Chapter 8 : To Its Rightful Place
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Neville could not deny that this was good news. It had been too long at Hogwarts since the last real excitement, and the Yule Ball would be even more of a festivity now, what with all the competition for foreign dates. There was something about all of this though that rather struck him as odd.
“There’s just one thing I’m wondering,” he said at last, once the din had died down and the Minister had sent for early-morning tea and biscuits for the whole group, as well as a few boxes of Ghosted Flakes for Cedric. Everyone looked at him; Hugo had a large orange crumb stuck to his chin. Neville shook off the thought. “How is it that you got involved with this, Percy?”
Flitwick surprised Neville by turning towards him with a hearty grin upon his small, pointed face. “Oh, that was nothing special, I just thought it’d be fun to get him involved when he’s been working so hard on the peace treaty with Greenland.”
“That--doesn’t make sense to me,” Percy said.
“And that doesn’t matter to anyone!” Flitwick said with more than a hint of joy at voicing it aloud, and settled back into his armchair, both hands wrapped around his cup of hot tea.
Neville met Percy’s eyes, and though not properly apologetic, attempted to assemble some sort of sympathetic expression for the benefit of the most “proper” Weasley, whom it seemed still was not beyond the bizarre reach of Hogwarts as much as he may have wished it to be so.
“Listen to this!” a boy from the middle of the Hufflepuff table shouted, early one morning soon after the affair in the Minister’s office, and stood on the table top to read aloud from his newly-inked copy of the Daily Prophet.
“Though it is no great pleasure of mine to rescind any prior proclamation, as wearing as that is to one’s reputation and especially with the international kind in question, my joy shall know no bounds at being the sole owner of this exclusive, gigantic pick-me-up. If you have been wallowing in the recesses of Hogwarts Castle or burrowing in the undiscovered crannies of the British countryside, allow me to announce to you that the TriWizard Tournament, a monumental and centuries-old international affair, is yet again slated to take place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this school year, and see if that shall drag you out again into the bright sunlight of hope for a better future.
We await more detail and I promise, ever your humble servant, to relay it as soon as it becomes possible that you should receive the news.
Yours truly, reporting with much more candor than backwards politics usually allow, Rose (19) of the Burrow.”
Hugo Weasley led the Great Hall in a gigantic whoop that would have looked, to an outsider, like a volcanic eruption of toast, beans, and eggs. Nobody at breakfast that morning escaped unscathed and it was with a hair full of roasted tomatoes and bean paste that Hugo found himself traipsing back to the teacher’s lounge, where Flitwick had decided it was best that they keep Cedric until the official unveiling of the Tournament and its new rules. As part of the team that had accosted the Minister in the middle of the night, it had somehow been decided that Hugo was now a part of the team that should precede the announcement, in anticipation of student reaction.
It was with the thought of relaying to Cedric the news that Rose had officially announced that the Tournament was officially “slated” (whatever that meant!) to happen at Hogwarts this year that Hugo tromped through the hallway, leaving behind him an odiferous trail of fish, eggs, and pumpkin juice. This was rather the concoction to repel even the most persistent of fangirls, which Hugo had managed to pick up after his victorious return from the Unicorn Rescue, and whose population had mushroomed after he had become Quidditch captain, and whose company he often less than enjoyed. So it was rather with relish that Hugo left this trail along the hallways, staining the carpets, even though he knew it would give Filch a heart attack to behold and a very grumpy attitude after he’d cleaned it. Hugo felt like a giant sea monster leaving a briny trail behind him and was about to lift his arms to complete the picture when a small figure gilded in beads and shawls emerged from behind a tapestry, shielding its eyes.
“Professor Trewlaney?” Hugo asked, putting his arms down and widening his eyes at the sight of the ancient teacher descended from her tower. “Are you lost?”
“Lost?!” the small woman repeated with a touch of contempt and disbelief. “Lost. You jest, Mr Weasley, you jest.”
“No,” Hugo said. “I’m just asking.” He folded his arms behind his back. He was starting to feel uncomfortably sticky and his robes were turning sour. He thought he’d probably have to stop by the bath before going to tell Cedric about Rose’s article.
“Well, then, I’ll just answer,” Trewlaney said, drawing herself up to her full height, which still only brought her strawberry thatch of hair up to Hugo’s shoulder. Her wide eyes magnified by her spectacles made this a rather creepy encounter, and Hugo wished that he wasn’t learning to be so polite from Scorpius, or he’d have run off to the baths by now and probably would have been clean as a bug. Or whatever that saying was.
