Before that, Amos Diggory was at the Palace at the invitation of the deputy headmistress, Sandrine Laurent, who is the widow of Didier Laurent and the mother of Denis. Amos did not take kindly to her attempt at reconciliation, and Denis is furious at dealing with it again. Dani Villanueva is sullen about something (Denis referred to "Mexican temper tantrums" in his under-the-breath rant), and Elodie Lejeune attempted to leave the dining chamber in a very ostentatious way when she wasn't chosen.
Horace Goyle, to James's disgust, was picked as the Hogwarts champion. Titouan Boulanger was chosen from Beauxbatons, and Veronika Horvat, who was flirting with James, was chosen from Durmstrang.
Then, the blood on the floor.
Table of Contents So Far
Everyone jumped back and climbed onto tables, but the blood seeped down into the floor and disappeared. The Goblet lay still on the marble, a few blue flames still flickering around its rim. Denis Laurent moved to grab it, but Madame Maxime held him back easily.
"This needs to be examined," she said, and flicked her wand. A mountain goat appeared, ran a few steps, then vanished. "Miss Villanueva, would you gather the champions back. We can speak to them in here, and it's as well that no one leaves until the Aurors have looked at the scene."
"Tell them to pick up that mad Englishman!" Shevchenko said. "I saw him skulking around."
"I invited him," Madame Laurent said weakly. "I'm so sorry."
"I doubt it's because of you," Dani said, but left to get the champions without explaining herself.
The French Aurors arrived five minutes later and began to examine the Goblet while the judges spoke quietly to the champions at the high table. James gave his statement to an Auror called Roussel and offered to help translate with the other Hogwarts students (he knew how insane it made Dad when questions took longer than they needed to because of language gaps). Roussel said that wasn't necessary; he had enough English to be going on with.
Another Auror ran in and told the chief that Amos Diggory had been found on the grounds, and Diggory himself was brought in a moment later, swearing at the top of his lungs that, "I haven't been anywhere near the infernal thing!" He demanded to be referred to British Aurors, and twenty minutes later, a very tired looking Uncle Ron showed up to collect him. He gave James a faint smile, but it wasn't a good time to talk, as he was trying to calm Diggory down. They tested his wand and found nothing untoward about any spells it had done. ("That doesn't mean he couldn't have used a different wand," James heard someone say darkly.)
At long last, everyone was allowed to go back to their dormitories. Phineas Nigellus took the news--both good and bad--to Hogwarts and Sirius took it to Teddy's. Most of the Hogwarts contingent stayed in the common area, where they had a subdued party for Goyle, who looked a little dejected that more attention hadn't been paid to the champions. James didn't much care for him, but it wasn't fair, so, as much to cheer him as anything, he started asking questions about the tournament, and what the champions had been told.
Goyle puffed up a little and said, "Well, as you might imagine, the tasks will be very dangerous. The first one will be at the end of November--Saturday the twenty-third. We can't know what it is ahead of time--it's the task that's meant to test how we deal with surprises."
"Wonder how long before the first person finds out this time," Sybil Horowitz said. "I hear last time, everyone knew going in."
James shrugged, not confirming or denying, but the truth was, she was right, and everyone knew it.
"Bet whatever it is will be in that walled paddock we saw on the tour," Goyle said. "Did anyone notice it was closed on top?"
"Maybe it won't be a monster," Harry Norris said.
"That'd be a first." Darcy Lynch summoned a book on the history of the tournament. "It's always some kind of monster. Manticores, sphinxes--"
"If it were a sphinx," Celia said, "I doubt they'd have showed us their pet one."
"That's a good point," Goyle said, smiling widely at Celia. "You're so smart. We should find out everything they have in their magizoological gardens--process of elimination. It probably won't be dragons, either, since was last time. I don't think there were ever two in a row the same--Darce?" He raised his eyebrows; Darcy ran down a list in the back of the book (James knew from his own perusals that it was a chart of all the challenges) and shook her head.
"What has shown up more than once?" Scops asked.
"Well, no offense to present company," Darcy said, "but, er..." She looked at Celia and pointed at something on the page.
Celia rolled her eyes. "I don't think even Beauxbatons would do werewolf baiting in this day and age. Besides, that's the Saturday after the full moon. We're not very threatening just then."
"Maybe they found some of Hagrid's acromantulas," James suggested. "Most of them died in the battle, but a few got away."
"Could be something local," Scops said. "A tarasque?"
"No," Celia said, "they're very protective about the tarasques. You know the story, right? St. Martha was supposed to have tamed one, only to have the villagers tear it apart. A real guilt trip. I doubt the locals would be very amused if they put a tarasque in danger from an uncouth teenager."
