The day after the results of the tryouts promised to be interesting, and a part of me wanted to see how the rest of the school would see Potter's inclusion. After all, he was just a fourth-year who hadn't shown any particular talents. To my disappointment, while he was scorned by several sixth and seventh years, most of the school didn't care about the possible favouritism, but that would change when he got into the Triwizard. Of the five members of the duelling team, Cho Chang and I were the only ones to finish the tryouts undefeated. Her duelling style was a sight to behold. She would dodge spells with a grace that spoke of some dance training, probably ballet. After seeing what Chang was capable of with a well-fitted style, I spent the day in the Room trying to find a book that contained a duelling stance I would be comfortable with. After an hour of fruitlessly moving through uncomfortable motions, I decided to stick with what felt comfortable, which was simply standing tall, wand in hand.
I looked around the room and felt some regret, as I would have to give this up next year. I don't see any way to prevent Potter from using this place for his little club. I'd have to convert an unused classroom for my use, and while free access to library books at all hours was something I would miss, It shouldn't be too debilitating.
The first team meeting was to be three days after results were announced, and I walked into Flitwick's class exactly on time. The others were already here with Flitwick, McGonagall, Moody, and Snape, so we got down to it immediately.
"The duelling tournament will begin in two months on the 15th of November. My job is to make sure you all represent Hogwarts properly and bring home the cup," Flitwick announced at the beginning.
"We went through your duels after you were chosen and have identified several areas most of you can improve in and decided to give each of you a mentor out of the Four of us to work with you on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. So Mr. Malfoy will be paired with Professor McGonagall to improve his already impressive transfiguration skills, Mr. Davies will work with Professor Snape to improve his duelling tactics, Mr. Potter will be working with Professor Moody to his grasp of duelling and harness his instincts. Finally, Ms. Hornby and Ms. Chang will be working with me." Oh fuck, Potter's working with Crouch? Well, it's time to say goodbye to whatever remained of canon. I guess working with McGonagall would improve my transfigurations by leaps and bounds, and I might even be able to get some more information on the animagus transformation.
The meeting rounded up from there and I followed McGonagall to her office as she had requested.
"Mr. Malfoy your talent in my course seems to have risen exponentially over the summer break, I am curious about how that came to be but I doubt that you will tell me anything. I have noticed that you have been quiet, reserved, and withdrawn this semester and I will not ask why for the same reason. Realistically, it will be nearly impossible for me to tutor you" I felt cheated at this. I thought this was going to be my big break, one-on-one tutoring from a transfiguration master would refine my skills greatly.
"However, I can offer you books on transfiguration that should help your advancement and answer any questions you may have" She continued and I felt abashed for jumping straight to conclusions. She then went to a cabinet within the room that must have been hidden by some notice-me-not charm because I'd never seen it before and took out two thin tomes which she handed over to me. The first was titled, The art of Conjuration, and the other was titled A guide to Elemental Transfiguration
"Professor, I can already conjure" I spoke out, confused by the inclusion of the conjuration tome.
" , your conjurations are simplistic, while you would have hit the upper limit described in the school tomes that book there will help you approach mastery level. There were stars in my eyes as I heard this. Basically, magic mastery is officially dived into three levels, The Beginner level which applies to any magic at OWL level or lower, the Journeyman level which applies to NEWT level magic, and mastery level, which is the point of ambiguity, beyond NEWT level. Mastery-level magic is a big deal if you did not pay attention to my earlier explanation. If these books could get me to that level then McGonagall's tutoring or lack thereof would be more than worth it.
I thanked her then hurriedly made my way to the Room. I couldn't wait to examine the books thoroughly. I entered the room which had taken the form of my Father's study, reclined myself on the couch, and began to read. I read the book on conjuration for the better part of two hours, sometimes rereading whole paragraphs and chapters. When I finally looked up from the book, my head swam with sudden revelations. The NEWT text described conjuration as transfiguring the air, but this one describes it as using your magic to create something from nothing. It was completely at odds with basic physics theory, but this was magic, so I'd keep an open mind.
While the book did not contain any spells, it described several exercises which would improve my grasp of conjuration. I took my wand out, pointed it in front of me, and attempted to conjure a block of wood. Rather than gathering air and transfiguring it, I attempted to bring forth the wood from nothingness. I imagined it simply coming into being from nothing. It took me quite a few tries before I was able to manage it.
