The following evening, Tempest trudged down to the dungeons with a stoic Ron, which suited her fine, seeing as she wasn't too happy with him either. The two reached the dungeons in silence and they waited outside the door to Snape's dungeon while the tension mounted.
When Snape swept around the corner- looking as usual like an overgrown bat- Tempest could quite honestly (if disbelievingly) say that she had never been so glad to see the potions master. But then, when she thought about it, that wasn't saying much.
Once both Tempest and Ron were inside- both refusing to meet each other's eyes- Snape told them to clean out the insides of the insides of the cauldrons from a disastrous first year potions class. Without magic.
Of all of the detentions Tempest had ever had- (and that was no small number), it was the absolute worst.
On the bright side, Snape wasn't one to mince words, and his curt instructions meant that Tempest could get started right away and not have to continue standing there, avoiding Ron's gaze and staring at the dingy walls. Tempest was stubborn yes- but there was only so long she could stare at the same thing without becoming so bored out of her mind she might as well have been trapped in a jar. After all, she got bored of being bored very quickly as being bored was boring.
On the not-so-bright side, it also meant that it was utterly silent in the dungeons, and every tiny sound was magnified by about a thousand, echoing around the stone walls. The silence hanging over her like a stifling blanket.
And that wasn't even all. Of all things to clean out- cauldrons were the hardest. The damn things were too bulky for Tempest to wrap her arms around to hold still while she scrubbed the inside, and were too round for her to turn sideways on a desk (they kept on rolling everywhere) and also whatever the first years had been making, it seemed to be have been designed specifically to stick to the insides of the cauldron with admirable determination.
Tempest sighed impatiently after a few minutes of pointless scrubbing and grab the cauldron she was currently cleaning, sat down on the stone floor of the dungeon, abandoned the brush she was holding, shoved up her sleeves, and went in elbow deep with a clump of steel wool, clamping the cauldron in place with her knees, and began scrubbing as though the cauldron had offended her personally.
Well- remembering all the horrible potions classes, Tempest had had as a first year, they may as well have.
Tempest was on her fourth cauldron and Ron still on his first when there was a sudden bang, and her head snapped up, to see Ron throw himself down on the dungeon floor, and imitating Tempest, began scrubbing at his cauldron, scowling furiously.
Ron looked up at the exact same moment, and for a second, they merely stared at each other.
Tempest arched an eyebrow.
Ron continued scowling.
Tempest's eyebrows continued crawling up her forehead.
Ron's scowl deepened until he was practically squinting.
Tempest's lips twitched.
Ron's face was running through about ten different expressions at once, trying to hold back a smile.
Oh to hell with it.
Yes she had been pissed at Ron- and yes he was a dick- but admittedly she wasn't all that great either, and above all he was her friend- and Tempest didn't have all that many of them, and the ones she had she didn't throw aside lightly… so she grinned across the room at him, and Ron grinned back, and they were friends again.
Tempest smiled into the disgusting depths of the cauldron, feeling decidedly lighter than she had been when she walked into the dungeon. That was until her hand slipped, and she slammed her funny bone into the side of the cauldron.
Cussing and bonding over disgusting cauldrons full of crap. It made anyone's day.
Hermione was ecstatic that Tempest and Ron were friends again, and was incoherent with giddiness for the following few minutes after the two walked into the Gryffindor common room chatting together like they had never argued in the first place.
Ginny was less impressed, only glancing up and commenting- "About time you got your act together." But Hagrid could have burst through the Fat Lady portrait that very moment with his arms full of Blast Ended Skrewts, and it still would not have been enough to ruin Tempest's mood.
Not even the events of the following day, when Tempest walked into the Great Hall and was instantly hit with the sound of the jeering Slytherins and was confronted with the day's edition of the Daily Prophet.
The article and photos on the Triwizard Champions had been published in the Daily Prophet, but it wasn't so much of an article about the tournament than a highly detailed biography about the one and only Chosen One- Tempestas Potter.
Rita Skeeter had covered the front page of the Daily Prophet and most of the rest of the newspaper, with blown up images of Tempest who was glowering at the camera behind a curtain of hair.
Skeeter had written practically nothing on the Tournament itself, and the other champion's names (which were misspelled) were crammed onto the very last line of the article, whereas Cedric hadn't been mentioned at all.
Tempest couldn't really have cared less about all the jeering. She had had her share of rumours about her in the past and by experience,= knew that the best thing that she could possibly do was ignore it. Before, the worst thing that had happened was that she has lost Ron's friendship and then she had been too pissed for that to be a negative thing. Now… the newspaper article just seemed pathetic.
It was ten days later and while Tempest continued to ignore the attempts to rile her, it was rather annoying listening to the Slytherins constantly quoting phases from the article at her in hallways and in class… words that she had supposedly said in an interview, yet words that Tempest couldn't remember ever saying in her life, much less to Skeeter…
As the interview begins, I am struck by the misfortune of the girl sitting before me. 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 as many have said, are the only remains of her mother.
