|SIYE Time:17:05 on 22nd March 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: 102824; Chapter Total: 2565
So, I haven't updated in a while, but that is due to the fact that first: I haven't been at home for about a month; second that I spent two weeks with no electronics at summer camp, and lastly that I've just been binge watching Bones a lot. Anyway, here's the next chapter; I'll try to update more often.
Chap ter Eighteen: The Goblet of Fire Part Five
If Afraid of Burns or Incineration Do Not Read
By Sunday night, Hermione had convinced Harry to attempt to summon larger, heavier things than simply hats and pillows. Ginny held his Firebolt on one end of the Common Room, and held it tight. Harry stood on the other and said, “Accio broom!”
The broom tugged itself from her hands and shot across the room. Harry bent his knees, preparing to duck if it decided to spear him on the handle, but it hit his palm without turning the sharp end towards him.
“You’re getting it Harry!” Hermione said gleefully. Harry set the broom down and turned to Hermione. “Accio pillow!”
The pillow flew from Hermione’s hand and caught Harry in the chest. He tossed it towards the couches. “Ginny, come get the broom.”
Ginny took a step towards him, then paused. She didn’t really want to walk all the way there if there was a better way. She raised her wand. “Accio broom!” she said.
The broom lifted itself off the ground and turned towards her. It flew across the room, then stopped just before her.
Harry and Hermione stared.
“Wow,” said Hermione.
“Not fair!” said Harry.
Ginny smirked. Harry jabbed his wand at her. “Accio broom!”
The broom shot from her hand and landed in Harry’s. Ginny pointed her wand at him. “Accio broom,” she said again, calmly. The broom plucked itself from his hand and flew to her again, stopping in the air so she could pick it up.
“So not fair!” Harry said. “How come you can do it perfectly first try?”
“Was that your first try?” Hermione asked.
“Yeah,” Ginny said. “Maybe it’s just easier for me.”
“Why?” Harry said. “Accio broom.”
“Maybe because I get stuff like this faster than you,” Ginny guessed. “Accio broom.”
The broom passed between them for a while longer. It was like they were playing catch. Hermione threw in a random object every now and then, but mostly they summoned the broom from each other. It came to Harry with increasing ease, and to Ginny in the same, calm but quick the way it had done on her first attempt.
“Maybe it’s because you learned it first, Harry,” Hermione mused, sometime around one o’clock in the morning.
“What?” Harry said, catching the broom.
“Accio broom,” Ginny said. The broom left Harry’s hand as Hermione continued.
“Maybe it was easy for her because you already knew it.”
Ginny thought about that, fingering the handle of Harry’s broom. She heard Harry repeat the incantation and let go, the broom fell an inch before catching itself and flying towards him.
“Maybe,” Ginny said. She glanced at her watch then looked to Harry. “Do you feel satisfied?”
Harry yawned in answer. Ginny walked across the room and poked Hermione’s shoulder. She had been sitting in an armchair, eyes closed, for the past half hour.
“I’m awake,” she mumbled.
“We’re done, I think,” Ginny said. Harry nodded. Hermione sighed and pushed herself out of the chair.
“I’ll let you say goodnight in private,” she said. “But don’t take too long.”
Hermione went up the stairs, yawning as she did. Harry set his broom in the vacated chair and opened his arms. Ginny walked into them and rested her head on his shoulder.
Thank you, Harry thought. Ginny smiled faintly.
You’re welcome, she replied.
I really needed all that help, Harry mused.
Yup, Ginny yawned too. Are yawns contagious?
I don’t think so, Harry thought. Then he yawned. Maybe.
Ginny chuckled and kissed his cheek. Harry brought his lips to hers, catching them quickly. She smiled as he released her mouth, and he kissed her nose. That was a nice thank you, she thought.
Harry grinned. Glad to be of service.
Ginny squeezed her arms, hugging him tightly. You should get to bed. The task is in ten or so hours.
Harry sighed. Don’t remind me. He retracted his arms and gave her one last kiss on the cheek. Good night, darling.
Night, sweetheart, she thought back. Harry grinned as he picked up his broom and started up the boys’ stairs. Ginny picked up the jacket Hermione had left behind and went up the girls’ stairs.
Her alarm woke her up instantly the next morning. Her hands shook as she shut it off, and she sat there, staring up at the ceiling for a moment, trying to order her thoughts. A dragon, she kept thinking. Harry had to fight a dragon. Now that she was awake, she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, even though she really wanted to.
