Author note: And there we are, Chapter Four! I can hardly believe I’m actually now posting this Chapter. I’m really nervous about the clue, I hope it doesn’t seem stupidly easy, from the perspective of somebody who has always known the answer it is hard to distinguish over whether it is hard to decipher or not! Either way please let me know what you all think, and if the answer doesn’t seem obvious to you, feel free to make some guesses! This Chapter should be up quickly thanks to the great work of HPFF staff who have been validating so quickly recently. Thank you to everybody who reads and extra thanks to the lovely people who have been reviewing. I hope you enjoy this Chapter!
And I thought I ought to mention as I hadn’t as yet, I obviously own nothing associated with the Harry Potter books; that is all the property of J.K Rowling.
4- New Landscapes:
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”
Rose awoke early the next morning as shards of natural light began to shine upon her face which still pressed against the large window in her bedroom. Sluggishly she began the move, yawning widely and stretching her arms above her head as she rubbed her cold cheek and blinked at the sudden light. The previously darkened room now glowed with morning sunshine defying the winter coldness which consumed outside.
Rubbing her eyes she glanced at the window and noticed the ship was now above water and her view consisted of thick dark forests of statuesque, sharply angled trees which were crowded together in so organised a formation they looked as if about to attack.
There was no doubt Durmstrang was beautiful with its mountainous terrain, the entire ground uneven with crags of mossy rocks creeping out of worn, deeply emerald grass. However remnants of dark magic once used there seemed to hang in the air, chilling Rose to the bone. Deciding she wanted a chance to explore a bit, and spotting the docking platform beside the ship, she dressed quickly and left her cabin.
She surprisingly quickly found her way to the heavy doors leading off the ship and thankfully finding them unlocked she stepped out, bumping directly into a dark haired boy standing with his back to her.
He turned instantly and she recognised the piercing blue eyes of Artemis. She had known Artemis indirectly for a couple of years through his friendship with Albus but hadn’t really spoken to him until the previous year and even then it was fleetingly. Nonetheless she always liked his quiet, serious manner and the small smiles he gave when he acted the peacemaker between their friends.
“Decided to make the most of the morning as well did you?” Artemis asked, smiling down at her from his several inches advantage in height. Rose smiled back and pulled the woollen coat she was wearing closer around her as she felt the bite of the cold air.
“It’s so nice to be above water again,” she replied, looking around her. “I thought I’d take advantage of the quiet and do a bit of exploring while nobody else is up. I’ve never seen a wizarding school other than Hogwarts before.”
“Well as far as I know,” Artemis said, beginning to walk, “the school is this way.”
Rose fell into step beside him and they walked companionably, chatting about the Tournament as they climbed the rocky hill before them.
Eventually they reached the upmost point of the slope and Rose gave a deep sigh of disappointment as she saw only uneven and hilly landscape and more vast lakes before them. She heard a chuckle from Artemis beside her.
“So easy to give up? You’ll need more stamina than that to be the Triwizard champion!” he laughed. He pressed a hand against the small of her back and urged her to step forward. She stopped suddenly and gasped, clutching a hand to her mouth in shock.
“What on earth?!” she practically shrieked at Artemis. “Where on earth did that come from?” She questioned, gesturing in front of her where now an immense castle stood, hewn from black stone and precisely carved with Gothic arched windows and highly decorative turrets.
Hideously grinning gargoyles leered down from their perches high above her and huge windows made of tiny diamond shaped glass pieces mirrored the darkness of the landscape perfectly.
The two students stood in awe, it was positively the most imposing building Rose had ever seen, and she felt frightened just standing outside it.
“Extra security device,” Artemis said vaguely. “You can’t see it until you’re literally right next to it. Works well enough,” he added with a grin. Rose smiled wryly back and took a step forward before stopping.
“On second thoughts I don’t think I want to see what security devices are in place for uninvited guests, I think I might just wait. No doubt we’ll get shown around later.”
