Tempest's eyes glazed over and became pure white and blank as she replied in a monotone. "Tempestas Lily Potter."
"Which spell did you master in third year, and what shape does it take?" Dumbledore asked, to confirm her identity as an extra precaution.
"The Patronus Charm, and it takes on the shape of a doe."
Dumbledore pretended not to notice the visible start Professor Snape made behind him, and gave a quick nod. "Very well, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?"
"Did you ask an older student, or anyone else for that matter, to put your name in the Goblet?"
"Did you know, before your name was called from the Goblet of Fire, anything about your name being entered into the cup?"
Dumbledore turned from Tempest to the rest of the room. "Satisfied?" He asked.
When there were no objections, he took out his wand and muttered "Finite Incantatem."
Tempest blinked, and her eyes resumed their usual green. "What happened? Did it work?"
Professor Dumbledore withdrew his head from the Pensive, sighing.
"This can't go on Albus."
Dumbledore did not look up.
"-first the Dark Mark, now this…"
"And what do you suggest Minerva?"
"Put an end to it. Don't let Tempest compete! Shut down the entire tournament if that's what it takes… the risk of her- again-"
"You heard Barty, the rules are clear. The binding magical contract…"
"To Merlin with Barty's rules- and since when did you care? The first Triwizard Tournament in over fifty years and this happens… It isn't just coincidence Dumbledore!"
Snape's voice cut in silkily. "Albus, I too find it difficult to believe that this is mere coincidence, but perhaps, if we were to discover the true meaning of these happenings, it would be better to- for the time being… Let them unfold…"
Minerva turned to Snape, aghast. "What? Do nothing? Offer her up… as some sort of bait?"
Dumbledore noted her slip in calling Tempest by her first name, but did not comment, directing his attention instead, to Severus. "I agree with Severus. Alastor, keep an eye on Tempest will you?"
Alastor Moody stumped out of the corner where he had been lurking. "Aye. I can do that. Keep her out of trouble as best I can."
"Don't let her know Alastor- she must be anxious enough as it is… Only fourteen… Knowing what lies ahead…" Dumbledore murmured.
"Oh believe me," Minerva snapped, stalking to the door. "Miss Potter will not so much as be anxious as pissed." The door slammed shut behind her.
Fawkes shuffled his feathers haughtily.
Finally looking up from the Pensive, Dumbledore looked at Snape, who as always looked emotionless.
"Goodnight Alastor." Dumbledore dismissed him, only to call to Snape back, "A word, if you please Severus?"
Snape stopped, turning back. "Yes Albus?" he asked coldly.
Dumbledore finally looked up from the Pensive. "I was wondering Severus… About your thoughts on what has been unveiled tonight."
Snape tilted his head slightly. "I am not sure what you mean Headmaster."
"As to Tempest's Patronus form."
Snape's face hardened. "I do not think that that is any of your concern Albus."
"You thought it would be a stag did you not?"
Snape's voice was frigid. "The Patronus adapts itself to the gender of the caster."
Dumbledore sighed, and ran a long fingered hand down his face and waist-length beard. "You know as well as I do that is not the case. Kingsley Shacklbolt's lynx is in fact a female, Nymphadora Tonks's rabbit is a male... And then there is your patronus Severus…"
Wordlessly Snape whirled around and exited Dumbledore's office, slamming the door behind him, and Dumbledore watched him go, his face set in an uncommon expression of remorse.
Tempest ran into Ron the following morning.
Ten minutes later, he had demonstrated in about seventy different ways how much of a dick he was, and Tempest wound up storming out of the castle and pacing angrily up and down a stretch of the Black Lake, her breath fogging angrily before her in the cold morning air.
Tempest whirled around glaring.
"Oh," she said, seeing George. "What do you want?"
George offered her a stack of toast, balanced precariously on a napkin. "That's a great welcome, anyone'd think you didn't want to see me… You going to eat, or take a picture?"
Tempest blinked, realizing she had been staring for about half a minute. "Thanks," she said finally, taking half. "I don't suppose you've got coffee?"
"That's why you get your own food," George replied, "I'm not lugging a coffee pot all the way down here for you- eternally glorified champion or not-"
Tempest laughed, settling herself down on the grass verge. She tore a piece of toast into two, munching on a half.
"Your brother's a dick."
George shrugged. "Yeah sure." Then. "Which one?"
Tempest snorted with laughter. "Youngest."
"Yeah I heard," George grimaced.
"I think most people did."
"Well… you're not one for subtlety, Hedgy."
Tempest ran a sheepish hand through her shaggy hedgehog-like hair. "In my defence, in this case- he was the one who began yelling."
"There is that."
"It was bloody chaos in the Hall," George began.
Tempest arched an eyebrow, finishing her third piece of toast.
