Without thinking about it, Amelia Bones found herself standing in a small alcove just off of the main corridor leading to the Great Hall of Hogwarts. After years of being an Auror, she had instinctively gravitated to a place where her back could be against a wall. Limiting the avenues of possible attacks that she would have to worry about now came second nature to her after it had been drilled into her by her mentor, Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody.
The alcove also gave the Director of Magical Law Enforcement an unobstructed view of the corridor and entryway into Hogwarts. Bones gave a small nod of satisfaction as her constantly scanning gaze swept over the two Aurors she had brought with her to provide security for the event. She was pleased that they were able to do this without anyone knowing they were even there.
Auror David Stewart was currently hanging upside down from the top of the entry hall's vaulted ceiling. He was able to accomplish this thanks to the "Everstick" boots sent to the department by the mysterious inventor known only by their initials, "FG." While it was true that if anyone bothered to look up they would see her Auror, Bones knew only veteran fighters (and the extremely paranoid) ever looked above them while in a familiar place. As if to prove both points, Mad Eye Moody gave a halfhearted salute to Stewart as he walked underneath him on his way into the Great Hall.
The other Auror on the security detail was even harder to spot. At least she was once Director Bones had let the extra suit of armor in the alcove know that her nail polish was showing. Without saying a word, Auror "Don't even think of calling me by my first name" Tonks had shifted the color of her hands so the tips of her fingers looked like the rest of her silver colored skin.
Director Bones would have liked to have had more Aurors on the security detail, but the ridiculously small budget Fudge had left her with couldn't cover the department's regular budget, let alone the overtime costs needed for an event such as this. It was only the fact that Bones had recently been given access to a special Gringotts account that allowed her to pay for the Aurors she had brought with her. Amelia let the corners of her mouth twitch upwards at the memory of where the money in that vault had come from.
Ministry of Magic
Two days prior
Director Bones spun around in surprise, sending the parchments she was reviewing flying into the air when the private Floo in her office sprang to life. With practiced ease, she drew her wand and had it trained on the center of the fireplace. Bones' eyebrow behind her monocle rose when the image of a Goblin took form in the green flames.
"Director Bones, we have business to discuss," the Goblin stated in the typical blunt fashion of his people. "This meeting will be beneficial to your department, I assure you," he added. This had Amelia's eyebrow rise even further in surprise. Goblins very rarely made those type of statements to humans.
"You've piqued my curiosity. You may enter," Bones said as she slid her wand back into her arm holster. With her now free hand, she motioned for the Goblin to come through the Floo.
The flames flared brightly in the fireplace as a well-dressed Goblin carrying a large, leather satchel stepped through them into her office. "My name is Account Manager Knutsack, and I'm here on behalf of one of my clients to present a semi-anonymous donation to you," Knutsack informed her. He hid a smile as he watched the Director of Magical Law Enforcement shift her weight equally to both feet and bent her knees ever so slightly, ready to move in an instant. Knutsack knew Bones was ready for a fight.
With the slow motions he would use when facing another Goblin, Knutsack placed his satchel on the ground and held both hands up, open palms facing the witch. "Peace, Director Bones. Our files on you indicate that an offered bribe would benefit neither my client, nor Gringotts in general. The only strings that come attached to the donation are ones we believe you will accept happily," he assured her.
"Who is your client, and what do you mean by semi-anonymous?" Bones countered.
"I would have thought much less of you, Director Bones, had you had not asked those questions. To answer the first one, the client in question is Dorea's Closet," he explained.
The answer completely derailed Amelia's train of thought. During her third year at Hogwarts, a young Amelia Bones was well into the start of the wild broom ride that is puberty. One fateful night the third-year student was accidentally interrupted by a 6th year female prefect. Amelia had been happily, if a bit loudly, experimenting with self-loving. The prefect had mumbled a quick apology, and hastily left the room.
The next night, the prefect not only taught Amelia how to cast silencing spells, but also gave the third-year student her first copy of the Dorea's Closet catalog. Not long after that, the young Hufflepuff student received her first vibrating wand via owl post. After a weekend of experimenting with the wand, a very happy Amelia Bones knew she would be a devoted, lifelong customer of Dorea's Closet.
