Harry Potter and the Fifth House
You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness
Chapter 12: Meet Ups
Harry was silent as he followed Colin down the hallway.
"Um..." Colin said after a long time. "I'm sorry about this."
"It's not your fault," Harry answered. He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "My dad hasn't been very happy with me the last few days and pulling me out of his class certainly isn't helping, but you shouldn't have had to get in the middle of it like this."
"It's fine." A soft smile settled on Colin's face, "I'm actually having a lot of fun today to be honest. The Daily Prophet is here, that's why Mr. Bagman called for you, and I got to talk to their photographer for a while before he sent me off to retrieve you guys."
"To me at least," Colin said. He came to a stop in front of a classroom. "This is it."
"Alright. Are you coming in?"
Colin shook his head, "I had Transfiguration before and McGonagall let me come down, but I have Charms now so I have to go back to class."
"Ah... Good luck."
Harry waited until Colin had disappeared around the corner to push the door open and step inside.
The other champions were already inside the small classroom. Krum was leaning against the wall with a deep sulking frown on his lips. Fleur was perched on one of the desks with her legs crossed and Cedric standing in front of her as they chatted.
In the center of the room were three desks pushed together with a black velvet cloth laid over it and five seats set behind them. Ludo Bagman was sitting in one of them, talking to a blonde witch in magenta robes.
Bagman rose to his feet when he saw Harry. He bounded towards him, "Here he is! Our fourth champion! Come on in, Harry. There's nothing to be nervous about, we're just doing the wand weighing ceremony. The judges will be here in a -"
"Wand weighing?" Harry questioned. He glanced nervously towards Cedric, but his mentor was looking down at the floor now.
"We have to check your wands are fully functional, no problems, you know, as they're your most important tools in the tasks ahead," said Bagman. "Then we're going to do a little photo shoot." He gestured towards the blonde, "This is Rita Skeeter. She's doing a small piece on the tournament for the Daily Prophet."
"Maybe not that small, Ludo," said Rita Skeeter, her eyes on Harry. "I wonder if I could have a little word with Harry before we start? The youngest champion, you know...to add a bit of color?"
"Certainly!" cried Bagman. "That is – as long as Harry has no objections?"
"Er actually-" Harry began.
"Lovely," said Rita Skeeter and in a second, her fingers had a surprisingly strong grip on Harry's arm, and she was steering him out of the room and opening a nearby door.
"We don't want to be near all that noise," she said. "Let's see...ah, yes, this is nice and cozy."
It was a broom cupboard.
Harry glanced back at the door behind him, weakly hoping Cedric might burst through and save him.
"Come along, dear – that's right – lovely," said Rita Skeeter again, perching herself precariously upon an upturned bucket, pushing Harry down onto a cardboard box and closing the door, throwing them into darkness.
Out of her handbag, she produced a handful of candles which she lit with a flick of her wand.
"You won't mind, Harry, if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill? It leaves me free to talk to you normally..."
"A what?" said Harry.
Rita Skeeter's smile widened. She pulled a quill and a roll of parchment from her bag, then placed the quill on the parchment, where it stood balanced on its point, quivering slightly.
"Testing...my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter."
Harry looked down quickly at the quill. The moment Rita Skeeter had spoken, the quill had started to scribble, skidding across the parchment:
Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty-three, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations -
"Lovely,"said Rita Skeeter, yet again, and she ripped the top piece of parchment off, crumbled it up, and stuffed it into her handbag. Now she leaned toward Harry and said, "So, Harry...what made you decide to enter the Triwizard Tournament?"
"Er-" said Harry again, but he was distracted by the quill. Even though he wasn't speaking, it was dashing across the parchment, and in its wake he could make out a fresh sentence.
An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming face of Harry Potter, whose eyes -
"Ignore the quill, Harry," said Rita Skeeter firmly. Reluctantly, Harry looked up to her instead, "Now – why did you decide to enter the tournament, Harry?"
"I didn't," said Harry. "I don't know how my name got into the Goblet of Fire. I didn't put it there."
Rita Skeet raised one heavily penciled eyebrow.
"Come now, Harry, there's no need to be scared of getting into trouble. We all know you shouldn't really have entered at all. But don't worry about that. Our readers love a rebel." She suggested, "I know it's a popular theory you got your name entered by an older student. Perhaps Cedric Diggory, your mentor?"
"What? No!" Harry objected. "Of course Cedric didn't do it!"
"Mmm, he's also a competitor isn't he?" she mused. "How has the tournament affectedyour relationship with each other? Other students have said they've not seen you together often. Is he upset with having another competitor? Perhaps worried about facing the Boy Who Lived?"
"Cedric and I are friends! And I'm not even a match for him!" Harry said. He was feeling more and more uncomfortable by the moment. His insides were squirming.
