(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
“How wonderful it is to finally step out and see the vastness of the world. Even better, when you realize how little you have to do to actually see just how big it is.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
“Time to go, Harriet dear.”
Harriet grunted as Mrs Weasley shook her awake. It was the morning of the Quidditch World Cup, but Harriet couldn’t help but feel she’d barely slept at all. She put on her glasses as Hermione grunted, waking up too. Ronnie was putting up a considerably harder fight.
The girls dressed in silence. After their time at Glen Raglan, only Harriet and Hermione had returned to the Burrow. Marcus had gone to see the last regular match, Netherlands v Germany, with his dad. Kieran and Scott had stayed at home with their parents. Dora had gone back home to spend time with her family. Ginny, meanwhile, had gone ahead with the Lovegoods to camp out before the match.
They were delayed by the considerable amounts of yawning and stretching they were doing. Then further delayed by having to stop and make their hair behave.
Harriet winced as she gave a knot in her hair too hard a tug. She had been irritable all week after receiving Daniel’s reply. It wasn’t that he’d said anything mean, or actually made her feel stupid. It was that he’d barely said anything at all.
I understand what you’re going through, and you’re not being stupid. There’s a lot of things in life you never really got to experience through no fault of your own. There’s a lot in your letter that’s difficult to answer in another letter. Remus and I will meet you at the Cup. We’ll talk about it all then.
See you in a week,
While Harriet had appreciated his quick response, she didn’t really appreciate being left in the dark for another week. She was tired of always not knowing, always being one step behind everyone else.
However, now the day was finally here. Daniel and Remus were going to address her concerns, and she was going to be watching the Quidditch World Cup Final. The match had come down to Ireland and Bulgaria, the two teams Fred, George, and Charlie had all been sure were going to go head to head.
With one last, frustrated sigh from each, Harriet and Hermione set down their brushes and stumbled into the kitchen. Fred and George were already there; staring blankly as Mrs Weasley stirred a large pot of porridge on the stove. Mr Weasley was sitting at the table as well, looking over some large, parchment tickets. He smiled as the girls entered and spread his arms.
“What do you think? Like a Muggle?” he asked. He was wearing a golfing jumper, a pair of overlarge jeans, held up by a thick leather belt.
“Very well done, Mr Weasley,” Hermione complimented.
“Where’re Bill and Charlie and Percy?” George asked, stifling a yawn.
“Well, they’ll be Apparating,” Mrs Weasley said as she began ladling porridge into everyone’s bowls. “So they can have a bit of a lie-in.”
Bill’s arrival had made Harriet feel a little better about her own behaviour regarding Charlie. While she had found Bill fanciful when he was in the picture, she didn’t find real life Bill quite as appealing. It wasn’t because he wasn’t handsome. He just seemed a bit too “cool” for Harriet’s tastes. He wore dragon-hide boots, had a fang earring, and his hair was done in a long ponytail.
Hermione, however, went positively spare when he was around. Harriet imagined this had more to do with the fact Bill had once been both a Prefect and Head Boy at Hogwarts than his current fashion sense.
“So they’re still in bed,” Fred muttered as he pulled his porridge bowl closer. “Why can’t we apparate too?”
Harriet didn’t know a whole lot about apparition, other than it was very difficult, and involved disappearing in one place, and reappearing almost instantly in another.
“Because you’re not of age, and you haven’t passed your tests,” Mrs Weasley snapped.
“You have to take a test to apparate?” Harriet asked.
“Oh, yes,” Mr Weasley said cheerfully, tucking the tickets into his pocket. “Just the other day the Department for Magical Transportation had to fine a couple of people who tried it without a licence. Apparition’s really difficult, even for fully qualified wizards. That’s why most don’t bother with it, prefer brooms instead. Anyway, this particular pair went and Splinched themselves.”
Everyone but Harriet winced. “Splinched?” she asked.
“It means they left part of themselves behind,” Mr Weasley explained. “So they were stuck, couldn’t move either way. Accidental Magic Reversal Squad had a heck of a time sorting them out, and all the paperwork too, what with all the muggles who’d seen the body parts they’d left behind.”
Harriet grimaced. She had an image of a leg left behind in Privet Drive and decided she rather preferred the idea of brooms too. “Were they okay?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” Mr Weasley said. “But they got a heavy fine, and I doubt they’ll be trying it again in a hurry.”
“But Bill, Charlie and Percy all can do it?”
“Charlie had to do the test twice,” Fred said. He grinned maliciously. “Failed the first time, Apparated five miles south of where he’d planned and landed on some poor old dear doing her shopping.”
“Yes, well he passed the second time,” Mrs Weasley said.
Harriet couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit relieved that at least Charlie had trouble with Apparating.
“Percy only just passed the week you lot went off to Hermione’s,” George said. “He kept Apparating downstairs every morning just to prove he could.”
“Why’d he stop?” Hermione asked.
“We put a tack on his seat,” Fred said in an undertone.
“Why are we up so early?” Ronnie asked. She clearly hadn’t listened to anything anyone was saying.
“We’ve got a bit of a walk,” Mr Weasley said. “The Portkey’s located at the top of Stoatshead Hill.”
“A Portkey?” Harriet asked.
“Oh yes,” Mr Weasley said. “Enchanted objects used to move multiple people at once from one place to another. A bit more fool proof than Apparating, but slower, and faster than brooms and more discrete.”
Harriet nodded with a bit of a relief. For a moment she had worried that they were going to be walking to the Cup. Not that she minded a walk, she just didn’t want to miss getting to talk to Daniel and Remus.
“George!” Mrs Weasley snapped, making everyone jump.
“What?” George asked, trying and failing to sound innocent.
“What is that in your pocket?”
“Don’t you lie to me!” Mrs Weasley jabbed her wand at George’s pocket. “Accio!”
A handful of brightly coloured little objects shot from George’s pocket. He tried to grab for them but missed and they landed in Mrs Weasley’s hand instead.
