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«Enchanting Melodies (HP) (Web Novel) - Chapter 269: Premature Celebration

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Chapter 269: Premature Celebration

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

8 November 1994, Beauxbatons, France

Harry had expected to witness a lot of needless luxury during the reward ceremony. It was completely understandable since Beauxbatons always prided itself on its lavish celebrations. As he entered the grand hall, the air was thick with the scent of thousands of blooming flowers arranged meticulously around the room. The walls themselves seemed to shimmer with subtle magic, adorned with silk drapes in hues of deep blue and silver, reflecting the school's colours. Overhead, enchanted chandeliers floated gracefully, casting a warm, golden light that made the polished marble floor glisten like a calm sea under moonlight.

The guests were an array of colourful figures, each dressed in their finest. Ladies in flowing gowns and gentlemen in sharp, tailored suits mingled effortlessly, their laughter and delicate clinking of crystal champagne flutes filling the air with a melodious harmony.

It was all so… fake, and Harry hated it with a passion.

It was obvious that these people didn't care about the task in any way, nor about the students that were competing. To them, this was barely more than an excuse to network, to make deals, and start collaborating with each other, as well as a chance for the ICW to show off its influence.

Britain was also obviously side-lined. They had invited Cornelius Fudge and his Undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge. They refused to send any other invitations to the ministry citing the fact that they still hadn't filled the position of Head of the Department of International Relations. Of course, since the ICW had to approve the appointment of department heads after the Quidditch World Cup fiasco, they hadn't deemed any applicant to be acceptable…

Thankfully, they couldn't really not invite the guardians of the competing students, which meant that a handful of influential British wizards and witches were able to attend. Arcturus Black, Amelia Bones, Amos Diggory, Augusta Longbottom, and many other wizards and witches that Harry didn't recognize had been able to come, and were doing their best to represent Britain… Of course, they were far fewer than the others, but it was better than just having two people.

To be fair, considering just how many ministry department heads achieved their position due to pure nepotism, the risk of embarrassment was substantially lower. Surprisingly, Fudge and Umbridge were doing a great job at trying to salvage their country's failing economy. It was probably the minister's last shot at saving his career and he was milking it for all he could.

Of course, while this would have already been bad, the company was what was making Harry miserable. He was sitting at a table with the rest of the First Task's champions. Every one of them, including his fellow Hogwarts Champions, was staring at him with an openly wary expression. Huh, they must have watched the recordings. Apparently, a few spectators had made a fortune selling his fight with the Leviathan in an Omnioculars or something…

The Nebelheim and Durmstrang students were the ones that looked the angriest. Harry didn't really understand why they felt this way considering that they could have easily walked away, or even helped him with the Chimera… Even if they ended up as the only teams that didn't finish the task…

Yeah, he could understand being angry at the humiliation.

Other than them, no one really expressed any real anger at the task. The French had won second place, which was acceptable considering the circumstances. The Italians were third, which was also good enough considering first and second place only finished early because of Harry. Apparently, their discipline paid off because they were organized enough to go through the scavenger hunt with surprising efficiency. They were followed up by the Greek, and then the Spanish Champions…

However, this had been a wake-up call. No one had expected Hogwarts to win this decisively. Everyone wanted to put down Hogwarts, and the ICW especially wanted to use the opportunity to put its claws into the institution. Minerva McGonagall looked especially smug at the head table… Harry liked the woman well enough, so at least she was enjoying herself.

It was a bit of a known joke that while the average wizard in Britain was pitiful, it had the disturbing tendency of creating mages with monstrous talent and raw power…

However, this did not stop the fact that everyone kept staring at Harry openly without even starting a conversation. No one had even spoken a word since sitting down on the Champions' table. It was creepy and weird, to say the least, not to mention that it was a huge waste of time…

After half an hour of pure silence, Fleur Delacour of all people started the conversation, "So, how do you like Beauxbatons?"

Harry simply shrugged, "I like it well enough. The library might be smaller than Hogwarts' but it's easier to navigate. I actually had to create my own spell to be able to quickly get books on any particular subject to save some time. A few books weren't even in English, and there aren't as many translation charms as you would think for extinct languages and dialects… Other than that, the extra electives are pretty nice. I think I would have had a good time here if I had transferred as I had planned, but then I would have still missed Hogwarts."

That seemed to shock everyone at the table. One of the Spanish students spoke up for the first time, "You were planning on transferring?"

"Yeah. I don't know if it's common knowledge, but Albus Dumbledore and I don't really like each other. He even tried to kill me and make it seem like an accident a few months ago. I was planning on transferring to just get away from him… Thankfully, he ended up losing his position, for, you know, almost killing a student and everything. I have no clue as to why anyone would trust him near students again, especially in an international event, but whatever…"

And again, the uncomfortable silence returned. It was expected, though. While no one really wanted to talk about it, it was easy to guess that Dumbledore had forced himself into the tournament and people were obviously uncomfortable with that. To be fair, it wasn't a good idea to oppose Dumbledore without being able to back it up.