"Come again?" Director Bones asked, trying to make sense of Dorea's Closet making a donation.
"Ah… I see you're familiar with one of their more popular slogans," the Goblin replied absently. "As to what I meant by semi-anonymous, it has to do with what the Muggles refer to as part of the 'fine-print' on their most recent product," Knutsack replied matter of factly. "Hidden on the box in print so small that it requires either a powerful magnifying glass or an enlarging spell to read, is the statement that all profits from the purchase of the product go to a special fund set up to help support the Aurors. We at Gringotts, as well as the governing board of Dorea's Closet, find it quite amusing to see known Death Eaters purchase a product that helps support the fight against them," he went on to explain while showing a smile full of sharp teeth.
Despite herself, Bones found herself smiling along with the Goblin. "I have to admit Knutsack, over the years Dorea's Closet has never let me down, so I'm already half of the way towards accepting this donation. I only have two more questions. The first, and most important one, is what are the strings attached? The second question is what exactly is this new product?" she inquired. Bones had been too busy in the last two weeks to check the mountain of owl posts at her home to see if the newest Dorea's Closet catalog had arrived.
"The conditions tacked on to the donation are simple actually. The money has to be used to support Aurors in their duties protecting the Wizarding world, and CAN NOT be used by any other department in the Ministry of Magic," Knutsack replied, making the last words sound like a slur. "To make certain of this, a security firm was created that will contract with your Aurors and pay them to perform their duties outside of their normal work hours. The company's governing board has only one voting member, the Director of Magical Law Enforcement," he explained.
Knutsack opened his satchel, withdrew a small stack of parchments, and handed them to Bones. Pointing to the top parchment, Knutsack said, "This form is a contract stating that you agree to be the unpaid head of the A.O.F. - Auror Overtime Fund. The second one is a contract that goes over how you, and only you, can authorize the expenditure of the funds to the Aurors." Tilting his head slightly and pointing to the bottom parchment, he said, "The last form is simply a ledger sheet showing what the current balance of the account is. The product has only been on the market for a week, so there isn't much gold in there at the moment. We expect that amount to increase dramatically as more orders roll in."
Director bones read the first two forms, and was pleased at how straightforward and above board they were. While the third form didn't show a huge amount, it still wasn't anything to sneeze at. Just that week's amount would be enough to "hire" two Aurors to provide security for the logistical nightmare that was the upcoming Triwizard Cup Yule Ball.
After Director Bones looked up from reading the parchments, Knutsack reached down into his satchel, and pulled out two wooden boxes about half the size of a regular wand case. "As per your second question, the head of the governing board said she thought you would appreciate one of the products yourself," he told her as he handed the boxes over to her.
Amelia turned the boxes in her hand over so she could read the lettering on the flowing, golden letters the label proudly proclaimed the item within to be a limited edition, numbered, Harry Potter vibrating wand. Below that proclamation were two words that had the middle-aged witch blinking owlishly - "Life Sized". Next to the words was the official Gringotts seal of authenticity.
Unable to control her curiosity, Amelia opened the box to find a smoothly polished holly wand approximately 4 ½ inches long with a circumference just under 4 inches. Without realizing she was speaking aloud, Bones muttered, "Impressive… I guess what the rumors say about the Potter men inheriting the 'Sword of Gryffindor' is true."
"You have no idea," Knutsack chuckled under his breath. He knew that Hermione had sent him the measurements from Harry's flaccid penis. She had explained the Purebloods wouldn't believe them if the wand was based on his erect member.
Bones opened up the second box and saw an identical wand to the first one. The only difference were the numbers engraved near the base of the wands - "001" and "002". "Why two wands? Not that I'm complaining… I mean… errr…" the usually eloquent witch stammered.
"Our records show that your niece, Susan Bones, is also a loyal customer of Dorea's Closet. When the head of the board found that out, she insisted a second one be sent along just for her," Knutsack explained with a shrug.