“We told you to destroy them!” Mrs Weasley said, her face read with fury as she brandished the little objects in Fred and George’s faces. Harriet recognized them at once as Ton-Tongue Toffees. “We told you to get rid of the lot! Empty your pockets, now! Both of you!”
It was not a pleasant scene. Fred and George apparently were trying to smuggle the Toffees out of the house to somewhere safer. Unfortunately, this effort came to a dramatic and tragic conclusion as Mrs Weasley’s wand flashed. “Accio! Accio! Accio!” Mrs Weasley cried.
Toffees shot out of everywhere. Some were hidden in the lining of George’s jacket, and Fred had hidden more in the cuffs of his jeans.
“We spent six months developing those!” Fred shouted angrily as she dumped the toffees into the bin.
“Oh a fine way to spend six months!” Mrs Weasley shouted back. “No wonder you didn’t get more O.W.Ls!”
Harriet sighed as they left. It felt like leaving Hermione’s house all over again. Fred and George had stormed off ahead of the group without a word to their mother.
Daybreak was just beginning to rise on the horizon as they made their way towards Stoatshead Hill. Harriet, her mind starting to fill up with the excitement of watching the Cup and how she was going to see other wizards from all around the world, sped up to walk with Mr Weasley.
“So, is everyone going to be getting to the Cup via Portkeys?”
“Oh most people,” Mr Weasley said. “Given that most people are going to be arriving as families. But we do have apparition points set up as well and patrolled lanes which witches and wizards who wish to arrive via brooms can travel without worrying about Muggle air traffic.”
“How many people are coming?” Harriet asked.
“Well the stadium we built for it seats a hundred thousand,” Mr Weasley explained.
“Whoa,” Harriet muttered.
Mr Weasley chuckled.
“So a hundred thousand people are heading to the Cup today?” Harriet asked.
“Oh no,” Mr Weasley said. “We staggered the arrivals. Take the Lovegoods. They had to arrive last week at their camp site.”
Harriet digested that information. “So, a stadium big enough for a hundred thousand people, how have they kept that hidden from the Muggles?”
“Well, it wasn’t easy. We first had to find a nice, big moor with adjacent camping sites. Then, we had to put muggle-repelling charms on every single inch of it. Anytime Muggles have got within a mile of the stadium they’ve suddenly remembered very important appointments, and had to rush off. Bless them.”
The group fell into silence once more as they continued toward the hill. They passed through Ottery St Catchpole. Their footsteps sounded ominous as they echoed around the empty streets. The black mass that was Stoatshead Hill finally came into view as they exited the other side of the town. Harriet was shivering from the morning cold and Fred and George groaned sleepily at the sight.
Harriet’s cold abated quickly as they all grunted and struggled up the hill. There was plenty to slip and trip on, thick tufts of grass and hidden rabbit holes. Hermione and Ronnie, being much more focused on their fitness from lacrosse and football, were leading everyone easily. Fred, George, and Harriet however were lagging behind.
“We should suggest some fitness training to whoever’s captain this year,” Harriet panted under her breath to Fred.
“I don’t climb whopping great hills enough to change my life,” George said, overhearing.
Finally, they made it to the top. Mr Weasley smiled looking around as he caught his breath. “Right, now we just need the Portkey,” Mr Weasley said. “It won’t be big.”
“What will it look like?” Harriet asked, looking around and feeling foolish as she had no idea exactly what she was looking for.
“Oh, something small and unobtrusive. A boot perhaps, an old oven lid. Something small and innocuous enough that muggles wouldn’t bother picking it up.”
“Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we’ve got it!” The voice had come from the other side of the hilltop. Harriet squinted and through the darkness she made out two tall figures silhouetted against the stars.
“Ah, Amos,” Mr Weasley said cheerfully as the group made their way over to the figures.
He gestured to the rest of the group and they followed. Harriet’s heart jumped as they got close enough to make out the features of the two figures. Harriet didn’t recognize the tall, bearded man, but she definitely recognized the teenage boy standing beside him. As ever, the teen gave Harriet little butterflies as he gave everyone a radiantly casual smile.
His hair was wavy and brown, his jawline strong and his shoulders wide. His smile was warm and glowing even in the barely risen sun. He was a year older than Fred and George, captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch Team and a Prefect. It was Cedric Diggory.
“Everyone, this is Amos Diggory,” Mr Weasley said, introducing everyone to the bearded man standing with Cedric. He was holding onto a mouldy old boot. “He works in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”
Harriet felt her eyes narrow on their own. That was the same department that ran the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, which Lucius Malfoy had manipulated into agreement for Buckbeak, Hagrid’s pet hippogriff’s, execution the previous year. By the looks on Ronnie and Hermione’s faces, they had not forgotten this injustice either.
“And I think you all know his son, Cedric?”
Cedric gave everyone an awkward wave. “Hi.”
The rest of the teens said “Hi” back. Harriet’s “Hi” was perhaps a bit more enthusiastic than she’d originally intended.
The exceptions were Fred and George. George just gave him a curt nod, while Fred just gave him a dirty look. Harriet figured this was because the last time their team had played Hufflepuff, Hufflepuff had won. Then Harriet remembered how Fred had been acting around her lately and wondered if Fred was in fact jealous. For some reason, this possibility made Harriet lose all her butterflies, and instead she felt her lips curl into an involuntary, and rather sheepish, smile.
“Long walk, Arthur?” Mr Diggory asked.
“Oh, not too bad. We just live on the other side of the village. You?”
“Had to get up a two, didn’t we, Ced? Could have Apparated but someone’s been a bit lazy with signing up for a test time.”
Cedric went red. Harriet wondered if Cedric didn’t like the idea of Apparating either.
“Still,” Mr Diggory went on. “Not complaining. Quidditch World Cup and all, wouldn’t miss it for a sackful of galleons! Mind you the tickets cost about that. Though blimey, looks like I got off easy! All these yours, Arthur?”