The next exercise was to conjure a wooden doll of myself, which would be a bit more difficult than a wooden block as I would have to focus on both form and substance. My first try got me a stick of wood, and it was not until my 18th try that I was able to conjure anything resembling myself and it took seven more tries after that to conjure a perfect doll. After I completed that exercise, I went down to the Great Hall for dinner and came straight up to the room afterward. I spent the rest of the night there working on the third exercise which was conjuring a handheld mirror and going over the other two.
I wasn't able to read the book on elemental transfiguration until two weeks after I had received it. All my spare time was spent working on the exercises in the conjuration text, while I still had a few more to go, I was stuck for the time being so I had to focus on something else. The book was a dry read and a good third of it was spent on safety precautions and discussing the inherent dangers of elemental transfiguration. This book also did not contain any spells, and I was beginning to feel that this would be a pattern in the more advanced transfiguration texts, as it was an art based more on creativity.
I practiced shaping the earth to produce spikes, walls, and platforms at first, before moving on to animated creatures, and then I'd have to do the same with water. The other elements like lightning, air, and fire did not lend themselves well to this form of transfiguration. Fire could be used by a skilled enough practitioner but I was nowhere near that level.
The month of October flew by in a blur of working on my magic and engaging in mock duels with my teammates and the Professors in our bi-weekly meetings that started in October. The day before Halloween finally arrived and as I stood outside the castle with the rest of the school population, I realized that this is where my legend would begin. I would enter this Triwizard tournament, and while I would have to allow Potter to get the cup at the end. I would put up a good show and get my name out there in a relatively risk-free manner, after all, I already knew what the tasks would be.
I watched the other schools arrive and paid little attention to Dumbledore's speech after the feast. I left the hall with the rest of the school and doubled back under a disillusionment charm when I was sure no one would be lingering in the Hall. I walked straight to the cup, right past the age line, and dropped my name right into the cup. Phew, I'm glad that worked. It was a bit of a risk, but I was sure that the age line used a person's sense of self to determine whether they were eligible to cross or not, and I did not view myself as a 14-year-old but rather a 31-year-old which is the combined age of both my lives.
I quickly left the hall, as I did not need to be here when Crouch comes in to include Potter's name in the tournament. The day after, I felt some nerves as the time for the Halloween feast drew closer. I had no special advantages for this, and I could not influence the results in any way. I had no idea how the Goblet even chose the champions, was it based on power, skill, bravery, or some other concept that only wizards would find logical. I spent the day firing blasting curses as slabs of granite I conjured in the Room. It was exhausting and as the time of the feast drew nearer, even that could not hold my attention anymore. I decided to stop wasting time and took a bath in the room before changing my clothes and heading to the Great Hall.
Even though I'd taken as long a bath as I possibly could, I still arrived about 15 minutes early for the feast but the hall was already full so I guess I wasn't the only one who couldn't stand the wait. The feast began and I tried to lose my nerves by focusing on the conversation around me. There was nothing particularly interesting being discussed but I was able to lose myself in the conversations, even pitching in once or twice which seemed to surprise my housemates.
The feast finally came to an end and Dumbledore walked up to the Goblet and pronounced it ready to make its decisions. The butterflies in my stomach began to flutter even more at that proclamation.
"The champion for Durmstrang is…..Victor Krum" Dumbledore read out after catching the piece of paper that the Goblet shot out. The Hall went wide and did not settle down till after Krum was out of sight. The Goblet shot out another piece o paper and Dumbledore read out the champion for Beauxbatons as Fleur Delacour which led to another outbreak of applause, although far less enthusiastic than what Krum received. The Goblet shot out another piece of paper as the Hall went silent and Dumbledore looked at the name in surprise before reading out;
"The champion for Hogwarts is Draco Malfoy" Yes. Victory. My heart was ready to burst in joy and I had no doubt that this would be my Patronus memory. The Hall was silent but I did not care. I marched right up to Dumbledore with a million galleon smile on my face, shook his hand, and went straight into the ante-room. I waited for Potter to arrive but he didn't, the Heads of School and Ministry officials came in and briefed us about the wand weighing and first task. Potter wasn't in the tournament, his name was not spat out by the Goblet. This changes everything. I waited for the briefing to end and headed straight for the room. I've got planning to do.
A/N; The votes are in and it seems you guys are in favour of shorter, more frequent chapters. So expect anywhere between 2 and 4 chapters per week.