|SIYE Time:8:42 on 16th January 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 98127; Chapter Total: 2872
Please note that some of the dialogue has been taken from Chapter 16 of the Goblet of Fire, pages 253-256 and 269-271.
Fourteen: The Goblet of Fire, Part One
They met up with Hermione, and Ginny's friend Luna Lovegood. Luna smiled serenely at them over the top of her upside down magazine. Ginny noticed that Hermione was sitting rather closer to Ron than normal, and that Ron's ears were rather pink. She and Harry exchanged glances.
What do you think? Harry thought.
Ten kisses Ron finally notices she's a girl this year.
Make that twenty.
Ginny grinned at him and held out her hand. Harry pumped it once, while Ron and Hermione watched them in confused amusement. Luna just looked on dreamily; no doubt she found nothing odd in their silent exchange.
“Will we ever understand them?” Ron asked Hermione in a stage whisper. Hermione chuckled and shook her head.
Can I get those twenty early?
Ginny laughed at him, and rested her head on his shoulder. Harry draped an arm around her, and pressed a gentle kiss to her hair.
Malfoy stopped by, as per usual, making vague comments about what was happening at Hogwarts. He left rather hurriedly after both Ron and Ginny threatened to hex him. By the time the train pulled into the station, they were all hungry and eager for the feast.
The filed into the Great Hall and took seats at the Gryffindor table, noticing that there were a few extra people at the Head Table. Fred and George found the need to make kissing noises at Harry and Ginny as they sat down side by side. Ginny reacted by sticking her tongue out at them, and Harry reacted by kissing her, which sent them, and Ron, into fake gales of retching.
When the puddings cleared away, the students all turned expectantly to the head table. Dumbledore rose to his feet and opened his arms in welcome to them.
“Good evening, all!” he called, smiling fondly. “I do hope you have enjoyed yourselves and that you are all ready for an exciting year! We have many new events coming our way, but first, teacher announcements.” Dumbledore turned to face the left end of the table, his hand extended to where Remus sat smiling. “For the first time in years, we have a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher stay for a second year! Please welcome once more, Professor Remus Lupin!”
The applause in the hall was deafening, especially at the Gryffindor table. Ginny and Harry clapped so hard their palms stung. Remus stood and waved, beaming widely at them. Dumbledore grinned at them all, and once the clapping died down, he extended a hand to the other end of the table. “This year, unfortunately our Potions Master has had to take a
Cheers filled the hall. Harry whooped loudly, Ron jumped up and shouted with glee, students were standing up to give Snape’s absence a standing ovation. Dumbledore raised a hand for quiet, his smile faltering a bit. “Yes, yes, I assumed this would happen. Anyway, Professor Snape shall not return until mid-term, so between now and then the role of Potions Master will be filled by former Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, who is an accomplished Potioneer for the Auror department of the Ministry.”
The students cheered and clapped for Professor Moody, even a few Slytherins. Dumbledore waved for quiet once more. “The role of Head of Slytherin house will be filled by Professor Sinestra; I’m sure our Slytherins will welcome her warmly.”
There was polite applause for Professor Sinestra at the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw tables, but the Slytherins applauded loudly, some even cheered. Once the students had quieted again, Dumbledore resumed the announcements. “This year there are several things happening. One of things is not the inter-house Quidditch tournament —”
“WHAT?!” Fred and George bellowed. Students booed this loudly, Harry even gave Dumbledore a thumbs-down. Dumbledore tried to stem the flow of boos, but eventually had to gain their attention again by setting off a cannon-blast with his wand. That got them quiet.
“There will be no Quidditch this year because a different tournament will be taking place,” Dumbledore said. “This year, we shall host an event that has not occurred for several hundred years. Not even I have seen it held before. This year we shall be competing with two other schools in the Triwizard Tournament.”
“YOU’RE JOKING!” George bellowed. A few people chuckled, but most were staring up at Dumbledore in shock.
What’s a Triwizard Tournament? Harry thought.
Shh! Dumbledore will explain in a minute, Ginny thought back. To be honest, she wasn’t sure. In the back corner of her mind where she kept Tom’s memories, she could vaguely recall him studying it once, but he never got far into the project.
“No, Mr. Weasley, I am most assuredly not joking,” Dumbledore chuckled with amusement. “We are indeed hosting the Triwizard Tournament. For those of you who do not know, the Triwizard Tournament is a grand magical challenge between three champions. Once student from each school will be selected by an impartial judge to compete in three very difficult, very dangerous tasks to win a cash prize of ten thousand galleons and glory for them and their school. The tournament shall take place as always had, under one rule change. No student under the age of seventeen shall be allowed to submit their name to the impartial judge for selection.”
“Aw, come on!” Fred yelled. Several other students were calling out in annoyance as well. Dumbledore raised his wand and set off the cannon blast again; the students calmed down.
“This restriction has been placed for the safety of the students participating,” Dumbledore continued. “The tasks are designed to push the champions to their limits, physically, emotionally, and magically. It has been debated over greatly, and the heads of the other schools and our governments agree that students under that age would not be able to complete the tasks safely. The two schools participating with us are Durmstrang School and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. They will be arriving in October.” Dumbledore glanced at his watch. “But now it is time for bed. Rest up for classes tomorrow; pleasant dreams to all. Off to bed, pip pip.”
Ginny chewed on her lower lip all the way up to the tower. Fred, George, and Lee Jordan were exclaiming all about the Tournament and how they were going to get around the rule. Ron was listening in rapt attention, evidently looking for ways to enter himself. Harry was staring ahead in silence, and hadn't even reacted when she slipped her arm through his.
What are you thinking about? She asked him silently.
