The Triwizard Tournament
disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, just Arabella :)
Hope you like it!
The Triwizard Tournament
Arabella could see Hogwarts coming nearer. Lightning flashed across the sky as their carriage came to a halt before the front doors. People who occupied the carriages in front were already hurrying up the stone steps. Arabella, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville jumped down from their carriage and dashed up the stone steps too, looking up only when they were safely inside the entrance hall.
'Blimey,' said Ron, shaking his head and sending water everywhere, 'if that keeps up the lake's going to overflow. I'm soak – ARRGH!'
A large, red, water-filled balloon had dropped from out of the ceiling onto Ron's head and exploded. Drenched and sputtering, Ron staggered sideways into Harry, just as the second water bomb dropped – hitting Arabella's face. Her face was in a grimace as her eyes were closed and her mouth was in a very thin line. People all around them shrieked and started pushing one another in their efforts to get out of the line of fire. Arabella finally opened her eyes and looked up. It was Peeves the Poltergeist.
'PEEVES!' yelled an angry voice. 'Peeves, come down here at ONCE!' Professor McGonagall had come dashing out of the Great Hall; she skidded on the wet floor and grabbed Hermione around the neck to stop herself from falling.
'Ouch – sorry Miss Granger –'
'That's all right, Professor!' Hermione gasped, massaging her throat.
'Peeves, get down here NOW!' barked Professor McGonagall, straightening her pointed hat and glaring upward through her square-rimmed spectacles.
'Not doing nothing!' cackled Peeves, lobbing a water bomb at several fifth-year girls, who screamed and dived into the Great Hall. 'Already wet, aren't they? Little squirts! Wheeeeeeeeee!'
And he aimed another bomb at a group of second years who had just arrived.
'I shall call the headmaster!' shouted Professor McGonagall. 'I'm warning you, Peeves -'
Peeves stuck out his tongue, threw the last of his water bombs into the air, and zoomed off up the marble staircase, cackling insanely.
Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione slipped and slid across the hall and through the double doors on the right, Ron and Arabella muttering furiously under their breath as they pushed their hairs away from their faces.
'I wish he was human so that I could kill him,' muttered Arabella, glaring at anyone who dared to look at the two of them.
'You and me both,' said Ron furiously.
It was much warmer in the Great Hall. Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione walked past the Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables and sat down with the rest of the Gryffindors at the far side of the Hall, next to Nearly Headless Nick.
'Good evening,' he said, beaming at them.
'Says who?' said Harry, trying to push some of Arabella's stubborn hair away from her face. They weren't aware of some of the Gryffindors looking at them or that Seamus and Dean were making a bet. 'Hope they hurry up with the Sorting. I'm starving.'
'Hi, Colin,' said Harry warily.
'Harry, guess what? Guess what, Harry? My brother's starting! My brother Dennis!'
'Er- good,' said Harry.
'He's really excited!' said Colin, practically bouncing up and down in his seat. 'I just hope he's in Gryffindor! Keep your fingers crossed, eh, Harry?'
'Er – yeah, all right,' said Harry. He turned back to Arabella, Hermione, Ron and Nearly Headless Nick.
'Brothers and sisters usually go in the same Houses, don't they?' he said. He was judging by the Weasleys, all seven of whom had been put into Gryffindor.
'Oh no, not necessarily,' said Hermione. 'Parvati Patil's twin's in Ravenclaw, and they're identical. You'd think they'd be together, wouldn't you?'
Arabella was looking at the staff table. Hagrid's seat was empty, as well as Professor McGonagall's, but there was another empty chair too.
'Where's the new Defense Against the Dark arts teacher?' said Hermione, who was also looking up at the teachers. 'Maybe they didn't get anyone!'
'They're probably just late or something,' said Arabella, absentmindedly.
'Oh hurry up,' Ron moaned, beside Hermione, 'I could eat a hippogriff.'
The words were no sooner out of his mouth then the doors of the great Hall opened and silence fell. Professor McGonagall was leading a long line of first years up to the top of the Hall. If Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were wet, it was nothing to how these first years looked. They looked like they swam across the lake rather than sailed. All of them were shivering with a combination of cold and nerves as they filed along the staff table and came to a halt in a line facing the rest of the school.
