Chapter 17 : Chapter 17
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The next morning George didn’t look surprised to find Fred with his arm around me, sitting in the common room. He came right over to us, dropping into a nearby chair.
“So, you two make up over a long detention of pickling rat brains or was the reason you weren’t in bed until half past one because you were out snogging in a broom closet?” he asked with a smirk. My face felt warm with embarrassment and I tried to shift around so that George couldn’t see.
“Oi,” Fred said, sending George a rude hand gesture. “She’s too classy to be snogging in a broom closet.”
“Oh, so you were snogging in here then?”
“Jealous?” Fred asked as I silently prayed for the conversation to end.
“Pfft, I can snog any girl I like. You’re the git who’s limited to one girl now.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’ve got the best one anyways.”
“Stop,” I begged, cringing. This was horrible, I’m sure my face looked like a tomato now. Fred and George both laughed then Fred kissed the top of my head.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Victor found me later on in the afternoon and was very enthusiastic actually. He’d been overjoyed with how the Yule Ball turned out. That night I loaned Hermione my Bulgarian dictionary so she could learn a few phrases. I was glad Victor was in high spirits, he also appeared to be working steadily towards the second task without much interference from Karkaroff. It would seem the Dark Mark returning was distracting Karkaroff from bothering Victor with useless ideas.
Me? I was pretty content…ok more than content. I was happy. There were things I couldn’t tell Fred, things he’d probably never know about me. And yes the Dark Mark returning was worrisome. Being with Fred though, it made me happy. We’d go for short walks around the castle or just sit in the common room while he and sometimes George would talk about things they’d done when they were younger. You know, Snape was right. This was the happiest I’d felt in a very long time. Fred would never replace Draco, no one could do that, but it was nice being with someone instead of spending so much time alone.
However there was one issue that was nagging me – Rita Skeeter. The Daily Prophet had printed her article about Hagrid being half giant. It was a perfect example of the bigotry in the wizarding world. Anyone who’d believe Hagrid was more dangerous and less of a person than people like Lucius Malfoy deserved to be kicked. And Draco’s quote in the article…well it made me furious. Draco had to know it was his own bloody fault for getting attacked by a hippogriff. Yes it was a dangerous first class but if Draco hadn’t been trying to show off he would have been fine. And a flobberworm biting Crabbe? How does this rubbish even get printed?!
Ok, I'll admit Hagrid’s class was a bit…untraditional, but you know what? Teaming up with Potter to capture a handful of Blast-Ended Skrewts was certainly more interesting than listening to Binns lecture. It was a nice escape from the regular school day. Watching the fourth year Slytherins gloat about how Hagrid wasn’t teaching made me clench my fists in anger. And this Professor Grubbly-Plank. Really, unicorns? Because I totally couldn’t find a hundred different books about them in the library. At least Hagrid would have brought something that the whole class could enjoy, not just the girls. Potter looked especially ticked off as the hour went by. Maybe he, Hermione, and Ron could convince Hagrid to come back.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Would I sound as paranoid as Moody if I said someone was watching me? Probably, but that didn’t stop the feeling. I was sure I could feel eyes on me. I kept walking, a bit slower than I had been and I casually looked left and then right. There were people, the corridor was full of them, then again that’s normally how it was between classes. No one in particular seemed to be giving me more than a passing glance. Casually I looked behind me and through the crowd I was able to pick out the back of a distinctive blonde head – Draco.
As I kept moving forward I watched him walk in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but wonder if it had been him I’d felt. After a few more steps his head started to turn. If I kept staring we’d wind up looking at each other any moment now. I’d been avoiding this for years yet now I was unable to stop myself. A split second before it happened I slammed into something, nearly falling over. A jolt of pain burst from my left shoulder, where I’d made contact. I immediately reached up to rub it as I tried to figured out what I’d hit. It wasn’t a what at all, it was a who. And not just a random who, it was Moody.
With the hundreds of other people at this school, it just figures that I would run into Moody. Other students who were passing through the corridors stared at the scene with wide eyes. None of them would have dared run into Moody, in fact they were purposely walking close to the walls in order to stay clear of the ex-Auror. Moody was gripping his left arm that I must have hit as he came around the corner. Both of his eyes glared at me, the normal one narrowed in suspicion.
A spark of impatient rage shot through me and I had to strongly fight back the urge to snap at him and mockingly ask what good his magical eye was if he couldn’t even stop himself from running into others. In my forceful effort my right hand involuntarily twitched. Moody’s magical eye spotted the movement and rolled down to glare at my hand. He probably expected to find me with my wand out.