Robards let this go on for a while, until it got late enough to remind everyone that Beauxbatons was starting its regular classes again tomorrow, and that Hogwarts classes would begin as well. "I'll have schedules at breakfast for those of you taking classes here," he said. "Get some sleep."
With that, he retired to his room on the corner of the lower floor, and the students went into the dormitories.
James lay awake for a long while, and he didn't think he was the only one.
The next morning, they rose early and went to breakfast--it was a very simple meal this time, just croissants and jams. Robards brought schedules, and James learned that he would have Magizoology, Potions, and Charms today, as well as his Hogwarts Transfiguration lesson back at the train.
The daily paper, the Voyant, was apparently provided free of charge to Beauxbatons students, as owls came through and dropped a copy on each table about halfway through the meal. Regular students jostled for favorite bits (James could hear bargaining going on about sports sections and crossword puzzles). James and Celia grabbed for it at the same time.
There was no thought of doing crossword puzzles.
The Goblet and its spill of blood were on the front page, with Amos Diggory being dragged off in a picture above the fold. "A Curse?" the headline asked, "Or A Father's Rage?" The article gave both options equal treatment, and didn't offer any others. Denis Laurent fumed that an obvious hex with Conjured blood didn't imply any more danger to the tournament than it had ever had before. His mother, interviewed as Didier's widow, said that of course there were safety concerns--someone had tampered with the Goblet--but that everything was in place to protect the champions and everyone else at the school.
On the second page, some outraged letters accused Amos Diggory of trying to destroy the tournament. Others suggested an exorcism of Cedric's ghost. One eccentric blamed Dani Villanueva, claiming that she didn't want to be outshone by having another champion--this one of a much more prestigious tournament than her own vulgar games--stepping into her spotlight. Another, bizarrely, blamed Celia.
"Of course," Celia said. "We werewolves are known for our stealthy strategy of hoodwinking magical objects into making symbolic threats. Why do you think people are so afraid of us?"
"I'm writing back to this!" James said, fishing for a quill.
Celia put her hand on his wrist. "James, don't. Let it be. It'll blow over if you don't fan it."
James thought about doing it anyway--he hadn't been so mad on anyone's behalf for a while--but decided that Celia got to decide when she needed defending. Instead, he just stomped his way down to Magizoology, where the professor, Anais Girard, tried to show them the Demiguise. Unfortunately, it kept disappearing, so all they could do was feel its long, silky hair. After that, he went up to Potions, here held in an airy upper classroom with open windows. Aunt Fleur's sister laughed when she saw James's reaction to this.
"I 'ave been in your Potions classroom," she said in English before class. "'Ow do you work in all ze fumes?"
"I never thought about it," James said, but there was no further discussion, as the class needed every second of its allotted time. Gabrielle DuLac was a demanding, strict teacher, and she allowed no one to stray from the day's task of brewing a Silencing Solution, which could be applied to earmuffs to shut out any noise. Unlike Professor Stephens, she didn't Vanish everyone's work at the end of the day. She kept all of the good ones and added them to a supply she was building in a large cauldron. This seemed not to be usual, as the Beauxbatons students looked puzzled, but on the way out, a boy called Romain said that it wasn't the first time--apparently, she kept Potions that could be used in Healing as well.
"And don't forget the Bubotuber pus dilution from first year," a girl named Maeva said, with a smile. "I think Monsieur Roux has half his supply from first year Potions students."
Potions was just before lunch, so James had a moment to go say hello. Gabrielle--Professor DuLac--gave him a hug and kissed both cheeks. "I understand I am to be a great aunt again. 'Ad you 'eard?"
"No. And it's all right to speak French," James said, switching languages. "I've been practicing with Aunt Fleur and the girls."
"If you'd prefer," she said. "Had you heard?"
"Yes--the portrait told me."
"I can't say how strange it is that my sister is a grandmother--twice over now!" Professor DuLac shook her head in wonder. "My own children are still in school. Have you met them yet?"
"Well, I generally say goodbye to them after supper before I go home. Come join us tonight, and I'll introduce you."
"Family is family." She nodded, and James went on to lunch.
The newspapers--what was left of them after puzzles and favorite sections had been scavenged--were still on the tables, and James could see Amos Diggory's indignant face looking up at him from several angles. He believed that Mr. Diggory hadn't done anything--and certainly that Cedric hadn't. But he wasn't in the best place to investigate either.
Family is family.
He got out a quill and a piece of parchment and wrote:
Dear Al and Lily,
Do you remember when I asked you to look out for what was happening with Mr. Diggory? Well, he's been accused of nonsense here...