Dumbledore stood up from his seat at the front of the Hall, and all eyes were on him with concentration. We all wanted to know what this tournament would mean and how our three schools would be competing against each other.
"The moment has come," said Dumbledore, smiling around at the sea of upturned faces. "The Triwizard Tournament is about to start. I would like to say a few words of explanation before we bring
in the casket just to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year. But first, let me introduce, for those who do not know them, Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International
Magical Cooperation" — there was a smattering of polite applause — "and Mr. Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports." There was a much louder applause for Mr. Bagman, but I assumed that was because he looked so much friendlier than Mr. Crouch.
"Mr. Bagman and Mr. Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament," Dumbledore continued, "and they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that will judge the champions' efforts." At the mention of the word "champions," the attentiveness of the listening students seemed to sharpen. Perhaps Dumbledore had noticed their sudden stillness, for he smiled as he said, "The casket, then, if you please, Mr. Filch."
Filch, who had been lurking unnoticed in a far corner of the Hall, now approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels. It looked extremely old.
"The instructions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already been examined by Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman," said Dumbledore as Filch placed the chest carefully on the table before him, "and they have made the necessary arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways . . . their magical prowess — their daring — their powers of deduction — and, of course, their ability to cope with danger." At this last word, the Hall was filled with a silence so absolute that nobody seemed to be breathing. "As you know, three champions compete in the tournament," Dumbledore went on calmly, "one from each of the participating schools. They will be marked on how well they perform each of the Tournament tasks and the champion with the highest total after task three will win the Triwizard Cup. The champions will be chosen by an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire."
Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three times upon the top of the casket. The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames. Dumbledore closed the casket and placed the goblet carefully on top of it, where it would be clearly visible to everyone in the Hall.
"Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet," said Dumbledore. "Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to compete.
"To ensure that no underage student yields to temptation," said Dumbledore, "I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been placed in the entrance hall. Nobody under the age of seventeen will be able to cross this line.
"Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you have become a champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are wholeheartedly prepared to play before you drop your name into the goblet. Now, I think it is time for bed. Good night to you all."
After his announcement, the Weasley twins started talking about how they thought an Aging Potion would get past Dumbledore's Age Line. I didn't believe it for a minute. Dumbledore was much too smart and powerful of a wizard to fall for that. I tried to tell them that we hadn't learned enough to compete until we were 17 but they just didn't agree. On our way out of the Great Hall, we had a small run in with the students from Durmstrang and Karkaroff. Harry had stopped to let them out and Karkaroff had stopped when he recognized him. Professor Moody came up and got him to move on but something about the entire interaction put me on edge.
The next morning everyone seemed to wake up early, despite it being a Saturday, just so they could sit in the entrance hall and watch who would put their names into the Goblet of Fire. Some people were eating toast, but they were all talking excitedly.
"Anyone put their name in yet?" Ron asked a third-year girl eagerly.
"All the Durmstrang lot," she replied. "But I haven't seen anyone from Hogwarts yet."
"Bet some of them put it in last night after we'd all gone to bed," said Harry. "I would've if it had been me . . . wouldn't have wanted everyone watching. What if the goblet just gobbed you right back out again?"
Just then the twins and Lee Jordan came in, laughing. They talked about how they had just taken the Aging Potion and I just shook my head at their foolishness. They decided to try despite my warnings and the entire hall rang with laughter when they were pushed out of the circle and onto their arses.
"I did warn you," said a deep, amused voice, and everyone turned to see Professor Dumbledore coming out of the Great Hall. He surveyed Fred and George, his eyes twinkling. "I suggest you both go up to Madam Pomfrey. She is already tending to Miss Fawcett, of Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of whom decided to age themselves up a little too. Though I must say, neither of their beards is anything like as fine as yours."
Lee Jordan walked with them to the Hospital Wing, while Harry, Ron and I went to the Great Hall for breakfast. The decorations in the Great Hall had changed this morning. As it was Halloween, a cloud of live bats was fluttering around the enchanted ceiling, while hundreds of carved pumpkins leered from every corner. Harry led the way over to Dean and Seamus, who were discussing those Hogwarts students of seventeen or over who might be entering.
"There's a rumor going around that Warrington got up early and put his name in," Dean told Harry. "That big bloke from Slytherin who looks like a sloth."
"We can't have a Slytherin champion!" Harry said.
"And all the Hufflepuffs are talking about Diggory," said Seamus contemptuously. "But I wouldn't have thought he'd have wanted to risk his good looks."