Artemis nodded. “Good plan,” he said.
The two of them continued their walk through the Durmstrang grounds which seemed unending; even from their higher stance they couldn’t see anything but lush greenery interrupted by clusters of broken rocks.
Behind them they observed the ship they had arrived on which bobbled gently in the frosty morning breeze on a vast glittering lake. Rose’s eyes continually picked up bigger ripples in the water and flickers of creatures within, she shivered at the very thought and wished she were back at Hogwarts.
She turned to see Artemis looking at her with a concerned expression on his face.
“It’s not as bad as it seems right now,” he said quietly, turning to stare into the distance. “This place isn’t home, or anything like it and I’m sure this whole Tournament must feel like a dream, or even a nightmare, to you but you just have to take things one step at a time.
“Whilst you’re here you’re going to meet so many new situations and challenges but you just have to deal with them.” Rose nodded her head, knowing he was right.
She felt that she was stranded in the midst of a vast ocean with dangers surrounding her on every side. What was she to do? Should she carry on and fight, striking out for land and a reprieve, no matter how dangerous it may be; should she just give up and admit defeat.
This moment almost felt like a turning point, it was the moment at which everything truly became real and solid. There was no going back now. Deep down she knew that there was no way she would be chosen for this Tournament if she wasn’t right for it and this fact kept her pushing on, that and the support of her friends and family alike.
Rose shook her head to relieve herself of the thoughts now churning through her mind. She took a deep breath as strands of her red hair flew in front of her face, moved by the chilling breeze which, like tiny ghostly hands, pulled her this way and that as if fighting over her. Turning to Artemis she smiled slightly and started to take a step forward.
“I’d better get back; I’m supposed to be getting information about the Tournament today.” Artemis nodded and sat down on the hard ground, placing his feet flat on the floor and drawing his knees up, resting outstretched arms on them.
“You go ahead; I think I’ll stay here for a while. Get some air before everybody else gets up,” he said. Rose bid him goodbye and made her way down the jagged hill-side back to the Hogwarts ship where, once boarded, she navigated herself back to her cabin.
On arriving on her corridor she saw the Common Room door was standing slightly open and so approached it, looking through the gap and seeing Scorpius settled in one of the large leather armchairs which circled the fireplace.
He looked up as he heard her footsteps on the creaky wooden boards and gestured to an owl which hopped impatiently beside him, a large fragment of parchment attached to its leg.
Rose quickly crossed the room and took the seat next to Scorpius as he detached the note from the owl, leaving it free to spread its brown wings and soar out of the open window.
Rose sat anxiously staring at the paper in Scorpius’ hands which he handed quickly to her. She accepted it and broke the crimson seal immediately, noting the elaborate writing of the Hogwarts Headmistress when it was unfolded. Sitting back in the chair and crossing one leg over the other Rose began to read.
For the attention of Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy,
I hope you have both enjoyed your first night aboard your home for the remainder of this year and found everything to your liking.
As I’m sure you are aware I’m writing you this note to inform you that a meeting has been arranged to take place this afternoon at 1pm which both of you must attend. It will be attended by yourselves and the champions and partners of the other participating schools and you will all receive clues to help you begin to prepare for the First Task in 18 days time.
I require that you meet me on the mooring platform beside the ship at 12:45 in preparation and we will travel up to Durmstrang Institute together. I look forward to seeing you both later.
Headmistress Violet Quila.
Scorpius’s previously rigid posture relaxed as he too sat back in his chair, however his face betrayed how he really felt, his lips in a thin line and his eyes dark.
“And so it begins,” he said suddenly. The tense atmosphere was broken as Rose laughed suddenly. Scorpius looked confused.
“Sorry,” Rose apologised, “It’s just...over-dramatic much? “So it begins” It’s like it came right out of a film.” She grinned at the confusion on Scorpius’ face. He began the smile and shook his head slightly from side to side.
