggle studies? Hermione's review was hardly positive. Arithmancy? It was the hardest subject by reputation, and Harry did not have much interest in magical theory in any case. Runes?
He considered the last one thoughtfully. He knew the subject involved a great deal of grammar and translation work from watching the torrent of homework his friend endured in third year. Hermione had mentioned (quite enthusiastically) how important runes were in the regular operation of the magical world. He even recalled her pointing some of them out on his broomstick last year, noting in some abstruse way that they worked to complement the charms in place for tension and rigidity. Harry hardly expected to become a broom craftsman, but he was very interested in something with an application he could grasp. There were other uses Hermione had mentioned in passing as well, though Ron frequently overrode her in a quest to play chess or otherwise ignore his homework.
Harry frowned as class ended. Thinking things over logically, he knew that Ron was not going to be pleased if he approached McGonagall for a schedule switch. He assumed it could be done, both because McGonagall loathed Trelawny and because it was very early in the year. Sighing, he gathered his books and turned to Ron. This was not going to be a pleasant confrontation.
As they left the tower and their classmates thinned out in the hallway, Harry was about to break the silence, but Ron beat him to it.
"Why didn't you tell me that the gold I gave you disappeared?" Harry stopped and looked at his friend. Ron was frowning.
He waited a moment as the hallway cleared before responding. "What gold, Ron?"
Ron's frown intensified. "For the omnioculars, at the World Cup. You heard them at breakfast. Leprechaun gold, mate!" He seemed really worked up now.
"Ah," Harry thought for a moment, taken aback by Ron's visible emotion. "Well, I didn't really notice."
"Didn't notice?" Ron sounded incredulous. "What do you mean you didn't notice! You know how expensive that thing was!"
"Look Ron," Harry said, beginning to get a little irritated himself, "I didn't notice, all right? Don't worry about the gold. Who cares anyway, I was more worried about my wand. Look, I -"
But Ron cut him off and began walking away as he called out bitterly, "Must be nice to have so much money you just don't even notice!"
"Ron, wait!" Harry reached out and grabbed his friend's shoulder, intending to mollify him, but Ron shook him off and turned, scowling.
"I hate being poor. I hate watching those girls in class stare at you all day!" His face was red as he glared. "And you don't even notice! You didn't even look at them this afternoon!"
It was quick, but Harry caught him glance up at the scar. Suddenly all the shame and embarrassment that he had been feeling in class returned, breaking entirely the calm he had managed while deliberating over his future coursework. He took a step forward and glared at Ron, his voice cold. "If that's what you think, then go ahead and hate it. I'm done Ron. Get out of my way."
He stepped past the still angry boy and walked off down the hall toward the office of his head of house. Ron could rot in Trelawney's class for all he cared. He was never going back there.
Harry took a deep breath as he stood before Minerva McGonagall's doorway. He needed to be calm to present his case to her; McGonagall would react better, he knew, to a reasoned argument than an angry tirade. His own experience of her over the last three years made that completely clear.
This was a big step he was taking. Ron was angry, and would be angrier still once he found out. Harry had found in the past that Ron's anger was rather slow to cool. He had no idea how Hermione would take it, but he hoped she would stick with him. He shook his head to clear it and waited another moment, then summoned his resolve and knocked on the door.
"Come in." He heard the crisp voice behind the door and opened it, swiftly closing it behind him before speaking.
"Professor McGonagall," he greeted her as courteously as he could, but his voice was still a little nervous.
"Yes Mr. Potter," Minerva McGonagall said as she looked up from the papers on her desk. "What can I do for you?"
Harry swallowed before speaking. "Professor," he began hesitantly, "I am not satisfied with the work I am doing this year."
At this, McGonagall put down her quill and stared intently. "Could you elaborate, Mr. Potter?"
He felt unaccountably better now that he had her complete attention, and drove directly into the matter. "I feel that my Divination class is not a productive use of my time. I would, well, respectfully request that I be allowed to take a different course."
