I forgot just how much my job hates July. Seriously, I barely had any free time and when I did get it I just wanted to Veg. Anyway:
"The TriWizard Tournament is a competition between the top three schools in Europe dating back to 1292, " Hermione explained the next morning, slamming her copy of 'Hogwarts: A History' in front of Harry as she sat. Harry narrowly picking up his goblet of pumpkin juice in time as she cleared space at the table, "I've marked the relevant pages for you last night."
"Thanks, Hermione." He said, a bit exasperated. Yes, he wanted to know more about the tournament everyone seemed to be so excited for, but it could wait until he was awake for more than an hour. He let out another yawn, why did class have to start so early in the morning?
"You're welcome," She said, flipping to the appropriate pages. "Now, the traditional three schools that compete are Hogwarts, obviously, Durmstrang of Bulgaria, and Beauxbatons of France. Each school rotates who hosts the Tournament but there are always three events. Each designed to test the Champions in some way. Bravery, ingenuity, and so on."
Ron rolled his eyes, "I could have told you that." He said through a mouthful of eggs.
Hermione gave him a look, "Then you should have. Do you also know all the events that were hosted at Hogwarts, ever, or why the Tournament ended in 1792?"
"Then it's a good thing I brought the book, isn't it." She said matter-of-factly, no question in her voice as she met his eyes.
"I'm just saying it doesn't matter, does it?" Ron said back, shoving in another forkful, "We can't join. Seventeen and up is what everyone's saying. Dumbledore's going to make sure of it."
"Well," Hermione said, deflating a little as she conceded, "It doesn't hurt to know what's going to happen."
"I guess," Ron said after a swallow, "Still, wouldn't it have been grand if we could have joined? I mean, name one other person in the school that has done as much as us. Last year we faced dementors, the year before that it was the prat and spiders, and I don't think anything they have could compare to the traps from First Year. We could have totally won if we entered, right Harry?"
"Huh," Harry asked, yawning again and rubbing at his eyes, "What was that? Kind of spacing out there for a minute."
Ron rolled his eyes, "Wake up already mate. Summers over and we can't go back to sleep until Binns's class."
"What? It's the truth."
As the two bickered Harry sipped at his drink and looked around the Great Hall. The ceiling was a perfect copy of the early morning sky, unlit candles wandered the air with the few ghosts who could be bothered with the early hour. Most of the House Tables were filled but the staff table some noticeably empty seats. Hagrid wasn't there yet, probably out feeding one critter or another, but McGonagall was there and so were the other House Heads. They were there too set a good example for the students on the first day. Something that Dumbledore didn't seem to care about as his seat was wide open.
He was probably out and about doing something important, likely organizing something for the big Tournament coming to Hogwarts. But the Headmaster's absence was notable, more so with an unfamiliar face down the Table. A very noteworthy face.
The man's face was gnarled by a network of scars, overlapping and exaggerating the man's scowl as he sipped at his flask. His eyes were his most drawing feature, they were mismatched both in size and color. The smaller eye, from what Harry could see from his seat, was normal enough but the larger eye was another matter. It was about the size of a galleon and electric blue, it seemed to twitch in its socket as it glanced around the room in a random pattern.
"Who's that?" Harry asked, pointing out the scarred man sitting next to Trelawney. The man's large eye swiveling in its socket to stare at Harry just as his finger was raised, "Creepy."
"Hmm, oh. That must be professor Moody," Hermione said. "He's our new Defense Against The Dark Arts Professor. Don't you remember everyone talking about him last night?"
"They talked about something other than the Tournament?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, "Honestly."
"What? I was tired," Harry defended. "Still am."
"Well, you better wake up soon. Classes are starting and you don't want to be caught sleeping on your first day back."
"Yes, mum." He said, earning himself a smack to the arm.
Despite his interest in the new Professor, they wouldn't have him until the middle of the week. In the meantime, they had Herbology and Care of Magical Beasts. The latter, unfortunately, was a class they shared with Slytherin. Harry groaned with Ron at their misfortune with Hermione wincing along with them.
Harry tried to keep his mind positive as they walked down the hill to their next class, at least he would get to see Hagrid. Harry hadn't seen the hairy man since the end of the last term, outside of a few letters and cakes, and he missed him. He didn't even get to see him at the Welcoming Feast because of the bug he caught. It would be good to see him again.
"Hey, Potter!" A voice yelled from behind them, killing Harry's smile even before he turned around. He didn't want to, he didn't want to acknowledge the other teen's presence. But the pounce would just get all the more persistent if he was ignored.
So, he glanced over his shoulder and sure enough, there was Draco Malfoy. Strutting across the grass, smirking as he approached. He looked as slimy as he did the year before. His blonde hair slicked back and clothes made of a finer material than most of the other students. Both of which would have been fine. They might have even looked endearing on another student, any other student, but the way he looked down his nose at everyone always rankled at Harry.
"There you are." The blonde said, stopping a few paces above the Gryffindors with his tag-alongs Crabe and Goyle standing on either side of him.
Harry interrupted him before he could say anything else, "And there you are. What do you want Malfoy?"