She talks of trying to live up to her parents great names, to fill the giant shoes which have been put before her and the acknowledgement of the tremendous tasks ahead. "But somehow… I know I'll be alright. I know I get my strength from my parents, and I'm sure they'd be very proud of me if they could see me now… sometimes at night I still cry about them, I'm not ashamed to admit it… but with all the extra precautions taken this year, I'm not afraid of what is coming in the tournament, I know nothing can hurt me because they're watching over me…" And even now, tears fill her eyes as her thoughts turn to her parents who she can barely remember…
Tempest scowled and skirted around a group of Slytherin fourth-year girls as they passed by. If she ever got her hands on Skeeter…
On a completely different note, Tempest still hadn't mastered Summoning Charms, something that frustrated her to no-end. Flitwick had said before that Tempest had obviously inherited her mother's knack for charms, (something she really doubted right now), but she seemed to have developed a block for the Summoning charm, and it, along with everything else grated on her nerves. Hermione insisted that learning the theory would help, and so with less than good grace, Tempest had been spending more and more time in the library at lunchtime, which made Tempest rather sick of the books.
Viktor Krum was in the library a lot too, something Tempest noticed as wherever Krum went, consequently dozens of his fan girls would follow, something that annoyed Hermione and Tempest to no end in the library.
They didn't mind Krum so much, if only Ron would stop obsessing about him and Krum didn't really do anything to disturb them, just skulking behind the shelves and glowering at them occasionally, but Hermione was incensed at the noise that the giggling fan girls made.
"What do they see in him? Does he have a personality at all?" Hermione muttered angrily one afternoon after threatening to hex the girls if they didn't shut up, "They only like him because he's famous! I bet they don't even know him, or when his birthday is! They wouldn't look twice at him if he couldn't do that Wonky-Faint thing…"
Tempest, wanting to laugh, but not letting the insult to Quiddtich pass, muttered, "Wronski-Feint," while Ron fell out of his chair howling with laughter as Madam Pince rounded the shelf opposite them and ordered them to be silent, or leave.
On the Saturday before the first task, Tempest felt woefully unprepared, but Hermione convinced her to come with them to Hogsmeade to relax.
"Sure. Relax. I'm relaxed." Tempest snorted as they walked down to the village. She hadn't really thought about the first task at all really- stuffing the looming event in some corner of her mind, point blank refusing to think of it… only now it was in her face, and she was woefully unprepared.
Tempest was hidden under the invisibility cloak, a precaution so that in case they ran into Skeeter… Well, it was best for everyone if she remained hidden.
The five of them- Tempest, Hermione, Fred, George and Ron walked down to Hogsmeade, and Tempest relished in the freedom. It was so relieving to not have people pawing over her, reciting the same damned quotes from the Prophet over and over again- and although the Slytherins still did throw pointed remarks at the rest of the (visible) group, there nothing as bad as they did to Tempest.
As they stepped out of Honeydukes, Tempest quickly stowing a large bag of sweets in the pocket of her muggle clothes and rearranging the invisibility cloak, courtesy of George, who insisted on buying Tempest what seemed like half the store seeing as Tempest couldn't herself, they passed Rita Skeeter, who to her relief, walked straight by them without a second glance.
"She's staying in the village. I bet she's coming to watch the first task to write more horrible things about you Tempest." Ron said, glaring at the woman's departing back.
Tempest grimaced at Skeeter's back, then had to turn away before she sent a curse at Skeeter's undefended back.
"She's gone." Fred finally said, his hand twitching to his wand in his pocket, like he was thinking the exact same thing as Tempest.
Tempest grinned, and then whispered so that only the other five could hear, "Let's go to the three Broomsticks. My feet are freezing."
They agreed and trudged over to the bar, pushing open the door and relishing the blast of warm air that enveloped them.
As they walked in, the other four hustled around Tempest, to make sure that no one would accidently walk into her, or pull the cloak off. After all, it was very hard to move through crowds in the Invisibility Cloak.
They found an empty table, which was a miracle in itself, as most tables were full, filled with Hogwarts students enjoying Butterbeers in safety from the biting wind outside.
As Ron slipped off to buy some, Tempest let her gaze wander over students, villagers Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students alike. To her surprise, while the other school visitors hadn't been exactly friendly to Tempest, neither were they hostile and unlike half of the Hogwarts students, they did not shoot Tempest evil looks when they saw her, which led Tempest to believe that Fleur and Krum had told their schoolmates the truth. Tempest could understand partly why Fleur would stand up for her, they had about sort-of gotten along in the one conversation they had, but she did not understand why Krum would have. He didn't seem like the type to go to extra lengths for his competition.
In any case…
As Fred and George chatted about a prank they were going to pull the next day, Ron returned with the Butterbeers and then proceeded to argue with Hermione about S.P.E.W.
Tempest muttered a quick 'thank you' as Ron pushed a steaming mug to her under the cloak, and sipped at it as she kept staring out over the other tables.
Tempest wondered absentmindedly about what the other champions would be feeling in regards to the first task. She hadn't spoken to any of them in days, when she saw Cedric in corridors in-between classes, he had always been surrounded by admirers, looking nervous but excited. Fleur seemed at ease, sometimes smiling and laughing with her friends from Beauxbatons, but most of the time haughty and unruffled. Krum… well he merely sat in the library, and from what little Tempest could tell, he didn't look very concerned, only pouring over books with almost as much attention as Hermione did with her own…
"You know, maybe I should try and get some of the villagers involved in S.P.E.W," Hermione commented.
