The next few days were the mildest most painful form of torture Tempest had ever experienced. It was just so boring.
Yes, she had Jr (still green) as company (Madam Pomfrey had banned Nyx- George was looking after her as Nyx had never liked Hermione much) and had visitors every day, ranging from everyone in Gryffindor house down to even a group of curious, wide eyed, first year Slytherins.
But even with Fred and George popping in every second they were out of class, and many seconds while meant to be in class, Tempest was going stir crazy.
Bored of being bored was boring, Tempest discovered.
She was going to put that on a T-shirt.
So the very second Madam Pomfrey declared Tempest's ribs 100% healed with no other imaginary (in Tempest's mind) complications/injuries, (even though the woman went on and on about scarring, not that Tempest cared that much), Tempest had shot out of the Hospital wing, whooping and hollering, flying around the castle like a demon out of hell- or was it angel out of heaven? She wasn't sure.
Fred and George had gone ballistic with her, hanging out of the castle windows, setting fireworks off in the bathrooms and dancing around the grounds. It was now a given that whoever had seen Tempest and the twins dancing around the Black Lake now knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were insane.
None of them could have cared less had they tried.
The second thing Tempest decided to do was write Sirius and Remus. The identical two letters (bar the names) were sent out using Athena and Pig, Tempest grinning as she watched the owls fly away.
Moony/Padfoot- I'm not dead yet! :)
The third thing she did was be dragged off to Gryffindor tower by the twins to celebrate.
As soon as they were through the Fat Lady the common room had exploded in cheers, deafening Tempest. She had been hoisted up on some seventh year boys shoulders, and paraded around the room proudly.
Lee Jordan had set off some Filibuster's Fireworks so the air was filled with stars and sparks, while Dean Thomas, who was excellent at drawing, had put up some impressive new banners, some of which were rather flattering- Tempest flying on her Firebolt around the dragon with her hair on fire somehow managing to look ridiculously heroic, duelling the dragon, and another one of Tempest fainting.
If Tempest was ever going to keep one, it would be the first, however if she was asked to pick a favourite, it would be the last. Just because.
After several hours of what could only be called non-alcoholic partying, Tempest collapsed down onto her signature couch, half-crushing George's legs. "Hey," she said to George's chin.
"Hey," he replied, "your elbow's in my stomach. Ow."
"Sorry," Tempest said, shifting her arm, then yawning. "great party by the way- saw the canary creams- great job with the spell work… how long will they last?"
George shrugged, "About ten seconds… give or take…"
"I'm trying one later- just to put that on the record so I don't forget," Tempest said.
"Oh I'll be taking photos," George smirked. "I'd never forget."
"Do not know what I'd do without you, George," Tempest sighed, wiggling further into the couch. "Damn, has this couch always been this comfortable?"
"Blimey, this is heavy!" A voice called, and Tempest lifted her head a millimetre to see Lee Jordan picking up the golden egg which Tempest had left on a table. "Open it Tempest, go on! Let's see what's inside!"
He threw it across the room- George catching it before it could smash into her face- and laughing, Tempest sat up, settling the egg in her lap so she had a good grip.
"Pause for dramatic effect," she mumbled to herself. "And-"
"Tempest, you're meant to figure out the clue on your own!" Hermione interrupted suddenly.
There was a loud groan from the surrounding Gryffindors, but Tempest merely rolled her eyes. "I'm meant to do a lot of things, Hermione."
Then smirking, Tempest dug her nails into the grove that ran all the way around it, and pried it open.
The egg was completely empty and hollow- but the moment the two sides of the egg separated, a horrible noise, loud and screechy like nails being dragged against a chalkboard only amplified a thousand times with other horrible sound effects that Tempest never wanted to hear again.
"SHUT IT!" Bellowed Fred, his hands clamped over his ears.
The egg had fallen to the floor from when Tempest had automatically shoved it away, and she had to scramble for a moment before she regained her grip on the sides of the egg to slam it shut.
The sound cut off as abruptly as it had begun, and Tempest slumped against the side of the couch, dropping the egg onto the table in front of her, panting as though she had run a race. Her ears were ringing from the horrible noise and she could have gotten a hammer and smashed the egg right then and there.
"What was that?" asked Seamus, "It sounded like a banshee… Only worse! Maybe you've got to get past one of those next Tempest!"
Neville cut in, face white with terror. "It was someone being tortured! You're going to have to fight the Cruciatus Curse!"
"Don't be a prat, Neville, that's illegal," said George. "They wouldn't use the Cruciatus Curse on the champions! It sounded a lot like Percy singing…" George continued, "maybe you've got to attack him while he's in the shower Hedgy!"
Tempest laughed, the mood lightening once more, and the Gryffindors filed off to find more food. Fred and George must have been down to the kitchens to the house-elves, because there was mountains of it and as Tempest took a bite from a custard cream that George had offered her, she turned into a bird.
The room howled with laughter, and Tempest looked around, chirping at the new turn of events. A moment later she felt like she was being squeezed through a spaghetti strainer, and she flopped back down into her seat blinking rapidly. "What was that?"
"The Canary Creams," George choked out through hysterical tears. "Oh you make an adorable canary! Your face-"
Tempest began laughing too- then tackled George over the side of the couch.
