Potter and Black: The Goblet of Fire

By ArabellaBlack

Adventure / Romance

The Goblet of Fire

disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, just Arabella. Hope you like it!

The Goblet of Fire

'I don't believe it!' Ron said, in a stunned voice, as the Hogwarts students filed back up the steps behind the party from Durmstrang. 'Krum! Victor Krum!'

'For heaven's sake, Ron, he's only a Quidditch player,' said Hermione.

'Only a Quidditch player?' said Ron, looking at her as though he couldn't believe his ears. 'Hermione – he's only one of the best Seekers in the world! I have no idea he was still in school!'

Arabella understood where Ron was coming from. If she saw Troy from the Irish National Quidditch team, she would probably faint. As they recrossed the entrance hall and headed for the Great Hall with the rest of Hogwarts, Arabella saw Lee jumping up and down on the soles of his feet to get a better look at the back of Krum's head. Several sixth-years were frantically searching their pockets as they walked – 'Oh I don't believe it, I haven't got a single quill on me –'

'D'you think he'd sign my hat in lipstick?'

'Really,' said Hermione loftily as they passed the girls.

'I'm getting his autograph if I can,' said Ron. 'You haven't got a quill, have you, Harry?'

'Nope, they're upstairs in my bag,' said Harry.

'You can go ask them for their lipsticks,' said Arabella, smiling and pointing at the sixth-years.

'Piss off, Ara,' said Ron, giving her a friendly shove.

They walked over to the Gryffindor table and sat down. Ron took care to sit on the side facing the doorway, because Krum and his fellow Durmstrang students were still gathered around it, apparently unsure about where they should sit. The student from Beauxbaton had chosen seats at the Ravenclaw table. Arabella was looking for the dark haired boy she saw outside. He seemed interesting.

'Over here! Come and sit over here!' Ron hissed. 'Over here! Hermione, budge up, make a space –'

'What?'

'Too late,' said Ron bitterly.

Victor Krum and his fellow Durmstrang students settled themselves at the Slytherin table. Arabella saw the dark haired boy look around the Great Hall before finding Arabella. He gave her another smirk before sitting beside Krum.

'He's interesting, isn't he?' asked Arabella, watching the boy. He wasn't particularly handsome, but there was something eye-catching about him.

'I guess,' said Hermione, not sure what to say as Harry was alternating between glaring at her and the dark haired boy.

When all the students had entered the Hall and settled down at their House tables, the staff entered, filing up to the top table and taking their seats. Professor Karkaroff sat down on Dumbledore's right side as Madame Maxime sat on his left. Dumbledore was the only one that remained standing, and silence fell over the Great Hall.

'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and - most particularly - guests,' said Dumbledore, beaming around at the foreign students. 'I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to Hogwarts. I hope and trust that your stay here will be both comfortable and enjoyable.'

One of the Beauxbatons girls still clutching a muffler around her head gave what was unmistakably a derisive laugh.

'No one's making you stay!' Hermione whispered, bristling at her.

'The tournament will be officially opened at the end of the feast,' said Dumbledore. 'I now invite you all to eat, drink, and make yourselves at home!'

He sat down and Arabella saw Karkaroff lean forward at once and engage him in a conversation.

The plates in front of them filled with food as usual. There was a greater variety of dishes in front of than Arabella had ever seen, including several that were definitely foreign.

'What's that?' said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew.

'Bouillabaisse,' said Hermione.

'Bless you,' said Ron.

'It's French,' said Hermione, 'I had it on holiday summer before last. It's very nice.'

'I'll take your word for it,' said Ron, helping himself to black pudding.

The Great Hall seemed somehow much more crowded than usual, even though there were barely twenty additional students there.

Hagrid sidled into the Hall through a door behind the staff table twenty minutes after the start of the feast. He slid into his seat at the end and waved at Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione with a very heavily bandaged hand.

'Skrewts doing all right, Hagrid?' Harry called.

'Thrivin',' Hagrid called back happily.

'Yeah, I'll just bet they are,' said Ron quietly. 'Looks like they've finally found a food they like, doesn't it? Hagrid's fingers.'

