The Third Task
Phoenix couldn't quite wrap her head around the mere idea that George Weasley had kissed her. That their lips had connected in the midst of an argument. That the two of them knew, from that moment on, that their friendship would never quite be the same. The thought made Phoenix's stomach lurch uncomfortably and nervous butterflies had taken residence in her lower abdomen. The last thing that she wanted to do was risk her friendship with George, no matter how much she liked him, and apparently how much he liked her. She had been aware that even liking George more than a friend was dangerous, but for them to have shared a kiss… that could only be described as disastrous for their friendship. Up until a few hours ago, their friendship had been purely platonic. But then of course George had kissed her, the tidal wave that had come crashing over their friendship.
What were she and George supposed to do now? The euphoria that she had been feeling since the kiss had worn off since and now Phoenix felt an increasing amount of anxiety because she now knew that she and George were meant to talk about the kiss. And… whatever their relationship was now.
But that conversation could wait. The third and final task was set to take place that afternoon and excitement was evident around the castle. The four champions on the other hand exuded an aura of nervousness; Harry Potter was seated at the Gryffindor table, his hands gripping his cutlery tightly, while Cedric Diggory was so pale he made the Fat Friar look almost human. The Beauxbatons and Durmstrang champions also appeared apprehensive about the task, both Fleur and Viktor had been seen with dark circles under their eyes as they smiled unconvincingly at their friends.
Phoenix had other things on her mind aside from George and the third task however. She needed to talk to Dumbledore as soon as possible. Though, she thought, speaking to him on the day of the final task may prove to be difficult with most of the morning consisting of interviews with reporters from the Daily Prophet and even (Phoenix had overheard Luna Lovegood practically singing about it) The Quibbler.
The violet haired witch raced down the hallway, her breakfast lay long forgotten at Gryffindor table. Phoenix grimaced as she reached the ugly gargoyle that was sitting happily in front of the entrance to the headmaster's office.
Phoenix jumped a foot in the air at Dumbledore's kind voice. She turned to meet his twinkling blue eyes with a bright smile.
"Headmaster," she never registered just how out of breath she was until she spoke to her headmaster. Phoenix regained her breath before continuing, "I really need to talk to you. It's important… about Karka–"
"Shit," Phoenix muttered under her breath, her eyes and hair subconsciously changing to a dark brown in the hope that the Durmstrang headmaster would not recognise her. He was strolling towards Dumbledore with a nervous but determined smile upon his face.
"Just a moment Igor, Miss Lancaster wishes to speak with me."
Igor Karkaroff's face had turned almost as pale as Cedric looked during breakfast. Shit, shit, shit! Did Phoenix really want to tell Dumbledore now? Did she really want to risk ruining the entire day for the two headmasters, well Phoenix wasn't too fussed with ruining Karkaroff's day but not so much Dumbledore's. But Phoenix couldn't not tell her headmaster, Karkaroff perhaps knew that Phoenix knew he was there during her mother's murder. That he was the Death Eater who had slashed Jane Lancaster across the face before she had been so carelessly murdered by Phoenix's step-aunt. The idea of standing only a few feet away from one of the Death Eaters who had been present at her mother's murder made her skin crawl. It made her feel physically sick. It made her want to throw all the curses she knew at Igor Karkaroff.
Phoenix's hair singed red with supressed rage. She stared directly at Igor's pale face as she said to Dumbledore, "Could we go to your office please, Professor."
Dumbledore led the way, leaving Karkaroff to stand outside of the entrance, perhaps already thinking of a cover-up story or perhaps he would simply make a run for it before Phoenix and Dumbledore returned.
"So Phoenix, would do you wish to talk about?"
"KarkaroffwasthesixthDeathEater!" Phoenix had said this so fast it was as though the words had a mind of their own, tumbling out of her mouth in a tsunami of syllables that were hardly distinguishable to her or her headmaster.