"Canary Creams!" Fred beamed, appearing out of the crowd to peer down at the two wrestling on the ground. "Seven sickles each- great to prank your friends with… We're trying to charm then so they last longer… Jam tart anyone?"
He produced a platter of tarts from thin air and waved it around, grinning manically.
It was almost three in the morning when Tempest went up to the dormitory with Hermione (Lavender and Pravati had already gone up,) and collapsed on her bed, relishing the fact that she was back in her own bed with Nyx purring on her chest, Hedgy Jr snoozing on the other side of Tempest's pillow, the tell-tale sound of paper rustling of Hermione studying for hours after the lights went out and Lavender snoring like a pig.
Tempest pulled her tiny spiky dragon from her pocket and set it beside Jr, watching the dragon yawn and release a small jet of flame as it curled around Jr and closed its eyes.
Wondering slightly how many more furry, spiky and scaly additions Tempest would have to her bed, she smiled slightly. Maybe Hagrid was rubbing off her, but dragons? They weren't so bad after all.
December found Tempest to be immensely grateful for Hogwarts thick walls, even drafty as the castle was during winter months. Tempest couldn't help but be a tiny bit smug as she watched the Durmstrang ship on the lake, which was pitching in the rough winds, it's black sails billowing against the dark skies. She imagined the Beauxbatons caravan wasn't likely to be very warm either though, and she noticed that Hagrid was keeping Madame Maxime's horses well provided with their preferred drink of single-malt whiskey; the fumes wafting from the trough in the comer of their paddock was enough to make the entire Care of Magical Creatures class light-headed. This was unhelpful, as they were still tending the horrible Skrewts and needed their wits about them.
"I'm not sure whether they hibernate or not," Hagrid told the shivering class in the windy pumpkin patch next lesson. "Thought we'd jus' try an see if they fancied a kip … we'll jus' settle 'em down in these boxes …"
There were now only ten Skrewts left; apparently their desire to kill one another had not been exercised out of them.
Each of them were huge- now approaching six feet in length. Even Tempest, who had always tried to like the monsters she encountered in Hagrid's class, could not find any room in her heart for the horrible grey armoured, fire-blasting ended, suckered and stinging… things.
The class looked almost resignedly at the horrible things as Hagrid continued, "We'll jus' leave 'em in here," Hagrid said, "an' put the lids on, and we'll see what happens."
The Skrewts apparently did not appreciate being forced into pillow-lined boxes and nailed in.
A few seconds passed (if even that) and then the class was screaming and running for the relative safety of Hagrid's cabin as the Skrewts rampaged around the pumpkin patch, the blazing and smoking wreckage of the crates strewn everywhere.
Hagrid, Tempest, Ron and Hermione were the only people that remained outside- and, to Tempest's surprise- Malfoy. Tempest didn't give it too much thought as she caught Malfoy shooting green sparks at the Skrewts, forcing one back into its crate, being a thousand times more helpful than she would have imagined- then a Skrewt began advancing on her, and she blanketed it with a wave of water, before somehow stuffing it into a crate and hurrying over to Ron and Hermione, who were being cornered by three Skrewts.
However she had only just finished restraining one before the only person who could possibly make the situation even worse, turned up.
"Well, well, well… this does look like fun." Skeeter said, leaning over Hagrid's garden fence, watching the mayhem with barely concealed contempt.
Just as Hermione managed to somehow levitate a Skrewt into a metal box she transfigured, Hagrid leapt at the last Skrewt, flattening it and slipping a rope around the Skrewt's sting.
"Who're you?" asked Hagrid, standing.
"Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter," Rita replied, beaming at him, her gold teeth glinting, and Tempest savagely wanted to knock some out with a hammer. Or preferably her fist.
"Thought Dumbledore said you weren' allowed inside the school anymore," said Hagrid, frowning slightly as he began tugging the slightly squashed Skrewt over to the others.
Tempest felt a vindictive sort of pride, that was quashed as Skeeter continued as though she hadn't heard. "What are these fascinating creatures called?" she asked, beaming so widely Tempest could count all of her teeth.
"Blast-Ended Skrewts," grunted Hagrid.
"Really?" Skeeter said, apparently full of interest. "I've never heard of them before… where do they come from?"
Tempest saw Hagrid flush a dull red, and she mentally gritted her teeth. Were the Skrewts even legal? Where had he gotten them from?
"They're fascinating though, aren't they Hermione?"
Hermione caught on and even managed to shoot a Skrewt a look that wasn't disgusted. "Yes! They're really… They have amazing… Qualities."
"Oh, you're here Tempest!" said Skeeter, "So do you like Care of Magical Creatures do you? One of your favourite subjects?"
"Even more so than Divination," Tempest replied. "I love it."
Hagrid had never looked happier.
"Lovely," said Rita. "Really lovely. Been teaching long?" she added to Hagrid. Tempest noticed her eyes travel over the three who had just exited Hagrid's cabin cautiously- Dean (who had a nasty cut across one cheek), Lavender (whose robes were badly singed), Seamus (who was nursing several burnt fingers), and then to the cabin windows, where rest of the class stood, their noses pressed against the glass waiting to see if the coast was clear.
"This is o'ny me second year," said Hagrid.
