Potterlock – The Goblet of Fire
Author's Note: Okay, so here lies Chapter One of my latest instalment. Sincerest apologies for the delay on this one – writer's block is a heartless bitch. This chapter is written in honour of TheNerds – who kick-started me into continuing it. Please review as all comments are appreciated greatly.
Also, brief advertising moment. My housemate and good friend Cassiopiea86 has written more chapters of her FANTASTIC Loki fic, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. It doesn't get quite as much of the attention and love it deserves, so I would be eternally grateful if you would read it. You can find the first chapter in my Favourite Stories section. Seriously, it's amazing. She makes me jealous with her awesome skills (plus who doesn't want to read about Loki having might fine steamy sessions with a gorgeous werewolf?) XD.
Love you all and happy reading!
It was 4:25 on Monday morning. The watery yellow sunlight was just creeping its way over the tops of the trees in the distance, and John Watson was lying flat on his face in the damp grass.
"Oops," Greg Lestrade chuckled, using John as a leaning post to heave himself to his feet. "Sorry, mate."
"Don't mention it," John muttered, raising himself into a kneeling position and wiping the green stains from his hands. "We there?"
"Yep," Greg secured the backpack on his shoulders and grinned early round the deserted moorland around them.
"Just over there," Greg's father pointed to a point some fifteen feet away, where two strange-attired wizards were standing. Gideon Lestrade himself's clothing was rather suspicious, John thought. It was just as well they hadn't met any early-morning Muggle hikers on their way to the Portkey that had transported them here. Both he and Greg were wearing ordinary jeans, jumpers and trainers, but Mr. Lestrade was sporting a Hawaiian shirt in varying shades of purple and green, beige jodhpurs tucked into green wellington boots, a large frock coat and, to top it all off, a Stetson crammed onto his greying-brown hair. On the whole, John had almost swallowed his tonsils trying not to laugh when he'd met up with the two Lestrade's that morning. The fact that Mr. Lestrade normally looked so smart and intimidating in his wizard's robes did nothing to quell John's amusement.
John followed the two Lestrades over to the two waiting wizards, one of whom John noticed was standing by a large box full of used Portkeys. Mr. Lestrade added their punctured football to the pile and greeted one of the men (who was wearing a kilt paired with an orange poncho) with a friendly smile.
"How you doing, Basil?"
"Bloody knackered, Gideon," the wizard named Basil said with a pointed yawn. "Been here since twelve. Could do with a good dose of Firewhiskey, to tell the truth."
Mr. Lestrade smiled sympathetically and adjusted his hat. "Which field are we in?"
"Second," said Basil. "About a quarter of a mile that way. Campsite manager's Mr. Payne."
"Cheers," Mr. Lestrade clapped him on the shoulder and started off across the moor. "Come on, boys."
John's stomach started to squirm in excitement as they made their way through the misty landscape. He'd been very pleasantly when he'd received the owl from Greg three days ago inviting him to accompany him and his father to Quidditch World Cup, since his older brother was no longer able to attend.
By the time they reached the campsite, John's feet were freezing and he was just about ready to collapse back into bed. It hadn't been a pleasant experience getting up at the crack of dawn to be catapulted through space and consequentially landed on by the much-bigger Greg. Still, that evening they'd be making their way through the wood to the pitch, so he wasn't complaining.
While Mr. Lestrade paid the Muggle watchman for their camping space, John squinted through the murky scenery to make out the first tents pitched some metres away. Most of them looked fairly normal, but he spotted one with a curling chimney and another with a large purple campfire outside. From the slightly dazed expression on Mr. Payne's face, John could tell he'd been placed under some kind of Memory Charm to prevent him from becoming too suspicious.
"We're just up there," Mr. Lestrade pointed to a spot by the copse of trees up the slope.
By the time they'd set up the tents (which, although Greg had told John would be magically enlarged on the inside, still surprised him), the mist was starting to fade and more campers were appearing on the site. Every now and again John saw people he knew from school – including one of his best friends, Cedric Diggory.
Cedric was walking alongside his father, and his handsome face broke into a wide smile when he caught sight of John running towards him.
"Hey!" John said, a little breathlessly.
"Hi," Cedric pulled him into a one-armed hug. "I was looking out for you. Go on, Dad, I'll be there in a sec."
Amos Diggory nodded to his son and continued up the hill towards a vacated spot marked with a named sign.
