(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
The Weighing of the Wands
“Remember, when you only hope you are at rock bottom, you are not yet there. If you only think you’re there, plan on having a bit further to sink.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
Having stayed up so late, Harriet almost overslept. She was greeted in the common room by more cheers from the rest of the Gryffindors, all of whom apparently still thought she had entered herself in the tournament. Harriet successfully dodged the Creevey brothers and made it to the portrait hole. She had hardly gone five steps when the sound of approaching footsteps caused her to look up.
Hermione, Scott, and Marcus were all walking towards her. Hermione was carrying a wrapped stack of buttered toast, while Marcus and Scott were carrying several paper cups filled with orange juice and some additional food.
“We umm… We thought you might like somewhere a bit quieter to eat breakfast than the Great Hall,” Hermione said as she held out the toast to Harriet. “Maybe take a walk in the grounds?”
“Yeah, good idea,” Harriet admitted glumly as she took the stack of toast.
They headed down the many sets of stairs and corridors to the Entrance Hall and out into the grounds.
“Ah, hello Harriet,” Aurochius said in greeting as they stepped out of the doors.
“Oh, hello,” Harriet said. She caught the concern in his voice. “You heard, huh?”
“Of course,” Aurochius said giving a snort that might have been a laugh. “All of the Mount Phoenix students were discussing it both last night and this morning.”
“Do they all think that I put my own name in the Goblet too?” Harriet asked, trying and failing to keep the bitterness from her tone.
“That… did seem to be their consensus, yes…” Aurochius replied.
“Though their champion… the one named Aello…”
“What about her?” Harriet asked.
“She did not seem to share in the others’ opinion, and was rather insistent upon that point.”
Harriet blinked in surprise.
“However, she was also quite insistent that she did not consider you much competition anyway,” Aurochius said plainly.
“Oh, right,” Harriet said.
“But, she does not know you as I do,” Aurochius said.
Harriet raised an eyebrow sceptically. “But… I’m like half her size.”
“Oh, you think it is size that matters?” Aurochius said, his dark eyes twinkling. “You think we would dare and underestimate faun because of their size? Our kind made that mistake once, long, long ago. Many, my kind included—”
Aurochius was interrupted when the other minotaur who was guarding the door with him, Tudancian, the shortest of the group, gave a derisive snort.
Aurochius gave a snort in response and smiled at Tudancian. At least, Harriet always took the expression to be a smile. It was difficult to tell with minotaurs.
“Perhaps especially our kind,” Aurochius corrected himself. “Tend to place too much value on the biggest or the tallest or especially the strongest. Use that against them. You are small and clever and brave, they’ll never see you coming.”
For the first time since her name had come out of the Goblet of Fire, Harriet smiled.
Aurochius smiled more. “However, there’s two other traits I think you are that matter even more than those.”
“What’re they?” Harriet asked hopefully.
Aurochius laughed. “You’re damned stubborn and determined. Really, Harriet; Do you think there’s the slightest chance that, even without the supposed binding magical contract, you would have been happy with not competing once your name was called?”
Harriet thought. Now that he mentioned it, he was right. If they really had told Harriet she couldn’t compete, she would have been furious. But why? She hadn’t entered herself, by all counts she didn’t have nearly as much of a right as the other five to compete.
“No,” Harriet answered honestly.
“There you have it then,” Aurochius smiled and ruffled Harriet’s hair with his massive hand.
In spite of herself, Harriet laughed. Harriet thanked Aurochius and they bid him good morning before continuing into the grounds.
“So… do they still hate me?” Harriet asked, referring to Kieran, Dora and Ronnie.
“Oh Harriet,” Hermione said soothingly. “They don’t hate you.”
“They gave a really good impression of it then,” Harriet muttered.
“Well… it’s just like Dora said last night, not that I’m defending her!” Marcus said. “Just like… well actually I don’t think any of them think you did it…”
“Then what are they on about?” Harriet asked in exasperation.
“Oh for crying out loud, Harriet, they care about you!” Scott said, his voice rising a little as he gesticulated. “They’ve both liked you for ages!” He paused taking a breath, “And they’re both going to hate me for saying it, though most of us have found it pretty obvious; and frankly at this point it’s finally becoming unfair to you to keep it a secret anymore; They fancy you!”
Harriet stopped walking, noticing that everyone else had gone silent. The sandy shore of the lake stretched out before them. Harriet opened her mouth to interrupt, and was surprised when Hermione continued for him.
“And they – we all – want you to be safe and happy! But,” Hermione paused, looking away from Harriet, “you do have a knack for getting into a lot of trouble. Even if it’s not your fault. And Kieran and Dora, I guess, just have a hard time handling worrying about you all the time and dealing with their own lives on top of that.”
Harriet’s initial reaction was shame, but it was quickly replaced with anger. “Great,” she grumbled darkly and kicked a rock out into the water. “Just great. Brilliant. Like I went out of my way to do any of it… like I—”
“Uh, Harriet,” Marcus interjected. “To be fair, it was your idea to go after the Philosopher’s Stone; and to go after the Chamber of Secrets. Not to forget sneaking into Hogsmeade without permission. And seeing Hagrid before Buckbeak’s execution…”
Harriet turned away to hide her scowl crossed her arms. She didn’t have to dig too deep to find the voice in her head telling her that Marcus was right. Yet there was still plenty of injustice in her mind, too much for her to forgive any of them, yet. She didn’t even care that it was because they fancied her. She knew that she would be there for any of them for anything if they needed it.
“Fine…” Harriet spat, keeping her back turned to everyone else. “What’s Ronnie’s deal then?”
No one responded right away to this. Harriet whirled around to give them a demanding look.
