Chapter 18

Harry left the office of the headmaster with a very specific destination in mind. That he didn't actually know where the destination was at the moment meant little to him.

His goal was the hand and possibly lips of the girl that had come to mean the world to him in these last few months. He had come a hairs breadth from having to get married to a domineering French woman, and aside from the fact that on their honor as Englishmen none of his friends could possibly forgive him for doing so, Harry needed to share what happened with Luna.

It took a minute long consultation with the lady (Harry rarely used the marauder's map anymore, and was considering giving it back to them twins), but Harry tracked his little moon down to a corner of the Ravenclaw common room. Harry moved quickly up to the tower and solved the riddle with nary a thought (I can run but not walk, and wherever I go thought follows close behind. What am I? A nose. Harry almost guaranteed that Rowena cared more about security than this).

He threw himself down into a chair next to hers, his presence going largely unremarked. Luna was reading a back issue of the Quibbler as she was currently between classes.

"Luna, we need to talk, I... well what just happ-"

"Oh harry. You know the Lady talks to me. That and the amount of wrackspurts you're covered in could only come from Dumbledore and," Luna's face scrunched in anger," that French tart

On the inside Harry added another tally to his scoreboard. Luna stood and put her Quibbler on her chair, plopping herself down into Harry's lap.

"She tried to get herself married to me," Harry started, "She tried to get me bonded to her. Her dad was there too, he didn't seem to know the difference. Dumbledore was trying to get it to happen. I just… It just feels like so much else in my life. They were trying to take choices from me. Can't I be just a teenager?"

Harry tightened his hold on the small blonde in his arms. The connection between the two seemed to make him rest a little easier and removed some of the tension from his shoulders.

"You know we don't have to be here much longer," Luna planted a small kiss on Harry's head and continued, "the humdingers have been telling me about how you want to leave, both Hogwarts and Britain at large. I know it won't take much to convince daddy to leave. We haven't had much more luck here in the UK then you have. Don't let it get to you Harry. You have your last task, then we'll be free."

Her eyes lost their focus on him and she tilted her head to the side. After a moment of silence, she blinked and refocused on the boy whose lap she occupied.

"It won't be easy, Harry. It will be very hard. They say that there will be pain, but it will end and you'll remain. It will be okay, they say."

Harry had seen his Little Moon act like this before. Harry suspected she had some seer blood in her ancestry. Some of her creatures he believed in, but he thought the 'blibbering humdingers' she spoke to so often were visions that she had rationalized s coming from one of the magi-cryptozoological theories of her family. He loved that it would end okay, but was incredibly uncomfortable with what would inevitably be pain and fire in his near future. His shoulders tightened again to their previous level.

Luna felt it as Harry ratcheted to the level of worry and tension he had been at before she took her current seat. The humdingers were impassionate, they whispered of the good and the bad with equal impact. Luna had found that it paid to act on their advice, but knew that hearing the about the bad beforehand could make drag it out and make it worse, just like knowing about the good could sometimes water it down when it happened.

The solution was to stop thinking, but Harry couldn't do that. Thinking was what had kept him alive up to this point, he was unlikely to stop. Luna cocked her head to the side as she realized there was a solution to the problem, but it would require that both of them take a step forward. She made her decision and stood, taking Harry's hand in her own and leading him out the Ravenclaw portrait hole and to a small broom closet she knew about on the seventh floor, just across from a tapestry of a strange wizard trying to teach trolls ballet.

She had a hard time finding it, having to walk up and down the corridor several times, but then she found the door she was looking for. She opened the door and directed Harry into it before following him.

He looked very confused; Luna hadn't uttered a word up to this point since she grabbed his hand. He opened his mouth to, probably to ask something like what or why, but that was the kind of thing Luna was trying to eliminate here. Before sound could leave him, she put a finger across his lips. He seemed to get that this was her show, and his jaws snapped shut.

Luna moved her finger down his well-built chin, and then traced his jawline up to his ear slowly, her finger barely brushing his skin, maintaining only the lightest contact. When her hand reached the point where his jaw began to curve up, Harry had closed his eyes and just seemed to be leaning into her touch. That touch moved up behind the ear and spread its fingers into untamable black hair.

When she reached his hair, Luna brought her other hand up and also ran it through the other teen's hair, just luxuriating in the feel of him for a moment. Harry was no less luxuriating in the contact; a small contented sigh escaped his lips. Luna paused for an instant, thinking to herself Success!

The instant of pause was enough to make Harry open his eyes, and when they opened, Luna applied pressure to his head and brought it to her own. It started with a kiss. Chaste enough, much like the very limit they had explored to up to this point.

