Rowan did not want to admit that she was more a little perturbed after her visit to Hogsmeade having returned rather early to spend the rest of the day with Nadira down in the kitchens. Even Nadira could tell something was wrong as the little albino snake that had grown over a meter long coiled around Rowan's shoulders. For the little snake tried to warm her guardian and fiercely thought about what to do.
The little pale snake's head reared back as if she had caught a tasty fish herself. Remembering dim dream-like memories of the voice of her great serpent mother singing to her while in the egg, Nadira begins to softly sing the snake lullaby.
"Hush little snake, be good,
Mother's gonna find you a little frog.
If that's not to your taste, mother's gonna find you a little fish.
Hush little snake, be good
Mother will protect you too,
And even if the Hydra comes, Mother will gobble you all up."
Strangely enough, Rowan felt remarkably better after that creepy, but sweet snake lullaby. Not that it wasn't adorable to listen to Nadira sing it was just that the lyrics were too eerie to be of any real comfort. What kind of lullaby talk about a mother gobbling up her own child up? But then again, this was a magical talking snake after all.
Quickly the following days passed by until November 24th at last came. The days prior everyone had gotten progressively more excited as even the Hogwarts students bet on who would win, Karkaroff or Delacour? Many were betting on Delacour as the whispers of the incident in Karkaroff's first year had gotten around to Durmstrang and Beauxbatons too. Those that were betting on Karkaroff off were mostly from Durmstrang in a show of solidarity rather than in actually having faith in their champion.
And as for those betting on Rowan were very few in number. Mostly friends and a few of the Slytherins who truly believed in her by defacto of being Salazar Slytherins descendant. That and those betting on the wildest of odds in hopes of winning with the odds of a one in a thousand gamble. They'd be very rich students if they won.
Classes were to stop by midday giving the students time to get down to the arena. Severus was oddly touchy feeling that morning sticking rather close to Rowan's annoyance. She finally had to give him a hug to get him to leave her be. And even then, it'd been a very long hug that she had to finally break after five minutes.
After lunch, Rowan trotted out onto the lawns following Professor Slughorn. Professor Slughorn seemed more worried than excited as he said, "Now, Miss Prince, I understand that you wish to do your best. But there's no shame in forfeiting the round. I am well aware that it was not your intention, to begin with, so there's no shame, really, my dear. Your safety comes first."
"Yes, Professor Slughorn," Rowan wryly replied. "I am well aware of that, sir. I shan't have no shame in doing so."
"Good, good," Professor Slughorn said as he wiped his sweaty brow, despite the cold weather. "I'd hate to have to explain your death or being hurt to your grandfather." Rowan snickered at seeing Slughorn pale. No doubt he was imaging his painful death in several different ways.
Professor Slughorn leads her to the edge of the forest, where an enclosure could clearly be seen and an entrance facing away from them. Professor Slughorn's voice trembles, "You'll go in here with the rest of the two champions, Miss Price. You'll wait for your turn and Mr. Amundsen is waiting inside to explain the procedure. Good luck."
"Thanks," Rowan flatly said as she saw Professor Slughorn practically flee moving his large bulk impossibly fast for a man his size.
Jean Delacour was sitting on a low wooden stool. He looked a bit pale, but at not too sickly. While Igor Karkaroff seemed as haughty as ever, but the nervous licking of his lips gave his nerves away. Karkaroff ignored Rowan as per usual, but Delacour nodded at her. Rowan went over to sit by as Dano Amundsen smiled at them.
"Now that we're all here allow me to fill you in," Amundsen brightly said. "Once the audience has been assembled, I'm going to be offering each of you this bag-." He paused to show them a small sack of purple silk and shook it at them.
"Each of you will each select a small model of the thing that you are about to face. There are different varieties you see. The ending task is to collect the golden egg that is somewhere in the challenge," Amundsen carefully worded his statement.
Rowan didn't react nor did the other three champions. She was fairly certain that they knew what they were up against. But she knew as well and as such wasn't worried either. She just had to run very fast and yell out she was forfeiting the match.
In no time at all, hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of feet could be heard passing the tent. The owners were talking excitedly, laughing, joking, having a general good time all about. Finally, the footsteps faded away and Amundsen opened the neck of the purple silk sack.
"Ladies first," Amundsen said, offering the bag to Rowan first.
Rowan reached inside and pulled out the Hungarian Horntail, and the number one. "How utterly typical," Rowan muttered as she stared at the miniature dragon that bared its teeth at her.
Amundsen tactfully remained silent and moved over to Jean Delacour. With a steady hand he removed a tiny model of a Welsh Green and the number two. Jean let out a breath in relief as there were always worse dragons to have. His gaze unconsciously flickered to the Hungarian Horntail in Rowan's hand.
Naturally, Igor Karkaroff got whatever was left in the bag. The number three, a scarlet Chinese Fireball. He didn't blink and just proudly sat on a stool to rest.
"Well now that is settled," Amundsen explained. "Each of you will go according to your number. First up is Miss Prince. When you hear the whistle please exit the tent and enter the enclosure."
"Oh, goody," Rowan sarcastically said as she crossed her arms over her chest. The tiny miniature creature in her hand tried to bite her. But all it took was a firm glare from her and the model quieted down.
The minutes slowly ticked by until at last the whistle was blown. "Good luck," Delacour cried out to her as Karkaroff remained silent. Rowan made her way past the trees and entered the enclosure. There were hundreds upon hundreds of faces staring down at her from the stands that had been magicked there. Good thing she wasn't shy, Rowan idly thought to herself.
Across at the opposite end was the Horntail crouching low over her clutch of eggs, her wings half-furled. Her yellow eyes were upon her, a monstrous, scaly, black lizard angrily thrashing her spiked tail. There were yard-long gouges on the hard ground where the Horntail's tail struck.
The crowd was making a great deal of noise, but Rowan ignored them for the time being. Instead of pulling her wand, Rowan just kept walking forward as a burst of whispers of fear burst from the crowd. The marauders were sitting next to Severus, Terry, and the rest of the girls including Lily, and her bunch.
"Is she crazy?!" Terry practically screamed. "Why in Merlin's name is she not pulling out her wand!" That seemed to be the question on everyone's mind as even the judges looked remarkably ill at ease.
Terry whirls around towards the pale-faced Severus. "Please tell me that you gave Rowan, your Felix Felicis potion and that's why's she's walking so confidently towards a bloody dragon!"
Severus turned a sickly green as he croaked, "No."
"Oh,' Terry tragically wilted as he debated to cover his eyes with his hands or not. He wasn't the only one as dozens of girls started screaming and covering their eyes, while some of the boys looked a bit intrigued awaiting a gory scene.
On the other hand, Professor Slughorn was sweating severely as he tried to futilely dry his forehead with a handkerchief. Horace Slughorn felt the swing of the bladed guillotine swing that much closer to his neck to behead him. Gulping rather drily, he clutches his neck recalling exactly who the girl's grandfather is, Reginald Prince. The wretched Prince patriarch would surely kill him and get away with it!