Harry was still asleep, and it was only seven, so Ginny left him alone. The task didn’t start until 11:00 and he didn’t need to be there until ten thirty at the earliest. She made sure the door was closed though, before going into the bathroom and taking a shower. She stood under the stream of hot water, trying to wake up. She didn’t have nearly enough sleep.
It was quarter to eight by the clock in the bathroom when she shut off the water. The room was instantly cold without the water; Ginny shivered and wrapped a towel around herself. She stepped out of the shower stall to the little changing space outside and grabbed her wand. She muttered a quick spell, and hot air started pouring from the tip. She rubbed away the water with the towel and then twisted it around her hair while she dressed.
Ginny went back into the dorm itself and closed herself inside her curtains. Her wand was still spewing warm air, so she started drying her hair. Her alarm clock said it was eight thirteen. Three hours. Harry was still asleep. She had a feeling he’d forgotten to set an alarm. Ginny finished drying her hair and tidied her space a bit. She made the bed, pushed back the curtains, and scraped all the loose junk on top of her night table into a drawer. Eight twenty nine. Two and a half hours until Harry needed to head out. Bagman had told him Sunday afternoon to wait in the Entrance Hall for him at eleven. Ginny sat down on her newly made bed and took out a book. She tried to read, but her thoughts kept straying. What if Harry got hurt? What would they do? What if he got the Horntail, the worst of all of the dragons? What if the Summoning Charm didn’t work and he couldn’t fly? What if he couldn’t complete the task? What if he was killed?
Ginny shook her head with a jerk. Harry would be fine. He was the best flier she’d ever seen, better even than Viktor Krum, and the spell hadn’t backfired since Saturday. Although, that last thought wasn’t much comfort.
Ginny glanced at her clock and fell back against her pillows with a groan. It was barely eight forty. She couldn’t just sit here and be bored much longer. So, she put the book away and left the room, walking as quietly as she possibly could. Ginny went into the common room and dropped onto a couch, attempting to arrange her mind into an ordered fashion. Her thoughts seemed to be bouncing around and pinging off the walls, and random dragons ran around spewing fire. Ginny rubbed at her temples, fighting a headache. In her agitated state, the presence of Tom’s memories felt like a physical weight on her shoulders. In the back of her mind, she felt them poking and prodding at the barriers she had created in her brain. This always happened when she was stressed, or when her period came around. When both happened, Tom’s memories felt like they had a mind of their own.
Ginny let her head fall onto the back of the couch and squeezed her eyes shut. Her eyelids were red, like dragon fire. She felt jittery and worried. Somewhere, she heard faint, humorless laughter. There was a sudden chill on her neck, like a cold finger stroking her skin.
Ginny pushed herself off the couch and started towards the boys’ dorms. It was almost nine o’clock, Harry could wake up now. She jogged up the stairs and walked quickly to Harry’s dorm. She could have just shouted mentally at him until he woke, but Ginny just felt like she needed to see him. Vaguely, she wondered if this had anything to do with what the journal had said, that it was unwise for them to spend long apart. She pushed this aside as she did the door, and tip-toed inside.
Seamus and Dean were still asleep, their curtains wide open to prove this. Neville’s bed was empty and made, but he wasn’t in sight. Ron’s curtains were drawn, but she knew he was present by the sound of his snoring.
Harry’s curtains were pulled shut as well. Ginny gently pulled them open, revealing her best friend lying on his side, curled up with a pillow clamped in his arms like a teddy bear. She smiled. The sight seemed to displease and frighten away Tom’s memories, as the flickering images that had grown faded. There was a sudden ache in her chest, something that almost screamed with a need to simply touch him. Ginny reached out and combed her fingers through his hair. Harry stirred, and his hand came up to grasp hers, although his eyes remained shut. The skin on skin contact soothed her frayed nerves.
Wake up, Ginny thought. Harry pressed her palm against his cheek but still did not open his eyes. Wake up, the task starts in two hours.
Harry rolled over, releasing the pillow but still holding her hand tightly. Ginny stumbled forward, and collided with the edge of his mattress.
Harry! Ginny thought. Her hand was at an awkward angle, and it hurt a bit.
“Wake up,” she said, trying to tug her hand free. Harry’s grip tightened, and he tugged back. Ginny fell against the bed and caught herself by locking her elbow and dropping her other hand onto the bed. Harry rolled over again, knocking her arm out. Ginny fell with a sharp intake of breath, landing on top of him. Harry grunted, and he finally let go of her hand. Ginny tried to get off him, but then his arms came up and locked around her waist.