Luna wanted more for this moment though.

It deepened. They didn't stop to come up for air for a solid minute. When they broke, Harry took a hand that had been hanging uselessly at his side and brushed am errant lock of hair from his forehead, the questions of what and why back on his lips. She couldn't have that now, could she?

Before he could say anything, she took his hands and positioned them at her lower back in a kind of hug, and went back in. This time at the gentle insistence of hers, Harry's tongue came into play.

It was hot, it was messy, and it was filled with teenage lust and inexperience. If either of them had to describe it in a word, they would have said it was perfect. Their first snog.

Of their own volition his hands moved. One went to her upper back and the other to her lower, squeezing her against him, maximizing the contact between their bodies. Her hands moved back to his hair, putting more force into the contact between their lips. Truly, it complicated the kissing process and maybe wasn't the best choice, but both interpreted it in the spirit it was intended. It only increased the passion and feeling in the moment.

An eternity passed in the minute they held onto their kiss before they realized that breaking for air was a necessity.

When they broke finally, Harry just squeezed her closer. Drinking in the feeling of the moment, he pressed her against himself. Her hands moved from his hair down to his back where she did her own squeezing.

Harry slowly moved his head and pressed a kiss against her forehead, where she was cuddling into his chest. In the back of both of their minds the Lady of the Castle hummed happily for the pair.

Luna ran her hands up and down Harry's back, squeezing and feeling all of his muscles. She repeated her earlier thought when she realized that there wasn't an ounce of tension in her Harry. They would get through this.

Before either truly knew it, June twenty-fourth was upon them. The final task of the god-forsaken tournament had turned out to be them having to traverse a maze to find the winner's cup.

Harry had gathered his friends in his lab the week before the task, and showed them how foolish the whole thing was. The marauder's map, which covered the grounds out to the limit of the castle' wards, showed clearly every twist and turn of the hedge maze. They all had a good laugh, the twins especially, when they saw the entire course laid out in black and white before them.

Fred, George, and Neville had also all laughed when they heard Harry's plan for the task. One of the curious things about the tournament was that everything not specifically disallowed was, in fact, permitted. Harry was just going to summon his broom and fly over their idiotic maze to the cup, then sit down and wait to congratulate the first real champion to come by.

Harry had never wanted anything to do with the triwizard fiasco from the start, and he'd be damned if he started caring about its outcome now.

The classes on the day of the final task were cancelled, theoretically the parents of each of the champions were supposed to be there to support their child. Harry had heard all of this from Bagman's perpetually moving mouth, and so had chosen to just avoid the day entirely. In the morning he had called Dobby to bring him food in his lab, and through the use of enchanted notes had let all of his friends know where he would be.

The Lady Hogwarts informed Harry that the Weasley matron had shown up for his as a surrogate family; Harry rejected her and her curiously oppressive brand of love choosing instead to just remain in his lab. He spent the day playing exploding snap with his brothers and his god-brother, as well as cuddling with Luna.

As darkness fell, Harry left the castle with his friends, avoiding the now angry Mrs. Weasley through the use of a strong notice-me-not. They moved into the stands, Luna after a deep parting kiss, and Harry got in line in front of the maze with the other champions.

Large globes of bluish-white light hung around the tops of the twenty foot hedges that covered the quidditch pitch. The already elevated stands for the pitch's normal use were now at a perfect height and orientation to see what was going on inside the maze.

Harry's thirty-one points put him at the last spot to begin the task. Cedric was in first place overall, and would enter the maze a full ten minutes before Harry would be allowed to start. Like everything else, Harry's response to this part of the tournament was a yawn and an unspoken thought about when he would be allowed to go back to his lab.

Bagman blathered on for about ten minutes, thanking sponsors of the tournament and generally posturing in the name of the British ministry of magic. Harry didn't even pretend to pay attention. Almost all of his awareness was exploring the magic of the maze and surrounding the field.

For the last task Harry had decided to actually wear and use the 'wand holders' he had made, the shield specific one on his left arm and his general enhancement on his right. All of his training had brought him to and beyond the threshold to true sorcery. The power suppressors he had taken off to put on his bracers had been so strong that Harry privately suspected they would have turned even wizards of Dumbledore's potential into squibs.

What this meant was that Harry could do so much with so little magical power that his senses unaided could pick out specific magical signatures among the hundreds of watching students, ministry officials, and foreign dignitaries.