McGonagall watched him for a moment with an even expression before replying. "You realize that you would be placed in a third year class, whatever you elect to take, correct?" He nodded in reply, and she paused a moment before continuing. "What would you be interested in taking, Mr. Potter?"
"Ancient Runes, ma'am. I rather like the practical sense of it from what Hermione has told me."
"Ah," she said, leaning back a bit, "then Miss Granger has prevailed upon you to make this decision?"
Harry straightened a bit before looking right into her eyes. "No ma'am, I decided it on my own. I haven't asked or told anyone yet."
To say that McGonagall was surprised would be an understatement, but to say that she was pleased would be just as much one. She smiled at Harry, who immediately felt a release of tension. "An excellent idea, Mr. Potter. Excellent. It will be quite difficult, but if this is your own choice then I am sure you will do well." She looked a bit sardonic as she said, "Your tenacity is one of your better qualities."
He grinned a bit and then spoke, "Professor, what do I need to do?"
"I will handle your resignation with Professor Trelawney, Mr. Potter. I will also speak to Professor Babbling regarding your new placement. We will try to fit it into the same time as your previous class. I will let you know at dinner." She smiled again. "Now, off you go. Please make sure to borrow or acquire a textbook; the text is listed in the library. Thank you for the visit, Mr. Potter, and good luck."
"Thank you, Professor." Harry smiled and exited the office. His pleasure at changing classes and taking Trelawney out of his life had cast Ron's anger from his mind. If Ron Weasley wanted to be angry, then Harry was going to wait for an apology. He was in no hurry to receive one.
At dinner that evening, Harry was extremely excited. Hermione glanced questioningly at him, but was rather distracted by Ron's glowering as he sat at the other end of the table.
"Harry, what happened?" Her voice was full of concern, wondering what might have driven her friends to these two quite opposite frames of mind.
Harry's smile fell a little as he turned to reply. "Ron and I got into an argument. Trelawney was all over my 'dark fate' in class today, and Ron got jealous over the attention everyone was paying me." Now he frowned a little. "Staring at my scar, the lot of them. Anyway, he was mad that I didn't care about his leprechaun gold disappearing, the stuff he paid me with at the World Cup for the omnioculars. Prat." He turned toward his plate.
Hermione glanced down at Ron, who was looking pointedly away. "Harry, I'm sorry. I know you hate that fraud's class, and I know you hate the attention. But you know how Ron is. He's, well..." Her voice trailed off as Harry stared at her.
"He's what, Hermione?" His earlier good mood was evaporating. "Petty? Jealous? Whiny? He was all of that earlier. I have no plans to ask for his forgiveness." He turned away and picked at his dinner in frustration.
Hermione meanwhile was a little taken aback at Harry's anger. Whatever her two friends had said to one another, she knew Ron must have really botched it this time. This was no surprise to her, naturally; it was hardly the first time that this had happened. Harry was usually very accommodating when it came to second-youngest Weasley. She wondered about their class that day. "Harry, did something else happen in Divination today?"
Before he could frame a reply, they were silenced by McGonagall striding up to the table and stopping at Harry. "Mr. Potter," she said crisply, but with a hint of a smile, "Your course information is here. It will be a mixed Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff class. Good luck."
Harry thanked the professor as she handed over the class schedule, which Harry immediately began reading as soon as she walked away. No one else at the table was particularly interested, but Hermione squirmed while she waited for Harry to tell her what was going on. Finally she could stand it no longer and leaned over. "Harry, what was that about exactly?"
He turned to her and grinned, and for a moment she almost forgot entirely what she was asking about as he touched her arm and gently guided her up from the table. "Done? Good, let's go talk about it." They received a few stares as they left the hall, but Hermione did not notice.
As they walked, Harry handed over the paper he had received. Hermione reviewed it and commented immediately, "Harry, this is just your class schedule. What could..." Her voice trailed off and she stopped walking entirely. A moment later she stared at him, incredulous, as he stood watching her and grinning.
