The Four Champions
The Four Champions
Everyone was looking at Harry, who was sitting down on his seat stunned beyond belief. There was no applause, but an angry buzz was starting to fill the Hall. Up at the top table, Professor McGonagall had got to her feet and swept past Bagman and Karkaroff to whisper urgently to Dumbledore, who was frowning slightly. The whole of Gryffindor table was watching Harry with their mouths open.
Arabella got up and urged Harry to do the same.
'I didn't put my name in,' Harry said blankly. 'You know I didn't.'
'I know,' said Arabella, trying to push him up. 'But you have to go. They're waiting for you.'
At the top of the table, Dumbledore straightened up and nodded to Professor McGonagall.
'Harry Potter!' he called again. 'Harry! Up here, if you please!'
'Go,' urged Arabella, finally getting him out of his seat and gave him a big push.
Harry walked to the top table as hundreds of eyes were upon him. The buzzing got louder and louder. When he finally reached Dumbledore, he said something and motioned for Harry to walk through the doors on his right.
After Harry had left the Great Hall, Dumbledore whispered something to Professor McGonagall motioned for Karkaroff and Madam Maxime to follow him. Bagman and Crouch were hot on their trial.
'Students are to return to their common rooms,' called out Professor McGonagall. 'You can start on your celebrations there.'
There was a rush as everybody got up and walked out of the Great Hall. Arabella was walking with Hermione and Ron, who was really quiet and gazing into space.
'Ron,' said Arabella, 'are you okay?'
'What?' said Ron, snapping out of his gaze. 'Yes, I'm fine.'
'You know he didn't enter himself in, right?'
Ron nodded absentmindedly, but Arabella wasn't sure if he was listening or not. There was something strange about the way he was acting. He was smiling, but it was more like a grimace, which didn't suit him at all.
They reached the common room and Ron went up to his dormitory as everybody started to celebrate. Arabella and Hermione went up to their dormitory to get away from the noise.
'He didn't put his name in,' said Arabella as soon as they entered the room.
'I know,' said Hermione, 'but who did?'
'Mad-Eye told me to keep a look out for Karkaroff,' said Arabella, remembering the strange encounter with him. 'There's something strange about him?'
'But why would he put Harry's name in the Goblet?' asked Hermione. 'It makes no sense.'
'I know,' said Arabella in defeat. 'Can you do me a favour? I'm going to go talk to Harry tomorrow; can you look after Ron or something? He's acting strange.'
'He's jealous,' said Hermione at once. 'Harry always gets the attention while Ron gets pushed to the side. And he also has all his brothers to compete with. I'll make sure he's okay. Talk to Harry tomorrow and write a letter to Sirius. He'll want to know.'
Arabella nodded as they both changed and went to bed.
Arabella got up earlier than her other roommates. She changed quickly and grabbed some parchment, quill, some ink and made her way towards the Great Hall. There weren't many people there and about two people that she didn't know sitting at the Gryffindor Table. She quietly took her seat and ate her breakfast.
'Is this seat taken?' asked a voice that she thought she recognized.
Arabella looked up and saw that it as Nikola. He was giving her a little smile that suited his face instead of his usual smirk. He was again dressed on black and his hair looked a bit wet. He was pointing to the seat across from her.
'No, go ahead,' said Arabella, slightly blushing.
He sat down gracefully and put some bacon and eggs on his plate.
'So, tell me about yourself Arabella Black,' said Nikola, his smile now forming into a smirk.
'Um… nothing much to tell. I'm not very interesting,' spluttered Arabella.
'I find you very interesting,' said Nikola. 'And I'm sure your boyfriend does too.'
'No boyfriend,' said Arabella, thinking of Harry.
'Really?' asked Nikola, raising his right eyebrow. 'What about the tall red head?'
'Ron? He's not my boyfriend, he's practically my brother,' said Arabella.
'And the boy with the messy black hair and the scar on his forehead? Harry Potter, isn't it?'
'Harry's not my boyfriend,' said Arabella, trying to keep the bitter tone out of her voice.
Nikola's smirk grew broader.
'Tell me about yourself,' said Arabella, quickly.
'What do you wish to know?' asked Nikola.
'Why don't you have an accent like the rest of your friends?' asked Arabella.
'I'm half Bulgarian, half English,' said Nikola. 'During summer, I spend my time in Gloucester. I go to Durmstrang because that's where my father and his father went. It's a family legacy,' said Nikola, quite bored.
'Are you friends with Krum?' asked Arabella, remembering that they walked beside each other when they entered Hogwarts the night before.
'I am,' said Nikola, a genuine smile on his face. 'I've known his since we started together in Durmstrang. He's a really good person, and an amazing Quidditch player.'
They looked over and Arabella saw one of the Durmstrang students waving him over. Nikola sighed before turning back to Arabella.