"Ravenclaw and Slytherin were practically mobbing our table," he elaborated. "Hufflepuff wasn't really doing anything though- dunno why, I thought they'd be the most pissed…"
"Oh- that might have been Diggory," Tempest said, "we talked after the whole meeting yesterday- he knows I didn't do it… don't know why he can believe that I didn't do it but Ron can't."
"Ah well," George said consolingly, "dear old Ronnikins always had some issues… Dropped quite a bit as a baby- jealousy and all that…"
"Jealousy?" Tempest said incredulously. "He's jealous? You're bloody kidding me, right? He's jealous that a couple thousand people get to see me get bloody murdered in probably the most entertaining way dreamt up by Crouch and Bagman..."
"I'd be jealous, always wanted to go out with a bang," George joked, then his expression sobered. "But I've lived with the blighter for most of my life, so I sort of get it…."
"Oh, please do share."
George shrugged. "Ronnikins, he's got five brothers and a sister, at school, it's you."
Tempest stared at him blankly. "I don't get it."
"It means Ron's a little prissy attention whore. At home he gets no attention because he's got to compete, and when he finally gets to school- he's always a step behind the you and your never-ending glory. So he's standing in a shadow again."
Tempest and George turned to see Ginny walking up the hill, tugging her robes tighter against the chill. "Mind if I cut in?"
"Knock yourself out," George said, waving an arm around. "Oh, and well put by the way."
"Thank you," Ginny said, flopping down on the grass between them. "But I'm not kidding, Tempest. I mean, here, when it's you everyone sees, when in class, it's Hermione… and so I guess he feels like he's never seen… "
"He wants to be seen?" Tempest repeated, "he thinks I like being seen- everyone gawking at my face when I walk by-" subconsciously, she ran a hand down the right side of her face, where the pale white edges of her scar trailed down her jawline as though someone had tried to skin her. "or the supposed attention I get? I'd pay bloody gold palaces to take the attention away-"
"We know, Tempest," Ginny said. "but regardless of whether or not you like it- it's what happens. I mean, he's your best friend, so he goes along with it, he tries to not let it bother him, he keeps quiet… but he thinks you entered the tournament-"
"-only confirming the fact that I'm apparently an attention whore." Tempest finished. "Brilliant. Where's Hermione?"
"Last I saw her, she was trying to talk to Ron."
"Right." Tempest stood, brushing the crumbs from the toast off her, and beginning to walk back up to the castle. "I'm writing to Sirius- Ginny, could I borrow Athena?"
"Sure- but don't let her come back traumatized and missing half her feathers like last time alright?"
"I'll try!" Tempest yelled back, grinning.
It took her about seven minutes to reach the Owlery, another five for Tempest to scrounge up a piece of parchment, quill and ink, and coax Athena down from the rafters.
Hope you've been great since our last letter, and yeah, a lot of shit's happened in-between. It'd be nice for once to be able to write to you without me having a problem or wanting to use you as a shoulder to cry on… huh. Maybe sarcasm sounds better in my head… or out loud… not so much on paper… hmmm… in any case- The Tri-wizard Tournament just turned into the Quad-wizard Tournament, and I'm competing. (Tempest quickly sketched a smiley face impaled on a pike). Hope the weather's good where you are, and that Athena doesn't fly through another tornado on the way to you…
Really great writing to you Pads and I've missed you. A lot.
Tempest tied the letter to Athena's leg and watched her take flight, disappearing into the distance
*"So you knew my mum and dad. Best friends."
"Pretty much inseparable- even after school. Prongs and I went through Auror training together. I was their best man- your godfather."
"Yeah I know."
Tempest stared at the roots knotting the dirt floor. "Oh, question- Marauder's map- Messrs Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, Temper and Wormtail? So Remus, you, dad and Peter… who's Temper?"
Sirius barked a laugh. "Oh, that's a funny one… it's you, Tempest."
"Wha- what? But I wasn't born when-"
"Oh, we added you after," Sirius laughed, "no, it really began when your mum wanted to name you Tempestas of all things- and James was incredibly against it- he wanted something simple like Harri, or Rachel… then you were born, and you were definitely a Tempest- but Prongs could never let your mum be right (well there was this one time sixth year, but that's another story) any time of the day, so he started calling you Temper- and he insisted on putting it on the map, to 'solidify' he called it, that his baby girl was going to be a Marauder."
"Well, I think it worked," Tempest said, unable to keep from laughing, "Why'd Filch end up with the map then? I thought you lost it-"
"Lose the map?" Sirius snorted, "That piece of parchment is pure gold- and you think we'd lose it."
"Then how'd it wind up in Filch's office?"
"We sent it back for Arthur's kid when he started Hogwarts- Bill was it? I'm guessing when he lost it, the rest of us were too occupied with… other stuff to worry about it… but I guess it was all for the best- you've got the map now after all."