Professor McGonagall now placed a three-legged stool on the ground before the first years and on top of it, an extremely old, dirty patched wizard's hat. They first years stared at it. So did everybody else. For a moment, there was silence, and then the hat broke out into a song:
A thousand years or more ago,
When I was newly sewn,
There lived four wizards of renown,
Whose names are still well known:
Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor,
Fair Ravenclaw, from glen,
Sweet Hufflepuff, from valley broad,
Shrewd Slytherin, from fin.
They shared a wish, a hope, a dream,
They hatched a daring plan
To educate young sorcerers
Thus Hogwarts School began.
Now each of these four founders
Formed their own house, for each
Did value different virtues
In the ones they had to teach.
By Gryffindor, the bravest were
Prized far beyond the rest;
For Ravenclaw, the cleverest
Would always be the best;
For Hufflepuff, hard workers were
Most worthy of admission;
And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition.
While still alive they did divide
Their favorites from the throng,
Yet how to pick the worthy ones
When they were dead and gone?
'Twas Gryffindor who found the way,
He whipped me off his head
The founders put some brains in me
So I could choose instead!
Now slip me snug about your ears,
I've never yet been wrong,
I'll have a look inside your mind
And tell where you belong!
The Great Hall rang with applause as the Sorting Hat finished.
'That's not the song it sang when it Sorted us,' said Harry, clapping along with everyone else.
'Sings a different one every year,' said Ron. 'It's got to be a pretty boring life, hasn't it, being a hat? I suppose it spends all year making up the next one.'
Professor McGonagall was now unrolling a large scroll of parchment.
'When I call out your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool,' she told the first years. 'When the hat announces your House, you will go and sit at the appropriate table.
A boy walked forward, visibly trembling from head to foot, picked up the Sorting Hat, put it on, and sat down on the stool.
'RAVENCLAW!' shouted the hat.
Stewart Ackerley took off the hat and hurried into a seat at the Ravenclaw table, where everyone was applauding him.
The table on the other side of the hall erupted with cheers. Fred and George hissed Malcolm Baddock as he sat down.
Dennis beamed widely as he took off his hat, placed it back on the stool and hurried over to join his brother.
'Colin, I fell in!' he said shrilly, throwing himself into an empty seat. 'It was brilliant! And something in the water grabbed me and pushed me back in the boat!'
'Cool!' said Colin, just as excitedly. 'It was probably the giant squid, Dennis!'
'Wow!' said Dennis, as though nobody in their wildest dreams could hope for more than being thrown into a storm-tossed, fathoms-deep lake, and pushed out of it again by a giant sea monster.
'Dennis! Dennis! See that boy down there? The one with the black hair and glasses? See him? Know who he is, Dennis?'
Harry continued to look away, staring very hard at the Sorting Hat, now Sorting Emma Dobbs.
'Oh hurry up,' Ron moaned, massaging his stomach as they were Sorting the M's.
'Harry,' whined Arabella from beside him. 'Where's the food? I'm hungry. Make the food appear.'
'It's coming,' said Harry. 'It's coming soon.'
'Now, now, the Sorting's much more important than food,' said Nearly Headless Nick as 'Madley, Laura!' became a Hufflepuff.
'Course it is, if you're dead,' snapped Ron.
'I do hope this year's batch of Gryffindors are up to scratch,' said Nearly Headless Nick, applauding as 'McDonald, Natalie!' joined the Gryffindor table. 'We don't want to break our winning streak, do we?'
And finally, with 'Whitby, Kevin!' ('HUFFLEPUFF!'), the Sorting ended. Professor McGonagall picked up the hat and the stool and carried them away. 'About time,' said Ron, seizing his knife and fork and looking expectantly at his golden plate.
Professor Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was smiling around at the students, his arms opened wide in welcome.
'I have only two words to say to you,' he told them, his deep voice echoing around the Hall. 'Tuck in.'
'Hear, hear!' said Arabella, Harry and Ron loudly as the empty dishes filled magically before their eyes.
Nearly Headless Nick watched mournfully as Arabella, Harry, Ron, and Hermione loaded their own plates.
'Aaah, 'at's be'er,' said Ron, with his mouth full of mashed potato.
'You're lucky there's a feast at all tonight, you know,' said Nearly Headless Nick. 'There was trouble in the kitchens earlier.'
'Why? Wha' 'appened?' said Harry, through a sizable chunk of steak.
