Chapter 3 : Surprises and More Surprises
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The students broke into applause – at least all those who understood did. Albus was really pleased at this announcement; his first year was going to be really eventful after all. The other students, the Muggle-borns to be precise, simply looked confused.
“What's going on?” Andrew asked, looking from Albus to Rose and back.
“Oh, yeah, you don’t know, do you?” Albus said, still grinning. “The Triwizard Tournament is a really famous tournament! It takes place between three schools, and has three tasks and a really large prize money. It hasn’t been held in about, what, twenty-two years? The last champion was my Dad!”
“Wow!” Andrew exclaimed. “That must be awesome. I wish I could take part in it!”
“Me too, but we are still too young. Heck, we don’t even know proper magic yet!”
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat, and the Great Hall stopped talking. “For those of you who are not acquainted with this competition, I shall explain. However, I expect even those who know to listen quietly.
“Now, the Triwizard tournament is a very famous and prestigious competition, and was first held about seven hundred years ago. It aims to develop and maintain friendship between us and our foreign counterparts. The Tournament’s participants are usually the three largest magical schools in Europe: Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts. This year, however, it will be different.”
The students looked at her eagerly, wondering what the change would be. Albus could see many students whispering to one another. “This year,” McGonagall continued, “the tournament will be hosted between three different continents: Asia, North America and Europe. The school from Asia will be the Elmbark Academy of Magic, of Bangladesh, and the school from North America will be the Salem’s Witches Institute of the United States of America.”
“That’s something new,” Albus heard Victoire whisper to the others, looking at McGonagall. “The Triwizard tournament always took place between Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.”
“This is because the countries in these two continents had already contested with other schools in their own continents, to determine which among them will participate in the Tournament,” Professor McGonagall was saying, “and the winners had been chosen to participate in this competition. You may ask why, all of a sudden, we decided to have a competition with two countries in different continents? This is because the Ministry feels we ought to learn other cultures, and we agree with them.”
“That sounds like fun,” said Rose. “We’ll be able to learn other people’s cultures and all.”
“Now, the Tournament used to take place every five years, until the death toll rose to such a magnitude that the Tournament was discontinued. The last Tournament, in fact, was perhaps the most disastrous one, since it had resulted in the death of a very talented young wizard, and the rebirth of Lord Voldemort.” Professor McGonagall paused for a second after saying the name. “This year the danger will be reduced greatly, extra protection would be given to the school, and of course, everything will be checked repeatedly for malfunctions.
“The judges will be the heads of their respective schools, the heads of the Department of Magical Games and Sports and Department of International Magical Cooperation, and also the head of the Auror Office, since he will be in charge of the security, and of course, because he was among the two last Hogwarts champions.”
Albus gasped. Dad will be here as a judge!
“The heads of the departments and of the Auror Office will be here on Halloween to explain the rules,” continued Professor McGonagall. Her eyes narrowed as they swept across the sea of students in the Great Hall, resting on James and Louis for a fraction of a second longer. “I would request you all to follow them. That’s it for tonight, thank you. Your beds are waiting for you now. Goodnight to you all.”
Everyone stood up simultaneously. Albus’s legs felt like lead as he stood up. He and the others walked behind the other Gryffindors, who were following Fred – the Gryffindor prefect. Albus remembered the day when his cousin had gotten his Prefect’s Badge: his uncle George had yelled himself hoarse, and had almost thrown Fred out of the house.
"My son, a prefect?" he had yelled, after a whole minute of shocked silence. "How in the name of Merlin’s shortest pointed hat is that even possible? Oh Fred, if you are watching this, drop a dungbomb on your nephew’s head!"
Albus chuckled at the memory.
They walked out of the Great Hall and went up many flights of stairs. They went through a hidden door concealed by a tapestry, went up two flights of stairs, then went down one flight, and again walked up three flights. Albus lost track. His feet were beginning to hurt. Just when he was about to go up front and ask Fred how much longer it would take, the group came to a halt. Albus saw the portrait of a very fat woman in a pink dress. On spotting the mass of students, she said, “Password?”
“Mimblewimble Gratis,” said Fred confidently.
“Why, thank you, dear,” the woman giggled, and the portrait swung forward, revealing a hole in the wall. After a lot of pushing and shoving, all of the first-years managed to clamber through it.
So this is the Gryffindor common room, Albus thought as he looked around himself. It was very large and circular, draped in red and gold hangings. In the front was a tapestry of the golden Gryffindor Lion, set against red. A few tables were scattered here and there. There were very comfortable-looking chairs clustered in front of a fireplace, where a large, warm fire was blazing.
“Right,” announced Fred, once all of them were in. “First-years, the boys’ dormitories are up the stairs on the left. The girls’, up on the right. Don’t stay up till late! Goodnight to you all!”
The Gryffindor first-years all made their way towards their own dormitories. Albus, Rose and Andrew went up together. They separated at the top of the stairs, where Rose went into the girls’ dormitories, and Albus and Andrew went towards the boys’. They were the first to reach the door of their dormitory. On the door was written ‘First-years’. Albus pushed it open.
The dormitory was also draped in red and gold. There were five four-poster beds, each with red and gold hangings. Their stuff had all been brought up. Without bothering to check his stuff, Albus went over to his bed and collapsed into it. “It’s been a really long day, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, so true, man,” Andrew yawned, flopping down on his own bed.
