One of those elements just arrived at Platform 9 and 3/4--Daniela Villanueva, the celebrity girl who won the Quintamage Competition. As James and his siblings are getting ready to go, they hear someone scream, "It's HER!"
ETA: French corrected by Sylvia. Thanks! (I will be leaning heavily on French speakers, as Google-French may be comprehensible, but is certainly not, er... French.)
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
James craned his neck to see above the sea of cameras that had suddenly appeared, and there she was: Dani. The champion.
She was smaller than she seemed in pictures. The photographers had her standing on a pyramid of artfully stacked trunks, but this had the effect of making her seem smaller still. She was wearing blue jeans and a flowered tunic, and two flags--a Mexican flag and the Union Jack--were stuck into the base of her black ponytail. She grinned and waved at the cameras.
"Dani!" a reporter yelled. "Are you going to Hogwarts this year?"
She laughed, and responded in the light, accented English that had become so familiar over the last few months, English that sounded like it was about to break into a dance. "Oh, not for school!" she said. "But there are other things to be there for today!"
"Are the rumors true, then?" a second reporter asked. "Are you involved in the Triwizard Tournament?"
She grinned again and said, "Oh, but you have spoiled the surprise!"
This was met with a veritable roar from the press. Beside James, Celia said, "What is she going on about?"
Daniela stood as tall as she could (James suspected she was on tiptoes by now) and said, "I shall tell you now: This morning, I was invited to be a judge for the Triwizard Tournament! I have accepted, and tonight, I shall observe when the goblet of fire chooses the group who will come from Hogwarts."
The students on the platform clapped loudly for this, but the press seemed momentarily flummoxed until a wiry man with thinning hair--Dennis Creevey--said, "Miss Villanueva, which judge stepped down?"
She frowned, and a tall man whispered in her ear; James guessed he was translating the question.
"Oh, yes," she said. "The place of Monsieur Didier Laurent, who did so very much to bring the tournament back before he died, would have been taken by his wife, Madame Sandrine Laurent, but yesterday, she said no. She is a teacher at Beauxbatons, and she thought it would not be fair, especially because her son is judging from the French Ministry already."
There was a great deal of scribbling about this, then the questions about the tournament itself began--had they decided about the age line, what would the challenges be, things like that. James felt a little sorry for Daniela--she looked completely lost, and obviously didn't know. Beside him, he could tell that Dad was wincing, and he looked like he meant to step in at any moment, but he didn't have to. The same tall man who had translated for Daniela put his arms up and said, "Miss Villanueva doesn't have the answers to those questions yet. She must join the other judges momentarily."
She smiled gratefully and muttered something to him in Spanish (James only caught "Gracias"), then said, "I am so happy to be here, and to be a part of this great tradition!" She blew a kiss at the gathered students. "Good luck! Buena suerte a todos!"
With that, she scrambled down from the top of the stack of trunks, and was hustled away into the crowd.
"That was quite a performance," Aunt Hermione said.
"Don't judge her too harshly," Vivian said. "She's very young, and very nervous."
"And probably trying not to fall off that pile of trunks," Celia said, rolling her eyes.
"Isn't it time to go onto the train?" Lily asked, obviously annoyed that her first day of school had been so rudely interrupted (Hugo, who was looking after Daniela with a dreamy expression on his face, didn't seem to be so bothered).
The family took the hint, and made a great fuss over both first years. Rosie deeply frightened Hugo by suggesting that he might join her in Ravenclaw rather than going to Gryffindor, given that he could remember nearly anything he read on sight, which was apparently a highly prized skill in Ravenclaw Tower. Hugo threatened to steal her Sleek-Easy Potion and pour it down a drain if she dared to share that information with anyone at school. James teased Lily that she'd end up living with her brothers again, and they would have to approve anyone she made friends with.
"Right," Al said. "There are rituals they'll have to do. They're horrible. They involve death defying stunts--"
"--and humiliation," Celia added for good measure. "And danger. You should have seen what we put Al's new friend through last year. Jane was fat when she started, but now... well, you saw her. Thin as a rail."
Al nodded. "But once they're through, we'll think about letting you keep them."
"I'll put you through rituals," Mum said, exasperated. "Starting with kitchen chores over Christmas."