"You dropped Divination," she said, sounding rather as though he had crossed over recently from the afterlife. "You've signed up for Runes." She looked up, wide-eyed and amazed. "Harry, I don't know what to say."
Harry was meanwhile thoroughly enjoying his best friend's reaction, an even better one than he had hoped for. "Well Hermione, I was hoping you could offer me your old textbook and maybe some help reviewing, since I'm already behind."
Hermione smiled then, a bright, sunny, genuine smile. It made Harry feel more than a little bit better about the Ron situation. "Harry, of course. I'm so proud of you, dropping that nonsense and trying something new. Let's go straight to the library and I'll get you started. I think you'll really enjoy it!" She took his hand and began walking.
Harry, for his part, did not resist. Hermione had not even mentioned the possibility of Ron taking the course.
The rest of the week went very well for Harry. All of Gryffindor had noticed that Ron was pointedly ignoring Harry and, by extension, Hermione, but largely chose not to comment on the matter. Ron spent his time with Dean and Seamus for the most part, while Harry was usually to be found in the library playing catch-up for Runes. Hermione had graciously lent him a magically duplicated set of her class notes after a very strict warning that they were not an excuse to slack off.
Much to her surprise, though, he did not slack off. With no Ron or Quidditch to distract him and a general desire to not make a spectacle of himself, Harry studied a great deal. As he did, he began to discover that the feeling of pleasure he had felt in electing all on his own to leave Divination was not an isolated event. He worked hard at Transfiguration and Runes especially, and felt a glimmer of a feeling so foreign to him that he did not have a name for it.
Harry Potter was beginning to feel a sense of pride in himself.
It was not the arrogance that Snape so frequently accused him of, but rather a sense of self-confidence. It felt good to take responsibility for himself in this way. Hermione's praise at his work so far in Runes, McGonagall's remarks on his improved class performance, even the sensation of laying down his quill to see work done on the desk before him were all becoming very valuable. He found himself less concerned about Snape's derogatory remarks, and the less attention he paid them, the less they stung.
The little things that were distracting him before seemed to become less fearsome, too. A little focus on homework went a long way toward making him not worry about girls, Ron's continued bad attitude, and the added concerns of Sirius and his mysterious dream over the summer.
It was with this newly positive attitude that Harry approached double Defense Against the Dark Arts on Thursday, gearing himself up for another less than comfortable lesson in Unforgivables, wondering whether Moody planned to offer something even more creepy than killing enlarged spiders with illegal spells. Ron huffed and moved to sit as far from Harry and Hermione as possible, while Hermione did her best to ignore him. Harry was doing quite a good job of ignoring him as well when their professor entered and announced the day's lesson plan.
Shocked silence greeted Mad-Eye Moody's declaration that he would be putting the class under the Imperious curse.
"But — but you said it's illegal, Professor," said Hermione uncertainly as Moody cleared away the desks with a sweep of his wand, leaving a large clear space in the middle of the room. "You said — to use it against another human was —"
"Dumbledore wants you taught what it feels like," said Moody, his magical eye swiveling onto Hermione and fixing her with an eerie, unblinking stare. "If you'd rather learn the hard way — when someone's putting it on you so they can control you completely — fine by me. You're excused. Off you go."
Invoking both Dumbledore and what amounted to expulsion from class proved to be too much, and Hermione bowed to Moody's will. Harry watched with growing alarm as his classmates were made to do all manner of ridiculous things under the grim stare of Alastor Moody. Singing, dancing, and absurd animal imitations formed a disturbing sequence of hypnotic control. After Neville's compulsory gymnastic performance, Moody called Harry to the fore.
"Potter, you're up," he growled.
Harry tried to calm himself but was caught short by Moody's "Imperio!"
He felt a strange sensation, as though he were only gently tethered to his body. A voice was telling him to jump, and he could feel his knees start to bend and his muscles tighten.
