There were wings in the air.
That is what I remember the most clearly – the spread of dragon wings over the castle. Not the fire, even though that is probably what the others remember the best. The Forbidden Forest, set ablaze against the night sky. Why they decided to hold the event at night, I don't know. It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now. Everything was dark, and yes, the fires were very impressive. But all I remember is the wings.
You couldn't see them. Because it was dark, too dark to see the dragons unless they breathed fire. So you could just hear them, the sound of them, the beat of their wings. There's no way to really describe what a dragon in flight sounds like. Their wings don't sound like bird wings, nor do they sound like sails. There is no way to describe it that doesn't do it an injustice. The beat of dragon wings sounds like the beat of dragon wings.
And I heard it, above me, whenever a dragon flew overhead. And just like the sound, there is no real way to describe the sheer terror of it – to have it above you, that sound, and not being able to see it. Nothing but flashes of figures and gleams of light against scale and horn and then it was gone and you couldn't tell where it had gone, where it would come from next.
They circled above us for maybe two minutes – two of the most horrible minutes of my life. These massive, predatory shadows against the dark night sky – and the sound.
Then, then… everything was on fire.
- Lavender Brown
I've seen a forest fire once, on a holiday trip to the United States – my dad and I were camping in this nature reserve when some idiot started a fire even though there was a drought. We were driven out of there by the muggle firemen, but we got a good look at the fire before that.
Seeing the Forbidden Forest on fire was nothing like that.
Ron's brother told us later that it's because of the dragon fire. Well, there were other things too, and not just the fire. Especially with Chinese Fireballs. They're called that because what they breathe aren't just flames, but actually balls of fire. And the reason their flames come out as fireballs is because they actually spit out this flammable liquid. It makes them one of the deadliest firebreathers because they have some serious range when they spit fireballs, unlike other dragons that breathe out just flames.
And when that fireball hits something physical – say like a tree? The liquid splatters everywhere, all of it on fire. It's like pouring burning oil or gasoline all over stuff.
The Forbidden Forest might not have been bone dry like the nature reserve, since there weren't any droughts in Scotland that year, but that doesn't really mean anything when dragons are bathing it with fire. Even water burns, when the flames are hot enough. Plus, the trees in the ForbiddenForest are not small. No, they're huge. When you get deep enough in the forest, the trunks are as thick as houses.
All that wood, on fire. And with the dragons going back and forth and setting it more and more aflame. No, it wasn't like a normal forest fire at all. And of course… it's not like it was just the forest either.
- Justin Finch-Fletchley
I know the teachers tried to put it out. I think I saw one of them – maybe Flitwick – trying to make it rain or snow or something like that. And Dumbledore and a lot of the others were making these huge water spouts. It didn't really help.
The forest was on fire, and the groundkeeper's hut, and the greenhouses and then, before any of it had been put out – the castle. Sure, it was just the rooftops at the beginning, but then there was fire and smoke pouring out of the windows and yeah. It was a lot of fire.
Everyone was panicking. First the prefects tried to usher us to the castle to take cover, but then the castle was on fire and they ushered us back. There was really nowhere to go, not before someone shouted for us to go to the Black Lake, to take cover in the water. And sure, that seemed like a good idea I guess, taking cover in the water. It's just… it made us pretty damn obvious targets to the dragons.
And we were the biggest group. There were others – the Slytherin prefects were pushing their members towards Hogsmeade and then there were the teachers and the judges and whatnot. But we were the biggest group. The majority of the student population was with us, plus most of the Durmstrang students and a lot from Beauxbatons. So, of course they came after us.
The dragons, that is.
- Cho Chang
When you think about the whole thing, it was just… just so stupid. Who thought it was a good idea? Taking four – FOUR – dragons, females at that, all of whom recently laid a clutch of eggs, to a school full of children and for what, for what? For a tournament, so that the champions can tempt and tease the dragons, to try and steal an egg from the clutch? What sort of lunatic thinks that is in any way a good idea?
Even at the best of times it takes up to a dozen dragon handlers to manage any one dragon. But four females, all of whom had just laid eggs? There isn't a dragon more vicious or more dangerous than a brooding female. For one, they can put on as much as two tons in weight when they're preparing to brood. And two, the instinct to protect their eggs is the strongest a dragon can have. A dragon never fights as desperately as when their eggs are in danger.