At that moment, a voice said, 'Excuse me, are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?' it was the girl from Beauxbaton who had laughed during Dumbledore's speech. She had long slivery-blond hair that fell to her waist and large, deep blue eyes.

Ron went purple. He stared at her, opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out except a faint gurgling noise.

'Yeah, have it,' said Arabella, pushing the dish toward the girl.

'You 'ave finished wiz it?'

'Yeah,' Ron said breathlessly. 'Yeah, it was excellent.'

The girl picked up the dish and carried it carefully off to the Ravenclaw table. Ron was still goggling at the girl as though he had never seen one before. Arabella and Harry started to laugh. The sound seemed to jog Ron back to his senses.

'She's a veela!' he said hoarsely.

'Of course she isn't!' said Hermione sharply. 'I don't see anyone else gaping at her like an idiot!'

'Are you sure about that, Hermione?' asked Arabella.

As the girl crossed the Hall, many boys' heads turned, and some of them seemed to have become temporarily speechless, just like Ron.

'I'm telling you, that's not a normal girl!' said Ron, leaning sideways so he could keep a clear view of her. 'They don't make them like that at Hogwarts!'

'They make them okay at Hogwarts,' said Harry, sneaking a glance at Arabella, who was looking at the dark haired boy. He felt some sort of lion growl in his chest at that sight. He stabbed the food in front of his with his fork.

'When the three of you have out your eyes back in,' said Hermione briskly, 'you'll be able to see who's just arrived.'

She was pointing at the staff table. Ludo Bagman was sitting on Professor Karkaroff's other side, while Mr Crouch was next to Madame Maxime.

'What are they doing here?' said Harry in surprise.

'They organized the Triwizard Tournament, didn't they?' said Hermione. 'I suppose they wanted to be here to see it start.'

Once the golden plate had been wiped clean, Dumbledore stood up again. A pleasant sort of tension seemed to fill the Hall now. Arabella felt a slight thrill of excitement, wondering what was coming.

'The moment has come,' said Dumbledore, smiling around at the sea of upturned faces. 'The Triwizard Tournament is about to start. I would like to say a few words of explanation before we bring in the casket —'

'The what?' Harry muttered.

Arabella and Ron shrugged.

'— just to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year. But first, let me introduce, for those who do not know them, Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation' - there was a smattering of polite applause - 'and Mr. Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.'

There was a much louder round of applause for Bagman than for Crouch, perhaps because of his fame as a Beater, or simply because he looked so much more likable. He acknowledged it with a jovial wave of his hand. Bartemius Crouch did not smile or wave when his name was announced.

'Mr. Bagman and Mr. Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament,' Dumbledore continued, 'and they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that will judge the champions' efforts.'

At the mention of the word 'champions,' the attentiveness of the listening students seemed to sharpen. Perhaps Dumbledore had noticed their sudden stillness, for he smiled as he said, 'The casket, then, if you please, Mr. Filch.'

Filch, who had been lurking unnoticed in a far corner of the Hall, now approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels. It looked extremely old. A murmur of excited interest rose from the watching students.

'The instructions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already been examined by Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman,' said Dumbledore as Filch placed the chest carefully on the table before him, 'and they have made the necessary arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways…their magical prowess - their daring - their powers of deduction - and, of course, their ability to cope with danger.'

At this last word, the Hall was filled with a silence so absolute that nobody seemed to be breathing.

'As you know, three champions compete in the tournament,' Dumbledore went on calmly, 'one from each of the participating schools. They will be marked on how well they perform each of the Tournament tasks and the champion with the highest total after task three will win the Triwizard Cup. The champions will be chosen by an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire.'

Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three times upon the top of the casket. The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames. Dumbledore closed the casket and placed the goblet carefully on top of it, where it would be clearly visible to everyone in the Hall. Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet,' said Dumbledore. 'Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to compete. To ensure that no underage student yields to temptation, I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been placed in the entrance hall. Nobody under the age of seventeen will be able to cross this line. Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you have become a champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are wholeheartedly prepared to play before you drop your name into the goblet. Now, I think it is time for bed. Good night to you all.'