“I didn’t curse you,” I whispered furiously, anger getting the best of me. Moody didn’t say anything but the distrustful look in his eye sure did.
I left out a huff and walked around him, continuing my way to Charms. At least now I was positive somebody was watching me and it sure wasn’t Draco.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Monday after a mid-January Hogsmeade visit, Hagrid returned to teaching. The Slytherins were giving him dirty looks which he ignored as he focused on the lesson. He continued with unicorns, bringing two foals that all of the class could enjoy. Something still didn’t feel right about it though and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I’d been having some sort of nagging feeling in the back of my mind for a while now. Maybe it wasn’t even about Hagrid, who knows.
I was walking back into the castle after the lesson when someone wrapped their fingers around mine. “How was class?”
“I thought the Weasley twins didn’t care about class,” I said, looking up at Fred.
“Well I was trying to be polite,” he responded, shrugging.
“Class was good. I’m glad Hagrid’s back. How was your day?” I asked smiling.
“Only one class on Monday so very good.” I rolled my eyes, lucky bugger. “I wanted to ask you a question.”
“Ok? Go for it.”
“Somewhere we can’t be overheard.”
“Er…ok. Common room tonight? Or tomorrow morning?”
“Not the common room.”
“An empty classroom?”
“Peeves hides in those.”
“Library?” Honestly what would need to be this private?
“I don’t want others to eavesdrop.”
“I’ll put up some privacy spells around one of the tables at the back,” I offered. “I don’t really know anywhere else besides outside.”
“Well definitely not outside. That’s where Skeeter seems to find out secret information.”
“I can do enough spells around the back of the library. No one will be able to hear us.” It wasn’t incredibly difficult so I was confident I could manage a secure place to talk.
“Alright. Er…maybe a quick dinner and we get there before the homework rush,” Fred said as we approached the Gryffindor table.
“Sounds good,” I agreed, curious about what was so important.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After a very early and quick dinner, Fred and I along with, to my surprise, George, made our way to a table in the very back of the library. I cast several privacy spells and a silent alarm that would inform me if anyone came near the back few bookshelves.
“Everything’s set up,” I told the twins as I sat down across from them. They took a glance around, looking a bit nervous. That wasn’t something you’d see everyday. “Trust me, no one can hear us and we’ll know if anyone gets within twenty feet of the table.” They looked at each other and nodded.
“We were wondering if you knew anything about wizarding law,” Fred said, speaking first.
“Since you appear to know a little bit about…well everything it seems,” George added.
Last year I’d helped Hermione prepare for Buckbeak’s hearing and I had read a lot of books about wizarding law. The real question was – why did Fred and George need to know about different wizarding laws? “You’re going to have to be a bit more specific.”
“Er…we can’t tell you all the details,” Fred responded, sharing another look with George.
“Fair enough.” I did have my share of secrets from Fred, so I guess I could live without knowing fully about this. “I do need a bit more background though.”
“We made a bet with someone,” George stated.
“And they didn’t pay us properly,” Fred explained.
“We were wondering what our legal options were.” Ok, well that I could work with.
“What did you bet on and when did you bet on it?” They shared another glance. “It’s important to your situation.”
“The World Cup.”
“The day of it.”
“How much would you have won?” I asked feeling worried that the six month deadline was very quickly approaching.
“More or less than a hundred Galleons?”
“More,” they replied in unison.
“Alright, that still gives you plenty of time. I’m assuming this wasn’t a bet with a friend or family member.” They nodded. “Do you know if the person was Gringotts approved?”
“They are official. Gringotts backs them. The goblins would have to pay you if you still had your betting slip. Then they would go after the other guy themselves. If it’s over a hundred Galleons you have up to a year to claim it.”
“We do still have the betting slip though.”
“Write to Gringotts. Ask for a list of their approved people.”
“They’d just give it to us?”
“They’re required by law to. There’s only a small bit of paperwork and you’ll have to pay a Galleon service fee.”
“How long does it generally take?”
“If you do the paperwork right they have to send you a list back within thirty days.”
“Alright, we can handle that.”
George left for Gryffindor tower to get the necessary money as I helped Fred with the letter requesting the list. It didn’t take long to finish, most of it was making sure you filled in all the right legal phrases and had the exact mailing address or the goblins would toss the letter claiming it was improperly labeled as they pocketed the Galleon inside of it.
When Fred and George left to mail the letter I pulled out some parchment and began my Potions essay. As I was rolling it up an hour later Harry Potter and Ron Weasley approached the table I was sitting at.