“I’m never going to quite understand you am I, Red?” he asked suddenly, still smiling at her.
“Of course not,” she replied. “Where would be the fun in that?”
They both sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments whilst they mused over what the rest of the day would bring, Rose picking insistently at her fingernails. She turned and looked at the antique clock which hung lazily over the mantelpiece and saw it was already eight thirty.
“We should go get some breakfast,” she said to Scorpius, climbing quickly to her feet and making to leave the room.
Shaken out of his reverie with a start, Scorpius slowly followed her lead and together they made their way to the Food Hall which was heaving with the hundreds of students contained within, all of whom were noisily tucking into the numerous offerings for breakfast. Rose started to make her way over to the Gryffindor table but was stopped by a firm tap on her shoulder.
“Meet at our rooms at twelve thirty?” Scorpius asked. The fingers of one hand threading through his already messy dark blonde hair, making it stand on end.
“Sure,” Rose replied with a smile and with a nod she and Scorpius parted, making their way to their respective house tables.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rose stood nervously in her and Scorpius’ Common Room unable to sit as she felt an irrational need to keep moving. She was getting nervous about what they were about to learn from the Tournament.
She wasn’t sure whether an obvious or mysterious clue would be better; half of her felt like she needed to know now what she was going to face and the other half was more than happy to wait until the day of the First Task. But deep down she knew she was just putting off the inevitable.
The door squeaked behind her and she turned quickly, in time to see Scorpius step into the room exactly on the dot of twelve thirty.
He smiled grimly and gestured back through the door he had just entered, letting her walk ahead of him. The walk to the mooring platform was silent as both mulled over the impending meeting and before they knew it they had arrived at the large door leading off the ship.
Rose’s movements were stilted and jerky as she exited the ship and was met with the sight of Professor Quila, standing observing the landscape before her. The Professor turned when she heard the slam of a door and smiled warmly at them both.
“Miss Weasley, Mr Malfoy,” she said, nodding at them both. “It is good to see you. Now, if you could just follow me.” She set off at a rapid pace over the craggy terrain with Scorpius and Rose lagging behind, used to the smooth hills of Hogwarts.
Eventually they reached the peak and Rose laughed at Scorpius’ shock as he reached quickly inside his robes, brandishing his wand, as the magnificent castle suddenly rose before them. The Professor joined her laughter as Scorpius frowned, a slight smile beginning to toy with his lips.
Professor Quila approached the vast oak, metal studded doors set into the impossibly dark stone and hastily rapped against it, four times. The doors were quickly swung open seemingly without assistance and the three figures stepped inside onto polished black and white tiles which gleamed in the sudden light let in from outside.
As the doors closed behind them the light was dimmed and darkness consumed their surroundings. Corners were impossible to locate and the occupants of portraits sat with bored expressions on their faces, just viewable from where Rose stood, otherwise shrouded by the dark.
“Violet!” a deep, male voice echoed from what Rose could only assume to be the top of a staircase, the foot of which could barely be seen before them.
“Do come up, do come up,” he said a tad impatiently. Rose heard another voice through the darkness, this one softer.
“Lumos,” it said and light suddenly shone throughout the entrance hall in which they stood. Rose could now see the entire interior walls of the castle which were lined with identical dark wooden panelling which at no point seemed to show any indications of doors or rooms beyond.
The dull paintings which Rose had previously seen were now filled with wincing people, most of whom wore heavy fur coats, as they struggled against the sudden light.
Ahead of them was a glorious staircase of black marble, seeming to be oddly out of the place in the otherwise wooden surroundings. Rose could make out letters carved into the banisters which stretched up the length of the staircase to where two people stood at the top.
One was Professor Volkov, Headmaster of Durmstrang, immediately noticeable because of his thick furrowed eyes brows, dark eyes and thin lips which didn’t seem capable of smiling. Beside him stood a shorter and slighter man, he barely looked older than Scorpius but appeared much feebler. It was he who had conjured the light and who smiled faintly at the three of them, beckoning them up the staircase.