"Lovely … I don't suppose you'd like to give an interview, would you? Share some of your experience of magical creatures? The Prophet does a zoological column every Wednesday, as I'm sure you know. We could feature these – er – Bang- Ended Scoots."
"Blast-Ended Skrewts," Hagrid said eagerly. "Er – yeah, why not?"
This time, Tempest did grit her teeth as Hagrid agreed to a lunch at the Three Broomsticks on Friday.
The bell rang up at the castle then, and Skeeter called after Tempest, Ron and Hermione's backs, "Good-bye then Tempest! And until Friday night, then Hagrid!"
"Bitch," hissed Tempest to herself.
"As long as he didn't import those Skrewts illegally or anything," Hermione said desperately. Tempest's head snapped up. She had forgotten that detail. It did seem like something Hagrid do, after the three headed dog, the dragon, the spiders in the forest…
"Hagrid's been in way worse trouble though, and Dumbledore's never sacked him," Ron reassured. "Worst that can happen is Hagrid'll have to get rid of the Skrewts. Sorry… did I saw worst? I meant best."
"The world wishes," Tempest laughed.
Hermione's brow furrowed as they continued walking. "By the way, did you see Malfoy?"
"It's hard not to," Tempest said. "his hair's brighter than the bloody sun."
"Not going to disagree," Hermione said, before shaking her head, and continuing. "but didn't you notice him with the Skrewts?"
"Helping?" Ron said, "yeah… that was weird- I just figured he couldn't get past the Skrewts to Hagrid's cabin so he had to stay out."
"Yeah, probably," Tempest shrugged, "Hermione- if you're thinking there's a miraculous turning over a new leaf thing going on-"
Ron snorted. "'mione, this is Malfoy, he wouldn't turn over any leaf even if you shoved the Whomping Willow in his face."
That brought a laugh out of all of them.
"Can't say that I wouldn't do that, just to see the look on his face."
Tempest couldn't exactly say that double Divination that afternoon was terrible- after all, her and Ron merely made a joke out of the star-charts and predictions, predicting horrible deaths and earning almost fifty house points for being so accepting of their fore-coming deaths.
But it didn't last as the pair of them snickered through her explanations of how Pluto could disrupt everyday life.
"I would think," she said, in a mystical whisper that did not conceal her obvious annoyance, "that some of us" – she stared very meaningfully at Tempest – "might be a little less frivolous had they seen what I have seen during my crystal gazing last night. As I sat here, absorbed in my needlework, the urge to consult the orb overpowered me. I arose, I settled myself before it, and I gazed into its crystalline depths … and what do you think I saw gazing back at me?"
"An ugly old bat in outsize specs?" Ron muttered under his breath.
Tempest could barely restrain her laugh. Divination was almost worth putting up with Trelawney if it was this funny.
"Death, my dears."
Tempest rolled her eyes as Pravati and Lavender clamped their hands to their mouths, looking horrified.
"Yes," Trelawney said, nodding impressively, "It comes, ever closer, it circles overhead like a vulture, ever lower… ever lower over the castle…" She stared at Tempest, who made a point of pretending to fall asleep and snore into her chart filled with horrible predictions of death.
"If she hadn't done it over a thousand times before, I might actually be convinced," Tempest told Ron, "I am seriously considering dropping Divination and taking Arithmancy with Hermione."
"You can't do that!" Ron exclaimed, "You can't leave me in that room with that woman… I'll go mad Tempest!"
"Then drop it too!"
"And take what? Muggle studies? I've got enough of that from my dad thanks… And I don't have the brains for Arithmancy."
"C'mon, Hermione will help you, and you forget that I'll just be beginning it too… I might want to talk to Min- Professor McGonagall about switching…" Tempest mused as they walked down the shifting staircases to the Great Hall to meet up with Hermione.
Meet up was, however, a mild word for when Hermione slammed into Tempest, almost knocking her down the stairs.
"Her-mio…nie!" Tempest gasped, the air knocked out of her. She struggled to draw air into her lungs before she continued. "What- what…?"
"Dobby!" Hermione exclaimed, "I was down at the kitchens-" she shot Ron a glare as he began to complain: "Not the spew thing again!"
Her withering look could have competed with Minnie's trademark one. "No it doesn't have to do with S.P.E.W Ron, I mean, I was down at the kitchens… Trying to convince the elves to protest for wages and sick leave…. Whatever- in any case, Dobby's working at Hogwarts, Tempest did you know?"
Tempest was nodding and shaking her head before the words registered. Before it was Hermione pulling Tempest along, and now it was Tempest dragging at Hermione. "C'mon then, let's go!"
(I skipped the whole conversation with Dobby and Winky, because it's not really that important and basically just goes over Mr Crouch's secrets…. And the actual conversation won't change much from the original HP Goblet of Fire book, and I personally think it's pointless to just re-write whole chapters and only replacing the names… [and yes, I do know that I have copied some parts of the original book for this FF, but I will try and filter them out as I go along})
Tempest's performance in class was thankfully improving again now that the stress of the first task was gone, and in Transfiguration she was only second after Hermione to finish transfiguring her guinea fowl into a guinea pig.
It was the end of the lesson, and all the guinea pigs (formerly guinea fowls) had been shut away in a large cage on Minnie's desk.