“No, I am not lost! I came down from the tower because I Sensed a Great Happening. Ah!” she said, closing her eyes and raising her face towards the torch light. “Ah! I sense--a--a food fight! In the Great Hall! At breakfast!”
“Yes,” Hugo said. “There was one.”
“You see! The Eye never fails those who Believe,” Trewlaney said. “To what is it that the food fight owes its eruption? But, wait!” she said, holding her hands up to Hugo’s face in case he might answer. “I Sense…I Sense…something of great excitement to you all.”
“Mmm,” Hugo said, sniffing his shoulder idly. “I’m really on my way to see--” But he couldn’t say. Nobody knew Cedric was here, save the people who’d been in the Minster’s office that night. “To see--”
“The Unicorn called Herbert, surely,” Trewlaney said. “One hardly needs an Inner Eye to see that.”
Hugo watched her as she crawled back through the tapestry and stood for a moment before remembering his plan to visit the bath. “Right,” he said, and continued on his way down the corridor, making a left here, right there, left again, and then mumbling carrots to the painting that swung open to let him through to the giant bath. Hugo prodded a couple of the taps absentmindedly, not quite noticing when it was lavender-scented foam that spewed into the warm water.
He was just about to rinse off his robes when through a tap with a green jewel crusted into its spout a ghost poured out into the purple water.
“Cedric!” Hugo said. “I was about to come see--oh,” he said. It was Moaning Myrtle again. He really should have known. She had taken to haunting the bath here as she’d been getting lonely. “Hello, Myrtle. You know I found out about this place called Ghostland recently, you might like to visit it sometime.”
“You want to get rid of me!” Myrtle shrieked, her spectacles falling from her face. She swooped down through the water to retrieve them, crying loudly all the while. “You’ve never been grateful for my company, you lot are always plotting to get me beheaded! I have rather nice hair, for a ghost, you know, you should really appreciate my head more! I--”
“Myrtle, can you take a message for me?” Hugo said, feeling rather like he would like to go visit Herbert, an idea striking him as particularly clever.
“OH, yes, Myrtle the Messenger, that’s quite an appellation! I’m surprised more of you haven’t used me this way, like a dishrag used to swipe up the muck of the--”
“Thank you, Myrtle. Could you tell Professor Neville--Longbottom--that I’d like to meet him in Greenhouse Seven after supper?”
Myrtle’s face contorted through a series, quite impressive, Hugo thought, of outraged expressions before her shoulders slumped and she seemed to realize that she was far too entrenched in this business than allowed her to get out of this easily. She nodded once and blew a raspberry at Hugo, who was now very clean and lavender-scented, before shooting off through a ruby-coated tap and disappearing into the plumbing.
It hadn’t been Amos’s idea and by now he was rather proud of that fact. There were three telephones in the lobby to his office, three secretaries to answer them, and they had been ringing all morning. By mid-afternoon Amos was sure he’d never take a suggestion from Porkley again, especially seeing as the third floor taps were still running feathers. It had been a year, for Merlin’s sake! And his right-hand man still hadn’t managed to put the plumbing back to its regular working order. One hated to admit it, but Porkley’s resume rather preceded him in ability. Poor chap. Perhaps be could find some work in the D.O.M., goodness knew it’d hire anyone, seeing as they didn’t have unnaturally strong attachments to certain body parts.
“Mr Minster,” Sheila called from the lobby. “It’s the Greenlandic Minister for you on line three.”
Amos rubbed his eyes. He had known this moment was coming and to be quite frank he hadn’t been anticipating it with any emotion that resembled, remotely, happiness. It had been gnawing on him since the motley crew had busted in on his office at that ungodly hour; Britain and its inhabitants would know before Greenland that the tournament was back on, so it gave him a certain amount of time to come up with an explanation that could defer any further offenses. They had been so close to a peace treaty that any major international changes the UK made now would seem in violation of that agreement, especially when it had been with such deliberateness and ferocity that Amos had tabooed the tournament when it had come up initially.
Now that he’d reinstated it, he had to have a good excuse. He could hardly explain to the Minster of Greenland that the reason he’d truly changed his mind was that the ghost of his dead son had suddenly returned from the afterlife with a message for him! And it wasn’t only for the absurdity of that claim but because admitting it would mean admitting the real reason for his refusal in the first place. He had pawned it off as unsafe and absurd seeing as the last tournament had brought on the reemergence of the Dark Lord, but he was sure it was really because he resented the idea for having taken away the life of his own son.