“She… well…” Marcus said, rubbing the back of his neck.
Hermione sighed. “Harriet… she likes Dora.”
Harriet finally let her arms fall. “What?”
“Yes,” Scott agreed. “It… again is… kind of obvious I thought…”
“Well good for you!” Harriet spat and started walking away again.
“Harriet!” Hermione called.
Harriet didn’t stop. She didn’t look back. She heard the sound of Hermione’s feet following but they soon trailed off. Harriet kept going, not paying any attention to where she was heading. She knew morning classes were starting soon, but she didn’t care just now. She wanted to be as far away from everyone as possible.
The kindly, winded, and completely unexpected voice finally made Harriet stop. She looked around to find the source. Harriet was so used to seeing the newcomer wearing witches’ robes and her golden hair flowing loose that Harriet didn’t recognize Professor Sinistra at first as she approached wearing a running outfit and her hair done up in a ponytail.
“What are you doing out here alone?” Professor Sinistra asked as she reached Harriet, looking down at her with concern.
Harriet looked at the ground to hide her frustration. “Being alone,” she said simply.
“I see…” Professor Sinistra said, wiping her forehead. She was studying Harriet closely.
Harriet looked back up at her. “What are you up to, Professor?” Harriet asked. She did her best to sound politely interested, even though she was mostly trying to change the subject.
“Oh, just running,” Professor Sinistra said. “Keeps me in shape and helps me put life in focus.”
“Really?” Harriet asked. The latter part in particular piqued her interest.
“Oh definitely,” Professor Sinistra said.
“I could do with a bit of putting life in focus,” Harriet admitted.
Professor Sinistra gave Harriet a sympathetic look.
“Well, you’re not exactly dressed for a run, but if you need an ear and some outside opinions, I can certainly listen,” Professor Sinistra offered.
Harriet thought but finally she nodded. “Yeah, that would be good I think…”
“Good,” Professor Sinistra smiled and strolled to the edge of the forest to sit on a fallen log.
Harriet followed and sat as well.
“So, I take it people are not responding particularly well to what happened last night?” Professor Sinistra asked.
“No,” Harriet said.
Professor Sinistra nodded and took a sip from a small water-bottle that she had clipped onto her hip. “It’s never easy being the odd person out,” Professor Sinistra said. “I know how that feels.”
“You do?” Harriet asked. She couldn’t tell if she was sceptical or hopeful.
“Yes,” Professor Sinistra said. “I don’t know how entirely appropriate a discussion it is to have with a student, but… I never got to finish my education in a proper school environment.”
Harriet looked up at Professor Sinistra again. “Why not?”
Professor Sinistra gave Harriet a strange smile. “Well, you’ve met both of the reasons already.”
“Ohhhhh,” Harriet nodded. Then she paused. “But… if that kept you out of school—”
“I was seventeen when I had the girls,” Professor Sinistra said. “Just before Christmas of my senior year—”
“Your what?” Harriet asked.
Professor Sinistra laughed softly. “It’s how the final years four years of secondary schooling work in America. You, as a fourth year here in Britain, would be called a Freshman, or a ninth grader, back in the US.”
Harriet nodded. This combined with everything else that was happening was starting to make her feel a little overwhelmed.
“And, for example, someone like Katie Bell or Taylor Middleton would be considered Sophomores, or tenth graders, while Fred and George would be Juniors and Cedric and Ben Jackson would be Seniors, you see?”
“Ohhhhh okay, I got it,” Harriet said, cottoning on.
“Anyway, that’s a whole other story and probably not appropriate,” Professor Sinistra went on. “When school started and I hoped my friends would understand but…”
Professor Sinistra shook her head and took another drink of water. “Nope. Eventually the shaming and bullying got so much that I dropped out. My mom and dad took over teaching me after that so I did get my final education.”
Harriet took that in, looking up at Professor Sinistra with new eyes. Harriet had been through a lot, but none of it had meant she’d had to leave school. It hadn’t meant all her friends had turned on her.
“So, enough about all that,” Professor Sinistra said. “What’s the issue with your friends?”
Harriet’s smile faded now. “Well… I don’t know… three of my best friends are mad at me about it…”
“I see…” Professor Sinistra said. “You mean they don’t believe you?”
“Well… as far as I can tell they do!” Harriet said, exasperated. “Well at least Kieran does! But he’s mad because I won’t drop out, even though I told him how I can’t at this point. Mr Crouch explained how my name coming out of the Goblet put some sort of contract on me and I’ll be obsessed with the tournament from here on until I finish it.”
“Yes, I can see how that would be a bit infuriating,” Professor Sinistra said.
Harriet nodded, continuing now that she felt there wasn’t’ a biased towards her.
“Dora, I guess, does think I did and I’m putting myself in more danger because apparently she thinks I like it. My other friends say the real reason is because both of them fancy me, and that Ronnie isn’t talking to me either because she fancies Dora which I just totally don’t get why she has to take it out on me because of it!”
At this point, Harriet paused and wiped at her eyes, unware when she’s started crying. Not only that, she was breathing heavily and had gotten to her feet without realizing it. She walked back toward Professor Sinistra, retaking her seat on the log.
“Hm…That does complicate things doesn’t it?” Professor Sinistra said. “How do you feel towards them Harriet?”
“I just… I don’t know. I don’t know what to think of any of it. Kieran’s so nice and I’ve told him things I’ve never told anyone but he’s like…”
“A brother?” Professor Sinistra prompted when Harriet trailed off.
Harriet nodded and continued. “And Dora… I just… I only really figured out this summer about stuff like that…”
Professor Sinistra didn’t respond and Harriet looked up at her to see her eyebrows raised.