“Bugger,” Ginny muttered. Harry’s breath fell on her hair; it sent shivers down her spine. “Harry, you need to wake up!” she hissed. He mumbled vaguely in words that were either of his own creation or complete gibberish. Her back didn’t like the position she was in, and her legs were beginning to complain as well.
Ginny tried again to rise, but he tightened his grip. Harry shifted again, so he was lying on his side in the same way she’d found him. Her legs shouted in protest, now the position was worse.
Ginny sighed and drew her legs up onto the bed, so she was now lying beside him rather than standing bent double. Harry inhaled and exhaled, still asleep.
Ginny lay there for a moment, trying to figure out how to remedy the situation, or even if it needed remedying. Harry’s rhythmic breath on her face was calming; she felt like simply returning to sleep. Her eyelids drooped and she inhaled his scent deeply.
But the task was soon. She glanced over her shoulder and checked his clock. Quarter past nine. Ginny sighed. Harry had to be ready to fight in just ninety minutes.
Ginny nudged his shoulder. Her arms were trapped between their chests, so she couldn’t do much. Harry grunted in his sleep and turned his face down, bumping his forehead against hers.
She had an idea. Ginny slipped her arm up and pushed her fingers into Harry’s hair. She felt his breath shudder. Ginny pulled his head closer and touched her lips to his. Harry murmured something. Ginny kissed him harder.
“Wake up,” she whispered.
“Uhmmm,” Harry mumbled.
Ginny caressed his scalp. “Wake up, love.”
Harry opened his eyes and squinted at her. “Huh?”
“It’s time you wake up,” she said.
Harry knit his eyebrows. “What are you doing there?”
“I came to wake you up, but it proved to be difficult.”
His cheeks reddened. “Difficult?”
“You seemed to want to hold me.”
Harry glanced down, at his arms locked around her waist. Quickly, he let go. “Sorry.”
“I don’t particularly mind,” Ginny said with a shrug and a half-smile. “But you do need to get up.”
“What time is it?”
“Quarter past nine.”
Harry let out a strangled curse and jumped off the bed, almost tangling himself with the curtains on the other side of the bed. “Why didn’t you wake me sooner?” he asked incredulously. Ginny sat up with an indignant expression.
“I tried, thank you very much, but you were insistent on sleeping.”
Harry smacked himself in the forehead. “I’m going to start setting an alarm.”
That’s a great idea, Ginny thought, leaning back on his pillows. She closed her eyes again as Harry went around to his trunk to get clothes.
“I need a shower,” Harry muttered. He glanced at her with a bemused expression. “I don’t smell bad, do I?”
Ginny shrugged. “No more than usual.”
Harry scowled. “Gee, thanks.”
“Welcome, love. Go!”
Harry nodded, and started towards the bathroom. Then he stopped in front of the door and turned back to her. When did you start calling me that? He thought.
Ginny thought about it. Just now, I suppose. Do you mind?
Harry grinned. Nope! Keep doing it.
Ginny smiled as he went into the bathroom, and she felt him close the mental door. She stretched, and slipped into a prone position. She rubbed her cold fingers together and tucked them under Harry’s blankets. The bed smelled strongly of him, and the scent was dulling her brain. She inhaled deeply, feeling quite content. She reached around and closed the curtains, blocking out the light. Ginny settled down on his pillows, thinking she could catch a quick nap while he was in the bath.
A moment later, something poked her shoulder. She waved it away and buried her face in a pillow.
I have to get up, but you don’t? Harry’s voice asked her.
Ginny opened her eyes and blinked. Harry must have showered quickly. She sat up, stretching. “You ready to go to breakfast?”
“Yeah, I just need shoes.”
Ginny pushed back the curtains and was met by Ron doing the same thing. Ron looked startled.
“What the —” he said, gaping.
“Morning,” Ginny said coolly. She hadn’t forgotten how he’d acted on Thursday.
“What are you doing up here?” Ron asked. His face was quickly reddening, but she noticed that he had been rather white.
Ginny stuck her nose in the air and looked at him in disapproval. He seemed taken aback by her expression.
“I’m standing by my friend and helping him,” Ginny said coldly. “You might want to try it for a change.”
Ron clenched his jaw and his expression hardened. “Did you stay the night, or were you just here to support him in the morning?” he snapped. Ginny’s eyes flashed. She felt Harry’s temper rise, but it was nothing compared to her own anger.
“Is that what you think of me, Ronald?” she asked, reaching for her wand. “As some kind of — of a scarlet woman?”
