A/N: Revamped, just for you! Set in fourth year where Harry is more proactive and less passive than in cannon. I don't have a beta, so do forgive any errors I failed to correct.
Disclaimer: Not mine; All credit to JKR excepting my crazy plot and the two OC...
Harry raised a brow at the squabbling adults and wondered how such imbeciles were in-charge. He sighed a weary sigh and leaned against the wall, a little apart from the glaring champions. He didn't realize he was noticed until there was pin-drop silence and he looked up to see why.
"Yes?" He asked sounding truly bored.
"Something to add my boy?" Dumbledore asked. Harry tilted his head and scratched his chin.
"Sure." He nodded. "First, I didn't enter my name…" They started shouting again and Harry leaned back shaking his head and looking to a higher power for help.
"Let us hear what Mr. Potter has to say, shall we?" Dumbledore said after making everyone deaf with some loud spell.
"As I was saying…" Harry stood back up and glared at the whole lot of them. "I didn't do it. If you want an oath or veritaserum, I'm okay with that."
"I am sure ve would prefer that… Mr. Potter." Madam Maxime said. Harry shrugged and brought out his wand.
"I'm sure it isn't necessary."
"I Vould Insist." Maxime said forcefully.
"I, Harry James Potter, hereby swear on my life and magic, that I did not put my name in the goblet of fire nor did I have someone else to do it for me. I have no knowledge of how my name got submitted. So mote it." He finished ending in a bright white light. He immediately cast a patronus, just to show off.
"Now that is done with and we all know I am not responsible… Is there any way I can be excused from participating?" He asked cutting off the half-giantess (what else would she be?)
"No. The boy must compete." Crouch scowled.
"I figured." Harry sighed dejectedly.
"It iz not fair!" The Veela girl protested.
"I agree." Viktor Krum boomed next to her.
"Me too." Harry added, making others gape… did they really expect a different answer? "Now I have a solution if you are interested." They all looked at him expectantly. "As far as I know, The Goblet only forms the contract, the actual tasks are determined by the organizers." Bagman nodded. "We…" He swept his hand to include the three original champions and himself. "We are required to participate in three tasks but the particulars can be changed."
"Where are you going with this, my boy?" Dumbledore asked, twinkling away.
"I suggest both Beauxbatons and Durmstrang be allowed to choose a second champion."
"But…!" Bagman shouted but shut up when Harry glared at him.
"Then all schools will have two people. Since, the security provided by Hogwarts allowed for this to happen, I think it only fair the heads of the other two get to choose who gets the honor."
"We would not be prepared for six contestants." Crouch said with narrowed eyes and clear annoyance.
"Not if you wanted each of us to compete alone, no." Harry nodded. "I propose, the participants of each school work together in each task. That way, the organizers will not have too much to adjust, just the marking and so on. The schools will be well represented and the Champions will be using a special skill called 'team work'. The other two can be asked to sign a contract of participation, since I suspect the goblet will not be able to do it."
There was silence as everyone considered it and slowly everyone nodded. Even Snape seemed satisfied though he looked like he still wanted to hang Harry from the ceiling.
"Excellent!" Bagman shouted exuberantly. "That is what we shall do! I believe two days are sufficient for Beauxbatons and Durmstrang to come up with names…"
"How will we choose?" Karkaroff mused. "It will not be impartial…"
"Dueling tournament." Harry answered, barely restraining his eyes from rolling. "Have those still wishing to participate have an impromptu tournament tomorrow or day after. On your ships or on the grounds or in the castle. Either way, you get to choose the strongest."
"Yes… it will solve the issue." The ex-death-eater gave Harry an appreciative look.
"Very well, let me know one way or other by tomorrow!" Bagman smiled at them all jovially and ushered them out.
Dumbledore made the announcement a few minutes later. Apparently, the other two schools had decided to hold dueling tournaments for the right to participate. Durmstrang was holding their on the first on school grounds (so the students don't destroy their ship or the ancient castle) and Beauxbatons would do the same the following day. The remaining tournament was scheduled as before.
