Beauxbaton and Durmstrang
disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, just Arabella. Hope you like it!
Beauxbaton and Durmstrang
Early next morning, Arabella woke up, got dressed, took out some parchment and quill and wrote a quick letter to Sirius.
Harry's most probably going to write to you saying that his scar hurting is just something he created in his mind. Don't believe him. Stay hidden, don't do anything stupid. I miss you.
She then left the dormitory alone, climbed out of the portrait hole and walked silently towards the Owlery. She managed to spot Shay sleeping between Hedwig and a plain brown owl.
Arabella managed to get Shay to wake up and take the letter.
'It's for Sirius, make sure you're not seen if you find him,' Arabella whispered to Shay, who seemed to understand. He closed his eyes and rubbed her cheek for a moment before spreading his wings and taking off.
Arabella stood there until she could barely make out where Shay was. She turned around when she heard footsteps. It wasn't against the rules to be here, but who knows who it could be, really. Thankfully, it was Harry.
'Oh, morning,' he said, shocked. He was holding a letter in his left hand.
'Is that for Sirius?' asked Arabella, looking at the letter.
'Yeah,' said Harry, going over to Hedwig, trying to persuade her to look at him and take the letter from him. Hedwig was obviously furious at him for his treatment last night.
'Just find him, all right?' Harry said, after he managed to get Hedwig to stick her leg out and allow him to tie the letter to it. 'Before the Dementors do.'
She nipped his fingers, spread her wings and took off.
'So, what did the letter say?' asked Arabella.
'Nothing,' lied Harry.
'Bullshit,' said Arabella, calling him out on it. 'You told him not to come back because of your scar, didn't you?'
Harry shrugged. 'What did he write to you?'
'Told me not to worry about him, and that if anything else happened with your scar to take you straight to Dumbledore,' said Arabella.
Harry nodded. 'He can't come back because of me. He can't get caught.'
'Harry,' said Arabella, smiling, 'have I not been there for you?'
'No,' said Harry, puzzled by this question.
'The Blacks may have a terrible reputation in the wizarding community, but nobody can deny that we're not loyal,' said Arabella. 'Even if it's to the wrong type of people.' Thinking of Bellatrix and her loyalty to Voldemort.
'So, let me guess,' said Harry, smiling a bit, 'you wrote a letter to Sirius saying to not believe a word I said, right?'
Arabella raised her hands in surrender, 'Guilty.'
Harry snorted and shook his head. 'Come on, let's go. Breakfast time.'
'That was a lie, Harry,' said Hermione sharply after he told her and Ron what he had done. 'You didn't imagine your scar hurting and you know it.'
'So what?' said Harry. 'He's not going back to Azkaban because of me.'
'Drop it,' said Ron sharply to Hermione as she opened her mouth to argue some more, and for once, Hermione heeded him, and fell silent.
'He'll be careful,' said Arabella. 'He won't get caught. He's got too much to lose if he does.'
Over the next couple of week, Arabella notice Harry looking anxiously as the morning post owls arrived with no letter to neither of them. He honestly worried too much about things. Sirius knew what he was doing. He wouldn't do anything that would risk getting him back into Azkaban. Harry needed a distraction, something to get his mind off of Sirius. Thankfully, their lessons were becoming more difficult than ever before, particularly Mad-Eye's Defense Against the Dark Arts.
He announced that he would be putting the Imperius Curse on each of them in turn, to demonstrate its power and to see whether they could resist its effects.
'But – but you said it's illegal, Professor,' said Hermione uncertainly as Mad-Eye cleared away the desks with a sweep of his wand, leaving a large clear space in the middle of the room. 'You said – to use it against another human was –'
'Dumbledore wants you taught what it feels like,' said Mad-Eye. 'If you's rather learn the hard way – when someone's putting it on you so that can control you completely – fine by me. You're excused. Off you go.' He pointed one finger towards the door. Hermione went very pink and muttered something about not meaning that she wanted to leave.