'An Age Line!' Fred said, his eyes glinting, as they all made their way across the Hall to the doors into the entrance hall. 'Well, that should be fooled by an Aging Potion, shouldn't it? And once your name's in that goblet, you're laughing - it can't tell whether you're seventeen or not!'

'But I don't think anyone under seventeen will stand a chance,' said Hermione, 'we just haven't learned enough…'

'Speak for yourself,' said George shortly. 'You'll try and get in, won't you, Harry?'

'Where is he?' said Ron, who wasn't listening to a word of this conversation, but looking through the crowd to see what had become of Krum. 'Dumbledore didn't say where the Durmstrang people are sleeping, did he?'

But this query was answered almost instantly; they were level with the Slytherin table now, and Karkaroff had just bustled up to his students.

'Back to the ship, then,' he was saying. 'Viktor, how are you feeling? Did you eat enough? Should I send for some mulled wine from the kitchens?'

Arabella saw Krum shake his head as he pulled his furs back on. 'Professor, I vood like some vine,' said one of the other Durmstrang boys hopefully.

'I wasn't offering it to you, Poliakoff,' snapped Karkaroff, his warmly paternal air vanishing in an instant. 'I notice you have dribbled food all down the front of your robes again, disgusting boy -'

Karkaroff turned and led his students toward the doors, reaching them at exactly the same moment as Harry, Arabella, Ron, and Hermione. Harry stopped to let him walk through first.

'Thank you,' said Karkaroff carelessly, glancing at him. And then Karkaroff froze. He turned his head back to Harry and stared at him as though he couldn't believe his eyes. Behind their headmaster, the students from Durmstrang came to a halt too. Karkaroff's eyes moved slowly up Harry's face and fixed upon his scar.

The Durmstrang students were staring curiously at Harry too. Arabella noticed the dark haired boy looking quite bored with what was going on. He was being nudged by the boy with food all down his front and pointed at Harry with his finger.

'Yeah, that's Harry Potter,' said a growling voice from behind them.

Professor Karkaroff spun around. Mad-Eye was standing there, leaning heavily on his staff, his magical eye glaring unblinkingly at the Durmstrang headmaster.

The color drained from Karkaroff's face as Arabella watched. A terrible look of fury and fear came over him.

'You!' he said, staring at Mad-Eye as though unsure he was really seeing him.

'Me,' said Mad-Eye grimly. 'And unless you've got something to say to Potter, Karkaroff, you might want to move. You're blocking the doorway.'

It was true. Half the students in the Hall were now waiting behind them, looking over one another's shoulders to see what was causing the holdup.

Without another word, Karkaroff swept his students away with him. Arabella caught the dark haired boy again and he gave her a wink this time. Mad-Eye watched them until they were out of his sight with a look of intense dislike on his face.

Just as Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione were about to leave for Gryffindor Tower, Mad-Eye pulled Arabella aside.

'Keep an eye out for Karkaroff,' he growled. 'If he does anything suspicious around you or Potter, come straight to me.'

'Why?' asked Arabella.

'Just do it,' said Mad-Eye, letting go of her and walking away.

'What the hell was that?' whispered Arabella was she walked by herself up the marble staircase. She was more shocked in his behaviour than his request. He always told her to be careful and to always look over her shoulder when she's not at home. He also always gave her a good explanation for his suspicions if there was something to worry about. Something strange was going on.

As the next day was Saturday, most students would normally have breakfasted late. Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione, however, were not alone in rising much earlier than they usually did on weekends. When they went down into the entrance hall, they saw about twenty people milling around it, some of them eating toast, all examining the Goblet of Fire. It had been placed in the centre of the hall on the stool that normally bore the Sorting hat. A think golden line had been traced on the floor, forming a circle ten feet around it on every direction.

'Anyone put their name in yet?' Ron asked a third-year girl eagerly.

'All the Durmstrang lot,' she replied. 'But I haven't seen anyone from Hogwarts yet.'

'Bet some of them put it in last night after we'd all gone to bed,' said Harry. 'I would've if it had been me…wouldn't have wanted everyone watching. What if the goblet just gobbed you right back out again?'

