The other students looked shocked, and Harry realized that he was holding his wand pointed at his professor.
Moody was holding his wand pointed at Harry in return.
"A dangerous one, are you Potter...even more than the usual snake," Moody said. "I'd suggest that we both lower our wands at the same time, and then you go back to your desk."
Harry watched carefully, but slowly lowered his wand as Moody did the same. He cautiously returned to his desk.
"As you can see, it IS possible to resist the Imperious," Moody said. "I suspect that if I'd chosen something that Potter was less opposed to he might have struggled more with it, but he'd have eventually broken through."
"What does that mean, then?" asked Pansy Parkinson from the back. "Does that mean that all those people who got off because they were imperiused just didn't mind what they were doing as much?"
"Without a strong will no amount of repugnance will make a difference. Parents can be made to kill their children, people can be made to jump to their deaths...but with such a will you have a chance."
"So does this mean those of us who failed to resist it are doomed?"
Moody leaned forward. "If it was something you either had or didn't, I wouldn't be teaching you this. I'd be off teaching divination or some other such nonsense."
He began to stride back and forth, his prosthetic foot clumping along the floor. "The mind...the will is like a muscle. It can be trained and grow stronger, or it can be allowed to weaken and falter. Will all of you be able to resist the impirious by the end of the year? It's doubtful. But if even a few of you can, even if it's only when it is most important I'll have done my job."
Harry nodded. A little bit of a defense was infinitely better than none.
"Bring me two pages on methods of resisting the Imperius by next session," Moody said. "Potter stay behind."
Harry caught a sympathetic look from Malfoy as all the other students filed out of the room.
"Yes, professor?" Harry said.
"If you ever point your wand at me again you'd better be ready to use it," Moody said, glaring at him.
"Who says I wasn't?" Harry asked. "I wasn't exactly myself and it was a natural reaction, but I know I shouldn't have pointed my wand at a teacher."
"Not the first teacher you've done that to, is it?" Moody asked.
Harry felt a sudden surge of anxiety. Was he talking about his murdering Quirrell or his attacking Lockhart?
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Harry said carefully, keeping his expression composed. "I'd never attack the staff of the school without a very good reason."
"And that's the difference between you and the other students. They'd have just said that they wouldn't even think about attacking the staff."
"I don't have the option of being like the other students," Harry said. "What with the bounty on my head."
"It's not a surprise, Potter, given what you've gone through," Moody said. "I've been talking to Dumbledore...he wants you to know that we will support you no matter what happens."
"But he still won't take my suggestion about the cup," Harry said.
"The cup has to be seen...it has to generate excitement to draw attention away from what happened in the Quidditch World cup."
"That wasn't my fault," Harry said. "I don't see why I should be punished for it."
"Blood on the ground says different," Moody said. "Some aurors think you're a hero for leaving that many Death Eaters dead...I worry about being a killer at fourteen will mean for you."
Harry shook his head. "I don;t know what you're talking about."
If the man knew he'd killed, even if it was just indirectly by the time he was eleven he'd be even more horrified.
"The Slytherin way...deny, deny, deny..." Moody scowled. "You lot never admit to anything unless it will fit your interests."
"Are Gryffindors brave when there's nobody around to see it?" Harry scowled. "We aren't so different.."
Moody stared at him. "At least you have the right attitude toward danger."
"Constant vigilance," Harry said. He nodded, then hesitated for a moment. "Say...if I'm going to be railroaded into this contest, then I may need some extra training out of class."
If the man expected him to try to take advantage, he might as well do so.
Wizards were addicted to pagentry.
As Harry stood in front of the castle watching the gigantic, house sized carriage landing, he knew this to be true. France was close enough to Britain that they could have connected the floo networks without any sort of problem.
Instead the other school had chosen a wholly impractical but very impressive method to transport their students. Having been inside wizarding tents and having looked up expansion charms out of an uncharacteristic sense of curiosity, Harry knew that they could have used a regular sized coach and simply had the interior be larger.
The woman who stepped outside of the coach was a giantess, fully as tall as Hagrid. Unlike Hagrid, who had rather course features, hers were much finer and she looked intelligent. She worse fine black satin and wore jewels around her throat and on her thick fingers.
Well, perhaps the coach needed to be bigger so the door could be bigger, but the size of a house was still unnecessary.
Dumbledore began clapping, and the students followed politely.
Harry wondered if allowing a half-human to become Headmistress of a prestigious school meant that France was less prejudiced toward half humans than Britain.
The students who followed were a dozen boys and girls shivering in silken clothing.
Another example of Wizarding obsession with appearance. The clothing was not designed for comfort but to impress and intimidate. The students were all dressed the same way and so it couldn't be a coincidence.
Harry knew nothing about the weather in France, but he couldn't imagine that it was that much warmer than it was in Scotland. Of course, given his ignorance of anything not involving combat he could be very wrong.
Even if it was that much warmer, couldn't someone have called ahead and asked about the weather What surprised him was that no one had cast warming spells. Didn't they learn them in France?
