Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 07

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07

They settled into a compartment easily enough; they all looked like they could seat six, assuming no one was overly bulky. Harry grabbed a few things from his trunk before setting the locks and shoving it under the seat; his mother had warned him that house-elves would be moving their trunks to quarters at the end of the ride, so he made sure to get out whatever he thought he would need for the journey. Various items found their way into the pockets of his robes, pockets that had been extensively modified from their default state by Tom.

How long of a ride is this supposed to be?Dudley asked.

Er, mum said we leave at eleven and don’t get there until around six, so seven hours.

Dudley rolled his eyes and looked out the window at the people still milling around on the platform. What a waste of time! We could have been playing games or practicing or—!

I know. Instead we’re stuck on this train for half the day.On realizing that Viktor was still in the compartment he said, Not that I mind you being here—you know that—but I would have expected you to go sit with your friends.

Viktor nodded thoughtfully. While I doubt your mother meant for me to watch over your every moment, I do get the feeling she is worried about her former husband and her presumably estranged child. At least one of them will be on the train and I expect the curiosity of the Britons will be felt today.

He furrowed his brow as he gazed at his friend and mentor, wondering just what exactly was going through his mind. The Fidelius would prevent Viktor from making the Harry Evans is Harry Potter association, but it would not prevent him from seeing the evidence before his eyes, or remembering that Lily had been married to James, or that she somehow had two sons—or three, depending on how one looked at things—and only one of them was with James.

Harry leaned over to whisper in his cousin’s ear, Er, Dudley, there’s something I need to talk to Viktor about privately. You okay with me throwing up a muffling charm while I do that?

Dudley pulled away slightly and turned his head so he could whisper back. I guess so. At least you said something first and didn’t just do it and leave me all confused.

Harry nodded. ‘And hurt,’ he thought, before moving to sit next to Viktor. After a quick spell he said, You seem to have some suspicions.

Of course I do,Viktor replied. The look on your mother’s face was not that of a woman with natural worries about her child being so far away. These worries she has I have to assume are connected to her former life. I cannot quite make sense of how and where you fit in as her child, but. . . . I suppose she could have blood-adopted you, but that would not explain the resemblance to Potter. Well, as I said before, her concern makes me concerned for any interaction between you and her estranged family. Perhaps they will not notice just how much you share in common with the Potter boy, but it would be unwise to assume so.

Harry was impressed. But since he was not the Secret Keeper he could not share said Secret, and instead said, It’s not something I can freely talk about, but I share those concerns. Of course, people might end up too busy gawking at you to notice me.

Viktor scowled and shook his head.

Harry grinned in response. Can you blame me? Still, I hope that people don’t go crazy finding out that you’re going to be there. You might be a famous quidditch player already, but that doesn’t mean you’re not still just a student trying to finish up school. Maybe they’ll behave themselves and not be screaming fangirls and fanboys?he said a bit uncertainly.

Viktor scowled again. I have seen how these people react to the name of Edward Potter, and they and their families were not even badly impacted by the last war. And my sister goes all googly-eyed over that Lockhart fellow, the one Witch Weekly keeps featuring.

Your sister reads Witch Weekly?

Yes. She claims it is to improve her English,Viktor replied, more than a bit dubiously.

Uh huh, like I believe that,he said, glancing out the window. He took down the muffling spell before saying, Oh dear, here come the Hogwarts students. How long before we’re invaded, you think?

Viktor looked at his watch. We still have a bit to go before leaving. I would think perhaps after everyone is settled in and their trunks stowed.

Dudley suddenly got a weird look on his face. Why aren’t the firsties we’re supposed to be mentoring in here with us? Surely they already worked that out? So why don’t we know and why aren’t they here? And besides, it would fill out the compartment a bit and prevent any Brits from trying to sit with us.

That’s a really good point, Dudley,Harry said, and looked at Viktor for a possible answer.

I think because of the changed circumstances they did not think to tell you ahead of time. Normally we find out after that first lunch. You remember, do you not, how they held back all first and fourth years to get things arranged? We also don’t know if we’re being paired this year or having to sleep as groups.Viktor grimaced, as did Harry and Dudley.

