The Sugar Quill
Author: TheRealMaraJade  Story: Crossing Ways  Chapter: Chapter 1: Magical Creatures
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Crossing Ways - Chapter 1: Magical Creatures

Crossing Ways

Author's Note: When I first read Goblet of Fire and Harry said that Bill, former Hogwarts Head Boy, was just plain "cool", I was intrigued by him. Then, when I found out the HP fandom, I became obsessed with him after reading Arabella and Zsenya's After the End and JediBoadicea's Job Hazards. So, I dedicate this fic to them, as I would never have written this if I hadn't become obsessed with Bill. And while I tried to write my very own version of Bill, their take on him was so well done and his character such a mystery in Canon that I think some parts of their Bill got mixed with Canon!Bill and therefore influenced my grasp on his character. :)

 

Chapter 1: Magical Creatures

 

When Bill arrived at Hogwarts on the day of the Triwizard Tournament's Third Task right before dawn, the only person he found awake was Hagrid.

"Good mornin', Bill! It's bein' a long while since the las' time I saw yeh."

"Yeah, Hagrid, it has." He winced at the memory of meeting Hagrid's newest pet at the time, a three-headed dog affectionately called Fluffy. "So, couldn't pass up the opportunity to have another interesting creature under your care, could you?"

Hagrid wriggled his hands together, "Well, when yer brother told me yeh wanted ter come to 'Ogwarts ter watch the Triwizard Tournament, I thought Professor Dumbledore could ask yeh ter bring one o' those," Hagrid pointed to the huge cage besides Bill, "ter use in the maze."

"Yeah, I'm sure that's what crossed your mind." Bill said, quirking an eyebrow up. "It's pretty difficult to get hold of a sphinx, Hagrid, since they are really rare beasts and not so friendly as you would think." Perhaps so if you considered the kind of pets Hagrid said were friendly.

"Oh, well, yeh managed it. Now, we need ter get it into the maze before anyone can get a sight of it." Hagrid brushed his hands together in utter delight.

Bill shook his head, a half-smile on his lips at Hagrid's almost childish excitement over a beast that could tear a member off a grown wizard. He only hoped for Harry's safety that he either didn't meet the sphinx at all inside the maze or that the sphinx asked Harry the same riddle it had asked him a few days before. That is, if his little brother's pride hadn't prevented Ron from confessing to his friend that he felt completely terrified by spiders.

After safely and rather easily placing the magic-induced asleep sphinx inside the maze, Bill turned to Hagrid and asked, "Has my mum arrived yet?"

Hagrid looked confused for a moment. "Mrs. Weasley is coming ter Hogwarts? What did Fred an' George do this time?"

Bill had to laugh, "No, they didn't do anything this time." Or at least he hoped so. "It's just that Mrs. Diggory told her that she and her husband would be coming to watch Cedric in the Third Task, and she was sure that Harry's Muggle relatives wouldn't come. So, she decided to adopt him for a day. Mum's got a pretty soft heart, and after that article that said that Harry still cried at night because of his parents, she's been fussing about him even more than she already did before."

Hagrid mumbled something under his breath that remarkably resembled "that Skeeter cow", but Bill might have been wrong.

***

Later that same morning, Bill finally met with his mother, who didn't waste anytime to harass him because he hadn't come over to the Burrow before coming to Hogwarts, and how Bill was not as dedicated a son as Percy was.

Bill only sighed. His mum always fussed over Percy, and she had become even worse now that Percy was in trouble at work. And that was something Bill would never ever expect to happen with Percy. His brother, being the perfect and dedicated worker that he was, surely would be in a very bad mood because of that.

"Mum, Dumbledore asked me to bring him a sphinx for the Third Task, and since I know you wouldn't be glad to see one messing around in your living room..."

Bill never got to finish his sentence.