The Headmaster talked to the Headmistress of the French school for a short period before there were shouts from some of Harry's classmates.
Half the reason the French were shivering was that they had waited until well after dark in the moonlight to bring the other school's children to the school. It was cold in Scotland in October after dark. It wasn't particularly warm even in the middle of the day, but it was infinitely worse at night.
Yet the sight of a skeletal ship rising out of the lake wouldn't have been nearly as impressive in the middle of the day. By night it had an eerie sort of finality, as though a ghost ship was visiting.
Harry suspected that Durmstrang had insisted on the time simply so it could make this sort of impression.
The Durmstrang students seemed to be overdressed for the weather, with heavy cloaks of fur. As they stepped off the platform, Harry wondered just how large an object it was possible to apparate. Could someone apparate an entire house? If they could apparate an entire ship, they'd be able to move at least a small house.
He had sudden fantasies of apparating whatever lair Voldemort was working out of right in front of the Ministry. He'd simply sit back and watch the fireworks after making sure no one could apparate away.
After all, he was still angry with the Ministry for insisting on open enrollment. He'd asked his Slytherin contacts and they revealed that the matter had been forced on Dumbledore by the Ministry.
Dumbledore was simply trying to save face by pretending the idea was his own.
All the other schools had only brought the candidates that had been chosen by the Headmasters; a dozen in each case. They had all had their names dropped into the Goblet already, and they were only awaiting the choosing..
Harry blinked as he realized that he recognized one of the players. Viktor Krum had been the Bulgarian seeker who had been impressive during the World Cup. Harry hadn't known that he was still in school.
From the murmuring of the students around him, no one else had either. Quidditch stars were celebrities in the Wizarding world. In a world without movies or television, and with only very limited radio, that left authors and sports stars to be the celebrities.
Having someone around who was almost as famous as Harry itself might be useful or it might be an annoyance. Harry wasn't quite sure.
As they entered the Great Hall, the Durmstrang students sat at the Slytherin table, which made for a tighter fit than usual.
"You are Harry Potter," Krum said. He's sat between Harry and Malfoy even as his classmates had divided out among the Slytherins.
His accent was thick but servicable.
Harry nodded. "Krum...you did a brilliant job at the world cup...too bad about the loss."
Malfoy looked smug that Krum had sat next to him. Harry couldn't understand why. He wasn't even sure how the Durmstrang students had known to sit at the Slytherin table, although from their reputation the entire school was composed of people who would follow Slytherin values.
Krum shrugged. "It is game. If one side always win there would be no fun."
The French were sitting with the Ravenclaws. Harry wondered if this was also a considered, political decision, or simply because the Slytherin table was closest to the door and the Ravenclaw table was the second closest.
"Life's a little different," Harry said. "Always play to win and make sure the other guy stays down."
Krum nodded approvingly.
Apparently this philosophy was very much in line with what was taught at Durmstrang, because Harry could see some of the other Durmstrang students nodding as well.
Malfoy seemed a little star struck by Krum. He began peppering Krum with questions about Quidditch even as Harry began trying some of the new, foreign dishes that were being served for dinner.
It was a nice chance from Hogwarts usual fare. Hogwarts food was usually so heavy that Harry wondered why more wizards weren't keeping over from heart attacks on a daily basis. He'd been a student here for years and he'd never seen a single salad.
But now there were lighter, French dishes mixed in with heavier dishes from...wherever Durmstrang was. He'd never gotten a serious answer from anyone. Some people said that its location was hidden even from its students, a philosophy Harry agreed with completely.
If no one knew where it was, then former students now turned dark wizards wouldn't know exactly where to go to attack. Given that Durmstrang seemed likely to turn out a lot of dark wizards, it wasn't a surprise that they took precautions.
Harry was careful to keep his questions toward Krum polite and perfunctory, especially as he could see that Malfoy's questions were irritating him. He had some experience with how uncomfortable it was to have all eyes on you.
He could see the Gryffindors staring at least, especially Ron Weasley, who from all reports was an even bigger Quidditch fanatic than Malfoy.
Harry watched as a couple of Ministry officials joined the teachers at the head table.
The rich food suddenly seemed to settle in a lump at the pit of his stomach. He was no longer hungry,. The arrival of the officials meant that the feast was almost over, and that at the end of the feast his life of terror would begin again.
Harry barely noticed as Dumbledore introduced the officials. The moment he heard the names he forgot them, so wrapped up was he in his own misery.
Even Dumbledore's explanation of the tasks was frustratingly vague. Three tasks, spaced out over the course of the school year. It sounded so romantic and brave, at least according to the expressions on the faces of the Gryffindors.
The Goblet was carried in by people Harry had never seen before. His hand itched to grab his wand. Had these people been properly investigated? Presumably they worked for the Ministry, but that didn't give Harry a lot of confidence.
Over the past two months the Ministry had been in turmoil. There had been a great deal of political infighting over the appointment of successors to the people who'd been killed during the world cup. The purebloods were lobbying hard for their candidates, but the other side was lobbying just as hard.