The other Gryffindor boys came up. It was the first time Albus had met any of them, but he had heard a lot about Scorpius Malfoy. He was still surprised that he had been sorted into Gryffindor, and wondered if the Hat had really made a mistake.
“Hello, you both,” greeted a long-haired boy. He was slightly small for his age, with small, beady eyes and a rather sharp nose. He had an Irish accent. “I’m Gregory Finnigan.”
“I’m Dennis Marcus,” the other boy said, smiling at them. He was dark-skinned, and had deep brown hair and black eyes.
“I’m Andrew Strathmore,” Andrew told them. “Pleasure meeting you all.
“And I’m Al Potter,” Albus said, fully well knowing what reaction he’d receive.
“Potter?” gasped Dennis, while Gregory’s eyes grew big; Albud’ prediction had been right. “You mean Harry Potter’s son?”
“Um, yeah,” replied Albus. He was quite used to it by now, after all, his father was famous and all, but he still felt really uncomfortable when people ogled at him.
“Whoa!” breathed Gregory. “We’re together with a Potter!”
“What about you, what’s your name?” Andrew asked Malfoy, who was sitting quietly on his bed.
“Scorpius Malfoy,” he muttered in a quiet voice, not meeting their eyes.
“Aren’t you supposed to be a Slytherin?” Gregory asked accusingly.
“Well, apparently the Sorting Hat decided different,” Malfoy snapped. “I’m not like my grandfather, by the way. He might have been a Muggle-hater, but I am not one, and nor is my Dad.”
“Oh, yeah?” Dennis scoffed, moving closer to him, glaring at the blond boy. “How can we be sure that you aren’t one?”
“The Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor, which should be proof enough, actually,” Scorpius replied calmly, looking at Dennis straight in the eye. “And please, just because I am a Malfoy doesn’t mean that I am all bad. Sure, my grandfather might have been a Death Eater, but I do not want to be like them, and nor does my Dad. He stopped being a Death Eater years ago. Well, forget it. If you want to treat me like scum, I can’t change that. But all I‘d like to say is that we hate the Death Eaters. And my Grandfather’s never gonna forgive me, now that I’m not a Slytherin. Not that I care. I never wanted to be one.”
Albus could hardly believe it. Even though his father had told him not to judge people like that, his Uncle Ron had always told him that Malfoys were scum and evil… But what Scorpius was saying was entirely contradictory. He wondered if Malfoy could be given a chance. Maybe we can just see what he’s like. He went up to Scorpius and held out his hand, hoping he’d take it. “Pleasure meeting with you. Friends?”
Scorpius stared at Albus’s outstretched hand, surprised. Then slowly, he took it. “Friends.” He said, smiling slightly.
“Are you sure, Albus?” Gregory asked, glowering at Scorpius. “He’s a Malfoy, do you think we can trust him?”
“Let’s give him a chance,” Albus replied. There was, after all, no point brooding over the past, and he hoped the others would realize that. “He might be good for all we know.” Albus would never tell them, but another reason was that he’d had enough of people thinking he’d do great things like his father. He knew exactly what it felt like when people judged him by his parents, and he didn’t want to do the same to Scorpius, because after all, he could be different.
“If you say so,” Gregory muttered and shook Scorpius’ hand, still looking doubtful. Dennis followed suit, and so did Andrew.
The first-years then talked a lot about themselves. Dennis Marcus was a pure-blood, and Gregory Finnigan was a half-blood. Gregory’s dad had been in Harry’s year, Albus found out. They talked about their families, the school, and finally the Tournament. Finally, when they were all too tired to speak, they fell asleep. Albus stayed awake for a few more minutes to write a letter to his family. He took out a quill and a parchment and wrote:
Dear Mum, Dad and Lils,
Guess what? I made Gryffindor! I was so scared that I’ll be a Slytherin, but Hat decided to put me in Gryffindor, after all. Anyways, what surprised me was that Scorpius Malfoy was made a Gryffindor. I mean, can you believe it? A Malfoy, a Gryffindor? I’m sure Uncle Ron wouldn’t be too thrilled if he found out, ha ha. Scorpius/ says that he is not like his grandfather, that he hates Muggle-haters, and he also says that his father’s changed too. He’s completely different from what Uncle Ron said, you know. I think he is telling the truth, and he seemed nice. I made friends with him. I wonder what Rose will say in the morning.
We made a new friend. His name is Andrew Strathmore, and he is a Muggle-born. He seems awed by everything Magical, you know? He is a good guy, and he’s really nice.
McGonagall told us at the feast that the Triwizard Tournament will be held this year. How could you hide it from us, Dad? And you are going to be a judge? That’s so awesome! I bet you wanted to surprise us? Well, it’ll be great to see you again. Mum’ll be here too sometime, won’t you Mum? You’re the sports reporter after all… I’ll be looking forward to meeting you guys soo! Oh yeah, JAMES ANNOYED ME A LOT! Scold him when you come here, won’t you, Dad?
Well, it’s late and I want to be up early in the morning, we’ve got classes, after all. Goodnight!
Albus finished the letter and took out his owl, Libra, from her cage. He rolled up the parchment, handed the scroll to her and said softly, “Now, girl, go and give this to Mum and Dad. Go quick.” Libra gave him an affectionate peck on the hand and flew off. Albus watched her leave and then returned to his bed. He lay down, and went to sleep instantly.
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