'Peeves, of course,' said Nearly Headless Nick, shaking his head, which wobbled dangerously. He pulled his ruff a little higher up on his neck. 'The usual argument, you know. He wanted to attend the feast - well, it's quite out of the question, you know what he's like, utterly uncivilized, can't see a plate of food without throwing it. We held a ghost's council - the Fat Friar was all for giving him the chance – but most wisely, in my opinion, the Bloody Baron put his foot down.'
The Bloody Baron was the Slytherin ghost, a gaunt and silent specter covered in silver bloodstains. He was the only person at Hogwarts who could really control Peeves.
'Yeah, we thought Peeves seemed ticked off about something,' said Arabella darkly.
'So what did he do in the kitchens?'
'Oh the usual,' said Nearly Headless Nick, shrugging. 'Wreaked havoc and mayhem. Pots and pans everywhere. Place swimming in soup. Terrified the house-elves out of their wits—'
Hermione had knocked over her golden goblet. Pumpkin juice spread steadily over the tablecloth, staining several feet of white linen orange, but Hermione paid no attention.
'There are house-elves here?' she said, staring, horror-struck, at Nearly Headless Nick. 'Here at Hogwarts?'
'Certainly,' said Nearly Headless Nick, looking surprised at her reaction. 'The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred.'
'I've never seen one!' said Hermione.
'They don't come out of the kitchen during the day,' said Arabella, swallowing some mashed potatoes. 'They coming out sometimes during the night to do some cleaning.'
'You knew?' said Hermione, shocked.
'Of course I knew,' said Arabella. 'Uncle Remus told me about it. They used to make him some hot chocolate after some particularly bad full moons.'
Hermione stared at her.
'But they get paid?' she said. 'They get holidays, don't they? And - and sick leave, and pensions, and everything?'
Nearly Headless Nick chortled so much that his ruff slipped and his head flopped off, dangling on the inch or so of ghostly skin and muscle that still attached it to his neck.
'Sick leave and pensions?' he said, pushing his head back onto his shoulders and securing it once more with his ruff. 'House-elves don't want sick leave and pensions!'
Hermione looked down at her hardly touched plate of food, then put her knife and fork down upon it and pushed it away from her.
'Oh c'mon, 'Er-my-knee,' said Ron, accidentally spraying Harry with bits of Yorkshire pudding. 'Oops — sorry, 'Arry —' He swallowed. 'You won't get them sick leave by starving yourself!'
'Slave labor,' said Hermione, breathing hard through her nose. 'That's what made this dinner. Slave labor.'
And she refused to eat another bite.
The rain was still drumming heavily against the high, dark glass. Another clap of thunder shook the windows, and the stormy ceiling flashed, illuminating the golden plates as the remains of the first course vanished and were replaced, instantly, with puddings.
'Treacle tart, Hermione!' said Ron, deliberately wafting its smell toward her. 'Spotted dick, look! Chocolate gateau!'
But Hermione gave him a look so reminiscent of Professor McGonagall that he gave up. When the puddings too had been demolished, and the last crumbs had faded off the plates, leaving them sparkling clean, Albus Dumbledore got to his feet again. The buzz of chatter filling the Hall ceased almost at once, so that only the howling wind and pounding rain could be heard.
'So!' said Dumbledore, smiling around at them all. 'Now that we are all fed and watered,' ('Hmph!' said Hermione) 'I must once more ask for your attention, while I give out a few notices.
'Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to tell you that the list of objects forbidden inside the castle has this year been extended to include Screaming Yo-yos, Fanged Frisbees, and Ever-Bashing Boomerangs. The full list comprises some four hundred and thirty-seven items, I believe, and can be viewed in Mr. Filch's office, if anybody would like to check it.'
The corners of Dumbledore's mouth twitched. He continued, 'As ever, I would like to remind you all that the forest on the grounds is out-of-bounds to students, as is the village of Hogsmeade to all below third year.
'It is also my painful duty to inform you that the Inter-House Quidditch Cup will not take place this year.'
'What?!' said Arabella and Harry. Arabella looked around to see Fred and George. They were mouthing soundlessly at Dumbledore, apparently to appalled to speak. Dumbledore went on, 'This is due to an event that will be starting in October, and continuing throughout the school year, taking up much of the teachers' time and energy – but I am sure you will all enjoy it immensely. I have great pleasure in announcing that this year at Hogwarts –'
But at that moment, there was a deafening rumble of thunder and the doors of the Great Hall banged open.