"Listen!" I said suddenly. People were cheering out in the entrance hall. They all swiveled around in their seats and saw Angelina Johnson coming into the Hall, grinning in an embarrassed sort of way.
A tall black girl who played Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Angelina came over to them, sat down, and said, "Well, I've done it! Just put my name in!"
"You're kidding!" said Ron, looking impressed.
"Are you seventeen, then?" asked Harry.
" 'Course she is, can't see a beard, can you?" said Ron.
"I had my birthday last week," said Angelina.
"Well, I'm glad someone from Gryffindor's entering," I said. "I really hope you get it, Angelina!"
"Thanks, Hermione," said Angelina, smiling at her.
"Yeah, better you than Pretty-Boy Diggory," said Seamus, causing several Hufflepuffs passing their table to scowl heavily at him.
The boys decided that we should go see Hagrid and I left them while I ran back to my dorm to get the badges for S.P.E.W. I came back into the entrance hall, just as Madame Maxime left with the girls from Beauxbatons. I was shocked to see that their carriage was parked so near Hagrid's hut, and that that was where they were staying, but it must have made sense as Hagrid was surely looking after the horses that had flown the carriage here.
We ended up having lunch with Hagrid, though they didn't eat much — Hagrid had made what he said was a beef casserole, but after I unearthed a large talon in mine, Harry, and Ron and I rather lost our appetites. However, we enjoyed themselves trying to make Hagrid tell us what the tasks in the tournament were going to be, speculating which of the entrants were likely to be selected as champions, and wondering whether Fred and George were beardless yet.
By half past five it was growing dark, and Ron, Harry, and I decided it was time to get back up to the castle for the Halloween feast — and, more important, the announcement of the school champions. Hagrid had decided to come with us, but we realized why he had looked so different when we caught him talking to Madame Maxime through the window. She was also making her way to the school with her students. He ended up leaving us behind and walking to the school with her. I was happy for him, to see him enamored like this. I just hoped that she didn't break his heart.
Thinking of his feelings made me think of mine. I hadn't wanted to say anything but I had felt something different for Harry this year. I wasn't sure what brought it on, but I was seeing him in a different light. I let myself get lost in thought as we walked to the castle for dinner. I heard Ron say something about Krum as we got closer. I didn't really understand Ron's obsession. Yes, he was a Quidditch professional, but he was also a student, here just like the rest of us.
When we entered the candlelit Great Hall it was almost full. The Goblet of Fire had been moved; it was now standing in front of Dumbledore's empty chair at the teachers' table. Fred and George — clean-shaven again — seemed to have taken their disappointment fairly well.
"Hope it's Angelina," said Fred as Harry, Ron, and I sat down.
"So do I!" I said breathlessly. "Well, we'll soon know!"
The Halloween feast seemed to take much longer than usual, but at long last the golden plates returned to their original spotless state. There was a sharp upswing in the level of noise within the Hall, which died away almost instantly as Dumbledore got to his feet. On either side of him, Professor Karkaroff and Madame Maxime looked as tense and expectant as anyone. Ludo Bagman was beaming and winking at various students. Mr. Crouch, however, looked quite uninterested, almost bored.
"Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision," said Dumbledore. "I estimate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions' names are called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff table, and go through into the next chamber" — he indicated the door behind the staff table — "where they will be receiving their first instructions."
He took out his wand and gave a great sweeping wave with it; at once, all the candles except those inside the carved pumpkins were extinguished, plunging them into a state of semidarkness. The Goblet of Fire now shone more brightly than anything in the whole Hall, the sparkling bright, bluey-whiteness of the flames almost painful on the eyes. Everyone watched, waiting. . . . A few people kept checking their watches. . . .
The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red again. Sparks began to fly from it. Next moment, a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of parchment fluttered out of it — the whole room gasped.
Dumbledore caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm's length, so that he could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white.
"The champion for Durmstrang," he read, in a strong, clear voice, "will be Viktor Krum."
"No surprises there!" yelled Ron as a storm of applause and cheering swept the Hall. Harry watched Viktor Krum rise from the Slytherin table and slouch up toward Dumbledore; he turned right, walked along the staff table, and disappeared through the door into the next chamber.
"Bravo, Viktor!" boomed Karkaroff, so loudly that everyone could hear him, even over all the applause. "Knew you had it in you!"
The clapping and chatting died down. Now everyone's attention was focused again on the goblet, which, seconds later, turned red once more. A second piece of parchment shot out of it, propelled by the flames.
"The champion for Beauxbatons," said Dumbledore, "is Fleur Delacour!"