The only way to coerce a vastly more powerful opponent was to find some leverage, something that they treasured enough that they wouldn't really do anything to you if it risked destroying or harming that thing… Harry had done it by threatening to reveal Dumbledore's past, risking his foothold in Britain. However, without that, he really didn't know how to deal with the man…

One of the Durmstrang students wanted to say something but was silenced by a glare from Krum. The Quidditch star then continued in heavily accented English, "I am curious. How did you beat us? I barely even recognized the spells that you used."

Harry simply shrugged, "When you're surrounded by multiple opponents, your first plan is always to use them against each other. I had eleven opponents: the Chimera, and ten other champions. You definitely were not acting as a unit, so friendly fire is very expected… My main priority was the beast since it was the more dangerous one - no offence - which no amount of friendly fire would have defeated, so I went with Runes. I couldn't really afford to power something that big, hence the lightning, and I couldn't really block the lightning using runes, since it would have destabilized its own power source recursively and I would have ended up with a spectacular explosion. I took care of that vulnerability by enchanting the ice spear to only be connected with the rune matrix once, and made it connect to the other spears of ice using the lightning rod charm… Then I had to stall until whoever controlled the beast tried to be smart and circumvent the vulnerability in the rune matrix. You know the rest, of course."

Again, they kept staring at Harry for a good minute. He didn't really understand why. Now that the plan was revealed, it should have been obvious… It was the simplest one to get out of the situation as the victor without using too much magic and straining his circuits. The first rule of combat is to always use the enemy's strength against them… The explanation should have demystified things and made him look less special, in a way, like a muggle magician revealing his trick.

Thankfully the awkwardness was broken by Madame Maxime standing up, immediately silencing the guests, "Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests, it is my pleasure to announce the victors of the first task of the first European School Tournament… In fifth place, representing Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Fleur Delacour…"

The Veela stood up, put a radiant smile on her face, and walked up towards her headmistress. It was surprising that other students were also getting prizes. Fleur was given a nice bouquet of white flowers, and a very old, enchanted ring that could turn its wearer invisible at will.

Following her came Roger Davies and Lucien Bole, who also received flowers and some very expensive dragon hide clothes. Afterwards was Angelina Johnson, who received a dress made up of Griffin Feathers of all things…

Diggory, who was in second place, was given a weird egg made of gold, filled to the brim with precious stones. This thing alone might set the Hufflepuff for life. To be fair, most of the prizes were…

Harry could see what they were doing. Beauxbatons was obviously not paying for all this, it was the ICW. For all its luxury, it was still a school, and it couldn't afford such lavish spending. Harry's best guess would be that they didn't want to risk him competing in the other tasks and winning everything, making the event meaningless. It was a nice way of preventing what happened to Dumbledore's tournament…

The last Potter hadn't really planned on competing in any other task, so he didn't really care. At least Daphne stood a better chance at winning something nice when she inevitably competed.

Finally, it was Harry's turn. They had asked him to give back the diary for the award ceremony. He hadn't really wanted to do that and had just transfigured a duplicate, which he then enchanted using his Arcane Hearing to have a signature as similar to Flamel's journal as he could. It must have fooled them…

He stood up and shook the headmistress' hand and was given the fake diary once more as well as dozens of other very old books. He'd expected that to be it, but then one of the organizers gave him a fucking sword. Looking at it closely, he could see that it was made with Goblin Silver. Well, that alone made it worth a small fortune.

Still, he used a small telekinetic force to prevent any of the prizes from touching him directly. He wasn't going to touch anything that might have been tampered with by Dumbledore…

He nodded and returned to the feast, having left his prizes in a small, expanded pouch that Arcturus had bought for him. He hadn't really thought about its usefulness, especially during an official feast, but it did end up paying off.

The next hour was spent on people walking up to him and asking for insights on his plans, dreams, or descriptions of the task… He hated every moment of it. He hadn't even had a chance to spend any time with Daphne…

Deciding to just go for it, he excused himself and walked out onto the terrace next to the hall, "Fucking hell that was horrible."

He heard an amused chuckle behind him, "Indeed it was, young Harry. I have been in your position many times, and I've always had to restrain the urge to just hex half of them…"

Before he could process what was being said, Harry found himself in a room, on the other side of the castle… Everything just seemed muted for some reason, even the colours just looked wrong. Where the fuck was he? He hadn't even felt anything with his Arcane Hearing…

Still, Harry couldn't help but turn towards the person behind him, feeling some trepidation from the familiar voice. He dearly hoped that he was wrong, that someone was messing with him. Unfortunately, his suspicions were correct.

He was alone in a room with Albus fucking Dumbledore.

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