Ron dropped his gaze to the floor. He got out of his bed and moved to his trunk, not answering her. Ginny bit her lip and moved over to where Harry was sitting on his trunk, lacing his shoes. His fingers were fumbling with the laces, and as she watched, he tied a knot around his thumb. Ginny bent and waved his hands away.
“Stop, stop,” she muttered. Harry sat up with a huff and crossed his arms over his chest.
It’s bad enough he’s like this with me, Harry thought after a moment. Why does he have to be cruel to you?
Ginny tied his shoe instead of answering. She pulled the laces as tight as possible and tied them with an equally tight bow.
“That’s a bit tight,” Harry said. Ginny blinked, then realized that Harry was wincing.
“Sorry,” she muttered, untying it and trying again.
He got to you, too, Harry thought.
Of course he has! Ginny’s thoughts burst free. She dropped onto the trunk next to Harry and mimicked his pose. He actually asked if I slept with you! My twin! He should know better!
Harry unfolded his arms and wrapped one around her. I’m sorry, Ginny.
Ginny bit her lip harder. There was a different kind of ache in her chest, and her eyes felt watery. She blinked them away quickly. She would not cry, not now, not here. She would not give Ron the satisfaction of knowing that he’d hurt her.
I don’t think he would be satisfied, Harry said in a mental whisper. Ginny drew in a shaky breath. She glanced at Ron; he was gathering his things for a shower and kept his eyes anywhere but near her.
Ginny looked down at her feet, at Harry’s laces tied upside down, anything but at her twin. Harry was right, Ron wouldn’t feel victorious if he saw her crying, but she wasn’t sure if he would feel remorseful or indifferent anymore. There once was a time when they had been inseparable, when they did everything together and the world be damned if they couldn’t. That time hadn’t been so long ago, but right then, it felt like centuries.
Now she had to keep Harry alive.
Ginny stood up and held out her hand to him. Harry laced his fingers through hers and she led him away, out of the dorm room and out of Gryffindor tower. She didn’t pay attention to where she was going, merely keeping her hand fixed in Harry’s. The nerves she had woken up with now felt like her every emotion was battering at her like tsunamis, and now she felt depressed because Ron didn’t trust her anymore.
Harry squeezed her hand. We passed the Great Hall, darling.
Ginny looked up; they were headed towards the ground floor classrooms. “Oh.”
Harry tugged gently on her hand, guiding her back to the Great Hall. She was unsure as to how she had missed it, as the noise coming from it was tremendous. Everyone was awake and nervous for the first task. Harry stopped by the doorway; Ginny heard his spirits deflating further.
“Maybe we should eat in the kitchens,” Ginny whispered.
“Okay,” Harry said. Ginny tugged at his hand and they turned away again.
“I’m sorry about Ron,” Harry said as they walked into the basement. Ginny nodded, her eyes downcast.
“I’m sorry too,” she murmured. “I wish I had known he would be like this.”
Harry squeezed her hand. “He’ll come round.”
“Hopefully,” Ginny said. She glanced at Harry and immediately felt bad. “I’m sorry, I’m going and making this about me, but it’s you he’s betraying —”
“Both of us,” Harry interrupted. “The way he’s treating you, it’s about us both.”
Ginny nodded again. Harry tickled the pear and opened the entrance as it giggled.
The house-elves were eager to assist, and soon they were seated in a corner with the same food the students were eating above them. Ginny had to pester Harry into eating, even though he protested with claims of nausea. He still ate two helpings of everything.
Harry’s nerves were so jumbled when they finished eating that they bled over to Ginny. Her hands shook as she pushed away her plate and Harry thanked the house-elves. He was always so polite, even when he had to fight dragons.
Ginny glanced at her watch and stood. “We should go.”
Harry nodded. He took her hand as they left the kitchens.
“Remember the Summoning charm,” she muttered, her heart pounding while they climbed stairs back up to the ground floor. “Remember to use the Shield charm just in case you can’t dodge in time. Remember —”
“I remember,” Harry cut her off. They entered the Entrance Hall, and their eyes landed on Ludo Bagman’s bouncing figure at the same time. Ginny squeezed his hand, not wanting to let go.
“I’ll be fine,” Harry insisted. Ginny bit her lip.
You’d better be, she thought. Harry smiled nervously.
“Harry, m’boy, at last!” Ludo said, clapping his hands together. “It’s half past ten already!”
“I hope you don’t mind,” Harry said, “but I’m not overly eager to —”
You don’t know anything about dragons! Ginny thought hastily.
“To begin the task,” Harry corrected. Ludo didn’t seem to catch his almost-slip.