We were all outnumbered. Just about half a dozen dragon handlers for four extremely irritated females. That, the threat to the eggs presented by the champions, and the general noise and cacophony of the spectators – of course the dragons went mad.
While the others did what they could to try and hold the dragons back – which wasn't much really – I went after the eggs. They'd already trampled some of them in their panic – and the Fireball had crushed about half of hers during the actual first task. I saved as many as I could, for all the good that it did anyone. I got the Horntail’s eggs last – they were still in the arena – and then I couldn't go back because the stands were on fire…
I went to the lake, naturally. The best way to survive a dragon attack unless you can get underground and far enough away that they can't dig you out is to get under water.
In hindsight, I didn't realise that was where others would go too. I just wanted to preserve the eggs. I didn't realise it would get the dragons after so many people.
- Charlie Weasley
And then we were in the water, all of us at least knee deep, a lot of us up to our necks, with these mad dragons coming after us, all of them breathing fire at us. Someone shoved at me and I fell face first in the water. Merlin, for a moment I thought I was going to drown and if not, then the dragons would roast us, boil up the whole lake and just eat us up. It was just a huge mess, all of it.
I think it was McGonagall who made and threw the Portkey at us. It was a rope, and she – or someone – told us all to grab hold of it, that it would take us somewhere safe. And when everything is on fire and dragons are coming at you and someone tells you that something will take you somewhere safe, you don't hesitate.
So we all grabbed the rope. Someone unwound it and everyone took hold of it, everyone who could reach it. It was a mad scramble for it – a lot of people got shoved over or knocked aside by others. There was a boy from Beauxbatons right beside me and I think I saw Viktor Krum not far from me, and so many of my classmates. We all huddled around the rope as quickly as we could, hoping that it would activate before the dragons caught us – and it didn't.
The red one, the Chinese Fireball, spat fire at us, and though we all tried to move away from the fire, a section of the Portkey was just in between, pulled at both ends, taunt in between and above the water – and the fire hit it. The middle of the rope caught fire.
I remember just looking at it, as it burnt and frayed and snapped just as the Portkey grabbed us.
- Angelina Johnson
So these are the actual facts.
On the 24th of November, in the year of 1994 of the Old World, the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament took place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which played host for the tournament. In the tournament, the champions of the three schools, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, The Durmstrang Institute, and of course Hogwarts, competed for the Triwizard Cup. The First Task of the Triwizard Tournament was this: The champions were to steal a golden egg from a clutch of dragon eggs, of course guarded by the mother of the actual clutch. (Further information concerning the Triwizard Tournament and the ThreeSchools included in the appendix).
The Tasks themselves were all completed, all four champions – one from each school plus one extra, illegally added into the tournament – having achieved the goal and retrieved their eggs, when one of the dragons, the Chinese Fireball, broke loose from her restraints. No one knows how this was achieved by the dragon, only that it happened, and that in answer to the challenge she presented, the other dragons fought harder against their respective restraints and they too broke loose. In the end, all four of them flew free over the First Task Arena, and over Hogwarts' grounds.
Many things were set on fire by the dragons, most notably the Forbidden Forest and numerous rooftops of the Hogwarts castle itself. While the teachers of the three schools tried to fight the dragons and then to put out the fires, the students attempted to evacuate first to the school and when that proved unsafe, to the Black Lake, where the water might save them from the dragon fire.
Among their number were a large number of Hogwarts students, most of the Durmstrang students – who had been aiming for their ship – and a number of Beauxbatons students – who were swept along. There were also a handful of spectators from the First Task – like myself, Penelope Clearwater, Oliver Wood. And one Charlie Weasley, who was carrying the dragon eggs and aimed for the Black Lake for safety.
The evacuees were presented with a Portkey that was meant to deliver them – us – to safety. It was in the form of a length of rope – most likely a rope was chosen so that more people could use it at once. It was likely that the Portkey's destination was Diagon Alley or perhaps the Ministry of Magic. But as things stand, it delivered the evacuees to neither of those locations. A section near the middle of the rope caught fire, and so the Portkey malfunctioned.
And so, the transportation was a failure.
- Percy Weasley
I got singed, and that was all I thought about when we landed. The fire had been put out by the Black Lake, but the burn was still there, on my shoulder – and I just stared at it, my burnt robes and blistering flesh. It was red and black and purple in the half light, and it smelled like burnt meat.