Why, though? He felt himself beginning to argue with the voice, focusing more on his body. The voice came again, stronger this time, ordering him to jump. Still he stood there, trembling.
WHY? He shouted in his mind. Why should I?
Again the command, louder and angry, telling him to jump.
He trembled, and felt himself sweating. Suddenly it occurred to Harry that he was feeling much closer to his body than he had originally. He felt himself stumble, and finally fall to the ground as his legs collapsed beneath him.
"NO!" He shouted. As he lay there, gasping, he felt the voice and sensation leave him. When he finally had the presence of mind to stand again and look around, he saw everyone, Moody included, staring at him with an expression of incredulity.
"That, that was excellent work, Potter. Excellent!" Moody's voice grew a little more forceful as he spoke. "Nice fight! They'll have a tough time controlling you!"
Harry was drained after class. In the end, no one had been able to throw off the curse apart from him, and Moody had forced him to repeat the task four times before he was satisfied. As such, he was particularly disinclined to hear Malfoy begin to insult him for showing off.
He was even less excited to hear Ron agreeing with him.
"Way to go, Potter. Good to see you playing the mudblood's role as teacher's pet for a while. Wanted a change from failing all the time?" Harry stopped and looked at Draco in the eyes, noting, he thought, a little hint of fear in the bravado. Before he could pursue it, though, he heard another voice behind him.
"Yeah, way to show off, Potter. Always bloody happy to be the center of attention, aren't you?"
Hermione and Harry both turned, surprised at Ron's invective. Malfoy, for his part, looked just as surprised as they did, but quickly capitalized on Harry's distraction.
"See Potter? Is there anyone who doesn't hate you? Professor Snape's right about you. Wonder how long even the mudblood is going to stick around." At that, Draco laughed and departed. Harry was too taken aback to reply.
Is there anyone who doesn't hate you?
Harry stood stunned and wide-eyed as a red-faced Ron pushed by him down the hall, followed by the rest of the class at a slower pace. Hermione remained by his side, glaring daggers at Ron's back.
Is there anyone who doesn't hate you?
It was a question he had asked himself before. All the time, in fact. Every day. Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley and his cronies, Marge, teachers, administrators - everyone hated him. Every single person who had known him, for virtually his entire life, had hated him. Even Ron hated him now.
What if Draco was right?
Hermione asked him if he was all right. The brief moment of real fear in his eyes terrified her before he finally responded that he would be fine.
When he managed a little smile, she took his hand and squeezed it, and walked down the hall with him.
Harry's newly gathered self-esteem took another beating in double Potions the next day. It was fortunate he was really too withdrawn to defend himself, as Snape could only do so much damage with no real interaction from him.
That weekend saw a new low in some ways for Harry. Ron had managed to parlay Harry's "eerie" behavior in Defense into a sort of general disquiet among the Gryffindors and a large number of other students. This worked rather better than Ron might have hoped since the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were seeing a Slytherin and a Gryffindor in fairly solid agreement. It was only too easy for people to recall that Harry was a parselmouth, and the fear of two terms previous, and that he was, after all, Harry Potter.
For the first time in his tenure at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy seemed to be succeeding in a very conventional Slytherin manner: Harry Potter was made the outsider.
Consequently Harry spent a good deal of time in the library with Hermione. He did not verbalize his fears, and she did not bring up what she had seen in his eyes that day in the hallway outside Defense. Trapped respectively in fear and shyness, they studied.
Monday afternoon Harry sat down in Professor Babbling's third year Ancient Runes class to find that his table was empty. The two Hufflepuffs who normally sat with him were elsewhere, busily pretending to review with their newfound Ravenclaw deskmates and looking anywhere but at him.
With a muted sigh Harry pulled out his notes and began glumly reading them over. It was a few moments later that he felt someone sit beside him, and a moment more before he glanced at the person. A small blond-haired girl wearing earrings that seemed to be radishes was sitting quietly, looking over her own notes. At a glance Harry could see that she had excellent penmanship, but he could make neither head nor tail of what she had been writing about.