Tempest was feeding Jr (who was sitting in the pocket of her school robes,) pieces of lettuce she had taken from the table at breakfast that morning. She had begun a habit of carrying Jr to Transfiguration with her so that before and after class she could attempt to turn Jr back brown. And also because she got bored.
Minnie's voice snapped, making the class cringe, and Tempest jump, quickly dumping the rest of the lettuce leaves on top of Jr's head.
"If you would be so kind to pay attention, I have something to say to you all." Minnie seemed actually annoyed this time, and so Tempest decided not to push her.
"The Yule Ball is approaching, a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament-"
Instantly the room burst into noise as all the girls (with the exception of Tempest and Hermione- Tempest merely deciding that she wouldn't go,) began to chatter and giggle, while the boys (Ron included,) looked horror struck.
"-and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will be open to fourth years and above- although you may invite a younger student if you wish. Dress robes will be worn, and the ball will start at eight o'clock on Christmas Day, finishing at midnight in the Great hall. Now then," Minnie stared severely around at the class, "The Yule Ball is of course a chance for us all to –er-let our hair down," she said, glaring at Lavender, who was in fits of giggles.
Pravati burst into giggles at the statement, following Lavender's example, and although Tempest did agree when Minnie wore her hair in that tight bun, it looked like she never let her hair down in any sense, but after living with Minnie for three years and around four months, she had seen the transfiguration teacher with her hair down in both ways many times. Foremost among them was when Tempest had accidently charmed all of Minnie's clothes and curtains a Slytherin green, (Tempest still had no idea how it happened, she seemed to have a skill for turning things green,) and Minnie had chased Tempest around the entire house and small backyard to make her change them back. She may have been almost seventy, but acted sometimes like a mere teenager.
But then again- interesting fact, witches and wizards lived twice as long as muggles.
"But that does NOT mean," continued Minnie, "that we will be relaxing the standards of behaviour we expect from Hogwarts's students. I will be most seriously displeased if a Gryffindor student embarrasses the school in any way."
Minnie looked pointedly at Ron, who was sitting beside Tempest, and just then, Jr decided that Tempest's fingers looked tasty, and gave them a good nip.
Tempest jerked back in surprise, falling backwards off her chair to the general amusement of the class.
Flushing, Tempest stood back up, Hermione helping, and muttered apologies.
The bell rang then, and the class still laughing for a multitude of reasons filed out.
Tempest was about to follow, when Minnie called above the noise, "Miss Potter- a word if you please."
Assuming it was either because of her falling off her chair, or because of Jr, Tempest walked up to Minnie's desk.
Minnie waited until the rest of the class had gone, Ron and Hermione included- both mouthing, 'we'll wait for you outside'- then began. "Miss Potter, the champions and their partners-"
"Wait- what?" Tempest said.
Minnie looked at her strangely. "Your partner for the Yule Ball, your dance partners."
Minnie huffed exasperated. "What did you think I was talking about Tempest? It is customary that the Yule Ball is opened by the champions and their partners with a beginning dance."
Tempest laughed nervously. "I don't dance."
Minnie's eyebrows formed a severe line. "For this you do, Tempest
"Minnie!" Tempest exclaimed, the reality of the situation finally sinking in. "Okay, so I dance- but whenever I do- it's naked in the rain! I don't think this qualifies for a ball! Couldn't I just sit this one out?"
"Miss Potter!" reprimanded Minnie, the return to formality abrupt, "You can't just sit this one out, it is expected, so I suggest you-"
"I can't dance." Tempest rephrased.
"It is traditional," Minnie said with tone that could have frozen an avalanche in its tracks. "You are a Hogwarts champion, and you will do what is expected of you as a representative of the school."
"That's what those dress robes you bought me were for!" Tempest said suddenly.
"Yes," Minnie said, with an air of finality. "Now, Tempest…" she gave a heavy sigh. "If you can't dance- and yes… I know you can't- then I suggest you learn very quickly, or find a partner that does. And yes. You are finding a partner. And that's final."
Tempest groaned, shoving her hands into her pockets. "Well say I agree-consent-resign myself… where the hell am I meant to find a partner?"
Minnie's expression was incredulous. "Tempest, I know you aren't very observant even at the best of times, but I'm pretty sure you've noticed half the school's population consists of males…"
"But just because they're there doesn't mean that-"
"Tempest," Minnie sighed. "Stop being silly."
Tempest stared at Minnie. "O.k.a.y." she turned to go.
"If you are keeping that hedgehog, please stop bringing it into Transfiguration with you."
"Tempest! You'll be fine, you've defeated a dragon, are a Hogwarts champion, and you are actually very pretty you know!"
Tempest snorted very loudly and very unattractively. "Oh sure," she choked, dragging a hand through her longer- but still shaggy hair. "I'm very pretty. With or without that factor Hermione... I don't see how that helps in any way… I've heard I'm about as abrasive as sharks teeth glued to sandpaper."
"Hey- I like it," Tempest smirked, "but while I'm not exactly a tomboy, I'm about as close to one as you can get."
"Tempest, I'm telling you, guys will be lining up to ask you out."
"Really? Which ones?" Tempest slammed the book open on her lap shut, and leant forwards. "I bet you a galleon that's not going to happen."