Ron snorted. "Yeah right. Hermione, when are you going to give up this spew stuff?"
Hermione glared at Ron as he took a swig of Butterbeer. "It's S.P.E.W Ronald, and I will stop when house-elves have decent wages and working conditions! You know, I'm starting to think it's time for more direct action. I wonder how you get into the school kitchens?"
Ron held up his hands. "No idea, ask Fred and George."
Hermione turned to the twins questioningly, and they very pointedly started becoming very interested in their Butterbeers. "We're not telling you 'mione, you'll have them all quitting and then who's going to be making all the delicious feasts?"
Hermione glared at them with enough venom to defeat a basilisk. "Trust boys to think with their stomachs- come on Tempest, you know, right?"
Hermione turned to Tempest, talking to Tempest's shoulder. "Yeah, I know, but sorry, Hermione, I'm with the guys."
"Oh! Will an-"
"It's straight under the Great Hall, down the staircase leading to the Hufflepuff Basement, and then you'll come across a painting of a bowl of giant fruit. You reach out and tickle the pear, and it'll turn into a giant doorknob, you turn it- and there you go!"
Fred and George gapped at their Ginny, who had just entered the room and seated herself beside them. Ginny took a sip of her Butterbeer serenely.
"How'd you know that?" asked George.
Ginny smirked. "You think that when you sneak out at night no-one follows you? I learn dear brothers, I learn."
Tempest silently applauded Ginny then cursed, while the twins and Ron merely gapped at her. Hermione shot a beaming smile at Ginny, before carefully writing down the directions. "Thank you Ginny."
After a moment, the five began talking about Professor Sprout's next assignment, something to do with a hybrid plant and something about Snarglepuffs, something Tempest had never heard of before.
As Tempest thought of Sirius, she felt a rush of euphoria. In just over twelve hours, she would be able to talk to Sirius… Merlin she had missed him… which was rather foolish, seeing as she had only really known him for a year- seven eights of which she had spent thinking he was a murderer and had a hand in the death of her parents...
"It's Hagrid!" Ron suddenly exclaimed, and Tempest's head jerked up only to see the back of Hagrid's enormous shaggy head over the crowd. Tempest wondered why she hadn't seen him before, but then she realized he was bending over to talk to Professor Moody, who was seated at a table with him. Hagrid was draining his usual huge mug, while Moody was taking swigs from his hip flask. Madam Rosemerta who was collecting empty glasses from around them, looked insulted as though Moody was making a personal insult to her mead, but Tempest knew better.
A rather foolish question from Lavender Brown in class had led to Tempest discovering that Moody preferred to prepare all of his own food and drink at all times, as it was so easy for Dark wizards to poison an unattended cup.
As Tempest watched, she saw the two stand up to leave, and forgetting that they couldn't see her, she waved.
To her amazement though, Moody turned back, as though he could see her, and tapped Hagrid's back- unable to reach his shoulder- and the pair of them turned back and walked over to their table.
"All 'igh Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, Ginny?" Then in an undertone he added, "Tempest."
"Hello," five chorused, Tempest remaining silent, although she did give Hagrid a smile that he couldn't see.
Moody limped around the table and bent over Hermione's notebook like he was examining the S.P.E.W page, then he muttered from the corner of his mouth, "Nice cloak, Miss Potter."
Tempest stared at him in shock, and while his normal eye was fixed on the notebook, his other eye was fixed on her. "Uh… so, that eye of yours… can it see-"
Moody grinned, scars shifting horrifically. "Yeah, it can see through invisibility cloaks. Yours is a mighty fine one. And it's come in useful at times, I can tell you."
Hagrid was beaming at her, and although Tempest knew he couldn't see her, Moody must have told him she was sitting in the apparently empty chair. He too bent over Hermione's notebook, then whispered to Tempest's chest (Tempest assumed that Hagrid thought he was talking to her ear- because at the moment, she really was quite uncomfortable,) "Tempest, meet me tonight at midnight at me cabin wit' that cloak."
Then straightening up, Hagrid said loudly, "Nice ter see yeh, yeh five." Winked, and left with Moody following.
"What does he want to meet me for at midnight tonight?" Tempest said, while the five turned to her in surprise.
"Does he?" George asked. "Well, we can sneak you down easy, we'll create a distraction, and you can slip by under your cloak…"
Tempest frowned. She appreciated it, but it was cutting her time with Sirius quite fine, and she might miss him… And if she had to choose between the two, she would choose Sirius. After all, she saw Hagrid every day.
"Well, meeting Hagrid does seem important, I mean he's never asked you to meet him that late before has he?" Seeing Tempest's nod, Fred continued. "Well then it means that it's serious. Maybe Ron and Hermione can be by the fire while you're gone, just to make sure that no one notices Sirius if he's there early, and if he wants to leave a message they can take it."
Tempest nodded slowly. Even though she would much rather see Sirius herself if she had the chance, she did admit that it was odd that Hagrid wanted her over so late.
