The morning of the First Task, Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table with Harry, as did the rest of the coven, in a show of support. Ron still wasn't talking to Harry, apparently still convinced he'd entered his own name in the tournament despite the utter idiocy of such a move. Neville was talking to Harry, but apparently the 4th year Gryffindor boys' dorm room had been tense and awkward for a while. Hermione glared at Ron while they all helped themselves to breakfast.

"I'm okay. Really," Harry said. "I've been practicing, and I can do this. So long as it's not near enough to claw me to death…"

"I've verified that a ley line goes through the Quidditch pitch," Hermione told Harry. "And there's a new one that goes directly from end to end as well, to give you some options."

Blaise gave Hermione a sideways look, while Harry brightened.

"If I can dip into that and come out nearby… yeah, that'll be good…" he trailed off, considering.

"Wonder what the others are going to do," Blaise said, looking over his shoulder at the Hufflepuff table. "Does Diggory even know it's dragons?"

"Oh. Yeah, I told him," Harry said, as if it were no big deal at all. "Figured we should all be on even footing… Moody caught me in the hallway telling him – I thought he was going to deduct points for me knowing, but he was just checking on if I had a plan or not—"

"The teachers aren't supposed to help," Hermione said, frowning.

"Yeah, well, it's tradition everyone cheats, and Dumbledore's not very likely to cheat, is he?" Harry scowled.

"That's very true," Susan commiserated. "That's not fair."

"Did I tell you Sirius wanted to contact me?" Harry asked. "He Floo called the common room last night. He was trying to tell me about some curse I could use against the dragon, if I could hit its eye – kind of a tiny target to aim for, isn't it? – and he was telling me how Dumbledore wouldn't let him come and watch to support me." A dark look crossed Harry's face. "Apparently, families are only allowed to watch the Third task, even though any of the tasks could see you die – until the third one, it's just the champions' schools who get to watch."

Hermione hesitated. "...is that something you would want?"

"Sirius?" Harry glanced over at her. "I mean, yeah, kind of." He sighed. "He's been—you know, trying—and it'd be nice to have an adult there unequivocally on my side. He's still hassling the Ministry and the Board of Governors for me, you know? He even submitted something to the ICW, though he hasn't heard back…"

Hermione took a deep breath. "Okay."

"'Okay'?" Blaise looked at Hermione, incredulous. "What do you mean 'okay'?"

"Well, if Harry wants Sirius to come and watch him…" Hermione said, shrugging. "I can make that happen. It happens to work rather well with a plan I already have in motion, actually."

"The first task isn't till midday," Luna reminded Hermione. "We have lessons in the morning."

"Got it," Hermione said, pulling away from the table and standing up. "I better get going, then, shouldn't I?"

Blaise looked her squarely in the eye.

"Is this dangerous?" he asked. "Does this risk you or your physical wellbeing in any way?"

Hermione paused to consider, thinking it over carefully.

"No," she said finally. "No, it does not. The worst outcome is simply Sirius doesn't come."

Blaise nodded. "Then good luck."

"Thanks." Hermione grinned. "Hopefully I won't need it."


Hermione hopped a line straight to Hogsmeade, where she bribed the owner of Honeydukes to let her use their Floo. She would rather have arrived in person and knocked on Sirius' door, but she couldn't risk her health tearing a new line so close to the First Task, and she didn't know which buses she'd need to get to that part of London, or how long taking the Knight Bus might take her. Floo was the fastest and most reliable option to use.

"Grimmauld Place!" she announced, throwing the Floo powder into the fireplace. The flames turned green, and Hermione knelt before the fire, summoning her courage and her fire magic to her just in case, and stuck her head through the flames.

Grimmauld Place looked much the same as it had the last time she had been there – peeling wallpaper, threadbare carpet – with the exception of several new, modern lamps.

"Hello?" Lupin came into view from the hallway. "Hermione!"

"Hello, Professor," Hermione said politely. "Could you grab Sirius for me please?"

To his credit, Lupin didn't bat an eye. "Of course. Just a moment."

Hermione took her time looking for more changes to Grimmauld Place while she waited – they'd seemingly replaced one of the couches in this room with a muggle Lay-Z-Boy reclining model, one half of which was already broken.

"Hermione?" Sirius came into the room, crouching down by the fire. "What's wrong? Is it Harry? Is he okay?"