Tempest grinned slightly. "So is that why I'm a 'Messrs' Temper?"
"Oh, well, that and he didn't want his girl growing up all prissy."
Tempest grinned wolfishly. "Do I look prissy to you?"
Sirius gave her a cursory once-over.
Tempest's hair was matted with dirt and leaves, robes torn, knuckles bleeding from having punched a wall (and a door. And a dog. And Snape's face) in the previous hour and her demented smile could have sent dragons running for Hagrid. "Nope. I don't think so."
If Tempest thought that the following day- when everyone would have sort-of gotten used to the idea of her being a champion, she was wrong. Regardless of the speech Dumbledore had made about Tempest's innocence in the entering of her name into the Goblet of Fire the following morning, it seemed no-one believed her.
The Hufflepuffs, even if they were decent enough to Tempest, seemed slightly cooler than usual. It wasn't that they disliked her per-se, but even Tempest could understand that from their perspective, she had stolen some of their champion's glory, and it was only magnified by the fact that Hufflepuff very rarely got any glory at all, and Cedric was one of the few who had ever given them any- the one time he had beaten Tempest at Quiddtich, and that was because of the Dementors.
Tempest didn't mind that much, had their positions been reversed, she would have felt the same way after all. It was Ron who was really pissing her off. He, along with Dean and Seamus were avoiding her at all costs, and whenever in her presence, whispering about her in plain earshot like a pack of giggling girls.
Hermione was torn, on one hand, she thought both Tempest and Ron were being stupid- Ron refusing to talk to Tempest, and Tempest scoffing every time Ron's name was mentioned. On the other, she was better friends with Tempest (after all they were both girls, however much Tempest liked to break that wall) and Tempest was the only one who understood what Hermione was talking about when she started going on about Potions, but while Tempest had the Twins (who she already spent a lot of time with) and Ginny, Ron didn't really have anyone else. Dean and Seamus were rather close, and more often than not, Ron was left hanging on at the edges of conversation, feeling left out.
Ginny hands down refused to talk to Ron either, calling him a 'prat that needs to get his eyes scrubbed and look at the bigger picture'.
So when Care of Magical Creatures came around, Tempest didn't know whether or not to feel supported, or just plain frustrated.
Tempest usually liked Care of Magical Creatures, as she would be able to see Hagrid, but Care of Magical Creatures meant seeing the Slytherins too, meeting them officially face-to-face since she had become a champion, and Tempest was in no mood for exchanging petty insults with the Slytherins.
Predictably Malfoy, backed with Crabbe and Goyle were waiting for them with their usual sneers fixed in place.
"Ah look boys, it's the champion!" Malfoy said to Crabbe and Goyle, as soon as Tempest and Hermione came within earshot. "Got your autograph books? Better get a signature now, because I doubt she's going to be around much longer… half the Triwizard champions have died… how long d'you reckon you're going to last, Potter?"
"About as long as your head would last rammed up your ass, Malfoy," Tempest replied, before Hagrid arrived and they had to shut up.
To everyone in the class's horror, Hagrid said that all of the Skrewts (weird black beetle things with suckers, stings blowtorches and an unsavoury stench) had been killing each other off, and therefore they all needed to take their Skrewt for a walk, so they could burn off their excess energy.
"Yay." Tempest muttered under her breath. "Just what I needed."
"Take this thing for a walk?" Repeated Malfoy, disgusted. "And where exactly are we meant to fix the leash? Around the sting, the blasting end, or the sucker?"
Tempest, as much as she despised him, couldn't help but agree it was a valid point.
"Roun' the middle," said Hagrid, demonstrating. "Er- yeh might want ter put on yer dragon-hide gloves, jus' as an extra precaution, like. Tempest- come here an' help me with this big one…"
Hagrid's real intention though, was to talk to Tempest in private. He waited for the rest of the class to set off with their Skrewts, and then turned to Tempest, and said very seriously, "So- yer competin', Tempest. In the tournament. School Champion."
"Maybe if people stopped fixating on that, I might be a bit happier."
"No idea who put yeh in fer it, Tempest?"
Hagrid let out a huff of air behind his beard. "You, champion an' all, everythin' seems to happen to you, don't it Tempest?"
Tempest didn't answer. An undeniable fact of her life.
The pair of them looked out over the lawn; the class was widely scattered now, and all in great difficulty. The Skrewts were now over three feet long, and extremely powerful. They looked like a cross between giant scorpions and elongated crabs - but still without recognisable heads or eyes. They had become immensely strong and very hard to control.
"Look like they're havin' fun, don' they?" Hagrid said happily.
Tempest eyed Malfoy, who was running away from his Skrewt, blond hair ablaze. "Oh, I am. I am indeed."