'I'm sorry I have to cut this date short,' said Nikola.
'Date? You call this a date?' said Arabella with a disbelief look on her face.
'Well, no,' said Nikola with a chuckle. 'I'll take you out on a proper date soon. That is, if you want me to?'
'We'll see,' said Arabella. Nikola smirk before reaching out for her hand and kissing the back of it. He lingered a bit before getting up and walking towards his friends.
'What the hell was that about?' asked Seamus as he was sitting with Dean, Fred and George. She didn't notice them come in and sit down until now.
'What are you talking about?' asked Arabella.
'You, him,' said Dean, pointing at Arabella and the doors to the Great Hall. 'It's not right,' he said shaking his head.
'There's nothing wrong with me and Nikola hanging out,' said Arabella hotly.
'Yes there is,' said George.
'Don't you remember the bet we have with Ron? He said fifth year, I say sixth year, George said sometime between fourth and fifth year. We bet one galleon on this,' said Fred. 'We can't lose.'
'I also have a bet with Bill and Charlie,' said George. 'Bill said sixth year, Charlie said fifth. I can't lose five galleons.'
'I have one going on with Ernie from Hufflepuff and Terry from Ravenclaw,' said Dean. 'I said by the end of this year. Ernie said that Harry doesn't have the guts to ever ask you out while Terry said fifth year. I can't lose to a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw!'
'Me, Ron and Neville's got one, too,' said Seamus.
'Neville?' said Arabella, shocked. 'Neville's in this also?'
'Yeah, he said sometime in our sixth year, I said this year,' said Seamus. 'If you go out with Nikola, then all our money and observations of the two of you go to waste. Three years down the drain.'
'And I know for sure I heard Dumbledore, McGonagall, Sprout and Flitwick wagering a bet, too,' said George. 'Your right eye's twitching.'
She didn't notice it until George mentioned it, but Arabella's right eye was indeed twitching. She was caught between amusement and annoyance, mostly annoyance. She knew that Fred, George and Ron had a bet with each other, but not the others. She didn't expect Neville, the teachers or any or the other students to be involved.
'Well, you can call it all off,' snapped Arabella. 'None of it's going to happen. You've wasted your time. I have to go.'
She got up abruptly, got some toast and napkins and walked out of the Great Hall, where she waited for Harry.
Arabella waited for about five minutes before she spotted Harry walking towards her.
'Hello,' said Arabella. 'Want to go for a walk?'
Harry looked at the food in her hands and smiled gratefully at her.
'Good idea,' he said.
They walked outside towards the lake, where the Durmstrang ship was anchored. It was a chilly morning as they kept moving and munched on the toast. Harry told Arabella exactly what happened after he left the Gryffindor table the night before.
'I believe you,' said Arabella. 'The thing is who did put your name in? No student could have done it.'
'Have you see Ron?' Harry interrupted.
'I didn't see him at breakfast,' said Arabella, shaking his head.
'Does he think I entered myself in? After you guys left the Great Hall?'
'I don't know… maybe… not really,' said Arabella awkwardly.
'What's that supposed to mean?'
'Oh Harry, open your eyes,' said Arabella hopelessly. 'He's jealous!'
'Jealous?' Harry said incredulously. 'Jealous of what? He wants to make a prat of himself in front of the whole school, does he?'
'Look,' said Arabella, remembering what Hermione told her last night, 'it's always you who gets all the attention. Don't give me that look, you know it's true. Remember what he said on the train the first time we all met? He's got five brothers to compete with, and most of his stuffs are hand-me-downs. Nobody expects him to do good because they've all done it before. Every time someone recognizes you, he always shunned to the side, and he puts up with it, he never mentions it, but this is one time too many…'
'Great,' said Harry bitterly. 'Really great. Tell him from me I'll swap any time he wants. Tell him from me he's welcome to it… People gawping at my forehead everywhere I go…'
'Tell him yourself,' said Arabella shortly. 'It's the only way to sort this out.'
'I'm not running around after him trying to make him grow up!' Harry said loudly. 'Maybe he'll believe I'm not enjoying myself once I've got my neck broken or –'
'Shut up!' yelled Arabella. 'It's not funny,' she said in a much more quiet voice. 'You have to write to Padfoot, tell him what's going on. He'll want to know about this. Better to hear it from you rather that the Daily Prophet.'
'Come off it,' said Harry, looking around to check that they couldn't be overheard, but the grounds were deserted. 'He came back to the country just because my scar twinged. He'll probably come bursting right into the castle if I tell him someone's entered me in the Triwizard Tournament –'
'Either you tell him or I will,' said Arabella firmly.
'Fine,' said Harry reluctantly. 'I'll write to him.'
They walked back to the castle towards the Owlery.
'Whose owl am I going to use?' Harry said as they entered the Owlery. 'He told me not to use Hedwig again and I can't use Shay.'