"It's her, Ron!" Harry shouted as the girl who so resembled a veela got gracefully to her feet, shook back her sheet of silvery blonde hair, and swept up between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. Ron looked at her with wide eyes like he had the night before and I just shook my head at him.
"Oh look, they're all disappointed," I said over the noise, nodding toward the remainder of the Beauxbatons party. Two of the girls who had not been selected had dissolved into tears and were sobbing with their heads on their arms.
When Fleur Delacour too had vanished into the side chamber, silence fell again, but this time it was a silence so stiff with excitement you could almost taste it. The Hogwarts champion next . . .
And the Goblet of Fire turned red once more; sparks showered out of it; the tongue of flame shot high into the air, and from its tip Dumbledore pulled the third piece of parchment.
"The Hogwarts champion," he called, "is Cedric Diggory!"
"No!" said Ron loudly, but nobody heard him except Harry and I; the uproar from the next table was too great. Every single Hufflepuff had jumped to his or her feet, screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way past them, grinning broadly, and headed off toward the chamber behind the teachers' table. Indeed, the applause for Cedric went on so long that it was some time before Dumbledore could make himself heard again.
"Excellent!" Dumbledore called happily as at last the tumult died down. "Well, we now have our three champions. I am sure I can count upon all of you, including the remaining students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, to give your champions every ounce of support you can muster. By cheering your champion on, you will contribute in a very real —"
But Dumbledore suddenly stopped speaking, and it was apparent to everybody what had distracted him. The fire in the goblet had just turned red again. Sparks were flying out of it. A long flame shot suddenly into the air, and borne upon it was another piece of parchment.
Automatically, it seemed, Dumbledore reached out a long hand and seized the parchment. He held it out and stared at the name written upon it. There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out —
My heart jumped into my throat as Harry sat beside me stunned and in silence. Everyone in the Great Hall was turning to stare at us. I turned to look at him blankly, wondering when it could have happened, if he really would have.
"I didn't put my name in," Harry said blankly. "You know I didn't."
At the top table, Professor Dumbledore had straightened up, nodding to Professor McGonagall.
"Harry Potter!" he called again. "Harry! Up here, if you please!"
"Go on," I whispered, giving Harry a slight push.
Harry got to his feet, trod on the hem of his robes, and stumbled slightly. He set off up the gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. The buzzing grew louder and louder. After what seemed like an hour, he was right in front of Dumbledore.
"Well . . . through the door, Harry," said Dumbledore. He wasn't smiling.
I lost sight of him as he made his way back into the room with the other Champions and I had a sense of dread in my stomach.
"Why would he enter this? And how did he do it?" Ron asked. "Why not tell me?"
I could tell that he was angry but I didn't know what to say in response. Harry said he hadn't done it and I felt like I had to trust him. I took a deep calming breath and decided to speak up on Harry's behalf.
"Ron, he said he didn't do it. I don't know how his name ended up in that Goblet, but I don't think it was him. He wouldn't lie to us." Ron just shook his head and got up to leave the table with the rest of Gryffindor house. It was quiet when we got back, but about a dozen of us waited for Harry in the common room. Ron went on up to their room, and I could see the anger he was feeling coming more and more to the surface. He really did not believe Harry and felt betrayed by his friend.
There was some quiet conversation as we waited, and as soon as the portrait opened to let him in, it seemed like everyone came back to life. The twins immediately approached him and started asking him how he did it. Even as he protested, the girls from the Quidditch team started congratulating him and talking about how he was going to pay Cedric back for winning a game last year. They were even offering him food but I could see how overwhelmed he was becoming. He couldn't see me in the crowd, and decided to go upstairs, claiming to be tired. I decided to follow him upstairs so I could talk to him privately.
As I reached the boys dorm, I could hear Harry and Ron arguing. It tore me up inside to hear them fighting and I wasn't sure what to do. As they both settled into bed, I turned to leave with a sigh, but made up my mind. Harry was right. Someone had to have put his name in to try and hurt him. This competition was deadly, which is why it hadn't been allowed for so many years. It seemed like he was always in danger, and so with that in mind I knew that I had to tell him how I felt. There was no time to lose.
A/N: So, before my note this chapter was at 3,216 words. That's the most I've written for a story in a long time, so I'm really proud of myself and getting back into writing. Anything that seems familiar and quite a bit of the dialogue was taken from the book because I was wanting to start from a familiar point before going off the rails. I do not own Harry Potter, and I really need to remember to put that disclaimer in more.
I hope that this story is as interesting as I wish it to be, and it will be definitely be going in a different direction from the original starting from this point on.