Hogwarts - outside the Great Hall
Night of the Yule Ball
As if Direct Bones' thoughts had summoned her, Susan Bones, caught sight of her aunt and hurried over to her in a flowing, yellow ball gown. With absolutely no regard for the elder Bones' position, Susan wrapped her arms around Amelia in a tight hug. Amelia returned the hug with equal affection.
After the two women let go of each other, Amelia decided to tease her niece a bit. "So, tell me Susan, did you receive the package I owled you recently?" she asked. They had always been open about sex and sexuality in the Bones household, so she knew Susan wouldn't be too embarrassed. Susan's blush, combined with her vigorous nodding, told Amelia that her niece had indeed received the package, and had already tried out the contents.
"I can't believe it has multiple speeds," Susan said breathlessly, her eyes glazing slightly in remembrance of putting the wand through its paces.
"I know," Amelia replied, a slight glaze in her eyes as well. As soon as Knutsack had left her office, Amelia had locked the door, put the Floo on privacy mode, and cast several silencing spells. The silencing spells were put to good use as she discovered the multiple speed options of the wand herself.
"The only thing I don't get is why it's called life size," Susan stated absently. Before Amelia could explain that the Potters were rumored to be rather well endowed, Susan added, "It's much smaller than the real thing."
Amelia closed her eyes for a second to give her brain time to reboot. "Is there something you would like to tell me, young lady?" she asked pointedly after she was able to collect her thoughts.
Susan managed to approximate a Weasley blush when she realized that she had made the statement about size out loud. "It's not what you think, Auntie… honest," she said quickly. Amelia's trademark arched eyebrow behind her monocle invited Susan to go on. "I was near the border of the Forbidden Forest collecting ingredients for potions class when I heard Hermione and Harry's voices not far away. Oh… Hermione is Harry's girlfriend. Anyway, I heard their voices, and went to go find them to apologize for how the Hufflepuffs treated Harry before the first task. When I got closer to them, my skin tingled, like when a powerful spell is cast somewhere near. I felt the tingle a second time right before I found them in a clearing. They looked like they were in the middle of an… um… intimate moment. Hermione was naked from the waist up and Harry, was… well… Harry was completely naked. At least I assumed he was naked. Hermione was in my way, and I only saw the bottom of Harry's legs, his shoulders, and his head," she explained.
"I take it you didn't just turn around and leave," Director Bones said with just the right amount of parental sharpness behind it.
Susan gave her aunt a half smirk. "Well, it is Harry Potter we're talking about. Besides, Hermione was laughing at him and shaking her head. Curiosity got the better of me, and I stepped to the side a bit to get a better look. Believe me when I say that what I saw was definitely NOT something to laugh about," she stated. Susan glanced around to make sure no one was watching them before she held her hands out in front of her, about 8 to 9 inches apart. Amelia looked down at her niece's hands, and then her own eyes widened in comprehension. Susan nodded her head in agreement of the sentiment. "Exactly," she agreed.
"Some people have different reactions to something so shocking. Perhaps this Hermione is the type that laughs instead of screams when faced with something that dramatic," Director Bones mused.
"Oh no, that's not it at all. Harry looked right at her and asked - 'I forgot to bring my clothes back again, didn't I?' right before he started laughing too. Hermione just kept laughing and shook her head no," Susan stated. "It was at that point that I turned around and left. I'm not a complete voyeur you know," she said as she playfully hit her aunt on the arm. "I have to get inside," Susan told Amelia before giving her another hug.
Susan took two steps away, paused for a moment, and then turned around to face Amelia again. "Is it just me, or does that suit of armor look like it has erect nipples?" she asked while cocking her head to the side. Before Amelia could come up with an answer, Susan shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way into the Great Hall.
Motion at the foot of the stairs leading to the Gryffindor tower drew Director Bones' attention. The first couple to make an appearance were Professors McGonagall and Flitwick. Bones wasn't at all surprised when Flitwick stopped McGonagall with a light touch on her arm. Of course the only European Dueling Champion to win three years in a row would notice a potential opponent stuck to the roof. After a split-second evaluating Stewart, Flitwick removed his hand and the procession from the Gryffindor tower started again.