That tournament. If it’s so dangerous, why are they doing it?
Ginny shrugged. I don’t know. I know that we haven’t had much connection with the other schools in a while. When Tom was at Hogwarts, they had a program for getting to know our neighboring schools called Pen-Pals. Tom was given a student from Durmstrang. I can’t remember his name off the top of my head, but it was something funny like carcass. Anyway, we’re very under-educated when it comes to other societies. This tournament is a good way to learn about other wizards.
While putting students at risk?
You know that before Quidditch, the main game on brooms in Ireland was a race where ten men would strap caldrons to their heads and tried to catch boulders in them? Usually they died; sometimes one of them would live and he would be crowned champion.
Harry shook his head. I didn’t know that. But they stopped doing that, right?
It was banned in the 18th century.
So this tournament is so dangerous that underage students shouldn’t participate, why are we participating at all? Sure, we could connect and learn, but couldn’t we do that other ways? Heck, we could have a giant Quidditch tournament between the two schools. Why not do that?
Ginny shook her head. I don’t know. They were at the stairs to the dormitories. Ginny kissed Harry’s cheek before saying goodnight and going up to bed.
Ginny couldn’t see well, her surroundings were hazy and unstable. Her eyes wouldn’t focus; her head spun. She fell backward as silver fireballs danced with drops of dew on sharp green blades. Her legs and arms felt like she was lying on a bed of nails. Flashes of lightning struck the ground at her feet, reversed, and stabbed the ground to her left. The sky fell to its knees and the ground swelled around her, rumbling with anger as the lightning attacked it. Nothing was straight, nothing was the way it should have been. Her eyes darted around; she was unable to move from dizziness.
Lightning ripped the sky again, tearing it like a zipper falling open. People and places flashed in the three dimensional darkness behind the sky. Lightning surged from the ground and struck the sky, and suddenly Ginny was in the sky, lying on her back on top of a silver crescent, looking up at a field of green blotted with trees. The dew drops danced, squirming together to form images. She saw herself lying in bed; she saw an old man bent over a stone basin watching a woman draped in beads and bangles speak; she saw a thick reptilian body sliding over dusty floorboards towards a wing-backed armchair. It shifted, and she saw two men looking at a blackboard with names written on it, a diagram of sorts, and still photographs pinned to it; photos of a large, decrepit house, an unsmiling handsome man Ginny could swear she knew, another old man scowling as he held a small board in front of him, and dozens of others. She saw a room full of people, taking notes as a ghost read to them. Ginny knew the boy in the front. It was Tom Riddle, older than when she last saw him, but there was no mistaking those cold eyes. She was seeing him, but not from his point of view. Why? Before she could discern it, it changed again, to a similar room where a short woman dressed in pink paced between rows of desks, watching students read from a textbook.
Then it was gone. A wall of murky water formed from the dew drops; Ginny didn’t have time to fathom it before it crashed upon her. She was no longer lying down; Ginny floated by a stone statue. She tried to scream, but no sound came from her mouth. Panicking, she tried to swim for the surface, but after only a few strokes, she was jerked back to her original place. She glanced down, and saw a rope strung with algae binding her to the statue. Her lungs pressed together as air fled her nostrils; she was running out of oxygen. She grabbed at the rope, her arms and fingers going limp, feebly trying to break it. Black blotches danced before her eyes.
The rope fell from her fingers. She floated upwards as her body went numb, revolving around. Ginny’s eyes darted around, and then she spotted a shape moving rapidly towards her. Her brain hurt without oxygen, but she focused on it.
Ginny’s lips curled in a smile. Harry would save her. He swam unnaturally fast towards her, but she wasn’t paying attention. He came to a stop right in front of her, and pressed his lips to hers. Had she not been drowning, she would have thought that illogical, until Harry forced her lips apart with his tongue and exhaled into her mouth.
Her lungs filled with the used air. The throbbing in her brain lessened. Harry pulled back and severed the rope with a sharp rock. He flicked back to her and exhaled into her mouth again.
How — how are you breathing? Ginny asked him. He didn’t answer her, but grabbed her hand and tugged her upwards. There was something odd about his fingers; she couldn’t lace hers in them. Harry drew her to his chest and pressed his mouth over hers, breathing into her. Ginny, now a little more aware, glanced around. She started as her eyes fell on Harry’s neck; there were slashes on his skin. But it wasn’t bleeding, and as he swam, they moved gently.
They were gills.
Her head broke the surface, startling her. She blinked several times, and when she looked around, she was standing in the Entrance Hall. Water dripped from her hair and her pajamas, pooling on the ground.
What on Earth? Ginny thought as her eyes scanned the hall. Not fifteen feet from her stood a wooden cup on a post. She stepped towards it, her brows knitting together. Suddenly blue flames leapt from the rim of the cup; she jumped backwards, startled. In the flames, a slip of paper floated, the edges blackening slowly. Something was written on it.
Harry Potter; Strawgoh.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. What the heck was Strawgoh?
She glanced around the hall. Her eye caught on an open door. She stepped towards it, and peered around it. She heard a low rhythmic thunking, and saw the edge of a cloak vanishing past the corner.
Ginny stepped through the doorway, and onto empty air. She plummeted, a scream tearing itself from her throat, arms and legs flailing widely.
“Ginny! Wake up!”
“Wha — what?” Ginny sat bolt up-right, looking around her in a panic.
Hermione, Lavender, and Parvati stood over her, looking at her with worry.
“What were you dreaming?” Hermione asked softly.
“I, uh, it was nothing,” Ginny said. “What time is it?”
“Sixish,” Lavender said. “We only noticed you thrashing about because your alarm started beeping but you weren’t switching it off.”
