The loud talking in the Great Hall grinds to a halt as Headmistress McGonagall walks to the podium to speak. She starts by reminding everyone of important rules, and not to be too hard on the first years. Then, she deviates from her beginning of the year speech, much to everyone's surprise.
“I’d like to make an announcement," she says, as a mischievous smile spreads across her face. Meg can hear all the kids whispering and gossiping about what the announcement might be. Meg just feels an unpleasant sense of surprise and anticipation. She's the Head Girl. She should already have been informed of whatever the announcement is. It's her job to know what's going on at Hogwarts.
“We will be holding another Triwizard Tournament this year,” she says. Meg’s anxiety turns into anger, and half of the hall gasps. Meg March doesn’t like surprises. She likes structure, and plans. Meg likes being able to figure things out before she has to charge into them. She’s the Head Girl of Hogwarts, and she thinks that someone should have informed her that they were going to put on the Triwizard Tournament again this year. Apparently, a little bit of a heads up was too much to expect.
“But someone died last time!” a second year shouts.
“And Voldemort came back!” another kid shouts.
"I can promise you," McGonagall says, "no fourth years will be competing, our Head Boy won't die, and no one will be resurrecting Lord Voldemort." The Head Boy, Scorpius Malfoy, breathes a sigh of relief, The hall giggles in unison at the speech, but Meg glares. She can’t believe that no one told her about this in advance. She’s the Head Girl. She should be informed of these things.
"The tasks this year will be the same as they were the last time we had this tournament, in order to allow candidates to prepare more thoroughly for the tasks," Headmistress McGonagall says.
“Students who are seventeen years old will be allowed to apply to become the Hogwarts champion,” Mcgonagall says, “and every application will be looked over by a committee of judges for that school. The magical fire cup didn’t work out all that well last time.” A few of the students snicker at that, and Albus and Lily Potter are simply glaring forward.
“Are there any questions?” she asks. A Ravenclaw third year raises his hand.
“Yes, Keenan?” she asks.
“When are the kids from the other schools going to get here?” he asks.
“The students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons will be arriving tomorrow morning,” McGonagall says.
“Enjoy the rest of the feast,” she says with a smile as she leaves the podium and makes her way back to the head table. Everyone starts talking at once, and Meg glares at her food. She can’t believe that no one let her know this was going to happen. She should have been notified about this. At the end of the feast, Meg makes her way down to the Hufflepuff common room, but she’s stopped by her youngest sister.
“Meg!” Amy shouts.
“Shouldn’t you be going to your own common room?” Meg asks.
“There is plenty of time to do that later,” Amy says, “I just wanted to see my favorite sister first.”
“What do you want, Amy?” Meg asks. Amy’s always been a bit of a cocky schmoozer. Meg can’t believe that none of them foresaw her becoming a Slytherin. Actually, Meg’s a little bit surprised that she didn’t see all of their sortings coming.
The March sisters have become a bit of a legend at Hogwarts. Most families have a house that their members tend to be sorted into. The Blacks are still consistently sorted in Slytherin. The Weasleys and the Potters are known as Gryffindors, and the Lovegoods are all Ravenclaws.
The Marches used to be known as a family of Gryffindors. Then Meg came along, and got herself sorted into Hufflepuff. Jo came next, and after she was sorted as a Gryffindor people thought that they’d resumed the status quo. But then Beth was sorted into Ravenclaw, and Amy was sorted into Slytherin and it messed up everyone’s perceptions of families being sorted into a particular house. The Marches went and collected the entire set of houses.
Amy is incredibly proud of being the first March to be a Slytherin, and also of making sure that people know that there isn’t anything inherently evil about the house. Amy has also decided that contractions are beneath her and that using the biggest possibly words will make her cooler, even if she accidentally misuses them. Amy wants nothing more than to be cool. She bites her lips, and doesn’t respond to Meg’s question.
“What is it Amy?” Meg asks.
"You must apply to be the champion!" Amy demands, grabbing Meg by the arm. Meg rolls her eyes at her youngest sister’s antics.
"I don't want to be the champion," Meg tells her little sister. She suspects that Amy does, though.
"But if my sister is both Head Girl and the Hogwarts champion I would be the coolest girl in the third year," Amy says, sending Meg puppy dog eyes. Meg groans.
"I don't care, Amy," she says, "I'm not going to fight a dragon so that you can brag to your friends."
“No, Amy,” Meg says.
“Fine,” Amy huffs as she turns around to leave, “I’ll see if Jo can do it.”
“Don’t you dare, Amy March,” Meg says, but Amy has already gotten halfway through the corridor.