"A SPHINX?" Molly shrieked. "Bill, that was dangerous! You could have got yourself badly hurt! What was Dumbledore thinking? And Harry! Isn't it bad enough that they have him getting past dragons and merpeople, now they want him to go through a sphinx?"

Bill sighed. It was at times like this that he was glad to be working at Egypt, quite far from his mother. Not that he didn't like her. He knew that she only wanted what was best for him, but sometimes she was just... too much. Bill loved his mother, but being away from her helped him endure her excessive care and worry. Sure, he missed her. He missed his brothers, sister, and father as well. But he also loved his job, and Bill was sure that he would miss the thrill and excitement of being a treasure hunter for Gringotts. He would be far more miserable at Ottery St. Catchpole with his family than at Egypt away from them.

He couldn't be a treasure hunter at England. Not because there were no treasures to be found, as England was the land of fog and mystery, but because his mother would fear for his safety during every one of his missions.

No, living in Egypt may well be painful for him, being apart from his family and all, but it was better that way.

Besides, Bill thought, I'm not the one who works with Dragons.

"Mum, it's alright. I can deal with a sphinx easily. Besides, you should talk with your voice lower, unless you want the rest of the champions' families to hear what they're about to face."

At that, Mrs. Weasley stopped talking, but remained fuming about her son. He sighed once again. He just HAD to put his foot into his mouth by mentioning the sphinx, hadn't he?

Soon, though, the door to the chamber they were in was opened and the champions entered the room. The first one Bill saw, standing just outside the chamber, was Cedric Diggory, who was politely holding the door open for someone out of Bill's sight.

The first champion to actually enter was a blonde girl with the most remarkable blue eyes Bill had ever seen. She had a petite body and moved around like a queen. Bill couldn't help but think that she knew everyone's attention went towards her. And she certainly deserved as much attention as she could get. She must be the Beauxbatons champion Ron keeps babbling about in his letters, thought Bill.

Cedric followed the girl in and waved to Bill and his Mum. The third champion to appear was Viktor Krum. Bill had to smile when he remembered his brother obsessing over Krum during the Quidditch World Cup. However, from what Bill could tell from Ron's letters, his opinion about Krum had had a dramatic change.

Mrs. Weasley approached Cedric and his parents and asked about Harry's whereabouts. In a minute, Cedric had stuck his head outside the chamber to fetch Harry for her. Bill smiled. His mum certainly had a way with ordering people around. Which was probably why she was able to handle the twins. Or was it the other way around? Had she had to learn how to order people around in order to handle the twins?

Bill shook his head clear and next thing he knew Harry had entered the chamber, a puzzled look on his face.

"Surprise!" Mrs. Weasley said excitedly, as Harry caught sight of them and smiled broadly, walking over to them. "Thought we'd come and watch you, Harry!" She bent down and kissed him on the cheek. Harry seemed embarrassed and pleased at the same time.

"You all right?" said Bill, grinning at Harry reassuringly and shaking his hand. "Charlie wanted to come, but he couldn't get time off. He said you were incredible against the Horntail."

Bill noticed that Harry was eyeing something over his own shoulder, and the burning sensation that he could feel on the back of his neck told him that someone was eyeing him. Bill wondered for a moment who that might be, when he remembered that the blonde girl Fleur Delacour, according to Ron's letters was standing behind him with her family. But he quickly dismissed this possibility, since nice girls like her were never interested in guys with bad-boy looks like him. Like his mum enjoyed so much to point out every time she saw him in order to try and convince him to cut his hair or lose the fang dangling from his ear.

"This is really nice of you," Harry was muttering to Mrs. Weasley. "I thought for a moment the Dursleys "

"Hmm," said Mrs. Weasley, her eyes flashing.

