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Ron looked carefully up the table to check that the rest of the family were all busy talking, then he said very quietly to Harry, "So - have you heard from Sirius lately?"
Hermione looked around, listening closely.
"Yeah," said Harry softly, "twice. He sounds okay. I wrote to him yesterday. He might write back while I'm here."
He suddenly remembered the reason he had written to Sirius, and for a moment was on the verge of telling Ron and Hermione about his scar hurting again, and about the dream that had awoken him ... but he really didn't want to worry them just now, not when he himself was feeling so happy and peaceful.
Harry: Hermione. Bad dream. When did you get here?
Hermione: Just now. You?
Harry: Last night.
He looked around at Harry and Hermione.
"You just need to touch the Portkey, that's all, a finger will do -"
With difficulty, owing to their bulky backpacks, the nine of them crowded around the old boot held out by Amos Diggory.
They all stood there, in a tight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop. Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were to walk up here now ... nine people, two of them grown men, clutching this manky old boot in the semidarkness, waiting....
"Three. . ." muttered Mr. Weasley, one eye still on his watch, two. . . one. . ."
It happened immediately: Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly forward. His feet left the ground; he could feel Ron and Hermione on either side of him, their shoulders banging into his [...]
Fred: That isn't just any old manky boot mate.
George: It's a portkey. Everyone is in a circle putting their hands on the boot.
Amos: Time to go. Ready?
Harry: What's a 'portkey'?
Amos: After 3. One... Two...
Arthur Weasley: Harry!
Arthur Weasley: Let go kids!
Arthur Weasley: Let! Go!
Mr. Malfoy's eyes had returned to Hermione, who went slightly pink, but stared determinedly back at him. Harry knew exactly what was making Mr. Malfoy's lip curl like that. The Malfoys prided themselves on being purebloods; in other words, they considered anyone of Muggle descent, like Hermione, second-class. However, under the gaze of the Minister of Magic, Mr. Malfoy didn't dare say anything. He nodded sneeringly to Mr. Weasley and continued down the line to his seats. Draco shot Harry, Ron, and Hermione one contemptuous look, then settled himself between his mother and father.
And as the veela danced faster and faster, wild, half-formed thoughts started chasing through Harry's dazed mind. He wanted to do something very impressive, right now. Jumping from the box into the stadium seemed a good idea. . . but would it be good enough?
"Harry, what are you doing?" said Hermione's voice from a long way off.
The music stopped. Harry blinked. He was standing up, and one of his legs was resting on the wall of the box. Next to him, Ron was frozen in an attitude that looked as though he were about to dive from a springboard. Angry yells were filling the stadium. The crowd didn't want the veela to go. Harry was with them; he would, of course, be supporting Bulgaria, and he wondered vaguely why he had a large green shamrock pinned to his chest. Ron, meanwhile, was absentmindedly shredding the shamrocks on his hat. Mr. Weasley, smiling slightly, leaned over to Ron and tugged the hat out of his hands.
"You'll be wanting that," he said, "once Ireland have had their say."
"Huh?" said Ron, staring openmouthed at the veela, who had now lined up along one side of the field.
Hermione made a loud tutting noise.She reached up and pulled Harry back into his seat. "Honestly!" she said.
"What happened?" said Hermione anxiously, stopping so abruptly that Harry walked into her. "Ron, where are you? Oh this is stupid - lumos!"
She illuminated her wand and directed its narrow beam across the path. Ron was lying sprawled on the ground. [...] Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned sharply. Draco Malfoy was standing alone nearby, leaning against a tree, looking utterly relaxed. His arms folded, he seemed to have been watching the scene at the campsite through a gap in the trees. Ron told Malfoy to do something that Harry knew he would never have dared sayin front of Mrs. Weasley.
"Language, Weasley," said Malfoy, his pale eyes glittering. "Hadn't you better be hurrying along, now? You wouldn't like her spotted, would you?"
He nodded at Hermione, and at the same moment, a blast like a bomb sounded from the campsite, and a flash of green light momentarily lit the trees around them.
"What's that supposed to mean?" said Hermione defiantly. "Granger, they're after Muggles, "said Malfoy. "D'you want to be showing off your knickers in midair? Because if you do, hang around. . . they're moving this way, and it would give us all a laugh."
"Hermione's a witch," Harry snarled.
[...] "Let's just keep moving, shall we?" said Ron, and Harry saw him glance edgily at Hermione. Perhaps there was truth in what Malfoy had said; perhaps Hermione was in more danger than they were.
"Harry, come on, move!" Hermione had seized the collar of his jacket and was tugging him backward.
"What's the matter?" Harry said, startled to see her face so white and terrified.
"It's the Dark Mark, Harry!" Hermione moaned, pulling him as hard as she could.
"Voldemort's - "Harry, come on!"
[...] It was Mr. Crouch. He and the other Ministry wizards were closing in on them. Harry got to his feet to face them. Mr. Crouch's face was taut with rage.
"Which of you did it?" he snapped, his sharp eyes darting between them. "Which of you conjured the Dark Mark?"