“Oh,” Ginny mumbled. “Sorry.”
Lavender waved a hand. “It’s fine. We had to get up anyway. I get first shower!” She walked away, towards the bathroom. There were four shower stalls, but they had discovered the night before two of them only had cold water and the third didn’t give any water at all. Someone would come fix it soon. Parvati gave Ginny a little wave before going back to her bed. Hermione stayed back, her expression worried.
“Was it the Chamber?” Hermione asked her quietly.
Ginny frowned at her, then shook her head. “No, no, it was… weird. I was in this field, looking up at the sky, then I was in the sky and the dew drops on the grass made these weird pictures and then I was underwater, drowning. But then Harry came and he had gills; he breathed into me so I didn’t drown, and then I was in the Great Hall and there was this cup with fire in it and there was a piece of paper in the fire with Harry’s name on it, and someone was leaving the Hall. When I tried to follow them, everything just vanished and I was falling.”
Hermione sat down on the bed, her face contemplative. “That is weird,” she said. “There wasn’t any kind of order to it?”
“What was in the pictures?”
“A bunch of things,” Ginny answered. “I saw myself in bed, an old man, a snake, these two men looking at a blackboard with all this stuff taped to it.”
Hermione frowned. “Stuff?”
“Yeah, Muggle photos, pieces of paper, and there was a list of names written on it.”
“What were the men wearing?”
Ginny frowned, thinking back. “Err, one was wearing this blue or black vest sort of thing with a badge or something on it, the other man had on brown trousers and a white shirt.”
“That sounds like a policeman,” Hermione said.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Ginny, we learned about them first week in Muggle Studies. They’re Muggle law enforcement.”
“What would I be dreaming about Muggle law enforcement for?”
Hermione shrugged. “What were in the photographs?”
Ginny paused again, remembering. “An old house, a man holding up this board or plate thing with words on it, don’t remember what it said…”
“I bet they were investigating something,” Hermione said.
Ginny yawned widely. “Yeah, probably.” She tossed back her blankets and stood, stretching. “I’d better get in line for the shower before Parvati.” Hermione stood up as well and went back to her bed. Ginny opened her trunk and pulled her toiletry bag from it along with clothes. She walked to the bathroom door and leaned up against the door-jam to wait.
You awake? She thought.
Nooo… Harry groaned.
Ginny hummed a tune, and began singing the lyrics in her head. Good morning to you, good morning to you —
No! Please not that!
GOOD MORNING TO YOU, GOOD MORNING TO YOU, WE’RE ALL IN OUR PLACES —
WITH SMILES ON OUR FACES!
Harry groaned aloud; Ginny felt him grab his pillow and clamp it over his ears.
What good is to cover your ears when the noise is in your head? Ginny asked him.
Sorry, sweetie, but I’ve got to talk to you.
Harry groaned and rolled over. Whaaat?
I had a weird dream.
You always have weird dreams.
Weirder than normal.
Harry rubbed his face vigorously. What happened?
Ginny recalled the strange events and showed them to him. Then she guessed Harry had jumped up or something because she was suddenly vaguely dizzy.
I know that man!
The old man, the one in the photo holding a board. I dreamt about him a few weeks ago.
Ginny scowled up at the ceiling. Why didn’t you tell me?
I forgot. Anyway, I saw the old man go into this big house — the one in that photograph — and he went upstairs.
Harry’s thoughts faded. Ginny frowned. What?
He went upstairs… and that snake you saw, it was there. It slithered past him, into a room with a fire going, and there were two men in the room. One of them didn’t look human; I don’t remember exactly what he looked like or why but… and the other man had his back to me most of the time, and when he did face me his face was in shadow so I don’t know who it was. But the snake spoke to the weird man, and he called in the old man, and then he killed him.
Ginny fell silent. She thought back through her dream, comparing the moments with the old man to Harry’s dream.
What about the rest of it?
Ginny shrugged. I can’t make sense of it. That thing with the water was really weird. I actually thought I was drowning.
In his dormitory, Harry frowned at the canopy above his bed. That was strange. You’ve never had a fear of drowning before. And why would I have gills?
I don’t know.
Lavender left the bathroom with a towel on her head. Ginny slipped inside and shut the door behind her. All right, out for now. I’ll be done in a minute.
Harry mumbled something, and Ginny closed the mental door between them. Fifteen minutes later, she was brushing her teeth. She had left the door shut since Harry had shouted through it that he was going to take his shower. He’d open the mental flow from his side when he was done.
Ginny left the bathroom and shoved her stuff in her trunk. Then, grabbing her shoes and a hair brush, she dropped back onto her bed. She inhaled and attacked her mane of hair with the brush.
“Oh, stop, stop, you’re going to rip it all out!” Lavender said, running over. “All that lovely red hair, and you’re treating it like a rug!”
“It IS a rug,” Ginny said irritatedly. Lavender tugged the brush out of her hands and started picking at the strands.
“Parvati, can you hand me that bottle of leave-in conditioner?” Lavender called. Parvati nodded, pulled a bottle out of Lavender’s stuff, and brought it to her. Lavender squirted some of it out and massaged it into Ginny’s hair. Five minutes later, Lavender ran the brush through it without a single snag.
“There,” Lavender said, setting down the brush. “Now just dry it with your wand and it will be beautiful!”
Ginny nodded. “Thanks,” she said. She wasn’t sure what else to say; Lavender smiled at her as though she had just given her a million Galleons and walked back to her bed. Ginny put the brush back in her trunk and pushed her feet into her sneakers.
Hermione flopped onto Ginny’s bed with a sigh.