Harry suspected that this was part of the reason that Dumbledore hadn't fought harder over the issue of open enrollment for the Tournament. He was using every bit of political capital he had to try to get his candidates in place so that the entire balance of the government didn't shift in Voldemort's direction.
This, at least was what Harry's Slytherin informants were telling him, although usually in a highly biased manner. Harry was forced to read between the lines to figure out what was really happening.
Whatever happened, the Ministry was in turmoil now, and Harry suspected that Voldemort was using the confusion to full effect. He was likely making inroads in areas that no one was looking.
Dumbledore explained that when candidates were chosen they were do go through the door beside the teacher's table to await further instructions.
He held up his wand, and with a motion every candle in the room was extinguished at once, leaving the room lit by the light of the Goblet and the lights from inside their carved pumpkins. The room was plunged into semidarkness.
It was a brilliant piece of theatrics, as every voice in the hall suddenly fell silent. Even Harry, cynic that he was couldn't help but hold his breath a little as the light from the Goblet flared.
Red light flared from the Goblet, along with sparks. The crowd gasped and a charred slip of paper floated from inside the Goblet to be snatched out of the air by Dumbledore.
"The Champion from Durmstrang is Victor Krum," Dumbledore announced.
Ron Weasley made a loud comment about how this wasn't a surprise. While everyone likely thought so, Harry thought it was rather crude of him to mention it.
Krum rose from his seat and graciously stepped forward.
The cheering and applause was loud and enthusiastic. Krum was apparently popular with almost everyone, something that even the Gryffindors and Slytherins could agree on.
As he stepped through the door, Dumbledore plucked another piece of paper from the air.
"Fleur Delacour," Dumbledore said. "Is the representative of Beauxbatons."
The clapping was considerably less enthusiastic for her than it had been for Krum. This changed when she pulled the scarf off her head and a full hair of beautiful blonde hair emerged like a waterfall.
She was one of the most beautiful women Harry had ever seen. If he hadn't attended the World Cup and seen actual Veela he'd have said she was the most beautiful.
The clapping became considerably more enthusiastic, mostly from the male students.
"Is she part Veela?" Malfoy asked. "They'll let any sort of riff raff into the school these days."
Despite his statement, he didn't stop staring at the girl. Harry would have made fun of him except that he too could barely look away.
Until the night of the World Cup he hadn't thought much about girls. He'd thought of them as simply something to be either manipulated or avoided. Even after the seeing the Veela he'd simply assumed that it was the result of magic, no different than the warm happy feeling the Imperius spell gave him.
However, looking at her now, Harry couldn't help but wonder if he was finally becoming interested in the opposite sex.
It would be a massive inconvenience if it was true. He was almost a year and a half more advanced mentally than physically/ If this continued, he would eventually outpace all the girls his own age, and he doubted that older girls would be knocking down his door.
Worse, from what he saw from the older students, boys tended to become fools around girls. They did things, took risks, and acted in ways they normally would never have acted simply to get a girl's attention.
He couldn't afford to be distracted that way. Unfortunately, from the way his eyes didn't leave Fleur until she left the room, he wasn't sure he'd get a choice.
The other French girls weren't even trying to have the appearance of being good losers. Some of them were openly crying.
It was probably for the best they hadn't sat with the Slytherins.
Harry grimaced as Dumbledore held up his hand. The murmuring in the Great Hall quickly subsided.
"I would like to thank all of you for your enthusiasm for the tournament. Without your support, and that of your parents, none of this would be possible."
The Goblet was sparking again, and Harry felt his stomach drop.
"Not me, not me, not me, not me..."
One of the other Durmstrang students leaned over and asked Malfoy, "What is he doing?"
"He's convinced that the Goblet is going to choose him even though he is not remotely old enough," Malfoy said. "He's a bit dramatic."
"Not me, not me, not me..."
"The champion for Hogwarts," Dumbledore began. "Is..."
He stopped, and looked visibly surprised.
Harry grimaced. The only reason Dumbledore would look surprised was if the result was something no one could have predicted.
The entire room sat in stunned silence. Harry was well known to be too young, and he'd made his objections to the contest known to everyone who would listen.
Slowly the crowd began to clap, beginning with the Weasleys. Harry suspected they were doing it to mock him, but the rest of the crowd seemed to be more honest in their enthusiasm.
The Gryffindors probably thought he'd found a way of the age line, that he'd pretended not to want to participate in order to throw the attention off him. A few of the Slytherins thought the same thing, likely. Most knew, however that he was going to be a reluctant participant.
Malfoy looked shocked.
Harry scowled and fought the urge to flip all of them the bird. With his luck this would be the moment that didn't reset, and he'd have to live with the consequences of it.
He stood slowly and heavily. Each footstep felt as though it was heavier than the last. The fact that Dumbledore looked a little shocked wasn't much of a consolation.
The fact that he'd been expecting this for weeks wasn't the consolation that he'd thought it would be. Instead, he felt a little sick, although he fought to keep it off his face.
It felt like he was walking to his execution.