"We didn't do that!" said Harry, gesturing up at the skull.
"We didn't do anything!" said Ron, who was rubbing his elbow and looking indignantly at his father. "What did you want to attack us for?"
"Do not lie, sir!" shouted Mr. Crouch. His wand was still pointing directly at Ron, and his eyes were popping - he looked slightly mad. "You have been discovered at the scene of the crime!"
"Barty," whispered a witch in a long woolen dressing gown, "they're kids, Barty, they'd never have been able to
"Where did the Mark come from, you three?" said Mr. Weasley quickly.
"Over there," said Hermione shakily, pointing at the place where they had heard the voice. "There was someone behind the trees. . . they shouted words - an incantation -"
Arthur Weasley: Crouch, you can't possi...
Barty Crouch: Do not lie!You've been discovered|at the scene of the crime.
Arthur Weasley: Barty! They're just kids.
Harry: What crime?
Hermione: It's the Dark Mark, Harry. It's his mark.
Harry: What, Voldemort? Those people tonight, in the masks, they're his too, aren't they? His followers?
Arthur Weasley: Yeah. Death Eaters.
Barty Crouch: Follow me.
Harry: There was a man, before. There!
Barty Crouch: All of you, this way!
Arthur Weasley: A man, Harry? Who?
Harry: I don't know. I didn't see his face
"There's something I haven't told you," Harry said. "On Saturday morning, I woke up with my scar hurting again."
Ron's and Hermione's reactions were almost exactly as Harry had imagined them back in his bedroom on Privet Drive. Hermione gasped and started making suggestions at once, mentioning a number of reference books, and everybody from Albus Dumbledore to Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse. Ron simply looked dumbstruck.
"But - he wasn't there, was he? You-Know-Who? I mean - last time your scar kept hurting, he was at Hogwarts, wasn't he?"
"I'm sure he wasn't on Privet Drive," said Harry. "But I was dreaming about him.. .him and Peter - you know, Wormtail. I can't remember all of it now, but they were plotting to kill...someone."
He had teetered for a moment on the verge of saying "me," but couldn't bring himself to make Hermione look any more horrified than she already did.
Ron: Loads, according to Dad. That's what worried them so much. Happened right under their noses.
Hermione: It's hurting again, isn't it? Your scar.
Harry: I'm fine.
Hermione: You know Sirius will want to hear about this...what you saw at the World Cup and the dream.
A second later, the carriage landed too, bouncing upon its vast wheels, while the golden horses tossed their enormous heads and rolled large, fiery red eyes.
Harry just had time to see that the door of the carriage bore a coat of arms (two crossed, golden wands, each emitting three stars) before it opened.
"Yeah, that's right, smarm up to him, Malfoy," said Ron scathingly. "I bet Krum can see right through him, though. . . bet he gets people fawning over him all the time.. . . Where d'you reckon they're going to sleep? We could offer him a space in our dormitory, Harry. . . I wouldn't mind giving him my bed, I could kip on a camp bed."
"They look a lot happier than the Beauxbatons lot," said Harry. The Durmstrang students were pulling off their heavy furs and looking up at the starry black ceiling with expressions of interest; a couple of them were picking up the golden plates and goblets and examining them, apparently impressed.
"May I introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?" said Dumbledore brightly into the silence. "Professor Moody."
It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause, but none of the staff or students chapped except Dumbledore and Hagrid, who both put their hands together and applauded, but the sound echoed dismally into the silence, and they stopped fairly quickly. Everyone else seemed too transfixed by Moody's bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him.
"Moody?" Harry muttered to Ron. "Mad-Eye Moody? The one your dad went to help this morning?"
"Must be," said Ron in a low, awed voice.
"What happened to him?" Hermione whispered. "What happened to his face?"
[...] "Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet," said Dumbledore. "Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to compete.
Hermione: Alastor Moody? The auror.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dumbledore: The Goblet of Fire. Anyone wishing to submit themselves|to the tournament...need only write their name|upon a piece of parchment...and throw it in the flame before|this hour on Thursday night. Do not do so lightly. If chosen, there's no turning back. As from this moment,|the Triwizard Tournament has begun.
"Anyone else know one? Another illegal curse?"
Hermione's hand flew into the air again and so, to Harry's slight surprise, did Neville's. The only class in which Neville usually volunteered information was Herbology which was easily his best subject. Neville looked surprised at his own daring.
"Yes?" said Moody, his magical eye rolling right over to fix on Neville.
"There's one - the Cruciatus Curse," said Neville in a small but distinct voice.
[...] "The Cruciatus Curse," said Moody. "Needs to be a bit bigger for you to get the idea," he said, pointing his wand at the spider. "Engorgio!"
The spider swelled. It was now larger than a tarantula. Abandoning all pretense, Ron pushed his chair backward, as far away from Moody's desk as possible. Moody raised his wand again, pointed it at the spider, and muttered, "Crucio!"