“Ah, well, neither would I if I were you,” Ludo sighed. “But, the show must go on!” Then he seemed to notice Ginny for the first time. His eyebrows raised and his face brightened. “Oh, hullo, lass! Harry, would you kindly introduce us?”
Harry glanced at Ginny. “Er, this is my girlfriend, Ginny Weasley.”
Ginny stuck out her free hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Bagman,” she said.
Ludo took her hand, and, instead of shaking it, bent and bestowed a light kiss on her knuckles. “The pleasure is mine, Miss Weasley,” he said warmly. Ginny smiled back, although her hand now felt oddly cold. Ludo released it, and she tried not to pull it back too quickly. In the part of her mind that was Harry’s, she felt confusion, protectiveness, and even a faint sense of jealousy. He gripped her hand more tightly.
“Now, shall we go down to the stadium?” Ludo asked, beaming upon them both.
“I suppose,” Harry said glumly. Ludo bowed at the waist and held out his arms, gesturing them ahead. Harry pushed open the door and held it open for Ginny, then for Ludo. Ginny released his hand so Ludo could pass by, and waited for him to follow.
“We’ve got a stadium set up down by the lake,” Ludo said cheerily. “Miss Weasley will have to go sit in the stands, however, while you and I enter the champions’ tent. There, Barty and I will tell you about the task.”
Harry nodded quickly. Ginny felt him pushing back waves of nervousness, just as much as she was ignoring her slight nausea. Ludo kept talking, something about how much planning had gone into the first task, but Ginny wasn’t listening and neither was Harry.
All too soon, they reached a tent pitched outside a large stadium, not as large as the Quidditch World Cup stadium, but larger than the Quidditch pitch at Hogwarts. Ludo opened the tent flap for Harry, but he hesitated.
You’ll do fine, Ginny thought quickly. Harry nodded, his jaw clenched. Ginny bit her lip, then threw her arms around his neck. He locked his arms around her waist; burying his face in her hair. Good luck. Harry leaned back, then quickly kissed her cheek.
I’ll need it, he thought back. She smiled tightly at him, then stepped back. Ludo put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, guiding him inside the tent. He gave Ginny a wave, then followed Harry in.
Ginny pushed her hands into the pocket of her sweater and started walking towards the stadium. There were a few people, older students getting extra credit for community service she guessed, standing around, to direct the spectators into the stands. One glanced at his watch in a bit of confusion, but directed her towards the empty stands. Ginny found a seat in the top most row, and closed her eyes as she sat down to focus on what Harry was seeing.
The champions were all gathered in the tent. Each of them looked tense and somewhat excited, but mostly tense. Krum was off by himself, glaring at everything that moved. Fleur was sitting in a corner, her normally haughty face was pale and there were faint circles beneath her eyes. Cedric was pacing the length of the tent, his hair unkempt and he was wringing his hands. She felt Harry’s nerves grow as he stepped into the tent. Mr. Crouch was standing in the center of the tent, holding a dark, silk bag in his hands and looking like he didn’t really want to be there.
“Ah, finally, Mr. Potter,” Crouch said. “Come in, all of you gather round.”
Ludo gently pushed Harry forward, she felt him flinch at the foreign touch. Ginny filled with irritation at the man. The other champions came forward, and Crouch held aloft the bag.
“First, I must wish you all luck,” Crouch said. “What you are about to face is meant to test your daring, your courage. I shall not reveal the danger quite yet, we will wait until the audience is assembled for that.”
Ginny snorted in her seat. She knew for a fact that the Hogwarts champions were aware that they would be facing dragons, and was almost willing to bet her life savings that Fleur and Krum knew as well.
“But when they are, I shall offer you this bag, from which you will retrieve a model of what you are about to face, which will determine exactly which one you face, and also the order in which you face them.”
Please, whatever Lady Luck thinks of me, let me not get the Horntail! Harry thought. Ginny echoed his plea.
“The object of this task is simple,” Crouch said. “To collect the golden egg.”
Harry nodded; her view shifted up and down. Then, something poked her shoulder and she was brought back to her own mind.
Ginny looked up to see Sirius, Remus, and Hermione joining her. She smiled at them, but it wasn’t really a genuine smile.
“How is he?” Remus asked as he took a seat beside her.
“Nervous,” Ginny answered.
“We tried to find him this morning,” Hermione said, “to wish him luck, but he wasn’t at breakfast.”
“I took him to the kitchens,” Ginny said in reply. “There were too many people in the Great Hall.”
