Chapter 7 : Chapter 7: Spells and Flames
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It was Charms class, and the students were practicing the levitating spell… or, in Albus and Scorpius’ case, were chattering excitedly about the tournament. But now that their teacher had noticed, they stopped talking immediately, putting grim expressions on their faces.
Professor Flitwick trundled over to their table. “Hmm, maybe you have learned so much that you think you do not have to pay attention in class anymore?” he squeaked, clapping his hands together. “Let me see how much you have improved since that last disastrous event!” A few days before, Albus had managed to blow his desk apart while practicing, the force of which had sent the tiny Professor flying to the other end of the classroom. “Come on, Mr Potter.”
Albus gulped. He pointed his wand shakily at the feather in front of him. He slowly swished his wand and flicked it, muttering, “Wingardium Leviosa”. He closed his eye, waiting for an explosion. But it didn’t come. He opened his eyes carefully and saw that his feather was floating a few feet above his desk.
“Maybe you did learn, Mr Potter,” Professor Flitwick said, smiling broadly, so that his face looked even more wrinkled. “Good for you.” And he walked away. Looking to the front, Albus saw Rose winking at him, wand in hand. Albus smiled and mouthed, “Thank you,” while Rose nodded and turned back to her own feather.
“Good girl, isn’t she?” whispered Scorpius. “Good of her to save us like that.”
“She always does that,” Albus whispered back. “Took all the blame when I smashed the cookie jar once. My best cousin by far.”
At lunch, they were sitting at the Gryffindor table. Albus was halfway through eating his chicken legs when he saw James and Louis whispering together. Knowing by instinct that it could only be something bad, he turned towards his friends. “I think James and Louis are up to something,” he said.
“What?” Andrew asked.
“Only something stupid that’ll land them in trouble,” said Rose.
“Let’s go check,” Scorpius suggested.
The four left their food and went over to James and Louis, who stopped talking the moment they saw them approaching.
“So, dear brother and cousin,” Albus said in a mock sweet voice, sitting down beside them. “What are you planning to do now?”
James exchanged looks with Louis before replying in a voice dripping with sweetness, “Nothing at all! What made you think that we’d do anything to harm our dearest schoolmates?”
“Stop pretending, James, or we go and tell Aunt Ginny,” Rose snapped.
James looked a bit unnerved. Rose had always used this threat to manipulate James into doing anything she wanted.
“Well, if you must know, we are planning on doing something today after the Choosing thing. We can't tell you what, so –”
“What’s that?” asked Andrew, pointing at a piece of parchment in James’ hand.
“Nothing,” James said hastily, trying to stow it in his pocket, but Albus was quicker. As fast as lightning, he snatched it.
“Give me that!” James yelled, lunging forward towards Albus. Some people started to stare. They wrestled for a few seconds, with Albus finally emerging victorious, parchment in hand.
“Aha!” Rose said, taking the parchment and reading it.
“Well, now that you have it,” James snapped, annoyed, “I’ll tell you what we wanted to do. We were planning on getting into the Tournament.”
“But how?” Albus asked, confused. “I thought Dad said Ageing Potions –”
“No, not Ageing Potions!” Louis groaned, in a tone that suggested how can you be so stupid? “We were planning on using –”
“Ageing Spells?” finished Rose, sounding confused, looking up from the parchment. “What are Ageing Spells?”
“My dear cousin,” James said, smirked at the reaction, “we are smart enough to be using Ageing Spells instead of Potions. You see, Dad had told us not to use Potions. We cannot defy his orders--” he grinned “--and so we decided to use the spells instead. Its properties are similar to the Ageing Potion. One blast and we will age three years!”
“Very good, Mr Potter,” said a voice behind them. All six turned around to see Professor Longbottom standing a few feet away. “A very good idea indeed, but it wouldn’t have worked, anyway. No one can fool an Age Line.”