The next day, Tempest was minus a galleon. She had never known so many people to put their names down to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas; she always did herself, because Minnie, as head of Gryffindor house had to stay, and so unless Tempest wanted to go back to the house by the Scottish coast by herself with only Heidy for company (and as much as she liked the elf, she would doubtless be lonely,), she stayed at Hogwarts.
This year however, it seemed almost everyone from fourth year and up were staying, and they all seemed to be obsessed with the coming ball.
And all of that lead up to the blaring point that Hermione had been right.
The guys, half of which Tempest had never seen- much less met- ever before in her life, seemed to be flocking to Tempest like fish to water. If in fact, fish flocked.
The very next day she was asked out by a seventh year, who stood at least a head taller than her and about twice as wide, a tiny first year, trembling with fright whose head barely passed Tempest's elbow, a sixth year who had his wand out as if he would jinx Tempest if she refused.
Tempest rejected them all reflexively, and then had to endure Hermione and Ginny's less than empathetic teasing about it.
Hermione's words about Viktor Krum rang in Tempest's ears as she turned down another offer, this time a beater from the Hufflepuff team. "They only like him because he's famous! I bet they don't even know him…." Tempest doubted that if she hadn't been a champion, or if she hadn't been the 'Chosen One', they wouldn't have looked at her twice.
Overall though, Tempest had to admit, the ball business aside, life had been improving steadily after the first task. No one was teasing her in the corridors anymore, which she suspected might have been due to Cedric, and Cedric's friends, they might have spread the word that Tempest helped Cedric… Even the Slytherins comments seemed less barbed, and Malfoy had gone strangely silent. He wasn't wearing the Support Cedric Diggory! badge anymore, even though Tempest noted that Pansy Parkinson was.
And just to make her feel even better, no article about Hagrid had appeared in the Daily Prophet.
"She didn' seem very int'rested in magical creatures, ter tell yeh the truth," Hagrid said, when Tempest, Ron and Hermione went to ask him how his interview with Skeeter had gone. They were gathered behind Hagrid's cabin, cutting up food for the Skrewts. Thankfully Hagrid had given up on direct contact with the Skrewts in event of another disastrous lesson.
"She jus' wanted me ter talk about you, Tempest," said Hagrid in a low voice, "Well, I told her we'd been friends since I went ter fetch yeh from the Dursleys. I didn' tell her about yeh living at Prof McGonagall's… Dumbledore said not to tell anyone- but she kept asking questions like: 'Never had to tell her off in four years?' she said, "Never played you up in lessons, has she?" I told her no, an you were a great student, but she didn' seem happy at all… Yeh'd think she wanted to say yeh were horrible Tempest."
"Of course she did," Tempest said, throwing lumps of chopped liver into a metal bowl and picking up her knife to cut some more. "She can't keep writing about how tragic and heroic I am, it'll get boring."
"She wants a new angle Hagrid," Ron said wisely, "You were meant to say Tempest's a mad hag."
"But she isn't!" said Hagrid, looking genuinely shocked.
Tempest laughed, "If she had interviewed Snape, she'd have gotten a lifetime's worth of information she'd probably kill for.. 'Miss Potter 's determination to break rules is outstanding…'"
"Said that, did he?" said Hagrid while Ron and Hermione snickered.
Tempest shrugged sheepishly.
"Well, yeh might've bent a few rules Tempest, bu' yeh're all righ' really, aren' you?"
Tempest grinned at him. "I let you think that, Hagrid."
Ron exchanged some banter with Hagrid about him going to the ball, but Tempest cut the conversation off when it came to who she would be going with.
She didn't want to talk about that.
The last week of term became bedlam for Tempest, but in a good way. Some of the teachers, like Professor Flitwick, gave up teaching them when they were so distracted that more things ended up blown up in one hour than the usually did in a whole year. He let them play games instead in his lesson on Wednesday.
He spent most of the time talking to Tempest about the marvellous charms she had used, along with the Summoning Charm which had been- according to him- 'simply magnificent'.
The other teachers weren't so forgiving. Professor Binns, who hadn't let his own death deter him from teaching, wouldn't let a small thing like Christmas and the upcoming ball stand in his way of rattling on about goblin rebellions and the founding of Gringotts and whatnot.
Minnie and Professor Moody kept their noses to their books until the very last second, -Tempest expecting no less, and of course, Snape would sooner have kissed a Blast Ended Skrewt than let them play games in his class.
He had glared around at them and told them nastily that he would be testing them on poison antidotes on the very last day and lesson of term.
Tempest didn't really mind, Potions seemed to come naturally to her and Hermione had studied enough already to take three potions exams, but Ron obviously wasn't as well equipped.
"Evil, he is," Ron said bitterly that evening in the Gryffindor common room. "A test on the very last day. Ruining the last bit of term with studying."
"Yes, but Ron, if you had studied before, you wouldn't have to now." Hermione said over the top of her Potion's notes, all written out neatly.
"It's nearly Christmas Hermione," Tempest placated as she lay on the Gryffindor couch which everyone seemed to label as her own, because no one else ever sat on it, stroking Nyx. Crookshanks was in Hermione's lap, purring.
"I would have thought that you'd be doing something constructive too Tempest, even if you don't need to study!"