At half past eleven that evening, Fred and George set off a few dungbombs in the common room, and as everyone fled out through the Fat Lady, Tempest followed under the cloak unnoticed.
The grounds were very dark as Tempest walked down the lawn and towards the lights shining in Hagrid's cabin under the invisibility cloak, and she could see the glowing lights from the enormous Beauxbatons carriage and hear the booming voice of Madame Maxime inside as Tempest knocked on Hagrid's front door.
"Tempest? You there?" asked Hagrid, glancing straight through Tempest as he opened the door a crack.
"Yeah!" Tempest slid by Hagrid and pulled off the cloak. "What did you want to see me for?"
"Got summat ter show yeh," Hagrid said,
He seemed oddly excited and Tempest noticed with no small amount of horror, that he was wearing a flower that resembled an oversized artichoke in his buttonhole, and he had tried to comb his hair. (Tempest could see the broken teeth of a comb tangled in it)
"What do you want to show me?" Tempest asked warily, wondering whether or not Hagrid had bought another three-headed dog, come across another dragon's egg, or if the number of Blast Ended Skrewts had doubled overnight.
None of those possibilities sat very well with Tempest.
"Come with me, keep quiet, an' keep yerself covered with that cloak, we won' take Fang, he won' like it…" Hagrid trailed off.
"Listen Hagrid, I can't be here for long, I need to go and get back to the castle at one…."
But Hagrid who usually always listened, wasn't. He was already opening the cabin door and walking off into the night. Tempest- quickly ducking back under her cloak, followed, and was confused that Hagrid was walking towards the Beauxbatons carriage.
"Hagrid, if this isn't important then-"
"Shhh!" Hagrid said, and he knocked on the door.
Madame Maxime opened it. She was wearing a silk shawl wrapped around her massive shoulders. She smiled when she saw Hagrid. "Ah, 'Agrid… it is time?"
Hagrid seemed speechless, beaming at her, but he held out a hand to help her down the golden steps. Madame Maxime closed the door behind her, Hagrid offered her his arm, and they set off around the edge of the paddock containing Madame Maxime's giant winged horses.
Tempest, completely bewildered like she had been hit with a Confundus had to run to keep up. Was Hagrid wanting Tempest to tag along on his date? But apparently even Madam Maxime was out of the loop. "Wair is it you are taking me, 'Agrid?"
"Yeh'll enjoy this," said Hagrid gruffly, "worth seein', trust me. On'y - don' go tellin' anyone I showed yeh, right? Yeh're not s'posed ter know."
"Of course not," said Madame Maxime, fluttering her long black eyelashes.
Tempest rolled her eyes. Even though she rather liked Fleur and Madame Maxime, she was positive that it was an empty promise.
And still they walked, Tempest getting more and more irritated as she jogged along in their wake, glancing down at the watch Ron had given her last year. Hagrid had some hare-brained scheme in hand, which might make her miss Sirius. If she didn't get there soon, she was going to turn around, go straight back to the castle, and leave Hagrid to enjoy his moonlit stroll with Madame Maxime.
But suddenly after they had walked so far Tempest was almost sure she was lost- Tempest heard something. There were people shouting up ahead, and there was a deafening ear splitting roar…
Hagrid and Madame Maxime walked around a clump of trees and then stopped, making Tempest almost run into Hagrid's broad back.
The sudden light of the clearing blinded Tempest for a moment, and then her eyes focused, and she gapped at the sight.
Dragons. Four fully grown, enormous, vicious-looking dragons were rearing onto their hind legs inside an enclosure fenced with thick planks of wood, roaring and snorting - torrents of fire were shooting into the dark sky from their open, fanged mouths, fifty feet above the ground on their outstretched necks. There was a silvery-blue one with long, pointed horns, snapping and snarling at the wizards on the ground; a smooth-scaled green one, which was writhing and stamping with all its might; a red one with an odd fringe of fine gold spikes around its face, which was shooting mushroom-shaped fire clouds into the air; and a gigantic black one, more lizard like than the others, which was nearest to Tempest.
At least thirty wizards, seven or eight to each dragon, were attempting to control them, pulling on the chains connected to heavy leather straps around their necks and legs. Mesmerised, Tempest looked up, high above them, and saw the eyes of the black dragon, with vertical pupils like a cat's, bulging with either fear or rage, they couldn't tell which…It was making a horrible noise, a yowling, screeching scream.
"Keep back there, Hagrid!" yelled a wizard near the fence, who sounded oddly familiar, straining on the chain he was holding. "They can shoot fire at a range of twenty feet, you know! I've seen this Horntail do forty!"
"Is'n' it beautiful?" said Hagrid softly.
In an odd way, Tempest could see what he meant.
"It's no good!" another wizard yelled, pulling out his wand. "Stunning spells, on the count of three!"
Tempest saw all of the other wizards pull out wands just as the chains holding the Horntail snapped.
The Horntail lunged forward towards the closest wizard just as all of the keepers yelled "Stupefy!"
The Stunning Spells shot into the darkness like fiery rockets, bursting in showers of stars on the dragons' scaly hides - Tempest watched the dragon nearest to her teeter dangerously on its back legs; its jaws stretched wide in a silent howl; its nostrils were suddenly devoid of flame, though still smoking - then, very slowly, it fell. Several tons of sinewy, scaly black dragon hit the ground with a thud that made Tempest almost loose her balance on the level ground.