Ron was grumbling about cheaters getting away with stuff. He kept away from Harry for the next two days while Hermione tried to get Harry to make up with him. Harry remained quiet until Ron started spewing stuff about what a disappointment he, Harry, was to his parents. Harry, already very irritated with his house, dragged the boy, none too gently, to the common room.
"Listen up you stupid lions!" He hollered after casting a sonorous on himself. He saw a few people purpling but didn't care. "Some family you lot make. After three years of knowing me, you lot still believe I would purposefully put myself in danger? I am disgusted by all of you." He snarled.
"You cheated! Admit it!" Someone had the gall to shout at him.
"I did not put my name in the goblet. I even gave a magical oath to that effect… go ask Cedric or the other champions or one of the heads of schools. Ask Bagman, Ask Crouch. Ask SNAPE dammit!"
"Still gets everything… " Ron grumbled into the resultant silence.
"You know what, Ron? I did figure out how to put a name in… and I put a name in, but not mine. I put yours, Fred's and George's in, because you three wanted to participate. I figured the goblet would choose the best so wasn't too worried." Fred and George turned huge eyes to him. "But it seems after years of being my best friend you still think the worst of me. We're done, Weasley." He turned on his female friend just as she opened her mouth, no doubt planning on adding her two bits about how he had broken her precious rules or some such. "Hermione, do not try to lecture me. It's my prerogative who I am friends with not yours. Oh and no I don't need your bloody help. I'll survive this on my own thanks." He added bitterly as the girl was grating on his nerves acting like he'd die without her. He survived years with Dursleys alone, He survived Quirell and the basilisk alone. He didn't see why he couldn't do so again.
"From here on out, don't bother me… none of you. Fred, George? I appreciate your support. Thanks. Other than those two, I really don't consider you anything more than acquaintances. That's all." He threw them all an annoyed look, collected the twins and escaped the tower. Now to plan with Cedric and win this damned thing and find out who the culprit is.
"So… Dragons?" Cedric asked looking very pale.
"Yep. Fascinating ain't it?" Harry asked in obviously false cheer.
"Research time." Cedric proclaimed faintly and the two Hogwarts champions hurried off to what would soon be their 'corner'. Two hours of research later they were brainstorming ideas, staring at each other emotionlessly- one would think them statues if not for their mouths moving.
"They are fast." Cedric commented first.
"Yeah and vicious."
"Not to mention they are nesting mothers." Harry sighed.
"Yeah but we don't have to fight them…"
"We don't?" The younger boy raised a brow.
"No, according to what the previous tournaments had, we will have some sort of object to retrieve containing a clue for the second task." Cedric mused as he glanced over the set rules.
"That makes things slightly easier… not by much though." The younger grumbled.
"So what do you have?" He pointed at the note by the Hufflepuff's hand.
"Dragons can be easily distracted."
"What would distract them?"
"Uh… food?" Cedric blinked.
"We are the food, Cedric."
"Well, bigger food then." The teen huffed.
"How about something shiny?"
"Could work. They like gold."
"Can you conjure gold?" Harry wanted to know.
"Maybe… in a thousand years. Besides we need something to keep it distracted."
"Right, food it is."
"I could practice for a cow…" Cedric mused.
"That might be a good idea… but what if she ignores it and considers us a bigger threat?"
"We go in invisible."
"Oh… I don't know the spell." Harry bemoaned the fact.
"I'll teach you."
"Cool. So… since I can't conjure at all… you get to distract her and I retrieve whatever it is."
"I can't conjure a cow!" Cedric protested.
"What? Then how are we doing this?"
"Illusions, but I have to wonder how long the illusion will last."
"I might not be able to cast another cow… it takes a bit of power. More because of the size."
"So we need to go fast. How long can you keep it up?"
"Definitely. Professor Sprout has sanctioned the use of an old classroom."
"That was nice of her."
"She is nice." Cedric agreed; the woman was his head of house.
"For discussion's sake… we'll say five minutes?"
"Not a lot of time…"
"No but what can we do?"
"You got a firebolt."