Harry did some quick math and frowned. I heard that Hogwarts has about a thousand students, but that doesn’t make sense.

What do you mean?Viktor asked.

Well, my mother told me it was pretty unusual for there to be more than about ten students per year per house on average, and that only works out to two hundred eighty, but I’ll be generous and say three hundred. They also only have one teacher per subject and very little other staff, just the caretaker and groundskeeper that I know of. Twelve subjects plus flying means thirteen teaching staff, plus the two I just mentioned, and a whole lot of house-elves. If they had a thousand students that would mean just under thirty six students per house per year, and there is no way a mere twelve professors could handle that load, not without using something like a time turner. So I don’t buy it.

That being said, the castle is huge according to my mother, so I don’t doubt there’s a ton of space they can use to house us. I don’t think it’s too unlikely we’ll be able to room by twos still, especially since it’s rumored that the castle can move things around on its own. Even if we assume a baby boom happened after the war was over it wouldn’t account for it. A boom wouldn’t have started happening until late 1981 or early 1982, which means those extra students would be born as early as 1982, and be first years last year. That’s just two years of extra students and still nowhere near a thousand total.

Viktor appeared bemused by his argument and Dudley just looked a bit lost; maths never had been his cousin’s strong point.

Perhaps,Viktor said finally, but even if the castle can adjust itself, why go to the bother of accommodating our ‘peculiarities’ instead of just patterning our housing on what it already does?

Er, I dunno,Harry said with a shrug. Wishful thinking?And he certainly did wish; the fewer people who knew about his spiffy new trunk the better. At best they might only want to know where they could get one for themselves, and at worst they would want to know what exactly all its features were. You know, it’s just occurred to me. What are we going to do about quidditch this year? Hogwarts only has one pitch and now there are eight teams needing to practice.

Dudley let out a heartfelt (and slightly frightened) groan and clutched at his hair. But I finally got moved up from reserve! What if they don’t figure this out?

Harry turned away and discreetly rolled his eyes. Even Viktor wasn’t that quidditch mad. He was about to turn back when the compartment door slammed open and a blond boy about his age stepped in; behind him were two brutes. Harry exchanged a look with Viktor after glancing at his watch.

“I heard that Viktor Krum was on the train,” the blond announced, somehow pompously.

Oh for—! Is he really so mental that he expects all of us to speak his language?Harry complained, more to get in a word before one of them did actually speak English and give up the game. Because sure, every country in the world obviously thinks their native languages aren’t good enough.

Dudley snickered and Viktor had a faint look of amusement going.

“You’re Viktor Krum,” the blond said, pointing.

You are very rude,Viktor responded, then said to Harry and Dudley, Are they all taught in this country to be so, well, mannerless? He just barged in, and now he’s pointing. He did not even introduce himself.

Judging by his clothing I’d say it’s more that he’s from a wealthy family and expects people to ignore his blatant flouting of common courtesy and societal rules.

Thankfully, the boy had yet to take his eyes off Viktor but for a quick glance at the other two occupants, so Harry expected to go mainly unnoticed for the time being as a visual oddity.

The blond scowled and said, “Don’t you people speak English? You’re going to an English-speaking school!”

“Oi, Malfoy, who are you bothering now?” came a voice from the corridor.

‘Oh, hell,’ Harry thought and turned to look out the window. The reflections showed him that Malfoy had stepped back out of the compartment to deal with someone he obviously considered an interloper. Viktor took that opportunity to produce his wand and shut the door, then lock it. He noticed, though, that they could still hear what was going on quite easily.

“Maybe Durmstrang isn’t such a great school after all,” Malfoy was saying, “if they let your sort of riffraff into their part of the train.”

Do we have guards nobody told us about?Dudley muttered.

“I’ll have you know my father is a pure-blood of better lineage than yours and I am the Boy-Who-Lived!”

Maybe we should if just anyone can trundle this way,Harry said. I mean really, this Malfoy person is clearly an idiot if he thinks we’re attending Hogwarts. Did he honestly think we’d be in the same classes he is?