Professor Quila greeted the sour-faced headmaster as they began to ascend the stairs; Rose and Scorpius glanced at each other, both with the same expression of gloom reflecting their grim surroundings.
On reaching the top of the staircase where the two inhabitants of Durmstrang stood, the frail man introduced himself as being Luka, the Assistant Headmaster. Rose and Scorpius smiled at him as their Headmistress briskly shook his hand and he began to lead them down a lengthy corridor by the light of his wand.
Professor Volkov seemed disinterested as Luka pointed out to them particular paintings of interest and the doorways to certain rooms; he assured them they would get a complete tour later in their day.
In a matter of minutes they reached a small dark door with a dull brass handle barely glimmering in the sudden light of the wand. Luka turned the handle and led them inside a room lit by the flickering flames of a roaring fire around which Professor Arcenau, the Beauxbatons Headmaster, sat with Alexandre and Philippe.
Opposite them in small armchairs sat Katalena and Dimitri, both of their expressions impossible to read in the shadowy light. Scorpius and Rose took the remaining seats on an uncomfortable sofa which felt like it had been stuffed with cardboard.
Professor Arcenau got to his feet and joined the other two schools’ Heads as Professor Volkov cleared his throat and began to speak in a rough, deep voice.
“You are all aware why you are here; each school’s Champion is to receive a clue concerning the First Task. Each clue will be different and it will help none of you knowing another school’s clue, so avoid sharing its contents with anybody except your partner.
“These clues will give you some indication of a starting point however the only advice we can give you regarding the entirety of the First Task is to work on all of your magical skills as they will all be tested. Without further ado - your clues.”
At this moment he motioned to a small wooden box which stood on the mantelpiece over the fire, it abruptly burst into flames and, much like the Goblet of Fire had, it sprouted three singed pieces of parchment. Each Professor caught that which flew nearest to them and passed it to their Champion. “You are now free to go and read through your clue and analyse it as deeply as possible. We will however require the attendance of Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students at a tour around the castle later today, at 4pm. I shall see you there.”
Professor Volkov nodded at the students and gestured for his own to follow him as he swept from the room. Rose clutched her piece of parchment tightly in her hand as she, her Headmistress and Scorpius left the room; she had barely glanced at it since receiving it.
Thankfully, they were soon out of the dreary, darkness of the castle and back into the frosty brightness outside where Professor Quila stopped, causing the two students to do the same.
“I’m afraid I have engagements I have to honour and due to the rules of the Tournament I should technically be giving you no help, so I therefore will leave you both to discuss your clue in private,” she began with a grim smile.
“I am sorry for the shortness of the meeting after our efforts to arrive on time, there was little to be said but certain Tournament ceremonies had to be honoured. I wish you both the best of luck and will see you later for the Durmstrang tour.”
On saying this she glanced up at the imposing castle and frowned, before smiling at Rose and Scorpius and entering the castle once again through the doors they had just exited. Rose and Scorpius continued in silence.
Rose felt the impossibility of the Tasks ahead of her closing in around her and playing on her insecurities. Their setting was hardly helping, Rose thought, as they walked away from the bleak castle which had thankfully disappeared. She was only too glad that the Professor had shown them the way out before returning to her meetings as she didn’t feel comfortable travelling without her. The two continued on to their cabins without speaking as both knew there was nothing to say until they had read the clue. Scorpius went directly to his door and pressed his hand against the wood, speaking his name, and beckoned Rose to follow him.
They both sank comfortably onto Scorpius’ bed, he with his back against the headboard and legs outstretched and her sitting opposite him, cross-legged. Slowly, Rose unfolded her fingers which had at some point formed a fist and revealed a blackened, crinkled scrap of parchment. It read:
“A strong emotion I can mimic,
Consumed by feeling with no limit
Too much and I can be a liar,
Take me right, you’ll get your heart’s desire.”
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