“That’s what I told them,” Sirius said, dropping down on her other side. “He hasn’t told us what his plan is.”
“You’ll see,” Ginny replied. Hermione caught the hint and said nothing either.
Ginny closed her eyes, again, listening to Harry as the stadium filled. His thoughts were a jumble, and though she tried to help sort them, he kept scattering them again. Quickly, the chatter of excited persons waiting for the first task to begin rose and it became more and more difficult to focus on Harry’s thoughts. Remus switched seats with Hermione because people were pressing in on all sides and she was getting a bit nervous about it. Hermione had never liked crowds. Sirius bounced in his seat, Harry’s thoughts pinged off the walls of her skull, Hermione started biting her fingernails.
Ginny, listen! Harry thought suddenly. Ginny crammed her fingers in her ears and tried to block out the sounds of the crowd.
“Ladies first,” Mr. Crouch said. Ginny saw through Harry’s eyes as he held out the silk bag to Fleur. She reached inside, and withdrew from it a small, living model of a Welsh Green.
Dammit, Ginny thought, I was hoping you’d get the Green.
Fleur looked determined as she gazed down on her dragon, which had a tag bearing the number two around its neck. There was no sign of shock in her face; they had been right in assuming Madam Maxime would warn her student.
Crouch offered the bag to Krum, who withdrew a model of the Chinese Fireball tagged number three. Krum stepped back and looked down at his dragon with a surly expression.
Cedric reached into the bag next. Ginny bit her lip, begging whoever was listening to give him the Horntail.
He got the Swedish Short-snout.
Ginny mouthed swear words. Harry’s spirits were sinking and there was dread in his heart as he reached into the bag and withdrew the Hungarian Horntail.
Harry caught his breath. His mind was spinning even worse now, with waves of fear, dread, and anger at the unfairness of it all clouding his vision. Ludo was saying something else, but Harry wasn’t really listening.
Sit down, Ginny thought quickly. Harry didn’t have any other idea so he obeyed. Ginny focused on trying to be calm, hoping her emotions would bleed into his mind and affect him. Harry began to breathe more slowly.
“… you will enter the arena at the sound of the canon,” Ludo said. “First, Mr. Diggory, then Miss Delacour —” he bowed slightly to Fleur as he said this —“then Mr. Krum and finally Mr. Potter. Good luck, champions.”
With that, he and Crouch swept from the tent. Ginny squeezed her eyes shut, transmitting reassurance to Harry. He was staring down at the Hungarian Horntail in his palm, which roared up at him and raked its small talons over his skin.
Someone jostled her from behind, forcing her eyes open and breaking her concentration. Ginny looked up, ready to tell whoever it was off, but faltered at the sight of half-moon glasses flashing in the sun and a long white beard.
“Pardon me, Miss Weasley,” he said politely, stepping past her and towards a roped off section of the stands where Karkaroff and Madam Maxime were already seated. Ginny glanced around, spotting Ludo Bagman and Barty Crouch coming up behind her as well. She scooted forward in her seat to allow them to pass. Ludo shot her a wide smile, and patted her shoulder as he passed her. A cold shiver went through her as his hand landed on her shoulder, and remained in place as he removed it. Ginny smiled tightly back, and turned her gaze onto the rocky arena. Right then, it was empty. She wondered where the dragon was.
A canon blast rang through the stadium. Ginny clenched her fists. Cedric Diggory appeared from the shadows of a tunnel entrance, his face set in grim determination.
Another barred door opened, one much larger, and a loud roar split her eardrums. Thudding feet carried the body of a large, blue scaled beast into the arena. The dragon made straight for a nest resting in the center of the arena, where several eggs rested. As the Swedish Short-snout settled on top of it, Ginny caught a glimpse of a golden gleam.
Ginny watched Cedric fight without really paying attention. Harry was watching through her eyes as well, and she felt his emotions swell and collapse throughout the fight. Ludo Bagman commentated like he had done during the World Cup, but she wasn’t listening.
It was over before she realized it. Cedric fled from the arena, clutching the golden egg and his burnt left arm. Ten wizards ran in and started casting spells over the dragon, calming it into a stupor. Ginny saw her brother’s red hair catching the sunlight as he bent to collect the remaining eggs. The Short-snout was led away, and the judges scored Cedric’s performance. He got a total of 42 points.
Fleur came out next. The Welsh Green spewed fire everywhere, catching her robe, but in the end, she got the egg without great injury. Harry’s nerves were mounting. She was given 36 points, ten of them coming from Bagman.