Someone scoffed, presumably Malfoy. “Oh, honestly! You can’t possibly believe that a dirty little half-blood imbecile like you could possibly have had anything to do with that.”

I know this name, Malfoy,Viktor said musingly. Very wealthy, yes, and the father is a suspected Death Eater.

“My father isn’t a Death Eater who groveled at the feet of a mad man!”

Please notice he did not address the actual comment.Harry said with a smirk. Please also notice that both of them are yelling in the corridor like barbarians.

“Don’t be ridiculous! My father was under the Imperius Curse, you oaf.”

Ah, so assuming that’s even the truth he’s admitting his father is weak-minded,Viktor commented.

“That’s what you’d like everyone to think, but people with brains know he just bribed his way out of prison!”

“Yeah,” said a third voice, “everyone knows he’s just a slimy snake like you.”

None of this is making a good impression on me,Dudley said. Do they want us to think they aren’t civilized?

“Hey!” shouted a new voice, an older voice. “What are you lot doing here? Don’t you know these cars are for Durmstrang? Go now and don’t come back here and maybe I won’t bother to put all of you in for point deductions once we get to the school.”

“Vile slander!” Malfoy screeched. “When my father hears about th—!”

“Right, that’s it. A definite point deduction for you, Malfoy. Stick around and yell some more, why don’t you.”

“Yeah, snake,” voice three said smugly, “you and your stooges should run along now.”

“And that’s points gone for Gryffindor, Weasley. All of you, Slytherin and Gryffindor, back to the Hogwarts cars. Now!”

After some scuffling noises silence reigned again, but only briefly. The sound of compartment doors being opened and people stepping into the corridor took over, not to mention rather a lot of murmured conversation.

Viktor removed the locking spell from the door at that point and rolled his eyes. Are these people not required to learn etiquette? And we’re heading toward what is supposed to be a first-rate school?

If people acted like that at Durmstrang they’d be in detention for ages!Dudley pointed out. On the other hand, the entertainment portion of our journey just got shuffled off.

*

Shortly before they arrived announcements were broadcast throughout the train, one in English and one in German, the common language of Durmstrang. “We will be at Hogsmeade shortly. All Hogwarts first years please remain seated on arrival. You will be notified when it is your turn to disembark. Hogwarts years two through seven disembark as usual and make your way to the castle in the carriages. Your trunks will be brought to the school for you and placed in your dorms.”

The Durmstrang students got, We will be at Hogsmeade shortly. Please remain seated on arrival until after the majority of the Hogwarts students have disembarked. You will be notified when it is your turn to do so. Once off the train please take one of the carriages to the school. You will be met by some of your professors and directed to the Great Hall and where you will be seated for meals. Your trunks will be brought to the school for you and placed in your rooms.

Harry, having both Tom’s memories and his mother’s reminiscences to go by, expected something of that sort, though he wondered exactly how the seating would work. Even so, apparently they had decided it would be less confusing for everyone involved to separate the schools for the short trip to the castle. So that meant . . . what?

Once they arrived, sodden from the rain steadily drumming down, Professors Byquist and Krupin were waiting in the entrance hall, ready to direct them all. Students, please head to your right, through those large doors. There are four tables set up for our use, the ones closer to the doors. Ignore the closest table as that is reserved for Durmstrang staff. The tables farther away are reserved for the Hogwarts students.

‘Well okay, then,’ he thought, following his cousin and Viktor and taking the first available seats. The Great Hall was still very much like the one in Tom’s memories, just much larger, and the Hogwarts tables went, from left to right while looking at the far head table, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor. He supposed part of that was to keep the two warring houses as far apart as possible.

The head table for Durmstrang was perpendicular to the student ones, but not on a dais like the Hogwarts one was. The arrangement made sense to him except for one minor thing, that students of either school would have to flow around either side of the Durmstrang head table to get to their own. If the Great Hall was turned by a quarter it would not matter, but it wasn’t, so the minor inconvenience stood, though he did wonder if Dumbledore had tried to convince the Durmstrang staff to share an expanded version of the original head table.