Once everyone was off the stairs, Fleur turned her head to look at Prof. McGonagall. "Pardon me, Professor, but could you tell me when the ball is supposed end?" she inquired. Fleur had specific plans for her and Fred that evening and wanted to know when they could start the true festivities. The rest of the Marauders also had plans similar to hers, and were just as eager to know when they could ditch the ball to spend some quality time with their partners.
"Originally, the three Headmasters of the schools wanted the Yule Ball to last right up until midnight with the students being required to stay the entire time," McGonagall replied. She noticed the disappointed expressions on the students' faces. "Their opinions were swayed however when Prof. Flitwick eloquently argued to have it end at 10 instead. The fact that he did so in such a way as to make them think it was their idea in the first place was a joy to watch. It helped tremendously that he gave his argument in flawless English, French, and Bulgarian," she explained.
After high fiving each other in happiness, the twins smiled cheekily at Prof. McGonagall. "So… what your saying is…" Fred started to say.
"...Prof. Flitwick is quite the cunning linguist," George finished.
Instead of docking them points, Prof. McGonagall met the twins' eyes and replied evenly, "I can assure you that he most definitely is." With that, the two professors left the slightly stunned students, and made their way into the Great Hall.
A certain beetle which was clinging to wall near the group quivered in happy excitement. She couldn't wait to write a torrid article about a scandalous affair between two of Hogwarts more popular teachers. Knowing that sticking with this group of students would lead to even more juicy gossip, the beetle took to the air in a short flight to reach the students. She gently landed on the beautiful, blonde hair of the French Champion, careful to not let the girl know she had a passenger.
Hermione and Harry both grinned when they saw Remus Lupin enter the building with a familiar, giant black dog on a leash. In defiance of the community that had scorned him, Lupin was wearing a finely tailored black tuxedo instead of a robe. Hermione smirked when she noticed that the color of the tuxedo matched the jet-black fur of Harry's godfather perfectly. She knew Lupin was a very practical man, and Padfoot tended to shed quite a bit.
Lupin led his best friend over to the group of students. His back was turned to the alcove, so he was momentarily surprised when the New Marauders suddenly fanned out in a protective semicircle. Lupin spun around and managed to let out a whispered, "Oh shit!" Running towards them was none other than Director Bones, head of the department that still had a hex on sight order for Sirius Black.
Bones stopped only a few feet in front of the dog many had mistaken for a Grim. She adjusted her monocle and took a closer look at the dog. "I can't believe it...Padfoot!" she exclaimed. Turning slightly to face Lupin, Bones scowled while she demanded, "Where the hell have you been hiding Padfoot all this time?!" Before he could respond, Bones continued, "Knowing he was with you would have saved me quite a few headaches last year! Honestly Lupin, I would have thought you would have the foresight to bring him to Hogwarts as soon as you knew Black had escaped Azkaban."
"To be honest, it wasn't until the end of term when I found him at the Shrieking Shack," Lupin replied sheepishly.
Bones turned back to face Padfoot. "After all of these years, you managed to find Harry and then hid in a haunted house to watch over him. You truly were James' best friend," she said softly before ruffling the fur on top of Padfoot's head. "I suppose it was a good thing you weren't there when Lupin and Snape found Black now that Black's guilt is in question. Although come to think of it, tearing Black limb from limb would have saved my Aurors quite a bit of time," Bones added.
"Wait… what?" Lupin stammered.
Bones gave Lupin a condescending glare. "As a close friend of the Potters, surely you knew about how much Padfoot and Black hated each other?" she questioned.
"Of… course," Lupin lied. His Marauder instincts kicked in and he added, "I was just wondering how you knew about it."
Director Bones smiled as she thought back to when she first met Padfoot. "It was about 15 years ago…" she told them.
15 years ago
James Potter looked around at the fairly large group of Death Eaters that lay unconscious on the floor of the dingy warehouse. Several had both claw and bite marks on them. "Lions rule, Snakes drool! Give me paw buddy!" he exclaimed happily as the rush of cheating death filled his veins again. Padfoot wagged his tail happily and raised his paw to give his best friend a high five. Their merry mood fled when they heard the sound of someone apparating in behind them. The Marauders spun around and moved apart so they could come at this new threat from different directions. James relaxed only slightly when he saw it was his boss, Senior Auror Bones, instead of a Death Eater.