“I… I never got out much with the Dursleys, and well I stayed at the McIntyres where both Ari and Taylor of Hufflepuff were staying… but Daniel and Remus kind of explained it all to me this summer.”
“Ah… oh dear,” Professor Sinistra said, her voice full of irony. “I’m sure that went perfectly.”
“Yeah…” Harriet sighed. “It… answered most of my questions but not all of them.”
Professor Sinistra studied Harriet for a moment and her smile returned. “Make you a deal, Harriet.”
“Yep,” Professor Sinistra’s smile grew. “Well, I suppose I will have to clear it with Professor Dumbledore, but I doubt he’ll mind. Anyway, you agree to meet me at the front doors, seven am sharp, and we can go for a run every morning to clear our heads, and we can have proper discussions about growing up and answer your questions. We can start slow if you want. Just talk when you feel the need. Deal?”
Harriet was about to respond but paused. “Ummm, I don’t really have anything to run in.”
Professor Sinistra laughed. “Somehow I don’t think finding something to wear will ever be a problem for you, Harriet.”
“Oh… right,” Harriet blushed and smiled as Daniel’s smiling face flashed across her mind.
“I’ll stop in to Daniel’s shop and see about getting you some running clothes,” Professor Sinistra said. “So don’t worry about that. Now then, do we have a deal?”
Harriet smiled wider as the bell to signal the end of breakfast and the start of lessons rang in the distance. “We have a deal.”
* * * *
Harriet sidled up to Hermione and Marcus at their table in the fourth year Herbology greenhouse.
“Sorry,” she said at once. “I know you guys are being here for me and sorry I snapped…”
“That’s okay,” Hermione said at once.
“Yeah, honest, we get you’re upset,’ Marcus said.
Harriet glanced over at another table where Kieran was working with Dean and Seamus, and yet another where Ronnie was working with Lavender and Parvati. Both Kieran and Ronnie seemed to be determinedly not looking at her. In spite of how much talking with Professor Sinistra had cheered Harriet up, she couldn’t keep down the renewed sense of resentment rising once more.
The rest of the class did not help Harriet’s mood. The Hufflepuffs in particular were all giving Harriet dirty looks. Even Professor Sprout was short with her and told Harriet off for improperly handling her Bouncing Bulb when it wriggled out of Harriet’s grip and smacked her in the face, which drew an unpleasant bout of snickering from the Hufflepuffs.
Harriet supposed she couldn’t really blame them. Cedric was their champion, and the first person to bring any real glory to Hufflepuff house for many years. From what she overheard Zacharias Smith gossiping about rather loudly, it seemed the Hufflepuffs were angry with the Gryffindors for more than just Harriet. They were also angry with the Gryffindors over Ben Jackson getting the Head Boy spot over Cedric as well.
“What sour grapes,” Hermione said as Professor Sprout dismissed them. “Benjamin does just as well in lessons as Cedric does, and he’s proven himself a good leader and brave and kind as well. Besides, the Americans needed something to legitimise their place here in the school more than Hufflepuff needs ‘glory.’”
“Hey now,” Isabella Martinez said. “Not all of us are in Smith’s camp.”
“Hell no,” Jeremy said, scowling at Smith’s back as Smith left the greenhouse. “I’m so sick of his shit.”
“Jeremy!” Isabella hissed giving a significant nod to Professor Sprout who was standing nearby.
“Well I am!” Jeremy retorted, though he did keep his voice down.
“Well he’s moderately nicer to you than he is to us,” said Avery McGee, one of the blonde American twins who had been sorted into Hufflepuff with her sister Ellery.
“Yeah, seriously what is his deal?” Ellery grumbled.
It was then, as they exited the greenhouse heading towards the school, that Harriet noticed something. Aside from Hermione, Marcus, Isabella, and Jeremy, all of the students around her were refugees.
There were the McGee twins from Hufflepuff, as well as AJ, Tori, Rachel, and Jackson. But it wasn’t just them, either. They were joined by Ari Miller and Taylor Middleton, also of Hufflepuff, who had stayed with the McIntyres that summer.
“Sometimes people don’t have deals, Ell,” Ari said. “Some people are just jerks.”
“Yeah, sad really,” Taylor said sighing.
Ari shrugged, indifferently. “Dunno, some people… yeah, just jerks. People don’t always have to have reasons.”
Ari looked down and smiled at Harriet. “Just like some people don’t really have to have a reason to be nice and caring. It’s just who they are, too.”
Harriet felt herself smile. It felt good knowing that not everyone seemed to be against her. It gave her hope that some lessons wouldn’t be as bad as she’d thought. It made their next lesson, a makeup for Monday’s Transfiguration lesson being cancelled, a bit easier to bear.
Harriet would have found Transfiguration more comforting, as it was exclusively Gryffindors, except for the constant reminders of Kieran and Ronnie not sitting with them anymore. The tension was even more palpable, as Rachel, Tori, and AJ kept giving the two ill-tempered looks.
After an even more quiet than usual Transfiguration lesson, it was time for lunch. Harriet regretted her decision to have lunch with everyone else in the Great Hall almost instantly. A wave of jeers and “boos” from the Slytherin table greeted her as she entered the hall. Hermione kept whispering “ignore them” over and over again to Harriet as they passed.
Harriet stole a glance at the Slytherins. She noted, though she’d expected it, that none of the refugees there were booing. However, even though neither were looking at her, Harriet noted that Dora and Draco were not joining in.
The Ravenclaws did not boo, but at least half of them were giving Harriet disapproving looks. Scott was sitting with Atsuko and Tomomi and gave Harriet an apologetic look, giving a sideways nod to the rest of the table. Harriet paused but Hermione took hold of her upper arm and kept her walking.