"Eh, hello then," began Harry uncertainly. The girl turned to look at him silently. "Are you sure you want to sit with me?"
She looked quizzically at him before replying, "Are you sure you want to sit alone?"
Before he could reply to what he was not really sure was a rhetorical question, Professor Babbling entered and called the class to order.
Throughout the lecture Harry saw that the girl's strange notes were indeed real; she produced quite a bit of writing but none of it seemed to make any sense to him. After class ended he gathered his things and stood, intending to finally make the girl's acquaintance. "I'm Harry, Harry Potter," he said, "thanks for sitting with me today."
She stared for an uncomfortably long moment before speaking. "Yes, I suppose you are. My name is Luna Lovegood." Her grey eyes watched him. "Can you really throw off the Imperious curse?"
He was taken aback for a moment, and noted absently that the other students were almost entirely gone from the room. "Yes, well, I did, yes."
"How interesting. And you really speak parseltongue as well." She seemed to consider this for a moment. "It's rather amazing that they got that right, but got the rest wrong. I will see you again, Harry Potter. Thank you for sitting with me." And with that, the girl walked away before Harry could reply.
In the great hall the following evening Harry, along with everyone else, saw the notice announcing the impending arrival of the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang that coming Friday. Harry was pleased that it would at least cut short his double Potions torture. Briefly he wondered about the incoming students, whether they would follow the same pattern as the Hogwarts student body had with regard to him.
When he first boarded the Hogwarts Express, Harry had hoped to find friends. Now in his fourth year, he could say that he at least had managed to retain one. It would be nice to hope for another one or two among the visiting students, but he was not going to hold his breath.
Fleur Delacour was in a bad mood. Madame Maxime had earlier dropped the bombshell that they would be staying in the coaches, magically enlarged, during their tenure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She would be spending the entire rest of the year in the coach with her schoolmates.
If that wasn't bad enough, Madame Maxime had gone on to inform them, looking at Fleur particularly, that they were to 'remain decorous.' Decorous! Fleur knew what she meant. Maxime was obsessed with making sure that the Delacour's eldest daughter should not become interested in anyone from Magical Britain, and certainly not let her... heritage out to play. This was Maxime's own personal crusade, not imposed by Fleur's parents, but the young witch had no real way to avoid it.
Her own schoolmates were hardly the best company in that regard, either. The girls were competitors, chosen already from among those who most strongly disliked her at Beauxbatons. And the boys...
Boys, Fleur reflected hotly, Boys indeed, and certainly nothing more.
There was not one single boy at Beauxbatons who was capable of resisting her Veela allure for anything more than a few seconds. Frankly she thought that it ought to be embarrassing for them rather than her, but regrettably she did not get to make that decision. Instead it was up to the other girls in the academy to busily ostracize her for the failings of the rest of the student body.
In truth she was too beautiful, too intelligent, too skillful, too wealthy, and too well-known to ever be a pariah at Beauxbatons; she was treated coldly but generally without rancor. That aside, Madame Maxime's own over-the-top concern with her parents' imagined fears about her Veela heritage guaranteed that she was never to be a regular student.
So her years at Beauxbatons had left her quite alone. This tournament, an opportunity to compete on an even playing field at another school, was a very welcome one to Fleur. She relished the chance to meet new people and prove herself. Her traveling companions were very strongly opposed to having her represent the school, but were unable to go against Maxime's declaration that she should accompany them.
Therefore they found themselves at an impasse, and this latest set of restrictions had put the last nail in the coffin. If Fleur was not chosen as the champion, she was sure that Madame Maxime would have her boxed up directly under her supervision until they left Hogwarts next June.
Her mother had warned her that it might be some time before she found someone who would be able to resist her allure; it was stronger than her mother's own and had shown itself to be quite difficult to restrain. Fleur had hoped she might even find someone at Hogwarts.