“P-Pro-Professor Longbottom!” stammered James, trying to look all innocent. “What are you talking about? We didn’t do anything, did we?” he looked towards the other five.
“No, we didn’t!” Louis said, but the guilty look on his face gave it away.
“Rose,” said Professor Longbottom, holding out his hand. “Give me the parchment, please.”
Rose nodded, looking at Louis and James, who were shaking their heads vigorously, and handed the parchment to the professor. Professor Longbottom read the piece of parchment, his eyebrows arching higher with every line he read. Once he finished, he folded the paper and pocketed it.
“Now, you have two options,” Professor Longbottom said, looking at the James and Louis. “Either I tell the Headmistress and take off fifty points, or I tell Harry.”
James gulped, looked at his companion, and mumbled, “We’ll take the first.”
“Good. Now come along. The rest of you--” he looked at Albus, Rose, Scorpius and Andrew, “--go off to your classes.” He then left with James and Louis.
Albus let out a whistle. “That was… they’re in trouble.”
“Yes, they are,” Rose agreed. “In big trouble.”
“But,” Scorpius said, sounding slightly confused. “Why did James choose McGonagall and losing house points instead of talking to your father?”
“Because they’ll be in more trouble with Dad,” replied Albus. “McGonagall will just yell at them for a few minutes, and give them detentions, and house points can always be replaced. But with Dad… he’ll not yell. He’ll be thoroughly disappointed, and he’ll make them feel all guilty, really guilty, and make them promise not to do something like this again. They can't break a promise made to Dad, so… or maybe, if Dad’s in a bad mood, he’ll tell Mum. And that would be it for James.”
Andrew’s eyes widened. “Whoa. That’s dangerous.”
The bell rung, signalling the end of lunch. “Let’s go, we’ve got DADA next,” said Rose. The boys nodded, and they went off to the first floor for class.
The classes had finally ended in the afternoon. Albus, Rose, Scorpius and Andrew were sitting beside the blazing fire in their already jam-packed common room, waiting for the evening, when the Champions would be chosen. All around them, people speculated who the three champions would be, whether a Gryffindor would become the Hogwarts Champion, and if the tasks this year would be as dangerous as the previous ones. Albus saw James and Louis sitting alone in a corner, whispering furiously. He wondered whether they were still trying to get themselves into the Tournament.
“How much longer?” Andrew asked, for the umpteenth time.
“For the last time, we’ll go at dinner!” Albus said, exasperated. Andrew was starting to remind him a lot of his Uncle Ron.
Victoire scurried over to them, looking excited. “Hey, you lot,” she said, grinning. Victoire Weasley was almost an exact replica of her mother. She was extremely beautiful, with long, flowing strawberry-blonde hair, a thin, pale face and full, red lips. Her sparkling blue eyes were the only things that she had inherited from her father. She was quite tall, unlike her younger sister, who seemed quite short for her age.
“Hey, Victoire,” Rose said.
“I submitted my name in the Goblet,” she squealed. “Do you think I’ll make it?”
“You did?” Albus asked, surprised.
“Yeah, I did!”
“Well, hope you do!” Rose said enthusiastically. “Then there’ll be three champions in the family!”
“Thanks.” Victoire smiled. She looked around the common room and spotted a few of her friends. “I’ll see you later, then,” she said, and walked away.
“Three?” Scorpius asked, as Victoire disappeared among her friends.
“Yeah, her mum was a champion too. Aunt Fleur was the Champion from Beauxbatons – the French school.”
Albus looked at his watch. “Let’s go,” he said to the others. They got up and went downstairs.
The Great Hall looked the same, except that now the Goblet of Fire was sitting in front of the Staff Table. The four of them sat down at the Gryffindor table along with the rest of their house-mates. James was already sitting at one end, his face very dark, muttering to his friends. Albus hadn’t noticed him leave the common room earlier. He turned away, shaking his head, and looked towards the Staff Table. All the members of staff were there, as well as the Judges. His father, aunt and Professor Longbottom were talking about something, and Mr Potter was glowering in James’ direction. Albus had a strong feeling that they were talking about the Ageing Spell incident, even though Professor Longbottom had promised not to tell their dad if James went to see Professor McGonagall.