Bones quickly scanned the room and then eased her wand back into her arm holster. She scowled at James. "Dammit Potter! Do you want to explain to me why my best pair of Aurors left me a note on my desk to tell me they were going to raid a den of Death Eaters by themselves?" she demanded.
James ran his hand through his perpetually messy hair in embarrassment. "Because if we had told you in person, you would have forbidden us from going," he answered truthfully.
"Damn right I would have! Going after a group like this without a full six wizard strike team is suicide!" Bones exclaimed. The fact that she had raced in to help them without backup either was not lost on the two Aurors. "Wait.. where's Black!?" she asked, quickly running past the bodies on the floor, making sure none of them were the Auror she secretly had a crush on.
Using the quick wits that had made him not only one of Britain's finest Aurors, but also the head of the Marauders, James smiled reassuringly at his boss. "You know, that's kind of a funny story. To explain better, I should first introduce you to my familiar, Padfoot," he said as he pointed towards the gigantic dog. "Sirius and I scoped out the warehouse earlier. We realized it would be easier for Padfoot to sneak into the building and flank the Death Eaters than it would be for Sirius. The problem is, Sirius and Padfoot can't stand each other," he stated. "In fact, I would go so far as saying their animosity rises to the level of deep, burning hatred. Personally, I think it's because Sirius is jealous of the fact that Padfoot's wand is so much bigger than his," he teased.
Not that he would ever admit it, but Sirius had the hots for his boss and therefore was not amused that his best friend was implying to her that he had a small Beater's Bat. Padfoot let out a long warning growl to let James know how he felt about that.
Knowing when to let a joke go, James pointed at Padfoot to bring his explanation back on track. "See what I mean about them not liking one another. Even mentioning Sirius' name makes Padfoot growl. That's why you will never, ever see them in the same place together," he stated. Catching on, Padfoot growled again, and made a show of looking around as if he was trying to find his alter ego.
Bones walked over to Padfoot and leaned over slightly to scratch him behind one of his ears. "Do me a favor you handsome beast. Watch over this fool when his partner can't be there," she requested. Padfoot's tail wagged happily at not only the pleasant contact and praise, but also because from that angle, he was able to look down the front of Bones' robe.
James snapped his finger as another idea hit him. "You know, there are some pretty awesome perks to having a part Grim as your familiar. Like most familiars, he's much smarter than an average animal. I've even been able to teach him how to apparate," he bragged.
"Hippogriff shit," Bones replied skeptically.
"No really, watch," James replied. He turned towards his best friend and said firmly, "Padfoot, go home!"
To Senior Auror Bones' amazement, the huge dog disappeared with an unmistakable crack. A few moments later, she heard another single crack come from just outside the door to the warehouse. The door opened and Sirius Black timidly poked his head in. "Is that damned dog of yours gone yet?" he asked, clearly annoyed.
Hogwarts - outside the Great Hall
Night of the Yule Ball
"And that's how I first met this loveable mutt," Director Bones explained to the group. She leaned over, scratched Padfoot's ear, and gave him another accidental glance down her robe. She stood up and turned towards Harry. "Mr. Potter, if you ever need a pet sitter, I would gladly volunteer. Padfoot is quite familiar with my home," she stated.
"He is?" Harry asked.
"Oh yes. During the last war we got wind of several assassination plots focused on me as the head of the Auror team with the highest success rate against Death Eaters. James and Sirius insisted that I have Auror protection while at home and I refused. We compromised by letting James send Padfoot home with me at the end of our shifts," Amelia explained. "Padfoot stayed by my side the entire time. He even hopped in the tub whenever I took a bath," she chuckled.
Remus shook his head while covering his face with his palm. "Of course he did," he muttered.
"Not that I'm not overjoyed to see Padfoot again, Mr. Lupin, but what are you doing with him here, and why did Hogwarts staff let you in with him?" she asked.