'Ask Ron if you can –'
'I'm not asking Ron for anything,' Harry said flatly.
'Fine,' said Arabella, irritated. 'Borrow one of the school owls then.'
Arabella took out her pieces of parchment, quill, and a bottle of ink. They sat down against the wall and wrote their letters to Sirius. Harry wrote:
You told me to keep you posted on what's happening at Hogwarts, so here goes – I don't know if you've heard, but the Triwizard Tournament's happening this year and on Saturday night I got picked as a fourth champion. I don't who put my name in the Goblet of Fire, because I didn't. The other Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, from Hufflepuff. Arabella might have a boyfriend from Durmstrang. Hope you're okay, and Buckbeak –
On a separate piece of paper Arabella wrote:
Hopefully Harry told you the truth. There's this competition going on between Hogwarts, Beauxbaton and Durmstrang called the Triwizard Tournament. One champion is chosen from each school, but, unfortunately, Hogwarts has two, one of them being Harry. Nobody knows who did it though. Mad-Eye told me to keep an eye out for Professor Karkaroff, he's the headmaster at Durmstrang. Creepy fellow. I was wondering if you knew why. Hope you safe and well hidden. Miss you.
She copied the letter on another piece of paper for Remus.
'Finished?' asked Harry, watching her.
Arabella gave him the letter for Sirius, while she went to Shay with her letter for Remus.
'First Ron, then you,' Harry said angrily at Hedwig as she moved away from him. 'This isn't my fault.'
Things for Harry didn't improve anytime soon. The rest of the school, including the Gryffindors, thought he entered himself in the tournament. However, unlike the Gryffindors, they weren't impressed. The Hufflepuffs turned cold towards of all them, even Professor Spout seemed distant with him. The Ravenclaws were rallying behind Cedric, they thought Harry tricked the goblet into accepting his name.
When they arrived at Snape's dungeon after lunch, they found the Slytherins waiting outside, each and every one of them wearing a large badge on the front of their robes, baring the same message in red letters: SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY – THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION!
'Like them, Potter?' said Malfoy loudly as Harry approached. 'And this isn't all they do - look!'
He pressed his badge into his chest, and the message upon it vanished, to be replaced by another one, which glowed green: POTTER STINKS!
The Slytherins howled with laughter. Each of them pressed their badges too, until the message POTTER STINKS was shining brightly all around Harry. He felt the heat rise in his face and neck.
'Shut up,' snapped Arabella at Pansy Parkinson's laugh squeaky laugh.
'Oh very funny,' said Hermione, 'really witty.'
Ron was standing against the wall with Dean and Seamus. He wasn't laughing, but he wasn't sticking up for Harry either.
'Want one, Granger?' said Malfoy, holding out a badge to Hermione. 'I've got loads. But don't touch my hand, now. I've just washed it, you see; don't want a Mudblood sliming it up.'
Some of the anger Harry had been feeling for days and days seemed to burst through a dam in his chest. He had reached for his wand before he'd thought what he was doing. People all around them scrambled out of the way, backing down the corridor.
'Harry!' Hermione said warningly.
'Don't,' said Arabella to Hermione. 'The anger's been building up for the past couple days he needs to release it.'
'Go on, then, Potter,' Malfoy said quietly, drawing out his own wand. 'Moody's not here to look after you now - do it, if you've got the guts -'
For a split second, they looked into each other's eyes, then, at exactly the same time, both acted.
'Funnunculus!' Harry yelled.
'Densaugeo!' screamed Malfoy.
Jets of light shot from both wands, hit each other in midair, and ricocheted off at angles — Harry's hit Goyle in the face, and Malfoy's hit Hermione. Goyle bellowed and put his hands to his nose, where great ugly boils were springing up - Hermione, whimpering in panic, was clutching her mouth.
Ron hurried forward to see what was wrong with her. Arabella tried to drag her hand away from her face. It wasn't a pretty sight. Hermione's front teeth – already larger than average – were now growing at an alarming rate. She was looking like a beaver as her teeth extended, past her bottom lip, towards her chip.
'And what is all this noise about?' said a deadly voice.
Snape had arrived. The Slytherins clamored to give their explanations; Snape pointed a long yellow finger at Malfoy and said, 'Explain.'
'Potter attacked me, sir -'
'We attacked each other at the same time!' Harry shouted.
'- and he hit Goyle - look -'
Snape examined Goyle, whose face now resembled something that would have been at home in a book on poisonous fungi.
'Hospital wing, Goyle,' Snape said calmly.
'Malfoy got Hermione!' Ron said. 'Look!'
He forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth – she was doing her best to hide them with her hands, but finding it difficult as they kept growing. Pansy and some of the other Slytherin girls started to point their fingers at her and laugh.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, 'I see no difference.'
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight.