"Like?" asked Tempest, more distracted by Nyx's tail, which was flicking to and fro as the cat stared a feather which was floating down from the ceiling.
"Figuring out that egg!" Hermione hissed.
Tempest sighed, not really wanting to come out of the warm haze her mind had drifted off into. "Hermione, I've got till February 24th, and it's December right now."
Tempest sighed. She had put her egg in her trunk up in the girl's dormitories after the horrible incident in the common room when she had first opened the egg, and she had no desire to open it again.
But it was unlikely that Hermione would stop bugging her, and Ron would probably keep complaining, so; "Fine. I'll… I'll go to the library then."
Tempest stood, putting Nyx down, who didn't seem ruffled at all- she was too busy playing with the feather she had caught, and walked out of the portrait hole.
She didn't bother to bring the egg, she would just attract more attention by carrying it around. She wasn't going to the library- Tempest laughed out loud, making a few passing third years to shoot her wary looks- instead, she headed for the Owlery. She didn't have an owl, but she liked to hear the soft hooting and general chatter of the owls, and even though there were sometimes gale force winds blowing around, the Owlery was rather sheltered, and peaceful.
Peace was overrated, in Tempest's opinion, (as one of Hogwarts's resident pranksters) but hey, quiet wasn't.
The narrow winding staircase meant that when going up, students had to walk single file, so when someone going down the staircase slammed into Tempest, she was surprised, but not necessarily shocked.
Except that it was Malfoy, and with an uncharacteristic gentlemanliness, he stepped aside to let Tempest go past.
"Thanks," Tempest muttered, stepping by him. She hadn't seen much of him lately, he was never with his thuggish friends (Crabbe and Goyle) anymore, which surprised Tempest a little, because he usually liked to hide behind them whenever something threatening happened, and he seemed to be avoiding Pansy Parkinson. Something that Tempest considered very wise. He'd even been quiet in Potions, and she had seen him drawing-writing? In his book last lesson, instead of brewing his antidote.
Tempest blinked. Either she was becoming more subconsciously observant, or becoming a borderline stalker. She continued walking, stuffing her hands into her pockets.
"Go to the ball with me?"
Tempest rounded the curve of the tower, and took another two steps before the words registered, and she stopped.
It was rather cold in the stairwell, Tempest mused. She turned and walked back down seven steps to stare at Malfoy. "What."
"Would you-" Malfoy cleared his throat, "-would you go to the ball with me?"
The wind howled around the tower, and yet to Tempest it could have been as silent as Snape's dungeon.
"The Yule Ball." Tempest confirmed.
"Yeah." Malfoy swallowed. "That one."
She stared at him silently.
Malfoy held her gaze stoically.
"Is this a hoax?"
Tempest had no idea whether he was lying or not.
Malfoy looked momentarily taken aback. "Okay?"
Tempest almost smiled. "Okay- I could rephrase that for you if you want."
"Oh. No, uh, it's alright… Alright then. Um… I'll see you."
Malfoy nodded, and he turned to continue walking down the stairs.
"Hang on a sec," Tempest called suddenly, skipping a few steps down to reach Malfoy.
He turned back. "Yes?"
Tempest's head cocked to the side almost automatically. "Why?"
Malfoy gave her a searching look. "I don't know."
They stayed that way for a moment, then Tempest blinked, and straightened. "Okay."
They turned and walked off.
Tempest didn't stay in the Owlery for long.
Stepping through the Fat Lady, she found Hermione and Ron talking to Fred and George.
Angelina, who had been chatting with Alicia Spinnet by the fire looked over at him.
"Want to go to the ball with me?"
Tempest choked back a laugh as she sat. "What did I miss?" she whispered to Hermione.
"Fred and George wanted to borrow Pigwidgeon, and then they started asking about dress robes or something? In any case, now Fred's asking Angelina to the ball."
Angelina gave Fred an appraising sort of look. "Alright." She said finally, and resuming talking to Alicia, blushing slightly.
"There you go!" Fred grinned, turning back to Ron, "Piece of cake."
He got up, groaning theatrically. "Guess we'll have to ask Ginny to borrow her owl… See you later!"
Ron huffed. "He's right though, I'd better get a move on, ask someone… I don't want to get stuck with a troll."
Hermione spluttered with indignation. "A… what exactly?"
"You know," Ron shrugged, "I'd rather go alone as a bachelor than with… Say Eloise Midgen…"
"Her acne's loads better lately- and she's really nice!"
"Her nose is off centre," said Ron.
"Oh I see," Hermione said, bristling. "So basically, you're going to take the best looking girl who'll have you, even if she's completely horrible?"
"Er- yeah, that sounds about right," said Ron.
"Then you'd best be going with Moaning Mytle Ronald, as she's the only one who'd go with you." Hermione snapped, standing and stalking off to the stairway that led to the girls dormitories. "Now, if you'll excuse me- I'm going to bed!"
Ron stared after he bemusedly, before turning to Tempest. "Any idea what she's going on about?"
Tempest looked up, in the process of fishing for Nyx from underneath the couch. "No idea," she replied. "But if I had to hazard a guess- it'd be that you were exceedingly tactless."