"Everything's fine," Hermione hurried to assure him. "Harry's fine. But he mentioned that you wanted to be there for the First Task…"

Sirius scowled.

"Dumbledore won't allow it," he said darkly. "He's insistent on 'only the schools can spectate'…"

"About that," Hermione said. "I happen to have a way you could come and watch. Do you have a broom?"


They arrived just in time. Sirius required some convincing, some explanation, and but once he understood the plan, he was fully onboard, a wicked gleam in his eye that reminded Hermione of his prankster roots, and Hermione left Sirius to it as she jumped back to Hogwarts, Time-Turning back to get to class without being late.

Classes in the morning seemed to drag, and Hermione could tell that even the professors seemed to be struggling to concentrate. When they were finally dismissed for lunch, everyone immediately started talking, the excitement in the air palpable.

Harry got to lunch late, and he gave them all a sheepish grin as he slid into his place amongst his coven at the Gryffindor table.

"Had to change," he said. "I didn't want to wear dragonhide pants all day – they're great, Susan, but they rub a bit weird—"

Susan laughed. "No offense taken."

They spent lunch distracting Harry with stories of silliness that had happened recently in their own houses, silently circulating and sharing magic through the coven bond as they did, sending Harry their strength and power. Harry seemed to have centered himself and was breathing a little easier by the end of lunch when McGonagall came to get him.

"Potter, the champions have to come down onto the grounds now," she said. "You have to get ready for your First Task."

"Okay," said Harry, standing.

"Good luck, Harry!" they all wished him, and Harry grinned.

"Yeah, yeah," he said. "Thanks."

Harry walked away, and they watched him go. Once he was out of sight, Susan rounded on Hermione.

"Now that Harry's gone," she said, giving her a square look in the eye, "mind telling us what your devious plan is?"

Hermione made a face. "But that will ruin the surprise."

"Ugh." Susan rolled her eyes and looked to Luna. "Is it worth it?"

Luna tilted her head, considering.

"I don't know what's going to happen," she said carefully, "but I know if Hermione doesn't spoil it for us, we'll all laugh when it happens."

"And it doesn't risk Harry?"

"Do you seriously think I would risk Harry?" Hermione asked Susan, appalled, and Susan winced.

"Okay, yeah, okay," Susan said. "You wouldn't. I'm just—I'm just nervous for him. I mean, even with the elemental—dragons—"

"His own prediction tree came out with the odds over 90%," Blaise reassured them all. "Even if you can't trust the plan, trust the numbers."

Susan sighed. "I wish I could."


As they all headed down to for the First Task, Hermione could see a large tent had been erected by the Forbidden Forest. To her surprise and mild dismay, they were taken behind the tent, through the Forbidden Forest, to where a large enclosure and stands had been erected.

"This isn't the Quidditch stadium!" Hermione said, her voice rising in panic. "When did they build this?"

"Magic, Hermione," Tracey reminded her. "Probably last night."

"Remember his odds, Hermione," Draco reminded her. "It's significantly more unlikely for Harry to fail this than it is for him to win."

Hermione took deep breaths to reassure herself, trying to center herself and her magic. It was fine, it was all going to be fine. Ley line jumping had only been the backup plan, anyway. And it was probably a good thing not to reveal that trick in front of Dumbledore.

There was a bit of a fuss as everyone arrived at the erected stands; there was only one set of stairs, and they went up very, very high, as the stands were high above the enclosure. Durmstrang went up first, then Beauxbatons, then finally the Hogwarts students were filing in. Below them was a giant, rocky pit, and inside that pit were four dragons, all of them chained. They were surrounded by nearly thirty dragon keepers.

"Bit overkill, isn't it?" Millie commented.

"For dragons?" Pansy looked at her incredulously. "There isn't an overkill where safety's concerned with dragons. It's not possible."

Hermione watched as Ludo Bagman came out of the tent that was on the edge of the enclosure to talk to one of the dragon keepers, who then started issuing orders to the others. They began moving three of the dragons out of the enclosure into another enclosure, while the blueish-gray dragon was left in the middle.

"Guess that one's going first," Blaise said. "Think they drew lots for the order?"

"Probably?" Hermione shrugged. "Would any other way be fair?"