Two mornings later at breakfast, Jo plops down next to her with a boy in tow. He looks nice enough, and he’s clad in Beauxbatons baby blue. He’s fairly cute too, but if he’s going to be allowed anywhere near her little sister Meg needs to make sure that he’s a nice guy. That’s her duty as an older sister.
“Who is this?” Meg asks.
“I’m Laurie,” the boy says.
“Laurie?” Meg asks.
“It’s short for Laurence,” Laurie says, “that’s my last name.”
“What are you studying after graduation?” Meg asks, “what are your plans in life?” Laurie looks like he’s about to pee his pants because of the interrogation, and Jo rolls her eyes. She’s listened to Meg grill her boyfriends about this sort of things a million times in the past.
“He’s a friend,” Jo asserts. Laurie doesn’t look offended by this assertion, so Meg assumes that there isn’t anything going on between the two of them, at least not yet.
“Did Amy try to get you to apply to be the champion?” Meg asks.
“Yeah,” she says, “and I tried to too. But it turns out you have to already be seventeen.” Jo actually sounds a little bit angry about this, but Meg breathes an internal sigh of relief. She doesn’t have to worry about her little sister dying by dragonfire any time soon.
“They’re canceling Quidditch for this,” Jo says, “and I can’t even compete.”
“Do you want to quit -it.. ch,” Laurie says, grinning in that stupid way people always do when they make a pun.
“Oh my god,” Meg mutters.
“No,” Jo says, “that would be a Gryffin- snore .” Laurie laughs at that, and Meg groans. The two actually just make up puns for the next five minutes, and Meg finishes up her food as quickly as possible.
“I’ve got to go,” she says, but she doesn’t have to and Jo knows that. Her hall monitoring duty doesn’t start for another twenty minutes.Meg turns to leave.
“Make sure to be pun -ctual,” Jo calls out, and Laurie laughs. Just as long as she doesn’t have to sit with them again, Meg will be perfectly fine with Laurie Laurence.
Three days later, Meg is doing her daily hall patrol. She’s not pleased when she finds Jo and Laurie sneaking around in the tunnels.
“Out,” Meg orders. She leads the two of them out of the tunnels. Then she runs right into someone.
“I’m so sorry,” she says, and the girl laughs as she looks up at her. It’s almost musical, until the girl starts to snort.
“It’s alright,” the other girl says, smiling the whole time, "it's sort of exciting."
"It's exciting to have someone run into you?" Meg asks. She doesn't think that sounds exciting. She thinks that it sounds annoying.
"That's the way a lot of great romances start," the other girl says, smiling even wider.
"It would be more romantic if I were a man," Meg jokes. The other girl looks a little bit disappointed by that, but Meg couldn't understand why. It's not as though she and Meg would be starting any great romances.
"A great friendship then," the girl decides, "I'm Joan Brooke and you are?" Joan trails off at the end, and expects Meg to fill in the gap.
“Meg March,” Meg says, sticking out a hand to shake. The other girl laughs a little at that, but takes her hand anyway. Joan steps into the hallway, and her look changes immediately from a smile to a glare.
“Laurie,” she says, sounding angry.
“Um,” he says, “I can explain?”
“You can’t skip class, Laurie,” Joan says.
“I’m sorry,” he says, not looking very sorry at all, “Jo just wanted to show me around the castle.” Joan rolls her eyes at that.
“She can do that after school,” she says, “now get to class, both of you.” Neither of them look too happy about it, but they leave anyways.
“I’m impressed,” Meg says.
“Thanks,” Joan says with a big smile.
“Are you Laurie’s sister?” Meg asks.
“No,” Joan says, “I’m just his tutor.”
“Oh,” Meg says, “okay.” It seems odd to Meg that a tutor would be taking such an active interest in their student, but Meg probably doesn’t have all of the information. They walk in awkward silence for a few moments, and Meg decides that she has to break it somehow.
“That was my sister with him,” Meg says, and she can hear her distaste in her voice. She can’t believe that her sixth year sister is still skipping class to wander the castle. Meg thinks that Jo should have acquired a sense of responsibility somewhere along the line.
“She seems like a nice girl,” Joan suggest. Meg laughs at that.
“When she’s not ditching class,” Meg says.
“There are worse things than ditching every once in awhile,” Joan suggests.
“Like what?” Meg asks.
“Never having fun,” Joan says, bouncing on her heels. Her curly hair bounces right along with her.
“You’ve got to be able to get a job,” Meg says, “and you can’t do that if you never show up.”
“But there’s no use having a job if you don’t enjoy life.” Joan says.