"And you want me to fly… near a fire-breathing mammal with wings… on a piece of wood."
"You'll be invisible and I will be distracting it. You zoom in, get whatever we need to get and zoom out. I'll be near the exit and you can signal me when you're done." Cedric explained.
"Hm… so the dragon won't realize I'm there?"
"Food and an annoying fly… I think it'll ignore you even if it knows."
"Fair enough. Alright… so we need to practice disillusionment and illusions."
"We need a back up."
"What else can we possibly do?"
"You haven't shared your idea."
"Uh… make it sleep and sneak around?"
"Well… sleeping draught." Cedric snorted.
"We'd have to make it drink it first." He pointed out.
"Right… well… what if we make it really cold?" Harry proposed.
"Dragons are reptiles… reptiles are cold-blooded…they sleep when it is cold."
"But the whole stadium?"
"We could look for some cold spells… at the least it'll slow it down." The older teen conceded thoughtfully.
"Yeah… maybe I can hit it with a few freezing charms as I fly… make it easier for you."
"Hm… you know freezing charms?"
"Add it to the list then."
"Kay." Harry scribbled it down.
"I had the crazy idea that I could maybe… talk to it."
"Aah… can you?"
"Any way you can find out?"
"No clue." They contemplated the issue.
"Hm… go for a test run."
"Test run. You know where they are, try talk to them while they are in a cage and talking…"
"Hey! That'd work. They can't hurt me so I can approach them quietly… Okay I'll do it tomorrow."
"You are used to sneaking around aren't you?" The younger blushed. "Well, we have plans A thru C… we should be fine."
"Oh! Just got one."
"Distracting dragons with sparks should be fun. Can you make them burst a distance away?"
"Yeah… If my illusion fails, I can switch! Brilliant. Okay we need to figure out time to practice."
"After dinner, daily."
"We are exempted from classes, Cedric. We got the whole day to do them and research more. In fact, we might want to practice dueling and the like to get better for the third task."
"How about… dueling before breakfast, Homework after breakfast. After lunch we can research and after dinner, targeted practice… switch that around. Research after dinner and targeted practice before."
"Got it. So from tomorrow?"
"Yeah. How does Five sound?"
"Perfect." They grinned at each other and parted ways.
"That was fast…" Cedric commented after Harry finally mastered the disillusionment spell.
"Hm? Oh yeah I get spells fast… it's the theory I don't get."
"Maybe you just need someone to explain well…" Cedric mused. "Alright, we're doing homework in our corner. We'll get you into shape Potter."
"Are you bloody sure you're only fourteen?"
"What is with that power? Damn. I bet you'd wipe the floor with all of us if we let you compete alone." Cedric wasn't sure whether to glare at the younger wizard or look at him in awe.
"I don't know as much as you do." Harry protested. "I get by on luck mainly and… well I guess my magic."
"Time to change it, yes? Isn't there a bounty on your head?"
"Har Har. No, only a crazy dark lord and his dangerous minions out for my life is all."
"Oh sorry, I was overreacting." Cedric rolled his eyes. "Seriously, though, you need to up your skills and learn everything you possibly can as fast as you can or you'll end up dead."
"You have a point but who'll teach me?"
"Books? Ask the teachers. Flitwick was a dueling champion. McGonagall is not bad either if the rumors are right. The upper years could probably help…"
"Alright fine. I'll do better in school, alright? Now can we please practice this freezing charm?" Cedric gave him a smug smile and they got back to trying to overpower the said charm- they needed to charm a huge dragon after all.
Finally, the day of the first task came. Harry and Cedric huddled in a corner with placid faces and watched the others in the tent. Viktor Krum and his partner Marko Stanimir stood stoically in the other corner, though Marko looked remarkably pale for someone with a tan. Fleur Delacour and Agnes Blanche were sitting on the only bench between the Hogwarts team and Durmstrang team looking very close to fainting; their eyes gave away their anxiety though their posture was as usual perfect. All eyes shifted to the tent flap when Bagman stumbled in.