Mr Weasley laughed. “Oh no, just the redheads. My sons, Fred and George. My eldest daughter, Ronnie. And Ronnie’s friends, Hermione, and Harriet.”
“Galloping gargoyles,” Mr Diggory spluttered, his eyes widening. “Not… Harriet Potter?”
“Uh, yeah,” Harriet muttered. Harriet wondered if she’d ever get used to the people always tried to spot her scar through her fringe every time they heard her name. Mr Diggory was no exception.
“Ced’s talked about you, of course!” Mr Diggory said. “Told us all about playing against you last year. I said to him, I said… Ced, that’ll be something to tell your grandchildren, that will! You beat Harriet Potter!”
Harriet was left a bit speechless at this. Fred bent Cedric a very ugly look indeed.
Cedric shifted uncomfortably. “Harriet fell off her broom, Dad,” Cedric said. “I told you it was an accident, normally she would have beaten me.”
Harriet felt her eyes widen involuntarily.
“Now, now, Ced. You didn’t fall off, did you?” Mr Diggory countered genially, slapping Cedric on the back. “Always modest, our Ced, always the gentleman. But the better flyer won, I’m sure Harriet would agree. And showing everyone just what Hufflepuff house is made of into the mix!”
“Not likely,” Fred interjected. “Since the only reason Ced didn’t fall off is he doesn’t have to listen to you and his dear mummy snuffing it trying to save his life because of the dirty-great crowd of dementors!”
“Fred!” Mr Weasley snapped.
Mr Diggory scowled and Fred scowled right back. Cedric however was looking at Harriet with a dumbstruck look on his face. Something of the pain of that memory must have shown on Harriet’s face, because Cedric’s expression quickly changed from dumbstruck to sympathetic.
Mr Diggory opened his mouth to retort but Mr Weasley interrupted by looking at his watch. “Ah, just about time! Are we waiting for any more, Amos?”
Mr Diggory took a breath and calmed himself down. “No, the Lovegoods have already been there for a week, and the Fawcetts couldn’t get tickets.”
“Ah, well that would be everyone then.” Mr Weasley checked his watch again. “Right, we’re a minute off. Let’s get ready, everyone.”
Mr Diggory held out the boot and Mr Weasley smiled down at Harriet and Hermione. “You just need to touch the Portkey, girls. A finger will do.”
As there were eight of them, all with heavy backpacks, it was difficult for everyone to get close enough. Eventually, in just the nick of time, they managed it. Harriet had one fleeting image of what would happen if a Muggle were to happen upon them when Mr Weasley began the final countdown.
“Three… two… one!”
It happened in an instant. Harriet felt as though something tugged hard on her middle, just behind her belly-button. It pulled her forward and before Harriet knew what was really happening, her feet had left the ground. They were speeding forwards. The entire world was the roar of wind and swirling colours. Harriet could feel Ronnie and Hermione’s shoulders bumping into hers as they sped forwards.
Harriet’s feet hit the ground. Ronnie staggered into her and she in turn toppled into Hermione, all three girls collapsing to the ground. There was a heavy thud nearby which Harriet took to be the Portkey.
Harriet looked around. Mr Weasley, Mr Diggory, and Cedric were still standing, though they looked quite windswept. Fred and George grunted nearby. They had fallen as well.
“Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill,” said a nearby voice.
Harriet, Hermione, and Ronnie managed to disentangle themselves and got to their feet. They were standing on a misty moor. It looked deserted, except for two wizards standing nearby. Both of them seemed grumpy, and very tired. One was looking at a large golden pocket watch while the other was reading a thick roll of parchment. They had both dressed as muggles, though rather poorly. The one with the watch was wearing a tweed suit and thigh length galoshes, while his colleague was wearing a kilt and a poncho.
“Ah, good morning, Basil,” Mr Weasley said, picking up the boot and handing it to the kilted wizard, who threw it into a large box of objects Harriet took to be used Portkeys. Harriet noted a newspaper, an empty drinks can, and a punctured football.
“Hello, Arthur,” said Basil, wearily. “Not on duty, eh? It’s all right for some. We’ve been here all night. Get relieved in an hour though. You’d better get out of the way though, big party from the Black Forest, twenty two in all, coming in at five fifteen. I’ll just quick look up your campsite… Weasley… Weasley…” he studied the parchment. “Ah, here we are. About a quarter mile’s walk over there. First field. Site manager’s called Mr Roberts. Diggory, you’ll be the next field down. Ask for Mr Payne.”
“Thanks, Basil,” Mr Weasley said.
They set off after Mr Weasley. It was hard to see where they were going in the thick mists, but Mr Weasley took out his wand, set it in the palm of his hand and said “Point Me.” The wand spun in his hand and stopped.
“There we are,” Mr Weasley said and started walking once more. Harriet made a note of the spell in her head, as it seemed to be a spell which turned a wand into a compass.
After another twenty minutes, they arrived at a small stone cottage and a gate. Through the mists, Harriet could make out hundreds of tents, sprawled across the large open field, heading towards a large, thick wood. They bid the Diggorys fair well (everyone but Fred and George), and headed to the cottage. There was a man standing in the doorway. The man looked just as tired as the two men who met them at the Portkey, but his perfectly acceptable muggle dress told Harriet that he was probably the only real muggle for several acres.
“Good morning!” Mr Weasley called as they approached.
“Mornin’,” said the Muggle.
“Would you happen to be Mr Roberts?”
“Aye, that’s me,” Mr Roberts said. “And you are?”
“Weasley. Two tents. Booked a couple of days ago?”
“Oh, aye,” Mr Roberts said. He turned and ran a finger down a list he had tacked to his door. “Got a space up by the wood there. Just the one night?”
Mr Weasley didn’t respond right away. He had caught sight of Mr Roberts’ tractor but George nudged him and brought him back to the present. “Oh, yes that’s right,” Mr Weasley said.