She was not going to hold her breath.
Her mood did not improve upon departing the carriage and stepping out into the frigid air beyond the conditioning charms. She stood, scarf wrapped to hide her face, and waited for her headmistress to finish her greetings. She refrained from casting a warming charm, knowing that they were about to head inside and also that using her magic was likely to increase her allure, which thankfully seemed manageable outside, in the cold, her face covered, hidden among the other students.
Fleur's expression twisted into a frown.
Looking around, she noted that the Hogwarts grounds were every bit as beautiful as she had been led to believe, both extensive and well-maintained. Whoever kept it in order, she reflected, must be doing quite a careful job of it. The castle was enormous and quite lovely, and full of mysteries left over from the legendary four founders as Fleur well knew. With any luck, she would get the chance to look around unsupervised. Just as she was about to turn her attention to the students, she heard Madame Maxime ordering them inside.
The great hall was striking; the ceiling particularly held Fleur's attention, as it lived up to its reputation as a masterful piece of fixed charms. She was directed to sit with her schoolmates by Maxime, and set about waiting for the other students to enter. A few minutes later she saw the Hogwarts students alongside with those from Durmstrang; she recognized Viktor Krum from the World Cup that summer, but her eye was caught by a boy with a piercing green gaze who looked at the Beauxbatons students carefully before sitting down. She noticed that he was not engaged in conversation about Krum.
Once everyone had finally sat down, Dumbledore gave some opening remarks. Fleur could not suppress the contemptuous noise that escaped her when he spoke of their forthcoming stay at the castle. Maxime glowered at her but Fleur shrugged it off. She wasn't even going to be allowed to tour it freely if Maxime had her way!
At dinner she quickly found that her disdain had not gone unnoticed by the other Beauxbatons students. The party around her swiftly confiscated all the bouillabaisse, leaving her fuming. A few moments later she removed her scarf and immediately noticed the effects of her allure on the Ravenclaw table.
At that moment she heard a voice call out, "Skrewts doing all right, Hagrid?"
She turned and looked over to see the boy she had noticed earlier, the one with the messy black hair. He was smiling softly but kindly and waving at the very large gentleman who had just entered the hall. Then Fleur noticed the serving dish next to him and stood up. She walked over and called to him.
"Excuse me, but are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?" She watched disgusted as three red-haired boys down the table made unfocused stares in her direction. Others around the table were starting to do the same, and she was beginning to think that Maxime's restrictions had some reason in them after all when the boy turned to her and replied.
"Yeah, have it."
Fleur took a moment before replying. He showed not a trace of her allure's effects; no unfocused stare, no silly behavior, nothing. He was utterly and completely at ease. Fleur spoke before the moment stretched too long. "You 'ave finished wiz it?"
The green-eyed boy nodded again and pushed it her way. Noting that whispers of "she's a Veela!" were already spreading around the hall, she accepted the dish gracefully and walked back to her seat. At the front of the hall Madame Maxime was staring with a mixture of anxiety and irritation at Fleur.
For her part, Fleur spent the rest of the meal thinking of the boy, and trying not to notice the effects of her allure on the rest of the male student body.
When she entered the great hall for the Halloween feast the following evening, Fleur could almost feel her ears burning from the lecture Madame Maxime had given her. Fleur's lips compressed into a line as she thought of the hellfire Maxime had promised if she did anything that would "compromise the honor of Beauxbatons or her family."
Honestly! Fleur fumed. You would swear she thought I wanted this to happen to those idiots.
Having been expressly forbidden from sitting at the Gryffindor table after she unwisely mentioned a preference, she took her seat with the rest of her classmates and waited for the feast to end and the Goblet of Fire to determine her destiny for the next few months.
When it was finally time and Headmaster Dumbledore had theatrically dimmed the lights of the hall, Fleur could not help but hold her breath. If she was not chosen, it promised to be a very much more difficult year.
