Before the arrival of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students to Hogwarts we’d already heard of a few exciting ways for wizards to travel: flying cars, Floo powder, Apparition, broomsticks, even Portkeys – an inanimate object that, once bewitched, can ‘transport anyone who grasps it to a pre-arranged destination’. But we have to say the international transport choices made by Beauxbatons and Durmstrang really did blow us away.
Remember Beauxbatons? A golden carriage the size of a house? Horses the size of elephants? That beats grasping a mouldy old boot at the top of a hill any day of the week!
And then there was the stately arrival of the Durmstrang ship: ‘Slowly, magnificently, the ship rose out of the water, gleaming in the moonlight.’ Impressive.
Don’t get us wrong, we are big fans of the Hogwarts robes – warm, practical and… does black really ever go out of fashion? Severus Snape certainly didn’t think so. And we would have loved to be fitted out at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions in Diagon Alley. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the different wizarding uniforms fashioned by the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students when they attended Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The Beauxbatons robes of fine silk, though impractical, were undeniably beautiful. And the Durmstrang cloaks made from ‘shaggy, matted fur’ were certainly something. If nothing else, they’d keep any wizard warm in winter. But we suppose at the end of the day, for the students of all three schools, it went further than fashion. What international magical co-operation really meant for them was widening their experience of the wizarding world in as many ways as possible, whether they wore silk, or fur or plain old Hogwarts black.
Obviously, a fresh batch of first years nervously enters the Great Hall to be sorted every year, so there are new witches and wizards arriving each September. But the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students’ arrival at Hogwarts was a little like an established school body absorbing additional sixth form students. They were new, they were mysterious, some of them were very good looking, and they were the same age – if not older – than many of the Hogwarts students. Cue chaos (Krum-mania), teenage tantrums (Ron) and more than a few crushes (or Fleur-fever, as we like to call it). Nothing like new faces to shake things up and we thoroughly enjoyed it – even if Ron didn’t.
International magical co-operation didn’t mean the three wizarding schools weren’t competitive against each other. As host, Hogwarts certainly wanted to put its best brick forward. As the Triwizard Tournament approached, Harry noticed ‘that the castle seemed to be undergoing an extra-thorough cleaning’. Members of staff also seemed ‘oddly tense’ with Professor McGonagall telling Neville: ‘Longbottom, kindly do not reveal that you can’t even perform a simple Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmstrang!’
As well as the Hogwarts home team worrying about the castle’s appearance and the apparent abilities of the students, there was the opportunity for shining as a host of the Yule Ball, a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament. As Professor McGonagall put it, the Yule Ball was a chance for ‘us to socialise with our foreign guests’ and ‘of course a chance for us all to – er – let our hair down’. The glitz, the dancing, the giant revelations, the love triangles, the DRAMA – the Yule Ball really was one of the highlights of the Harry Potter stories, and all thanks to international magical co-operation.
We loved how the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang presence at Hogwarts allowed us to compare the way they lived and learned magic to our favourite Harry Potter characters. Remember when the champions were required to have their wands weighed by Mr Ollivander? We learned that although Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour owned wands like Harry and Cedric, Krum’s wand was made by Gregorovitch and Fleur’s had a core – Veela hair – that you’d never find in an Ollivander wand.
Learning about other schools meant we also found out more about Hogwarts, through Hermione’s reading of Hogwarts: A History, of course. Turns out, just like Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, Hogwarts was hidden: bewitched so that if ‘a Muggle looks at it, all they see is a mouldering old ruin with a sign over the entrance saying DANGER, DO NOT ENTER, UNSAFE’. Though the Triwizard Tournament was notoriously dangerous, this was perhaps what Dumbledore envisaged when he helped revive it – students from different wizarding communities learning about each other and making friends along the way.
It was very heart-warming to read in later books that the new international friendships made at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Tournament stayed strong. Hermione and Krum continued to write letters to each other (in a friend way, Ron – calm down). Fleur ended up married to Bill Weasley, and Krum attended their wedding! How’s that for international magical co-operation?