“You got us up an hour early, you know,” Hermione said. Ginny shrugged flopped down next to her. Hermione sniffed, and looked at her.
“Did you put something in your hair?”
“Lavender did,” Ginny answered. Hermione nodded slowly.
“It smells nice.”
“Hey,” Parvati called. “Us two are going down to meet up with some boys. You want to join?”
Hermione and Ginny exchanged looks. “Sure,” Ginny said. She sent a mental explanation that she was going down early. Lavender led them out of the dorm and to the common room. Parvati linked arms with Hermione and Lavender threaded her arm through Ginny’s.
“So, how was your summer?” Lavender asked sweetly.
“Good,” Ginny answered. “We saw the Quidditch World Cup.”
“That’s nice,” Parvati replied absently. She waved to someone in the common room. “You meet anyone?”
Ginny frowned. “Er, a few people. Why?”
Lavender giggled. “No, silly, she means boys.”
“Oh!” Ginny blushed gently. “No, none that I remember.”
“So you’re still with Harry Potter?” Lavender asked quietly.
“Yes,” Ginny answered stiffly. She did not like being questioned about her love life. Both Lavender and Parvati’s smile didn’t seem as genuine as they had been a moment before.
“What about you, Hermione?” Parvati asked.
“Oh, no one in particular,” Hermione said, but her cheeks tinged pink. Ginny smirked. Was ‘no one in particular’ what Hermione was referring to Ron as these days?
“Come on, you can tell us!” Lavender pressed. Apparently, she hadn’t fallen for it either.
Hermione blushed harder and shook her head. “No, no one new this summer.” Lavender sighed but seemed to let it drop.
They reached the Great Hall and the two divas left to join another group of girls. Ginny picked a spot that was mostly deserted and dropped onto a bench. Hermione sat beside her and poured herself a glass of pumpkin juice. Ginny cupped her chin in her palm and stared blankly at a bowl full of bacon.
I’ll be there in a minute, Ron’s trying to find his other shoe. Ginny received an image of Ron lying flat on his bed, staring under it with his hair brushing the floor. Ginny smiled.
The rest of the day passed by like normal. She and Hermione left Ron and Harry first period for Muggle Studies while they went to Divination, met up at Transfiguration, stuck together during lunch, and then went to Defense Against the Dark Arts. Remus’ first lesson of the year was a great success; he presented the class with a spectacular duel between him and Sirius, demonstrating two different counter-curses, Impedimenta Jinx and the Stunning Spell. By the end of class, Ginny could cast a decent Impedimenta and a more than decent Stunner. She had even knocked out Sirius!
Their first Potions lesson of the year was second period on Friday. Ginny was crossing her fingers in anticipation of it. As the day and hour approached, Hermione crammed on her notes from the previous years, Ron and Harry discussed Professor Moody’s career in the Auror Department, and the entire school buzzed. Snape had held the position of potions master for 12 years; they were all eager for a new one.
The fourth year Gryffindors and Slytherins had all filed into the classroom by 9:45, all chattering excitedly. Ginny sat on her hands to keep from fidgeting. Hermione was chewing on her lip; Ron was watching her do so with a funny look on his face.
The entire class jumped in their seats. Harry had drawn his wand and was looking around in surprise. Professor Moody stood in the doorway, his face in shadow, leaning on his walking stick.
“That caught your attention,” he remarked in a gruff voice. Everyone was silent as he limped to the teacher’s desk, his wooden leg clunking horribly with each step. He turned to face them, and his magical eye shot around the room unnaturally, scanning each face.
“How can you tell if someone’s poisoned your food?” he barked. No one raised a hand, not even Hermione. He raised an eyebrow. “No one?”
Ginny pondered a moment, then reached cautiously into Tom’s memories and searched them. Then she shyly raised her hand.
Both of Moody’s eyes fixed on her. “Yes, Miss?”
“Weasley,” she said. “It depends on the poison, but if it’s a poison brewed by a Wizard, there is a spell to reveal if anyone with magic has tampered with your food.”
Harry glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and raised an eyebrow. She showed him the thought trail that had brought her to the spell. Moody nodded at her, and his magical eye flicked towards Harry.
“That’s one way to do it,” he said. “Anyone else?”
Ginny thought harder. Obviously, he wasn’t looking for a spell. Moody’s eye whizzed around the room, then stopped suddenly somewhere behind Ginny.
Ginny twisted in her chair, to see Neville looking up at his hand in surprise. He gulped, and lowered it quickly.
“There’s, er, a root that if stewed long enough will show if someone put stuff in your food if your pour a few drops of the water you boiled the root in onto it.”
Moody nodded again. “What’s this root called, Mr.?”
“Longbottom, sir,” Neville replied, glancing down at his feet. “It’s the root of a flower called Garederen. It’s found in tropical climates near fresh water springs.”
“Good,” Moody growled. He turned back to the class at large. “Garederen root is difficult to procure, but fortunately for you I have been to a region where it grows in abundance recently. Like Mr. Longbottom said, when stewed for seven hours it will expose any harmful substance on any food except for a few fruits and alcoholic drinks. Another thing, if you take the stewed root and mash it with ordinary parsnips, peppermint extract, and crushed bezoars to make a paste, it can counteract most poisons in addition to revealing them. That is what we are doing this afternoon. I need everyone to come up here and take your roots and bezoars,” Moody turned away; the class stood up hastily, scraping their benches back, and moved to Moody’s desk.
Ginny waited behind Hermione, and once she received her root, which was held in small glass jar, and bezoar, returned to her seat. A minute or so later, the entire class returned to their seats. Moody dropped into his chair with a sigh, and put his wooden leg up on a stool.