"Good morning, Champions!" He greeted and received a barely audible response from them. "The first task will start in a half hour. The task is to retrieve a golden egg from a nesting mother. Now we have several species and you will have to pick what you'll be facing from this bag. How about ladies first? Ms. Delacour and Ms. Blanche, one of you come forward please."
"Oui… Agnes shall pick." Fleur decided after the girls shared a look. Agnes nodded and pulled out a miniature version of the Welsh Green. A small card with number two was hanging on it's neck.
"Excellent! You will go second. Durmstrang next as the other visiting participants, Mr. Krum or Mr. Stanimir come up here, please." Krum shrugged and indicated to his partner to go ahead without moving anything but his head. Stanimir drew the miniature Chinese Fireball. The card had the number one printed on it.
"Wonderful, Durmstrang will go first. And lastly Hogwarts. It's just a formality but… Mr. Potter, Mr. Diggory?"
"Go on Harry." Cedric smiled. Harry shrugged and put his hand in the bag and immediately pulled it out.
"Ouch! It bit me…" He explained and put his hand in more carefully. When he pulled it out, he had in his hand a black lizard with wings, the underside of which was silver. It looked mean and even the miniature form was glaring at him. Harry smiled at it's hissing.
"~How dare you! Put me down! I will not be treated this way!~
"~Quiet. I mean you no harm or indignity.~"
"~Sure…~" It huffed but settled down. The others looked at Harry strangely but merely thought he was playing with the little dragon.
"What did it say?" Cedric asked him in a whisper.
"It's a fiery one… no pun… It was being indignant and a bit scared to see itself being held by something big… I think it has the actual dragon's essence in it."
"Interesting." Cedric commented and fell silent.
Fifteen minutes passed before Bagman returned.
"Ready for action? Marvelous! Durmstrang team please come out when you hear the gong. The next Gong will be just before we announce Beauxbatons and the third before Hogwarts turn. I have to go commentate, good luck all!" He waved cheerfully and left.
Viktor and Marko marched out looking for all purposes like soldiers going to war. Once they left Harry and Cedric shared a laugh. The crowd went wild, presumably because Viktor was so famous. They soon settled down as the task started.
Viktor walked in first and seemed to want to stare down the dragon. It didn't work as well as he might have thought, instead the irritated dragon sent a small fireball at him- not enough to harm but enough to send a warning. Marko, on the other hand, seemed to blend in with the surroundings. If anyone was paying attention he was darting from rock to rock making his way towards the egg. However, the dragon was not foolish. It soon spotted the tiny human nearing her eggs and roared. It sent a blast of flame at Marko who was saved by the boulder he hid behind. Nothing remained of the said boulder. Taking it as his signal, Viktor started firing spells at the dragon and seemed to be targeting the head- in fact he was going for the most vulnerable part of the beast, the eyes. Marko continued on his journey and had the egg in hand. Viktor started moving towards Marko, abandoning the attack on the dragon. Marko took up the attack as Viktor ran across. Unfortunately, the nearly blinded Dragon was confused and managed to hit Viktor with its tail. Viktor flew a few feet and landed with a thud that the crowd heard clearly and gasped in fear for his life. Viktor though got right back up and regained the lost ground in a few seconds. The Dragon by this time divined where her attacker was and was advancing towards Marko who was doing admirably considering a dragon was rushing at him. The dragon lurched at him and he closed his eyes, thinking he'd die. Thankfully, Viktor had reached his teammate and proceeded to roll with him outside the boundary line. The Fireball's fireball dissipated as it hit the wards.
The crowd cheered very loudly as the two men supported each other to the tent. Viktor had a few fractures and Marko acquired a few bruises from his tousle. The excited cheering had the whole crowd missing the loud sorrowful roar of the Chinese Fireball, when it realized one of it's eggs was destroyed; when it lunged for the attacker, it's tail had crushed one of its precious eggs. While Karkaroff gave his students full points saying the egg was not their fault, the other judges took the destroyed egg into account. Maxime awarded the boys a seven and an extra point for Viktor for showcasing his spell repertoire. Dumbledore at first awarded Marko and Viktor a seven as their tactic had led to loss of life but he was reminded of their good teamwork (he was going to give them five). Crouch, the grouch, awarded them a four each since they had in effect ended the life of a rare dragon.