The Hogwarts staff, demonstrating a continued desire to impress the visitors from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, seemed determined to show the castle at its best this Christmas. When the decorations went up, Tempest noticed that they were the most stunning he had yet seen inside the school. Everlasting icicles were attacked to the banisters of the marble staircase, and the usual twelve Christmas trees in the Great Hall were bedecked with everything from luminous holly berries to real, hooting, golden owls.
Hermione was retaining a frigid silence regarding Ron- but Ron, being Ron, didn't seem to notice at all, usually talking to Dean and Seamus when Hermione froze him out, complaining loudly about the pros and cons of the still legible girls. Everyone but Hermione.
Tempest never really concerned herself with such petty matters that just seemed so overly and pointlessly complicated, which was part of the reason why she preferred the twins company over the next week or so. Blunt and to the point- drama was completely void with them. However, the fact that the twins were two years above her meant that immediately in-between classes, Tempest was still being mobbed by invites to the ball.
She hadn't told anyone about her 'date' to the ball, either than the fact that she had one and it seemed that neither had Malfoy.
The most awkward rejection she had to issue was Cedric Diggory.
He had approached her after History of Magic and Tempest, who was half asleep, hadn't realized he was talking to her until he waved a hand in front of her face.
"Hi Tempest." He had said, smiling charmingly.
"Oh, hi," she had replied, head snapping up, "sorry, just… History of Magic… you know…"
He had laughed, "Yeah… So, I was wondering, because we're both Hogwarts champions, I was wondering, if you'd go to the ball with me?"
Tempest had stopped. Slightly shocked. It made sense. Cedric was very handsome and even Tempest who didn't go around swooning after boys had to admit that. They were both champions, and it was likely that she would have a better time at the ball with Cedric than Malfoy- who she had a record of not being able to stand at the best of times.
"Why not?" Cedric had said, frowning slightly, not looking put out, but curious.
I have no idea.
Tempest had almost laughed out loud.
"Well," she had said instead, "I've already got a… uh…" Date? Partner? "Got someone."
"I'd rather not say," Tempest had grimaced.
"Oh, alright." Cedric didn't sound sceptical, but he didn't sound like he believed Tempest either.
"And besides… I wouldn't want to hurt Cho's feelings," Tempest had said. Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw seeker who she had played in third year did like Cedric, she had heard her talking once in the girl's bathroom, wondering whether or not he was going to ask her out. She might as well give Cedric a nudge in the right direction.
"Oh!" Cedric said, like a blind man who had just discovered how to see. "Oh! No problem then! I'll see you Tempest!"
And then he had set off down the corridor with a rigidly determined expression on his face.
Tempest had her potions test next, but she had been staring at Malfoy's back for most of it, that for the second time that term she had done something wrong and scored low marks. Perhaps Malfoy had been distracted about something else too, because as Snape collected in the written theory for the test, Malfoy had looked like he was about to protest and left the dungeon immediately.
Tempest climbed through the portrait hole that night to find Ron sitting by the fire looking like he had swallowed Tempest's hedgehog. Ginny was by him, a sort of half-smile on her face, as though she wanted to laugh, but was restraining herself.
"What's wrong?" asked Tempest.
Ron looked up with a sort of blind horror in his face.
"Why did I do it? I don't know what made me do it!" He said wildly, grasping at invisible straws.
"Do what?" asked Tempest, becoming genuinely concerned.
Ron slumped down and Ginny, seeing Ron was obviously incapable of speech anymore decided to reply for him. "He- er- just asked Fleur Delacour to go to the ball with him," Said Ginny. She looked like she was trying to fight back her laughter, but she kept patting Ron's arm sympathetically.
"Oh." She said.
Ron seemed to regain the power of speech then, "I don't know what made me do it!" he gasped again, "What was I playing at? There were people- all around- I've gone mad-everyone was watching! I was just walking past her in the entrance hall- she was standing there talking to Diggory- and it sort of came over me- and I asked her!"
Ron moaned and put his head in his hands, but he kept talking, the words muffled through his hands. "She just looked at me like I was a Blast Ended Skrewt or something… didn't even answer… and then- I dunno- I just sort of came to my senses and ran for it."
Tempest frowned. She wasn't quite as close to Fleur, but from what little Tempest knew of the girl, she didn't seem the kind to be that cruel…. But then maybe it was just Ron's imagination…
"She is part veela," Tempest said slowly, "she might have been trying to charm Cedric, it's just a friendly joke, they've done it before…"
Ron looked up, "What? So Fleur was trying to go to the ball with Diggory?"
Tempest shook her head. "No. Fleur's going with Rodger Davis, the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and Cedric… I think he's going with Cho Chang."
"Oh." Ron seemed slightly comforted, even though Tempest didn't remember saying anything remotely reassuring. "Well… Wait… How'd you know?"
"Well… Fleur told me she was going with Davis a while ago, and well… Cedric asked me to the ball, and I told him to take Cho, because I know she likes him…"
Ron frowned like he was missing something, then just muttered, "oh." Then he brightened. "Well at least I won't be the only one to go alone… Neville, he asked Hermione!"
Tempest's head jerked up, "What?"
"Yeah, I know!" said Ron, some of the colour coming back into his face as he started to laugh. "He told me after Potions! Said she's always been really nice, helping him out with work and stuff – but she told him she was already going with someone. Ha! As if! She just didn't want to go with Neville … I mean, who would?"