With the gauntlet that harry had spent months crafting to enhance his own power in every way, Harry felt stronger than he had ever before. He felt stronger than he had any right to. Harry honestly believed he might be able to take his favorite horntail in a straight-up fight at this level.

The task started while he was feeling out the power surrounding Moody. The small fraction of his mind he had relegated to paying attention to the task reported that it was almost his turn to head in when Harry finally realized that Moody was under a control spell of some kind. Harry came close to breaking it before he found the same kind of spell influence over about eighty percent of the attending ministry personnel. The foreigners were free of it, which led Harry to believe it was probably the influence of some kind of ministry oath.

The magic felt… aggressive. Angry even. Harry gave a small shudder as he thought that just a year ago he was considering being an auror. If this kind of spell work was what the ministry put its people through, Harry was gladder than ever that there was literally a beachfront property in Australia with his name on it.

His name was called out to the yelling and gasping crowd, and he took a few steps forward towards the maze. He considered summoning his broom, but he had been experimenting with conjuring already enchanted objects and thought that would be a more fun and be a better show for the crowd.

Harry held his right hand out at waist level and willed a firebolt to appear in his hand. Under half-suppressed power it took him a moment to conjure a small enchanted object (Dobby had been ecstatic over his socks that depicted the frying of eggs and dusting of library shelves), with his power at full and enhanced by his lovingly crafted bracer, the broom appeared in his hand almost before he willed it.

Harry mounted lazily and with a distinct wink in the direction of the twins and kiss blown to Luna, he took to a low orbit of the field. Bagman looked like he was going to wet himself in excitement, which made Harry grin as he had no intention of landing at the trophy any time soon.

He watched Krum sneak up behind Fleur, and shoot a very dark pain curse at her unsuspecting back. She cried out and fell into a fetal position before Krum negligently stunned her. He had a manic smile on his face.

Harry's eyes scrunched as he felt out the surly Bulgarian. Krum had the same angry magic around him that Moody did. Something about it tickled at the back of Harry's mind, but it eluded him.

Krum continued on until he reached what looked from the air like a sphinx, which promptly batted him about the head so hard he flew an even twenty feet before landing and distinctly not moving.

He soon disappeared, only to reappear in front of Harry's favorite medi-witch. Fleur too had vanished soon after being stunned only to re-appear by the medical tent. An incredibly irate Alain Delacour could be seen yelling at a taller and wider version of Krum that stood next to his apparent son's crumpled form.

Refocusing, Harry soon found Cedric who was a single wall from the center of the maze and victory. If not for the guy's rampant and apparently unnoticed hypocrisy (honestly, Harry thought, a cheating Hufflepuff with an utter bitch like Chang for a girl friend? If the guy wasn't a complete duffer, Harry would have suspected him of being actively evil) Harry would have been rooting for him.

As the tall, dark, and handsome teen got closer and closer to the break in the wall that led to success, he lost his caution to a greater and greater extent. It was a damn shame, in Harry's opinion, for a half-grown acromantula was sneaking up on him. As the guy finally saw his objective, the massive spider jumped on him from behind, sinking its poisonous mandibles into Cedric's upper thigh.

He soon disappeared as well, reappearing on a bed that could only be described as an intensive care unit.

Harry sighed. It figures he would win by accident.

Harry landed at the start of the maze, staunchly refusing to go inside and actually get the trophy. If he was going to win the tournament that he didn't want to enter, he was going to make someone else do work for it. It was petty, but felt kind of good to Harry.

Before long, Barty Crouch emerged from the maze, cup in hand. Moody walked up next to Harry and laid an arm on his shoulder.

"You may not have actually tried, but you still won, boy. Not a half bad showing either. You probably could have won on your own merit if you had tried," came the gravelly voice of the retired auror turned DADA professor.

Moody kept his gnarled hand on Harry's shoulder as Crouch hurriedly walked over and made to hand the cup to Harry. He was getting weird magical vibes from the cup, and even weirder vibes from Crouch. Harry had never had a chance to use his enhanced magical senses on the aged former head of the DMLE, but it felt like he was under a massive illusion, but it was more than that, it was deeper. He was still trying to pinpoint what it was that felt off, as he absentmindedly reached out to grab the cup from Crouch's outstretched arm. The second he made contact with the metal of the cup, he felt a somewhat familiar pulling sensation from behind his navel and cursed deeply.

This was what Luna had warned him about. Now he was heading arse over teakettle into a trap. Bugger.

Harry rejoined the prime material plane from the subspace pocket used by portkey travel moving at a solid twenty kilometers per hour diagonally towards the ground and forward from the orientation he had been in when the travel commenced. He tumbled over himself, completing three full revolutions, before he hit something rigid that left him dazed.

