(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
The Hex-Wizard Tournament
“Adversity can make or break the best of friendships. But it is reassuring to note that it is most often the case that the friendships which survive such hardships often come out much stronger than before.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
The entire world had stopped moving. Harriet sat in her seat, feeling every eye in the hall staring at her. She felt both very small, and yet exposed at the same time, as though she was a microbe under the gaze of hundreds of powerful microscopes. Harriet shook her head slowly. She had to have imagined it.
The room had gone deathly silent. Then, a low hissing noise, as though a breeze was growing, began to fill the Hall as students began to whisper. Some were even standing to get a better look at her.
Professor McGonagall, Professor Howe, and Professor Snape all got to their feet at the same time and moved to Professor Dumbledore. They leaned in at once and all began urgently whispering in his ears. Harriet felt even more unsettled at the look of worry on Professor Howe’s face. If he was worried, something must have been very wrong indeed.
Harriet looked back around at her friends. They were all staring at her wide-eyed.
“I didn’t…” Harriet said, sounding as numb as she felt. “I didn’t put my name in. You know I didn’t.”
Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat again. “Harriet Potter!” he called out once more. “Harriet? Up here, if you please.”
“Go on,” Hermione whispered, nudging Harriet gently.
Harriet finally got to her feet. She slowly started up the long gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables, which now felt much, much longer than it usually did. Harriet’s neck was tingling at the sensation of all the eyes in the hall watching her. The whispers of the crowd grew louder and louder with each step.
Harriet slowly looked up at Professor Dumbledore as she reached the staff table. She didn’t look at any of the other teachers. She couldn’t bring herself to. She couldn’t even meet Professor Dumbledore’s eyes, looking somewhere around his chin through his bushy beard instead. Why did she feel so ashamed? She hadn’t put her name in the Goblet. She had nothing to be ashamed of. But how had it come out of the Goblet?
“Well, through the door, Harriet,” Professor Dumbledore said, gesturing to the door that the champions had left through.
Harriet turned and walked towards the door. As she neared, she felt her pace increasing. She wanted to run for the door, now that she was so close to being out of sight of the thousands of staring eyes. She passed Hagrid last. He did not smile or wave at her. More than any other time in her life, Harriet really, really wanted him to.
Finally, Harriet’s salvation arrived as she opened the door, stepped through, and closed it behind her. She took a deep breath as warm relief swept over her before she turned her attention onto her surroundings. She found herself in another, smaller room. It was dimly lit, and the walls were lined with portraits. The occupants of all of them were looking down at her and whispering amongst themselves. Flitting through each was a wizened witch, whispering in the ears of the others.
Despite her worry, Harriet’s attention was drawn to the far end of the room. The champions were all gathered around a large, blazing fireplace. None of them were speaking, simply staring into the flames. As she looked at their silhouettes, Harriet couldn’t help but feel they looked rather regal.
Krum was leaning with his forearm against the mantelpiece, like a dark and brooding king of old. Cedric was standing in the middle, hands clasped behind his back, legs shoulder-width apart, putting Harriet in mind of a stalwart knight. Fleur was sitting in one of the soft armchairs surrounding the fire, her long legs crossed and her arms spread out on the arms of the chair as though a queen on a throne. Aello was standing on the opposite side to Krum. She had one arm across her chest, her other elbow propped on her hand over her mouth stroking her cheek in contemplation. Harriet couldn’t help but imagine her as a general, standing in contemplation of a coming battle.
The exception to this atmosphere was Kazunari. He was leaning in a forced casual way on one of the other armchairs. Harriet got the impression that he’d tried to offer it to Aello but she’d refused and now he felt too awkward to take the seat himself.
Fleur looked around at her and smiled pleasantly. “What is it?” she asked. “Do zey want us back in ze Hall?”
The others turned around. Krum and Aello’s stoic expressions did not change. Cedric smiled at her with a look of pleasant surprise. Kazunari smiled as well but his smile was the first to falter as he seemed to register something was not right.
It was at that moment that there was the sound of hurried footsteps and the door behind Harriet opened and Ludo Bagman entered.