At once, the spider's legs bent in upon its body; it rolled over and began to twitch horribly, rocking from side to side. No sound came from it, but Harry was sure that if it could have given voice, it would have been screaming. Moody did not remove his wand, and the spider started to shudder and jerk more violently - "Stop it!" Hermione said shrilly."
Harry looked around at her. She was looking, not at the spider, but at Neville, and Harry, following her gaze, saw that Neville's hands were clenched upon the desk in front of him, his knuckles white, his eyes wide and horrified.
Moody raised his wand. The spider's legs relaxed, but it continued to twitch.
"Reducio," Moody muttered, and the spider shrank back to its proper size. He put it back into the jar.
"Pain," said Moody softly. "You don't need thumbscrews or knives to torture someone if you can perform the Cruciatus Curse. . . . That one was very popular once too.
"Right. . . anyone know any others?"
Harry looked around. From the looks on everyone's faces, he guessed they were all wondering what was going to happen to the last spider. Hermione's hand shook slightly as, for the third time, she raised it into the air.
"Yes?" said Moody, looking at her.
"Avada Kedavra," Hermione whispered.
Hermione: Three sir.
Mad-Eye: And they are so named?
Hermione: Because they are unforgivable. Use of any one of them will...
Mad-Eye: Will earn you a one way ticket to Azkaban. Correct. Now the ministry says you're too young to see what these curses do. I say different! You need to know what you're up against, you need to be prepared, you need to find somewhere else to put your chewing gum other than the underside of your desk Mr Finnigan!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mad-Eye: Scores of witches and wizards have claimed that they only do did you-know-whose bidding under the influence of the imperious curse. But here's the rub, how do we sort out the liars? Another.. another.. Come on come on. Longbottom is it? Up. Professor Sprout tells me you have an aptitude for herbology.
Neville: There's the um... The cruciatus curse.
Mad-Eye: Correct! Correct! come come. Particularly nasty. The torture curse.
Hermione: Stop it! Can't you see it's bothering him, stop it!
Mad-Eye: Perhaps you could give us the last unforgivable curse Miss Granger. No? Avada Kedavra!The killing curse. Only one person is known to have survived it. And he's sitting in this room.
They were talking about the lesson, Harry thought, as though it had been some sort of spectacular show, but he hadn't found it very entertaining - and nor, it seemed, had Hermione.
"Hurry up," she said tensely to Harry and Ron.
"Not the ruddy library again?" said Ron.
"No," said Hermione curtly, pointing up a side passage. "Neville." Neville was standing alone, halfway up the passage, staring at the stone wall opposite him with the same horrified, wide-eyed look he had worn when Moody had demonstrated the Cruciatus Curse.
"Neville?" Hermione said gently.
Neville looked around.
"Oh hello," he said, his voice much higher than usual. "Interesting lesson, wasn't it? I wonder what's for dinner, I'm - I'm starving, aren't you?"
"Neville, are you all right?" said Hermione.
"Oh yes, I'm fine," Neville gabbled in the same unnaturally high voice. "Very interesting dinner - I mean lesson - what's for eating?"
Mad-Eye: Son. You alright? Come on, we'll have a cup of tea. I want to show you something.
"An Age Line!" Fred Weasley said, his eyes glinting, as they all made their way across the Hall to the doors into the entrance hall. "Well, that should be fooled by an Aging Potion, shouldn't it? And once your name's in that goblet, you're laughing - it can't tell whether you're seventeen or not!"
"But I don't think anyone under seventeen will stand a chance," said Hermione, "we just haven't learned enough. . ."
"Speak for yourself," said George shortly. "You'll try and get in, won't you, Harry?"
Harry thought briefly of Dumbledore's insistence that nobody under seventeen should submit their name, but then the wonderful picture of himself winning the Triwizard Tournament filled his mind again. .. . He wondered how angry Dumbledore would be if someone younger than seventeen did find a way to get over the Age Line.
Fred: Oh yeah?
George: Why's that, Granger?
Hermione: You see this?
[gestures to a glowing circle on the floor]
Hermione: This is an age line. Dumbledore drew it himself.
Hermione: So a genius like Dumbledore couldn't possibly be fooled by a dodge as pathetically dim witted as an ageing potion.
Fred: Ah, but that's why it's so brilliant!
George: Because it's so pathetically dim witted.
[...The room suddenly becomes silent as Viktor Krum walks in and puts his name in the flame. He looks at Hermione and she smiles.]
There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out - "Harry Potter."
Harry sat there, aware that every head in the Great Hall had turned to look at him. He was stunned. He felt numb. He was surely dreaming. He had not heard correctly.
There was no applause. A buzzing, as though of angry bees, was starting to fill the Hall; some students were standing up to get a better look at Harry as he sat, frozen, in his seat.
Up at the top table, Professor McGonagall had got to her feet and swept past Ludo Bagman and Professor Karkaroff to whisper urgently to Professor Dumbledore, who bent his ear toward her, frowning slightly.
Harry turned to Ron and Hermione; beyond them, he saw the long Gryffindor table all watching him, openmouthed.
"I didn't put my name in," Harry said blankly. "You know I didn't."