"Excited?" Cedric asked John, whose insides were fluttering like they always did in the older boy's company.
"Totally," John beamed. "Where are you sitting in the stadium?"
"Section H, seat 27," Cedric said. "You?"
"Section R," John was a little disappointed they wouldn't be sitting nearer each other, but that still didn't quell the elation at seeing the boy he'd harboured a secret crush for since the beginning of last year.
"Sherlock not with you, then?" Cedric asked, and although it might have been wishful thinking, John thought he sounded like he was making an effort to ask the question as casually as possible.
"Just Greg. Mycroft could've probably gotten us top-box seats but Sherlock turned him down."
"Still," Cedric said. "Least we can hang out before the game starts. I'd better go help Dad. See you later, John."
John watched Cedric's tall stature as he returned to his father, who was now assembling a two-man tent similar to the one the Lestrades had brought, and felt extremely glad he'd thought to style his hair before they'd left that morning. He also hoped Cedric hadn't noticed the large grass stains on his knees. It was unlikely Cedric would care, but John always liked to make a good impression.
Mr. Lestrade and Greg were sitting beside a small campfire when John returned, and Mr. Lestrade handed him a sandwich as he sat down beside them.
"I swear," he said, shaking his head at a tent some metres from theirs, whose inhabitants were roasting a large hunk of meat over a roaring blue fire, "there's hardly any point in enforcing anti-Muggle security measures with all this lot around."
"Well, there's only that one Muggle," Greg said, taking a large bite of bread, "and he didn't seem too bothered."
"That'll be the Memory Charm," Mr. Lestrade took a swig of pumpkin juice from the flask in his pack and offered a large box of biscuits to John.
John had to admit he was rather glad of Sherlock's absence, as it meant he could enjoy the match and Cedric's company without having to put up with the condescending looks and sarcastic comments his friend would have been certain to share. After a while, Cedric wandered over with a large kettle in one hand and asked John if he fancied getting some water from the tap across the field. Kettles in hand, they meandered over the grass towards the queue, chatting idly about their respective summers and trying to predict the outcome of the upcoming match.
"You've never seen Krum play, have you?" Cedric asked, waving to someone John recognised as a Hufflepuff seventh year.
"No. Is he good?"
"Brilliant," Cedric said fervently. "Youngest member of the team but definitely the best. Ireland have got a pretty decent line-up too, and with Ryan back in as Keeper, I reckon they'll stand a good chance of winning."
John lapped up every fact Cedric threw into the conversation, a little awkward at his own lack of knowledge regarded famous Quidditch team statistics, but eager to learn the most he could about the players before the match began. He'd never heard Cedric talk so enthusiastically about anything before, and loved the way his dark grey eyes lit up as he described each of the players' signature moves and which manoeuvres they might employ in the game.
The rest of the day was a mash-up of excitement and suspense, and by the time the gong sounded to signal the beginning of the game, John and Greg were wound up with anticipation and laden with souvenirs bought from the salesmen at lunchtime. Both boys were sporting green hats with dancing shamrocks, and Mr. Lestrade had pinned a luminous green rosette to the front of his robes (having discarded his jumbled Muggle getup). John also had a small moving figure of Aiden Lynch, the Irish Captain and Seeker, a badge depicting Viktor Krum's scowling face, and a programme bought for him by Cedric, who was clutching a large green flag and a pair of golden binoculars in his hand.
"C'mon!" Greg urged John as they all trouped towards the trees that separated the campsite from the pitch. Excitement bubbled in John's stomach like a lit firework, and he squeezed his figurine of Lynch so tightly it began to protest loudly in his pocket.
They parted ways from the Diggorys at the staircase that led to the upper levels of the stadium, Cedric giving John a wide grin and a wave as they were shoved down a different aisle by a group of rowdy wizards speaking loud Bulgarian.
They had just taken their seats in Section R, when a booming voice rose over the noise of the crowd: "Ladies and gentlemen. . . welcome!"
John could hardly see for the waves of red and green flags and dancing hats as the commentator announced first the teams' respective mascots, then the players themselves. Roars of appreciation erupted all around them, and John felt fairly certain his hearing would be significantly depleted the next day.