Mad-Eye began to beckon students forward in turn and put the Imperius Cure on them. One by one, they all did the most astonishing things under its influence. Dean hopped three times around the room, singing the national anthem. Lavender imitated a squirrel. Neville performed a series of amazing gymnastics he would not have been capable of doing if he was in his normal state. None of them seemed to be able to fight off the curse.
'Potter,' Mad-Eye growled, 'you next.'
Harry moved forward into the middle of the classroom, into the space Mad-Eye had cleared of desks. Mad-Eye raised his wand, pointed it at Harry, and said, 'Imperio!'
Mad-Eye kept pointing his wand at Harry, but nothing was happening. Harry seemed relaxed. He bent his knees, but did nothing.
'What's going on?' whispered Ron.
'He's fighting it,' whispered Arabella, watching Harry intently.
Next thing Arabella knew, Harry both jumped and tried to prevent himself from jumping, which made him smash into the desk, knocking it over.
'Now, that's more like it!' growled Mad-Eye. 'Look at that, you lot… Potter fought! He fought it, and he damn near beat it! Very good, Potter, very good indeed! They'll have trouble controlling you! Black! You're turn!'
Arabella stepped forward as Harry took her place in between Ron and Hermione. She stood in front of Mad-Eye's wand and braced herself for whatever he had prepared for her.
Mad-Eye raised his wand and, said, 'Imperio!'
Arabella was waiting for the force that was going to hit her, but nothing happened. She didn't feel anything. Mad-Eye kept pointing his wand at her in concentration, but nothing happened.
'Imperio!' he said again.
Nothing happened. The class broke out into a quiet whisper. This was getting a bit annoying. Arabella was standing there in front of Mad-Eye and the whole class, doing nothing. Thankfully, the bell rang and he dismissed them.
'Black,' growled Mad-Eye, 'a word.'
'I'll catch up with you later,' Arabella told Harry, Ron and Hermione, who all looked like they didn't like the idea of her being alone with him. She didn't like it either, but this was Mad-Eye. She's known him ever since she was three. She trusted him, even if he was acting a bit weird since he got to Hogwarts.
'We're going to try this again,' said Mad-Eye, pointing his wand at her.
'Sure,' said Arabella, shrugging a bit.
Nothing happened again.
'Interesting,' said Mad-Eye, putting his arm down. 'The curse has no effect on you.'
'Why is that?' asked Arabella, curious.
'Probably because of the Cruciatus Curse Bellatrix put on you when you were three,' said Mad-Eye. 'It probably made you immune to the Imperius Curse.'
'That makes no sense,' said Arabella.
'Have you been under the Cruciatus Curse since you were three?'
'Yeah,' said Arabella, thinking back to her first year.
'Did it hurt?'
'Not really,' said Arabella. 'I mostly just pretended so that Harry wouldn't get hurt. There was just a little sting, but nothing that hurt.'
Mad-Eye nodded with a slight frown on his face. 'You better get going for your next class. Don't want to be late.'
Arabella left the classroom as quickly as she could, not want to be late for Transfiguration and to get away from Mad-Eye. That was a very strange conversation. Mad-Eye would have explained to her what his theory on her was, with very explicate detail. Now, he seemed standoffish. He wasn't himself for some reason, and now this thing with her and the Imperius Curse. She honestly didn't care, but the way he asked her to stay after class to make sure, it was weird and got her worried a bit.
Arabella arrived to Transfiguration five minutes late and mumbled an apology before taking a seat next to Harry. Professor McGonagall gave her a sharp, disapproving look before taking five points away from Gryffindor and continuing on with the lesson.
'As I was saying, you are now entering the most important phase of your magical education! Your Ordinary Wizarding Levels are drawing closer –'
'We don't take O.W.L.s till fifth year!' said Dean.