He also wondered if they would continue to eat in the Great Hall, or if that would simply be too much work for the kitchen staff for them to eat elsewhere. People had some funny ideas about Durmstrang, most of which were predicated on the simple fact that Durmstrang didn’t teach down to its students or teach with the idea in mind that it was best to produce sheeple rather than functioning adults. That sort of training was, apparently, “evil” at its finest. Those ideas might cause problems with them eating in the same hall.

Harry snorted quietly. People here thought Slytherins were evil, and it seemed as though too many of those were so hyped up on their family wealth and influence and supposed blood purity that they wouldn’t last a week at his school before being viciously slapped down, probably by their own mentors. Evil? Probably not in most cases. A party to the Old Boy Network? Absolutely. If they had been American muggles they’d be Republicans. From the South.

His thoughts were interrupted by someone nearby moaning, “Oh hurry up, I could eat a hippogriff.”

The words were no sooner spoken than the doors of the Great Hall opened—and when exactly had they closed, Harry wondered—and silence fell at the Hogwarts tables, quickly followed by those of Durmstrang. A female, Professor McGonagall according to what his mother had told him, was leading a long line of drenched first years up to the top of the hall. All of them were shivering with a combination of cold and nerves as they filed along the original staff table and came to a halt in a line facing the rest of the students—all of them except the smallest of the lot, a boy with mousy hair, who was wrapped in a coat so big that it looked as though he were draped in a furry black circus tent. His small face protruded from over the collar, looking almost painfully excited.

Professor McGonagall placed a three-legged stool on the ground before the first years and, on top of it, an extremely old, dirty, patched wizard’s hat. For a long moment there was silence, and then a long tear near the brim opened wide like a mouth, and the hat broke into song. The Great Hall rang with applause—though it was noticeably lacking from the Durmstrang students—as the hat finished. The professor unrolled a large scroll of parchment and said, “When I call out your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool. When the hat announces your House, you will go and sit at the appropriate table. Ackerley, Stewart!”

I wonder how it works,Viktor said quietly.

I’ve heard,said Harry, that the founders of this school put a little something of themselves into it to help with the sorting, but it was Gryffindor who actually created it.

Some time later, with “Whitby, Kevin!” (“HUFFLEPUFF!”), the sorting ended. Professor McGonagall picked up the hat and the stool and carried them away.

Professor Dumbledore got to his feet, smiling around at the students, his arms opened wide in welcome. “I have only two words to say to you,” he told them, his deep voice echoing around the hall. “Tuck in.”

Oh thank goodness,Dudley said as the empty serving dishes filled magically before their eyes. Lunch feels like it was forever ago.He filled his plate immediately and set to eating

Harry filled his plate, as well, feeling slightly annoyed that all of it was standard British fare. I do wonder, though, who ends up leaving first. It’s not like we have a clue where to go.

A clang sounded from not far away at the Gryffindor table. A girl with bushy brown hair had just knocked over a golden goblet. She was staring, horror-struck, at a ghost. “There are house-elves here? Here at Hogwarts?”

“Certainly,” said the ghost, looking surprised at her reaction. “The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred.”

“I’ve never seen one!” said the girl.

“Well, they hardly ever leave the kitchen by day, do they?” said the ghost. “They come out at night to do a bit of cleaning . . . see to the fires and so on. . . . I mean, you’re not supposed to see them, are you? That’s the mark of a good house-elf, isn’t it, that you don’t know it’s there?”

The girl continued to stare. “But they get paid? They get holidays, don’t they? And—and sick leave, and pensions, and everything?”

The ghost chortled so hard that his ruff slipped and his head flopped off, dangling on the inch or so of ghostly skin and muscle that still attached it to his neck.

Harry took a moment to wonder what the poor man’s story was. He also made the assumption that the girl was muggle-born.

“Sick leave and pensions?” the ghost said, pushing his head back onto his shoulders and securing it once more with his ruff. “House-elves don’t want sick leave and pensions!”

The girl looked down at her hardly touched plate of food, then put her knife and fork down upon it and pushed it away from her.