“He’s trying to talk sense into the rest of the Ravenclaws, don’t worry,” Hermione whispered.
At the Hufflepuff table, there was angry muttering. Harriet supposed that despite their disappointment, the long running good relations between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff house kept the Hufflepuffs from being too openly animus to the Gryffindors.
“This isn’t going to end anytime soon, is it?” Harriet asked as they sat.
No one answered, just giving her sympathetic looks.
* * * *
After lunch was Care of Magical Creatures. Harriet was dreading this class the most. A whole hour with the Slytherins and the Blast-Ended Skrewts together was the last thing she wanted to deal with.
Sure enough, when they reached Hagrid’s cabin, the bulk of the Slytherins present broke into more boos and jeers at Harriet’s approach.
“Oooooo, it’s the chaaaaampion,” Pansy Parkinson sneered.
“Is she? Oh goodness, how silly of me to forget my autograph book,” Pixie Fanfarró chimed in, her voice full of irony.
“Hey, even if she did put her name in, she had the courage to try and the Goblet thought she was good enough. That’s more than you can say on anything,” Courtney Thomas spat.
The other Slytherins all glared at her.
“No one asked you, Thomas,” Blaise Zabini snapped back. “What do you even care?”
Courtney tossed her hair. “I care about someone who helped us when the rest of you thought we were trying to kill everyone.”
“Well we wouldn’t really have been mad at you for doing it,” Pansy said as though she was trying to sound reasonable. “We just didn’t think you all were worthy of doing it.”
Courtney started towards Pansy but at that moment Hagrid stepped around the side of his cabin, carrying a towering stack of crates, each bearing a Blast-Ended Skrewt. For once in her life, Harriet was glad for the Skrewts. Hagrid explained to the class that his hypothesis on why the Skrewts had begun killing each other was an excess of pent-up energy and so to help them burn some of it off, they were going to take the Skrewts for walks.
“Take this thing for a walk?!” Draco Malfoy said, disgusted. “And where do we fix the leashes? Around the suckers, the stingers, or the blasting ends?”
“’Roun’ the middle,” Hagrid explained demonstrating. “Eh, but you lot might want ter put on yer dragon-hide gloves, just in case. Harriet, why don’t yeh come here an’ help me with this’un?”
What Hagrid really wanted, however, was to talk to Harriet away from the rest of the class. Once the rest of the class was busy “walking” their Skrewts, he leaned down and spoke to Harriet under his breath.
“So, yer competin’, Harriet. School champion.”
“O-one of them,” Harriet stuttered. “And, I guess not technically…”
Hagrid kept looking at Harriet seriously. “No idea who put you in fer it?”
“No, I—wait, you believe I didn’t do it then?”
“’Course I do,” Hagrid said. “Yeh say yeh didn’ do it, an’ I believe yeh. An’ Dumbledore believes yeh too, an’ Howe an’ the rest.”
“Wish I knew who did,” Harriet muttered.
She turned away from Hagrid to look at the rest of the class. The Skrewts were now almost three foot long, and by the looks of things had grown very strong indeed. They now had thick, grey shells, and looked like crosses between scorpions and crabs. Harriet still couldn’t tell where the heads were, but all were quite capable of pulling even Crabbe and Goyle off their feet when they blasted off.
“Looks like they’re havin’ fun,” Hagrid said happily.
Harriet rather disagreed.
“Ah, I dunno Harriet,” Hagrid said, sighing and looking down at her. “School champion. Ever’thing seems ter happen ter you, doesn’t it?”
“Heh, yes it does…” Harriet grumbled, thinking of Dora, Kieran and Ronnie bitterly.
“Well, all the same, at least yeh got yer friends by yeh though, eh?” Hagrid said, smiling.
“Yeah…” Harriet muttered, miserably.
* * * *
Almost nothing about Harriet’s first week as a champion was fun. Scott eventually gave up trying to convince the other Ravenclaws, and resumed sitting with them at the Gryffindor table. Ronnie had begun sitting at the Slytherin table with Dora. Harriet was bitterly pleased to see that hardly any of the other Slytherins were pleased about this, and Ronnie looked more than a little uncomfortable about the dirty looks they kept giving her.
The worst part of the week came Friday. Harriet was so upset by this point that she was starting to lose focus in her classes. She did so poorly on Summoning Charms in Professor Flitwick’s class that she ended up being the only student besides Neville to get extra homework.
The final straw was that afternoon’s double Potions lesson. The Slytherins were already there when the Gryffindors arrived. A small group of the Slytherins were gathered around Pansy Parkinson and Pixie Fanfarró who grinned wickedly at Harriet as she approached.
The group turned to face Harriet and Harriet blinked taking in large buttons on all of their robes. For a moment, Harriet thought they were S.P.E.W. badges, but she felt her sense of annoyance rise almost to the breaking point once more as she read the real words.
Support CEDRIC DIGGORY—
The REAL Hogwarts Champion
The REAL Hogwarts Champion
“What do you think, Potter? Make just the right statement don’t they?” Pansy said, polishing the front of hers with her sleeve and smiling at it proudly.
“And that’s not all, look at this!” Pixie said and she pushed in the centre of the button so it made a metallic popping sound.
Now the badge read: POTTER STINKS
“Oh yes,” Hermione said, sarcastically. “Really witty.”
Harriet stole a glance over at Dora who was standing off to the side with her friend Sae. Dora was glaring at the other group, but then caught Harriet’s eye and quickly looked away. Harriet was slightly comforted to note that Dora was not wearing one of the badges.
“Want one, Granger?” Blaise Zabini asked, drawing Harriet’s attention back to the group.
“Careful, Blaise, she might touch you,” another Slytherin girl warned, her eyes glinting maliciously. “No sense having to wash up twice in one day.”