He took hold of Harriet’s upper arm and pulled her forward to the others. “Extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary!” Bagman said. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce—incredible though it is—the sixth Triwizard champion!”
Krum straightened up at once. Kazunari’s arm slipped off the top of the armchair and he barely caught himself, standing back up again looking around the others as though making sure no one saw. Cedric looked politely puzzled, while Aello gave almost no reaction at all.
Fleur tossed her hair and smiled radiantly. “Oh, ver’ funny joke, Monsieur Bagman,” Fleur said, giving a fluttering laugh.
“Joke?” Bagman asked. “No, no joke at all. Harriet’s name just came out of the Goblet of Fire.”
Krum’s overlarge eyebrows contracted until they nearly became one. Aello’s eyes did nothing but dart between Bagman and Harriet. Cedric’s expression remained the same. Kazunari’s look was the hardest to place. His eyes were moving to everyone else in the room now, studying each face in turn.
Fleur frowned. “But evidently zair ‘as been some sort of mistake,” she said. Her voice was borderline contemptuous. “She is too young to compete.”
“Well, it’s… amazing really,” Bagman said, studying Harriet closely. “But that is to say, the age restriction was only added this year as an extra safety measure, and as her name came out I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do, or any ducking out at this stage. It’s in the rules, all contestants are obliged to compete once their names are called! Harriet will just have to do the best she—”
There was the sound of raised voices and the door opened again. Professor Dumbledore entered, followed by Professor Howe, Mr Crouch, Professor Ilves, Madam Maxime, Professor Cato, General Wengshuk, Professor McGonagall, Professor Morrisey, and Professor Snape. Harriet could still hear the gossip outside in the Great Hall before Professor McGonagall shut the door.
“Madame Maxime!” Fleur exclaimed, striding over to her overlarge headmistress. “Zey say zat zis little girl is to compete also!”
Harriet was roused just enough from her stunned disbelief to scowl at Fleur. Little girl? Harriet noted that she was not the only one. Aello had given Fleur a dirty look as well.
Madame Maxime puffed out her enormous chest and her head brushed the hanging chandelier as she loomed over Professor Dumbledore. “I demand an explanasion, Dumbly-dorr!” Madame Maxime said.
“As do I!” Professor Cato said. His usual good-natured toothy-grin was gone, replaced with a deeply suspicious scowl. “Two champions from your school?”
“C’est impossible,” Madame Maxime declared. “‘Ogwarts cannot ‘ave two champions. It is most unjust!”
“What was the point of the age-line if this could happen?” Professor Cato asked. “How could this happen? How could the Goblet even choose two contestants from the same school?”
“Ah, now someone is asking the correct questions,” Professor Ilves said.
“Quite right, Aloyna,” Professor Howe said. His face was not as stricken as it was before, but he still looked more serious than Harriet had ever seen him.
“How did you do it, Potter?”
Harriet jumped. She was so unaccustomed to that voice saying her name that she didn’t recognize who had spoken at first. Professor Snape grabbed hold of her arm and spun her around. “I told you, Dumbledore, I told you no good could come of her associating with her father’s old—”
“That is enough, Severus,” Professor Dumbledore said. The coolness in his voice sent a chill down Harriet’s spine.
Professor Snape let go of Harriet’s shoulder quickly, taking a few steps back. He was giving Professor Dumbledore an unfathomable look.
Harriet looked back at Professor Dumbledore. His eyes were looking deep into hers. “Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harriet?” Professor Dumbledore asked, calmly.
“No, sir,” Harriet replied.
“Did you ask an older student to put your name into the Goblet of Fire for you?”
“No, sir,” Harriet replied, emphatically.
“Ah, but of course she is lying!” Madame Maxime declared.
Professor Snape’s mouth twisted unpleasantly. Harriet figured he rather agreed.
“Potter could not have crossed the age-line, I think we are all agreed on that,” Professor McGonagall said. Harriet felt a small welling of appreciation inside her that Professor McGonagall seemed entirely on her side.
“Zen Dumbly-dorr must ‘ave made a mistake wiz ze line!” Madame Maxime said, pointing at Professor Dumbledore.