Dumbledore's face showed slight amusement as opposed to bemusement. He surveyed her over his long fingers with sparkling eyes.
"Sorry," Phoenix spoke much more slowly, running her fingers through her hair in agitation. She took a deep breath before she finally said, "Karkaroff was the sixth Death Eater."
Dumbledore had stood up quickly, surprising Phoenix in his speed as he began to pace back and forth in front of her.
"Are you quite sure Phoenix?" Dumbledore sounded much more harassed, unlike his usual calm self.
"Yes," Phoenix nodded earnestly, "I'm surer of it every time that I hear his voice. It only hit last night when I heard him and Professor Snape talking about something burning–" Dumbledore's head snapped towards her but he said nothing "–his voice always made my skin crawl but it was only last night that I put the two together and I could hear him call my mother a Muggle and telling her to shut up," Phoenix shuddered, her hair turning a pale sliver as the voice trickled into her mind.
Dumbledore seemed to be thinking, calculating the options in his mind, the tips of his long fingers tapping against his half-moon spectacles. Phoenix could only follow him with her eyes, her heart beating harshly against her rib cage.
"The only action that we can take…" Dumbledore began, his brows furrowed in absolute concentration, "at the present moment would be to talk to the Minister… perhaps even Mad-Eye. My students are my first priority. Cornelius will be here soon, though–" Dumbledore's expression faltered slightly, "–I can't imagine Cornelius taking much action during the day of the final task," Phoenix didn't hesitate to nod in understanding, she would have been surprised if Dumbledore had suggested otherwise, "I will be owling your family about this and when Cornelius finds time he will undoubtedly decide what to do with Igor. As for Karkaroff… I will talk to Minerva and make sure that he stays well away from you. I would have been stupid to ignore the expression upon Igor's face when I said your name, Phoenix."
"He's not going to try and… silence me, you think?"
"Igor isn't stupid enough to do so," Albus chuckled and Phoenix felt relived, extinguishing the images of her being held captive by the Durmstrang headmaster, "All the same, we cannot take that risk."
"Where's was your pretty little face, love?"
"Uhm…" Phoenix was too distracted by George's eyes upon her to even notice Lee's flirtatious comments, "I was just uhm…"
Angelina's eyes were darting back and forth between Phoenix and George suspiciously when Phoenix's hair and cheeks went red.
Lee smirked widely, "You don't have to act all coy around me babe," he winked at her.
"I'm not coy," Phoenix muttered, blushing much more furiously when George mimicked Lee in winking at her but unlike Lee, George had a much more profound effect upon her. She nervously sat down in the only empty chair left in the common room, which was of course beside George.
Phoenix almost jumped out of her seat when George's arm slung around her shoulder. This may have been a day to day interaction with George, but considering last night's events his arm felt more affectionate than before. His touch felt like fire that ignited her insides.
"Why so shy Pixy?" George whispered in her ear with a wide smirk on his face while their friends were distracted by an argument between Fred and Alicia concerning the fact that Fred had begun a betting pool between whether Cedric or Harry would win.
"I'm n-not being shy," Phoenix stuttered, noticing how close his hand was to her cheek, his thumb was rubbing softly against her shoulder.
This only made George smirk more prominent, as Phoenix knew that it would, "Is it because of our little kiss last night?"
Phoenix couldn't stop the sound of surprise that left her lips which sounded more like a shriek. She smacked her hands over her mouth, her cheeks and hair so red that she was beginning to blend in with the red drapes around the Gryffindor common room. Her friends were looking at her in amusement and George was practically glowing with pride.
"Sorry," she squeaked along with a nervous giggle, "I'm just so excited for the task."
Fred raised a brow at his friend, eyes darting between her and George with a disbelieving look upon his face, "Yeah huh."
Of course Fred knew about her and George's 'little' kiss.
"Mum? What on earth are you doing here?"