Inside the tent, Harry started pacing. He could hear the wailing of the dragon and it made him miserable.
"What's wrong?" Cedric asked.
"The dragon… it's distraught… it's egg…"
"O Merlin… did one of the real eggs…?"
"Yeah… I think the dragon accidentally crushed it… she is very upset." Harry bit his lip worriedly.
"Try to keep the illusion far from the eggs… I'd really rather not destroy a real egg."
"Of course." Cedric nodded.
The gong sounded for the second time. Fleur walked out first, showing incredible bravery, followed by Agnes. The boys (Hogwarts) had wished them luck but it was clear the two were a bit nervous and even scared of the task ahead. The crowd cheered as they were announced and soon a calm fell. A whistle signaled their entry into the warded area.
Fleur immediately turned her allure to the maximum. The dragon was focused on her and looked a bit confused as Agnes quickly darted to the eggs. A momentary lapse on Fleur's part had the dragon sending flame towards the other girl. Agnes dodged and Fleur redoubled her efforts, throwing in fireballs to further distract the dragon. Agnes ran again and soon had the egg with her. She ran to the exit and whistled to signal Fleur who started moving slowly towards her friends, still hitting the dragon with her allure. Agnes seemed to realize Fleur was exhausted and quickly pointed her wand at her. In a surprising move, the Veela was summoned to Agnes even as her Allure failed and the Welsh green roared in anger, shooting a long burst of flame which managed to light Fleur's skirt on fire. Agnes caught Fleur and a quick augumenti took care of the fire. A moment later she turned and ran out with the egg in her hand and Fleur floating in front of her. The dragon's fire followed the girl burning part of her exposed leg as she ran away.
The crowd roared in approval as the french women were herded into the medical tent. The judges whispered among themselves. Soon they reached their decisions. The Drumstrang headmaster gave each girl a six claiming no great feat of magic was done and it was simple luck. Madam Maxime ignored the man and gave her girls ten. Dumbledore gave Fleur an eight because she did not realize she had reached her limit and was thus put in more danger. Agnes received a ten since she thought quickly on her feet and saved her friend from certain death… even if she could have simply exited the warded area alone. Crouch sneered and gave both girls an eight since they both got hurt.
The gong sounded again and the Hogwarts duo walked out. The crowd cheered the loudest yet… seeing as the champions were on home ground it made sense. Cedric and Harry cheerfully waved at the sea of supporters who were dressed in red and yellow for the occasion, honoring the houses of both of them. Even some Slytherins were supportive but that did not include Malfoy and his ilk.
The Dragon was really large and stared menacingly at the two-legged creatures who were approaching her area. She was very upset given what happened to the Fireball and was literally crouched around her clutch protectively.
"Oh shit… she is extra protective and is going to be a pain." Cedric muttered while they waited for the whistle.
"No kidding. I hope I can talk her into this…" Harry watched the dragon warily.
Then entered when the whistle was heard. The Irontail growled menacingly, promising pain if they dared come near her.
"~Greetings great one~"
"~Speaker of the ancient tongue… I warn you, stay away from me and my clutch!~"
"~I am afraid that is a problem, Great one. You see… our task is to retrieve a fake egg that has been hidden in your clutch.~"
"~Fake? What is this foolish task! The Fireball lost her young! I will not allow this!~" She roared.
"~If you cooperate, I will promise you the safety of your clutch.~" Harry said. The dragon eyed him warily.
"~If you are unable?~"
"~Then my life is yours to do with as you will.~" The dragon contemplated in silence as Cedric prepared himself despite the crowd's booing.
"~Very well, what is your plan, speaker?~"
"~Thank you. My companion will bring forth an illusion of a steer, you must simply try to catch it. The others will assume you were hungry while I retrieve the fake egg. My companion and I will exit. When the steer disappears, please go back to defending your clutch.~"
The dragon nosed her clutch for a moment and turned back to Harry. Harry and Cedric correctly guessed she was looking for the fake egg.