He shook his head, trying to overcome the cobwebs that seemed to be infesting it. Dark orange spell bolts flew at him from his three o'clock, Harry threw up one of his drastically overpowered shields as he desperately tried to regain his footing.

The bolts impacted the shield, and Harry thought he was safe. He felt an extreme pressure on his shield for a moment, then the power of the bolts wouldn't be denied any further and Harry received two different cruciatus bursts.

Harry, for all of his immense magical ability and power, was falling victim to the classic blunder of the young hero. Harry was overconfident. Fighting a basilisk was not the same as going spell for spell against a trained and pissed off war-wizard. Despite his dueling practice with Flitwick, there wasn't anything that could truly mimic a battlefield except a battlefield. The map was not the territory.

So when he found himself hitting what appeared to him to be a tombstone at high velocity after being trapped by a portkey, he wasn't ready. When he saw spell fire and put up a strong shield, he forgot to identify an unforgivable first, then shield second. When he was hit by two separate crucios from the homunculus of the most powerful dark wizard for over a century, he did what nearly everyone does after their first exposure to a curse designed solely to light up every nerve in one's body like an Odin-forsaken Christmas tree, he passed out.

"Moody! Stun him again and bind him!" the man who was apparently Bartemius Crouch Senior called out.

The old scared wizard mechanically complied, and after a further order, brought the unconscious body of Harry Potter near a massive cauldron placed in the middle of the graveyard they had portkeyed into.

A hissing voice called out to Crouch and the fat shivering form of Peter Pettigrew, "Begin the ritual before the boy wakes. I tire of this form, and there is no need to risk his waking."

Below its short and pained breath the voice continued, "I felt the strength of his shield even in this depleted form. If he wakes, I may not be able to kill him."

Moody was stunned, and had the triwizard cup tossed on top of him. He disappeared with Nary a single pop, only to reappear in the midst of a terrified crowd back at Hogwarts.

Wormtail began pouring potion after potion inside the cauldron, and after about fifteen minutes of effort had filled the vessel nearly to its top. While he had been working, Crouch Sr.'s body had morphed and changed. It looked nearly twenty years younger, and clearly different. The man now standing before Voldemort was clearly the son of the form that had been in the same position a few minutes prior. The biggest change was in the eyes of the new man. They now burned from the inside with a psychotic flame.

The zealot's voice rang out over the graveyard as Wormtail slipped the vessel for the Dark Lord's spirit into the cauldron, "Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son."

A grave near the cauldron cracked open, and a femur flew sedately over and into the hideous brew. The sense of magical energy in the area increased.

"Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master."

The zealot with the manic gleam in his eye hurriedly cut off his own arm with a whispered diffindo. The arm made a sickening squelch as it fell into the mix. The air now actively gave off spontaneous sparks. The magic was so thick in the air that it was difficult for the two men around the cauldron to breathe.

"Blood of the enemy," as the words left the zealot's mouth a deep rumbling began at the edges of his awareness, "Forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe."

The zealot used his remaining arm to stab the unmoving Potter's form in the arm. Mercifully he missed all significant arteries, but he gave the knife a vicious twist as he removed it, ensuring the blade was coated in Harry's blood.

He raised the blade over the cauldron, and a single drop of the unconscious boy's life essence fell into the potion mix.

Time stood still.

The process Tom Riddle was using on this dark night to regain his physical form was an ancient dark ritual, stolen from the Egyptians. Like every ritual, it represented a perfect crystallization of intent. It took from the life force of the family line, of the dedicated servant, and most importantly, of the true foe of the one to be resurrected.

The ritual had a large number of qualifications on these things. The father had to have been killed by the son. The servant had to have spent more than six lunar cycles doing the exact bidding of the one to be resurrected. The foe had to spend the same six lunar cycles under constant threat, usually that meant being in a full state of war with the one to be resurrected, but other methods of threat were permissible as long as it was constant and consuming.

Tom Riddle, Voldemort, had killed his father shortly after his sixth year at Hogwarts. Bartemius Crouch Jr., the zealot, had care for his master and set up every event in the tournament to be a challenge and threat to Harry. Harry had been entered via magical contract into the tournament.

Hadn't he?

This final qualification was the last mistake Thomas Marvolo Riddle would ever make in this reality. When Harry's name came out of the Goblet of Fire on the night of Samhain, the Goblet had sent out a tendril of its own magic to make the connection to the boy. It sent out a tendril of magic to bind him to the competition. Harry, unlike over two thousands previous year's worth of competitors, had fought off the tendril. It had never connected to his magic. He had not been bound.