The following days tried Tempest's self-control to breaking point, and frayed her nerves down until she was irritated and snappy at anyone who came near her. She knew it wasn't the best reaction for those who were trying to help her, nor was it the way she would usually act- but she was just annoyed at the depths that some of the Slytherins sank to, to try to humiliate her, or just make her life that much harder.
Hexes in the corridors, unimaginative and repetitive insults from the Slytherins and more were just inconvenices, true, but all of them piled up on each other again and again tested Tempest's patience as it had never been before.
Also, the Ravenclaws were acting like stuck up prats. True Tempest hadn't really expected anything less than what the Slytherins were giving her, and she knew the Hufflepuffs would automatically side with Cedric, but Tempest just didn't understand why the Ravenclaws were acting just like the Slytherins at the moment. It wasn't like she wanted them to support her or anything- just for them to remain neutral and bloody leave her alone like they usually did would have been fine… but nooo….
Meanwhile, there was no reply from Sirius. Athena had not yet returned, and Tempest was so distracted most of the time, that even though she usually did brilliantly in Charms- almost as well as Hermione, she failed at the Summoning Charms, causing Professor Flitwick to give her extra homework for the first time ever in Charms.
"It's not really that difficult Tempest," Hermione tried to reassure her as they left for Double Potions with the Slytherins. "You just weren't concentrating properly."
"Really?" Tempest snapped back, "Well maybe I would concentrate better if you weren't always muttering in my ear!"
Hermione drew back, her expression hurt, and Tempest sighed. "Sorry." She mumbled. "Just… stressed I suppose."
Hermione had nodded understandingly and quickly forgiven Tempest, but Tempest couldn't help thinking that along with making her life even harder, now the tournament was making her act horrible even to her friends.
Double Potions was always terrible, after all, Potions by itself was horrible too, but being shut for an hour and a half in the dungeons with Snape and the Slytherins was nothing short of torture. All of them seemed to want to punish Tempest in any way possible for daring to become a Hogwarts champion- and Snape, even though he had seen with his own eyes Tempest drink the Vertaserium, it didn't seem to make a difference.
When Tempest and Hermione arrived at Snape's dungeon, they found the Slytherins waiting outside, all of them wearing a large badge on the front of their robes. They were all bearing the same messages, in luminous red letters that burnt brightly in the dim passage:
SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY- THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION!
"Like them, Potter?" shouted Malfoy as Tempest approached. "And this isn't all they do- look!"
He pressed his badge and the message upon it vanished, only to be replaced by another once, which glowed green: POTTER STINKS!
The Slytherins howled with laughter. All of them pressed their badges too, until the message: POTTER STINKS was shining brightly all around Tempest.
"Oh really funny, very witty." Hermione drawled to Malfoy, sarcasm dripping from her words.
"The final proof that Malfoy can spell," Tempest muttered to Hermione in an undertone, making her laugh.
"Want one, Granger?" said Malfoy, holding out a badge which he took from a pocket in his robes. "I've got loads. But don't touch my hand, now. I've just washed it you see. I don't want Mudbloods sliming it up."
A roar of rage sounded in Tempest's ears even though no one had said anything. All of the pent up frustration and anger Tempest had been feeling for days seemed to burst through a damn in her chest. She had her wand out before she'd thought about what she was doing. People all around them scrambled out of the way, backing down the corridor. They all knew Tempest was famous for her hexes and curses. Even with all the gossip and rumours floating around, apparently Tempest still hadn't lost her reputation.
"Tempest!" Hermione said warningly, grabbing Tempest's arm. Tempest shook her off without even looking at her.
"Go on then, Potter," Malfoy said quietly, taking out his own wand. "Moody's not here to look after you now- do it, if you've got the guts-"
"It's not guts, Malfoy," Tempest sneered, "Maybe it's just the brain cells needed to cast a spell that you don't own, that I do."
For a second they glared at each other from across the hallway, and then at exactly the same time they acted.
"Incendio!" Tempest yelled.
"Densaugeo!" Malfoy screamed.
Tempest's aim was off, and the blast of fire that shot from Tempest's missed Malfoy and hit Goyle, instantly setting his hair and robes on fire.
Malfoy had ducked though, and his spell had missed too, hitting Hermione instead.
Goyle screamed and failed about, making the other Slytherins shy away from his flaming figure until one cast a water elemental and he was doused with a stream of jet-cold water. Hermione was whimpering in panic, her hands clutching at her mouth.
Ron, who had previously been standing sullenly against the wall, had hurried forwards to see what was wrong with her, and Tempest turned just to see Ron dragging Hermione's hand away from her face. It wasn't a pretty sight. Hermione's front teeth- already larger than average- were now growing much too fast, she was looking more and more like a beaver as her teeth elongated, past her bottom lip, towards her chin… Panic-stricken, she felt them, and let out a terrified cry.