"What? I can't check on a fellow student?" He mocked, recovering quickly. "I heard you were in the infirmary again, memories from last year that fresh? Still afraid to get on the train?"
"How about you back off, Malfoy," Ron growled, stepping in front of his friend and glaring down at the blonde. Almost on cue, Malfoy's two lackeys moved forward, each nose to nose with Ron. The redhead might have been tall, and getting taller, but he was still all knees and elbows while Crabe and Goyle were masses. Harry couldn't tell you masses of what exactly but they were massive. That didn't stop Ron from puffing his chest and glaring back at each one, "No one asked you to butt in."
"And what are you going to do about it, Weasley? Puke slugs at me?"
"New wand new year, Malfoy," Ron said, hand reaching for his pocket "You want to try it again?"
Hermione grabbed his wrist before he could launch a spell, "Ron, stop it. He's not worth it."
Malfoy snorted at the pair, "And here I was just voicing my concern. I suppose I can't expect much from a blood traitor."
Harry grabbed Ron by his other arm, pulling him back before he did something he wouldn't regret until the detention hit. "How about you shove off Malfoy?" He said, glaring up at the blonde as he pulled his friend towards their next class. "It's bad enough we have to deal with you during class, so how about you leave us alone between them. That'd be great, thanks."
Malfoy sputtered for a moment, his face starting to go a bit red even as Harry turned away. Ron glared back but Harry steadfastly ignored him, even as he yelled after them. "Don't you walk away from me Potter!"
Harry kept on walking, muscles easing even as he heard the rushed footsteps behind him. He started to walk on the balls of his feet, his strides a bit wider, and something deep in his chest started to bubble. He wasn't aware of any of this, not at first, but even so, he felt ready. For what, he was only vaguely aware of. Malfoy was a coward, an angry one. He'd attack and Harry would act.
How? He didn't know but it wouldn't end well for Malfoy.
"Malfoy!" A voice yelled from further up the hill, so firm and authoritative that heads snapped to look at the speaker. She was a Slytherin, her robes as fine as Malfoy's but where the boy fluttered with the cloth she glided. Her blonde head held high as her blue eyes marked her Housemate with an icy look, not even a glare but the disapproval was there.
Harry recognized her, somewhat. Greengrass, he thinks. He couldn't remember her first name. It had never seemed important before, she had just been another face in a crowd of green. Another snake, another bully, another lackey of Malfoy. But she was standing up to Malfoy and he seemed... cowed?
"What do you want, Greengrass?" So Harry was right.
The girl kept up her icy look as she descended, a few other Slytherin girls trailing behind her. "I want you to not to hurt our chances at the House Cup, again. The upper years already blame us enough for losing the last three years and I would rather not prove them right."
Malfoy's face was red, spreading to his ears, but he still kept his head just as high as the girls. "I don't have anything to prove."
"Then walk away. Or do I need my father to send a letter to yours?" There was some weight there, some context Harry was missing. Whatever it was it scared Malfoy off as he shoved his wand away, swirling his cloak as he stomped his way down to Hagrid's hut. There were some stifled giggles behind Greengrass as the girls watched Malfoy retreat. Greengrass herself seemed satisfied, though she didn't laugh.
"Uh, thanks?" Harry said as she started to pass, causing her to pause and weigh him with those icy eyes. She didn't say anything, she studied him for a moment before inclining her head and continuing.
"What was that about?" Hermione asked once the Slytherins left.
"Nothing good," Ron muttered. "I think I heard mum say something about the Malfoys and Greengrasses coming to some sort of agreement the other day."
"An agreement about what exactly?"
Ron shrugged, "I dunno, the World Cup was about to start."
Hermione didn't even bother to roll her eyes, instead, shaking her head, she led them down the hill.
Hagrid's Hut was at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, the gigantic trees kept the wooden cabin in a constant state of shade. How Hagrid grew anything in that little garden of his was beyond Harry and yet the man's gourds grew strong.
The man himself was standing outside his front door, a wide smile ripping through his thick beard as he waved at them. Hagrid was a giant of a man in a very literal sense, he said it was on his father's side and it showed. As tall and as thick as a tree he towered over everyone as he directed them around the front of his home and a series of open wooden crates. Harry couldn't be happier to see him.
"There yeh are!" Hagrid greeted, clapping Harry on the shoulder as he approached. "I was worried abou' yeh when yeh didn't show up at the feast."
"Got a bit sick on the train is all," Harry said, trading smiles with the man and brushing off his concern. "It's great to see you."
"Yeh to Harry, yeh to." He said, nearly knocking Harry over as he gave the teen's shoulder another good pat. "Now, come on. Yeh're going to love this! I've got somethin' special for this year's class. Yeh should be the last ones so we can get started!"
"Exactly what are we learning this year Hagrid?" Hermione asked, as cautious as she was curious. Hagrid was a good person, one of the best Harry knew, but his definition of cuddly didn't quite match up with everyone else's.
"Glad you asked Hermione!" He said, smile ever wide as he motioned his class closer to the wooden crates. "What we have here are some Blast End Skrewts! Jus' hatched too."