It was lucky that Arabella, Harry and Ron started shouting at Snape at the same time. Luckily their voices echoed in the stone corridor, making it impossible for Snape to hear exactly what they were calling him. He got the gist, however.
'Let's see, seventy-five points from Gryffindor, and a detention each for Potter, Weasley and Black. Now get inside, or it'll be a week's worth of detention.'
Arabella was practically fuming. She wanted to curse Snape into a thousand pieces and feed him to Fang. She passed Snape, walked in with Harry and Ron to the back of the dungeon, and slammed her bag down on the ground. Harry and Ron were shaking with anger too, and for a moment, it felt like everything was normal between the two of them, but then Ron turned and sat down with Dean and Seamus instead.
Arabella sighed, 'Harry, you have to –'
'I don't have to do anything,' snapped Harry. 'Drop it.'
'Antidotes!' said Snape, looking around at them all, his cold black eyes glittering unpleasantly. 'You should all have prepared your recipes now. I want you to brew them carefully, and then, we will be selecting someone on whom to test one…'
Snape was staring at Harry, but there was a knock on the dungeon door. It was Colin Creevey. He edged into the room and walked to Snape's desk at the front of the room.
'Yes?' said Snape curtly.
'Please, sir, I'm supposed to take Harry Potter upstairs.' Snape stared down his hooked nose at Colin, whose smile faded from his eager face.
'Potter has another hour of Potions to complete,' said Snape coldly. 'He will come upstairs when this class is finished.'
Colin went pink.
'Sir - sir, Mr. Bagman wants him,' he said nervously. 'All the champions have got to go, I think they want to take photographs…'
'Very well, very well,' Snape snapped. 'Potter, leave your things here, I want you back down here later to test your antidote.'
'Please, sir - he's got to take his things with him,' squeaked Cohn. 'All the champions…'
'Very well!' said Snape. 'Potter - take your bag and get out of my sight!'
Harry swung his bag over his shoulder, got up, and headed for the door, leaving Arabella lone at her table.
That was a brutal lesson. Snape poisoned Neville, but thankfully, his antidote worked. She also found out that she has detention with Snape tomorrow night in his dungeons, what fun! As she was walking to the Great Hall for dinner, she wasn't paying attention and bumped into someone.
'Ah, Arabella Black,' said Nikola, smirking, as she looked up. 'Nice to see you again.'
'I just saw you this morning,' said Arabella, giving him a small smile.
'Too long,' said Nikola. 'Are you waiting for Harry Potter?'
'Yeah, I'm going to go meet him in the Great Hall for dinner,' said Arabella.
'I'll leave you to it then. Give my best to the champion,' said Nikola, as he took Arabella's hand in his again and kissed it.
Arabella managed to find a seat close enough to Ron without him or Harry noticing. Ron was sitting with Dean, Seamus, Fred and George.
'Hey, Ara,' said George, leaning over. 'Sorry about this morning.'
'It's fine,' said Arabella, waving it off.
'You both got an owl,' said George, passing over three envelopes that were unopened.
'Thank George,' said Arabella.
'No problem, but just watch out for the Bulgarian guy. Something about him that I don't like,' said George before focusing his attention back to his food.
Arabella rolled her eyes before opening the first letter addressed to her. It was from Remus.
Don't worry about Padfoot, he's safe. Look after yourself and Harry. I know what Mad-Eye's talking about, but I can't put it into a letter, just in case it gets intercepted. On 22nd of November, make sure you're alone with Harry in the Gryffindor Tower by the fire at one in the morning, we have to talk face to face with Padfoot. If something's wrong, go to Dumbledore or Mad-Eye. Be on the watch, Ara. Write to me or Padfoot if something unusual happens. Let me or Padfoot now about the 22nd of November as quickly as you can. I miss you.
She opened the second letter from Sirius.
I can't say everything I would like to in a letter, especially about Karkaroff, it's too risky. Meet me and Moony at the Gryffindor Tower by the fire at one o'clock in the morning on 22nd of November. I'll tell you about Karkaroff, and we need to have a talk about something else.
Watch out for yourself and Harry. Nobody should be able to attack him with Dumbledore or Moody around. I still want to hear about anything unusual. Let me or Moony know about the 22nd of November as quickly as you can. I miss you.
'Hey,' said Harry, sliding into the seat next to her.
'This came for you,' said Arabella, sliding the letter over.
Harry opened the letter eagerly and read it as fast as he could.
'Professor Lupin's going to be there?' asked Harry.
'Yeah,' said Arabella, and then dropped her voice into a whisper. 'Something's wrong with Karkaroff. There's something fishy about him and Moony and Padfoot knows something about him.'
'We really can't have a normal year, can't we?' sighed Harry.
'No such thing as normal, my dear,' said Arabella, slightly smiling.
Thank you for reading!