It didn't hurt at first, and I didn't feel anything. It was just there, this burnt thing on my shoulder, and it didn't even feel like anything. That's how it is with dragon fire – it's so hot that it makes the skin go numb. The pain comes after, ten minutes or half an hour later. And then it hurts.
It hurt so much.
It was when I looked around for someone to help that I realised that we were somewhere that we probably weren't meant to be. I was still holding the Portkey and standing knee deep in water and so was everyone else and there was nothing but water every which way we looked, water as far as the eyes could see.
Except behind us there was an island of nothing but sand and rock with some tufts of moss or grass or something like that – and mother freaking seabirds, everywhere.
Later, some of the Ravenclaws figured out where we were – in the middle of the Atlantic, thousands of miles from the nearest land mass. That didn't exactly help us then, and it doesn't really help us now either. The damn Portkey transported us to the middle of nowhere on a damned deserted island.
- Zacharias Smith
It's about fourteen miles from north to south and eight from west to east, somewhere between 30 and 40 both in latitude and longitude in the Northwest. That's as much as the best astronomy students with us could figure out, the next night. It placed the island – and us – almost smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
We were stranded in the middle of the ocean by a dysfunctional Portkey, and no way off of it. I mean, sure, we tried to figure it out as best as we could. People tried to Apparate, but after Helen got splinched and lost three fingers of her right hand, we thought better of it. Someone tried to make a Portkey, but the Durmstrang boy who used it never came back, and we didn't dare try again. We shot out sparks and tried to make signals and we even tried to send letters by the sea birds, but they wouldn't even come near us.
Some of the older students who knew the Patronus charm and how to use it to send messages tried that too, but they dissipated after setting out to try and cross the ocean.
We were stranded, about a hundred of us, most of us students and under age. No way to get off, no way to send out a message, and no way to reach anyone or anything. The best thing we had for transport was Potter's broom, which he still had on him, and that wasn't much use to anyone. No one could fly for thousands of miles on a broom, not without dropping of exhaustion somewhere along the way.
The best we could do was to wait for someone to come to get us. And so we waited.
And then we got hungry.
- Padma Patil
You can't really know how ugly people can get before you have about a hundred hungry people on a deserted island, and it turns out that a couple of them had been hiding snacks. They were such little things too. A couple of muffins, some crackers, random candies – what people had brought with them to the First Task, to snack on like one would at a theatre or a show.
There was a huge fight over them. It wasn't even a magical fight, no. People were punching and clawing at each other to try and get their share. It was a stupid, stupid thing. All of us were in the same situation, all of us were just as trapped as each other, but were clawing and tearing at each other over tiny little sweets that did nothing to help us survive. There were actual black eyes and a couple of broken fingers and several bloody noses over that one muffin. And in the end it got trampled and stomped into a pile of bird shit.
What little tiny bit of food we had, we wasted, just utterly wasted, within minutes. And afterwards we were just angry and furious and just as hungry as before, if not more. It was just bad business all around, and it didn't benefit anybody. We just got sullen and mad and started forming into groups. We probably would've started drawing lines and dividing the island into sections, if it had gone on.
Of course, it's not as if I'm any better than any of them were. I took sides too. I just happened to be on the side of the only sensible people on that island. Potter's side.
- Oliver Wood
Of course it was Harry Potter. I say that with as much sarcasm as possible, mind you, but in the end it sort of made sense. Potter's always been just enough of an odd man for something like it. Plus, he's been getting into all sorts of weird shit ever since he entered Hogwarts.
That being said, I bet it was Granger who actually thought it up.
Potter got all four champions together and managed to talk them into first doing a head count and then making sure everyone was okay, checking for injuries, getting those who knew any first aid to treat those with burns or breaks or scrapes or whatnot. It’s a little thing, in hindsight, that any one of us could've done if we had just thought about it. But it probably wouldn't have worked as well for any of us as it did for Potter.
After all, every single one of us knew who Harry Potter was. We knew him and what he'd done and who he was, better than we knew anyone else, including the other champions. Harry Potter was a celebrity. People listened to him, the way they probably wouldn't have listened to anyone else.
So it sort of makes sense that, no matter how little some of us liked it and no matter how young he was and how there were more qualified people around, he became our leader.
- Ernie Macmillan