"Good afternoon to you too George," Mrs. Weasley greeted George before pulling him into a bone crushing hug and kissing his head several times before George shrugged her off, burning hot with embarrassment as laughter echoed from Harry and Ron.
"Bill!" Fred boomed with a wry smile, clapping his elder brother on the shoulder, "how's the goblins Bill?"
"As lovely as ever," Bill grinned handsomely.
"We're here to see Harry in the third task," Mrs. Weasley explained, pulling Phoenix into an equally strong hug that Phoenix returned. She loved Mrs. Weasley's hugs.
"How are you holding up Potter?" Lee asked, sliding in between him and Hermione, the latter threw Lee a disgruntled look.
"I'm okay." Harry smiled rather sheepishly but the hands that were gripping his cutlery told Phoenix otherwise.
Lunch was followed by lesson preparations for next year. The school has issued almost a taster for their seventh year with work and lessons that they would be having during in their final year. The soon to be seventh years found these lessons incredibly helpful (though Fred and George Weasley had barely attended them). Phoenix sat in the stuffy Transfiguration room, her quill starching across the piece of parchment in front of her as she took notes from McGonagall's lectureon Extinguishing Spells.
"Deflammo is the most successful of the Extinguishing Spells. It can be used as a counter-spell against most spells. You may recognise this spell from your first year when we extinguished a brazier flame. For your seventh year however you must perfect the spell in order to put out much, much larger fires," McGonagall explained, Phoenix was listening animatedly, her hand moving so fast across the page that it was sure to set fire.
"However powerful your spell may be however, it would not be able to extinguish which type of fire?"
Phoenix's hand, of course, was the first to fly into the air. Professor McGonagall smiled encouraging at her (or as encouraging as Minerva McGonagall could smile).
"Fiendfyre, Professor. Since the flames from Fiendfyre are bewitched to an abnormal size and temperature and is infused by dark magic so that the flames themselves possess a sentience of its own, no matter how powerful the Extinguishing Spell they cannot be put out,"
"Excellent, ten points to Gryffindor!"
Phoenix couldn't help but feel as though she would thrive in her seventh year. Especially in Defence Against the Dark Arts. She was excited to cast a Patronus charm and create an in depth study on Chimeras. Her smile didn't even falter when Graham Montague called her Know-It-All Mudblood, for the seventy sixth time.
Dinner felt like being at the Burrow, aside from the absence of discussions of the Muggle World with Mr. Weasley and trying not to laugh as the twins annoyed Percy to the point of tears, but Phoenix enjoyed it all the same. She sat beside Ginny and Fred and laughed as Ron got told off by his mother for making up names for the goblins whom he had forgotten during his History of Magic exam that very morning. It also seemed that Harry had forgotten about the upcoming and that horrid article that had appeared in the papers that morning, written by Rita Skeeter ("Harry Potter: Disturbed and Dangerous!"). But as Cornelius Fudge and Ludo Bagman (Fred and George's eyes darkened at the mere sight of him) joined the staff table and soon Albus Dumbledore had rose to his feet, Harry had turned pale and fidgety once again.
"Ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes' time, I will be asking you to make your way down to the Quidditch field for the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the stadium now."
Harry stood up shakily as the Gryffindors shrieked their appreciation for the boy. Though Phoenix caught Cedric's eye and winked encouragingly at him before cheering for Harry Potter gleefully.
A few minutes later Phoenix was following Fred and George as they walked towards the Quidditch pitch. The hedges were at least twenty feet in the air and ran around the edges of pitch. Phoenix took a seat in the stands beside Ginny and George. They were almost at the very front, where they could clearly see a gap in the maze, where Phoenix presumed the champions would be entering the maze.
Her eyes found Karkaroff, who stood beside Viktor his eyes darting back and forth between his champion and Dumbledore. Phoenix was rather pleased to see her new found enemy rather uncomfortable. McGonagall had evidently passed on the message from Dumbledore that he had owled her family and spoken to Fudge, who had of course dismissed the statement until the final task was over.