'Maybe not Thomas, but believe me, you need all the preparations you can get! Miss Granger remains the only person in this class who has managed to turn a hedgehog into a satisfactory pincushion. I might remind you that your pincushion, Thomas, still curls up in fright if anyone approaches it with a pin!'
After Transfiguration was Divination, where Arabella, Harry and Ron were deeply amused when Professor Trelawney told them that they had received top marks for their homework. She had read out large portions of their predictions, but they were less amused when she asked them to do the same thing for the next month. The three of them were running out of ideas for catastrophes.
Meanwhile, Professor Binns had them writing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the eighteenth century. Professor Snape was forcing then to research antidotes. They took this one seriously as he hinted that he might b poisoning on of them before Christmas to see if their antidote worked. Professor Flitwick had asked them to read three extra books in preparation for their lesson on Summoning Charms.
Even Hagrid was adding to their workload. The Blast-Ended Skrewts were growing at a remarkable pace given that nobody had yet discovered what they ate. Hagrid was delighted, and as part of their project, suggested that they come down to his hut on alternative evenings to observe the skrewts and make notes on their behaviour.
'I will not,' said Malfoy when Hagrid proposed this. 'I see enough of these foul things during lessons, thanks.'
Hagrid's smile faded off his face.
'Yeh'll do wha' yer told,' he growled, 'or I'll be takin' a leaf outta Professor Moody's book…I hear yeh made a good ferret, Malfoy.'
The Gryffindors roared with laughter. Malfoy flushed with anger, but didn't retort. Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione returned to the castle at the end of the lesson in high spirits. When they arrived in the entrance hall, they were unable to move anymore due to the crowd of students around a sign at the front of the marble staircase. Ron stood on tiptoe to see over the heads in front of them and read the sign aloud to the other three:
THE DELEGATIONS FROM BEAUXBATONS AND DURMSTRANG WILL BE ARRIVING AT 6 O'CLOCK ON FRIDAY THE 30TH OF OCTOBER. LESSONS WILL END HALF AND HOUR EARLY –
'Brilliant!' said Harry. 'It's Potions last thing on Friday! Snape won't have time to poison us all!'
STUDNETS WILL RETURN THEIR BAGS AND BOOK TO THEIR DORMITORIES AND ASSEMBLE IN FRONT OF THE CASTLE TO GREET OUR GUESTS BEFORE THE WELCOMINIG FEAST.
'Only a week away!' said Ernie MacMillan, emerging from the crowd. 'I wonder if Cedric knows? Think I'll go and tell him…'
'Cedric?' said Ron blankly as Ernie hurried off.
'Diggory,' said Arabella. 'He must be entering the tournament.'
'That idiot, Hogwarts champion?' said Ron as they pushed their way through the crowd toward the staircase.
'He's not an idiot. You just don't like him because he beat Gryffindor at Quidditch,' said Hermione. 'I've heard he's a really good student – and he's a prefect.'
She spoke as though this settled the matter.
'You only like him because he's handsome,' said Ron.
'Excuse me, I don't like people just because they're handsome!' said Hermione.
Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like 'Lockhart!'
When they arrived to breakfast on the morning of the October the thirtieth, they found that the Great Hall had been decorated overnight. Enormous silk banners with the Hogwarts houses hung on each of the walls. Behind the teacher's table, there was the largest banner of them all that bore the Hogwarts coat of arms: lion, eagle, badger, and snake united around a large letter H.
Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione sat down beside Fred and George at the Gryffindor table. Once again, they were sitting apart from everyone else and conversing in low voice. Ron led the way over to them.
'It's a bummer, all right,' George was saying gloomily to Fred. 'But if he won't talk to us in person, we'll have to send him the letter after all. Or we'll stuff it into his hand. He can't avoid us forever.'
'Who's avoiding you?' said Ron, sitting down next to them.
'Wish you would,' said Fred, looking irritated at the interruption.
'What's a bummer?' Ron asked George.