Ritual magic was a strange form of magic. Most set magic, like runes or incantations, had massive blowback if performed incorrectly. Runes tended to explode violently when powered up. Incantation based spells at low power tended to either reflect on the caster or just fizzle, and at high power levels acted a lot like runes.

Ritual magic was a far more rigid crystallization of intent. More set and rigid than even runic magic. So when a ritual goes off the rails, the consequences are bad.

As Harry's blood completed the ritual, his not being bound to the tournament came into effect. Sur he had been in a little danger from time to time, but as far as the ritual was concerned Harry had spent the requisite time on a beach sipping mai-tais.

As the drop of blood hit the potion's surface, a massive hole to the outer darkness was ripped into reality at the site of the ritual in the graveyard. The seven hundred seventy-seven gods of madness, whose city fell from the sky to sleep beneath the waves, reached out to Earth, and took for themselves the being known as Voldemort.

Across the country a number of holes ripped open. In the graveyard itself, a minor daemon stalked from the hole in the world out into the night, returning with the struggling form of a massive snake it its unholy jaws. A shack not far from the ritual site was claimed by the beings of madness. Number twelve Grimmauld place was visited, and strangely only a locket was taken from the premises. A diadem disappeared in a flash of darkness so profound to see it would make even the strongest wizard blind for the rest of his days. Gringotts' wards were ripped asunder as a vault was taken in its entirety from Goblin territory into the black space between worlds. Yog-Sothoth, the Lurker at the Threshold itself, reached through the wound in the heart of the world and touched the head of Harry Potter, drawing out the hidden essence of Voldemort.

As the portal to the outer-darkness closed, all across the world almost four hundred wizards and witches (to his credit, ideologically speaking, nearly eighty percent were actually purebloods) who were marked followers of Voldemort died. Their dark marks pledged each of their lives and magics to the life of their master. As he violated the constraints of one of the darkest rituals known to wizard kind and was taken, so too were the lives and collective magics of his followers taken.

When the portal closed, the only thing remaining where the graveyard had been was a preternatural darkness, and a half-sphere taken out of the earth roughly 100 meters in diameter, with the unconscious body of Harry James Potter resting at the bottom.

Two days passed. Britain was in utter chaos. Half of the society's upper echelon had dropped dead, including the senior undersecretary to the minister of magic. Nearly the entire ministry, with the exception of the Department of Mysteries, came out from under imperius curses that no one had ever noticed. The entire staff of the Daily Prophet, right down to their janitors, had dropped dead. The only publication of any significance that wasn't at least decimated by whatever had happened was the Quibbler, and its coverage included announcements of an imminent relocation down to Oz of all places.

Two full days passed without a sign of the Boy-who-lived, kidnapped and thought dead. Then, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, in the middle of breakfast, the door in the entrance hall opened to admit a pale and wounded fourteen year old.

The great hall fell silent as the massive doors creaked open. The avatar of the Lady was supporting most of the weight of Harry as he made a dozen pained steps into the hall before stopping and croaking out, "Can I get my prize now?", before losing his battle with unconsciousness.

(A/N):Thus ends the tale of The Unwilling Participant. This was as far as I had initially wanted to go. My thanks go to my good friends Elizabeth and Emily, who looked through the story for me before I went to put it online.

I could go farther with it if enough of you want. I deliberately left the end of it open, because I think the story is more interesting when you can imagine how it works out in the end on your own. If you want more, send a review or message. If I get around two dozen, I'll write more.

(A/N 2): I couple people have pointed out that the end feel rushed here. And they aren't wrong. I've been dying to get to another HP Fic that I've had running around my head for a month now, and I had the final confrontation with voldy written almost since I started. In a couple months I'll put out a new fic about a Harry Potter who makes fate his bitch instead of the other way around. When I finish that, I'll come back to this and polish up the ending, and probably (due to a lack of customer satisfaction) add in an epilogue of sorts. Anyway...

(A/N 3): Jeez you guys are a bunch of complainers! Insert grin here. I will definitely be writing a few extra chapters and tuning up the ending. As soon as I hit third year in the project I'm working on right now, I'll come back and finish this story to all of your satisfactions. Thank you for your thoughts and reviews, they give me warm fuzzy feelings.

(A/N 4): Sweet fancy Moses, you guys! I thought the third note covered it, but in case it didn't I'll say it again. I'm coming back here and adding more. I promise. I almost have a life in addition to a job and taking classes. I'll get to it in a few months, please bear with me till then.