Both of them stared just as blankly back.
At the top table, Professor Dumbledore had straightened up, nodding to Professor McGonagall.
"Harry Potter!" he called again. "Harry! Up here, if you please!"
"Go on," Hermione whispered, giving Harry a slight push.
Hagrid: No... No.
Dumbledore: Harry Potter!
Hermione: Go on Harry. Harry for goodness sake.
He walked resolutely over to the portrait hole, pushed it open, climbed out of it, and found himself face-to-face with Hermione.
"Hello," she said, holding up a stack of toast, which she was carrying in a napkin. "I brought you this. . . . Want to go for a walk?"
"Good idea," said Harry gratefully.
They went downstairs, crossed the entrance hall quickly without looking in at the Great Hall, and were soon striding across the lawn toward the lake, where the Durmstrang ship was moored, reflected blackly in the water. It was a chilly morning, and they kept moving, munching their toast, as Harry told Hermione exactly what had happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before. To his immense relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.
"Well, of course I knew you hadn't entered yourself," she said when he'd finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall. "The look on your face when Dumbledore read out your name! But the question is, who did put it in? Because Moody's right, Harry... I don't think any student could have done it. . . they'd never be able to fool the Goblet, or get over Dumbledore's -"
[...]"I'm not running around after him trying to make him grow up!" Harry said, so loudly that several owls in a nearby tree took flight in alarm. "Maybe he'll believe I'm not enjoying myself once I've got my neck broken or -"
"That's not funny," said Hermione quietly. "That's not funny at all." She looked extremely anxious. "Harry, I've been thinking - you know what we've got to do, don't you? Straight away, the moment we get back to the castle?"
"Yeah, give Ron a good kick up the -"
"Write to Sirius. You've got to tell him what's happened. He asked you to keep him posted on everything that's going on at Hogwarts. . . . It's almost as if he expected something like this to happen. I brought some parchment and a quill out with me -"
"Come off it," said Harry, looking around to check that they couldn't be overheard, but the grounds were quite deserted. "He came back to the country just because my scar twinged. He'll probably come bursting right into the castle if I tell him someone's entered me in the Triwizard Tournament -"
"He'd want you to tell him," said Hermione sternly. "He's going to find out anyway."
The Slytherins howled with laughter. Each of them pressed their badges too, until the message POTTER STINKS was shining brightly all around Harry. He felt the heat rise in his face and neck.
"Oh very funny," Hermione said sarcastically to Pansy Parkinson and her gang of Slytherin girls, who were laughing harder than anyone, "really witty."
Ron was standing against the wall with Dean and Seamus. He wasn't laughing, but he wasn't sticking up for Harry either.
"Want one, Granger?" said Malfoy, holding out a badge to Hermione. "I've got loads. But don't touch my hand, now. I've just washed it, you see; don't want a Mudblood sliming it up."
Some of the anger Harry had been feeling for days and days seemed to burst through a dam in his chest. He had reached for his wand before he'd thought what he was doing. People all around them scrambled out of the way, backing down the corridor.
"Harry!" Hermione said warningly.
Harry: I don't give a damn what you or your father thinks Malfoy. He's vile and cruel, and you're just pathetic.
On the Saturday before the first task, all students in the third year and above were permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade. Hermione told Harry that it would do him good to get away from the castle for a bit, and Harry didn't need much persuasion.
"What about Ron, though?" he said. "Don't you want to go with him?"
"Oh. . . well.. ." Hermione went slightly pink. "I thought we might meet up with him in the Three Broomsticks. . . ."
"No," said Harry flatly.
"Oh Harry, this is so stupid -"
"I'll come, but I'm not meeting Ron, and I'm wearing my Invisibility Cloak."
"Oh all right then. . ." Hermione snapped, "but I hate talking to you in that cloak, I never know if I'm looking at you or not."
So Harry put on his Invisibility Cloak in the dormitory, went back downstairs, and together he and Hermione set off for Hogsmeade.
[...]Hagrid was beaming down at Harry too. Harry knew Hagrid couldn't see him, but Moody had obviously told Hagrid he was there. Hagrid now bent down on the pretext of reading the S.P.E.W. notebook as well, and said in a whisper so low that only Harry could hear it, "Harry, meet me tonight at midnight at me cabin. Wear that cloak."
Straightening up, Hagrid said loudly, "Nice ter see yeh, Hermione," winked, and departed. Moody followed him.
"Why does Hagrid want me to meet him at midnight?" Harry said, very surprised.
"Does he?" said Hermione, looking startled. "I wonder what he's up to? I don't know whether you should go, Harry. . . ." She looked nervously around and hissed, "It might make you late for Sirius."
Harry: Is that right? Well.... what?
Hermione: Uhhh...Are you sure you won't do this? Dean was told by Parvati that... Please don't ask me say it again. Hagrid's looking for you.
Harry: Well you can tell Ronald...
Hermione: I'm not an owl!