“You’ll be paying now, then?”
“Oh – right, certainly!” said Mr Weasley. He took a few steps away from the cottage, his back to Mr Roberts, and beckoned Hermione over.
They whispered discretely. Mr Roberts leaned closer, clearly trying to listen in. Finally, Mr Weasley looked satisfied and returned to Mr Roberts.
“You foreign?” Mr Roberts asked as Mr Weasley handed him the notes.
“Uh, foreign?” Mr Weasley asked.
“You’re not the first who’s had trouble with money. Had two who tried to pay me with great gold coins the size of hubcaps ten minutes ago. Lots of Irish, too. Bit too many if you ask me, after the bombing in Bognor Regis.”
“Bombing?” Mr Weasley spluttered.
“Getting mighty suspicious to me. You watch yourself. It’s like some sort of big rally, or party or something. Usually people just turn up but look at them all,” Mr Roberts said gesturing to the tents. “Strange folks, one walking around in a kilt and a poncho. Something’s going on and I’ve half a mind to call the Home—”
There was a popping noise and a wizard in plus-fours appeared out of thin-air next to Mr Roberts’ door and pointed his wand at the muggle.
“Obliviate!” he said.
Mr Roberts’ eyes instantly slid out of focus, and his face went from angry concern to passive and relaxed.
“A map of the campsite for you,” Mr Roberts said, his voice placid. “And your change.”
“Thank you very much,” Mr Weasley said.
The wizard in plus-fours accompanied them away from the cottage. He looked just as exhausted as everyone else but he seemed to be a bit friendlier.
“Been having a lot of trouble with him,” the wizard said to Mr Weasley once they were out of earshot. “He’s needed a memory charm ten times a day to keep him happy. Ludo Bagman’s not helping in the least. Wandering about and talking about Bludgers and Quaffles at the top of his voice. Not a single worry about anti-Muggle security. Blimey, I’ll be glad when this is over. Take care, Arthur.”
The man Disapparated with a loud crack.
“Isn’t Bagman head of Magical Games and Sports?” Ronnie asked. “He should know better than that.”
“Yes, he should,” Mr Weasley said leading them on once more. “But Ludo’s never exactly been overly concerned with security. You couldn’t wish for a more enthusiastic department head though. Played for England himself, you know. Best Beater the Wimborne Wasps ever had.”
Harriet’s feet were beginning to hurt badly as they continued on past the tents. For the most part, they all looked like perfectly ordinary tents. However, every now and then, it appeared some of the owners had slipped up. Some of them had chimneys, and bell-pulls and weather-vanes. Harriet also noted that some of the campers had slipped up so badly with their tents that Harriet was starting to see why Mr Roberts was getting suspicious. One particular tent looked like a miniature silken palace, with live peacocks tethered at the entrance. Another looked rather like Hogwarts, with three floors and turrets in the corners. Still another had an entire front garden which included a birdbath, a large sundial, and a fountain.
Mr Weasley sighed but smiled. “Always the same. We can’t resist showing off when we get together. Ah! Here we are! At least, I think this is us…”
They finally reached the edge of the woods. There was an empty space and a small sign stuck into the ground that read “Weezly.”
“Couldn’t have a better spot!” Mr Weasley said excitedly. “The pitch is just the other side of the wood there. We’re as close as we could be.”
Mr Weasley groaned as he finally took off his backpack. “Right, we’re not allowed to do magic, strictly speaking. Not when we’re out in these numbers on Muggle land. So, we’ll have to put these tents up by hand! Shouldn’t be too difficult, Muggles do it all the time. Uh, Harriet, Hermione, where do you reckon we should start?”
Having spent a week camping in tents at the Grangers, Harriet and Hermione were fairly quick in setting up the tents. The only real factor slowing them down was Mr Weasley, who got a little over-excited about using the mallet to pound in the stakes. Finally, both the tents were standing. They looked a little shabby, but otherwise not too bad. However, there was one problem that both Harriet and Hermione seemed to touch on at the same time.
Neither tent looked big enough to hold any more than two people. But when Bill, Charlie, and Percy arrived, they would be a party of nine. Ten, if Ginny decided to join them. Mr Weasley however got down on his hands and knees and crawled inside the entrance of the first tent.
“Well, we should be alright. Not overly large but with four girls in one tent and the boys here in the other we should be just fine.”
Harriet blinked and got down, following Mr Weasley inside as well. She gasped. What on the outside had looked like a two-person tent, on the inside was actually a three-roomed, fully furnished flat with bathroom and kitchen. Harriet felt an odd sense of familiarity as she looked around the flat.
Then she realized, it smelled and was furnished in exactly the same style as their batty neighbour, Mrs Figg’s, where the Dursleys usually sent Harriet to stay whenever they went on holidays. The chairs were mismatched, and draped in crocheted covers. The most recognizable was the overwhelming smell of cats.
“Well, it’s just for a night,” Mr Weasley said. “Borrowed this one from Perkins in the office. Poor chap has lumbago so he doesn’t camp much anymore these days.”
Mr Weasley picked up the dusty kettle from the stove and peered into it. “Hmm, we’ll need some water.”
“There’s a tap marked on the map the muggle gave us,” Ronnie said. “It’s over on the other side of the field.”
“Well, how about you girls go and fetch the water, and the boys and I will fetch some firewood.”
“Okay, Dad,” Ronnie said. “We’ll check out our tent first though.”
“Oh, right you are, Ronnie,” Mr Weasley said cheerfully. “We’ll see you back in a while.”
Harriet, Ronnie, and Hermione each took the kettle, and two saucepans, and headed over to their tent. It was smaller than the boys’, but did not smell of cats. They picked out a bed each, put their bags down on them, and headed off in search of water.
The sun was fully up now and the mist was abating. Harriet gaped in wonder at just how vast the sea of tents was. She’d heard about other wizarding schools in other countries, but it was seeing this that really told Harriet just how many witches and wizards there must really be in the world.