“First thing you need to do,” he said, “is put down that magazine!” Moody’s magic eye fixed on a desk in the back; Ginny turned and saw a group of girls blushing and one hastily putting a glossy magazine into her bag. Moody grunted and his magic eye flicked down to a paper on his desk. “First, you need to boil your parsnips until they get soft. Now!”
Ginny threw open her potion making kit. Parsnips weren’t commonly used in potion making, but it was a required ingredient on her list this year so she had plenty. She pulled out a handful of the white carrot-like vegetables and put them into her caldron. She pulled out a measuring cup and went to back of the class to fill it with water. Soon the water was bubbling gently in her caldron.
“Once it comes to a boil, you need to heat up your Garederen roots,” Moody said. “Use your wand and warm them until they reach about 99 degrees. Quick tip: Your internal body temperature is normally about 95 to 98 degrees, so if you stick your finger in the root and it does not feel warm then it is less than 95 degrees. If you stick your finger in and it is warm, but only mildly so, then it is the correct temperature. If it is hot, then you’ve exceeded 99 degrees.”
Ginny raised her eyebrows; she hadn’t known that. Judging by the look on Hermione’s face, she hadn’t known that factoid either. Ginny tapped the jar of roots with her wand. Steam fogged the glass within a minute; Ginny stuck a pinkie in the glob of brownish green root. It was warm.
Moody continued. “After heating the roots, drain the water from your caldron and add the roots.” Ginny did so. “Take a wooden spoon and stir it until the parsnips and Garederen roots are completely mixed. Then add one tablespoon of the peppermint extract.” They followed his instructions; Ginny measured her peppermint extract carefully and poured it into the caldron. “Increase the heat, cover it, and let it sit for twenty minutes.” Ginny added more fuel to the fire under her caldron and put the lid on top. Moody checked his watch, and turned back to the class.
“While we wait, I want everyone to pick a partner,” he growled. Ginny glanced at Harry, who shrugged at her. People were getting up and moving around the room. Ron glanced around, spotted Neville moving toward them, and threw an arm around Hermione. Hermione started, then blushed and avoided Ron’s gaze. Harry rolled his eyes at the ceiling. Ginny sniggered, but her smirk turned to a frown when she saw Parvati edging her way through the crowd towards them.
Look out, Ginny thought. Harry looked up, then turned back to her and raised an eyebrow.
You know she was asking about you this morning? Ginny replied. She wanted to know if we were still together.
She was probably just curious, Harry thought. He scooted closer to her on the bench just the same.
“Hey,” Parvati said, smiling warmly at them, “would you be my partner, Harry?”
Harry turned pink and looked down at his fingers. Ginny pursed her lips, trying not to seem amused by her boyfriend.
“Er, no thanks,” he said, grabbing Ginny’s hand. “I’m already Ginny’s.”
Parvati’s smile soured slightly. She opened her mouth to say something else, but Moody banged his walking stick.
“Miss Patil,” he boomed, “partner up with Mr. Longbottom.”
Parvati scowled, but obeyed. Moody turned around and tapped the black board with his wand. A grid wrote itself onto it.
“We’re going to do a quick activity,” Moody said. Harry and Ginny exchanged confused glances. "I want all of you to open your books and choose a poison or other mind altering potion and then find its antidote. Write down a description of the poison and its antidote on two pieces of paper and bring them to me.”
Ginny glanced at Harry and shrugged. The students all opened their potions books; Ginny ran her finger down the contents table, then flipped to the chapter on poisons and antidotes.
How about this one? Harry asked mentally. Ginny found the poison he was looking at; which was the very first one. She rolled her eyes.
You can put a little more effort in, you know.
Harry huffed. Fine.
Ginny gazed blankly at her book. Most of these were either obvious or overly-simple.
What’s wrong with simple?
I’d like a little bit of elegance, Ginny replied, turning a page.
What about this one? Ginny glanced at his page. A poison made from powdered dragon claw and the mucus of a dart frog. It made the victim spontaneously combust. Ginny raised an eyebrow. Also some subtly. Harry shrugged. Ginny turned back to her page. An entry at the bottom of the right page caught her eye.
Look at this one, Ginny pointed it out and Harry turned back to read it. Vida ido Frio, invented in 1676 by Spanish alchemist Philipito de Valencia. It is easily slipped into any food, but is only for the patient as the poison is very slow acting.
It enters the blood stream and slowly builds up blood clots by freezing blood vessels, Harry continued. Once the victim is dead, the blood clots melt and it appears as natural causes. One dose is not enough to kill, it requires three separate dosages before the blood clots become large enough to cause damage.
Ginny raised her eyebrows. Sounds good.
Harry shrugged. As long as we get a good grade, I don’t really care.
Ginny glanced at the ingredient list, then examined the antidote. It seemed that the antidote they were already brewing would also counteract this poison, but only if they added a kicker like cayenne or chili peppers to melt the ice. She copied the descriptions onto paper, and stood. Moody glanced up at the sound of her bench scraping the stone floor. She stepped forward and handed him the paper. Moody’s normal eye moved over the paper, his magical eye whizzed around to fix on her.
“Good choice,” Moody growled; he ripped the paper in half and set each into a bowl on the desk. “You can have a seat.”
Ginny smiled and resumed her seat. Harry checked his watch. Ten more minutes before the antidote’s done.
Ginny yawned; amidst her crazy dreams, she hadn’t slept well. She dropped her head onto Harry’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Harry put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. She smiled.
Ten minutes later, Moody called for the last of the poison/antidote pairs. “Uncover your caldrons,” he said gruffly. Ginny picked up her head and lifted the lid on her caldron; tan colored steam rushed out, filling her nostrils with the sharp scent of peppermint and a musty smell she guessed came from the roots.