The dragon keepers lowered their wands and walked forward to their fallen charges, each of which was the size of a small hill. They hurried to tighten the chains and fasten them securely to iron pegs, which they forced deep into the ground with their wands.
"Wan' a closer look?" Hagrid asked Madame Maxime excitedly. The pair of them moved right up to the fence, and Tempest, rather reluctantly- followed. The wizard who had warned Hagrid not to come any closer turned, and Tempest realised who it was: Charlie Weasley.
"All right, Hagrid?" he panted, coming over to talk. "They should be okay now - we put them out with a Sleeping Draught on the way here, thought it might be better for them to wake up in the dark and the quiet - but, like you saw, they weren't happy, not happy at all -"
"What breeds you got here, Charlie?" said Hagrid, gazing at the closest dragon, the black one, with something chose to reverence. Its eyes were still just open. Tempest could see a strip of gleaming yellow beneath its wrinkled black eyelid, and against her will (after all, it could kill her, and as things turned out- it probably would) Tempest felt rather sorry for it.
"This is a Hungarian Horntail," said Charlie. "There's a Common Welsh Green over there, the smaller one — a Swedish Short-Snout, that blue-grey — and a Chinese Fireball, that's the red." Charlie looked around; Madame Maxime was strolling away around the edge of the enclosure, gazing at the stunned dragons.
"I didn't know you were bringing her, Hagrid," Charlie said, frowning. "The champions aren't supposed to know what's coming - she's bound to tell her student, isn't she?"
"Jus' thought she'd like ter see 'em," shrugged Hagrid, still gazing, enraptured, at the dragons.
"Really romantic date, Hagrid," said Charlie, shaking his head.
Tempest snorted quietly and agreed.
"Four…" said Hagrid, "so it's one fer each o' the champions, is it? What've they gotta do - fight 'em?" Tempest barely restrained a protest- fight one of those things? And then another part of her realized that Hagrid was asking for her benefit.
"Just get past them, I think," said Charlie. "We'll be on hand if it gets nasty, Extinguishing Spells at the ready. They wanted nesting mothers, I don't know why… but I tell you this, I don't envy the one who gets the Horntail. Vicious thing. Its back end's as dangerous as its front, look."
Charlie pointed toward the Horntail's tail, and Tempest saw long, bronze-coloured spikes protruding along it every few inches.
Tempest's overactive imagination showed her graphic images of herself being impaled on those spikes, and she shuddered.
Five of Charlie's fellow keepers staggered forwards to the collapsed Horntail then, carrying a blanket with around a dozen huge dragon eggs in it. They placed them carefully by the Horntail's side (and with a sudden shock, Tempest realized that the dragon must be a female) while Hagrid let out a moan of longing, which Tempest grinned at.
"I've got them counted, Hagrid," said Charlie sternly. Then he said, "How's Tempest?"
"Fine," said Hagrid still staring at the eggs.
"Just hope Tempest's still fine after she's faced this lot," said Charlie darkly, looking at the dragon's enclosure. "I didn't dare tell mum what she's got to do for the first task, she's already having kittens about her…"
Tempest gave a small smile. Minnie was practically a mother to her (outside of school) but so was Mrs Weasley, and they were both as close as Tempest was likely to get to her actual mother, thought Tempest rather bitterly.
Charlie imitated his mother's anxious voice. "How could they let Tempest enter that tournament, she's much too young! And even if she was old enough… I thought they were all safe! I thought there was going to be an age limit! Why didn't Dumbledore do anything? She was in floods after that Daily Prophet article about her. I mean, I know it was just a pack of lies, but she didn't. 'She still cries about her parents! She wants to make them proud! Oh bless her, I never knew!'
Tempest was mortified. Trusting to the fact that with the combined distraction of Madame Maxime and the four dragons Hagrid wouldn't miss her, Tempest turned and began to walk away back to the castle.
Tempest wasn't sure whether or not she was glad that she now knew what was coming. Maybe it was better this way- the first shock was over now, and maybe if on Tuesday she had seen the dragons for the first time in the arena (or wherever the first task was going to be held) she would have passed out cold. Now she had gotten over it…. And what? She was going to be armed with her wand - which, just now, felt like nothing more than a narrow strip of wood — against a fifty-foot-high, scaly, spike-ridden, fire-breathing dragon. And she had to get past it. With everyone watching. How? Tempest had just been planning on doing one of the things she did best- improvise, but now that didn't seem like the best idea at the moment.
Tempest sped up, skirting the edge of the forest; she had just under fifteen minutes to get back to the fireside and talk to Sirius, and Tempest couldn't remember ever, wanting to talk to someone more than she did right now — when, without warning, she ran into something very solid.
Tempest fell backwards, clutching the cloak to her, making sure she remained invisible, and thanking Merlin that she did not wear glasses like her father did.
"Ouch! Who's there?" a rather unwelcome voice said.
Tempest hastily checked that the cloak was covering her and lay very still, staring up at the dark outline of the wizard they had hit. She recognized the goatee…it was Karkaroff.