Bill recognised that look in his mum's eyes, and decided to change the subject for Harry's sake. "It's great being back here," he said, looking around the Chamber trying to come up with something else to talk about. "Haven't seen this place for five years," he said, stalling for more time. Suddenly, Bill had an idea, thankfully to Violet winking at him from her frame. "Is that picture of the mad knight still around? Sir Cadogan?" Bill had always been fascinated by the paintings at Hogwarts. They had met many generations of Hogwarts students, and had seen many changes to the wizarding world, and as such, had many stories to share.

"Oh, yeah," said Harry. Bill smiled. Being the curious person that he was, Bill had always been a willingly listener, and Sir Cadogan always had the coolest stories to tell, even if they weren't entirely truthful.

"And the Fat Lady?" said Bill, remembering with fondness the guardian of Gryffindor Tower.

"She was here in my time," said Mrs. Weasley, interrupting Bill's reminiscences. "She gave me such a telling-off one night when I got back to the dormitory at four in the morning "

"What were you doing out of your dormitory at four in the morning?" said Bill, impulsively. His MOTHER had been out of bonds, breaking rules? If only his brothers, especially the twins, knew about this...

Mrs. Weasley grinned, her eyes twinkling with mischief. The same mischief Bill often saw in the twins' eyes. So, he thought, I guess I found out after whom Fred and George took their mischief.

"Your father and I had been for a night-time stroll," his mother was saying. "He got caught by Apollyon Pringle he was the caretaker in those days your father's still got the marks."

Bill winced. He had been "disciplined" once by Argus Filch, before the old methods had been banned, when he was just a Third Year. "Fancy giving us a tour, Harry?" said Bill, quickly changing the subject once again.

"Yeah, OK," said Harry, and they made their way towards the door to go back into the Great Hall.

As they passed Amos Diggory, he looked around. "There you are, are you?" he said, looking at Harry up and down. "Bet you're not feeling quite as full of yourself now Cedric's caught you up on points, are you?"

"What?" said Harry, looking confusedly at Mr. Diggory. Bill felt sorry for the boy. He remembered Mr. Diggory far too well from his childhood. He knew the man could be quite bigheaded when he wanted to.

Cedric whispered something that looked apologetic to Harry as he frowned at his father's words.

"Didn't bother to correct her, though, did he?" said Amos Diggory, loudly enough for Harry, Mrs. Weasley and Bill hear as they walked out of the door. "Still... you'll show him, Ced. Beaten him once before, haven't you?"

"Rita Skeeter goes out of her way to cause trouble, Amos!" Mrs. Weasley told her long time friend. Had she really adopted Harry as her son or what? "I would have thought you'd know that, working at the Ministry!"

Mr. Diggory looked as thought he was going to say something nasty, but his wife laid a hand on his arm to restrain him. He shrugged and turned away.

After they left that chamber, Harry led them to the grounds. He showed them the Beauxbatons carriage, which impressed Bill with its size, and the ship from Durmstrang School.

Rounding a corner, they found themselves facing the Whomping Willow. Bill smiled. The number of times he and his friends had dared each other to approach that tree without getting thumped on by it... None of them had ever made it to the trunk.

Mrs. Weasley was curious about the tree, which had been planted after she had left school. She seemed really concerned about how much trouble Hagrid had to treat it, which led her to reminisce - at length - about the gamekeeper from her time, a man called Ogg. But Bill wasn't really listening to her. The memory of his friends' dares to get to the trunk unscathed reminded Bill of one of the reasons he had decided to work as a curse breaker at Gringotts.

Bill loved challenges. He had always loved them, being physical challenges or intellectual ones, but especially the last kind. It was not a wonder that he liked to play chess and was pretty good at it too, something only Ron could surpass him at. Bill sometimes joked that he should never have taught him how to play chess.

And this love for challenges was one of the reasons why Bill had always been a good student. Simply because he had always felt eager to learn, always wanted to be as perfect as possible in anything he did. So, that had not only made him a very hardworking student, but also one with great grades, which ultimately made him Head Boy and a very skilled grown-up wizard.