It happened instantly. Marcus stepped forward and drew his wand. Zabini was prepared, and drew his own. Harriet quickly pulled out her own wand and aimed it at Crabbe who was drawing his wand and aiming it at Kieran’s back. At once, hexes began to fly. Harriet hit Crabbe with a Jelly-Legs Jinx that caused him to crumple and drop his wand. She then ducked as another came flying right over her head.
Almost as soon as the hexing started, it was over. Half of the class was already on the floor when the ear-splitting bang rang out and silenced the rest. Harriet surveyed the carnage.
She was one of the few still standing. Several students were rolling about laughing, hit by tickling hexes. Some others had been hit with jelly-legs too. Others, like Goyle, were breaking out in terrible boils.
“What. Is. The. Meaning. Of. This?” came the low, clipped voice of Professor Snape.
Harriet looked up at him now. He looked and sounded more dangerously angry than Harriet had ever heard him. His jaw was set and his lips pulled tight. His dark eyes were darting around the students until they settled on Draco, who had also come through unscathed.
Professor Snape pointed at Draco. “Explain,” he said.
Draco hesitated. His eyes moved over Pansy, Pixie, and Blaise, who were all giving him goading looks from behind Professor Snape’s back. He then looked at Harriet. Their eyes met for only the briefest of moments but even then Harriet could see the torment going on behind Draco’s eyes. He looked back at Professor Snape and threw back his shoulders a bit as if preparing himself.
In that instant, Harriet knew what Draco was about to do, and yet she still could not believe it.
“Parkinson, Fanfarró, and Zabini were mocking Granger for being a Muggle-born, sir. Van Der Lakk drew his wand and Zabini tried to curse him but hit Granger instead and then chaos broke out.”
Professor Snape studied Draco long and hard, and Draco stared right back. Finally, Professor Snape spoke. “So, you are saying that both parties are at fault, Draco?” Professor Snape asked.
“Yes, sir,” Draco said.
The students had gone very quiet. Everyone was staring at Draco.
“...Very well then,” Professor Snape said finally. “All those who have been afflicted, to the hospital wing. Everyone else, inside. I’m not going to let your own childishness pass as an excuse to miss out on class. The rest of you will just have to make it up with extra homework. Now, come.”
The students who hadn’t been hit with jinxes and hexes started moving into the room. Harriet grimaced as she saw Marcus kneeling with Hermione. Hermione’s front teeth, which were already overly large, had been engorged so they now extended past her collar.
Harriet stepped into the room and made her way to her usual table. Rachel sat with her, which Harriet appreciated, but then to Harriet’s surprise, Kieran sat on the other side of her.
“Nice shot...” Kieran muttered under his breath. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Harriet said back. In spite of all of that had happened in the past week, Harriet smiled.
Class went extra quietly with so many students gone. Pansy and Blaise, who had survived the scuffle as well, kept angrily flashing POTTER STINKS at her from across the dungeon.
Harriet noted Dora and Ronnie, who were sitting together at a table, giving them more dirty looks, which Harriet also took to feel grudgingly better. A half hour into class, however, the door opened. Harriet expected it to be Marcus returning from helping Hermione to the hospital wing but was surprised to see that it was Colin Creevey.
“Yes?” Professor Snape asked curtly.
“Please sir, I’ve been asked to bring Harriet Potter upstairs.”
Colin was beaming up at Professor Snape but his smile faltered at the look on Professor Snape’s face.
“Potter has another hour of Potions left. She will leave when this class is finished.”
Harriet furrowed her brow. Professor Snape had never seemed to care that she was in his class before.
“S-sir, Mr Bagman wants her... they’re bringing all the champions, I think it’s for the Daily Prophet.”
Harriet closed her eyes. Kieran had tensed up next to her but did not seem openly irritated. Harriet saw Dora glowering and Ronnie putting a calming hand on Dora’s arm.
“Very well then,” Professor Snape said, his voice growing even more dangerous. “Potter. Go.”
Harriet didn’t need to be told twice. She packed her things up in her bag as quickly as she could and followed Colin from the room.
“Isn’t this exciting, Harriet?” Colin asked as soon as Harriet closed the door. “You, a school champion!”
“Yeah, great,” Harriet said.
She didn’t bother keeping her displeasure out of her voice. She knew that Colin would remain as oblivious to it as ever.
They reached the room and Colin cheerfully bid Harriet good luck. She gave him a non-committal wave back and Harriet stepped inside. She was in a small classroom. The desks had all been cleared away, except for four which had been lined against one wall and covered in black velvet. There was a line of chairs behind the desk, one was occupied by Ludo Bagman, and another by a woman Harriet recognized as Rita Skeeter, the Daily Prophet reporter who was covering Sirius’ trial.
Harriet also saw the other champions had already arrived. Viktor looked as surly as ever, standing in a corner by himself. Fleur was chatting with Cedric, looking much happier than Harriet had ever seen her. Aello was lounging back in a chair, apparently doing her best to ignore everyone else in the room as she concentrated hard on balancing her wand on the tip of her finger.
Kazunari meanwhile was sitting in another corner. At first, it looked as though he was trying to be alone, too, but then Harriet noticed that he was quickly scratching down notes on a piece of parchment. She was even more surprised to notice that he was using a Muggle pencil, instead of a quill and ink. He spotted her looking and smiled pleasantly at her, but she noted he quickly put away both the parchment and the pencil.
Someone sneezed and Harriet looked around to see another person in the room, this one she didn’t recognize. He was portly, and carrying a large camera like Colin’s, though it was smoking slightly. Harriet noted that he kept stealing glances at Fleur.