Krum's name was not a surprise; Fleur knew that the Goblet must reward skill and some measure of daring. When the next charred paper exited the Goblet, though, her world slowed to a crawl.
"The champion for Beauxbatons," Dumbledore intoned, "is Fleur Delacour!"
She released the breath she was holding and tried to ignore the weeping of her schoolmates. Fleur shook her head in disgust, mastered her expression, and made her way into the waiting room.
It was only a few moments before Cedric Diggory of Hogwarts joined them. Fleur noted that neither boy seemed to be acting a complete fool around her, which was what she had hoped of the other champions, although she noted that both of them displayed a little of the euphoric stare when she looked right into their eyes.
Suddenly someone entered the room with them. Fleur looked up and was entirely surprised to see the green-eyed boy again. Instead of the pleasant soft smile she had seen before, though, he now had a drawn and frustrated expression on his face. "What is it?" She called out, "Do zey want us back in ze hall?"
The boy looked directly into her eyes, and his gaze did not change a jot like Krum's and Diggory's had. Instead, the frustration she saw only intensified. Before she could speak again, Ludo Bagman walked in and announced that the boy was the fourth Triwizard Champion.
Fleur cocked her head to the side and spoke, hoping for the best. "Oh, vairy funny joke, Meester Bagman."
"Joke? No, no, not at all! Harry's name just came out of the Goblet of Fire!"
Harry, she thought. So his name is Harry.
"But he is too young, yes?" Krum asked from over by the fireplace.
"Well... it is amazing," said Bagman as he looked at Harry. "But, as you know, the age restriction was only imposed this year as an extra safety measure. And as his name's come out of the Goblet... I mean, I don't think there can be any ducking out at this stage... It's down in the rules, you're obliged... Harry will just have to do the best he —"
Then the door opened and people began to file in: Dumbledore, Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Mr. Crouch, and a number of professors she did not recognize.
"Madame Maxime!" Fleur called out, "Zey are saying zat zis little boy is to compete also!"
Fleur immediately regretted her choice of words as she saw the boy- Harry- flinch. Soon everyone was talking though, and it did not get quiet again until after a greasy haired man accused Harry of always stepping out of line.
Then Dumbledore finally asked Harry the most important question.
"Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?" She heard the old wizard ask the question, and she saw Harry lift his head with a bitter expression on his face.
The greasy-haired man snorted, indicating his contempt.
"Did you ask an older student to put it into the Goblet of Fire for you?" said Dumbledore, ignoring the noise.
"No," said the boy vehemently.
"Ah, but of course 'e is lying!" cried Madame Maxime.
Fleur sighed in irritation as the company descended into arguments about whether Harry was lying. From where she was standing, he certainly seemed to be telling the truth. She then watched with interest as an old man with a wooden leg and a spinning false eye entered the room and joined the fray.
"If anyone's got reason to complain, it's Potter," growled the man, "but... funny thing... I don't hear him saying a word..."
"Why should 'e complain?" Fleur said impatiently, stamping her foot. "' E 'as ze chance to compete, 'asn't 'e? We 'ave all been 'oping to be chosen for weeks and weeks! Zere is great honor to be 'ad! Zis is a chance many would die for!"
"Maybe someone's hoping Potter is going to die for it," replied the man.
Potter. Fleur froze, hearing the name again. Harry. Harry Potter.
The conversation went on and Fleur tried to follow it through the haze of her own realization. If there was ever a boy who was not interested in dying for honor in a school tournament, she suspected it would be Harry Potter.
And the green-eyed boy with the messy black hair and the soft smile? The boy who had calmly met her gaze and showed no sign of being affected by her Veela allure? The boy who claimed not to have entered the tournament, whose eyes showed no trace of triumph or happiness at being chosen? This frustrated, unhappy boy who was even now being told that he had no choice but to compete alongside them?
This was Harry Potter?