“You sound like my sister,” Meg says. In this case, it isn’t a compliment.
“You should lighten up a little,” Joan says, her lips quirking into a smile.
“No,” Meg says, “I really shouldn’t."
"You should," Joan sing-songs. Meg can feel her irritation growing.
“What do you plan on going into?” Meg asks. She can't imagine a girl like this going into anything practical. She has no idea how she ended up getting a job as a tutor in the first place.
“Muggle studies,” Joan says.
“Muggle studies?” Meg asks, and she can hear the shock in her voice. She knew that Joan's career choice had to be impractical, but there's nothing that's looked down upon more in Wizarding culture than Muggle Studies.
“Yep,” Joan says, popping her p. She sounds completely unfazed by Meg’s shock.
“You’re going into Muggle Studies and you approve of ditching classes?” Meg asks.She’s never been more baffled in her life. Joan just shrugs.
“Are you ditching right now?” Meg asks.
“Maybe,” Joan says with a sly smile.
“What!” Meg demands. She can feel her face turning red. This girl is a tutor and she seems responsible and nice and impressive. She shouldn’t be wasting her potential like this. Joan just smiles even wider.
“You’re cute when you’re flustered,” Joan says, and as she turns around to leave her hair bounces along with her, Meg is left alone in the corridor, confused and angry, and a little bit sad to see her go.
The next day, Meg finds Joan wandering around the halls at the same time.
“Joan?” she asks. Joan turns around, and her face lights up when she sees her.
“Meg,” she says happily.
“Are you ditching again?” Meg asks, hearing the concern in her own voice. Joan rolls her eyes.
“Meg,” she says, “I was joking. I’m a prefect. I’m on hall duty right now too.” Meg laughs a little bit at that, embarrassed that she fell for Joan’s joke. She can feel her cheeks taking on a pink tint.
“Yeah,” Meg says, “of course.”
“I’m not sure if I’m doing much good,” Joan admits, “I have no idea how to get around in here.”
“Do you want me to give you a tour?” Meg asks. She’d like to keep talking to Joan, and if she can give herself an excuse to do it, that would be wonderful.
“Definitely,” Joan says. Meg shows Joan around the castle, and they somehow end up promising to meet and eat lunch together.
Eating lunch together leads to eating dinner together which leads to studying together and more meals. By the time that it comes to announce the champions for each of the schools, Meg and Joan have spent a lot of time together. Joan decided to stay at the Beauxbatons table for this meal, and Meg misses her more than she’d like to admit.
“It’s time to announce the champions,” McGonagall says. The students cheer, and McGonagall smiles. She seems to be having a lot of fun with this.
“Can I have a drum roll?” she asks. The choir instructor casts a spell on some of his utensils, and they start drumming. She takes out her envelope with the names written in it, and then opens it.
“The Hogwarts champion is Rose Weasley,” McGonagall says. The Gryffindor table and the entire Weasley clan erupts into applause. She passes the envelope to the headmistress of Durmstrang.
“The Durmstrang champion is Vladimir Minkov,” the headmistress says. She passes it to the headmaster of Beauxbatons.
“The Beauxbatons champion is Joan Brooke,” the headmaster says. Meg can hear Jo screaming happily from the Gryffindor table, and the Beauxbatons table has erupted into applause. Meg, however, feels a little numb at the realization. Jo might not be competing, but Joan is. She finds that almost as bad.
Meg corners Joan on her way back to the Beauxbatons tower,
“Meg!” Joan says excitedly. As she sees the angry look on Meg’s face, Joan realizes that Meg isn’t here to congratulate her. Then her smile disappears as quickly as it appeared.
"What were you thinking?" Meg demands.
“I was thinking that I could be the champion,” Joan says. It sounds like she’s completely baffled by Meg’s anger.
“Did you think about how dangerous it was going to be!” Meg demands.
“It’s not that dangerous,” Joan claims, “it’s a school sanctioned event!”
"Someone died the last time we had this tournament!" Meg growls. She can't stand the idea of Joan risking her life like this.
"I doubt that Voldemort's going to kill me," Joan says with a bright smile.
"A dragon could!" Meg shouts. Joan glares at her.
“Do you really think I’m that… that-”
“What?” Meg asks.
“Incompetent!” Joan seethes.
“No,” Meg admits, “I don’t think that you’re incompetent.” Meg thinks that Joan’s witty and clever, and really good at magic.
“Is this because I’m studying muggles?” Joan asks.
“No,” Meg says. It might be a little bit about that, but that’s not the root of it. Joan stares at her expectantly, waiting for the answer that Meg isn't really ready to give.
“I’m just worried,” she admits.