And it clicked. He was best at flying. He needed to pass the dragon in the air. For that, he needed his Firebolt. And for his Fire-bolt, he needed -
"Hermione," Harry whispered, when he had sped into greenhouse three minutes later, uttering a hurried apology to Professor Sprout as he passed her. "Hermione - I need you to help me."
"What d'you think I've been trying to do, Harry?" she whispered back, her eyes round with anxiety over the top of the quivering Flutterby Bush she was pruning.
"Hermione, I need to learn how to do a Summoning Charm properly by tomorrow afternoon."
And so they practiced. They didn't have lunch, but headed for a free classroom, where Harry tried with all his might to make various objects fly across the room toward him. He was still having problems. The books and quills kept losing heart halfway across the room and dropping hike stones to the floor.
"Concentrate, Harry, concentrate. . . ."
"What d'you think I'm trying to do?" said Harry angrily. "A great big dragon keeps popping up in my head for some reason...Okay, try again. . . ."
He wanted to skip Divination to keep practicing, but Hermione refused pointblank to skive off Arithmancy, and there was no point in staying without her.
[...] He forced down some dinner after Divination, then returned to the empty classroom with Hermione, using the Invisibility Cloak to avoid the teachers. They kept practicing until past midnight. They would have stayed longer, but Peeves turned up and, pretending to think that Harry wanted things thrown at him, started chucking chairs across the room. Harry and Hermione left in a hurry before the noise attracted Filch, and went back to the Gryffindor common room, which was now mercifully empty.
At two o'clock in the morning, Harry stood near the fireplace, surrounded by heaps of objects: books, quills, several upturned chairs, an old set of Gobstones, and Neville's toad, Trevor. Only in the last hour had Harry really got the hang of the Summoning Charm.
"That's better, Harry, that's loads better," Hermione said, looking exhausted but very pleased.
"Well, now we know what to do next time I can't manage a spell," Harry said, throwing a rune dictionary back to Hermione, so he could try again, "threaten me with a dragon. Right..." He raised his wand once more. "Accio Dictionary!"
The heavy book soared out of Hermione's hand, flew across the room, and Harry caught it.
"Harry, I really think you've got it!" said Hermione delightedly.
"Potter, the champions have to come down onto the grounds now... . You have to get ready for your first task."
"Okay," said Harry, standing up, his fork falling onto his plate with a clatter.
"Good luck, Harry," Hermione whispered. "You'll be fine!"
"Yeah," said Harry in a voice that was most unlike his own.
He heft the Great Hall with Professor McGonagall. She didn't seem herself either; in fact, she looked nearly as anxious as Hermione.
Hermione: How are you feeling? Ok? The key is to concentrate. After that, you just have to...
Harry: Battle a dragon.
[Hermione gasps and starts hugging Harry]
But Rita Skeeter had gone even further than transforming his "er's" into long, sickly sentences: She had interviewed other people about him too.
Harry has at last found love at Hogwarts. His close friend, Colin Creevey, says that Harry is rarely seen out of the company of one Hermione Granger, a stunningly pretty Muggle-born girl who, like Harry, is one of the top students in the school. From the moment the article had appeared, Harry had had to endure people -- Slytherins, mainly -- quoting it at him as he passed and making sneering comments.
[...] Hermione had come in for her fair share of unpleasantness too, but she hadn't yet started yelling at innocent bystanders; in fact, Harry was full of admiration for the way she was handling the situation.
"Stunningly pretty? Her?" Pansy Parkinson had shrieked the first time she had come face-to-face with Hermione after Rita's article had appeared. "What was she judging against - a chipmunk?"
"Ignore it," Hermione said in a dignified voice, holding her head in the air and stalking past the sniggering Slytherin girls as though she couldn't hear them. "Just ignore it, Harry."
But Harry couldn't ignore it.
Rita Skeeter: Young love! Ohh how.. stirring. If everything goes unfortunately today you might make the front page.
Viktor: [To Rita] You have no business here. This tent is for champions and friends.
Rita Skeeter: No matter. We've got what we wanted.
"You're to go in here with the other champions," said Professor McGonagall, in a rather shaky sort of voice, "and wait for your turn, Potter. Mr. Bagman is in there. . . he'll be telling you the - the procedure. . . . Good luck."
"Thanks," said Harry, in a flat, distant voice. She left him at the entrance of the tent. Harry went inside.
Hermione: Oh um.. Sorry I'll just go.
He walked out through the entrance of the tent, the panic rising into a crescendo inside him. And now he was walking past the trees, through a gap in the enclosure fence.
He saw everything in front of him as though it was a very highly colored dream. There were hundreds and hundreds of faces staring down at him from stands that had been magicked there since he'd last stood on this spot. And there was the Horntail, at the other end of the enclosure, crouched low over her clutch of eggs, her wings half-furled, her evil, yellow eyes upon him, a monstrous, scaly, black
lizard, thrashing her spiked tail, heaving yard-long gouge marks in the hard ground. The crowd was making a great deal of noise, but whether friendly or not, Harry didn't know or care. It was time to do what he had to do. . . to focus his mind, entirely and absolutely, upon the thing that was his only chance.