Up at the very top of the stands was what appeared to be the Judge's Table – Madame Maxime, Karkaroff, Dumbledore, Crouch, and now Bagman were all up there, Bagman touching his wand to his throat to cast the Sonorus charm.

"Welcome, everyone!" His voice boomed. "Welcome to the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament!"

The stands erupted into cheering, even though Hermione privately thought it should now be called the Quad-wizard tournament…

"This task is designed to test courage in the face of the unknown," Bagman said, his voice echoing throughout the stands. "Each of our champions will need to face down a dragon and collect a golden egg… to…"

Bagman trailed off, looking over at a different part of the stands, and with him, everyone else turned to look as well.

New people were arriving, all of them filing into the stands, making the Hogwarts students budge up a bit to make room for them all. They were all carrying broomsticks that they laid overlapping at their feet as they took their seats, and they were all carrying staffs that they laid across their laps or let stand at their sides. They all wore uniform black robes, with two staffs crossing embroidered over the heart.

Hermione grinned.

Dumbledore and Crouch both stood, trying to move to intercept the newcomers, but they were at the other end of the stands. By the time they made it over, the newcomers had all settled in save for one, a beaming man coming up from behind.

"Dumbledore!" Sirius Black said loudly. "Sorry we're so late – barely made it, hit a bit of a storm over Glasgow – but we're all here now."

"Sirius," Hermione could hear Dumbledore say, a rare note of anger in his voice. "I have explained to you many times—"

"That only the schools of the champions could spectate," Sirius finished for him. He gave Dumbledore a defiant look. "And well – here we are!"

"Who is 'we'?" Crouch protested. "Black, who are all these children?"

"Blackwell School of Spells," Sirius said with satisfaction. "The declared school of the fourth champion."

There was a stunned silence. From next to her, Hermione could hear Blaise start to laugh.

"You can't be serious," Crouch said, appalled.

"Oh, I'm very serious," Sirius said. "The goblet announced it in front of us all, Crouch – Harry was entered under Blackwell. By rights, Blackwell has the right to cheer on their champion."

"But Harry goes to Hogwarts," Dumbledore said. "The goblet—"

"Harry goes to Hogwarts, but he has also gone to Blackwell," Sirius said firmly. "Which is probably why the goblet chose that school to enter him under when it was tampered with."

"That doesn't explain your presence," Dumbledore protested. "And what is 'Blackwell'? I've never heard—"

"I am Deputy Headmaster," Sirius said, looking very satisfied with himself. "The Headmaster couldn't make it himself, due to his condition. But I am happy to represent the school."

Hermione watched with satisfaction as Sirius, Dumbledore, and Crouch went over to the Judge's table, where there was a fierce argument. As soon as the adults were out of earshot, Hermione and her friends dissolved into laughter and snickers, shooting grins at their acquaintances in Blackwell, who grinned back.

"Merlin's teats, did you see Dumbledore?" Draco said, cackling. "He was so mad—"

"They've got nothing on this," Theo said, snickering. "What are they going to do? By the rules of the tournament, they have to be permitted to stay—"

It was even more incredible than that – by the time Bagman recast Sonorus, Sirius had forced another concession from the judges in addition to being allowed to watch.

"Ah—this is quite unexpected, ladies and gentlemen!" Bagman began, grinning nervously out at the crowd. "But the tournament welcomes the Blackwell School of Spells! Which is – ah – the fourth school that Harry Potter happened to be entered under. But—well—by the rules of the tournament, even if they didn't intend to be entered, they're now in it with the rest of us! So let's give them a warm welcome, shall we?"

He started clapping, and a few other people started clapping in astonishment, but the applause quickly died.

"And now as—ah—we've got sort of a proper Tetra-wizard tournament going on, by the rules of the Tournament, the Headmasters of the participating schools are the tournament judges, so… everybody please welcome our sixth judge: Sirius Black, Deputy Headmaster of the Blackwell School of Spells!"

At this pronouncement, Sirius Black stood up and waved, grinning widely, and he got a solid round of applause and catcalls, particularly from the Gryffindor House, while Blackwell yelled and stamped and cheered their own.

"Well, then," Bagman said, as Sirius sat back down, "let's get this tournament started! First up, we have the Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory, who will be facing down the Swedish Short-Snout!"