“The solids should have sunk to the bottom and burned, I want you to scrape everything out into another bowl, a medium sized one should work, and blend it together.”
Blend? Ginny thought, glancing at Harry. He shrugged. Moody stood and moved towards the desks. He stuck what was left of his nose into the steam issuing from Ginny’s caldron. Ginny bit her lip. Moody picked up her wooden spoon, and set out a metal bowl. He flicked his wand and the caldron lifted up and started pouring into the bowl.
“Every bit of crust on the bottom needs to come out,” he said gruffly as he began scraping. Around her, the other fourth years copied Professor Moody’s actions. Ginny’s ears were warm. Moody got the last of it out and the caldron set itself down. He tossed aside the spoon and pointed his wand at the goop in the bowl.
“The spell you need to use is the Miscest Charm. Move your wand in a circular motion and use the incantation Misceo until it becomes a thin fluid.”
The goop folded in on itself, rapidly becoming a liquid. Moody lifted his wand and returned to his desk. Ginny picked up her own wand, but the mixture was already thinned out.
The bell rang a minute later; Moody barked out the homework, bring in six inches of parchment on the poison of their choice and another three on the antidote.
So proceeded September. They began a study of the progression of technology from the colonization of America to the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution in Muggle Studies. McGonagall started a unit on animal transfiguration; turning mice into bars of soap and tea pots into kittens and the like; Remus continued teaching them counter-curses; Binns drawled on about Goblin rebellions. Ginny had no more strange dreams, until the Friday the students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons arrived.
They were lined up by year, Ginny stood between Harry and Ron, talking quietly with Hermione over Ron’s crossed arms. It was cold, he’d forgotten his cloak, and he’d missed lunch because he had to do last minute Charms homework. He was irritated.
“When are they going to get here?” Ron growled. “I want dinner.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Ginny gave her twin an exasperated look. Ron stuck his tongue out at her; she pushed it back into his mouth with a gloved finger. Unlike him, she had expected it to be cold outside.
“Look!” someone down the line shouted. Every eye was drawn upward, to a dark speck coming rapidly towards them.
“What is that?” someone behind her asked.
“It’s a UFO!” squeaked a third year girl.
“No, stupid, aliens aren’t real,” a fifth year said.
“It’s Santa Claus!” shouted Denis Creevey.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. Harry chuckled, and thought of a drawing from a children’s book, of a sleigh crossing in front of the moon pulled by reindeer. The speck turned out to be close; a carriage the size of a house thudded to the ground, huge winged horses trotted to a stop in front of them. The door to the carriage bore a coat of arms; two wands crossed and shooting sparks. It opened, and a boy in royal blue robes stepped out and set out a stool.
Then a foot exited the carriage and set itself on top of the stool. Ginny raised an eyebrow; the foot was inside a size hundred black pump. The woman that stepped out wore rich blue robes like the boy, glinting jewels at her neck and fingers, dark hair drawn into a bun at the nape of her neck, and was at least ten feet tall.
“Madam Maxine,” Professor Dumbledore said warmly as he stepped forward. “Welcome to Hogwarts.” He took her huge hand and kissed her jeweled knuckle.
“Dumbly-door,” Madam Maxine purred deeply in a heavy French accent, “eet iz good to see you.” She turned back to the carriage waved a hand to the people now coming out. “My students,” she said. The Beauxbatons’ students shivered in the wind, clutching meager cloaks and shawls around their shoulders.
“I expect it’s quite warm still in France,” Hermione said in a stage whisper around Ron.
“Shouldn’t they have expected it to be cold here, though?” Ginny whispered back.
“Well, Ron didn’t and he lives here,” Hermione replied. Ron scowled at her.
Dumbledore spoke with Madam Maxine a moment longer, then gestured to another teacher. Professor Sinestra stepped forward, then led the French guests inside. Dumbledore adjusted his pointed hat and turned back to face the grounds.
“Now the Durmstrangs,” Harry muttered. Ginny slipped her arm through his and leaned her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes, but snapped them back open a second later as another cry sounded. Ginny’s eyes scanned the sky, but found nothing. Harry nudged her and pointed to the lake, where a flag-topped pole was rising out of the water. Ginny raised her eyebrows. The pole, Harry told her that it was a mast, moved towards them, rising still. A sail rose up, followed by another, until a full ship rose up out of the water. It came to a stop, and dropped anchor. Then a group of people boarded a row-boat and sailed for the shore. Ginny saw as they stepped onto the shore that these people were dressed in thick coats and fur caps. They fell into two lines, led by a man dressed in white furs that Ginny could tell were quite expensive even from the distance.
The Durmstrang students came to a stop before Dumbledore. Many of them saluted him; Dumbledore smiled welcoming at them all.
“Albus,” said the leading man with a grin. His teeth were yellowed, and though his curly goatee was pure black, the hair curling out from beneath his fur cap was shot with gray. Dumbledore extended a hand, and the two shook.
“Professor Karkaroff,” Dumbledore said cheerily, “welcome!”
Ginny sucked in her breath.
What? Harry thought, glancing at her with a frown.
Karkaroff, Ginny thought with a slight tremor. Remember when I told you Hogwarts used to have a pen pal program?
Tom Riddle’s pen pal was called Karkaroff.
Harry raised his eyebrows. I’ll keep an eye on him.
Ginny nodded vaguely. Her eye had been caught on one of the students at the head of the line. She nudged Ron.
“Is that?” she whispered.
Ron frowned as he focused on the tall, droop-shouldered boy. Then he gasped. “It is!” he said in awe.