“That is a possibility, of course,” Professor Dumbledore said reasonably.
“Albus, you know perfectly well you did not make a mistake,” Professor McGonagall snapped. “What nonsense! Harriet could not have crossed the line by herself, and as Professor Dumbledore believes that she did not persuade an older student to do it for her—”
“And what if it was not an older student?” Professor Cato asked.
“Meaning?” Professor Morrisey asked.
“Meaning this is no ordinary girl!” Professor Cato said. “And her, of all Hogwarts students, getting into the tournament despite her age is a bit convenient, is it not?”
“Aelius, are you seriously about to suggest that Professor Dumbledore willingly entered a fourteen year old girl in the Triwizard Tournament?” Professor Morrisey asked, his voice borderline disdainful.
“Are you telling me that this is an ordinary girl?” Professor Cato said back, pointing at Harriet. He gave Harriet a look that she thought might be apologetic, but his anger was clearly overpowering it. “I am sorry, my dear. Please understand, I do not think you had any hand in this. But tales of your exploits have reached us even as far away as Greece.”
Harriet wasn’t sure how to respond to that. But before she could formulate a response, Professor Cato turned back to the other professors. “This girl vanquished the one you call “You-Know-Who” at only a year old. Then I am told she defeated him not once but twice more at the ages of eleven and twelve! I think we must agree that despite her age, Miss Potter is not a normal girl. And I think that perhaps some have grown a little overly confident in this fact.”
“Yes, on that we can all agree,” growled a new voice from the doorway. Professor Moody had arrived. He stumped over, his fake right foot clunking ominously with each step.
“Ah, there you are, Alastor,” Professor Dumbledore said.
Professor Moody reached the circle around Harriet. She was surprised by what happened. She had known that Professor Moody and Professor Howe had once worked together at the Ministry. She expected them to greet each other as old friends, but that was not what happened. Instead, Professor Moody gave Professor Howe a very cold look. Professor Howe was looking right back, but his face seemed completely passive, neither smiling nor frowning.
“Well, goodness, the great team of Howe and Moody back at it again, eh?” Bagman said in a vain attempt at a more cheerful tone.
“For now,” Professor Moody growled before returning his attention to Professor Howe. “I suppose you noticed it too?”
“Noticed what?” Madame Maxime asked.
“Contestants were to put their name and the name of their school on the parchment they placed into the Goblet of Fire,” General Wengshuk chimed in, reclining comfortably in the chair that Fleur had vacated. “You’ll note that the piece of parchment bearing Harriet’s name does not.”
“And what does that mean?” Professor Cato asked.
“It means that whoever did put Potter’s name in put her name in under another school. A school in which she was the only contestant, guaranteed to be chosen. The Goblet cannot pick more than one champion from a school,” Wengshuk explained.
“Yes,” Moody grunted, sitting and stretching out his leg. “Quite right. This should rule out the slightest bit of student involvement. Whoever put Harriet’s name into the Goblet had to trick it into thinking there was a sixth school entering.”
“You noted the odd way that it spluttered and struggled before divulging Harriet’s name,” Professor Morrisey said. “The Goblet was fighting against the charm, a Confundus Charm now doubt, that someone yet unknown must have placed upon it before putting Harriet’s name in.”
“And why would anyone do zat?” Madam Maxime asked.
“Unless of course it is to give Hogwarts two shots at the glory,” Professor Cato said. His eyes were still bent upon Professor Dumbledore, Bagman, and Crouch with marked suspicion.
“But she won’t,” Professor Morrisey said. “Like we said, whoever put Potter’s name in put her in under another school. Ergo, despite being a Hogwarts student, she’s not technically competing for Hogwarts. But really, there’s no other way it could have been done. Whoever did this did not have Harriet’s best interests at heart, that is for certain.”
Harriet felt her stomach clench at this. What was Professor Morrisey saying? Based on the silence that followed, everyone else was either deeply unsettled by Professor Morrisey’s comment or did not understand it either.
“Her best interests?” Fleur spat. “How could zey not? Zis is a chance we ‘ave all been wanting for weeks and weeks! Ze honour of our schools! A thousand Galleons in prize money! It is a chance many would die for!”