“Er…could we sit down?” Potter asked awkwardly. I looked at him curiously. Potter had never sought me out before.
“Go ahead,” I answered, shrugging. They sat across from me like the twins had and even glanced at each other nervously. I raised an eyebrow at it, what was with people today?
“I wanted to ask you about something,” Potter stated. I nodded, indicating he should continue. “Well…er, do you remember the night after the first task?” I nodded again. “You seemed to know something about the golden egg.” Was Potter really coming to me for help? Wouldn’t Hermione be the more likely choice for assistance? “I was wondering if maybe I could get a hint. I haven’t got a clue what it means.”
“Just something to help point me in the right direction…or any direction really.”
Honestly I was a bit amused. A little over a month until the second task and here Potter was no where closer than he’d been when he first got the egg. He actually did seem a bit desperate. I suppose he was Hermione’s friend and Fred and George thought highly of him too. We were also in the same house and house pride seemed to be a strong force at Hogwarts. I also had helped Victor, even if it was just leading him to the correct book. Would it really be so horrible to give Potter a hint? It’s not like he wanted to be in this tournament in the first place. A small voice in the back of my head persuaded me but I would only give him a hint, just like I’d done for Victor.
“Perhaps the reason you cannot solve it is because you don’t know the right language.” I watched Potter and Ron look at each other, confused.
“Er…what?” Potter asked.
“You don’t speak Japanese? What about Spanish, do you speak that?” I asked, switching to Spanish. “Nothing? Hmm…maybe your problem is more comprehension than anything else.” I stood up, gathered my things, and left them there to figure out the rest for themselves.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“What the bloody hell was that?” Ron asked, baffled.
“I guess that was her hint.” Harry tried to unravel what exactly it meant. It wasn’t a lot to go on.
“How does that help? We haven’t got a clue what she said.”
“Comprehension is the problem. What don’t I comprehend?”
“The screaming from that egg I suppose.”
“But she does. Wait,” Harry said, getting an idea. “She understands the egg.”
“Well, yeah, we knew that.”
“No, I mean she understands what it says but we don’t. Remember how I could understand the basilisk second year but no one else could?”
“Cause you speak Parseltongue.”
“Exactly. The egg, it’s in a language she understands!”
“Alright, how do we narrow that down? There are thousands of languages we don’t speak.”
“It didn’t sound like a muggle language. I bet you anything it’s a magical one. Come on, grab as many magical language books as you can.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wait, what? Had Potter just mentioned Crouch?
We were in Charms class, which always tended to get noisy when we were practicing spells. Today it was the Banishing Charm, random objects and even Professor Flitwick ended up flying around the classroom. I could have sworn I just heard Potter say Crouch. And Snape, that was without a doubt the word Snape…or snake. Which one’s more likely? Definitely Snape. Alright, now I’m just suspicious.
There was a spell to help me hear the conversation but it was risky. Any extremely loud noise could rupture my eardrum. They were discussing Crouch and Snape though. I discreetly tapped my wand to my ear. I’ll just be quick, hopefully I’ll only get a headache.
I cringed as my hearing was amplified. Oh wow, this was much louder than I expected. Safety tip, practice caution while casting spells on yourself, especially when you’ve never done them before. Merlin, Parvati had an annoying voice even when whispering to Lavender about some Beauxbatons’ bloke. Thankfully I could hear Potter’s conversation better. It was a bit annoying trying not to focus on the other noises throughout the room. It was worth it in the end. Apparently Crouch had been in Snape’s office in the middle of the night. Moody had been there too. This was something Snape should know about even if I couldn’t understand everything from the conversation. I guess I had to plan another detention. Maybe after the second task since this didn’t sound terribly urgent. Plus I didn’t want to make myself look overly suspicious.
A/N: Again, just a reminder that in between *** is not from Jade’s pov. And yes, I made Harry and Ron ask Jade because 1. It adds a bit of a twist. 2. In the book Harry was ticked off at Cedric for taking Cho to the Yule Ball and didn’t take his advice until crunch time. Here I thought the logical choice was to seek out Jade, who did appear to know more about it. I didn’t write the scene (because it would have been very similar to The Goblet of Fire), but eventually Harry figured out it was Mermish and used the prefect’s bathroom to listen to the egg, hence why the scene with Crouch in Snape’s office and Moody getting the map is still in this story.
The Magical Creatures class about unicorns is from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, Chapter 24, Rita Skeeter’s Scoop. While the Charms class at the end of the chapter is in the beginning of Chapter 26, The Second Task, the information about Potter seeing Crouch on the map is from Chapter 25, The Egg and the Eye.
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