"Who's there?" said Karkaroff again, very suspiciously, looking around in the darkness. Tempest remained still and silent. After a minute or so, Karkaroff seemed to decide that he had hit some sort of animal; he was looking around at waist height, as though expecting to see a dog. Then he crept back under the cover of the trees and started to edge forward toward the place where the dragons were.
Very slowly and very carefully, Tempest got to her feet, and set off again as fast as she could without making too much noise, hurrying through the darkness back toward Hogwarts.
She had no doubt whatsoever what Karkaroff was up to. He had sneaked off his ship to try and find out what the first task was going to be. He might even have spotted Hagrid and Madame Maxime heading off around the forest together – they were hardly difficult to spot at a distance… and now all Karkaroff had to do was follow the sound of voices, and he, like Madame Maxime, would know what was in store for the champions. By the looks of it, the only champion who would be facing the unknown on Tuesday was Cedric.
Tempest slipped in through the front doors, and began to climb the marble stairs; she was out of breath and her chest was hurting, but she only had five minutes left, and she needed to hurry….
"Balderdash!" Tempest gasped at the Fat Lady, who was half asleep in her frame.
"If you say so," she muttered, and the portrait swung forward without her even opening her eyes.
Tempest climbed inside and pulled off the cloak.
Hermione and Ron were sitting by the fire, Ron asleep and drooling slightly, Hermione looking only slightly better and reading a book that was several inches thick.
"Hi Hermione," panted Tempest, "Has Sirius-?"
Hermione was shaking her head. "Not yet. What about you Tempest? What did Hagrid want?"
Tempest opened her mouth to reply, but the words stuck in her throat as she tried to explain, and then her eyes fell on the flames, and she jumped as she saw Sirius's face staring back at her.
"Sirius!" Tempest was only barely aware of Hermione saying something about giving them a bit of privacy and getting Ron to bed, she was too busy grinning at Sirius.
"Padfoot!" Tempest greeted, letting out a breath she hadn't known she was holding.
Sirius looked much different from the last time Tempest had seen him. When they had said goodbye last year, Sirius's face had been gaunt and sunken, surrounded by a large quantity of long black, matted hair, but the hair was shorter and clean now, Sirius's face was fuller, and he looked much younger and handsome, resembling the man in the photograph Tempest had of him at her parent's wedding.
"Temper," Sirius replied, a rather lopsided smile tugging at his lips.
"Hi." Tempest said, rather stupidly. "Guess what? I'm screwed."
"I love your greetings," Sirius said dryly. "Yeah, I've heard, Triwizard Tournament, huh?"
"Not just that," Tempest said, rubbing the back of her head. "The first task, it's dragons."
Sirius stared at her incredulously, his eyes fixed on hers, eyes that had not lost the look that Azkaban had given them- that deadened, haunted look which cut straight through Tempest. Tempest could recognize it, she had seen it for years after the Dursley's, every time she looked in a mirror. The look of eyes that had seen things that no-one should ever have to.
After a moment, he took a breath and said; "Dragons we can deal with Tempest, but we'll get to that- I haven't got long, I broke into a Wizarding house to firecall, but they could be back any time. I need to warn you."
"Warn me of?" asked Tempest, wondering what could be worse than battling a dragon.
"Karkaroff," said Sirius, "Tempest, he was a Death Eater, you know what Death Eaters are, don't you?"
Tempest nodded numbly.
"He was caught, and was in Azkaban with me, but he was released. I'd bet almost everything I own –and that isn't much- that's why Dumbledore wanted an Auror at Hogwarts this year. To keep an eye on him. Moody caught Karkaroff. Put him into Azkaban in the first place."
"Karkaroff got released?" Tempest said slowly, trying to understand everything that had just happened in the past twenty-four hours. "Why… Why was he released?"
"He made a deal with the Ministry of Magic," Sirius said darkly. "He said he'd seen the error of his ways, and then he gave up names- he put a load of other people into Azkaban… anything to keep himself out- and yes, the accused deserved it for what they did… But he's not very popular there as you can imagine, I heard them screaming his name some nights… In any case," Sirius continued, seeing the look on Tempest's face, "Since he got out, from what I've heard, he's been teaching the Dark Arts to every student who passes through that school of his. So watch out for the Durmstrang champion and students too…"
"Okay…" Tempest said slowly. "So… Did he put my name in the Goblet of Fire? Because he looked like it was the last thing he wanted…"
"I know he's a good actor," said Sirius. "He convinced the Ministry to set him free didn't he? Temper, just be careful, I've been keeping an eye on the Daily Prophet-"
Tempest laughed bitterly, rolling her eyes. "Ah? And how are you finding it?"
"-very entertaining," Sirius grimaced. "but reading between the lines of that Skeeter woman's article last month, Moody was attacked the night before he started at Hogwarts."
Tempest nodded. She remembered Skeeter writing that it was a false alarm, but she wasn't inclined to think that was the truth as it was Skeeter writing after all.
"I don't think it was a false alarm either," Sirius continued, "I think someone tried to stop him from getting to Hogwarts. I think someone knew their job would be a lot more difficult with him around. I mean, no one's going to look into it too closely, Mad-Eye's cried wolf a bit too often, but that doesn't' mean he can't still spot the real thing. Moody was the best Auror the Ministry ever had."