'Having a nosy git like you for a brother,' said George.
'You two got any ideas on the Triwizard Tournament yet?' Harry asked. 'Thought any more about trying to enter?'
'I asked McGonagall how the champions are chosen but she wasn't telling,' said George bitterly.
'She just told me to shut up and get on with transfiguring my raccoon.'
'Wonder what the tasks are going to be?' said Ron thoughtfully. 'You know, I bet we could do them. We've done dangerous stuff before…'
'Not in front of a panel of judges, you haven't,' said Fred. 'McGonagall says the champions get awarded points according to how well they've done the tasks.'
'Who are the judges?' asked Arabella.
'Well, the Heads of the participating schools are always on the panel,' said Hermione, and everyone looked around at her, rather surprised, 'because all three of them were injured during the Tournament of 1792, when a cockatrice the champions were supposed to be catching went on the rampage.'
She noticed them all looking at her and said, with her usual air of impatience that nobody else had read all the books she had, 'It's all in Hogwarts, A History. Though, of course, that book's not entirely reliable. A Revised History of Hogwarts would be a more accurate title. Or A Highly Biased and Selective History of Hogwarts, Which Glosses Over the Nastier Aspects of the School.'
'What are you on about?' said Ron.
'House-elves!' said Hermione, her eyes flashing. 'Not once, in over a thousand pages, does Hogwarts, A History mention that we are all colluding in the oppression of a hundred slaves!'
Arabella shook her head and help herself to a serving of bacon. Their lack of enthusiasm had done nothing whatsoever to curb Hermione's determination to pursue justice for house-elves.
True, the three of them had paid two Sickles for a S.P.E.W. badge, but they had only done it to keep her quiet. Their Sickles had been wasted, however; if anything, they seemed to have made Hermione more determined. She had been badgering Arabella, Harry and Ron ever since, first to wear the badges, then to persuade others to do the same, and she had also taken to rattling around the Gryffindor common room every evening, cornering people and shaking the collecting tin under their noses.
'You do realize that your sheets are changed, your fires lit, your classrooms cleaned, and your food cooked by a group of magical creatures who are unpaid and enslaved?' she kept saying fiercely.
Some people, like Neville, had paid up just to stop Hermione from glowering at them. A few seemed mildly interested in what she had to say, but were reluctant to take a more active role in campaigning. Many regarded the whole thing as a joke. Ron now rolled his eyes at the ceiling, which was flooding them all in autumn sunlight, and Fred became extremely interested in his bacon (both twins had refused to buy a S.P.E.W. badge). George, however, leaned in toward Hermione.
'Listen, have you ever been down in the kitchens, Hermione?'
'No, of course not,' said Hermione curtly, 'I hardly think students are supposed to -'
'Well, we have,' said George, indicating Fred, 'loads of times, to nick food. And we've met them, and they're happy. They think they've got the best job in the world -'
'That's because they're uneducated and brainwashed!' Hermione began hotly, but her next few words were drowned out by the sudden whooshing noise from overhead, which announced the arrival of the post owls. Arabella and Harry looked up and saw Shay and Hedwig soaring towards them. Hermione stopped talking abruptly.
Arabella and Harry pulled off Sirius's replies and offered their owls some bacon. Fred and George were immersed in further discussions about the Triwizard Tournament. Harry read his in a whisper:
Nice try, Harry. Arabella warned me.
I'm back in the country and well hidden. I want you to keep me posted on everything that's going on at Hogwarts. Don't use Hedwig and send two owls all the time. Don't worry about me, just watch out for yourself. Don't forget what I said about your scar.
'Read yours,' said Harry, folding his and tucking it in his pockets.
Thanks for the heads up.
I'm back and well hidden. I've asked Harry to keep me posted if anything else happens, but he might not be as truthful in his letters, so write to me if something really bad happens. Tell the truth. Next time, use one owl to send me something, and keep switching them. I won't do anything stupid. I miss you too.