“Well, there it is,” Professor Moody growled. “Perhaps someone’s hoping Potter will die for it…”
Harriet now felt her knees start to get shaky. Another awkward silence followed this proclamation until Ludo Bagman managed to splutter. “M-Moody old man! What a thing to say!”
“Or per’aps there was another motive…” Professor Ilves said darkly.
The room fell silent. Professor Howe gave Professor Ilves a look but she paid him no mind. Instead, her eyes were boring into Professor Dumbledore.
“M-meaning?” Professor McGonagall asked, her throat tight.
“Death Eaters at the World Cup. My predecessor, a former Death Eater himself, murdered at the same event. People who would love the chance to bring Potter to harm. To this I have two hypotheses.”
“Aloyna,” Professor Howe said. Even though Professor Ilves had not yet stated her ideas, by the look on his face Harriet was sure that Professor Howe had guessed them. “I can only support one of those.”
“Vat is going on?” Krum asked.
“Do not let your friendship blind you, Sherrod,” Professor Ilves said.
Harriet felt her head spinning slightly in confusion.
“Aloyna, I assure you,” Professor Dumbledore said getting to his feet. “I would never willingly place Harriet into harm’s way.”
“Well then,” Professor Ilves said. “If this was not a ploy to lure the Death Eaters out into the open, then we have to consider that someone in this school is in league with them.”
The room fell silent once more.
“None of this gets us anywhere,” Professor Howe said stepping into the middle of the room, breaking the silence.
Harriet looked up at him, hoping for more answers. Professor Howe did return her look, though his expression remained unintelligible to Harriet.
“You are quite right, Sherrod. We have much to discuss,” Professor Dumbledore said. “But until then, it seems we have no choice but to accept what has happened. Harriet’s name came out of the Goblet of Fire, and so she will compete along with Cedric.”
“My dear Madame Maxime, if you have an alternative I would be delighted to hear it.”
Madame Maxime gave no response.
“But… but if this is so dangerous,” Kazunari said. “And Harriet could be targeted, why does she not just forfeit each task?”
“Yes!” Fleur said. “She could just queet and zis would be done and over wis, wis no ‘arm done to anyone!”
“Are you really the best that Beauxbatons had to offer?”
Harriet looked around, not recognizing the voice. She saw that it was Aello who had spoken and was looking at Fleur with disgust.
“You are, what? Three years older than her? Four?” Aello went on. “You have been picked. You already get to compete. And if you are half as good as you think you are then you will relish the competition and be gladdened of the fact that another sister has joined the competition!”
“Aello,” Professor Cato said. His tone was not angry, though Aello still scowled and crossed her arms, falling silent once more.
“To answer your question, Mister Watanuki and Miss Delacour,” Crouch said from the shadows, “is the binding magical contract.”
Crouch stepped forward into the circle. Now that Harriet could see him up close, she thought Crouch looked rather ill. He had bags under his eyes, and his skin was sallow.
“I thought that was just to try and scare people without the proper nerve out of entering?” Cedric said.
“No,” Crouch said. “It is quite real, Mister Diggory.”
“But how does that vork?” Krum asked.
“Fortunately, it is nothing lethal,” Crouch said. “But it is not pleasant. The contract binds the champion to the tournament. It is much the same as the enchantment placed upon the World Cup stadi—”
The door to the room burst open. Harriet felt elated. It was Daniel. The look on his face was pure rage, but the sight of him gave her a level of comfort she’d not felt in a long time.
“Ah, Daniel,” Professor Dumbledore said. His voice sounded pleasant, but he was still not smiling. “You heard quickly.”
“The whole Hall’s talking about it, Albus,” Daniel said. He was walking over, his shoulders locked and his jaw set.
“This is how you keep her safe, is it?” Daniel said as he reached Professor Dumbledore. “Yeah, give her to the Dursleys who treat her like shit her whole life, years of mental abuse, you let her chase after the Philosopher’s Stone, go off after the Chamber of Secrets—”
“Daniel,” Professor Howe said taking hold of Daniel’s upper arms and pulling him back.