A man stood in the doorway, leaning upon a long staff, shrouded in a black traveling cloak. Every head in the Great Hall swiveled toward the stranger, suddenly brightly illuminated by a fork of lightning that flashed across the ceiling. He lowered his hood, shook out a long mane of grizzled, dark gray hair, then began to walk up toward the teachers' table.
A dull clunk echoed through the Hall on his every other step. He reached the end of the top table, turned right, and limped heavily toward Dumbledore, shaking his hand.
Arabella was practically bouncing in her seat. It was Mad-Eye Moody, one of the best Aurors in the world and he is definitely doing to be our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He sat down and pulled a plate of sausage towards him, raised it to his nose and sniffed it.
'May I introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?' said Dumbledore brightly into the silence. 'Professor Moody.'
It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause, but none of the staff or students chapped. It only people to applaud were Arabella, Dumbledore and Hagrid. Arabella jumped up at once and immediately started to clap like a mad women. She was practically buzzing with excitement and everybody was giving her strange looks. It the end, Dumbledore and Hagrid stopped clapping fairly quickly as there was a silence in the Great Hall, and Harry had to pull Arabella back to her seat since she was the only one clapping in the end. Everybody else seemed too transfixed by Moody's appearance to do more than stare at him.
'Is that Mad-Eye Moody?' asked Harry to Arabella. 'The one Mr Weasley had to help this morning?'
'The very same,' said Arabella, smiling.
'What happened to him?' Hermione whispered. 'What happened to his face?'
'He's been an Auror for many, many years,' said Arabella. 'War scars.'
Moody seemed totally indifferent to his less-than-warm welcome, but gave a curt nod towards Arabella. Ignoring the jug of pumpkin juice in front of him, he reached again into his traveling cloak, pulled out a hip flask, and took a long gulp from it.
Dumbledore cleared his throat.
'As I was saying,' he said, smiling at the sea of students before him, all of whom were still gazing transfixed at Mad-Eye Moody, 'we are to have the honor of hosting a very exciting event over the coming months, an event that has not been held for over a century. It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.'
'You're JOKING!' said Fred loudly.
The tension that had filled the Hall ever since Moody's arrival suddenly broke. Nearly everyone laughed, and Dumbledore chuckled appreciatively.
'I am not joking, Mr. Weasley,' he said, 'though now that you mention it, I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a troll, a hag, and a leprechaun who all go into a bar.'
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat loudly.
'Er - but maybe this is not the time…no…' said Dumbledore, 'where was I? Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament…well, some of you will not know what this tournament involves, so I hope those who do know will forgive me for giving a short explanation, and allow their attention to wander freely. The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred years ago as a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. A champion was selected to represent each school, and the three champions competed in three magical tasks. The schools took it in turns to host the tournament once every five years, and it was generally agreed to be a most excellent way of establishing ties between young witches and wizards of different nationalities - until, that is, the death toll mounted so high that the tournament was discontinued.'
'Death toll?' Hermione whispered, looking alarmed. But her anxiety did not seem to be shared by the majority of students in the Hall; many of them were whispering excitedly to one another.
'There have been several attempts over the centuries to reinstate the tournament,' Dumbledore continued, 'none of which has been very successful. However, our own departments of International Magical Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports have decided the time is ripe for another attempt. We have worked hard over the summer to ensure that this time, no champion will find himself or herself in mortal danger. The heads of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be arriving with their short-listed contenders in October, and the selection of the three champions will take place at Halloween. An impartial judge will decide which students are most worthy to compete for the Triwizard Cup, the glory of their school, and a thousand Galleons personal prize money.'
'I'm going for it!' Fred hissed down the table, his face lighting up with enthusiasm at the prospect of such glory and riches. He was not the only person who seemed to be visualizing himself as the Hogwarts champion. At every House table, Arabella could see people either gazing closely at Dumbledore, or whispering to their neighbours. But then Dumbledore spoke again, and the Hall quieted once more.