'Why do you have to keep changing owls?' Ron asked in a low voice.
'Shay and Hedwig'll draw too much attention,' said Hermione at once. 'They both stand out. A snowy owl and a grey one… they're not native birds, are they?'
There was a pleasant feeling of anticipation in the air that day. Nobody was very attentive on lessons, being more interested in the arrival that evening of the people from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang; even Potions class was more bearable than usual, as it was half an hour shorter. When the bell rang early, Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione hurried up to Gryffindor Tower, put their bags away and rushed back downstairs into the entrance hall. The Heads of Houses were ordering their students into lines.
'Weasley, straighten your hat,' Professor McGonagall snapped at Ron. 'Miss Patil, take that ridiculous thing out of your hair.'
Parvati scowled and removed a large ornamental butterfly from the end of her plait.
'Follow me, please,' said Professor McGonagall. 'First years in front…no pushing…'
They filed down the steps and lined up in front of the castle. Arabella, standing between Harry and Ron, saw the first years shivering with anticipation.
'Nearly six,' said Ron, checking his watch and then staring down the drive that led to the front gates. 'How d'you reckon they're coming? The train?'
'I doubt it,' said Hermione.
'How, then? Broomsticks?' Harry suggested, looking up at the starry sky.
'I don't think so…not from that far away…'
'A Portkey?' Ron suggested. 'Or they could Apparate - maybe you're allowed to do it under seventeen wherever they come from?'
'You can't Apparate inside the Hogwarts grounds, how often do I have to tell you?' said Hermione impatiently.
'Maybe they're coming in a dragon,' said Arabella, smiling. 'Hagrid'll love that.'
'Aha! Unless I am very mistaken, the delegation from Beauxbatons approaches!' Dumbledore called out from the back row where he stood with the other teachers.
'Where?' said many students eagerly, all looking in different directions.
'There!' yelled a sixth year, pointing over the forest.
Something large, much larger than a broomstick - or, indeed, a hundred broomsticks - was hurtling across the deep blue sky toward the castle, growing larger all the time.
'It's a dragon!' shrieked one of the first years, losing her head completely.
'Don't be stupid…it's a flying house!' said Dennis Creevey.
Dennis's guess was closer…As the gigantic black shape skimmed over the treetops of the Forbidden Forest and the lights shining from the castle windows hit it, they saw a gigantic, powderblue, horse-drawn carriage, the size of a large house, soaring toward them, pulled through the air by a dozen winged horses, all palominos, and each the size of an elephant.
The front three rows of students drew backward as the carriage hurtled ever lower, coming in to land at a tremendous speed - then, with an almighty crash that made Neville jump backward onto a Slytherin fifth year's foot, the horses' hooves, larger than dinner plates, hit the ground. A second later, the carriage landed too, bouncing upon its vast wheels, while the golden horses tossed their enormous heads and rolled large, fiery red eyes.
The door opened and a boy in pale blue robes jumped down from the carriage, bent forward, fumbled for a moment with something on the carriage floor, and unfolded a set of golden steps. He sprang back respectfully. The largest woman Arabella had ever seen emerged from inside the carriage. She had a handsome, olive-skinned face with large black eyes. Her hair was drawn back in a shining knob at the base of her neck.
Dumbledore started to clap and the students followed in his lead. Many of the stood on their tiptoes to get a better look at the woman.
Her face relaxed into a gracious smile and she walked forward toward Dumbledore, extending her hand. Dumbledore, who was very tall himself, had barely bent to kiss it.
'My dear Madame Maxime,' he said. 'Welcome to Hogwarts.'
'Dumbly-dort,' said Madame Maxime in a deep voice. 'I 'ope I find you well?'
'In excellent form, I thank you,' said Dumbledore.
'My pupils,' said Madame Maxime, waving one of her enormous hands carelessly behind her.