Glad to finally be asked a question he had prepared for, Lupin replied, "Harry is loaning him to me as a service dog. Padfoot lets me know when the full moon is approaching."
"Wouldn't a calendar be much easier?" Bones asked.
"Of course it would, but don't tell him that. He might report me to the union," Lupin replied.
"The ball will be starting soon, and I should return to my post. Mr. potter… Ms. Delacour, please be safe. No tournament is worth dying over," she said in parting and walked back to her spot in the alcove.
Once he was certain Director Bones was well out of earshot, Remus turned his back towards her and scowled at Padfoot. "Bloody hell, Sirius! The fact that you and James had come up with a story to hide that you were an unregistered animagus from the woman who went on to become the Director of Magical Law Enforcement would have been nice to know ahead of time. I damn near soiled this new tuxedo you bought for me!" he complained. "Not to mention that Harry's account manager will probably get an addition to his collection when Director Bones finds out it was you who was sharing her baths," he warned. Padfoot's wagging tail stopped suddenly and he let out a pitiful whine.
The small beetle in Fleur's hair couldn't believe how lucky she had gotten. She had the stories of the decade. NOT only was Sirius Black an unregistered animagus, but the oh so noble James Potter had lied to his superior to hide that fact from the DMLE. Added in with this was the juicy tidbit of the mangy werewolf not only harboring a known fugitive, but sneaking a wanted man into Hogwarts during the social event of the year. The fact that Sirius Black was something of a pervert was well known and in no way newsworthy. Rita Skeeter couldn't control herself and her wings buzzed in excitement.
Fred heard the buzzing of an insect and Janus' instincts took over when he saw a bug in his mate's "fur". Before the beetle could react, Fred's hand shot out and caught it between his index finger and thumb. Without thinking about it, he tossed the bug into his mouth and chewed it up before swallowing.
While those whose animagus instincts didn't involve social grooming tried not to gag, George just smiled at his twin. "So, how did it taste?" he asked.
Fred paused while he thought about his answer. "Bitter, but oddly satisfying," he replied.
Remus shook his head. "I'm going to take this mutt inside before you decide to check him for bugs as well," he teased. Padfoot leaned affectionately against Harry before being led into the Great Hall by Remus.
Before Hermione could pull her wand and utter a quick "Accio dog hair" spell, Dobby popped into existence, standing next to Harry. He was dressed in his now customary outfit of a red silk pillowcase and gold curtain cord. Under one arm Dobby held a shiny, brass trumpet. With a snap of his fingers, the black dog hair disappeared.
"Thanks, Dobby," Harry said after checking himself over to make sure everything was still attached. He was still finding it hard to get over his fear of Dobby doing something unpleasant to him by accident all in the name of trying to help. "I'm afraid to ask, but what's with the trumpet?" Harry inquired.
"Dobby is being asked to be part of the House elves orchestra tonight," Dobby stated proudly.
Luna cocked her head to the side in curiosity. "What instrument do you play?" she asked.
Dobby looked at the others to see if he could determine if the young Ravenclaw was joking or not. Judging by their pained expressions, Dobby guessed she wasn't. He held out his instrument and slowly said, "Dobby being playing the trumpet, Miss."
Luna frowned in confusion. "Sorry Dobby, I just thought House Elves couldn't play brass or woodwind instruments due them not being able to pucker their lips," she replied.
"Yous is right, Harry potter's scary bunny friend. House Elves not being able to pucker our lips, but we being able to pucker somethings else," Dobby stated.
The group thought about that for a minute and the twins started snickering. "Heh heh…" Fred started.
"...Butt trumpet" George finished. "No offense Dobby, but we don't really want to be here when you start warming up," he apologized.
Dobby smacked his forehead with his free hand. "Thank you, Harry Potter's monkey butt friend, Dobby be almost forgetting," he said. With a snap of his fingers, a wooden clothes pin appeared, pinching the long nose of the house elf closed. With a pop, Dobby disappeared.
Luna gripped Neville's arm tighter as he leaned against the wall, looking quite green. It was clear to the group he was doing his very best to keep from throwing up.