The sky was almost clear, a deep blue blanket that was sprinkled with a hand full of stars. The summer night air was warm and made Phoenix's stomach feel rather tingly inside. Her stomach was already full of butterflies from being stood so close to George after the events of last night. The thought of them kissing had been surfacing in her mind all day, leaving her cheeks and hair a rosy red for a few hours.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Ludo Bagman's voice had been magically modified to a much louder volume, which made Fred and George both roll their eyes at their least favourite ex-Quidditch player, "the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament is about to begin! Let me remind you how the points currently stand! Tied in first place, with eighty-five points each – Mr. Cedric Diggory and Mr. Harry Potter, both of Hogwarts School!" The stands cheered and applauded loudly, Phoenix waved at Cedric and gave him an encouraging thumbs up, which Cedric returned nervously.
"In second place, with eighty points - Mr. Viktor Krum, of Durmstrang Institute!" The applause and cheers from the crowd made the stands rumble and Phoenix's stomach flip in apprehension. "And in third place - Miss Fleur Delacour, of Beauxbatons Academy!"
Harry waved merrily in their direction, which the Weasley's, Hermione and Phoenix returned in a final bid of good luck for the task that lay ahead.
"So… on my whistle, Harry and Cedric!" began Bagman. "Three – two – one –"
A blast from Bagman's whistle sounded. The stands all cheered appreciatively as both Harry and Cedric entered the darkness of the maze.
Viktor and Fleur followed suit a few minutes after. Much like the second task, the stands could not see the task taking place as the hedges of the maze were so high it would be impossible. The school's choir played several catchy songs, one of which Phoenix recognised as Celestina Warbeck that made Mrs. Weasley smile fondly and the twins make gagging noises.
"So Phoenix," Fred's sang smoothly forty minutes into the third task, a wide smirk stretching across his face. "I heard about yours and George's antics last night."
Mrs. Weasley turned around so sharply that Phoenix was surprised that she had not given herself whiplash, "What was that?"
Phoenix had gone, if possible, even redder than she had been when George had mentioned their kiss. George's eyes had grown to the size of dinner plates as he stared at his mother.
"Not like that mum," George dismissed his extremely concerned mother with a cheery grin, "Get your mind out of the gutter."
"What antics are you talking about then Fred?" Bill asked, waggling his eyebrows as he looked from George to Phoenix.
Angelina, who of course was sat beside Fred, looked at him in interest.
"Don't tell them!" Phoenix groaned, covering her face in absolute embarrassment. She hadn't expected for George's mother, and most of his family, to discover that they had kissed last night, especially as she and George were so unsure about their relationship. Mrs. Weasley was sure to owl Phoenix's father and Cecilia as soon as she was given the chance to.
"Tell them what?" Fred smirked, "That you and George snogged last night?"
Phoenix couldn't see the reactions of Mrs. Weasley, Angelina, Ginny, Ron, Bill, and Hermione as her face was buried deeply into the palms of her small hands and part of her scarf.
"No!" Phoenix heard Ginny shriek, "Was she dared to?"
"Of course not Ginny," Ron replied with a snort, "They've liked each other for ages."
"How on earth would you know if they liked one another, Ronald?" Hermione said and Phoenix could just imagine her rolling her eyes at him, "you wouldn't know what feelings were if they danced naked in front of you."
"How could you not tell me Fred?" Angelina scolded her boyfriend.
Phoenix felt a tug on her sleeve, but she shook her head, not wanting anyone to see the large smile that had spread across her face. Despite being outed by Fred Weasley, of more people, she couldn't help but feel rather giddy at the mere thought of being in a couple with George.
"You don't have to hide Pixy," that voice sent chills down her spine and instinctively, she looked up and into George's eyes. She was glad to see that he was also smiling. Phoenix could only nod in reply and blush deeply as George's arm wrapped around her shoulder, bringing her into his chest.