"And what is all this noise about?" said a voice from the only person who could have made the situation worse.
Snape had arrived. All the Slytherins clamoured to give their explanation's. Snape pointed a long thin finger at Malfoy and said, "Explain."
"Potter attacked me, sir-"
"Hippogriff balls! We hexed at the same time!" Tempest yelled, "He called Hermione a-"
"-and she set Goyle on fire-"
Snape ignored Tempest, and examined Goyle, who had parts of his hair charred off a badly burned arm and robes soaking wet.
"Hospital wing, Goyle." Snape said calmly.
"Malfoy got Hermione!" Ron yelled angrily, "Look!"
He forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth- she was doing her best to hide them, which was hard as they had now grown down past her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with silent giggles behind Snape's back.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, "I see no difference."
Hermione let out a whimper, her eyes filled with tears, and she turned on her heel and ran, all the way up the corridor and out of sight.
Tempest didn't know whether or not it was a good thing, or just plain bad luck, that she and Ron began shouting at Snape at the same time, yelling profanities and insulting him so that he ended up lower than hell… Lucky or unlucky that their voices echoed so much in the stone corridor, that in the confused din, it was impossible for him to hear exactly what they were calling him. He got the gist however.
"Let's see," he said, in is silkiest voice. "Fifty points from Gryffindor, and a detention for Miss Potter and Mr Weasley. Now get inside, or it'll be a week's worth of detention."
Tempest stood there trembling, trying to force herself to do the rational thing and shut up and go in, after all, everyone except her and Ron had already filed into the classroom, even Malfoy was seated, smirking at Tempest.
"Inside." Snape snarled, and Tempest whirled around and stalked into the classroom with Ron, walking straight down to the back and dropping her bag on her desk, radiating fury, and she saw Ron shaking too, and for a second Tempest almost forgave Ron's pig-headedness, then sanity returned, and Tempest walked to the back of the room, throwing her bag down on an empty seat..
On the other side of the room, Malfoy smirked at Tempest, flashing his badge at her, and once again, POTTER STINKS surrounded her, glowing in the darkness.
"Antidotes!" Snape announced, making Tempest snap her glare to him, before calming slightly, and looking away.
"-you should all have prepared your recipes by now. I want you to brew them carefully, and then, we will be selecting someone on whom to test one."
Snape's black eyes met Tempest's green, and Tempest sneered straight back at the Potions master. Oh he could try to poison her, but thankfully Tempest knew her way around a cauldron well enough so that Snape could shove a whole bleeding poisoned carcass down her throat and she'd be fine. Choke maybe- but well enough.
As Snape continued talking, Tempest let herself fall into the very entertaining notion of turning Snape into an actual bat and then shoving him in a cauldron, slamming the lid down, and boiling him alive… so tempting…
Then a knock on the dungeon door pulled Tempest out of her daydream,.
Colin Creevy burst into the dungeon, beaming at Tempest, then walked up to Snape's desk.
"Yes?" Said Snape curtly, glaring at the boy.
"Please, sir, I'm supposed to take Tempest Potter upstairs."
Snape stared down his hooked nose at Colin, who seemed to visibly shrink.
"Miss Potter has another hour of Potions to complete," Snape said coldly. "She will go when this class is finished."
Colin went pink with embarrassment. "Sir, I mean, Mr Bagman wants her," he said nervously. "All the champions have to go, I think they want to take-"
"Uh, in that case, I'd really rather not go." Tempest said quickly. As much as she detested Snape, she didn't really want to go do anything relatively tournament related.
"But you have to!" Colin said, his wide eyes meeting Tempest's. "They need all of the champions there, I think they're checking their wands and-"
"Very well," Snape snapped. "Miss Potter, leave your things here. I want you back down here later to test your antidote."
"Please sir, she's got to take her things with her," squeaked Colin. "All the champions…"
"Very well! Miss Potter- take your bag and get out of my sight!"
Tempest sighed, but grabbed her bag, swung it over her shoulder, and headed for the door. She ignored the heat of Snape's glare, and the POTTER STINKS badges that flashed her way as the dungeon door closed behind her.
"Amazing Tempest, isn't it? You being champion?" chattered Colin, bouncing beside Tempest's long strides.
"Whatever." Tempest said dully. "What do they want me for again?"
"Something about your wand, and then they're going to take photos!"
Photos? "Seriously? It's not enough to actually make me compete, but now they need to photograph us like we're bloody show-dogs?" Tempest snorted, ignoring Colin's shocked look at her language.
"Bye," Tempest muttered to Colin when they reached the right door. Tempest knocked, then walked in.
She was in a small classroom, the desks shoved to the sides of the room, making a space in the middle, and there were three desks in front of the blackboard covered in a long length of velvet. Seated behind them velvet covered desks were Ludo Bagman and a witch who was dressed much too flamboyantly for Tempest's liking.