Krum’s first action was to cast a Stinging Hex on the Chinese Fireball’s eyes. The dragon’s scream of pain and rage rattled Ginny, almost as much as the sight of the female staggering and crushing several of her own eggs. She felt an almost physical pain as the eggs were smashed, as the small lives growing in them were destroyed. Once the Fireball realized what she had done, her roar was stricken with even more pain, bordering agony, and she launched herself at Krum.
Krum’s battle was the longest by far. The Fireball roared and shot fire indiscriminately, as though she was determined to roast Krum alive, and Ginny was certain she was. The smashed remains of her eggs oozed over the few that had come unscathed.
Krum managed to get the egg, but not without severe burns. The dragon tamers rushed out to console the Fireball, while medi-wizards helped Krum into another tent. The Fireball sent one last mushroom cloud of fire into the air, her voice still filled with rage, and collapsed from exhaustion and the spells of the tamers. Three of the tamers huddled around the nest, examining the eggs. One of them shook his head; Ginny craned her neck to see. Charlie raised four fingers into the sky, looking up at the judges. She fell back into her seat. Of the dozen eggs the Fireball had, only four were left alive.
Krum was brought back out to receive his score. Dumbledore gave him the same score as the eggs still left: Four. He was left with 35 points, though Ginny, her fists shaking with anger, felt that he deserved zero for causing the destruction of the baby dragons. Yet, she was even more appalled at Karkaroff’s reaction; he gave Krum a full ten.
The nest was cleaned and Charlie and another dragon tamer brought in the eggs of the Hungarian Horntail. They cast spells over them, pulsating blue light, before placing the golden egg amongst them. Ginny hoped those spells were protection, in case the Horntail went into a rage like the Fireball did. Of course, she was certain that Harry wouldn’t do anything to harm the eggs on purpose, but precautions were best.
The canon sounded again. Ginny bit down on her lip, her eyes darting from the champion’s tunnel to the dragon’s entrance. From the dragon’s entrance, another roar sounded.
What if I just don’t come out? Harry thought.
Please, Harry, Ginny returned, you’ve got to put Krum further into last place.
Before Harry replied, the bars over the dragon’s entrance rose and the Horntail soared out. Ginny’s breath caught in her throat; the dragon was fearsomely beautiful, her long tail wiping around and crashing into rocks and the sides of the arena as she flew for her eggs. She roared, and blew flames fifty feet into the air. Ginny bit harder.
Slowly, Harry’s figure came from the shadows. His face was white, and so were his knuckles as he clenched his wand.
You can do this.
Harry nodded, she saw even from a distance. I can do this.
He raised his wand into the sky. Ginny closed her eyes, silently praying it would work.
She didn’t really hear his words, but she knew what he said. “Accio broom!”
At first, nothing happened. Harry took a tentative step towards the dragon, and leapt back as she coated the ground with orange flames. She felt his rising panic, and then a speck in the distance caught her eye. Her attention shifted, and a grin grew over her face as she saw the broom shaped speck flying closer and closer.
Harry looked up, and she felt hope rise in him at last. The broom was catching the attention of more and more people, and they were pointing at it as it neared the stadium. Harry stuck his hand out in the air, and the handle impacted with his palm. He mounted it, and kicked off, as another burst of flame scorched the ground where he had stood.
The crowd ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ as he shot through the air around the Horntail, dodging the dragon’s fire and attracting her ire. Ginny chuckled to herself at the rhyme, then her stomach dropped as Harry barely evaded a blast of fire. But she felt elation in him anyway as he performed his aerial acrobatics.
The Horntail was sitting on her haunches, almost standing on her back legs, trying to catch Harry in her jaws. She seemed just as agitated as before, but less irritated, more like Harry was a bothersome fly rather than a danger to her young. Harry soared a hundred feet in the air, getting almost too far to see, then dropped suddenly. The dragon rose up, spreading her wings, almost in triumph as she opened her jaws, but Harry shot past her and to the nest. She roared, ducking down, but he had scooped up the false egg and was shooting out of range before her clawed fee hit the ground.
Ginny jumped up and cheered as Harry flew out of sight into the champions’ tunnel. The whole stadium jumped up and cheered; even the ones who had despised Harry for his gall to be in the tournament. The dragon tamers came out and took away the Horntail, as the noise was agitating her further, but the crowd shouted on. Ludo Bagman was trying to shout over the roar, but failing. Ginny jumped over her bench and started pushing and shoving to get off the stands, with Sirius, Remus, and Hermione on her heels. She made it out of the crowd, and ran for the medical tent.