A loud bang broke the chatter that had spread out amongst the stands. Phoenix broke away from George's chest to peer up at the sky. Bright red sparks had burst into the sky, above the maze. There were several gasps and screams at the sudden noise. Those who had been patrolling the maze had moved quickly. Hagrid, Moody, McGonagall, and Flitwick moved forward, heading to where the red sparks had been set off.
Though the third task was so far not as much fun to spectate as the first task had been, the anticipation for something, anything to happen was overpowering. The surprise of the red sparks being blasted into the air had worn off and the spectators in the stands had returned to their own conversations, occasionally glancing in the direction of the maze's entrance.
"Who do you think is in trouble?" Phoenix wondered aloud, craning her head as though in the hopes to see over the twenty foot high hedges.
George gave a short laugh, "probably Fleur."
Phoenix scoffed, making sure to slap George's arm, "Don't be so cruel."
"I'm not," George smiled, his hands trailing across his arm to grab Phoenix hand. Her stomach flipped a million times in the space of a millisecond as George's fingers laced between her own, "I believe that I'm on my best behaviour."
The corners of Phoenix's mouth twitched and her stomach warmed incredibly, turning her attention from George and back to the entrance of the maze, "I would love to see the day you, George Weasley, are on your best behaviour."
Before George even open his mouth to reply to Phoenix, figures emerged from the maze's entrance. The entirety of the stands got to its feet so to see who had been the first champion to exit the maze.
"Who is it?" Phoenix asked Ginny, unable to see over Ron's rather lanky figure.
"It's Krum!" Ginny exclaimed, pushing Ron's head out of the way so that Phoenix could plaining see the scene in front of her. Hagrid and Professor Moody had emerged from the maze, Viktor Krum under their arms looking as though he had been stupefied. Professors Flitwick and McGonagall racing behind them. But something was wrong.
Both Dumbledore and Snape had advanced forward as Hagrid and Moody set Viktor onto a nearby bench, where he shook slightly before falling sideward onto the hard wood. Phoenix craned her neck so to see just what was going on but it had become impossible as Ministry officials crowded around the famous Quidditch player.
"Where's Karkaroff?" Hermione questioned frantically, "Oh Merlin, I hope Viktor's alright!"
Phoenix looked around curiously, her eyes searching for Durmstrang's headmaster, but he was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he had took it upon himself to make a run for it during the slight chaos when the red sparks had been set off. Perhaps he had simply wanted an early night? But Phoenix highly doubted the latter. Karkaroff would have been straight to the side of his champion if anything had gone wrong – he was so determined to win and, more importantly, beat Dumbledore. It wouldn't have surprised Phoenix if Karkaroff had run while he could.
Noise died down a few moments later, instead to be replaced by whispers, sounding almost like a hum that ran through the crowd.
"But that's illegal!"
"Is he okay? He's too handsome for anything bad to happen to him!"
"Did another champion use an Unforgivable on him?"
"The Imperius Curse? No…"
Phoenix gasped, tugging on George's wrist, feeling her heart beating within the region of her throat, "Krum! Everyone's saying that he's been Imperiused!"
"What? You're joking!" George looked down at Phoenix's face that was filled with worry, "Who could've done that? The other champions wouldn't do that."
"Someone else must have done it," Phoenix exclaimed, feeling rather nauseous at that fact that an illegal curse had been performed upon one of the champions, "but who–"
A loud shriek cut through the like a knife. It ripped through Phoenix's entire body, making her feel rigid.
Fleur Delacour had exited the maze. Her usual elegant composure had diminished. Her slivery-blonde hair was matted with dirt and what looked horribly like blood. Her robes were torn and the flesh that was exposed showed deep, nasty cuts.
Phoenix let out a shriek at Fleur's rather wild appearance. George's arms acted like a cocoon around her body, comforting her as Fleur fell to the floor. Madame Maxime was the first to reach her student, Fleur's sister, Gabrielle, was next by her side. Beauxbatons' champion was crying hysterically, clinging onto Madam Maxime and screaming in French.