He raised his wand.
"Accio Firebolt!" he shouted.
Harry waited, every fiber of him hoping, praying. . . . If it hadn't worked. . . if it wasn't coming. . . He seemed to be looking at everything around him through some sort of shimmering, transparent barrier, like a heat haze, which made the enclosure and the hundreds of faces around him swim strangely....And then he heard it, speeding through the air behind him; he turned and saw his Firebolt hurtling toward him around the edge of the woods.
[...]Harry didn't want to sit still: He was too full of adrenaline. He got to his feet, wanting to see what was going on outside, but before he'd reached the mouth of the tent, two people had come darting inside - Hermione, followed closely by Ron.
"Harry, you were brilliant!" Hermione said squeakily. There were fingernail marks on her face where she had been clutching it in fear. "You were amazing! You really were!"
Harry: Accio Firebolt!
Hermione: Yeah! Yes! Oh, my God. Yeah!
"Caught on, have you?" said Harry coldly. "Took you long enough."
Hermione stood nervously between them, looking from one to the other. Ron opened his mouth uncertainly. Harry knew Ron was about to apologize and suddenly he found he didn't need to hear it.
"It's okay," he said, before Ron could get the words out. "Forget it."
"No," said Ron, "I shouldn't've -"
"Forget it, "Harry said.
Ron grinned nervously at him, and Harry grinned back Hermione burst into tears.
"There's nothing to cry about!" Harry told her, bewildered.
"You two are so stupid!" she shouted, stamping her foot on the ground, tears splashing down her front. Then, before either of them could stop her, she had given both of them a hug and dashed away, now positively howling.
Ron: Oh no no, I did. Don't you remember? I told Hermione to tell you that Seamus told me that Parvati told Dean that Hagrid was looking for you. Seamus never actually told me anything, so it was really me all along. I thought you'd be alright, you know, after you figured that out.
Harry: Who could possibly figure that out? That's completely mental.
Ron: Yeah it is isn't it. Suppose I was a bit distraught.
Once Snape had turned his back on them to write up the ingredients of todays potion on the blackboard, Hermione hastily rifled through the magazine under the desk. At last, in the center pages, Hermione found what they were looking for. Harry and Ron leaned in closer. A color photograph of Harry headed a short piece entitled:
Harry Potter's Secret Heartache
A boy like no other, perhaps - yet a boy suffering all the usual pangs of adolescence, writes Rita Skeeter. Deprived of love since the tragic demise of his parents, fourteen-year-old Harry Potter thought he had found solace in his steady girlfriend at Hogwarts, Muggle-born Hermione Granger. Little did he know that he would shortly be suffering yet another emotional blow in a life already littered with personal loss.
Miss Granger, a plain but ambitious girl, seems to have a taste for famous wizards that Harry alone cannot satisfy. Since the arrival at Hogwarts of Viktor Krum, Bulgarian Seeker and hero of the last World Quidditch Cup, Miss Granger has been toying with both boys' affections. Krum, who is openly smitten with the devious Miss Granger, has already invited her to visit him in Bulgaria over the summer holidays, and insists that he has "never felt this way about any other girl." However, it might not be Miss Granger's doubtful natural charms that have captured these unfortunate boys' interest.
Viktor Krum was in the library an awful lot too, and Harry wondered what he was up to. Was he studying, or was he looking for things to help him through the first task? Hermione often complained about Krum being there - not that he ever bothered them - but because groups of giggling girls often turned up to spy on him from behind bookshelves, and Hermione found the noise distracting.
"He's not even good-looking!" she muttered angrily, glaring at Krum's sharp profile. "They only like him because he's famous! They wouldn't look twice at him if he couldn't do that WonkyFaint thing -"
Krum was at the front of the party,accompanied by a pretty girl in blue robes Harry didn't know.
[...]His eyes fell instead on the girl next to Krum. His jaw dropped.
It was Hermione.
But she didn't look like Hermione at all. She had done something with her hair; it was no longer bushy but sleek and shiny, and twisted up into an elegant knot at the back of her head. She was wearing robes made of a floaty, periwinkle-blue material, and she was holding herself differently, somehow - or maybe it was merely the absence of the twenty or so books she usually had slung over her back.
She was also smiling - rather nervously, it was true - but the reduction in the size of her front teeth was more noticeable than ever; Harry couldn't understand how he hadn't spotted it before.
"Hi, Harry!" she said.
Parvarti: She looks beautiful.
Harry: Yeah she does.
Harry glanced up at Hermione to see how she felt about this new and more complicated method of dining - surely it meant plenty of extra work for the house-elves? - but for once, Hermione didn't seem to be thinking about S.P.E.W. She was deep in talk with Viktor Krum and hardly seemed to notice what she was eating.
It now occurred to Harry that he had never actually heard Krum speak before, but he was certainly talking now, and very enthusiastically at that.
[...] Hermione was now teaching Krum to say her name properly; he kept calling her
"Her-my-oh-nee," she said slowly and clearly.
"Close enough," she said, catching Harry's eye and grinning.