"How's Percy?" Harry asked, interrupting Bill's thoughts just as they were walking around the greenhouses.

"Not good," said Bill. He felt sorry for Percy. Being questioned by the Unspeakables shouldn't be a very pleasant experience.

"He's very upset," said Mrs. Weasley, her worry with Percy very clear in her voice. "The Ministry want to keep Mr. Crouch's disappearance quiet, but Percy's been hauled in for questioning about the instructions Mr. Crouch has been sending in. They seem to think there's a chance they weren't genuinely written by him. Percy's been under a lot of strain. They're not letting him fill in for Mr. Crouch as the fifth judge tonight. Cornelius Fudge is going to be doing it."

Bill's face clouded. He had disliked Cornelius Fudge since well before his nomination for Minister of Magic. He couldn't help but remember one of the visits to his father in the Ministry, when he and his mother had accidentally overheard Fudge saying that his father lacked proper wizarding pride. Bill had been so angered by that that only Mrs. Weasley had been able to stop him before he did anything to embarrass his father.

After a while longer walking around, they turned to the castle for lunch.

***

Once they were seated at the Gryffindor table, Bill looked around at the Great Hall. It looked exactly like he remembered, except that none of the few students already sitting on the House tables for lunch was familiar to Bill. But the Enchanted Ceiling was there, as well as the Staff table with Dumbledore seated at the centre of it, flanked on both sides by Hogwarts Professors.

Bill frowned. There were a couple of them he didn't recognise, but before he could ask Harry about who they were, he heard his younger brother's voice.

"Mum Bill!" Ron asked surprised as he approached. "What're you doing here?"

"Come to watch Harry in the last task!" Mrs. Weasley said animatedly. "I must say, it makes a lovely change, not having to cook. How was your exam?"

"Oh..." His younger brother's face fell, but he quickly recovered. "Okay. Couldn't remember all the goblin rebels' names, so I invented a few. It's all right," Ron missed his mother's stern look, so intent he was on the Cornish pasty. "They're all called stuff like Bodrod the Bearded and Urg the Unclean, it wasn't hard."

Fred, George and Ginny joined them shortly afterwards. Bill noticed that Ginny still looked taken with Harry, blushing a little when joining them, but at least she didn't knock anything over because of him anymore.

Turning to the twins, Bill asked, "George, who is that, er, rather large woman with the olive-skinned face?"

"That's Madame Maxime. She is the Beauxbatons Headmistress, and apparently Hagrid is quite smitten with her," George answered with a grin.

"They would make quite an, er, interesting couple, don't you think?" Fred added, his eyes full of mirth.

Bill quirked an eyebrow up. "Not as interesting as their children would be," a smirk on his face. "I suppose that means the man with sleek hair and a goatee is the Durmstrang Headmaster, then?"

"Yeah," Fred answered, "Karkaroff."

Bill had the distinct impression that he had seen Karkaroff's face somewhere before, and by hearing his name such feeling just increased. Bill knew him; he just couldn't remember from where.

He was so concentrated on his food and his thoughts that he only noticed Hermione joining then halfway through lunch when Molly greeted her, more stiffly than usual.

"Hello, Hermione."

"Hello." Hermione's smile faltered.

Bill was looking at his mum, wondering why she was acting that way, when Harry spoke. "Mrs. Weasley, you didn't believe that rubbish Rita Skeeter wrote in Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione's not my girlfriend."

"Oh! No of course I didn't," Mrs. Weasley said. But Bill noticed the tips of her ears redden a bit in shame.

After lunch, once again Harry took Mrs. Weasley and Bill to the grounds. Bill assumed that Harry's eagerness to stay outside had something to do with wanting to stay away from the oppressiveness he was probably feeling inside the Castle with such a grand thing looming over his head.