Someone laughed behind Arabella. Turning around, she saw Fred, George and Lee hurrying down the staircase, all three of them looking extremely excited.

'Done it,' Fred said in a triumphant whisper to Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione. 'Just taken it.'

'What?' said Ron.

'The Aging Potion, dung brains,' said Fred.

'One drop each,' said George, rubbing his hands together with glee. 'We only need to be a few months older.'

'We're going to split the thousand Galleons between the three of us if one of us wins,' said Lee, grinning broadly.

'I'm not sure this is going to work, you know,' said Hermione warningly. 'I'm sure Dumbledore will have thought of this.'

Fred, George, and Lee ignored her.

'Ready?' Fred said to the other two, quivering with excitement. 'C'mon, then - I'll go first -'

'This ought to be interesting,' said Arabella, who watch as Fred pulled a slip of parchment out of his pocket bearing his names and Hogwarts on it. Fred walked right up to the edge of the line and stood there, rocking on his toes like a diver preparing for a fifty-foot drop. Then, with the eyes of every person in the entrance hall upon him, he took a great breath and stepped over the line.

For a split second Arabella thought it had worked, apparently, so did George as he let out a yell of triumph and leapt after Fred – but next moment, there was a loud sizzling sound, and both twins were hurled out of the golden circle as though they had been thrown by an invisible shot-putter. They landed painfully, ten feet away on the cold stone floor, and both of them sprouted identical long white beards.

The entrance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George joined in, once they had gotten to their feet and taken a good look at each other's beards.

I did warn you,' said a deep, amused voice, and everyone turned to see Professor Dumbledore coming out of the Great Hall. He surveyed Fred and George, his eyes twinkling. 'I suggest you both go up to Madam Pomfrey. She is already tending to Miss Fawcett, of Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of whom decided to age themselves up a little too. Though I must say, neither of their beards is anything like as fine as yours.'

Fred and George set off for the hospital wing, accompanied by Lee, who was howling with laughter. Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione went in to breakfast and sat down beside Dean and Seamus, who were discussing those Hogwarts students of seventeen or over who might be entering.

'There's a rumor going around that Warrington got up early and put his name in,' Dean told them. 'That big bloke from Slytherin who looks like a sloth.'

'We can't have a Slytherin champion!' said Arabella, shaking her head.

'And all the Hufflepuffs are talking about Diggory,' said Seamus.

'But I wouldn't have thought he'd have wanted to risk his good looks,' said Harry.

'Listen!' said Hermione suddenly.

People were cheering out in the entrance hall. They all swiveled around in their seats and saw Angelina Johnson coming into the Hall, grinning in an embarrassed sort of way. She came over to them, sat down, and said, 'Well, I've just done it! Just put my name in!'

'You're kidding!' said Ron, looking impressed.

'Are you seventeen, then?' asked Harry.

'Course she is, can't see a beard, can you?' said Ron.

'I had my birthday last week,' said Angelina.

'Well, I'm glad someone from Gryffindor's entering,' said Hermione. 'I really hope you get it, Angelina!'

'Good luck!' said Arabella, smiling at her old Quidditch team mate.

'Thanks,' said Angelina, smiling at them.

'Yeah, better you than Pretty-Boy Diggory,' said Seamus, causing several Hufflepuffs passing their table to scowl heavily at him.

'What're we going to do today, then?' Ron asked Arabella, Harry and Hermione when they had finished breakfast and were leaving the Great Hall.

'We haven't been down to visit Hagrid yet,' said Harry.

'Okay,' said Ron, 'just as long as he doesn't ask us to donate a few fingers to the skrewts.'

A look of great excitement suddenly dawned on Hermione's face.

'I've just realized - I haven't asked Hagrid to join S.P.E.W. yet!' she said brightly. 'Wait for me, will you, while I nip upstairs and get the badges?'

'What is it with her?' said Ron, exasperated, as Hermione ran away up the marble staircase.

'Hey, Arabella, it's your friend…' said Seamus, pointing towards the front doors.