Lavender, a girl from Gryffindor, made a gagging sound as she peeked inside the crates. Most everyone followed her example.
Harry couldn't blame them, he could smell the things before he saw them. The scent of raw and rotten fish suited the large maggot like creatures well. They were pale white, slimy, and Harry's only clue which end was which were the sparks that propelled them along. Hundreds bumped and crawled over each other inside each crate, blindly lashing out with their odd angles legs as they tried to stay on top.
"What are those?" someone asked between retches. Harry hoped it was the Slytherins.
"Blast End Skrewts, pretty sure I said that." Hagrid said sounding genuinely confused, "Thought we could make a project of em, raising em and seeing what they eat."
Again Harry heard someone ask something, "You don't know?", and hoped it was the Slytherins. He half suspected Malfoy but one glance at the bored looking boy showed he couldn't be bothered with the class much less make snide comments. Greengrass sitting near him might have had something to do with that. Hagrid didn't seem to mind the question, or even notice it, as he happily pointed out the bits of food he -thought- might work.
The whole thing honestly made Harry wish he was back in Herbology class, squeezing the puss out of plants to cure zits. At least then he knew he was doing something disgusting for a reason. Instead, he was wrist deep in frog livers and snake tails trying to feed mouthless beasties that rewarded his efforts by trying to set his hand on fire. Others weren't so lucky.
Dean Thomas was muttering a healing charm to ease his burned hand the whole way back to the castle.
After lunch, when the great bell rang, Hermione separated from the group. Heading towards a class of "actual meaningful information". Meanwhile, Harry and Ron walked up the staircase towards Divination and an easy O.
Hermione didn't understand that, an easy grade. If a class didn't inform her or challenge her then it was meaningless. She didn't think a class should be easy. Which was why she, quiet smartly, dropped the class.
Harry knew he probably should have too, but for a completely different reason than his friend. As Professor Trelawney proved not a minute into the class.
The room had been just as Harry remembered it the year before, the smell of sweet perfume choking him as he entered. The room was dimly lit, the windows shielded tight with drapes and each table lite by a shawled lamp. It made it difficult to see, jarring even after coming in from the bright afternoon sky in the Great Hall. It was also enough darkness for the Professor to make an entrance.
"Good afternoon," She greeted in her misty voice, behind Harry's chair. He'd admit it, he jumped. He had chosen one of the back tables, little circular things that barely had room for his books and the lamp, to avoid her attention. That didn't work, it had just put him in her line of fire.
"You seem distracted, my dear." She said, her eyes blinking owlishly behind her thick glasses. They were wet and glossy as she loomed over him, as if she was looking at some great tragedy. "My inner eye can see it, past that brave face of yours to the troubled soul that lurks beneath. And, I regret to say, that your fears are not unfounded. I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass, perhaps sooner then you'd think."
Ron made a face behind her back. Only schooling his face back as she swept past him, her beads clacking as she moved to the front of the class.
Harry scowled after her. What did she know? 'What he feared would come to pass'? How would she know?
As far as Harry could tell Trelawney's fortune telling was about as real as those commercials on the Telly. Hermione was right, she was a fraud. It wouldn't be long before the woman started to 'predict' his death again.
And yet, his dreams. The visions of Wormtail, the strange man on the train, the blonde girl who haunted his mind.
Dumbledore seemed to trust her, believing the words she said in a trance to be true. Her words, gasped from the back of her throat as her glazed eyes pinned him, screamed the Voldemort would return. Did all the things he was seeing have to deal with that?
He refused to believe that the blonde girl had anything to do with the Dark Wizard. She was too... pure. Pure and strong. A steady light. He couldn't bring himself to even think of the two of them in the same room, much less on that field of blue. Just trying to think of it...
Harry started flipping through his textbook, distracting himself, ignoring Trelawney as she rambled.
He was mostly looking at the pictures, watching them loop through scenes of drifting stars and swirling flames. There were thousands of ways to divine the future, or so the book claimed. Tea leaves, chicken bones, sacred fires. The list went on, chapter by chapter describing the various methods. Though Harry could have done without the picture of cow entrails.
The pages spill from his fingers, random images and titles flickering before his eyes absently. Then something caught his, forcing him to flip a chapter or two back to find it again.
Dream Reading. The book claimed that by looking at the symbols hidden within a dream one could find hints to their personal future, clarifying their present.
Could he use this? It couldn't hurt, could it?
He could certainly use a little clarity, so he started to thumb through the chapter. There wasn't much, not enough for him at least. There were teases of information here and there, graphs of common symbols and list of what certain colors could mean, but it wasn't enough. He'd have to go to the library and find a more dedicated book if he truly wanted to interpret his dreams.
"Harry," Ron whispered, elbowing him to get his friend's attention, "Harry!"
"What?" Harry asked, looking up and found the whole class staring at him. Including Trelawney. He had to let out a little groan.
How'd she predict he'd die this time?
Still not completely happy with it but I think I need to power through and just write. To improve if nothing else.
Thanks again to at kaleidoscope89 for giving things a quick look over.