Watching Fleur in such despair and hearing that Viktor had been Imperiused made Phoenix feel uneasy. Two of her friends were still in the maze. By the sounds of it, they were in a lot of danger. She hoped, she prayed that Harry and Cedric were okay.
The mayhem that had broken out during Fleur and Viktor's appearance had died down within ten minutes, once Fleur had stopped crying and Viktor had regained consciousness. Everyone was seated in the stands, wondering how the remaining champions where doing and what was hiding within that maze.
"At least it's a Hogwarts champion," said Fred with a wide grin on his face, "If only Karkaroff was here."
Phoenix grimaced, "Yeah, if only."
The sky was black. Stars were winking down at the crowds, the night air warm and comforting. The sounds of the gentle chatter put Phoenix's mind at ease. The Hogwarts students were on the edge of their seats, waiting to see exactly who their champion was. Time had never moved so slowly and the anticipation to see if it would Harry Potter or Cedric Diggory to win the Triwizard Tournament was eating the students alive.
A sudden whooshing sound brought the stands to their feet. And confusion swept through the air.
"It's a tie!"
"But I wanted Cedric to win!"
Phoenix could just see through a gap between Ron and Hermione's head. She could see Harry, the front of his body pressed flat against the ground. He was gripping onto Cedric with one hand and his other hand held the handle of the Triwizard Cup, which was glowing ominously. Cedric lay on his back. His body looked cold, rigid, his robes ripped, covered in spots of blood and dirt. He lay still, his eyes wide open and his skin pale.
Phoenix clutched onto Ginny's arm feeling as though she was about to faint.
"Is Cedric alright?" She asked frantically, her voice and her entire body shaking in a sickening way, "Please tell me he's okay!" But something told Phoenix that Cedric was not okay.
Ginny's face was ghostly white as she too gripped Phoenix's arm, "I don't know Phoenix, I don't know."
Dumbledore and Fudge were the first to reach Harry and Cedric as Fleur Delacour let out a scream of pure terror, sounding even more horrible than before. It made Phoenix's heart tighten horribly in her chest. She turned to look at George who seemed to be transfixed by the scene in front of him, unable to look away.
Phoenix's heart had stopped in her chest. Her hands felt clammy. She felt as though she could break any second now. Those words, those horrible words could not be true… they just couldn't be.
"Cedric Diggory! Dead!"
"No!" Phoenix exclaimed, her shaking hand covering her mouth as the reality of the situation hit her at a million miles per hour. Cedric Diggory, the boy whom she had befriended over their love of Quidditch and learning was dead. The boy whom she had known and shared jokes with for six years lay lifeless on the Quidditch pitch in front of her. The boy whom she had seen grow into a young man was now gone. They were lying. Cedric Diggory could not be dead, he just couldn't be.
"No," Phoenix shook her head frantically, releasing her grip from Ginny and looking wildly at George, her breathing too fast, her face too pale, "they're wrong. Cedric can't be dead. He can't be!"
"Phoenix…" the way in which George said her name made her crumble. It confirmed the horrible, sickening and heinous truth. That Cedric Diggory, her friend, her classmate, and her fellow lover of Charms was no more.
"B-But," she whimpered, her bottom lip quivered and her eyes stung in a familiar way, "He c-can't,"
George could do no more than hold her. Than stroke her hair and kiss her head as she sobbed into his chest. He was glad that Phoenix could not see Cedric's body being carried away by a hysterical Madam Pomfrey and Professor Sprout. He was glad that she could not see Cho Chang and Cedric's mother and father crying so hard that it would as though they would break.
"Where's Harry going?" Hermione asked frantically, her and Ron trying desperately to get out of Mrs. Weasley's grip in order to see their best friend.
"Moody's taking him to the castle," Ron answered, his face ghastly white and blue eyes following the figures of Harry Potter and Alastor Moody, "Mum, just let us go! We need to see if Harry's okay!"
