A Professor of Magic at Hogwarts - C.362: A Second Attempt

A Professor of Magic at Hogwarts

C.362: A Second Attempt
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"Cedric," Autumn asked softly, "should we wait a little longer?"

"No, I'm afraid waiting further might make it worse," Cedric replied with a smile. "Professor Harp wouldn't set up an impossible challenge; he's selecting champions, not testing powerful wizards. The clue is in what he said earlier."

Autumn looked at him, contemplating, and then said, "Courage, wisdom, resilience, and composure?"

Cedric nodded and strode out. Lee Jordan was still enthusiastically encouraging people to come forward. The previous examples had left the young wizards feeling a bit apprehensive, causing some of them to consider waiting until the first person who received an invitation card appeared.

Harry couldn't hold back anymore. He took a few steps forward and caught a glimpse of Cedric approaching.

"Anyone else willing to try?" Lee Jordan continued to persuade energetically. "The professors might just be having a cup of tea and wondering what to make of three duds. Oh, the fourth volunteer has arrived! Let's cheer for him! Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff House!"

Cedric took measured steps onto the smooth, reflective black steps, touched the black door, and in the blink of an eye, he was sucked inside.

The students couldn't help but hold their breath, fearing he would be ejected any second. But ten seconds passed, then thirty, a minute, two minutes, and on until five minutes, when the suspended black door silently swung open. Cedric descended the steps, holding up a golden card.

"Look quick! Cedric did it! He's got the invitation card! He's the first one!" Lee Jordan exclaimed with excitement, igniting a massive wave of cheers from Hufflepuff students.

Lee Jordan hugged Cedric. "Mate, you're brilliant! Anything you want to say to us?"

Cedric smiled modestly, an inexplicable lightness about him. "I have just four words to saycourage, wisdom, resilience, composure, that's all it takes. Oh, and," he paused, "Professor Harp put a spell on the card, I think that's my biggest takeaway today."

He rejoined the Hufflepuff crowd, enveloped by well-wishers.

"Cedric, how did you pass the challenge?"

"Yeah, how did you escape from the Runespoor's mouth?"

"What was that big-mouthed thing, a giant?"

Cedric shook his head. "I didn't encounter any of those things, not a single one. I believe Professor Harp isn't testing us on how to defeat them. I've already shared the secret."

He found Autumn. "Autumn, I suggest you give it a try."

"Because of the magic on the card?" Autumn asked.

"That's part of it. Well, mainly I hope you can join me in the training," Cedric scratched his head, saying.

...

With a successful example and crucial hints, more people dared to attempt the challenge, forming a long queue. Lee Jordan reminded them, "The trials can happen simultaneously, just like what Fred and George did"

One by one, young wizards went in, but more people were swiftly ejected, getting up from the ground dejectedly.

Harry was followed by Ron and Hermione. "You don't need to accompany me. You can wait a bit longer..."

"Don't be ridiculous. I want to try it myself too," Hermione impatiently remarked.

"Yeah, who wouldn't want to get an invitation card?" Ron said with a cheerful grin, yet Harry clearly saw fear in his eyes, a tone that wasn't his usual self.

Harry took a deep breath, ascended the steps, touched the patterns on the door. The next moment, the patterns on the door began to move, swirling and forming a shallow vortex, pulling him in.

"Let me see what's inside!" Harry told himself.

His feet touched solid ground, but before he could make out his surroundings, a dazzling green light flooded his entire vision, accompanied by a hoarse, terrifying, bone-chilling voice:

"Avada Kedavra!"

Harry's heart nearly stopped, everything went black, and he felt like he was falling through emptiness. The next second, his body tensed.

"Harry! Harry!"

"Harry, are you alright?"

Ron and Hermione looked at him with concern. Harry realized he wasn't dead, but had been thrown out by the black door. They caught him.

"What kind of challenge is this, not even giving me time to react?" Harry felt utterly bewildered.

Ron looked at Harry, who had turned pale, and advised, "It's alright even if you fail. It's a good chance to watch the show." Harry followed his gaze. On the ground lay a row of students, many of them familiar faces from Gryffindor.

Angelina Johnson struggled to her feet, her face ashen. She looked up and saw Harry staring at her. She smiled wryly, "I thought, since there's no Quidditch match this year, why not find something to do and become the school's champion? But I can't even get past the internal selection, it means I'm not cut out for this..."

She shook her head in disappointment and prepared to leave.

"No, you can do it!" Harry said.

"What?"

"You can" Harry struggled to get up. "I'll prove it to you."

In her puzzled gaze, Harry ascended the steps once more. Even Lee Jordan, who was providing commentary, was taken aback, muttering, "Looks like Potter wants to give it a second try. I'm not sure if that's allowed..."

Harry paid no mind to others' opinions, his hand pressed against the black door, silently praying.

A slight sensation of weightlessness reappeared, making him feel relieved. It worked, just as he suspected. The professors wouldn't instantly kill anyone; everyone could attempt it again!

Hermione watched his retreating figure with worry. "Harry's too impulsive, I can guess. Professor used techniques similar to the Room of Requirement, maybe combined with Legilimency or Boggarts or Dementors, to make everyone face their deepest fears. And during this process, demonstrate various qualities of champions..."

She shook her head. "But every failure is quite a blow. Just look at those people." As she said this, she paused, focusing on the black door, then burst into a giggle.

"What's going on?" Ron asked, puzzled.

"Oh my," Hermione struggled to suppress her laughter, her shoulders shaking violently. "Look... on the door, Harry... Harry left a handprint!"

Ron and Angelina stared at the door and saw a dirty handprint, unmistakably left by Harry. The previous people had been attempting for the first time; only Harry had come back for a repeat try, not even bothering to clean off the mud from his hands.

Angelina broke into a light smile. She was about to say something when Harry was ejected from the black door for the second time.

His face was even paler than the first time, but his eyes were unusually bright. Before they could ask him, Harry quickly said, "I've figured out a trick!" Then he dashed back, climbing the steps in a whirlwind. In two strides, he slapped the black door, leaving behind a fresh mud handprint.

Lee Jordan leaned in, putting down his wand, and whispered, "Is he cursed or something?"

"I don't think so," Angelina said, "This is the Harry Potter I knowstubborn, single-minded, just like when he trains."

Hermione stood up, pulling Ron up with her.

"What are you doing?" Ron was examining the mud handprint on the black door, commenting, "The second handprint is clearer, Harry's hand must be hurting!"

But Hermione forcibly pulled him up the steps, her tone firm. "It's our turn now."

"I knew there was no avoiding it," Ron grumbled. He looked around, then placed his hand on the fresh mud handprint left by Harry.

>

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