"Neville, what's wrong?" Hermione asked worriedly.
Once he was positive he wasn't going to vomit all over his friends, Neville weakly answered, "Gran insisted that I learn an instrument while growing up. She always had one of our house elves tune my oboe before I went up to practice."
"Well on that note… ouch!" George started to say before being slapped on the back of his head Angelina. "…those of us who aren't either a champion or a champion's date will meet the rest of you inside the Great Hall," he finished.
Professor Dumbledore sat at the head table with the other headmasters. He glanced down at the small slip of parchment in his hand for what seemed to be the hundredth time as he prepared to announce the Champions and their dates as the cue for them to enter the Great Hall and start the festivities. There was only one name he was having difficulty figuring out how to pronounce, the young lady from Bulgaria who was Viktor Krum's escort for the evening.
Hoping there had been a mistake somewhere, the old wizard slid the parchment towards the Headmaster of Durmstrang, Igor Karkaroff. "Pardon me, Igor, but could verify the spelling of this young lady's name," he requested.
Karkaroff glanced down briefly at the parchment before gruffly replying, "It is correct."
"Ah… I see… how would one pronounce her name?" Dumbledore asked.
With a snort of disgust Karkaroff answered, "Exactly as it is spelled!" He turned in his seat to indicate the conversation was over.
"Yes, of course," Dumbledore muttered before turning in his own seat so he would be facing the Headmistress of Beauxbatons. "Excuse me, Olympe, but could you possibly help me in pronouncing this name?" he requested, pointing a finger at the troubling name.
Madame Maxime took the parchment from Dumbledore saying, "Yes, but I feel I must remind you that I am French and not Slavic." After a few moments of studying the slip of parchment, she handed it back to him. "To be perfectly frank with you Albus, I believe I would have an easier time of wearing something I bought off the rack in the petit section of Madam Malkin's Robes than I would of pronouncing that name. You're on your own with this one, my friend," she told him with conviction.
Knowing nothing else could be done about the matter, Dumbledore stood up, bringing the conversations in the room to a stop. "Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the Tri-Wizard Tournament's Champions and their escorts for the Yule Ball," he announced to the crowd. The main doors to the Great Hall opened and the Champions walked in with their dates, one couple at a time. "Representing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I present Cedric Diggory accompanied by the lovely Cho Chang," he stated. Cedric walked into the great hall with Cho draped possessively over his arm.
"Before I announce the next couple, I would ask the professors of Hogwarts to please refrain from casting any tracking charms at the next Champions escort in an effort to later tell him apart from his twin. I tried earlier and couldn't get any to stick. In fact, his parents admitted to me that they have tried since the boys were born and for some reason, the spells refuse to stay," Dumbledore requested. After a pause he continued, "Representing Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, I present Fleur Delacour and Fred Weasley."
Fleur and Fred took a few steps into the hall before they stopped. Fred looked challenging up at the head table. "I'll have you know I'm just as lovely as Miss Chang," he huffed before pretending to flip his hair back with a mock pout.
The crowd laughing gave Dumbledore a chance to quiet his own snickering. Once the crowd quieted down, the Headmaster continued. "Forgive me, Mr. Weasley. It was not my intention to slight the beauty of you or your twin," he apologized.
Knowing when he was given an obvious straight line, George called out, "No…no! He's the pretty one, I'm the handsome one, big difference!" McGonagall groaned while the crowd laughed again.
Dumbledore glanced down at the slip of parchment in front of him and shrugged his shoulders in acceptance of what he had to do. "Presenting the Champion from the Durmstrang Institute, Victor Krum and his charming escort, Miss far-too-many-consonants-and-not-nearly-enough-vowels-to-pronounce," he stated. Viktor marched his date to the Champions table, glaring at the Hogwarts Headmaster.
"And finally, through no fault of his own, the second Hogwarts Champion, Harry potter and his escort…" Dumbledore started to say before he saw the very recognizable torc that graced Miss Granger's neck. A smile spread across his face as fond memories of the remarkable young women he had known down through the years who had worn that very torc. "…the future Lady Potter, Miss Hermione Granger," Dumbledore finished.