“This is his fault!” Daniel said pointing at Professor Dumbledore. “You told me she’d be safe! You told me you got Mad-Eye out of retirement to look after her! You said you were taking precautions!”
Daniel finally spluttered out, breathing heavily and shrugging his shoulders out of Professor Howe’s grasp. Professor Dumbledore said nothing. He merely stood and stared back at Daniel. Harriet wasn’t sure, but she thought she saw the twinkle of tears beginning to form in Professor Dumbledore’s eyes.
“Daniel,” Professor Howe said. “We don’t know how this happened yet. Not even I know. We will do everything we can to keep Harriet safe from here on. We’ve installed as many safeguards as possible to keep all champions safe.”
“How?” Daniel asked. “How did this happen?”
“We only have guesses at this point, Daniel,” Professor Dumbledore said, his tone gentle and calm. “If you would please remain, we can discuss it with you and we would ask your help in keeping Harriet safe from here on.”
Daniel kept giving Professor Dumbledore his hard stare and finally he sighed and seemed to deflate. “Fine,” Daniel said, sinking into the chair that Kazunari had been leaning on. “Fine… but soon we’re going to have a chat about how she’s looked after, Dumbledore…”
The room fell into silence once more. Harriet glanced around the room. The anger that Daniel had shown seemed to have quelled Madame Maxime’s and Professor Cato’s concerns. Both of them were looking at Harriet with very different expressions. Almost pitying.
Fleur was determinedly not looking at Harriet. Aello was studying Harriet in a calculating way. Cedric was looking at Harriet as though he’d never seen her before. Krum was looking around at all the professors, his eyebrows raised in a bemused way, and still, Kazunari stood back, his eyes moving from champion to champion, studying.
“Well, shall we crack on then?” Bagman chimed in, stepping into the space in the middle of the room, rubbing his hands together eagerly “Barty, you were explaining how the contract worked, were you not?”
“Yes, thank you, Ludo,” Crouch said. “As I was saying, before being interrupted; the contract works much as the enchantments we placed upon the World Cup stadium. Now that the champions have been chosen, they themselves will feel compelled to compete. It will consume their minds. Take them too far away, and they will continue to obsess over the competition until they have competed.”
Harriet felt her eye twitch. She noticed that the other champions also looked rather taken aback at this as well. Even Kazunari had taken his attention away from the other champions, looking at Crouch instead.
“Thus, Miss Potter cannot forfeit unless she attempts to compete. Or she will be plagued with obsessing over the competition for the rest of her life. As will the rest of you. You are all well past the point of no return. This is why students have been exempted from end of year tests. Your life from now until completion is the Triwizard Tournament.”
“Yeah, okay,” Cedric said. “That would have been nice to know… not that it would have stopped me but… all things considered…”
Harriet rather agreed, until she remembered that she hadn’t entered willingly in the first place.
“Well, now that’s out of the way, we’ve got to give our champions their first instructions, don’t we? Barty! Would you like to do the honours?”
“Yes, Ludo,” Crouch said. “The first task is designed to test your daring, so we are not going to tell you what it is—”
“What?” Fleur asked.
“How do we prepare for something when we don’t know what it is?” Cedric asked, mirroring Fleur’s shock. Harriet felt it too, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak.
Crouch gave them an irritable look for the interruption. “Courage in the face of the unknown is an important quality in a wizard… very important… The first task will take place on November the Twenty-Sixth, in front of the other students, spectators, and the panel of judges.”
The other champions exchanged pensive glances. Harriet could tell they were all thinking the same thing: what had they gotten themselves in to?
“The champions are not permitted to ask for or accept help of any kind from their teachers to complete the tasks in the Tournament. The champions will face the first challenge armed only with their wand. They will receive information about the second task after the first is over. As I said before, due to the gruelling nature of the Tournament and the contract, champions will not be required to perform end of the year tests.”
Mr Crouch turned to Professor Dumbledore. “I believe that is all, isn’t it, Albus?”
“I believe so,” Professor Dumbledore answered, giving Crouch a concerned look. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to stay at Hogwarts tonight, Barty? Or perhaps at the inn?”