“Oh c’mon, ’Er-my-knee,” said a red-haired boy, accidentally spraying Edward, beside him, with bits of . . . something. “Oops—sorry, Edward—you won’t get them sick leave by starving yourself!” He sounded suspiciously like the Weasley boy with Edward right after Malfoy had barged into their compartment.

“Slave labor,” she said, her chest heaving with presumed outrage. “That’s what made this dinner. Slave labor.”

Don’t they teach people anything at this school?Dudley asked.

Apparently not,Viktor said with a frown. She seems to have no idea about the creatures. One more reason to be grateful we were not born in this country and made to attend this school.

Dudley nodded. I hear you.

Hey, pass the bread?Poliakoff called from down the table.

Bergfalk laughed. You can use it to wipe up the sauce you’ve already managed to spill down your front.

Oh, not again!Poliakoff moaned, taking the basket passed to him. I swear, my nerves always make me twitch at exactly the wrong moments. Karkaroff is sure to bitch at me again,he added in a whisper.

Then use a cleaning spell, you idiot.

You know, it is things like that which make me almost understand why Karkaroff does not want muggle-born at Durmstrang,Viktor said quietly.

Yeah, there’s just one problem with that,Harry said disapprovingly. It’s one thing for a class like Muggle Studies to be an elective, never mind that most people consider it an easy O. After all, most wizards are condescending and patronizing toward muggles, thinking they’re little better than clever talking monkeys or something. Personally I think that’s a hilariously stupid attitude to take, but then I’ve lived years in the muggle world and know better. The problem here is that wizard born and raised people piss and moan about those disrespectful, ignorant muggle-born, but they almost never do anything to correct it.

Are there classes for these children to help them to understand the wizarding world? Our culture? Traditions? No. Are there books in the libraries? Can any be purchased at a book shop? That girl is just going by what she already knows, and that means slavery is illegal and immoral. She has no idea why house-elves are as they are. So the real question, for this specific example anyway, is whether or not she will bother to investigate with the elves themselves, if there are even resources here for her to consult, honest ones, or if she’ll jump straight to trying to free them all.

. . . I see your point,Viktor said after a pause.

Harry nodded. We have our problems with muggles, yes. I vaguely recall us talking about that not long after you became our mentor. I saw your points and even agreed with them, but my resources up until then were muggle-raised, so. . . .

Ah.

Forty-five minutes later the meal (and pudding) was over and the plates seemed to clean themselves as Dumbledore got to his feet again. The buzz of chatter filling the room ceased almost at once, so that only the howling wind and pounding rain could be heard.

“So!” said Dumbledore, smiling around at them all. “Now that we are all fed and watered I must once more ask for your attention, while I give out a few notices.”

Harry only half-listened as the man went on about the latest in a long line of Defense professors, forbidden items, forbidden forests, and the nearby forbidden village (to first and second year Hogwarts students, anyway). It was when the man announced that there would be no quidditch that year that many students erupted in dismay, anger, or in the case of some, relief.

“This is due to an event that will be starting in October, and continuing throughout the school year, taking up much of the teachers’ time and energy—but I am sure you will all enjoy it immensely. This year at Hogwarts we have the honor of hosting a very exciting event over the coming months, an event that has not been held for over a century. It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.”

“You’re joking,” said a redhead loudly from the Gryffindor table.

Dumbledore chuckled. “I am not joking, Mr Weasley, though now that you mention it, I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a troll, a hag, and a leprechaun who all go into a bar—”

McGonagall cleared her throat loudly.

“Er—but maybe this is not the time, no. Where was I? Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament. Well, some of you will not know what this tournament involves, so I hope those who do know will forgive me for giving a short explanation, and allow their attention to wander freely.

“The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred years ago as a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. A champion was selected to represent each school, and the three champions competed in three magical tasks. The schools took it in turns to host the tournament once every five years, and it was generally agreed to be a most excellent way of establishing ties between witches and wizards of different nationalities—until, that is, the death toll mounted so high that the tournament was discontinued.