“How many times, Kevin? You don’t – touch – Daddy’s – wand!”
They looked around. A young boy, who couldn’t have been older than two, was prodding a slug with the tip of a wand. The slug had swollen to the size of a salami. His mother was hurrying up to the boy. She took the wand from his hand, but not before accidentally stepping on the slug, squashing it. “Yeuch!”
They hurried away as the little boy’s wails followed them. A few tents down, they saw two little witches, who looked at most a year older than Kevin, skimming the grass on tiny toy broomsticks and giggling madly. A Ministry wizard hurried past Harriet, Hermione and Ronnie on his way towards the little girls’ tent.
“In broad daylight! I ask you! Parents having a lie-in I suppose…”
The camp seemed to be coming to life around them. Witches and wizards were stepping out of their tents, starting to cook breakfast on fires. The smell of campfire smoke was permeating the air. Harriet noted that more than a few of the campers were forgoing matches, choosing instead to furtively light their fires with their wands. However, most seemed to be giving proper muggle techniques a try, with varying levels of success.
They passed a group of African wizards in long white robes, who were sitting and speaking seriously around a bright purple fire. Harriet raised her eyebrows realizing they were roasting a rabbit over it on a spit. They passed another group of tents that seemed to be together. There was a large star-spangled banner stretched between the tents and a sign that read: The Salem Witches’ Institute Memorial Group.
“Blimey, I heard about that earlier in the summer,” Ronnie muttered, shaking her head sadly.
“About what?” Harriet asked.
“Over in America, big Secessionist force launched a sneak attack up the eastern coast. Killed thousands, magic and muggle alike. That was back in like June.”
“How horrible,” Hermione said, biting her lip. “The school must have been destroyed too.”
“School?” Harriet asked.
“The Salem Witches’ Institute. It was an all witch school. It must have been destroyed too. Look, there’s a donation tin.”
They paused and made their way over. A group of middle-aged witches Harriet took to be alumni of the school were sitting solemnly around their own fire. They smiled at the girls as they approached and took out their money-bags.
“Bless you, darlings,” said one of the witches. “Every little bit will help.”
They continued on (Harriet put five galleons in) and soon found themselves surrounded by a dazzling array of green. Every tent in this patch was covered in a growth of thick shamrocks, so they looked like little hillocks rather than tents.
“There you lot are!” called a cheerful, familiar voice. They turned and saw Marcus walking towards them along with his fellow fourth-year Gryffindor boys, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas.
“Like the theme?” Seamus asked, grinning ear to ear as he took in the tents. “Ministry’s not terribly chuffed about it.”
“Ah and why shouldn’t we show our colours?” asked a sandy-haired woman who came walking up as well. Harriet figured at a glance that this was Seamus’ mother. “You should see what the Bulgarians have got all over their tents!”
Mrs Finnigan gave all the girls a beady-look. “You’re all supporting Ireland, right?”
They hurriedly reassured her that they were in fact supporting Ireland before setting off once more, this time with Marcus joining them.
“Like we’d say anything else surrounded by that lot, though,” Ronnie muttered as they left the Irish supporters.
“What do the Bulgarians have all over their tents?” Hermione asked Marcus.
Marcus laughed. “Great big posters of the Bulgarian team seeker, Viktor Krum. Moving and all.”
“Ah, well I can see why the Ministry wouldn’t be so happy about that,” Harriet said. “Look, there’s the Bulgarians over there. Let’s go have a look.”
They headed over and sure enough, instead of shamrock coatings, each tent was adorned, as Marcus had said, with a large, magical poster of a very surly face with thick eyebrows and black hair. The picture was moving, though barely. The most that the figure in it did was blink and scowl uncomfortably.
“That’s him,” Ronnie said, reverently. “Krum.”
“Doesn’t look too happy, does he?” Hermione asked.
“Yeah, he’s really not,” Marcus said. “I saw him at the last match I went to. He was running away from some reporters. He’s not as old as he looks in the posters though. He’s only what, eighteen?”
“Yeah,” Ronnie agreed. “Still, even if I’m supporting Ireland I can’t wait to see him in action. He’s a genius! Just wait till you see him, Harriet. He’ll make you forget all about my brother.”
“Oh shut up,” Harriet snapped.
They finally reached the queue for the water. A few spaces ahead of them in the line were Kieran and Scott, who eagerly gave up their places to come back and join the rest of them instead.
“Was wondering when you all were gonna turn up!” Scott said excitedly.
“Yeah, we just got in,” Ronnie said smiling. “Been here long?”
“Got in last night,” Kieran said. “Your Muggle as angry as ours?”
“Yeah,” Ronnie said shrugging. “Not sure why though, he’s getting paid for each tent isn’t he?”
“Just put them on, Archie! There’s a good chap!”
The group turned to take in the spectacle going on in front of them. An elderly wizard wearing a floral night-gown was in a heated argument with a ministry wizard who was holding out a pair of pinstriped trousers.
“You can’t walk around like that,” the Ministry wizard continued. “The muggle on the gate’s getting suspicious again and he’s already been Obliviated three times this morning!”
“I bought this in a Muggle shop!” Archie said, his tone obstinate. “Muggles wear them!”
“Muggle women wear them Archie! Not the men! They wear these!”
“I’m not putting them on!” Archie growled. “I like a healthy breeze around my privates, thanks!”
Harriet, Ronnie, and Hermione, all came over with a powerful fit of the giggles. Hermione actually had to leave the line. Scott looked a little awkward as he walked up and tugged the Ministry wizard on the sleeve and suggested that Archie try on a kilt instead. Seeming somewhat happier about this prospect, Archie collected his water and followed the Ministry wizard off for more ‘acceptable’ Muggle attire.