Arabella turned around to see the dark haired student from Durmstrang. He was walking with two other students through the front doors. Those who were already gathered around the Goblet of Fire stood back to let them pass, watched eagerly. The two other students stood back as the dark haired one stepped forward, passed the Age Line and dropped his slip of parchment into the blue-white flames with a bored expression on his face. He stepped out of the line as the spectators around him continued on with their conversations before they came.

He looked around and spotted Arabella. He gave a small smirk and walked up to her. The talking around them seemed to have quietened down again as everybody was watching his every move. He stood in front of her with his hands behind his back. Now that he was in front of her, she got a really good look at him. He was dressed all in black. His hair was a glossy black colour that was in curls that seemed to fall on his face gracefully. His eyes were a very dark colour that she could tell whether or not it was brown or black. He seemed to be taller than Ron, which made him taller than Arabella.

'Hello,' he said. Arabella was surprised by his lack of accent. Karkaroff had one and so did one of his students. 'I'm Nikola Stefanov. And you are?'

'Arabella Black,' she said, blushing as he was glazing intently at her and embarrassed that everyone was looking at them.

'It's very nice to meet you,' he said, taking her hand into his very slowly and kissing the back of it. 'I hope to see you again.'

And with a last smirk and a swift turn, he and the two other Durmstrang students went out of the front doors. The crowd around them went back to whispering amongst themselves. Arabella was watching as Nikola left the entrance hall. He was certainly interesting. He would be more handsome if he smiled rather than just smirk she thought. As her eyes were fixed on the front door, she didn't see the glare on Harry's face, or the look of discomfort on Ron watching the two of them. She also didn't see the three galleons passed between Dean to Seamus.

A loud rattling noise broke Arabella from her trance as Hermione reappeared with the box of S.P.E.W. badges.

'What wrong with you three?' she asked, looking at all their face.

'Nothing,' said Harry shortly. 'Let's go.'

Harry stomped off with Ron beside him as Hermione walked with Arabella.

'What happened? I was barely gone for five minutes,' whispered Hermione to Arabella so that Harry couldn't hear her.

'You know the guy I thought was interesting? Black hair, tall, from Durmstrang?' Hermione nodded. 'Yeah, well, he came up to me, introduced himself and kissed the back of my hand.'

'Oh,' all Hermione had to say as they arrived in front of Hagrid's hut and Harry knocked on the door.

'Bout time!' said Hagrid, when he'd flung open the door. 'Thought you lot'd forgotten where I live!'

'We've been really busy, Hag -' Hermione started to say, but then she stopped dead, looking up at Hagrid, apparently lost for words.

Hagrid was wearing a hairy brown suit with a checked yellow-and-orange tie. He tried to tame his hair, using large quantities of what seemed to be axle grease. The look really didn't suit Hagrid at all. For a moment, Hermione goggled at him, obviously deciding not to comment, she said, 'Erm – where are the skrewts?'

'Out by the pumpkin patch,' said Hagrid happily. 'They're get-tin' massive, mus' be nearly three foot long now. On'y trouble is, they've started killin' each other.'

'Oh no, really?' said Hermione, shooting a repressive look at Ron, who, staring at Hagrid's odd hairstyle, had just opened his mouth to say something about it.

'Yeah,' said Hagrid sadly. 'S' okay, though, I've got 'em in separate boxes now. Still got abou' twenty.'

'Well, that's lucky,' said Ron. Hagrid missed the sarcasm.

They entered the hut and Hagrid started to make tea. They were soon immersed in yet more discussion of the Triwizard Tournament. Hagrid seemed quite as excited about it as they were.

'You wait,' he said, grinning. 'You jus' wait. Yer going ter see some stuff yeh've never seen before. Firs' task…ah, but I'm not supposed ter say.'

'Go on, Hagrid!' Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione urged him, but he just shook his head, grinning.

'I don' want ter spoil it fer yeh,' said Hagrid. 'But it's gonna be spectacular, I'll tell yeh that. Them champions're going ter have their work cut out. Never thought I'd live ter see the Triwizard Tournament played again!'