The game was incredible – there was no other word for it. John, Greg and even Mr. Lestrade screamed themselves hoarse every time Ireland scored, and Greg almost fell from his seat in shock as Lynch smashed into the ground after Krum's successful attempt at the Wronksi Feint. By the time the match came to its spectacular finale, John's hands were sore from clapping and both he and Greg were buzzing with energy as they left the stadium.
Mr. Lestrade instructed them both to get a good night's sleep, as he had arranged an early Portkey to take them home the next morning, but even he couldn't resist joining in as they went over the finer details of the game well into the small hours. He had just suggested for the fifth time that they try and get some sleep, when a loud bang from just outside the tent made all three of them jump.
"What the—?" Mr. Lestrade moved to the mouth of the tent and stuck his head through the flaps. Another deafening BANG seemed to make the whole canvas shake, and Mr. Lestrade withdrew his head and grabbed his wand from the table.
"Boys, put your coats on, now!"
Alarmed by the urgency in his voice and expression, Greg and John did as they were told without question, John's fingers tightening on his own wand tucked into the pocket of his jeans.
"Dad, what's going on?" Greg asked nervously as they followed Mr. Lestrade from the tent. People were running about, yelling, crying, trying to get away from some commotion at the centre of the campsite. John could just about make out a large, tight-knit group of people moving through the tents, blasting tents out of their way and laughing mercilessly.
"Get into the woods," Mr. Lestrade said, pointing to the trees up the hill. "Stay together – I'll come and find you later, okay?"
"Do as I say," Mr. Lestrade said sternly, and joined a small group of wizards – all with their wands out – advancing on the mob.
"C'mon," Greg muttered, grabbing John's sleeve and leading them to the copse. The gaps between the trees were already littered with frightened people – mostly school-kids like themselves trying to avoid the riot. John caught sight of Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan talking in hushed voices next to a nearby tree, with a woman who looked like she could be Seamus's mother, but Greg pulled him past and deeper into the wood. They were close to the pitch now. John wondered momentarily how long the stadium would stand before the Ministry took it down. Or would they just leave it there for the next match?
"Here," Greg tugged John down onto the ground against the trunk of an old beech tree and took a couple of deep breaths. The noise and commotion sounded far away now, but John still felt nervous.
"Will your dad be okay?"
"Yeah, he'll be fine," Greg said, but he too looked worried. "Jesus. What's going on d'you reckon?"
"Your guess's as good as mine," John shrugged. "Do these things always end in riots?"
"Dunno," Greg shrugged.
They sat there in silence for a few minutes, the occasional explosion from the campsite making them jump.
Cedric must be out there somewhere, John thought to himself. He was seventeen now – legally an adult by wizarding standards, perfectly liable to aid his father in subduing the mob, but John hoped he wasn't. Cedric was brilliant and all but John didn't like the idea of him facing off against full-grown wizards who were obviously dangerous.
After a while, it seemed like the riot was drawing to a close. They hadn't heard any explosions for a time and people were starting to return to the campsite.
"Should we go too?" John asked. Greg nodded and they rose to their feet.
"Let's go back to the tent," he said. "Slowly, though – we might see Dad on the way."
Making a mental note to omit this part of the night from the story he'd tell his parents upon his return home, John followed Greg through the trees back towards the open space. They could just make out the wreckage of a nearby tent, when someone close by screamed. Wheeling round, the boys saw a young girl in a flannel dressing-gown, clutching a teenage boy in striped pyjamas. Both of them were staring upwards through the canopy to the stars. John and Greg raised their own eyes to the heavens, and Greg gave a loud gasp. Floating some hundred feet above the ground was the enormous image of a ghostly skull, its serpentine tongue entwining itself round and round in slow circles.
The wood was alive with screams of horror now. John had no idea what the skull was supposed to symbolise, but he guessed it must have something to do with Lord Voldemort – he couldn't imagine anything else causing such a panic. He now wished Sherlock was with them. He might be sarcastic and condescending, but he knew how to keep his head in a crisis. He'd know exactly what they should do. As it was, they were stumbling over roots and fallen leaves in no particular direction at all.
They broke out from the cover of the trees and found themselves a short distance away from the tap Cedric and John had drawn water from less than twelve hours ago. This side of the field looked relatively deserted – just a few frightened people trying to patch their tents back together and extinguishing fires with water from their wands.
"The tent's somewhere over there," John said, pointing. "Come on."