'Eager though I know all of you will be to bring the Triwizard Cup to Hogwarts,' he said, 'the heads of the participating schools, along with the Ministry of Magic, have agreed to impose an age restriction on contenders this year. Only students who are of age - that is to say, seventeen years or older - will be allowed to put forward their names for consideration. This' — Dumbledore raised his voice slightly, for several people had made noises of outrage at these words, and the Weasley twins were suddenly looking furious - 'is a measure we feel is necessary, given that the tournament tasks will still be difficult and dangerous, whatever precautions we take, and it is highly unlikely that students below sixth and seventh year will be able to cope with them. I will personally be ensuring that no underage student hoodwinks our impartial judge into making them Hogwarts champion.' His light blue eyes twinkled as they flickered over Fred's and George's mutinous faces. 'I therefore beg you not to waste your time submitting yourself if you are under seventeen. The delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be arriving in October and remaining with us for the greater part of this year. I know that you will all extend every courtesy to our foreign guests while they are with us, and will give your whole-hearted support to the Hogwarts champion when he or she is selected. And now, it is late, and I know how important it is to you all to be alert and rested as you enter your lessons tomorrow morning. Bedtime! Chop chop!'
Dumbledore sat down again and turned to talk to Mad-Eye Moody. There was a great scraping and banging as all the students got to their feet and swarmed toward the double doors into the entrance hall.
'They can't do that!' said George, who had not joined the crowd moving toward the door, but was standing up and glaring at Dumbledore. 'We're seventeen in April, why can't we have a shot?'
'They're not stopping me entering,' said Fred stubbornly, also scowling at the top table. 'The champions'll get to do all sorts of stuff you'd never be allowed to do normally. And a thousand Galleons prize money!'
'Yeah,' said Ron, a faraway look on his face. 'Yeah, a thousand Galleons…'
'Come on,' said Hermione, 'we'll be the only ones left here if you don't move.'
Arabella, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George set off for the entrance hall, Fred and George debating the ways in which Dumbledore might stop those who were under seventeen from entering the tournament.
'Who's this impartial judge who's going to decide who the champions are?' said Harry.
'Dunno,' said Fred, 'but it's them we'll have to fool. I reckon a couple of drops of Aging Potion might do it, George…'
'Dumbledore knows you're not of age, though,' said Ron.
'Yeah, but he's not the one who decides who the champion is, is he?' said Fred shrewdly.
'Sounds to me like once this judge knows who wants to enter, he'll choose the best from each school and never mind how old they are. Dumbledore's trying to stop us giving our names.'
'People have died, though!' said Hermione in a worried voice as they walked through a door concealed behind a tapestry and started up another, narrower staircase.
'That was many years ago,' said Arabella.
'Not you, too!' said Hermione.
'It sounds fun,' said Arabella, shrugging.
'Exactly,' said Fred, 'where's the fun without a bit of risk? What if we find out how to get 'round Dumbledore? Fancy entering?'
'What d'you reckon?' Ron asked Harry. 'Be cool to enter, wouldn't it? But I s'pose they might want someone older…Dunno if we've learned enough…'
'I definitely haven't,' came Neville's gloomy voice from behind Fred and George. 'I expect my gran'd want me to try, though. She's always going on about how I should be upholding the family honor. I'll just have to — oops…'
Neville's foot had sunk right through a step halfway up the staircase. There were many of these trick stairs at Hogwarts; it was second nature to most of the older students to jump this particular step, but Neville's memory was notoriously poor. Harry and Ron seized him under the armpits and pulled him out, while a suit of armor at the top of the stairs creaked and clanked, laughing wheezily.
'Shut it, you,' said Ron, banging down its visor as they passed. They made their way up to the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, which was concealed behind a large portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress.
'Password?' she said as they approached.
'Balderdash,' said George, 'a prefect downstairs told me.'
The portrait swung forward to reveal a hole in the wall through which they all climbed. A crackling fire warmed the circular common room, which was full of squashy armchairs and tables. Arabella followed Hermione up the girl's dormitory as she glared at the flames and muttered 'Slave labor' under her breath.
Arabella didn't try to make Hermione see the way the elves would, it would be no point. She got dressed as quick as she could and said goodnight to Hermione, Lavender and Parvati.
Arabella rolled over in her sleep as series of images formed in her mind… There was a man with a girl next to him, she looked so familiar… He had his arms around her and was whispering something in her ears… She looked horrified, but nodded her head… The scene changed… There was a body on the ground of a cobblestone street… Her hair was fanned out as her arms and legs were bent awkwardly… It was a different girl, but there were some similarities… She turned her head, but her eyes were lifeless and there were blood tears pouring down her face… She opened her mouth and a horrible screeching sound came out –
Arabella woke up with a start, sweating. She looked at her arms and saw that, to her relief, they weren't bleeding.
'What the hell was that?' she whispered to no one in the dark.
Thank you for reading!