The plates in front of them filled with food. There were many different dishes on it this time too. There was Biryani again, but this time, there was chicken in it. Albus took it this time and ate it; it was quite tasty. After dinner was over, the plates cleared themselves, and everyone started talking.
After a few minutes, Professor McGonagall stood up, and the Great Hall fell silent. “Good evening, everyone,” she said. “Today we are all gathered here to see the choosing of the champions from each of the three schools. In a few moments, the Goblet of Fire will reveal the names of the three champions.
“But, before that, I’d like to give you some instructions that I expect everyone to follow.” Her eyes swept the entire Great Hall, resting for a fraction of a second longer on James and Louis, who stared back defiantly. “None of you are to go near the Lake unless you wish to spend the rest of the year in detention with one of your arms cut off.” If Albus didn’t know that the Headmistress had no sense of humour, he’d think she was joking.
“What’s wrong with going near the Lake?” Albus asked the others in an undertone.
“Must be something to do with the task,” Rose replied. Before Albus could say anything else, however, McGonagall had resumed talking.
“Now, when you have been chosen, you cannot turn back. It will be final. You had agreed to compete by your own free will when you put your name in the Goblet of Fire. After you have been chosen, you will please get up from your seat come to the top of the Hall, and walk through that door –” she indicated towards a door behind the Staff Table “–and into the next chamber, where you will wait for the other champions to come, and after that you will receive your instructions there. The champions will be chosen –” she glanced at her watch “– now.”
She waved her wand and the lights in the Hall were extinguished. The Fire in the Goblet turned crimson. Sparks started to fly from it. Suddenly, a tongue of flame shot out, and a scorched piece of parchment flew out of it.
Professor McGonagall caught it. She glanced at the paper and said loudly, “The champion from Salem is Stephanie Erickson.”
All the students started clapping, but Andrew seemed to be clapping a bit more enthusiastically than the others. Maybe it was because he had lived in America for such a long time. The students from Salem all rose to their feet and applauded loudly. Some of the students even whistled. Stephanie got up from her seat, and went towards the Staff Table. She was very pretty and tall, with very long sandy hair. She would probably be in her fifth or sixth year, Albus thought. She shook hands with Professor McGonagall, and walked along the Staff Table and went through the door. Albus noticed that Andrew’s eyes were following her as she went.
The clapping died down soon, as the flames of the Goblet turned red once more. A second slip of parchment shot out, and Professor McGonagall caught it. She saw it, and read it out loudly, “The champion from Elmbark is Khondokar Fahim Raiyan.”
They all applauded politely. Half of the Hufflepuff table, where the Elmbark students were sitting, applauded wildly. They stood up, and started to cheer for their champion. One of the girls was hugging him, yelling, “You did it, bro, you did it!”
Fahim stood up, and walked towards the Staff Table. He seemed to be no older than Fred, and he had somewhat tanned skin with shoulder-length black hair. He was tall and pretty thin, and was quite good looking. He shook hands with Professor McGonagall, smiled at his headmaster, and went through the door behind the Staff Table.
“Only one champion left,” Albus muttered to his friends.
“The most important one to us,” whispered Scorpius. “The Hogwarts champion.”
“Shh!” Rose hissed. “The flame’s red again.”
“They all looked at the Goblet of Fire. Rose was right; the Goblet was about to reveal the final champion. Albus looked on in anticipation as a parchment shot out from the Goblet, landing in McGonagall’s hands.
I hope it’s Victoire, Albus thought.
Professor McGonagall stared at the parchment for some time, shock and confusion etched in her face. Everyone stared at her eagerly.
At long last McGonagall cleared her throat and said loudly, “T- the Champion from…from Hog- Hogwarts is… Albus Potter.”
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