Finally they got their water and made their way back to their campsites. They stopped for Kieran and Scott to take their water back to their tents before following the girls and Marcus back to the Weasleys. They spotted more familiar faces here and there as they went. They ran into Oliver Wood, who wasted little time in introducing Harriet to his parents. Harriet had always been rather taken with Wood, and so flushed furiously as Wood showered her with praise. He then informed Harriet that he had just been signed to the Puddlemere United reserve team.
Other familiar faces they saw were Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff fourth year along with Jeremy and Isabella. Another was Cho Chang, a fifth year Ravenclaw who despite playing Seeker for Ravenclaw and thus Harriet’s rival, had always been quite decent to Harriet.
However, they soon passed a group of teenagers, none of whom were familiar to Harriet. “Think they go to a foreign school?” Harriet asked.
“Must do,” said Kieran.
They walked over to introduce themselves. The students were from all over. Hermione was going spare, nearly spilling her water in excitement at the chance to talk to students from so many other schools. There were some from Beauxbatons who Harriet was thrilled to discover knew Camille. However, by the sound of it, Camille was quite popular, so nearly everyone knew her. Still others were from Mount Phoenix, which Kieran took a particular interest in and was deep in conversation with them.
There were a few Asian students as well who went to a school Harriet had never heard of; Four Nations. Harriet wasn’t sure what to say, but mostly listened in as Scott began to chat with them about life at their school. Apparently he was interested because Atsuko had told him she would have gone to that school until her family moved to Britain when she was five.
Ronnie was talking with interest to some Latina witches around their age. Apparently they went to a school in Brazil named Muiraquitã. Ronnie was thrilled to discover that they shared a similar interest in football, and quickly brought on fits of laughter in regaling them with the story of her eldest brother, Bill, having a pen-friend from their school many years ago. The friend had requested Bill go on an exchange trip to their school for a year, but their parents couldn’t afford it. The pen-friend had apparently been so offended that she sent him a cursed hat that made his ears shrivel up.
Finally, it was time they should really be returning to the tents and they parted from the other students. They returned and Harriet smiled when she saw the Flamels had arrived and were chatting merrily with Mr Weasley.
In spite of how awkward she had felt around Dora over the last couple of weeks, Harriet did feel a sense of completeness as Dora came over and gave everyone hugs (though she held hers with Harriet noticeably longer than everyone else’s). Having everyone together again just seemed to feel right.
Emma was beaming as she hurried over too. “Guess what!” Emma said excitedly to the group.
“What?” Hermione asked smiling at the willowy second year.
“We got a puppy!”
“Really?” Kieran asked, smiling. “That’s great.”
Dora laughed and rolled her eyes.
“What did you name him?” Harriet asked, her eyes twinkling giving Emma a knowing smile. “Lemme guess, Snuffles?”
“Nope!” Emma grinned wider. “Max!”
“That’s a very nice name, dear,” Hermione said. “Is it short for something?”
“Yep!” Emma nodded. “For Maximus!”
“Maximus?” Hermione asked, blinking.
“Ya-huh,” Emma said and pointed past Hermione.
The group turned and Hermione gave a shriek of surprise and stumbled backwards. Marcus was just quick enough to catch her before she fell. They were all standing almost face to face with a dog so large it rivalled Sirius’ animagus form. Harriet stared in disbelief. The dog was covered in a short, fawn coat, with a black mask on a box-shaped head, very droopy skin, and floppy, triangular ears.
“He’s a mastiff!” Emma said proudly as she rushed forward and hugged the dog around the neck. Harriet noted that Emma did not have to bend over very far to do so.
“Ma petit Emma would ‘ave no other,” Mr Flamel said, walking over to pat the massive dog on the head. “A spectacular specimen! Singular. English mastiff; two-hundred seven pounds and growing, three feet two at the shoulder, seven foot seven from nose to tail, and with plenty of years left to grow.”
Max now flopped over on his back, his massive tongue lolling about as Emma giggled and kneeled down to scratch his belly.
“We were a bit sceptical of having such a large breed but we were assured they are a very passive breed,” Mrs Flamel said.
There was no denying that, Harriet thought, as Max groaned. His back left leg was kicking as Emma found a good spot and his long tail whipped back and forth in glee. Dora meanwhile was smiling down at her sister as if nothing in the world made her happier than the sight. This made Harriet decide things were as back to normal as they could be.
* * * *
They spent the rest of the morning sitting around the campfire (which Hermione had helped Mr Weasley get started) cooking an early lunch. The adults were chatting merrily about the cup while the kids were all gathered around Max giving him as much attention as he could possibly handle. After she’d worn off her initial shock from Max’s surprise appearance, Hermione had warmed to him a great deal.
Finally, Bill, Charlie and Percy arrived just as the eggs and sausages were finished.
“Just Apparated, Dad,” Percy said cheerfully.
“Nooooo, did you Apparate, Percy?” Fred jeered, “Could have sworn you’d walk.”
“Did you stick your landing with a summersault?” George asked.
“Ah, lunch,” Charlie said smiling as he took a seat next to the fire. However, no sooner had he done so than Mr Weasley hopped to his feet.
“Aha!” Mr Weasley said and waved vigorously. “The man of the moment! Ludo!”
Everyone turned. Ludo Bagman stood out by a mile. He was even more noticeable than old Archie had been in his night-dress. He was wearing garishly bright yellow Quidditch robes with horizontal black stripes, and an enormous wasp emblazoned across the chest.
He was tall and broad shouldered, a good build for a Beater, but Harriet couldn’t help but notice that his robes were a bit tight around the middle, and his nose looked a bit squashed. Harriet figured that was the result of a missed Bludger. However, his rosy cheeks, short blonde hair, bright blue eyes, jubilant expression, and the spring in his step made him seem more like an excited schoolboy than anything else.