Viktor Krum was standing in a corner, gazing moodily at the floor, while Cedric and Fleur were talking. Fleur looked a great deal happier than Tempest had ever seen her, she was smiling brilliantly, and she looked quite at ease.
When Fleur saw her, to Tempest's utter shock, she grinned, and waved Tempest over.
A rather fat man holding a large black camera which was smoking worriedly, was alternating between watching Fleur and Tempest out of the corner of his eyes.
Bagman saw Tempest, and bounded forward. "There she is! Champion number four! In you come Tempest, in you come… nothing to worry about- just a wand weighing ceremony, the rest of the judges will be here in a moment-"
"What?" Tempest said flatly. Why would they need to weigh her wand? Checking it sure, but weighing it?
"We have to ensure that your wands are fully functional, no problems, you know, as they're your most important tools in the tasks ahead," said Bagman. "The expert's upstairs now with Dumbledore. And then there's going to be a little photo-shoot. This is Rita Skeeter." He added, gesturing vaguely to the over-dressed witch. "She's doing a small piece on the tournament for the Daily Prophet…"
"Maybe not that small, Ludo," said Rita Skeeter, her eyes on Tempest. "I wonder if I could have a little word with Tempest before we start?" she said to Bagman, but her eyes were still fixed on Tempest. "The youngest champion, you know, to add a little bit of colour?"
"Certainly!" cried Bagman. "That is- if Tempest has no objection?"
"No." Tempest said frigidly. "I'd really rather not."
"Oh no, don't be nervous- I it's just a short interview dear- the public want to know you…"
"I know the public pretty well," Tempest drawled. "I said hello a pigeon the other day."
Skeeter looked affronted, but undeterred. "Come, come," she said, seizing Tempest by the arm and dragging her sideways. "No one can get too well acquainted with their fans…"
Tempest tried to pull away- mouthing a "Help me!" in Fleur and Cedric's direction, but Skeeter's grip was like a vice, and unless Tempest really wanted to get reprimanded for inflicting bodily harm on an adult that week, she couldn't get away. Fleur and Cedric were useless too- merely looking sympathetic as she was dragged away.
They exited the room and entered another- the door being shut behind them, Tempest looked around.
"Ah, now this is nice and cosy."
"This is a broom cupboard."
"Is it?" Skeeter beamed, and perched precariously on an upturned bucket. "Won't you take a seat?"
"I'd rather not."
"Oh well, the joys of being young!" Skeeter smiled at Tempest over the rims of her glasses as though she expected Tempest to laugh.
Tempest stared flatly back.
"Well then…" Skeeter unsnapped her horribly green handbag and pulled out a handful of candles which she then proceeded to light with her wand. From what had begun as an 'interview' it was quickly shaping up to be two people in a broom cupboard, surrounded by glowing candles. It was all a bit too elaborate for Tempest. If she wanted mood lighting, she'd probably opt for the easy road and set something on fire.
"You won't mind if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill? It leaves me free to talk to you normally…"
Tempest couldn't care less either way. She gave a non-committal shrug, instantly naming the quill QQQ.
Skeeter had taken out a long green quill and a roll of parchment – the QQQ hovered upright over the parchment, quivering slightly. "Wonderful… Testing… my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter." The QQQ began scribbling.
"So," Skeeter said, directing her attention back to Tempest, "Tempest- can I call you Tempest?"
I'd rather you didn't use my name at all.
"Well Tempestas is too long," Tempest said dryly. "So why not."
Skeeter cackled manically as though Tempest had spouted pink hair and begun tap dancing. "Ah… so, Tempest… what made you decide to enter the Triwizard Tournament?"
"I didn't." Tempest said curtly, the QQQ catching her eye as it began sprinting across the page- an ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise interestingly attractive face of Tempestas Potter (or Tempest as she prefers), whose stunning green eyes-
"Ignore the quill, Tempest," Skeeter said firmly.
Tempest lifted her eyes. "I'm attempting to."
"Good. Now you say that you didn't enter your name… but come now, there's no need to be scared of getting into trouble… We all know you shouldn't really have entered at all… but don't worry about that. Our readers love a rebel."
"If this is how the whole interview is going to go, you're not going to get a very interesting article," Tempest drawled.
"How do you feel about the tasks ahead?" Skeeter went on. It was like talking to a child. And Tempest had never been able to stand children, horrible beings. "Excited? Nervous?"
"Yes," Tempest said vaguely.
"Champions have died in the past, haven't' they?" Skeeter said briskly, "have you thought about that at all?"
"Of course, you have looked death in the face before, haven't you" Skeeter said, watching Tempest closely. "How would you say that's affected you?"
"I'd say we have a great relationship. He needs to shave more often though before I'll consider taking it to the next level."