“Minister!” Sheila called again.
“Oh, I’ll be there in a moment,” Amos said, drudging up some parchment that Flitwick had given him at the end of their midnight meeting. It contained the outline of a very comprehensive plan that included the hiring of elk and the hiring of several Greenlandic journalists. He was unsure of it, as he was not directly involved with the details of the tournament, but it was the best he had. He couldn’t have news of Cedric out--for the time, anyway. With a sigh, he dragged himself up from his desk, tea, and biscuits, and entered the brightly-coloured lobby, where the golden telephone apparatus awaited him. He bolstered his spirits with the thought of his son, however bizarre the circumstances of his return really were, and picked up the earpiece.
“Hello, Nattoralik. I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting.”
In Greenhouse Five, Scorpius bent over the bluebell flames with the Snargaluff pod held tightly in his hands.
“You know,” he said to Longbottom, who was looking over some charts with a gleam in his eye. Scorpius knew they were gifts from Luna that mapped out the mating habits of the mooncalf which coincided with the newborns whose dung was the most valuable and best for greenhouse use. As immersed as he was, Scorpius knew he was listening. “I’m grateful that St Mungos is letting me have this portion of my curriculum count towards my field work, but I sometimes wonder what the other students are doing at the hospital.”
“Cleaning wounds, vanishing upset, scrubbing bedpans,” Neville said absentmindedly. He looked up at Scorpius wrestling to warm the pod over the flame. He was sure that the boy’s hypothesis was a good one, that the pods needn’t be punctured for their seed. He only wondered sometimes whether or not it was a very economic hypothesis. One could understand Scorpius’s aversion to daggers--nobody could blame him for that, of course, and Neville himself couldn’t bring himself to point out that it was probably easier to use the knife for the deed. To distract himself he said with the ghost of a smile, “you wouldn’t be consulting the hysterics till second year, at any rate. And you’ll have potions training before then.”
“Ah, that’s a sorry thing,” Scorpius said, grinning, the blue light alighting his features and making him look a bit like a mask, grotesque, exaggerated. It was true for both of them, Neville knew, that the excitement of a couple nights prior in the Minister’s office had given them a new appetite for adventure, one they’d worked hard to quell for the past two years. Now they’d rather given into the idea that there was no escaping it, so they performed their menial tasks without complaint, though they both longed for something more.
It wasn’t exactly difficult to find trouble at Hogwarts, which may or may not have been why they’d taken to reading over notes or conducting experiments in Greenhouse Five, home to the more flammable species housed at Hogwarts. They were both immensely excited for the Tournament, for the international students to arrive, but Neville felt and knew that Scorpius felt just a hint of jealousy for all the current students. No matter how exciting it’d be from the outside, they’d tasted the fruit of unabridged thrill and only being a proper participant could match that splendour.
It was with a less-than-courteous manner that Moaning Myrtle sprung out of the tap at the end of the garden hose Neville had been using to put out the flames on the end of the first table and rose to her full height, clearing her throat loudly. Neville was surprised enough not to be able to inquire after what she’d come here for, but Scorpius, not so moved, asked loudly, “Myrtle? What are you doing in the Greenhouse?”
“It’s always a tone of blatant lack of gratitude!” Myrtle shrieked, turning on Scorpius wildly, her pigtails floating around her head like strange horns.
“Sorry! I’m just surprised, that’s all.” Scorpius held up his hands and backed away, picking up the pod that he’d dropped and brushing it off.
“Professor Neville,” she said, and turned to look at him. He’d never get used to her glinting spectacles or the leer she wore whenever she addressed him. He wasn’t sure what he’d ever done to upset her so. “I’ve got a message for you from Hugo Weasley.”
Neville caught Scorpius’s eye. He wasn’t sure whether to feel excited or apprehensive.
“He says to meet him in Greenhouse Seven after supper.”
Apprehensive it was, then.
a/n: and here it is! i'm sorry that it's a bit shorter than the other chapters have been, but the next few will get a bit complicated, so this is something like a breather for me.
happy birthday again, dear TenthWeasley/Jane!
you probably have questions at this point. feel free to ask me about them, but don't be too disappointed if I tell you the next chapter or two might contain the answers you're looking for :)
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