“Ahoy there!” Bagman called as he reached them. He beamed merrily at everyone. “Hello Arthur, my good man! And the Flamels too! Ah my lady Jessica you are ravishing as ever! Blimey, what a day, eh?! What a day! Could we have asked for more perfect weather? Cloudless night coming, not a single hiccup in the arrangements, teams are already here getting in their practicing. Not much for me to do but mix and mingle!”
Harriet was temporarily distracted from the garish sight of Bagman by a group of Ministry witches and wizards rushing past, looking angry and pointing. There was a jet of sparks shooting up some twenty feet into the air in the distance.
Her attention was called back to the scene by Mr Weasley making introductions. As per usual, Bagman gave Harriet the typical double-take that everyone did when realizing who she was for the first time.
Fortunately, Mr Weasley spared Harriet any awkward conversation by turning the attention back onto Bagman himself. “Everyone, this is Ludo Bagman, and it’s thanks to him that we got such good tickets for you kids.”
Bagman waved a hand dismissively but smiled all the same. He then pulled out a sack that jingled as though full of golden coins. “Anyone fancy a flutter on the match? Roddy Pontner’s already bet that Bulgaria will score first. Offered him good odds, given Ireland’s front three are the strongest I’ve seen in years. Agatha Timms has put up half shares in her eel farm on a week-long match.”
“Oh, um, oh alright. A galleon on Ireland to win?” Mr Weasley said awkwardly.
“A galleon?” Mr Bagman asked, disappointed.
“Ah, there we are,” said a voice behind Harriet.
Harriet’s face split into a grin before she’d even turned around. Daniel had arrived. Even better, Remus was smiling down at her as well.
“We’ll bet thirty-seven Galleons, fifteen Sickles, and three Knuts!” Harriet heard Fred saying excitedly behind her. “Ireland will win, but Krum’s gonna get the Snitch! And we’ll throw in a fake wand!”
“So, someone wanted to talk?” Daniel said kindly as Bagman laughed loudly when the fake wand Fred handed him turned into a rubber chicken.
“Yes,” Harriet said.
“Well, let’s find somewhere a bit more quiet then,” Remus said.
Harriet looked around. By the looks of it, everyone was outside at the moment. That meant the tents should be empty and private. Harriet led them into the boys’ tent and sat at the dining table.
“So, Harriet, you say your scar was hurting?” Remus asked.
“Uh, yeah,” Harriet said, a bit wrong-footed. She had expected to handle her other problems before getting on to that one.
“Well, unfortunately, we’re not entirely sure what to tell you there,” Daniel said. “See, Harriet; the only person ever to survive that curse was you. Plenty of curse scars do cause aches and pains over the years—take your friend, Kieran, for instance.”
“Right, but as with Kieran that’s usually because of where the curse hit. Do you remember anything else from that night, Harriet?” Remus asked. “Anything at all?”
“Well… I was dreaming,” Harriet replied. Somehow, now she was face to face with the two, she found keeping secrets a lot harder.
“I see… and do you remember this dream?” Daniel asked.
“Just… bits of it…” Harriet said. “Like… there was Voldemort… and Wormtail… but that’s about it.”
“I see…” Remus said, sitting back and rubbing his chin. “Well, I don’t know if it’s anything to get too alarmed about just yet, Harriet. But we do want you to do us a favour.”
“What’s that?” Harriet asked.
“The next time it happens, write down exactly what happens in the dream as soon as you wake up and send it to us and to Professor Dumbledore straight away,” Daniel said. “We’ve already consulted Albus about this incident, and while he found it troubling, he agreed it was nothing to get too worked up about just now.”
Harriet nodded slowly.
“Okay, now that we’ve got the most pressing matter out of the way, we can turn to your other issues,” Remus said, smiling once more.
Harriet shifted uncomfortably.
“Regarding Ari and Taylor,” Daniel said, chuckling. “Yes, they are a couple.”
“Like, dating?” Harriet asked.
“Yes,” Remus said nodding. “Though I understand why it may have struck you. Relationships like that aren’t terribly common just yet in the Muggle world. In the magical world, however, we’re a bit more accepting of it.”
“So, that’s why no one else was making a big deal out of it?” Harriet asked.
“Precisely,” Remus said. “In fact, one could go so far as to say that in the Muggle world, people like Ari and Taylor are as taboo as I am as a bitten wolf.”
Harriet grimaced at the term. She suddenly felt as strong sense of guilt over having felt so weirded out by it. She wondered now if she should finally tell them about Dora’s behaviour.
“Ah, don’t beat yourself up, kiddo,” Daniel said ruffling her hair. “There’s a difference between being prejudiced and having no experience at those kinds of things.”
“Really?” Harriet asked.
“Really,” Remus said. “You said yourself in your letter that you thought they seemed really nice, didn’t you?”
“And now that you know the truth do you feel better about them or worse?” Daniel asked.
“Better,” Harriet said.
“Well, there you have it then,” Remus said kindly. “And as for Miss Jameson, well, once again your intuition is correct.”
“So, that was Nate?” Harriet asked.
“Yes, and no,” Daniel chuckled. “Legally, yes. As in that’s what her parents named her. But in her mind; how she behaves and feels she really is, she’s Alee.”
Harriet tilted her head. This was starting to get confusing.
“It’s another sort of gender and sexuality issue that’s not exactly smiled upon in the Muggle world, Harriet,” Remus said. “So much so, that you’ll find it’s largely used as the butt of jokes…”
“It’s… not terribly common in the magical world, either,” Daniel admitted. “At least it wasn’t really well known until magical society started shifting in earnest to Muggle dress.”
“How do you mean?”
Remus chuckled. “Well, take robes for instance. They are a bit on the gender-neutral side, are they not?”
“Oh, yeah,” Harriet said. “Good point.”
Daniel smiled. “So, don’t worry about Alee. We know what a hard go of growing up you had with the Dursleys. You can’t have gotten much exposure to anything that isn’t ‘normal’ with them.”
“No…” Harriet admitted. She was starting to feel better. But then another thought was nagging at her. It wasn’t Dora’s actions anymore. It was Harriet’s own thoughts.