Bill welcomed the sunny afternoon. It would be hilarious if it wasn't sad, but even living in Egypt Bill rarely spent time under the sun. Most of his time he was indoors, either at Gringotts Bank with his nose upon heaps and heaps of parchment with possible clues to any kind of treasure he could find for the Goblins, or at some hidden chamber full of treasures, Curses, and sometimes even Dark Magic.

The day passed by quite fast, and soon they were back again at the Great Hall for the evening feast. At the Staff table they could now see Ludo Bagman and Cornelius Fudge.

Bill didn't remember having had such a great dinner during his days at Hogwarts. There was a great variety of food, and each one surpassed the previous in taste. The House Elves had really outdone themselves this time.

During dinner, Bill noticed that Harry hardly ate anything. Probably worried about the Task tonight, thought Bill.

Looking at the other champions, Bill noticed that Viktor Krum was quietly eating his dinner, while occasionally nodding at something his mother and father said. Cedric was happily talking with his parents, and eating all the food that appeared upon the Hufflepuff table; he was by far the most confident of the champions. And Fleur Delacour just kept playing with her food, much like Harry. From time to time, she would speak a few words to her Mum, only smiling when she spoke to a little girl with white-blond hair that could only be her sister. The girl was sitting in front of her and making a mess with the food, apparently not very eager to eat it.

Bill smiled at the child and when he looked back again at Fleur, she was eyeing him with surprise and laughter in her eyes. Bill felt his neck redden slightly, and acknowledged Fleur with a nod of his head.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Dumbledore caught everybody's attention, "in five minutes' time, I will be asking you to make your way down to the Quidditch pitch for the third and last task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the stadium now."

There was applause all around the Great Hall as the champions got up. When Bill looked back at Fleur's place at the Ravenclaw table, he found out that she had already left. He quickly wished Harry good luck, before he left too.

After all the champions had gone, no one at the Great Hall seemed interested in the food anymore. The Hall was filled by the buzzing of hundreds of students excitedly talking about the final task of the Triwizard Tournament.

Exactly five minutes later, Dumbledore rose again and told the students that they were now allowed to follow the champions to the Quidditch pitch. He didn't need to tell them twice.

***

When they got to the Quidditch pitch, Bill thought once again how badly his brother Charlie would overreact if he saw what had been done to his beloved Quidditch field. They couldn't see the whole pitch from where they were, but Bill had caught a good glimpse at it when he and Hagrid had placed the sphinx inside it. There was a twenty-foot-high hedge covering all the way around the edge of what had once been the smooth, flat, and grass-covered Quidditch field. Except for the entrance to the maze, which faced the stands.

The Weasleys and Hermione made their way up to the middle of the stands. Bill sat with his mother on his right side and the twins and Ginny on his left side, while Ron and Hermione sat in front of them. Once everyone was seated, they noticed Professors Moody, McGonagall, Flitwick and Hagrid, all wearing luminous red stars, taking places around the hedge, probably to patrol it. The other teachers were seated at the bottom of the stand right in front of them. Dumbledore sat in the middle of them, with Fudge by his side.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament is about to begin!" Mr. Bagman's voice suddenly roared over the noisy crowd. "Let me remind you how the points currently stand! Tied in first place, with eighty-five points each Mr. Cedric Diggory and Mr. Harry Potter, both of Hogwarts School!" Deafening applause followed. "In second place, with eighty points Mr. Viktor Krum, of Durmstrang Institute!" More applause. "And in third place Miss Fleur Delacour, of Beauxbatons Academy!" There was only some scattered applause, and by the end of it Harry had seen them on the stands. He waved at them and they waved back.

"So...on my whistle, Harry and Cedric!" said Bagman. "Three two one " Bagman gave a short blast on his whistle, and Harry and Cedric entered the maze. After a few minutes, it was Viktor Krum's turn and, at last, Fleur Delacour's turn.

The four champions were inside the Maze now. The only thing the audience could do was wait until one of them got to the Cup and won.

Bill made himself as comfortable as possible in the stands. This would take a while.

 

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