They ended up having lunch with Hagrid, thought they didn't eat much. However, they enjoyed themselves trying to make Hagrid tell them what the tasks in the tournament were going to be, speculating which of the entrants were likely to be selected as champions, and wondering whether or not Fred and George were beardless yet. A light rain had started to fall by midafternoon; it was very cozy sitting by the fire, listening to the gentle patter of the drops on the window, watching Hagrid darning his socks and arguing with Hermione about house-elves - for he flatly refused to join S.P.E.W. when she showed him her badges.

'It'd be doin' 'em an unkindness, Hermione,' he said gravely, threading a massive bone needle with thick yellow yarn. 'It's in their nature ter look after humans, that's what they like, see? Yeh'd be makin' 'em unhappy ter take away their work, an' insutin' 'em if yeh tried ter pay 'em.'

'But Harry set Dobby free, and he was over the moon about it!' said Hermione. 'And we heard he's asking for wages now!'

'Yeah, well, yeh get weirdos in every breed. I'm not sayin' there isn't the odd elf who'd take freedom, but yeh'll never persuade most of 'em ter do it - no, nothin' doin', Hermione.'

Hermione looked very cross indeed and stuffed her box of badges back into her cloak pocket.

By half past five it was growing dark, and Arabella, Ron, Harry, and Hermione decided it was time to get back up to the castle for the Halloween feast - and, more important, the announcement of the school champions.

'I'll come with yeh,' said Hagrid, putting away his darning. 'Jus' give us a sec.'

Hagrid got up, went across to the chest of drawers beside his bed, and began searching for something inside it. They didn't pay too much attention until a truly horrible smell reached their nostrils.

'Hagrid, what's that smell?' asked Arabella, coughing.

'Eh?' said Hagrid, turning around with a large bottle in his hand. 'Don' yeh like it?'

'Is that aftershave?' said Hermione in a slightly choked voice.

'Er - eau de cologne,' Hagrid muttered. He was blushing. 'Maybe it's a bit much,' he said gruffly. 'I'll go take it off, hang on…'

He stumped out of the cabin, and they saw him washing himself vigorously in the water barrel outside the window.

'Eau de cologne?' said Hermione in amazement. 'Hagrid?'

'And what's with the hair and the suit?' said Harry in an undertone.

'Look!' said Ron suddenly, pointing out of the window. Hagrid had just straightened up and turned 'round. If he had been blushing before, it was nothing to what he was doing now. Getting to their feet very cautiously, so that Hagrid wouldn't spot them, Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione peered through the window and saw that Madame Maxime and the Beauxbatons students had just emerged from their carriage, clearly about to set off for the feast too. They couldn't hear what Hagrid was saying, but he was talking to Madame Maxime with a rapt, misty-eyed expression Arabella had only ever seen him wear once before - when he had been looking at the baby dragon, Norbert.

'He's going up to the castle with her!' said Hermione indignantly. 'I thought he was waiting for us!'

'Hagrid fancies her!' said Arabella, watching them leave with wide eyes.

'Well, if they end up having kids, they'll be setting a world record – bet any baby of their would weigh about a ton,' said Ron.

They let themselves out of the cabin and shut the door behind them. It was surprisingly dark outside. Drawing their cloaks more closely around themselves, they set off up the sloping lawns.

'Ooh it's them, look!' Hermione whispered.

The Durmstrang party was walking up toward the castle from the lake. Krum was walking side by side with Karkaroff, as Nikola was walking beside Krum with a bored expression on his face. Ron watched Krum excitedly as Arabella was gazing intently at Nikola. He seemed to have sensed her or something as he turned around to give her a smirk and a small wink. Once again, Arabella didn't notice the glare Harry was sending his way or the worried expression on Hermione's face.

When they entered the Great Hall it was almost full. The Goblet of Fire had been moved. It was now standing in front of Dumbledore's empty chair at the teacher's table. Fred and George seemed to have taken their disappointment fairly well.

'Hope it's Angelina,' said Fred as Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat down.

'So do I!' said Hermione breathlessly. 'Well, we'll soon know!'

'We need to have a little talk,' said George to Arabella as the Halloween feast started.