"Do you think the trauma in your past might have made you keen to prove yourself? To live up to your name? Do you think perhaps you were tempted to enter the Triwizard Tournament because you felt you had the need to prove yourself?"
"My name's Tempestas Potter. I tried pottery once. It didn't work out."
"Can you remember your parents at all?" said Skeeter, talking over her.
"No." Tempest ground out.
"How do you think they'd feel if they knew you were competing in the Triwizard Tournament?" Skeeter was watching her very intently. "Proud? Worried? Angry?"
"No idea," Tempest said. "They're dead."
Before Skeeter could finish, the door to the broom cupboard was pulled open and Tempest looked up at Albus Dumbledore, who stood there framed in the doorway.
"Photos?" Tempest said as politely as she could manage. Her voice still sounded curt.
"Ah yes, and we rather need our fourth champion-"
"Then I'd hate to keep them waiting," Tempest said, brushing past him. Re-entering the room, Tempest relaxed slightly, walking over to Fleur and Cedric. "Thanks for the help." Tempest said rather blandly.
Cedric laughed. "Sorry, Skeeter was hounding us a moment ago, Fleur had to take out her wand until the woman backed off."
Tempest gave a wry smile. "I should have thought of that. What was she asking you?"
Fleur raised her eyebrows. "Ze woman 'as questioning Madame's teaching skills- zhe waz insulting my school, and zhen asking as to whezer or not I 'ad a… Boyfriend? I do not trust 'er with information about me." She concluded with a firm nod.
Tempest found herself relaxing more as Cedric began talking about all the articles Skeeter had written about his father, degrading his works in the Auror office.
When Cedric made an allusion of Skeeter as a garden gnome digging around for controversial stories, Tempest laughed, and began describing the time when she was staying at the Burrow, and George had tied a garden gnome to a broomstick and sent it whizzing around the house, then coming back, scooping George up, and depositing him upside down in a large puddle of mud.
Fleur then started talking about Beauxbatons, which sounded like a school almost as excellent as Hogwarts. Apparently (judging by what Tempest heard,) Beauxbatons was located somewhere in France, where it was cold for most of the year round, but always warm inside the castle walls. Lessons were held in high-roofed rooms, the walls made of ice that did not melt.
Apart from the obvious haughtiness that Fleur displayed, Tempest actually found herself enjoying talking to her. After the first few minutes, the silver haired girl stopped looking down at Tempest, and rather talked to her as an equal. If Tempest had had a gripe about Fleur before it was her overbearing superiority, but now that it had faded, she really was quite decent.
Their conversation was interrupted when the door to the room opened, and Dumbledore entered with Skeeter in tow, followed by Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Mr Crouch, and to Tempest's astonishment- Mr Ollivander.
The four judges sat next to Bagman, while Ollivander remained standing in the space in the middle of the room.
"May I introduce Mr Ollivander?" Dumbledore said, addressing the champions. "He will be checking your wands to ensure that they are in good condition before the tournament."
Mr Ollivander looked exactly the same as he had the last time Tempest had seen him three years ago. He was an old wizard (not holding a candle to Dumbledore though,) with large pale eyes, and he stood hunched over slightly as he spoke. "Mademoiselle Delacour, could we have you first please?"
Fleur swept over to him, and handed him her wand.
"Hmmm," he said, as he twirled the wand between his long fingers like a baton, and it emitted a number of pink and gold sparks. He then brought it close to his eyes and examined it carefully. "Yes," he said quietly, "nine and a half inches… inflexible… rosewood… and containing… dear me…"
"An 'air from ze 'ead of a veela," said Fleur. "One of my grandmuzzer's"
So Fleur was part Veela, thought Tempest, reminding herself to tell Ron, then remembering that he was being a prick.
"Yes," murmured Ollivander. "Yes, I've never used veela hair myself, of course. I find it makes for rather temperamental wands… however, to each his own, and if this suits you…"
Mr Ollivander ran his fingers down along the wand, checking for scratches or bumps, then he muttered, "Orchideous!" and a bunch of flowers burst from the wand tip.
"Very well, it's in fine working order," the man said, scooping up the flowers and giving them to Fleur, along with her wand.
"Mr Diggory, you next." Fleur glided back to her seat, smiling at Cedric as he passed her.
"Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn't it?" said Mr. Ollivander, with much more enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. "Yes, I remember it well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particularly fine male unicorn… must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quarter inches…ash…pleasantly springy. It's in fine condition… You treat it regularly?"
"Polished it last night," said Cedric, grinning.
Tempest glanced at her own. It looked well enough. She didn't polish it for goodness sakes, but she did keep it clean.
Mr Ollivander sent a cloud of silver smoke up to the ceiling with Cedric's wand, then seemed satisfied. "Mr Krum, if you please."