The train whistle blew, and there was one more round of quick goodbyes, promises to write, and last minute straightening of hair--with Hugo, this was given up as a bad job--then together, the younger generation went to the train.
Michael Prince, who always arrived early, had secured a good compartment toward the front of the train. Silas, Ahmed, and Robert Highgold were there, along with Jane Virgil, a second year girl who Al had befriended last year. Contrary to Celia's statement, she'd always been crazily thin; even her skin was thin, which reminded James of moth wings, and, much to Al's chagrin, had inspired her nickname, Moth. At the moment, her light brown hair was up in two pigtails, which fanned out around her head as she leaned against a seat, amplifying the wing effect.
Whether Al liked it or not, Moth seemed perfectly comfortable with it, and gave James a hearty wave when he said, "Hello, Moth!"
"You don't have to let him call you that," Al said, coming in and sitting behind her on the seat.
"I never had a nickname," Moth said. "I like it. Did you have a good summer?"
Before they could get settled into discussing the intricacies of Prophet crossword puzzles--Moth was also a regular puzzler, as James understood it--James cleared his throat and said, "Does everyone remember Lily and Hugo?"
They all remembered Lily, of course, as she'd been in games with them for three years over the summers, but Hugo hadn't spent much time with James and Al, so introductions had to be made. By the time they were finished, the older Weasley girls and their Slytherin brother Artie had arrived, as had Rosie's Hufflepuff friend, Scorpius Malfoy, generally called Scops. The compartment was now quite crowded, but no one seemed to mind.
As the train pulled away from the station, Lily and Hugo were given spots by the window, so they could see the parents waving. Dad would be running alongside the train by now, as he always did, though James suspected that this year, with all three of them on board, he might actually make an attempt to catch it.
Once the train was clear and moving through London, Lily stepped back and said, "Why does he do that?"
"Because he loves you," Rosie said. "It's sweet."
"So, what are we going to do all the way to Scotland?" Robert asked, pulling out a deck of cards, in which no one showed any interest--he'd won all of their gold before they got to Birmingham last year.
"I have puzzles," Moth suggested, to even less enthusiasm.
"Let's all learn French," Silas suggested. "I think we'll have a better chance of being chosen to go to France if we speak the language."
"You can't learn a whole language on a train ride," Aimee Weasley said.
Celia, who, for some reason, didn't care for Aimee, rolled her eyes and said, "They could listen. James, are you still reading Martin's book?"
James twisted around and pulled the paperback out of his back pocket. She signaled for it, and he tossed it to her.
"I'll read," she said. "You translate."
"James is going to translate?" Artie asked dubiously.
"I could," Rosie said.
"My French is fine," James said. "Have a little faith."
Ahmed looked at the cover. "Oh, is that the one we're not supposed to read? Let's have at it, then."
Celia cleared her throat dramatically and said, "It begins with a poem: Viens, mon enfant, si nous avions l'intention de te nuire, penses-tu que nous nous tiendrions tapis ici au bord du chemin dans le coin le plus sombre de la forêt" She looked at James.
"It's actually an English poem," he said. "By a man called Patchen. 'Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?'"
"That's not a poem," Lily said. "It's a sentence."
"A sentence can be a poem," Moth said.
"Do you want to hear the story?" Celia asked. When everyone nodded, she said, "'L'agonie survint avec la lune, le déchirement et la rupture des os, le feu liquide des entrailles'..." She wrinkled her nose. "On second thought, it's bad enough I have to put up with that tomorrow after the first day of classes. I'd rather not read about it now."
This caused a great clamor; Celia's lycanthropy was not treated with any deference among her friends. She retreated. Artie grabbed the book and started reading the French. James translated for a bit, then let Aimee take over.
Everyone drifted into their own interests, once the translating game lost its charm. Al and Moth recruited Hugo to their crosswords, his top secret memory apparently quite useful to them. Robert and Ahmed were trying to build a magical mousetrap to feed their cats, and Michael, Silas, and Scops were occupied with one of Michael's experimental Potions plants. James was about to go sit with Celia when a bright Patronus dropped from the ceiling.
It was Dad's stag, and it seemed to be standing in the middle of Moth's leg. It opened its mouth and said,
"The vote's been taken. There'll be no age line. I'll trust you to do what's right."