Just then, Bagman spotted Harriet and happily bounded up from his chair and into the room. “Ah! There you are, Harriet! Our final champion has arrived! Come on in Harriet, nothing to be shy about, this is just the Wand Weighing ceremony. We’re just waiting for the rest of the judges.”
“Wand Weighing?” Harriet asked.
“Well yes, we have to make sure your wands are all in working order, don’t we! They’ll be your most important tool in the tasks to come, after all! Our expert is upstairs with Professor Dumbledore right now, then there’s going to be a little photoshoot. This is Rita Skeeter, Harriet,” Bagman said in introduction, “She’ll be doing a little piece for the Daily Prophet on the tournament.”
“Maybe not that small, Ludo,” Skeeter said, her eyes for no one but Harriet. “I wonder if I could have just a few minutes of Harriet’s time before we start?” Skeeter asked Bagman. “The youngest of the champions, you know? To add a bit of colour?”
“Certainly!” Bagman said cheerfully. “That is—if Harriet has no objection?”
“Uh—” Harriet managed to mutter before Skeeter took hold of her upper arm.
“Lovely!” Skeeter said and immediately began guiding Harriet out of the room and into a broom cupboard across the corridor.
Harriet held back.
“Now, now, dear, nothing to be scared of,” Skeeter said, gesturing into the cupboard. “Just someplace quiet where we can really get to know each other, alright?”
This did little to reassure Harriet, but she still followed Skeeter inside. Skeeter sat on an upturned bucket, while Harriet took a seat on a cardboard box. Skeeter closed the door, plunging them into darkness. Harriet heard some rustling and squinted as some bright candles lit up, floating in mid-air above them.
“You don’t mind if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill, do you my dear? It frees me up to speak normally; makes a much more relaxed conversation.”
“Uh… okay?” Harriet said uncertainly.
“Lovely!” Skeeter said, smiling wider, her three golden teeth glinting in the candlelight.
Rita reached into her crocodile-skin handbag and pulled out the long, acid-green quill she had been using at Sirius’ trial and a piece of parchment. She stretched the parchment out on a crate of Mrs Skower’s All-Purpose Magical Mess-Remover and put the tip of the green quill into her mouth. She sucked the quill for a moment, closing her eyes with relish before putting it upright on the parchment, where it stood straight, quivering.
“Testing… my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.”
Harriet watched the quill. As soon as Skeeter began speaking, the quill sprang to life.
Attractive blonde, Rita Skeeter, forty-three, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations
“Lovely,” Skeeter said as she ripped off the piece of parchment that had been written on and stuffed it into her handbag.
Skeeter leaned over towards Harriet and smiled. “Now, Harriet, what made you decide to enter the tournament?”
“Uh, I didn’t,” Harriet said. She was about to say more when the quill distracted her.
An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, is the only blemish upon the otherwise alluring face of Harriet Potter, whose dazzling green eyes—
“Just ignore the quill, Harriet,” Skeeter said, insistently. “Now, why did you enter the tournament?”
“Well, I didn’t,” Harriet said. “I don’t know how my name ended up in the Goblet, but I didn’t put it in.”
Skeeter raised a heavily-pencilled eyebrow. “Now, now, Harriet, there’s no need to be scared of getting into trouble. We all know you really shouldn’t have entered, but don’t worry, our readers love a rebel. Now, was it because of your godfather?”
Harriet had been about to respond but Skeeter’s words made her pause. Skeeter was smiling at her with a smug sense of knowing. “Come now, Harriet, we’re both on the same side here, aren’t we?” Skeeter asked.
“Uh, I-I guess,” Harriet said.
“Lovely. Now, how do you feel about the tasks ahead?” Skeeter said ploughing on. “Scared? Nervous?”
“Um… a bit of both, I guess,” Harriet said. She was beginning to regret not speaking up against this interview.
“Champions have died in the past, haven’t they?”
“Well… they say it’s going to be a lot safer this time,” Harriet replied, doing her best to ignore the scratching of the quill.
“Of course, you’ve looked death in the face before, haven’t you?” Skeeter asked, watching her closely. “And made brave stands against injustice. How would you say that’s affected you?”
“Do you think that the trauma in your past might have made you keen to prove yourself? To live up to your name? Perhaps to try and save the one true family member you have left?”
“Wh-what?” Harriet spluttered.
“Can you remember your parents at all?” Skeeter asked, unrelenting.
“No, of course not, I was only—”
“How do you think they would feel if they knew you were competing? Proud? Worried? Angry? And what about your godfather?”
Harriet felt herself getting more and more annoyed. How was she supposed to know what her parents would think? As for Sirius, she could just ask him, but Harriet couldn’t tell anyone about that.
“I think they would just want me to be safe,” Harriet said. “Like all parents.”
Rita Skeeter’s smile grew. “Yes, of course they would dear.”
Harriet was distracted by the quill once more.
Tears fill those startlingly green eyes as our conversation turns to the parents she can barely remember and the case of her godfather, the only surviving magical family she
“I do not have tears in my eyes!” Harriet protested, standing up in her anger.
Before Skeeter could say anything else, the door to the cupboard swung open. Harriet blinked in the bright light as she looked around to see who had opened it. Professor Dumbledore was standing in the doorway, looking down on them.
“Dumbledore!” Rita Skeeter cried, in apparent delight as she snapped the clasp on her handbag closed.
Harriet noted that the Quick Quotes Quill and the parchment had vanished.
“How are you?” Rita Skeeter asked, standing up and holding out a large, mannish hand to Professor Dumbledore. “I hope you saw my piece over the summer about the International Confederation of Wizards’ Conference?”