"It's Christmas, Hermione," said Harry lazily; he was rereading Flying with the Cannons for the tenth time in an armchair near the fire.
Hermione looked severely over at him too. "I'd have thought you'd be doing something constructive, Harry, even if you don't want to learn your antidotes!"
"Like what?" Harry said as he watched Joey Jenkins of the Cannons belt a Bludger toward a Ballycastle Bats Chaser.
"That egg!" Hermione hissed.
"Come on, Hermione, I've got till February the twenty-fourth," Harry said.
He had put the golden egg upstairs in his trunk and hadn't opened it since the celebration party after the first task. There were still two and a half months to go until he needed to know what all the screechy wailing meant, after all.
"But it might take weeks to work it out!" said Hermione. "You're going to look a real idiot if everyone else knows what the next task is and you don't!"
[...] There was a Hogsmeade visit halfway through January. Hermione was very surprised that Harry was going to go.
"I just thought you'd want to take advantage of the common room being quiet,"she said. "Really get to work on that egg."
"Oh I - I reckon I've got a pretty good idea what it's about now," Harry lied.
"Have you really?" said Hermione, looking impressed. "Well done!"
Harrys insides gave a guilty squirm, but he ignored them. He still had five weeks to work out that egg clue, after all, and that was ages. . . whereas if he went into Hogsmeade, he might run into Hagrid, and get a chance to persuade him to come back.
Harry: [sarcastically] Really? I had no idea. I suppose Viktor's already figured it out.
Hermione: Wouldn't know. We don't actually talk about the tournament. Actually, we don't really talk at all. Viktor's more of a physical being.
[Harry laughs and Hermione blushes]
Hermione: I just mean he's not particularly loquacious. Mostly, he watches me study. It's a bit annoying, actually. You are trying to figure this egg out, aren't you?
Harry: What's that supposed to mean?
Hermione: It just means these tasks are designed to test you. In the most brutal way, they're almost cruel. And... I'm scared for you. You got by the dragons mostly on nerve. I'm not sure it's going to be enough this time.
You said you'd already worked out that egg clue!" said Hermione indignantly.
"Keep your voice down!" said Harry crossly. "I just need to - sort of fine-tune it, all right?"
He, Ron, and Hermione were sitting at the very back of the Charms class with a table to themselves.
[...] "Of course, the ideal solution would be for you to Transfigure yourself into a submarine or something," Hermione said. "If only we'd done human Transfiguration already! But I don't think we start that until sixth year, and it can go badly wrong if you don't know what you're doing...."
"Yeah, I don't fancy walking around with a periscope sticking out of my head," said Harry. "I s'pose I could always attack someone in front of Moody; he might do it for me...."
[...] "There must be something," Hermione muttered, moving a candle closer to her.
Her eyes were so tired she was poring over the tiny print of Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes with her nose about an inch from the page. "They'd never have set a task that was undoable."
Harry: 'Come seek us where our voices sound'.
Hermione: The Black Lake, that's obvious.
Harry: 'An hour long you'll have to look'.
Hermione: Again, obvious. Though admittedly potentially problematic...
Harry: Potentially problematic? When was the last time you held your breath underwater for an hour, Hermione?
Hermione: Look, Harry, we can do this. The three of us can figure it out.
Mad-Eye: Hate to break up the skull session. Professor McGonagall wants you in her office. Not you, Potter, just Weasley and Granger.
Hermione: But, sir, the second task is only hours away, and--
Mad-Eye: Exactly. Presumably Potter is well prepared by now. . .and could do with a good night's sleep. Go. Now!
Harry looked around. There was no sign of any of the other champions. What were they playing at? Why didn't they hurry up? He turned back to Hermione, raised the jagged rock, and began to hack at her bindings too -
At once, several pairs of strong gray hands seized him. Half a dozen mermen were pulling him away from Hermione, shaking their green-haired heads, and laughing.
"You take your own hostage," one of them said to him. "Leave the others ..."
"No way!" said Harry furiously - but only two large bubbles came out.
Your task is to retrieve your own friend . . . leave the others ..." She's my friend too!" Harry yelled, gesturing toward Hermione, an enormous silver bubble emerging soundlessly from his lips. "And I don't want them to die either!"
[...] Harry turned and saw something monstrous cutting through the water toward them: a human body in swimming trunks with the head of a shark. ... It was Krum. He appeared to have transfigured himself- but badly.
The shark-man swam straight to Hermione and began snapping and biting at her ropes; the trouble was that Krum's new teeth were positioned very awkwardly for biting anything smaller than a dolphin, and Harry was quite sure that if Krum wasn't careful, he was going to rip Hermione in half. Darting forward. Harry hit Krum hard on the shoulder and held up the jagged stone. Krum seized it and began to cut Hermione free. Within seconds, he had done it; he grabbed Hermione around the waist, and without a backward glance, began to rise rapidly with her toward the surface.
Harry: But she's my friend too!
Merperson: Only one.