The other champions were visible, being treated for their burns and scratches, but Ginny made a beeline for Harry. He grinned at her, despite his arm covered in purple salve. Ginny threw her arms around his neck, and Hermione did the same, so Harry was smothered by both of them at once.
“Oof! Ow! Argh; gerroffme!” he grunted from beneath them.
“Oh, my goodness, Harry that was wonderful!” Hermione shrieked.
“You were perfect!” Ginny crowed, kissing his cheek with a broad grin.
“Let the man breathe,” Sirius said, but Ginny heard a smile in his voice. Hermione retreated, her face pink, but Ginny just dropped down onto the cot beside him and left her arm around his waist.
“That truly was marvelous, Harry,” Remus said, beaming down on them.
“Marvelous?” Sirius grunted. “That was bloody brilliant! How’d you think of it?”
“Moody gave me the idea, actually,” Harry said. Sirius grinned wider, if that was possible, and thumped Harry on the shoulder.
“Best performance possible,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave you fifty points!”
Neither would I, Ginny thought, kissing his cheek again. Harry grinned.
The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted the exchange. They turned, and saw Ron standing in the tent entrance, his ears clearly red even from there.
“Er…” was all he said.
Remus grabbed Sirius by the arm and muttered something in his ear. Sirius muttered something else, and let Remus lead him out. Hermione glanced between Harry and Ron, then followed. Ron took a hesitant step forward. Ginny stayed where she stood.
“What do you want?” she snapped, her cheerful mood gone.
Ron cleared his throat again. “I, uh, well, you — you flew good out there, Harry,” he mumbled, his gaze on the ground.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “That it?”
Ron’s ears turned a darker red. “Look, I just came to say that I’m sorry, all right? I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, and I’m sorry I’ve been acting like a git to the both of you. I’m… I’m sorry.”
He hung his head, and turned away. He took half a step away, eyes still on the ground. Ginny glanced at Harry, a bit stunned, then slipped off the cot and grabbed Ron’s hand. Her twin met her eyes, and she saw genuine shame in them.
She hugged him. Ron seemed surprised at first, but he let his arms encircle her and patted her back.
“We forgive you,” she whispered. Ron pulled back, looking relieved. Harry stepped up to them, and held out his hand to Ron. Her brother took it, and her boyfriend pulled her brother into one of those handshake-man hugs. Ginny smiled at them.
“You really were brilliant,” Ron said. Harry grinned.
“What made you decide to believe him?” Ginny asked Ron.
Ron looked uncomfortable. “Uh, well, I’m not really sure —”
Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
He glanced at his feet. “Well, honestly, I had — I had this dream last night.”
Harry’s grin faded. “What dream?”
“I don’t really remember all of it, but I remember hearing two people talking about you, and about how their plan was working perfectly, and I remember thinking how weird it was, but I kept seeing this paper with your name and it wasn’t your handwriting —” Ron shrugged. “I woke up feeling weird, and when I saw the dragons, I guess I decided that you must have been completely mad to have entered yourself.”
Harry clapped Ron on the shoulder. “That’s what we’ve been saying!”
Ron smiled sheepishly. “Sorry.”
Ginny smiled too, but his story bothered her. She had been having weird dreams for years, but Ron had never mentioned ever having a dream that didn’t involve Quidditch or food. It was almost ominous.
“… and the judges have decided on their scores,” they heard. Ginny gasped, then grabbed Harry’s arm, and dragged both him and Ron out of the tent to see Harry’s score.
Dumbledore gave Harry a nine, eights came from Crouch and Madam Maxime. Ludo gave Harry a ten, Ron supposed for his flying, but Ginny wasn’t quite as sure. Karkaroff gave Harry a:
“Four?!” Ginny and Ron shouted in rage.
“You gave Krum full marks!” Ron continued.
“And Harry didn’t make his dragon kill half her young!” Ginny steamed.
“Still, he’s got 39 points,” Hermione said. “He’s in second behind Cedric.”
The Gryffindors all gathered around Harry; Fred and George lifted him up on their shoulders and cheered loudly, so much that you could barely hear the Chinese Fireball still lamenting her young.
The resulting party in Gryffindor tower lasted until well after midnight, when Professor McGonagall came to tell them to get to bed. Once Harry was finally released from the crowd, Ginny guided him back up to his dorm with Ron on his other side. He was so tired, that he nearly fell asleep on the walk. Ginny gave him a gentle kiss goodnight before going to her own dorm. She collapsed onto her bed with a sigh. It had been a very long day.
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