“Enchantingly nasty,” Professor Dumbledore answered with a twinkle in his eye. Harriet noted that he did not shake her hand. “I particularly enjoyed your description of me as an ‘obsolete dingbat.’”
“Truly the height of modern journalism,” said another voice and Professor Howe stepped into view as well.
He leaned casually against the doorframe and smiled pleasantly at Rita Skeeter.
“Not up to anything too typical of yourself?” Professor Howe asked.
Harriet looked back at Rita Skeeter. Her smile was very forced now as she took in Professor Howe. “Why Professor Howe, how lovely it is to see you again,” Skeeter said through her clenched teeth.
“I’m sure it is,” Professor Dumbledore said. “In the meantime, Rita, I’m afraid that we need Miss Potter back. The Wand Weighing is about to start, and we cannot continue if one of the champions is hidden in a broom cupboard.”
Harriet didn’t need telling twice. She slipped from the cupboard and back into the room. Harriet saw that the other champions were all sitting in chairs along the wall next to the door. Harriet quickly took a seat next to Cedric and looked around. All of the judges except for Professor Dumbledore were sitting behind the velvet covered desks. Rita Skeeter sat in the corner where Krum had been sitting. She immediately took out her quill and parchment again.
“May I introduce Mr Ollivander?” Professor Dumbledore said as he sat at the judges’ table. “He will be checking your wands to ensure that they are in proper, working order before the Tournament begins.”
Harriet looked around and her eyes widened as she recognized the small, aged wizard with large, pale eyes standing by the window. Harriet had met Mr Ollivander only once before, when she bought her wand on her eleventh birthday before starting her first year at Hogwarts.
Mr Ollivander stepped forward into the middle of the room now. He held out a hand towards the champions. “Miss Aello, if we could please see your wand first?”
Aello got to her feet and strode towards Mr Ollivander. Her height seemed even more exaggerated than it already was as she towered a whole head and a half over him.
“Ahhh, goodness me, thirteen and a half inches… quite the wand indeed. An interesting creation… I do not believe I recognize this maker’s work?”
“No,” Aello said confidently. “You would not.”
From the judges’ table, Professor Cato gave Aello a cold look and she fell silent.
Mr Ollivander paid her no mind. He continued examining the wand carefully. “However… we have a cypress wand with… my, my… a domovyk hair? Fascinating… I have never used domovyk hair myself.”
“It is the domovyk that lives in my barr—my family’s home,” Aello said.
“Fascinating,” Mr Ollivander said. “Yes… yes, yes, solid despite its length. Very solid, indeed. I can sense great loyalty in this wand… it will never abandon you until its end, or yours.”
Mr Ollivander flourished Aello’s wand and said: “Flammeum Gladiis!”
From the end of Aello’s wand, a great, flaming sword sprang forth. Mr Ollivander spun and twirled it around with relish before extinguishing the blade and handing the wand back to Aello.
“Yes, it is in excellent condition,” Mr Ollivander said.
Aello was looking at Mr Ollivander with surprise. He merely smiled back at her and Aello took her seat again.
“Mademoiselle Delacour, could you step forward, please?”
Fleur rose gracefully and swept across the room to Mr Ollivander, handing him her wand.
“Hmmm,” he said as he held the wand close to his eyes, examining it carefully.
“Yes… nine and a half inches—inflexible… rosewood… and containing… dear me.”
“An ‘air from ze ‘ead of a Veela,” said Fleur. “One of my grandmuzzer’s.”
So Ronnie was right, Harriet thought, making a note to tell her, before remembering that Ronnie was avoiding her.
“Yes,” Mr Ollivander said studying the wand even more closely. “I’ve always found that Veela hair makes rather temperamental wands, and so I’ve never used it in the wands I’ve sold… never mind the dangers in procuring them… but if this suits you… Orchideous!”
A bunch of flowers sprang up from the tip of the wand and Mr Ollivander deftly caught them, before handing them and Fleur’s wand back to her and pronouncing her wand satisfactory.
“Mr Diggory, you next, please.”
Fleur gave Cedric a warm smile as she passed him on her way back to his seat. Harriet on the other hand, glowered at her.
“Ah, now this is one of mine, isn’t it?” Mr Ollivander said, much more enthusiastically, as he inspected Cedric’s wand. “Yes, I remember it well. Containing the single hair from the tail of a particularly find male unicorn… must have been seventeen hands. Nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail, but then not all of us are so lucky as to have our own domesticated herd.”
Harriet felt her temper flaring even more at this, knowing that he was alluding to the McIntyres.
“Twelve and a quarter inches… ash… pleasantly springy. It’s in fine condition. You treat it regularly?”
“Polished it last night,” Cedric said, grinning.
Harriet looked down at her own wand. It was covered in finger marks and little nicks and scratches from her adventures. Harriet took some of her robes and attempted to rub off the fingerprints as discreetly as she could. However, after the dirty look she received from Fleur Delacour after her wand shot a few golden sparks out at her, Harriet stopped.
This time, Mr Ollivander created a long stream of smoke rings from the tip of Cedric’s wand and declared the wand satisfactory before calling up Viktor Krum. Krum slouched forward and held out his wand. He looked as though he was deeply reluctant to let someone else handle his wand.
“Hmm,” Mr Ollivander said, “this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless I am much mistaken? A very fine wand-maker, though his styling was never quite what I… however…”
Mr Ollivander inspected the wand closer. “Hornbeam and dragon heartstring?”
Krum simply nodded.
“Rather thicker than one usually sees… quite rigid… ten and a quarter inches… Avis!”
Krum’s wand let off a blast like a firecracker and a small flock of canaries sprang out of the end. They twittered and flittered around the room before flying out the open window.