They picked their way slowly through the wreckage. People seemed to be calming down a little bit, though the image of the sinister skull was still etched like a cloud on the dark sky. Then John heard his name being called. Turning round, he saw the slender figure of. . . Cedric! Running towards him, his wand in one hand, his clothes torn in places, but otherwise unharmed.
"John!" Cedric gasped, and drew John into a tight hug before he could say anything. "Oh, thank God, thank God, you're okay!"
John buried his face in Cedric's shirt. He smelt like sweat and smoke.
"I was so worried," Cedric said, his mouth against the top of John's head, his breath ruffling his hair. "Then the Mark appeared and. . ."
"I'm fine," John said. "I'm just glad you are."
Cedric pulled away and placed his hands either side of John's face, his dark eyes staring intently into John's, his mouth open. His fingers moved round to the back of John's head, and John was suddenly struck by how much closer he seemed, how if he just moved a little bit closer their lips would touch. . .
Cedric's hands let go of John as though burned by a hot wire. A figure in the distance was calling for him, motioning for him to return.
"My dad," Cedric said numbly. "I'd better go. Get back to your tent, John."
John stared after his older friend as he hastened back to his father. It wasn't until he felt Greg's hand on his shoulder that he finally looked away.
"Blimey, mate," Greg muttered. "For one minute there—"
"I know," John said, his voice a hoarse whisper.
For one incredible moment, he'd been certain Cedric Diggory had been about to kiss him.
John was just about ready to collapse as he opened his bedroom door and flung his rucksack on the floor. What. A. Night. He and the Lestrades had taken a Portkey back at four in the morning, after which John had been transported by side-along Apparition (an experience he wasn't keen to repeat any time soon) by Mr. Lestrade back to his own house.
Still fully-dressed, John dropped down onto his bed and fell almost immediately asleep, despite his mind full to bursting point with the events of the night – the screams, running, Voldemort's Mark in the sky, and Cedric, his face moving closer to John's, his lips parted as though they would touch his. . .
It was almost eleven-thirty by the time John awoke again to the sound of his mother exclaiming her surprise at his return. He relayed the match to her and his father in as much detail as he could over breakfast, but decided they really didn't need to know about the riot, since his mother had been nervous enough to let him go as it was. He didn't want to prove her right. He was just explaining how Viktor Krum had fooled Lynch into losing the Snitch, when a soft flutter of wings announced the arrival of a splendid brown owl, which he recognised as Cedric's.
"Hello," John said, eyeing the owl – Juniper – a little nervously.
Juniper stuck out her leg for John to remove the large parchment letter attached to it, then flew up to rest atop the fridge. John opened the envelope and pulled out the letter.
I know it's been only a couple of hours since we last saw each other, but I wanted to make sure you were alright. Also, I feel I should explain myself. I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable when we met up again on the campsite. I wish I could say I don't know what came over me, but that would be a lie. I could say everything in this letter, but while I'm no Gryffindor, I don't like to think of myself as a coward. If there's any way we could meet up sometime soon for me to explain myself fully, I'd really appreciate it. Let me know ASAP.
All the best,
John's fingers trembled slightly as he read the letter again. Then he remembered both his parents were looking at him and he took a (what he hoped was casual) bite of toast.
"It's from Cedric," he said, trying his best to keep the tremor out of his voice. "He wants to hang out sometime."
"Oh, lovely," his mother smiled. "You should invite him round sometime."
"Yeah," John smiled back, his mouth as dry as the parchment in his hands. "Well, gonna reply now."
He pushed the plate of unfinished toast away from him and hurried upstairs to his room. Hector hooted happily to see him and ruffled his feather.
"Code red, Hec," John muttered to his owl. "All systems go."
He sat down at his desk and pulled a fresh piece of parchment towards him, dipping his nearest quill in an ink bottle.
I'm doing well, thanks. Fell straight to sleep when I got back! Don't worry about what happened – I was so happy to see you were okay. I think meeting up is a great idea. Tomorrow a good idea? We can meet in the town near where I live – Hunters Meet, it's called, I've mentioned it before. We can meet outside the Library at 3:00? Let me know.
He took the letter back downstairs and attached it to Juniper's leg, taking her over to the window and letting her fly out before he had a chance to change his mind. As he watched her disappear into the clouds, he felt an anxious stirring in the pit of his stomach. Tomorrow he could either become the happiest teenage boy in Britain, or be facing the biggest let-down since the dawn of time.
God help him.