“No, Albus, I must get back to the Ministry,” said Mr Crouch. “It is very busy at the moment, very difficult. I had to leave young Weatherby in charge. Capable but a little… overly enthusiastic, if I can be perfectly honest.”
In spite of everything, Harriet gave a little snort of near laughter.
“You’ll come and have a drink before you go, at least?” asked Professor Dumbledore.
“Come on, Barty! I’m staying!” said Bagman merrily. “It’s all happening at Hogwarts now! Much more exciting here than at the office!”
“I think not, Ludo,” Crouch said sharply. Harriet had a feeling that Bagman’s insistence had done more to persuade Crouch to leave than anything else.
Professor Dumbledore turned to the others. “I would like to ask if the rest of you would join me? We do still have rather a lot to discuss after all. Olympe, Aelius, Aloyna?”
The three all exchanged glances and then nodded.
“Excellent,” Professor Dumbledore said, smiling. “Then we can allow our champions to retire for the night to celebrate with their schoolmates. I’m sure all would enjoy this opportunity to make a great deal of noise and fuss so they can get barely enough sleep for classes tomorrow.”
The champions all made their way to the door. Cedric held the door open for everyone. The Great Hall was empty now. It was almost eerie to see it devoid of students and people. They stepped out into the Entrance Hall and Fleur, Aello, Krum and Kazunari all broke off from Cedric and Harriet without a word to head into the grounds.
Cedric paused. “I… I never knew…” he said.
Harriet looked up at him. His face was serious, almost grimacing. But very handsomely so. “About the people you live with, I mean,” Cedric said. “How they treat you…”
Harriet looked away. She didn’t want to have this conversation right now. Least of all with Cedric. “It’s fine,” she said. “I’ve learned to deal with it.”
Cedric opened his mouth to say something, closed it again and shook his head. “Anyway, sorry about all that happens to you… you don’t deserve it.”
Harriet watched as Cedric headed off, taking the stairs down towards the Hufflepuff common room. Harriet sighed and headed up the stairs instead.
* * * *
It was four in the morning. Harriet was working hard to fight back the tears as she sat in the common room, pleading with the mirror to wake Sirius. The party in the Gryffindor common room had done nothing to make Harriet feel any better. Quite the contrary, she felt even worse.
“Nyar, yeah, yargh, I’m up,” Sirius finally grunted and his head loomed into view. He smiled bleary eyed until he saw the look on her face and his smile vanished at once. “What happened?”
“I… I…” Harriet started, not knowing what to say. “You know the Triwizard Tournament…?”
“Yes…?” Sirius replied, cautiously.
“My um… my name… came out of the Goblet—”
“What?!” Sirius asked, his voice so loud it echoed around the common room. “How did that happen?”
Harriet could hear him pacing. “How could Albus have let that happen? Who did it? Do they know?”
“No,” Harriet said, sniffing. “At least I don’t think so. Professor Howe looked really worried.”
“Damn,” Sirius said, giving a soft grunt as he flopped into a chair and rubbed his eyes with his palm. “If Sherrod’s worried, something really must have gone wrong…”
“So… you don’t think I did it?” Harriet pleaded.
Sirius lowered his hand and did his best to smile supportively. “Of course not, kiddo.”
Harriet sniffed again and nodded. “Everyone else thinks I did…”
Sirius’ lip twitched a bit in spite of itself. “Seems to be a theme with us, eh? People thinking we did things we didn’t do.”
Harriet felt the corners of her mouth twitch too. “Yeah… yeah it does…”
“Well, you have your friends behind you at least, right?” Sirius asked, trying to sound reassuring.
Harriet couldn’t say anything. Sirius raised his eyebrows rapidly.
“No!” he said, sounding scandalized.
“It’s not all of them,” Harriet said quickly. “Just… well…”
“It’s… Hermione, Scott and Marcus all believe me. Dora, Ronnie and Kieran… well…”
“How do they not believe you?!” Sirius asked. Harriet could hear the sound of his feet pacing again.