Arabella, whose attention was focused completely on Madam Maxime, only now noticed that about a dozen boys and girls had emerged from the carriage and was now standing behind Madam Maxime. They were shivering and looking at Hogwarts with an anxious look on their faces.
''As Karkaroff arrived yet?' Madame Maxime asked.
'He should be here any moment,' said Dumbledore. 'Would you like to wait here and greet him or would you prefer to step inside and warm up a trifle?'
'Warm up, I think,' said Madame Maxime. 'But ze 'orses -'
'Our Care of Magical Creatures teacher will be delighted to take care of them,' said Dumbledore, 'the moment he has returned from dealing with a slight situation that has arisen with some of his other - er - charges.'
'Skrewts,' Ron muttered, grinning.
'My steeds require - er - forceful 'andling,' said Madame Maxime, looking as though she doubted whether any Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts could be up to the job. 'Zey are very strong…'
'I assure you that Hagrid will be well up to the job,' said Dumbledore, smiling.
'Very well,' said Madame Maxime, bowing slightly. 'Will you please inform zis 'Agrid zat ze 'orses drink only single-malt whiskey?'
'It will be attended to,' said Dumbledore, also bowing.
'Come,' said Madame Maxime imperiously to her students, and the Hogwarts crowd parted to allow her and her students to pass up the stone steps.
'How big d'you reckon Durmstrang's horses are going to be?' said Seamus from beside Ron.
'Well, if they're any bigger than this lot, even Hagrid won't be able to handle them,' said Harry. 'That's if he hasn't been attacked by his skrewts. Wonder what's up with them?'
'Maybe they've escaped,' said Ron hopefully.
'Oh don't say that,' said Hermione with a shudder. 'Imagine that lot loose on the grounds…'
They stood, shivering slightly, waiting for the Durmstrang party to arrive. Most people were gazing at the sky.
For a few minutes, the silence was broken only by Madam Maxime's huge horses snorting and stamping. But then –
'Can you hear something?' Arabella asked suddenly.
There was a loud and oddly unnerving noise drifting towards them.
'The lake!' yelled Lee, pointing down at it. 'Look at the lake!'
From their positions at the top of the lawns overlooking the grounds, they had a very clear view of the smooth surface of the water – except that the surface was suddenly not smooth at all. Out in the middle of the lake, what seemed like a long, black pole began to rise slowly…
'Is that a boat?' asked Arabella, rubbing her eyes as though she didn't believe what she was seeing.
Slowly, a magnificent ship rose out of the water and began to glide towards the bank. They could see some people emerging from the ship, they all seemed to be very big, but if you look closely, it was mostly due to their shaggy cloaks with furs on them.
'Dumbledore!' called out the man that was leading the students. 'How are you, my dear fellow, how are you?'
'Blooming, thank you, Professor Karkaroff,' Dumbledore replied. Karkaroff was tall and think like Dumbledore and had a goatee. When he reached Dumbledore, he shook hands with both of his own.
Arabella looked at the other students behind him. They were all bundled up in massive amounts of fur. They were all looking at either Hogwarts or the students. One of them caught Arabella's eye. He had a lean built with black hair that was pulled away from his face and dark eyes that Arabella couldn't tell if it was brown or black from where she was. He was pale with a long face and a straight pointed nose. He looked her straight in the eye, smirked and gave a small wave that she returned slyly. Arabella didn't notice the murderous look Harry was giving the boy, or the worried look Ron and Hermione exchanged with each other.
'Dear old Hogwarts,' said Professor Karkaroff in a loud voice, looking up at the castle and smiling. 'How good it is to be here, how good…Viktor, come along, into the warmth…you don't mind, Dumbledore? Viktor has a slight head cold…'
Karkaroff beckoned forward one of his students. As the boy passed, Arabella caught a glimpse of his profile. She almost regretted standing beside Ron, as he punched her in the arm and hissed in her ear.
Thank you for reading!