"So Karkaroff's trying to kill me." Tempest stated rather matter-of-fact. It was hardly new news.
Sirius smiled wryly. "You're so much like your dad you know Tempest?"
Tempest just gave a tired smile, she had heard it so many times, but it seemed different coming from Sirius. As if it actually meant something. "Thanks Padfoot"
"Ten times hotter though," Sirius grinned.
That made her laugh. "Don't let him hear that."
"I'll keep that in mind."
The two smirked at each other.
Sirius cleared his throat. "Back to the point though. I've been hearing strange things though. The Death Eaters- the free ones at least- they seem a bit more active than usual lately. They showed themselves publicly at the Quidditch World Cup, didn't they? Someone set off the Dark Mark… and then- did you hear about that Ministry witch who's gone missing?"
"Bertha something," Tempest answered.
"Jorkins," Sirius confirmed. "She disappeared in Albania, and that's where Voldemort was rumoured to be last. She would have known the Triwizard Tournament was coming up wouldn't she?"
"Well yeah, I heard Bagman say that she was in his department… but… It's not exactly likely that she'd have been the one person to know about the Triwizard Tournament to have been so mind-numbingly stupid as to have walked straight into Voldemort right?"
Sirius shook his head. "Well… knowing her… we went to Hogwarts together- she was a few years above, but I knew her. Very nosy, an idiot, and no brains. None at all. It's not a good combination Temper, she'd be very easy to lure into a trap."
"So…" Tempest shook her head to clear it, then began again. "So… Voldemort found out about the Tournament, sent someone to Hogwarts to put my name into the cup- tried to get rid of Moody… And all of this somehow boils down to me dying in the tournament." Tempest stated. "Of all of the ways to kill me off, I think this is the most roundabout and complicated and so incredibly overthought, I'm finding it almost funny."
"You have the most twisted sense of humour I have ever encountered."
"You're one to talk," Tempest snickered, "you were the one howling with laughter at a dementor."
"Hey- I was insane then."
"Oh- sure, when it suits your fancy," Tempest laughed. "Well, equally as unnecessary as it is, it's a great plan. Easier to just drop a bag of bricks on my head in an alleyway- but they just need to stand back and let the dragons do their thing."
"Right- these dragons," Sirius said, speeding up now, "Don't use a Stunning Spell- they're too strong and powerfully magical to be knocked out, and if you miss it might make it even worse for you- you'd need around half a dozen wizards at a time to overcome a dragon-"
"Yeah, I saw, although the Basilisk was sort of the same size… I guess all I need is a phoenix and sword and I'll be set."
"How in merlin's name have you managed to survive for so long?"
Tempest gave a dry chuckle. "Dunno. I just sort of blunder though- do what I do… and Luck's always had a soft spot for me."
"Do what you do, huh?" Sirius laughed. "Usually I'd laugh in the person's face- but seeing as I'm already doing it, and doing what you do seems to work pretty well for you… I'd say stick with it."
"Yeah… or I could just start carrying around four-leaf clovers."
"Seeing as you supported Bulgaria at the world cup, I wouldn't expect much luck forthcoming, Tempest- stick to your own strengths." Sirius's voice was monotoned serious, but his eyes were laughing.
"I have been doing a lot of weightlifting lately-"
"Shhh-" Sirius jerked in the fire, turning his head as though he was looking behind him. "I think… Shit! -Temper, I think the family is home- Just, Tempest, you'll do great, just keep an eye out, I'm proud of you, try not to get killed and-"
The flames flared, and Sirius's face vanished.
"Sirius!" Tempest leaned forward, burning her hands in the fire, but he was gone.
Later that night, Tempest lay in her bed, Nyx purring on her chest. "Hey Nyx." Tempest murmured. "You've got it easy haven't you? No dragons trying to eat you… No insane dark wizards going for your neck…"
Nyx replied by purring, and Tempest rolled over, pulling the blanket over her, and stuffing her invisibility cloak under her pillow.
"Yeah I thought so."
Severus Snape, the bat of the dungeons sat at his desk in his quarters in the castle marking some sixth year essays. Only one or two were passable, the rest wore than dragon dung.
With a final 'D' on the last, Severus set down the quill, and leaned back scowling, then poured himself a glass of brandy from a bottle on the desk.
He usually hated sprits, his memories of his late drunken father had assured that Severus stayed as far away from the drink as possible but right now…
Severus absentmindedly scratched at the faint outline of the Dark Mark on his left forearm. It was darkening, and he knew that soon the Dark Lord would return, and when that happened…
The man took another draught from the glass.
Then there was Tempestas Potter.
Severus could still remember the day that he had received the letter from Lily saying she was pregnant. It was the second time she had written to him in over five years. The first time had been a stiff formal letter saying that she was getting married. To James bloody Potter.
He had burned it the instant he reached the end, not even bothering to read the invitation. It was just adding insult to injury.