'About what?' asked Arabella, eating some lamb chops.

'We have heard that a certain Durmstrang student has caught your eye,' said Fred.

'Where did you hear that?' asked Arabella, blushing slightly.

'Word travels fast,' said George. 'But that's not the point.'

'What about Harry?' asked Hermione as she was listening to this conversation as Harry and Ron were talking to Dean and Seamus.

'There's nothing going on between the two of us,' Arabella said bitterly. 'He said that we were just friends. And what's wrong with me being friends with Nikola?'

'Nothing's wrong,' said George.

'Doubt he's looking for more than friendship,' said Fred.

Arabella glared at them before returning to her food and ignoring them for the rest of the feast. At long last, the golden plates returned to their original spotless state.

'Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision,' said Dumbledore, getting to his feet. 'I estimate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions' names are called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff table, and go through into the next chamber' - he indicated the door behind the staff table - 'where they will be receiving their first instructions.'

He took out his wand and gave a great sweeping wave with it; at once, all the candles except those inside the carved pumpkins were extinguished, plunging them into a state of semidarkness. The Goblet of Fire now shone more brightly than anything in the whole Hall, the sparkling bright, bluey-whiteness of the flames almost painful on the eyes. Everyone watched, waiting…A few people kept checking their watches…

'Any second,' lee whispered, couple seats away from Arabella.

The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red again. Sparks began to fly from it. Next moment, a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of parchment fluttered out of it - the whole room gasped.

Dumbledore caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm's length, so that he could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white.

'The champion for Durmstrang,' he read, in a strong, clear voice, 'will be Viktor Krum.'

'No surprises there!' yelled Ron as a storm of applause and cheering swept the Hall. Arabella saw Krum rise from the Slytherin table and slouched up toward Dumbledore. Arabella saw Nikola with an actual genuine smile on his face as he watched Krum turned right, walked along the staff table, and disappeared through the door into the next chamber. He does look handsome with that smile on she thought.

'Bravo, Viktor!' boomed Karkaroff, so loudly that everyone could hear him, even over all the applause. 'Knew you had it in you!'

The clapping and chatting died down. Now everyone's attention was focused again on the goblet, which, seconds later, turned red once more. A second piece of parchment shot out of it, propelled by the flames.

'The champion for Beauxbatons,' said Dumbledore, 'is Fleur Delacour!'

'It's her, Ron!' Harry shouted as the girl who so resembled a veela got gracefully to her feet, shook back her sheet of silvery blonde hair, and swept up between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.

'Oh look, they're all disappointed,' Hermione said over the noise, nodding toward the remainder of the Beauxbatons party. 'Disappointed' was a bit of an understatement. Two of the girls who had not been selected had dissolved into tears and were sobbing with their heads on their arms.

When Fleur Delacour too had vanished into the side chamber, silence fell again, but this time it was a silence so stiff with excitement you could almost taste it. The Hogwarts champion next…

And the Goblet of Fire turned red once more; sparks showered out of it; the tongue of flame shot high into the air, and from its tip Dumbledore pulled the third piece of parchment.

'The Hogwarts champion,' he called, 'is Cedric Diggory!'

Arabella was pretty sure she heard Ron say something, but there was uproar from the next table. Every single Hufflepuff had jumped to his or her feet, screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way past them, grinning broadly, and headed off toward the chamber behind the teachers' table. Indeed, the applause for Cedric went on so long that it was some time before Dumbledore could make himself heard again.

'Excellent!' Dumbledore called happily as at last the tumult died down. 'Well, we now have our three champions. I am sure I can count upon all of you, including the remaining students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, to give your champions every ounce of support you can muster. By cheering your champion on, you will contribute in a very real —'

But Dumbledore suddenly stopped speaking, and it was apparent to everybody what had distracted him.

The fire in the goblet had just turned red again. Sparks were flying out of it. A long flame shot suddenly into the air, and borne upon it was another piece of parchment.

Automatically, it seemed, Dumbledore reached out a long hand and seized the parchment. He held it out and stared at the name written upon it. There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out - 'Harry Potter.'

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