"Ron!" Ginny exclaimed, hitting Ron's arm, "Neville's perfectly fine! And Hermione wouldn't have said she was going with someone else, unless she was going with someone else!"
The portrait hole opened, and Hermione climbed in. "Why weren't you two at dinner?" she asked, walking over to them.
"Well, because Ron just got turned down by a girl, and Tempest turned down Cedric Diggory…"
That shut Ron up.
"Thanks a bunch, Ginny," Ron said sourly.
"All the good-looking ones taken, Ron?" Hermione said loftily, "Eloise Midgen starting to look quite pretty now, is she? Well, sorry, she's taken. I'm sure we'll find someone somewhere who'll have you…. Have you been considering Myrtle?"
Suddenly Ron, who had been staring rather vaguely at Tempest blinked as though a veil had been lifted. "Wait a second… Cedric and Neville were right! -you are girls!"
Tempest arched a brow. "Wow, thanks Ron," she drawled. "And sorry to disappoint, but I've already got someone."
"Who?" Ron challenged.
"I don't see how that's any of your business," Tempest replied frostily, shooting Hermione a quick concerned glance.
Hermione's expression had wavered before solidified into a glare that could have rivalled Snape's.
Ron continued staring at Tempest for a few more seconds, then shrugged. "Whatever." Obviously not believing her. His eyes refocused on Hermione. "Hermione! You're a girl too!"
"Oh, well spotted," Hermione said tightly.
"Then you can go with me!"
"I can't." said Hermione coldly.
"Oh come on, not you too! I guess it's alright for Tempest to lie about having a partner but for you that's just-"
Tempest rolled her eyes. Sometimes Ron was… Well… Hmm…
"I am already going with someone!" Hermione said, her face flushing with anger, "Just because it took you three years to realize Tempest and me are girls doesn't mean no-one else has!"
Ron stared at the both of them. Then he grinned again. "Okay, okay, I know both of you are girls, now will that do? Will one of you go with me?"
"We've already told you!" Hermione said angrily, "both of us have someone Ronald, and neither of us are going to hang around like we need you to rescue us from going to the ball alone!"
She whirled around and flounced off to the girl's dormitories.
Ron remained staring after her bemusedly.
Finally, Tempest sighed and stood. "I should probably go talk to her… Night, Ginny…"
Hermione was sitting on the edge of her bed, Crookshanks curled around her feet, glaring at the ceiling.
Tempest sat down beside her cautiously.
"Who are you going with to the ball, Tempest?"
"Who are you going with?"
"I asked first."
"Yes, but I can play this game all night long."
Hermione gave a wry smile. "There is that... Alright then, promise not to laugh at me."
"Only if you promise not to answer the question with Ron."
Hermione did laugh at that. "After what just happened?"
"Answer the question!"
"Alright, well, so it happened a few days ago, and I would have told you, but then I got sort of-"
Tempest's eyebrows shot up.
"Viktor." Tempest repeated, drawing the name out. "Krum."
And Tempest burst out laughing and clapped Hermione on the back. "Well score! If you get the chance, ask him whether he would consider giving me some tips for flying… And it's only hitting me now that you're going with Viktor Krum the Bulgarian Seeker…" Tempest found herself standing, then pacing, then feeling dizzy, sitting again. "Merlin…"
Hermione gave a rather un-Hermione like giggle. "He asked me in the library… he was actually quite charming…"
Tempest smirked as she saw Hermione blush. "Well now we know why he kept going there… too shy to talk to you?"
Hermione gave a sheepish smile, and Tempest cocked her head to the side, noticing something different. "Your teeth…"
Hermione smiled again and this time it was almost cheeky. "You didn't think I was going to keep those fangs that Malfoy gave me did you? So when Madam Pomfrey was fixing my teeth, I let her shrink them down a bit more than usual till they were normal sized… but now you know who I'm going with and don't think that I hadn't noticed you changing the subject… Who are you going with Tempest?"
Tempest wasn't one for beating around the bush.
Hermione's reaction was not as collected as Tempest's.
Snape was marking the written theory from the fourth year Slytherin and Gryffindor class and to his disgust half had failed and even Tempest Potter who usually preformed… (and it killed him to say it)…outstandingly, had made silly mistakes as though she had been distracted for most of the lesson. Even Hermione Granger who always got top grades had slipped down one or two marks. And most disappointing of all was Draco Malfoy's. The boy had given in a blank piece of parchment.
It was odd, mostly because the boy- his godson- had always put most of his effort into his head of house's lesson and this time he had not even tired.
Snape rather reluctantly wrote a F on the top of the sheet and then turned it over to place back in the pile.
The reverse side wasn't blank at all.
It was a sketch, admittedly not a very good one, of an unidentifiable face. Underneath, was a short caption; 'What the hell was I thinking?'
Snape's eyebrows rose, and more out of curiosity than anything else, he squinted at the sketch. The boy was no artist, that much was clear. It was a female, that was discernable and there was something vaguely familiar about the eyes and cheekbones. The hair was scratchily drawn on, reminding Snape vividly of Tempest Potter's horrendous hair.
Snape shook his head violently.
Was the world going insane?
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