"Of course your guardians are also teachers here, aren't they? Did you get either of them to put your name in the cup?"
"No!" Harry rejected, feeling appalled by the suggestion. "They would never-"
"And how do you think your birth parents would feel about you competing in the Wizardry Tournament? Would they be proud? Worried? Angry?"
Harry's annoyance was growing. How on earth was he to know how his parents would feel if they were alive? He could feel Rita Skeeter watching him very intently. Frowning, he avoided her gaze and looked down at words the quill had just written:
Tears filled those startling green yes as our conversation turns to the parents he can barely remember.
"I have not got tears in my eyes!" said Harry loudly.
Before Rita Skeeter could say a word, the door of the broom cupboard was pulled open. Harry looked around, blinking in the bright light. Albus Dumbledore stood there, looking down at both of them, squashed into the cupboard.
Harry had never been more relieved to see him in his life.
Hermione ground her teeth together when she felt a hand touch her shoulder.
Ever since Rita Skeeter's article on Harry had come out, her life had been filled with girls laughing at her and complete strangers asking her if she was really dating Harry Potter.
"What?" she snapped when she turned around. She flushed a bit when she realized it was Viktor Krum. However, when she noticed that folded on top of the book under his arm was a copy of the Daily Prophet, she found herself souring again.
Krum looked confused for a minute before saying, "May I sit next to you?"
She took a deep breath before nodding. She swept a few of her books closer to her so she wouldn't be in his space.
He settled into his seat, layng the book on the table and directing his attention to it.
She eyed him for a few seconds before returning to her own book. She had planned on doing a bit of her Charms essay, but with people constantly interrupting her it had been impossible to get anything done. She had considered returning to the common room, but she didn't want to accidentally take any of her frustrations out on her housemates. So instead, she had decided to stay in the library reading a book on some of the wizarding myths Padma had recommended her.
Everything was fine for a while. Krum didn't say anything to her, Hermione didn't say anything to him, and while people were whispering no one had come to ask her any questions.
The silence was broken by Krum clearing his throat, "May I ask you a question, Hermione?"
She sighed, "Yes. What is it?
He asked, "Is it true you are dating Harry Potter?"
"No," she snapped a bit harsher then she ended. She turned towards him, feeling bitter that she'd thought she wasn't going to bring it up. "Why do you want to know? You don't know Harry or me."
His face flushed slightly. He met her eyes, "It is just that you are a very smart and beautiful girl. I would be sad to know you were dating someone already."
She felt her anger slip away as her own face shaded bright red. She grabbed her book from the table, her heart beating wildly in her chest. For all she complained about not getting why girls were so interested in him, he was very handsome and she wasn't used to being complimented.
"Thank you," she murmured, holding her book to her chest. "I've got to go now."
As she scurried away, he was looking a little hopeless and lost. He was even, she thought, frowning a bit more than usual.
The Three Broomsticks was roaring with noise as Draco slipped inside.
He searched for a moment before catching sight of Ron's hair sticking out in the back.
As he got closer to his friends, he realized he was the last one to arrive. Hermione and Luna were sitting together with a bag of Honeydukes sweets between them. Neville sat on Luna's other side with an empty Dogweed and Deathcap bag next to him and a new book in his lap. There was a large empty space between Blaise and Ron, but between the half drunk butterbeer on the table and the fact that he'd been with them earlier Draco knew it had to be Harry sitting under the invisibility cloak.
"-told you she was just picking up my quill," he heard Harry object as he stepped closer.
"And I told you I don't believe you," Blaise answered. His smile was wide and teasing as he leaned closer. "You were blushing when you were running away from Cho. Something else had to have happened."
Draco cleared his throat. "Hey guys. Sorry I'm late."
Blaise glanced at him before leaning away from Harry. He said, "No problem. Where have you been?"
"I bumped into Theo and Daphne," he answered as he slid into the booth next to Hermione. "Did any of you get me a drink?" Hermione pushed a bottle towards him. "Thanks."
As he was taking a drink of his butterbeer, two more people approached their table.
"All right, kids?" said Hagrid.
"Hello," Luna said, smiling back.
Moody limped around the table and bent down. Draco thought he was looking at the book Neville was holding until he said, "That's a nice cloak, Mr. Potter."
Harry sputtered, "Can your eye – I mean, can you-?"
"Yeah, it can see through invisibility cloaks," Moody said quietly. "And it's come in useful sometimes, I can tell you."
Hagrid leaned down now, whispering, "Harry, meet me tonight at Midnight at me cabin. Wear that cloak."
Then he straightened up and said loudly, "Nice ter see yeh, guys." He winked at them and left. Moody followed.
There was a moment before Ron wondered, "What just happened?"
"Not a clue," Blaise said. He glanced over. "Are you gonna go, Harry?"