“What?” Hermione asked.
“Viktor Krum!” Ginny and Ron said in unison. The other students had noticed this as well; somewhere to Ginny’s right a bunch of girls were giggling and whispering about autographs. Ginny rolled her eyes at them, but she was bouncing on the balls of her feet as well. The very same hands that caught the snitch at the final of the Quidditch World Cup would be at her school for the rest of the year!
Dumbledore led them all inside, Ron muttering about how it was about time; they filled the Great Hall for dinner. There were several foreign dishes on the tables; Hermione guessed they were there to make the guests feel at home. One of the Beauxbatons girl’s felt at home enough to come over and ask for one of the French dishes. Ron was drooling by the time she walked away, and Hermione was huffing into her steak and kidney pie. Ron swore the girl had to be part veela. Harry simply shrugged and went back to his potatoes. Then, as the dishes cleared themselves, Dumbledore rose and called for quiet.
“To our guests, I say welcome once more,” he said, spreading his hands wide. “Now, the moment has arrived. The Triwizard Tournament is about to officially begin. I would like to say a few words of explanation before we bring in the casket —”
“The what now?” Ron hissed.
“Shh!” Hermione hissed back.
“— just to clarify the procedure we will be following throughout the tournament. But first, let me introduce to you, Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation —” Ginny clapped politely along with the rest of the Hall as Crouch stood up —“and Mr. Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.” This time the applause was much louder, was Bagman rose from his seat and waved cheerily.
“Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman have worked tirelessly over these last few months on the arrangements of the Tournament,” Dumbledore continued. “They will be joining Professor Karkaroff, Madam Maxine, and myself on the panel that shall be judging the champion’s efforts.” The restlessness in the hall seemed to stifle, as every mind refocused on Dumbledore’s words. The old professor smiled, as though he had noticed them redirecting their attention, and waved towards the door at the end of the teacher’s table. Filch had been standing there, unnoticed. “The casket, if you please, Mr. Filch.”
Filch nodded stiffly and disappeared through the door. A moment later he came back out carrying a weathered, wooden chest. The surface of the old wood was laden with bright jewels, all blinking in the lights. Ginny eyed it uncertainly. She had a funny feeling in her gut, almost like déjà vu.
“The instructions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already been examined by Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman,” Dumbledore said as Filch set the chest almost reverently on the table before him, “and they have made the necessary arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and the will test each champion in different ways: Their magical powers, their daring, their powers of deduction, and, of course, their ability to cope with danger.”
Ginny held her breath; briefly her mind conjured an image of herself defeating each of the three tasks and winning.
“As you know, three champions will be selected to compete, one from each school. They will be marked on how well they perform each of the tasks and the champion with the highest total at the close of the Tournament shall be crowned the winner of the Triwizard Cup. These champions will be chosen by an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire.”
The entire hall was silent as Dumbledore took his wand and tapped the chest before him three times. The old hinges protested as the lid swung open. The professor reached into it, and drew out an over-sized, hand-carved wooden cup. Dancing in its depths, almost spilling over the rim, were white blue flames. Ginny’s breath caught in her throat. The feeling of dèjà vu turned into leaden dread in her throat. She had seen that cup before…
Dumbledore closed the chest and set the goblet on its lid. The flames danced innocently, but Ginny suddenly felt like their icy fire was clenching her heart.
“Anyone wishing to submit themselves into the Tournament should write their name and school on parchment and drop it into the flames,” Dumbledore said. Ginny’s eyes grew even wider. “Any aspiring champion has twenty-four hours to do so. Tomorrow evening, Halloween, the goblet shall spit back out the names of those it has deemed most worthy to represent their school. The goblet will be placed in the Entrance Hall tonight, where it will be available to all.
“To ensure that no underage student attempts to enter the Tournament,” Dumbledore said, “I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been put into place. No one under the age of seventeen will be able to cross that line.”
Ginny glanced at Harry. He frowned and mouthed “What?” She shook her head, mentally telling him to wait. Dumbledore wasn’t done.
“I would like to impress upon those wishing to enter that this tournament is not to be taken lightly. Once you place your name in the goblet, there is no going back. Entering your name creates a binding, magical contract that demands that if you are chosen, you must participate. Before entering, please be sure that you are wholeheartedly willing to endure the challenges the champions must face.” Dumbledore smiled again. “Now, I believe it is time for bed. Good night to you all.”
The benches scraped against the stone floor as students stood and made their way to the doors. Ginny linked her arm through Harry’s as she walked, fighting the urge to look over her shoulder at the Goblet of Fire.
What’s the matter? Harry asked her.
That cup, she thought. I’ve seen it before! Something bad is going to happen, I know it.
Harry laced his fingers with hers and squeezed her hand. We’ll be fine, he thought. Ginny nodded, but she wasn’t sure she could believe him. The cold dread had spread from her throat to her chest.
“Where do you think the Durmstrangs are sleeping?” Ron asked. “I wouldn’t mind giving Krum my bed. I could kip on a cot.”
“They’re probably staying on their ship,” Hermione said. “Likewise for the Beauxbatons’ students.”
Ginny glanced at the group of Durmstrangs. Karkaroff had come down and was leading them back out, talking with Viktor Krum. The excitement she had felt earlier at the Quidditch player’s arrival had faded now. The four of them reached the door at the same time as Karkaroff and his students; they paused to let them pass.
“Thank you,” Karkaroff said, glancing at them uninterestedly. Then he froze and his gaze snapped back to Harry’s face. His students stopped moving too. Karkaroff turned to face Harry properly, his face showing surprise. The others were staring at Harry too now. Ginny felt Harry’s irritation at them all staring at him, or rather his scar. The corners of her mouth turned down; she’d like to hex Karkaroff’s rude butt through the door. Several of his students were whispering and pointing now.
