"What time is it now?" asked Mandy Brocklehurst chewing
furiously on one fingernail.
"Five minutes after the last time you asked!" snapped Lisa
Turpin irritably. Her voice softened after a bit. "I do hope Cho's
"I hope they're all okay," said Padma Patil quietly. The
three Ravenclaw girls sat quietly among the tense crowd watching the second
task of the Triwizard Tournament. The champions had been given an hour
to retrieve their respective hostage from the bottom of the lake. With
two minutes left to go, there was no sign of any of them. Low, edgy snippets
of conversation surrounded them as students wondered aloud what could
possibly be happening beneath the stationary surface of the lake.
Mandy looked down at Padma's wrist watch then turned to the girls,
pale faced and wide-eyed. "That's it. The hour's up."
Lisa blanched as well, but forced her voice into a sensible tone.
"There now, remember what Dumbledore said? Nobody's in danger, not
the champions and not the
A ripple of noise ran through the crowd cutting off Lisa's statement.
It started out as a murmur burst into a full-blown roar. Padma leapt to
her feet and pointed to the far side of the lake, across from the spectator
stands. "Look! It's Cho and Cedric!" she cried breathlessly.
They watched as Cedric led Cho over to Madam Pomfrey where he insisted
that she be attended to first.
"Don't they make the cutest couple?" asked Mandy dreamily.
"They certainly do," said Lisa with a wistful sigh.
Padma patted her arm in a gesture of comfort. Lisa had recently broken
up with her boyfriend. The noise level of the crowd had finally settled
down when two forms broke the surface of the water. Viktor Krum and Hermione
Granger struggled towards the shore,
hampered by their sopping robes.
"Fancy being rescued by Viktor Krum," said Mandy in an
awe filled voice tinged with a bit of envy. "Who would've thought
Hermione Granger could snag a world champion Quidditch player?"
"You must admit, she did look quite pretty at the Yule Ball,"
said Padma in all fairness. "She's really nice, clever too. I don't
know why the Sorting Hat didn't peg her for Ravenclaw."
"Well I don't what he sees in her," said Lisa sourly.
The appearance of the hysterical Fleur Delacour without her hostage
caused another thunder of noise to cascade through the crowd. They watched
with interest as Madame Maxime attempted to prevent her from flinging
herself back into the water. Roger Davies rushed down to the edge of the
lake, attempting to calm the distressed Fleur, but she took no heed of
"Look at that great lummox fawning all over that French tart,"
snorted Lisa spitefully.
"It's not as if she picked him for the thing she would miss the
"S'pose Roger can't help it. Cho told me that girl is part Veela,"
said Mandy with an air of vindictive triumph.
"Really?" asked Lisa with raised eyebrows.
"I wonder what's keeping Harry?" asked Padma nervously.
She nudged Mandy and indicated Penelope Clearwater who was seated a couple
of benches down from them. Penny's gaze was riveted on the judges' table
where her boyfriend Percy Weasley sat watching the lake with increasing
agitation. Of course, thought Padma, he must be worried about his brother
Ron. From the midst of students Padma distinctly heard Pansy Parkinson's
shrill voice say, "Good! That's two less Gryffindors to put up with!"
Padma's face flushed with anger but instead of looking for Pansy she turned
behind her where her twin sister Parvati sat with her Gryffindor roommate,
Lavender Brown. Parvati met her twin's gaze with a brave sort of grimace
that belied the uneasiness in her eyes. Padma turned around and fixed
her sight on the lake again.
Suddenly the crowd jumped to its feet, exploding with sound. Harry
Potter was dragging Ron Weasley and a little girl out of the frigid water.
Percy Weasley ran out and grabbed Ron about the middle of the chest, dragging
him backwards out of the water. Padma watched the unfolding events with
a keen interest. Ever since Penny had told them about how Percy had conjured
up a bed of roses for her in the broom shed on the night of the Yule Ball,
Padma had been thinking about Ron. If Percy had such a passionate streak,
surely Ron must have one as well. Of course he had made her terribly angry
the night of the Yule Ball, but perhaps it was just the awkwardness of
the first date thing. Padma wondered if Ron was seeing anyone. The only
girl she ever saw him with was Hermione Granger. Padma noted the way Hermione
and Viktor had huddled together in intense conversation earlier. If Ron
and Hermione were an item, surely she wouldn't carry on like that with
Padma was surprised with the twinge of indignation that coursed through
her when Fleur Delacour kissed Ron on the cheeks. She looked about sheepishly,
but was pleased to see that everyone's attention was on Ludo Bagman who
was calling out the scores. Padma took this opportunity to study Ron Weasley
intensely. He had the same tall, lanky frame as Percy, though Ron had
a gangling look while Percy held himself with stiff dignity. His bright
red hair looked dark with the dampness of the lake. It spiked in the front
but clung to the nape of his neck in wet curls. The red-brown freckles
that dotted his long nose offset his winter pallor. He had a childish
mouth, pink and pouty. Padma had a sudden recollection of the two older
redheads she had seen with the Weasleys at Kings Cross station on September
first. Surely these had to be Ron's oldest brothers. How handsome they
were! The one with the earring was especially good looking
Padma started as someone poked her in the back. She looked around
her and saw that everyone was making their way back to the castle. Lisa
poked her again.
"Earth to Padma! You coming or what?"
Padma felt burning color rise on her face. "Oh! Er
I just have to
talk to my sister."
Mandy gave her an inquisitive look, but went after Lisa anyway. Padma
climbed down to the bottom of the stands where she found Parvati waiting
"What's up? I sent Lavender on ahead because I sensed that you
wanted to see me."
Padma said nothing, but slowed her pace so that the crowd pulled
ahead of them. She had no patience for her sister's preoccupation with
Divination. Apparently Professor Trelawney had recently convinced her
that as twins they shared some kind of psychic link. Load of tosh as far
as Padma was concerned.
"What is it?" asked Parvati.
Padma hesitated. She knew that her sister and Lavender Brown were
the biggest gossips in their year. She had no desire to hear her interest
in Ron Weasley going about the whole school.
"This is about a boy, isn't it?" asked Parvati with a breathless
giggle. "Is it Mathieu from Beauxbatons?"
Padma attempted to keep the irritation out of her voice. "It
is not about Mathieu. Actually it's someone from
"Don't tell me! Don't tell me!" interrupted Parvati putting
the back of her hand over her eyes. "My inner eye will pick it up
from your aura." She waited a few seconds. "It's a Gryffindor,"
she said with a misty, yet definite tone.
Padma stared at her in disbelief. Perhaps there was something to
the psychic twin link after all. "You saw that in my aura?"
Parvati smiled knowingly and said, "Yes, that and the fact that
Lav and I were consulting the orb last night and we saw that you would
soon be taken with a Gryffindor." Parvati frowned. "It also
indicated that you wanted him to be good at Herbology for some reason.
But really Padma, are you sure you want to pursue
An irritated look quickly replaced Padma's surprised one. "No,
you great, silly twit! I'm not interested in Neville! It's Ron Weasley."
Now it was Parvati's turn to look surprised. "Ron Weasley?"
she asked in disbelief. "But I thought you said he was the most immature
boy you've ever met, and the worst dresser too."
"Yes, well," said Padma, annoyed with herself for blushing.
"Perhaps I was too quick to judge him. So I need a copy of your class
schedule so I can decide when to approach him."
Parvati gave her a skeptical look, but pulled a notepad and quill
out of her pocket and began copying down her schedule. "Here you
go, but I have to tell you, I'll be consulting the tea leaves tonight
to see if you're even compatible with Ron."
"You do that Parvati," said Padma with an air of resignation.