"Come here, you," said Madam Pomfrey. She seized Harry and pulled him over to Hermione and the others, wrapped him so tightly in a blanket that he felt as though he were in a straitjacket, and forced a measure of very hot potion down his throat. Steam gushed out of his ears.
"Harry, well done!" Hermione cried. "You did it, you found out how all by yourself!"
"Well -" said Harry. He would have told her about Dobby, but he had just noticed Karkaroff watching him. He was the only judge who had not left the table; the only judge not showing signs of pleasure and relief that Harry, Ron, and Fleur's sister had got back safely. "Yeah, that's right," said Harry, raising his voice slightly so that Karkaroff could hear him.
"You haff a water beetle in your hair, Herm-own-ninny," said Krum. Harry had the impression that Krum was drawing her attention back onto himself; perhaps to remind her that he had just rescued her from the lake, but Hermione brushed away the beetle impatiently and said, "You're well outside the time limit, though, Harry.
. . . Did it take you ages to find us?"
"No ... I found you okay...."
Hermione: Are you all right? You must be freezing. Personally, l think you behaved admirably.
Harry: l finished last, Hermione.
Hermione: [kisses him on the top of the head] Next to last. Fleur never got past the Grindylows.
"Most of the judges," and here, Bagman gave Karkaroff a very nasty look, "feel that this shows moral fiber and merits full marks. However . . . Mr. Potter's score is forty-five points."
Harry's stomach leapt - he was now tying for first place with Cedric. Ron and Hermione, caught by surprise, stared at Harry, then laughed and started applauding hard with the rest of the crowd.
"There you go. Harry!" Ron shouted over the noise. "You weren't being thick after all - you were showing moral fiber!"
Fleur was clapping very hard too, but Krum didn't look happy at all. He attempted to engage Hermione in conversation again, but she was too busy cheering Harry to listen.
Harry had the feeling that Bagman was going to start offering to help him again, but just then, Krum tapped Harry on the shoulder.
"Could I haff a vord?"
"Yeah, all right," said Harry, slightly surprised.
"Vill you valk vith me?"
"Okay," said Harry curiously.
Bagman looked slightly perturbed.
"I'll wait for you. Harry, shall I?"
"No, it's okay, Mr. Bagman," said Harry, suppressing a smile, "I think I can find the castle on my own, thanks."
Harry and Krum left the stadium together, but Krum did not set a course for the Durmstrang ship. Instead, he walked toward the forest.
"What're we going this way for?" said Harry as they passed Hagrid s cabin and the illuminated Beauxbatons carriage.
"Don't vont to be overheard," said Krum shortly.
When at last they had reached a quiet stretch of ground a short way from the Beauxbatons horses' paddock, Krum stopped in the shade of the trees and turned to face Harry.
"I vant to know," he said, glowering, "vot there is between you and Hermy-ownninny."
Harry, who from Krum's secretive manner had expected something much more serious than this, stared up at Krum in amazement.
"Nothing," he said. But Krum glowered at him, and Harry, somehow struck anew by how tall Krum was, elaborated. "We're friends. She's not my girlfriend and she never has been. It's just that Skeeter woman making things up."
"Hermy-own-ninny talks about you very often," said Krum, looking suspiciously at Harry.
"Yeah," said Harry, "because were friends."
He couldn't quite believe he was having this conversation with Viktor Krum, the famous International Quidditch player. It was as though the eighteen-year-old Krum thought he. Harry, was an equal - a real rival -
"You haff never . . . you haff not..."
"No," said Harry very firmly.
He opened his eyes.
He was looking up at the starry sky, and Albus Dumbledore was crouched over him. The dark shadows of a crowd of people pressed in around them, pushing nearer; Harry felt the ground beneath his head reverberating with their footsteps. He had come back to the edge of the maze. He could see the stands rising above him, the shapes of people moving in them, the stars above.
Harry let go of the cup, but he clutched Cedric to him even more tightly. He raised his free hand and seized Dumbledore's wrist, while Dumbledore's face swam in and out of focus.
"He's back," Harry whispered. "He's back. Voldemort."
Dumbledore: lt's all right, Harry. lt's all right.
He had merely requested that they leave Harry alone, that nobody ask him questions or badger him to tell the story of what had happened in the maze. Most people, he noticed, were skirting him in the corridors, avoiding his eyes. Some whispered behind their hands as he passed. He guessed that many of them had believed Rita Skeeter's article about how disturbed and possibly dangerous he was. Perhaps they were formulating their own theories about how Cedric had died. He found he didn't care very much. He liked it best when he was with Ron and Hermione and they were talking about other things, or else letting him sit in silence while they played chess. He felt as though all three of them had reached an understanding they didn't need to put into words; that each was waiting for some sign, some word, of what was going on outside Hogwarts - and that it was useless to speculate about what might be coming until they knew anything for certain.
"'Bye, Harry!" said Hermione, and she did something she had never done before, and kissed him on the cheek.
Hermione: Promise you'll write this summer. Both of you.
Ron: l won't. You know l won't.
Hermione: Harry will, won't you?
Harry: Yeah. Every week.
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