"Professor Moody will take care of him," Mrs. Weasley answered shakily, her eyes kept darting towards the Diggory's, and back to her children, "I really don't think it's a good idea to question him on what happened yet–"
If Phoenix had not pulled away from George's embrace she would have not believed that it was Dumbledore who had bellowed. His voice was poisoned with anger, a fury that appeared to be a fire as he turned to Fudge, demanding to know just where the Boy-Who-Lived had gone. His shout had rendered the crowds silent, making them almost fearful of the old headmaster.
"Moody took him to the castle," Fudge's reply came as a stutter and Phoenix couldn't blame him – the look upon Dumbledore's face was uncharacteristically murderous.
Hermione turned to Mrs. Weasley, utterly bemused, "What's going on?"
"We're going to see what's going on," Ron stated definitely, grabbing Hermione's arm and missing his mother's hand by millimetres as he dragged Hermione down the stairs to the stands.
"Ronald!" Mrs. Weasley scowled her youngest son, stumbling as she attempted to follow Ron, Bill tailing not too far behind her.
The stands were dismissed a few minutes later. Its occupants left in hysterics, students either crying or seemingly close to. Phoenix clung to Ginny's side as she and her fellow Gryffindors walked mournfully through Hogwarts' corridors to Gryffindor tower.
Phoenix didn't want to think about Cedric's cold, lifeless body lying in one of the old beds in the hospital wing. She didn't want to imagine Amos Diggory and Caroline Diggory sobbing over the loss of their only child, bittersweet memories of their son haunting their conscious.
Fred and George had been conversing in low voices for the past few minutes whilst Phoenix stared aimlessly at the swirling flames, seemingly transfixed. The common room was unnaturally silent and empty as most students had retreated to their dormitories. Angelina and Alicia had left to their dormitory and Lee went to bed shortly afterwards. This left Phoenix, Fred and George in the common room, a handful of fifth years left straggling behind.
"What happened you reckon?"
"It must have been something in the maze,"
"But Diggory looked fine! He wasn't missing any limbs, aside from the fact that he was dead-"
Phoenix stole a glance in Fred and George's direction. Fred caught her rather displeased expression and ceased talk immediately. George too, looking rather ashamed and quickly apologising for mentioning the death of her friend but Phoenix dismissed their apologies, as she couldn't help but admit the curious circumstances surrounding Cedric's death.
"Fred's right, he didn't appear to have any dangerous physical injuries so it wasn't as though he bled to death…" Phoenix explained weakly, "I have a hunch what it could have been but… who would have done it?"
"What's your hunch?" Fred questioned her curiously.
"The Avada Kedavra curse," she finished with a cold voice. Fred and George both looked alarmed – the idea of two unforgivable curses being used (one of which caused the death of a champion) within the Hogwarts grounds during the third and final task put them all at unease, "Perhaps it was the same person used the Imperious curse on Krum."
"Yeah," agreed George, "yeah, you're probably right. By who would–"
They were interrupted by Ron and Hermione who had just clambered in through the portrait hole. They looked utterly exhausted. The two fourth years peered around the common room, talking quietly to one another but stopped when they realised that they were not alone.
"He's okay," Hermione said with a small smile, "Harry's just getting some rest."
"Oh thank Merlin!" Phoenix exclaimed, standing up quickly so that Hermione could take a seat beside the fire.
Ron remained standing, his hands buried in his pockets and looking as though he was deep within his thoughts.
"How you doing little bro?" George asked Ron in his best attempt to sound cheery, though it was evident to Phoenix he was concerned about his younger brother.
Ron shrugged in reply, catching Hermione's eyes before he said, "Harry told us that it was You-Know-Who,"
"What?" The three of them exclaimed at once.
"You-Know-Who," Hermione explained in a fearful voice, her brown eyes wide and her skin oddly pale, "He's back."