“There have been several attempts over the centuries to reinstate the tournament,” Dumbledore continued, “none of which has been very successful. However, our own departments of International Magical Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports have decided the time is ripe for another attempt. We have worked hard over the summer to ensure that this time, no champion will find himself or herself in mortal danger.

“The head of Beauxbatons will be arriving with her short-listed contenders in October, and the selection of the three champions will take place at Halloween. An impartial judge will decide which students are most worthy to compete for the Triwizard Cup, the glory of their school, and a thousand galleons personal prize money.”

“I’m going for it,” the same red-haired Gryffindor hissed at his table mates, and students all over the hall began whispering fervently to their neighbors.

“Eager though I know all of you will be to bring the Triwizard Cup to your school,” Dumbledore went on, “the heads of the participating schools, along with the Ministry of Magic, have agreed to impose an age restriction on contenders this year. Only students who are of age—that is to say, seventeen years or older—will be allowed to put forward their names for consideration. This”—Dumbledore raised his voice slightly, for several people were making noises of outrage at his words—“is a measure we feel is necessary, given that the tournament tasks will still be difficult and dangerous, whatever precautions we take, and it is highly unlikely that students below sixth and seventh year will be able to cope with them.

“I will personally be ensuring that no underage student hoodwinks our impartial judge into making them a champion.” Dumbledore’s eyes flickered over a number of mutinous faces. “I therefore beg you not to waste your time submitting yourself if you are under seventeen. As you already know from the notices sent out over the summer, we are hosting Durmstrang this year after the attack on their school. Beauxbatons will only be bringing a selection of students, though we will still be hosting them for the remainder of the year after their arrival.

“I know that you will all extend every courtesy to our foreign guests while they are with us, and will give your wholehearted support to your champion when he or she is selected. And now, it is late, and I know how important it is to you all to be alert and rested for the morning. Due to the sheer number of students unfamiliar with the castle we will delay the start of classes by a day, until Wednesday.” He paused a moment to look straight at the Durmstrang staff table, nodded slightly, and continued, “Hogwarts students, for this evening only we will be exiting the Great Hall by table. Slytherin, please exit out on your right, and Hufflepuff please exit out on your left. Once they are out Ravenclaw and Gryffindor may exit. Please do not dally, and remember to keep an eye on your first years.”

Fifteen minutes later they were finally alone in the room. Headmaster Karkaroff waved disinterestedly at his deputy, Professor Kozlov, and headed out. Kozlov looked at them a bit sternly and said, All right. Follow me to your quarters for this year. Once we arrive you’ll be assigned to your rooms. And pay attention to our route. There are no maps of this place as the castle apparently has a habit of moving rooms around.

They trooped along behind him up various staircases, along various corridors, until they arrived at a large painting of Heinrich Agrippa. Harry raised one brow in appreciation; at least the portrait guarding their part of the castle spoke German as a native.

Kozlov stopped at the portrait and turned to look at them. The password is ‘the will to power’. Remember it.The portrait popped open and Kozlov led the way.

They emerged into a fairly large room, but it was totally unsuitable for the entirety of Durmstrang. Harry suspected it had been temporarily enlarged for the moment given how the amount of furnishings was not nearly enough for such a space and the room looked almost barren in consequence.

Kozlov pulled a sheaf of parchment from his robes and thrust them at Krum. Here. You deal with this. Now, before I go, understand that this part of the castle has seven levels. This here is the entrance and also a common room for the seventh years. Each level is the same in this respect. To the left on each are the rooms for the boys, to the right for the girls. Sixth years on the first floor, fifth on the second, and so on.He glanced at Krum, gave a sharp nod, and then left.

Viktor gazed up at the ceiling, as if asking “why me?” before checking the parchments. All right. I want the fourth and first years to remain here. Everyone else can head up to their rooms. You have the same assignments you’ve had before, so just find which room your trunks are in.He waited until the majority of the student body had shuffled off before continuing. Fourth years, you can go up, but stay awake a bit longer. I’ll be with you shortly to hand out mentor assignments. First years, you’ll come with me in a minute so I can get you sorted out.

Harry exchanged a look with Dudley and followed the rest of his year mates.