“I promise that I won’t die,” Joan says as a smile curls across her face.
“I’m holding you to that,” Meg says.
“I expect that you will,” Joan says. Then the conversation shifts to more pleasant places, and they find a place in the castle to talk until curfew.
They immediately start studying different ways to complete the dragon task. Eventually, there is only a week and a half until the task and neither of them has gotten any good ideas. Neither has Laurie, Jo, Beth or Amy. Meg resorts to reading through a textbook about previous Triwizard Tournaments. She skips right to the last one.
“Harry Potter used Accio to get his broomstick during this task,” Meg says.
“I can’t fly to save my life,” Joan admits. Meg isn’t going to let a good charm go to waste though.
“Accio chocolate,” Meg says, waving her wand. The chocolate from her room springs into her hand, and she smiles as she lies it down between the two of them. She and Joan start eating as they talk through ideas that will likely never work.
“Wait,” Meg says, “aren’t you good at charms?”
“Yes?” Joan says, phrasing her response as a question.
“Cast a sleeping charm on the dragon,” Meg says. That's what Fleur Delacour did in the last Triwizard Tournament. It didn’t work well for her, but Meg has confidence in Joan.
“Wait,” Joan says, “that’s a fantastic idea!”
They practice the charm for the rest of the week before the task, and Meg is almost certain that Joan can perform it successfully.
It goes well. Actually, it goes fantastically. Joan gets out of the task without a scratch, and ends up with the highest score out of any of the champions. Meg feels bad about how glad she is that Joan beat the other two, even the Hogwarts champion. She feels like she should have more school spirit than this.
They announce that the next task won’t be held until next February. Meg breaths a sigh of relief. She and Joan won’t have anything big to worry about until at least after break.
A few days into December, Joan shakes everything up. They're sitting in their little study alcove, and she takes a bar of chocolate from her bag.
"Would you be my date to the Yule Ball?" Joan asks. She hands the bar of chocolate to her, and Meg can feel her heart melt. Joan remembered how much she loves chocolate.
"I don't think that I can," Meg says, a little sheepishly. She feels awful, but she doesn't think that she can. She pushes the bar back into Joan's hand.
"What?" Joan asks.
"I mean," she says, "it would be really bad for Hogwarts morale if the Head Girl went to the Yule Ball with the Beauxbatons champion." Meg's face turns scarlet at her own implications. Meg doesn’t know if Joan would want them to be date dates. Meg doesn’t even know if she would be opposed to being date dates. She's starting to wonder whether or not she's totally straight.
"I mean, even as friends."
"Of course," Joan says, her voice a little steely. Joan turns around to leave immediately.
"Joan?" Meg asks, but Joan keeps on walking and completely ignores that Meg has spoken. Meg calls out to her another time, but the girl doesn't even look back. Meg fears that she has made a terrible mistake.
Meg doesn’t end up with a date, and Joan ends up bringing Laurie, who dances with Jo for the whole time after the required champions’ dance. Joan dances with girls and guys alike, and all of them seem tantalizingly romantic. It makes Meg’s chest hurt as she watches from the sidelines, and she forgets why she refused Joan in the first place. Meg wants to be the one dancing with Joan.
Meg finds Sallie and taps her on the shoulder. She lets her know that she’s heading back early. Meg feels like her world is falling apart, and she doesn’t think that she can stay another second.
Sallie just says, “Okay Meg.” Meg laughs a little bitterly, and then she leaves. She realizes that this isn’t very good for her image as Head Girl. But with her emotions running wild like they are, she thinks that staying wouldn’t be all that conducive to her image either.
Joan does not speak to her before they leave for Christmas break. Joan does not speak to her after Christmas break, and it starts to worry Meg. She had really thought that they were close. She was even beginning to worry if it what they had might have been more than friendship. Meg misses Joan like crazy, but she doesn't know how to start to mend whatever rift has been created between them. The day of the task comes, and Headmistress McGonagall calls her into her office.
“Hello headmistress,” Meg says as she enters her office.
“Miss March,” McGonagall says, “have a seat.” The office is enormous, and is still full of clutter from previous heads of the school. Meg takes a seat on one of the black leather chairs and wonders if she’s done something wrong.
“I called you in to discuss this next task,” the headmistress says.
“Headmistress,” Meg says, “I’m not sure that I understand.” Meg might be the Head Girl, but she doesn’t understand why Headmistress McGonagall would consult her on this. She didn’t even inform her they were reinstating the Triwizard Tournament.
“You know that this next task involves taking a hostage from each champion,” Professor McGonagall says, as if this should answer Meg’s question.
