A boy in pale blue robes jumped down from the carriage, bent forward, fumbled for a moment with something on the carriage floor, and unfolded a set of golden steps. The boy sprang back instantly as a high-heeled black shoe emerged from the carriage. The shiny black shoe was the size of a child sled which was immediately followed by a very large woman nearly the size of Hagrid except for an inch or two difference.
The large woman was rather handsome, olive-skinned; large, black, liquid looking eyes; and a rather beaky nose. Her hair was drawn back in a shining knob at the base of her neck. She was dressed from head to foot in black satin, and many magnificent opals gleamed at her throat and on her thick fingers.
Dumbledore started to clap as the students naturally followed his lead. Still too many were standing on tippy-toe to peek at the woman. Her face relaxed into a gracious smile and she walked forward to greet Dumbledore, extending a glittering hand. Dumbledore though tall himself, had barely bend his head in order to kiss it.
"My dear Madame Maxime," he said. "Welcome to Hogwarts."
"Dumbly-dorr," said Madame Maxime in a deep voice. "I 'ope I find you well?"
"In excellent form, I assure you and thank you," Dumbledore said with a smile.
"My pupils," said Madame Maxime, waving one of her enormous hands carelessly behind her.
Dozens of boys and girls in their late teens emerged from the carriage and went to stand next to Madame Maxime. From the looks of it was only the seventh years from Beauxbatons. Which made perfect sense as there was no sense in bringing the younger years which couldn't participate in the tournament held at Hogwarts.
The poor things were shivering, which was unsurprising, given that their robes seemed to be made of fine silk, and none of them were wearing cloaks. A few had wrapped scarves and shawls around their heads. From where Rowan was standing, she could seem them staring at Hogwarts with apprehension on their faces.
Feeling a trace of pity, Rowan removed her cloak and levitated it over to a pair of girls shivering in the cold. Instantly others got the same ideas as cloaks were being floated over to cover the poor souls until every student at least was able to share a cloak with another student. Dumbledore looked on in approval with a twinkle in his eye as the Beauxbatons students seemed much less apprehensive than before.
Rowan happily pulled Severus's cloak open and tucked part of it around her. Severus glared at her for letting the cold air in but didn't pull his cloak away.
Madam Maxime slowly nodded her head at the surprisingly gracious gesture. "Dumbly-dorr, zey students are very kind," Madam Maxime commented. "'As Vulchanova arrived yet?"
"He should be here any moment," said Dumbledore. "Would you like to wait here and greet him, or would you prefer to step inside and warm up a trifle."
"Warm-up, I think," said Madame Maxime. "But ze'orses-."
"Our groundskeeper will be delighted to take care of them," said Dumbledore. "He'll shortly be along."
"My steeds require er forceful 'handling," said Madame Maxime, looking as though she doubted whether the caretaker of Hogwarts was up to the task. "Zey are very strong..."
"I assure you that Hagrid will be well up to the job," said Dumbledore with knowing twinkle in his eye.
"Very well," said Madame Maxime, bowing slightly. "Will you please inform zis 'Agrid zat ze ' orses drink only single-malt whiskey?"
"It will be attended to," said Dumbledore also bowing.
"Come," said Madame Maxime imperiously to her student as the Hogwarts students parted to allow her and her entourage through and up the stone steps. More than a few of the Beauxbatons nod their heads at them in thanks for the cloaks that would be returned at a later date as all the cloaks had the names inscribed of the owners.
Rowan crept closer to Severus, who merely gave her a dirty look until Terry said, "I have plenty of room, Rowan. You can smuggle with me." Terry offered with an impish wink as he held his cloak open.
"There's more than enough room in mine!" Severus snapped as Rowan hid her own smirk and snuggled closer to Severus.
Some of the students shivered in the night breeze, while others gazed hopefully at the night sky. Weirdly enough, Rowan, Terry, and Severus stared at the lake which caused the rest of the Slytherins to start staring at the lake. And then some of the other students as well.
A loud and oddly eerie noise can be heard drifting from the direction of the lake. A muffled rumbling and suckling sound as though an immense vacuum cleaner were moving along a riverbed. Those staring already in the direction of the lake gaped as the rest of the students whirled around.
From their position on the top of the lawns overlooking the grounds, they had a clear view of the inky black lake. The lake wasn't smooth like usual as some kind of disturbance was taking place deep in the center. Great bubbles were forming on the surface, waves were now washing over the muddy banks. And then a great whirlpool appeared in the very middle of the lake as something rose from the lake's floor.
Slowly, magnificently, a great shop rose of the water, gleaming in the moonlight. It had a strangely skeletal look about it as though it were a resurrected wreck, and the dim, misty lights shimmering at its portholes looked like ghostly eyes. Finally, with a great sloshing noise, the ship emerged entirely, bobbing on the turbulent water, and began to glide toward the bank. A few moments later, they heard the splash of an anchor being thrown down into the shallows and the thud of a plank being lowered onto the bank.
People were disembarking, they could see their silhouettes passing the lights in the ship's portholes. All of the figures seemed rather bulky, but it was due to the fact they were wearing cloaks made of some kind of shaggy matted fur. The man leading them was a wizard with a silver-white fur made out of what appeared of some great white-furred beast. "Dumbledore," the man gravely said as his pale silver hair tied back in a ponytail gleamed in the moonlight.
"Professor Vulchanova, how are you?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well enough," the man said as he stepped into the light pouring from the front doors. He was taller and thinner than Dumbledore. Clean-shaven with sharp cheekbones and deep eye sockets. He actually had a rather cute button nose that didn't quite fit with the rest of his stern appearance.
"I do believe congratulations are in order, Dumbledore," Vulchanova said. "I do believe you took the two Prince children as your apprentices?"
"That is correct," Dumbledore said as Vulchanova's eyes flickered to the rows of students but failed to find his objective.
"Might we enter?" Vulchanova asked as Dumbledore moved to the side to allow him to pass him by. The furred students of Durmstrang went up the steps as Dumbledore followed and so did the rest of the students.
Each of the rows split up to their respective houses as the Slytherins didn't even pause at finding the Durmstrang students had settled at their table, while the Beauxbatons sat the Ravenclaw table. Thank goodness the tables were so long or else they'd be in for a tight squeeze.
Seeing as there wasn't enough room for the six of them to sit together, the girls sat next to Severus and Terry's new roommate, Felton Graham, a curly-haired auburn young man with blue eyes. He wasn't too bad and was a bit of perv, but he never touched anyone inappropriately. Felton Graham merely leered at the girls and whistled at one or two girls, but never cat called after them. He did possess some personal dignity as a proper Slytherin after all.
The Durmstrang students sitting at their table were removing their heavy furs and looking up at the starry black ceiling with interest. A few of them were picking up the golden plates and goblets for a closer examination. Without their thick fur coats, their blood-red robes underneath could be seen.