Harriet watched them, smiling a little before wincing as two black streaks flashed through the little flock, knocking two of the canaries from the air. Harriet knew at once that they were Marcus’ falcon, Adal, and Scott’s kestrel, Ayr.
Someone nudged Harriet’s shoulder. She looked around and saw everyone staring at her. Harriet jumped to her feet quickly and realized it was her turn. She walked up to Mr Ollivander and held out her wand.
“Aaaaah, yes,” Mr Ollivander said, his pale eyes flashing wide open in apparent relish. “How well I remember…”
Harriet remembered too, as though it was yesterday. It was a little over four years ago that she had entered Mr Ollivander’s shop with Hagrid to buy her wand. Mr Ollivander had taken all her measurements, and then he began having Harriet try out different wands.
It had seemed as though they had gone through every single wand in the shop before finally a holly and phoenix feather wand, eleven inches, nice and supple, had chosen her. Mr Ollivander had called this pairing ‘curious’. When Harriet asked him what was curious, he told her how the same phoenix that had provided the feather in her wand, had also provided the feather in Lord Voldemort’s wand.
Harriet had not shared this information with anybody, not even Kieran. She loved her wand dearly, and she considered its relationship to Lord Voldemort’s a mere coincidence at best, something it couldn’t help. Much like how she couldn’t help being related to Aunt Petunia. However, right now Harriet was really hoping that Mr Ollivander wasn’t about to reveal that information to everyone, especially not Rita Skeeter. Harriet was sure that her Quick Quotes Quill would positively explode if he did.
Mr Ollivander fortunately did not broach the subject. Instead, he fastidiously set to work inspecting every inch of Harriet’s wand. Finally, he conjured a goblet and then shot a fountain of wine from the wand and caught it in the goblet which he bowed and handed to Professor Ilves. Professor Ilves accepted it, though she did not seem all that flattered by the gesture, and did not drink.
Mr Ollivander handed Harriet back her wand, declaring it to be in perfect condition, before finally calling up Kazunari. Kazunari got up and drew his wand. Mr Ollivander held it up and Harriet puzzled over it. The wand looked very familiar, but Harriet couldn’t place it.
“Ahhh, yes, a marvellous creation. A Sashihara creation I believe?”
“Hai,” Kazunari said, smiling proudly.
“I always love a good vine wand. Did it react upon your entering the store?”
“Hai-yes,” Kazunari said, even more cheerfully.
“Wonderful,” Mr Ollivander said. “It is always a treasured moment when a vine wand detects its owner. The last vine wand I sold was four years ago. Oh what a moment it was, the delight in her face as I handed her the wand. I knew at once she would be going places, that one, exceptionally bright and talented.”
At that moment it clicked. Kazunari had the same wand wood type as Hermione.
“Twelve inches, quite bendy… and my word. Sensei Sashihara must have gone to great lengths to get this core. A hair from the mane of a kirin.”
Kazunari simply smiled wider in response.
Mr Ollivander twirled Kazunari’s wand and pointed it at the floor. “Dansu no mizu!”
A jet of water shot from Kazunari’s wand and hit the floor. It splattered and the droplets all formed into tiny dancing figures that twirled about before vanishing in a puff of mist.
“Thank you all,” Professor Dumbledore said as Kazunari retook his seat. “You may go back to your lessons now—or perhaps it would be best for you all to just go down to dinner, as they are about to end—”
“Photos, Dumbledore, photos!” Bagman cried. “All judges and champions. What do you think, Rita?”
“Ah, yes, let’s do those first, then perhaps some individual shots of the champions?”
The photographs took ages. The first problem was Madam Maxime, who cast everyone into shadow wherever she stood, and the photographer couldn’t get far enough back to get her into the shot. It was eventually decided that she should sit while everyone else stood around her. Krum kept skulking around the back of the group, as though he was trying to figure out how to stand and not be photographed. The photographer kept pulling Fleur to the front of the group, while Rita Skeeter kept pulling Harriet to the front instead. This made Fleur look at Harriet angrily enough that Harriet was half-expecting her to sprout wings and a massive bird head as the Veela had done at the World Cup.
Finally, the individual shots were over and they were free. Harriet left the room as fast as she could, the first one out. As she did she almost ran into someone.
Kieran was standing there, looking apprehensive and sheepish.
“Hey—it’s okay—just wondered if you wanted to… you know, talk?”
“Ummm, okay,” Harriet said, feeling a little apprehensive herself.
They headed down a corridor that took them away from everyone else and Kieran stopped once the voices had moved far enough away.
“Look, I’m… I’m sorry about everything that’s happened this week… I’ve… I’ve been a real idiot…”
Harriet didn’t say anything. Although she did find it difficult to keep a scowl from her face and her arms uncrossed.
“I… I know you can’t back out, it’s just… it’s so hard seeing you in danger and in trouble all the time… always worrying about you and…”
Kieran fumbled for words before sighing. “But that’s no excuse… and maybe I don’t deserve it but… forgive me?”
Harriet mulled it over. Her immediate impulse was to say yes. But on the other hand, she was still hurt over how he’d acted. And yet, here he was apologizing and admitting it was stupid.
“I… okay, yes,” Harriet said. “I forgive you.”
Kieran’s face broke into a very sheepish grin. “Thanks…” he said awkwardly.
“Just don’t do it again,” Harriet said, trying and failing to sound stern.
Kieran rolled his eyes but smiled. Then he paused and looked at her shoulder.
“What?” Harriet asked.
“Beetle,” Kieran said and made to brush it off.
Harriet heard the buzzing as the beetle took wing and zoomed away.
“Strange, normally don’t see beetles like that this late in the year,” Kieran said. “Anyway, dinner?”
“Yes, please,” Harriet said, and they headed off together.