“Yeah, that’s Harry Potter,” growled a voice behind them. Ginny turned, to see Professor Moody standing behind them with a scowl on his scarred face. “If you’re all done gawking, you’re blocking the doorway.”
Karkaroff turned to face him; the Durmstrang Headmaster paled. “You!” he rasped.
“Me,” Moody agreed irritatedly. “Do you mind?”
Karkaroff set his jaw, then, glancing back at Harry, gestured to his students to keep moving. Ginny scowled at their retreating backs.
“Come on,” Ron said, pushing past them towards the stairs.
Ginny and Hermione left the boys in the common room; Ginny took a hot shower, trying to drown the dread that still persisted. She could not remember for the life of her why that cup meant foul weather in the future.
That night she tossed and turned; sleep eluded her actively. Blue white fire burned over her eyelids, and once she did finally slip into dreamland, her dreams still battered her. She kept seeing the Goblet of Fire. Its flames turned scarlet and spit out paper, but try as she could, she never could snatch them out of the air before they combusted.
Hermione woke her the next morning around eleven. Ginny’s muscles were sore and she felt anything but rested. They gathered in the common room where Hermione insisted they do homework. Ron and Harry were off doing something else, so Hermione asked her to tell Harry to come join them. The two of them had more homework than they did. Ginny did, and twenty minutes later Harry dropped onto the couch beside her, a grumbling Ron on his heels. Five minutes later, Ginny had curled up with her head in his lap and was sleeping. Harry joined her dreams not long after that.
Ginny? Ginny, wake up.
Ginny groaned and squeezed her eyes shut.
“It’s time for dinner,” Harry said softly in her ear.
“No,” she mumbled. Harry kissed the tender flesh behind her ear. She smiled as her spine shivered.
“The champions are going to be selected,” he reminded her. Ginny sighed and opened her eyes. The common room was dark; it seemed most people had already left for dinner. Ginny sat up and ran a hand through her hair. Harry stood up and offered her a hand. Smiling, she took it and let him lead her from the common room.
Dinner was tense; everyone was waiting for the naming of the champions. The Goblet of Fire stood before the teacher’s table, burning brightly. Ginny picked at her food and ended up dropping her head onto Harry’s shoulder.
As soon as the desserts vanished, Dumbledore called for quiet again. Ginny straightened, all the students fell silent.
“Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision,” he said. “I speculate that it requires a moment more. Now, when the champions’ names are called, I would ask them to please come up the top of the hall, walk along the staff table and go through into the next chamber —” Dumbledore extended a hand to the door to his right —“where they will wait for their first instructions.”
Then Dumbledore passed his wand over the hall, and every candle went out, plunging them into semidarkness. The only source of light came from the Goblet’s flames, flickering gently. The flame illuminated each eager face, stretching to the very back of the hall. Ginny watched the fire, and was reminded of something. Her eyes went wide, her heart beat faster in her chest. The dream she had had at the beginning of the year; the flame-filled cup that had emitted a slip of parchment. Parchment that had Harry’s name written on it.
The flame turned red; Ginny bit her lip. It convulsed, and spat out a smoking paper. Dumbledore caught it and unfolded it.
“The champion for Durmstrang is,” Dumbledore called, “Mr. Viktor Krum!”
Cheers came from the Slytherin table where the Durmstrang students were seated. Viktor Krum stood, his stooped silhouette casting a shadow in the Goblet’s light, and made his way to the top table. Dumbledore shook his hand, and Krum exited through the door. Ginny scanned for Karkaroff’s face, the headmaster was smirking.
The flame reddened again, and out flew another slip of paper. Dumbledore snatched it from the air.
“The champion for Beauxbatons’ Academy is… Miss Fleur Delacour!”
Ginny turned to see the Ravenclaw table, where the Beauxbatons were seated as the hall applauded again.
“It’s her!” Ron cheered. The girl who resembled a veela had stood up and was walking towards the teacher’s table.
“They’re disappointed,” Hermione said, “look.” Indeed, the other Beauxbatons’ were not cheering, in fact, two of the girls had started crying into their hands. Ron was not looking, rather he was watching Fleur walk to Dumbledore. Hermione caught sight of his expression and scowled. Ginny felt the need to elbow him very hard in the ribs.
As Ron stifled obscenities, the Goblet of Fire spewed a third piece of paper. The hall went silent. Ginny bit her lip, praying what she feared would happen would not. Dumbledore caught it; he brushed aside stray sparks and read the name.
“For Hogwarts,” he called, “the champion is Mr. Cedric Diggory!”
Ginny joined in the applause with relief; the entire Hufflepuff table erupted with cheering as Diggory stood and made his way proudly to the top of the hall. It hadn’t been Harry; Ginny clapped hard enough to make her palms sting.
Dumbledore waved for quiet, and eventually quiet came. “We now have our three champions!” Dumbledore called. “I am sure I can count on all of you, including the remaining students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, to cheer on your champion as they face each task. By supporting them, you are contributing in a very real —”
Dumbledore stopped midsentence, turning to face the Goblet again. The hall seemed to hold its breath. The flames had turned red again. Ginny’s heart stopped in her chest.
The fire sparked as a fourth piece of parchment flew into the air. Dumbledore, almost automatically, reached out a trembling hand to catch it. He unfolded the paper, slowly, painstakingly, and read it by the light of the now blue flame. Ginny’s fists clenched in her lap.Please no, please don’t be —
“Harry Potter,” Dumbledore called in shock.
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