“So… there’s… something else,” Harriet said, her hands in her lap. Even though she was committing herself to opening up, she felt very vulnerable.
Daniel put a hand on her shoulder gently. “There’s no need to force yourself, kiddo. Just know we’re here to listen and offer whatever help we can.”
Harriet nodded and tried to find the words. “So… you say that Ari and Taylor are okay? Like, there’s nothing wrong with them?”
“We do,” Remus said nodding.
“Okay… because well…” Harriet fumbled for her thoughts.
“Take your time,” Remus said calmly.
“Okay,” Harriet said. “Well… I sometimes… like… around boys… I get these feelings, like butterflies and stuff in my stomach, but… not just there…”
Daniel and Remus both smiled though they did look rather awkward now. “Well you are growing up,” Daniel said. “Perfectly natural; hormones and whatnot.”
Harriet nodded. “Like… I got them around Wood, and I get them around Cedric, and Charlie…”
Daniel laughed. “I thought I saw you giving him the eye at your birthday party,” he said giving her a wink. “Though, if you don’t mind my saying so, there are plenty of very nice lads at Hogwarts who are much closer to you in age.”
“I know…” Harriet said. “I know it’s kinda stupid but he’s nice and kind.”
“Well, so is your friend Kieran,” Remus said.
Harriet blushed, remembering her whimsies during the Capture the Flag match of Kieran catching her.
“Well, so’s Scott, and Marcus,” Daniel added. “You seem to have a knack for attracting the right kind of guy,” he concluded.
Harriet grimaced. This conversation was not on the path she wanted it on. “Well, that’s not it,” Harriet said.
Remus and Daniel both blinked.
“The thing is… I don’t just… get those feelings about boys…”
Daniel and Remus’ eyes both went wide and they mouthed “ohhhhhhhhh” in unison.
“Yeah… like… I get them around Professor Sinistra… and a couple weeks ago… we were at a lacrosse match while staying at the Grangers.”
“A female lacrosse match, I take it,” Daniel said, chuckling. Remus elbowed him.
“Well, yeah,” Harriet said.
Remus and Daniel both gave Harriet very sympathetic smiles.
“And, well, Dora asked me how she’d look in one of the kits and I pictured her—” Harriet paused. She decided to leave out that she’d also imagined Dora bound.
“Ohhhhhhh,” Daniel and Remus said again.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that either,” Daniel said giving Harriet’s shoulder another squeeze.
“No?” Harriet asked.
“No,” Remus agreed. “And I understand how confusing it can be. Particularly at your age and especially with how little experience you have. Truth be told, no one at your age, regardless of their upbringing, has much of a clue in the areas of attraction. We all sort of fumble around. I’m not saying what you felt for say Cedric or Dora in those moments is not genuine. But I think you have a lot more important things to worry about at the moment than relationships.”
Harriet nodded, digesting this.
“But that’s not to say that you should shut it all out, either,” Daniel said. “Just take life as it comes. If you find you like boys more, then you like boys more. If you like girls more, then you like girls more. If you like them both the same, then that’s perfectly fine too. It doesn’t really matter that much in our world, Harriet. It doesn’t matter to either of us, and it certainly won’t matter to Sirius.”
“And unless I’ve seriously misjudged all your friends over the previous school year, I doubt very much it will matter to any of them, either,” Remus said, his eyes twinkling.
Harriet tightened her lips. She was comforted by their words, but the lack of certainty was still nagging at her.
“But you’re better off not letting any of it get to you, Harriet. And don’t be afraid to open up to your friends. Closed doors never lead to long friendships, and if people don’t accept you, they’re not worth having as friends in the first place,” Daniel finished.
“Okay,” Harriet agreed and took a deep breath.
“You’re worried about Dora, too, aren’t you?” Remus asked.
Harriet felt her heart jump in her throat and she gave him a surprised look.
Remus chuckled. “I taught Dora for a year as well, Harriet. I know her quite well too. She’s not terribly discrete about it.”
“Oh… I… didn’t notice until this summer,” Harriet admitted.
“Well that’s okay,” Daniel said smiling. “Again, you have almost no experience at this. How can you expect to see something that you’re not even looking for? ”
“Good point,” Harriet muttered.
Remus chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry about Dora, either, Harriet. And I’d keep in mind that Dora is probably just as confused about life and love as you are.”
“Really?” Harriet asked.
“Really,” Remus continued. “While you try and pull in to protect yourself, I think Dora is inclined to do the opposite. She wears her confidence like a shield instead. While you, and most people, seek validation by trying to conform to the world you live in, Dora… well… Dora seeks validation by—well—more or less forcing people to deal with who she is.”
“I see… that makes sense,” Harriet thought.
“Now, how about we focus on relaxing and go out and have some lunch and drink in the joy of friendship before the match?” Daniel suggested.
Harriet finally smiled. They headed back outside but Daniel and Remus both paused on the threshold. Harriet peeked between them. Another man was standing with the group who Harriet recognized. He had been in Professor Dumbledore’s office the night Aurochius and his crew had arrived. His name was Barty Crouch, and he was also Percy’s boss.
Crouch caught sight of Remus and Daniel and there was an awkward silence. His gaze upon Daniel was particularly venomous. Daniel returned it unabashedly.
“Ludo, we need to meet the Bulgarians, you know,” Crouch said, curtly. He shoved a cup of undrunk tea back into Percy’s hands. “Thank you for the tea, Weatherby.”
Bagman swigged down the last of his tea and got to his feet. “See you all later!” he said cheerfully. “You kids will all be in the top box with me! I’ll be commentating!”
Both Bagman and Crouch disapparated.
“Well, that was an unpleasant surprise,” Daniel muttered.
Harriet looked up at him.
“Barty Crouch,” Daniel glowered, working his jaw, irritably. “He’s the one who sent Sirius to Azkaban without a trial.”