“Of course, Professor,” Meg says, “I just don’t know why I’m here. Why are you telling me this?” Laurie will obviously be Joan's hostage. She wonders who they'll take for the other two champions. Rose and her little brother Hugo are close. Perhaps he’ll be her hostage.
"You haven't figured it out yet?" McGonagall asks.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to figure out, Headmistress," Meg admits. McGonagall smiles a fondly exasperated smile her way. Then she mutters a spell. Meg finds herself getting dizzy.
"Headmistress?" She asks. McGonagall doesn't respond, and Meg's dizziness fades as the world goes black.
Meg awakens in Joan's arms, at the surface of a freezing cold lake. Her sisters and Laurie are crowding around them, throwing towels over them. Meg has never been more confused in her entire life.
“That was amazing, Joan!” Jo says.
"What happened?" Meg asks, groggily.
"Meg saved you with seven minutes left to spare," Jo says. "She only lost to Vladimir by a few seconds."
"And now they're tied for first!" Laurie adds, sounding incredibly excited.
“Your performance of the bubble jinx was simply inspired,” Amy says. Beth looks concerned, but still impressed. Meg's head is still reeling. She was Joan's hostage. Meg doesn't understand, but she feels giddy about it. It means that Joan still cares.
“Are you alright, Meg?” she asks.
“I’m alright, Beth,” Meg promises. She’s alright. She’s great, really, but she’s so confused. Laurie takes out his wand and performs a drying spell.
“I taught him that,” Joan says, and Laurie protests. Meg laughs, and it almost feels like everything did before the Yule Ball. Things almost feel like they did before everything went to shit. They all walk down the hall, and they find themselves in Meg and Joan’s favorite place to study.
“Could you guys give us a minute?” Joan asks, “Meg and I need to talk.”
The others leave pretty quietly, but she can hear Amy say, “I hope that that is not a bad sign.”
“Um, yeah,” Meg says, “I think that we do.” Joan looks away, suddenly looking embarrassed, even a little sheepish. That's is completely out of character for Joan. She’s normally so totally confident and sure of herself. But then again, for the last two months, Joan's "normal" had involved avoiding Meg at all costs. Then Meg ended up being Joan’s “most important person”. That would probably be awkward for anyone.
“Why was I your hostage?” Meg softly. Joan sighs, and it takes her a moment to decide whether or not she wants to answer it.
“You’re important to me, Meg,” Joan says simply. She looks Meg in the eyes now, all sheepishness gone. Joan’s back to being the completely confident woman that Meg knows. It makes her knees feel a little weak as butterflies take off in her stomach.
“I’m in love with you, Meg,” Joan says, matter-of-factly. Oh, Meg thinks. Her cheeks turn scarlet and she feels something warm in her chest. That ’s what this is. She kisses Joan on the lips, much to the other girl’s surprise.
“Meg?” she asks.
“I think I am too,” Meg says, cheeks still beat red. Joan smiles at that, and kisses her again, fiercer this time. Meg can’t believe that she ever thought it would be a good idea to say no to Joan Brooke. If there’s anyone in the world that she’s proud to be seen with, it’s her.
There is only a month in between the hostage challenge and the maze challenge, and when Meg and Joan aren’t studying or training, they’re kissing. They figure out a million different spells to use in different situations, and even a spell to get Joan back to Hogwarts if for some strange reason, the cup does end up being a Portkey that takes her to Lord Voldemort.
The day of the challenge comes, and Meg helps Joan warm up by practicing her spells. They walk to the challenge together, Meg holding Joan’s hand in one hand and a ridiculous sign in the other. Meg’s willing to make a little bit of a fool of herself to make Joan happy.
“Good luck,” Meg says, planting a kiss on Joan’s cheek.
Joan grins at her and says, “I won’t need it.”
“I am perfection incarnate,” she says. Meg rolls her eyes, even though she agrees with the statement at least a little bit.
“Go win,” she tells her.
“I will, babe,” Joan promises, sending Meg one more smile. Joan leaves her and goes to wait with the rest of the champions. Jo and Laurie come over to stand by her, and they start shouting Joan’s name. Meg holds up the sign that Amy helped her make that says “Beat ‘em Brooke” She doesn’t care about supporting her school or who sees her enthusiasm for her girlfriend anymore.
The champions line up, and Joan glances over towards them and sees the sign. Joan blows her a kiss, and Jo and Laurie laugh as Meg blushes.. She's the Head Girl of Hogwarts, but she'll root for her amazing girlfriend if she so chooses. And Meg March so chooses. Meg cheers along with the crowd as Joan disappears into the maze.