Krum slouched, round-shouldered and duck-footed towards Ollivander. He thrust his wand out, and then stood scowling, his hands in the pockets of his robes.
"Hmm," said Mr. Ollivander, "this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless I'm much mistaken? A fine wand-maker, though the styling is never quite what I… however…"
He lifted the wand and examined it minutely, turning it over and over before his eyes. "Yes… hornbeam and dragon heartstring?" he shot at Krum, who nodded. "Rather thicker than one usually sees… quite rigid… ten and a quarter inches… Avis!"
The hornbeam wand let off a blast hike a gun, and a number of small, twittering birds flew out of the end and through the open window into the watery sunlight. "Good," said Mr. Ollivander, handing Krum back his wand. "Which leaves… Miss Potter."
Tempest walked over and handed her wand to Ollivander.
"Aaaah, yes," Ollivander said, his pale eyes gleaming suddenly. "Yes, yes, yes. How well I remember."
Tempest swallowed. Four summers ago, on her eleventh birthday, she had entered Ollivander's wand shop with Minnie to buy a wand. She had held wand after wand after wand after wand and destroyed most of Ollivanders shop before she had finally found the wand that she was holding now…
"Holly and Phoenix tail-feather…" Mused Ollivander, rolling Tempest's wand between his fingers. "Only one other wand…"
Tempest's jaw clenched. She knew what the end of the unfinished sentence was. According to Ollivander, the Phoenix that gave the tail-feather in her wand, had given another feather. The other feather which was used in the wand that had given Tempest the scar that stretched down across the right side of her face,
Ollivander spent much longer examining Tempest's wand than anyone else's, so long in fact, that Tempest was starting to worry. Eventually, however, he made a burst of flame from the tip, and then handed it back to Tempest, declaring it was still in perfect condition.
"Thank you all," said Dumbledore, standing up at the judges' table. "You may go back to your lessons now - or perhaps it would be quicker just to go down to dinner, as they are about to end-"
Tempest brightened slightly at that. She could go see Hermione in the Hospital wing… see how she was doing.
Turning to go, Tempest was stopped by the man with the black camera, who cleared his throat.
"Photos, Dumbledore, photos!" cried Bagman excitedly. "All the judges and champions, what do you think, Rita?"
"Er - yes, let's do those first," said Rita Skeeter, whose eyes were upon Tempest again. "And then perhaps some individual shots."
Tempest opened her mouth to protest, but then was shoved down in a chair, and was not given a chance to continue.
The photographs took a long time. Madame Maxime cast everyone else into shadow wherever she stood, and the photographer couldn't stand far enough back to get her into the frame; eventually she had to sit while everyone else stood around her. Karkaroff kept twirling his goatee around his finger to give it an extra curl; Krum, whom Tempest would have thought would have been used to this sort of thing, skulked, half-hidden, at the back of the group. The photographer seemed keenest to get Fleur and Tempest at the front, something Tempest was both disgusted and annoyed at.
Then, after the group photo, Skeeter insisted on separate shots of all the champions. At last, they were free to go. Tempest went down to dinner. Hermione wasn't there – and while Tempest wanted to go see how she was holding up, her stomach ordered her to eat, and so she did.
Tempest sat down beside Ginny and Neville, grabbing some chicken from the plates.
She quickly explained what had happened, and while the two of them looked slightly unnerved that Fleur was being so nice, they worried about Skeeter.
"That woman's a cow!" burst out Ginny finally. "It's like Diggory says- she's printed thousands of articles about my dad too! Don't let her interview you Tempest, she'll twist your words around until they turn into snakes."
Neville hid a smile at Ginny's conviction, but Tempest agreed. They walked up to the Gryffindor Common room after dinner, in the hopes of finding Hermione there, but instead ran into Ron.
"Hello." Tempest said with an air of frigid calm.
Ron merely stood there, jaw clenched. Eventually he spoke. "You've had an owl."
Tempest glanced at Athena, who was perched on the sofa. "As far as I know, my eyesight hasn't deteriorated to the point where I can't see an owl."
"And you've got to do our detentions tomorrow night. Snape's dungeon." Ron continued as if Tempest had never spoken, then turned and walked up to the boys dormitories.
Tempest threw a parting scowl at Ron's back, then walked over to Athena, and untied the letter, quickly scanning it.
Nawww, I missed you too…
When will you ever figure out maybe I like danger? Life's pretty boring without (this was followed by a sketch of the mob dancing around the head on a pike that Tempest had drawn on her previous letter). Look, I'm back in the country, and don't go preaching at me- if our places were reversed you'd be hightailing it back even faster than me, trumpets blaring. –and don't deny it, you're horrible at subtlety. (there was an arrow pointing back up to the mob around the pike)
We need to talk though. There are too many things I can't say in a letter, so Gryffindor common room fire at one in the morning- 22nd November. Be there. Talk to you soon.