The second letter though, Severus couldn't bear to burn. She had named the girl- it was a girl the letter said- Tempestas, or Tempest for short. Lily had said it was a truce, that she wanted Sev back- her childhood best friend, and to let old grudges. It was a peace offering. A sign that she could forgive and forget.
But his pride had rebelled and he had thrown Lily's invitation at her feet, when she had offered with open arms.
Tempestas was the very first spell that Sev had shown Lily. They were ten and sitting by the lake near Lily's house, and it was snowing, chunks of ice floating in the water as the two stared out over the white fields.
"Show me some spells Sev!" Lily had said, and Sev had wondered about what spell to show her. He had learnt thousands of dark ones from the books his mother had stowed in the attic out of his father's reach, but somehow he doubted Lily would like them. She was just too good… Too light…
So he used one of the charms he had learned, one he thought would impress her. She loved watching the snow fall after all…
"Tempestas!" Sev had said, gesturing with his hand. They didn't have wands yet, but wandless magic had always come easily to Sev.
The gust of wind had swept flurries in the snow, swirling it up and around in a vortex, like a winter wonderland.
Lily had laughed and flung her arms around Sev and kissing his cheek. Sev had frozen in complete shock. "That was amazing Sev! You're my best friend no matter what, you know that?" she breathed in his ear, her clear green eyes sparkling and gleaming with enthusiasm. "Teach me!"
So he had taught her, and for days afterward she was constantly yelling "Tempestas!" at every opportunity, so much that Sev joked about the Ministry being called in for underage magic even though Lily wasn't even eleven yet, or received her letter.
It was a truce, the Potter girl was a truce, named after what Severus had always called the best day in his life, a symbol of Sev and Lily's friendship. Only it was ridiculous, because the child was James Potter's, and every single time Severus saw Lily's eyes staring out from Potter's face… How could the girl have anything to do with Severus? With the two best friends who sat by the lake during the holidays chattering about magic? Lily bouncing with enthusiasm and Sev smiling faintly, sometimes watching Lily from the corner of his eye, marvelling that someone like her, called him her 'best friend', pecked him on the cheek and dragged him off to go play.
After all, it was Lily Evans who had taught Sev how to love, and Sev who had never experienced love at all… What could he do but fall in love with Lily?
Except Lily hadn't felt the same and fallen for James Potter, the arrogant toerag they had both used to hate…
And so after a stupid mistake in fifth year, Sev had lost everything, buried himself in the Dark Arts, and then ended up on the other side of the line from Lily Evans, not even being able to return to the light when the only person he had ever- and would ever love, offered.
And now Lily Evans was gone, and all he had left of her was her and Potter's child, the insufferable brat who was her father through and through. Quidditch star, excellent at transfiguration, popular… famous…
And then as she grew older, the real torture began.
She was just so much like Lily, and as third year swept by, Severus could not help noticing that Tempest no longer resembled her father so much. She was just as ridiculously tall, along with her head of shaggy black hair that she insisted on wearing as a ragged mess, but her features began changing, shifting in a way.
Every time Severus looked at Tempest Potter, he could see Lily in her smile, the light in her eyes when she laughed… And then James Potter appeared in her face, and it was all Severus could do to not yell in frustration.
And then it was not only in looks. The girl was just as adept at transfiguration as her cursed father had been before her, but a stab of pain always shot through Severus as he remembered reports from Flitwick that Tempest was j
just as talented at charms as her mother had been, and her favourite spell was her namesake Tempestas…
And even worse in Potions, the girl was every bit as a painful reminder of Lily, instinctively knowing which ingredients went into which potion, never needing to glance at the instructions.. Being every bit of the brilliant Gryffindor girl that Severus had fallen in love with only a part of her that was untouchable because of James Potter, because of the Dark Lord, because of Albus Dumbledore, and because of his own stubborn pride.
Every time he glowered at her, every time he sneered down his nose at her, he saw Lily's eyes, and the heat and fight in her, and somehow Severus couldn't stop wondering if there had never been James Potter, if he had never called Lily that horrible word, if the girl who glared back defiantly with all of Lily's fire could have been his own.
After all, Lily had always saved Sev from himself so many times, she could have saved Sev from the Dark Arts, the Dark Lord… He would never have fallen into the dark and lost Lily Evans, and perhaps their friendship would have endured, and perhaps, over time… Tempestas Lily Potter could have been his daughter…
Severus slammed the empty glass back down on the desk, glaring at the stone wall opposite.
Curse himself. It was ridiculous. Lily Evans had always been too good for the greasy Slytherin git after all. And after all, Severus would never want to curse anyone with his last name. Tempest Snape? No.
But the images still would not leave.
Ever since he was the shy boy who had told Lily who she was, Sev had dreamed out an entire lifetime with Lily Evans, being in the same house as Lily, laughing with her in class, cheering on in the stands at the Quidditch matches side by side… graduating together, finding a job, buying a house… Maybe a ring…
Only he had screwed up on the way, and now all he had left of Lily was Tempest Potter who every time Severus looked at her was a symbol and mockery of what he could have had, only didn't.
Severus's mark burned suddenly with alarming intensity, and Severus shoved the chair he was seated in backwards, standing roughly.
Dumbledore had said to protect the girl-who-lived, and so Severus would, for Lily if for nothing else.