“Well, Hermione says they do, but… Dora thinks I did it to get even more famous and put myself in more danger… Kieran’s mad at me that I won’t drop out… even though I told him over and over again that I can’t at this point! Crouch explained how the contract thingy works and there’s nothing I can do! And Ronnie… I don’t know what her deal is… she just kinda… isn’t saying anything…”
Sirius sighed. “Well… on the one hand I suppose I can understand why they think that, even though I dislike it in the extreme.”
Harriet nodded and wiped her eyes.
“Well, nothing for it then, really,” Sirius said. “Not much we can do about the fact you’re in the tournament but focus on getting you through it. Your friends will come around, and if not, then they aren’t worth having as friends.”
Those words hit Harriet like a kick in the gut. She’d grown so used to having Kieran and Dora as friends, in particular that, she didn’t know what she’d do without them.
She’d told Kieran things she’d never told anyone else. Dora had followed her into the defences around the Philosopher’s Stone before they were even friends and still became Harriet’s friend even though saving the Stone meant her still living ancestors, Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel, decided to destroy it and thus passed away shortly thereafter.
“But I don’t think it will come to that!” Sirius said quickly, as though he read Harriet’s mind. “From what Daniel and Remus tell me, both Dora and Kieran have good heads on their shoulders and they’ll come around once the initial shock wears off. No one’s had much time to process what’s happened, kiddo. I’m sure it will be difficult for many people to understand. Keep close to your other friends who are supporting you. You’ll need them.”
Harriet felt as though her heart jumped right up into her brain. She spun in her chair, looking around expecting it to be Hermione or Ronnie, but was surprised to see that it was Rachel Kane standing at the foot of the stairs to the girls’ dormitories. She was giving Harriet a puzzled and worried look. Harriet looked back around at the mirror. Sirius was gone.
“Who were you talking to?”
“N-no one,” Harriet lied quickly, and rather unconvincingly if she were being honest with herself.
Rachel did not look convinced but didn’t say anything more. She slowly walked over and Harriet closed the jewellery box quickly.
“Sorry, I was just checking on you… I woke up and saw you weren’t in bed,” Rachel explained as she reached Harriet and sat next to her. Rachel looked over the box, smiling softly.
“Professor Lupin made that for you, right?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Harriet replied.
Rachel smiled more. “He really cares about you, we could all tell that even when he was a teacher.”
Harriet felt her cheeks warm.
“I’m… I’m sorry about your friends,” Rachel said.
“Thanks…” Harriet replied, lamely.
“They’ll come around you know,” Rachel went on, echoing Sirius’ words.
Harriet could only nod.
“For what it’s worth… I believe you.”
Harriet looked over at her. Rachel’s sympathetic smile grew. “We all do.”
“We?” Harriet asked.
“Me, Tori, AJ, you know, all the rest of us from the States.”
“Really…?” Harriet asked.
“Really,” Rachel replied. “I saw the look on your face after your name came out. So did everyone else. Besides, you’re one of us, remember?”
Harriet nodded slowly, remembering the mini-ceremony in the Room of Requirement at the end of her second year when the refugees had declared Harriet and her friends ‘honorary refugees’ in gratitude for clearing their names in the Chamber of Secrets incident.
“Even then, Peyton said that even if you actually did put your name in, it wouldn’t matter. We have your back.”
Harriet turned to the sound of more feet on the staircase. Every one of the refugees in Gryffindor house were coming down the stairs. There was Erica, Tori, AJ and her sister, Mable, Katy Tyler and her friends Abigail, Sarah, and Alex, and Ben Jackson and Jackson Lee from the boys’ dormitories. But it wasn’t just the refugees. Even Angelina, Katie, and Alicia from Harriet’s Quidditch team had come, as well as Basheera and Hermione and Marcus.
All of them were smiling at Harriet.
“We have your back, Harriet,” Erica said. “You came through for us, we’ll come through for you.”
“Anyone hassles you, let me know at once,” Ben said.
“Yeah, he’s kind of Head Boy now,” Angelina said. “Good to have on your side.”
Harriet felt her lip trembling. Hermione hurried over and Harriet rose to meet her in a tight hug before finally breaking down completely.