"~Why don't I simply give you the egg?~" She asked curiously.
"~Well… we need to get points by demonstrating our talent at magic. However, I do not wish for you or your clutch to be hurt…~"
"~I see. Very well.~"
"~Behind you.~" Harry smiled. He had already summoned his broom silently while he talked with the dragon and Cedric's illusion was already trotting about a little behind the horntail.
"She is going to cooperate." Harry told Cedric softly. "Don't bother with the disillusionment charm on yourself."
Harry nodded just as the broom came to him. Harry immediately climbed on and tapped his wand on the broom and made it invisible, then did the same to himself. A moment later sparks lit up the sky, the dragon looked at them suspiciously but decided to trust the speaker- no one can lie in the ancient tongue after all. Cedric had the cattle running in a frenzied fashion. The Horntail seemed to just miss the thing with her paws and snapped at the illusion convincingly. Cedric made a show of darting from one stone to the other, circling the perimeter. Some time after, He heard a gasp and knew Harry had 'accidentally' dropped his disillusionment charms. He dropped the illusion as well and started running to the exit. The Horntail whipped it's head around and spotted him. It sent fire towards him making Cedric run faster. Harry started shooting sparks at her head from the air, holding tightly to the egg. The dragon looked around in confusion at them, though if one saw Harry's grin, they'd know something was up. Cedric soon hopped out of the arena and Harry zoomed after him. He landed just outside the wards, next to Cedric.
"~Thank you, Great one.~"
"~You are lucky my clutch is safe.~" She commented amidst counting her eggs.
"~Of course. May I offer something for the inconvenience?~"
"~A real steer, perhaps…?~"
"~It shall be done.~" Harry promised. His hissing was lost in the cheering.
"What did you say?"
"Thanked her and promised her a real steer."
"Where will you get that?"
"Kitchens?" Cedric snorted.
Karkaroff grudgingly gave the two a seven citing the room for improvement; not only were the two teens not harmed, they both demonstrated difficult spells and skills whilst not harming the dragon or the eggs- he was forced to give them more than he gave to the girls even by one point, though he still found a way to remove points. Maxime was very impressed with the illusion- an illusion that size took some raw power especially when animated and the harmless sparks were an easy but effective strategy. She awarded a ten to both. Dumbledore, if he could have, would have awarded 'his boys' a twenty. He sadly settled with a ten and a huge smile. Crouch went by the rules- they displayed magical skills (flying was also a magical skill), retrieved the egg, didn't harm the dragon and showed excellent team-work; he also awarded them ten each.
In the end, Cedric and Harry took the lead with Thirty-seven points followed by Agnes with a thirty four and Fleur with a thirty two. Viktor, with twenty-nine, and Marko with a twenty-seven, brought up the rear. All in all the champions had all done well.
Poppy Pomfrey checked her most frequent patient and was pleasantly surprised he was unhurt and didn't need anything except maybe a calming draught- the boy was literally hopping from one foot to the other. Cedric was in much the same state of euphoria.
"You did it!" A brown missile found it's green eyed target. "Oh, I was so worried! A Dragon! Honestly, What were they thinking? Are you hurt, Harry? It was a very good strategy. Who came up with it? Cedric? Or you? Probably both! Anyway well done! I'm so glad you're okay. I was so worried when you actually summoned a broom! A Broom! To go against a dragon! Crazier stunt I have never seen! What was that spell that made you invisible? Can you teach me? Looked useful. Oh the distractions were spectacular… and pretty. Were there any spells among them or just harmless sparks? Good job not hurting the dragon and the eggs… Oh I'm so happy you're alive, you're okay! Do you know what the egg is for? Any idea what the clue is… can I help? I promise I won't be annoying… I missed you so much… so glad you're fine…"
Harry shared an amused look with Cedric who was chuckling quietly. Harry tried and failed to get rid of the crushing hug and tried several times to interrupt.
"Oh and the other champions…"
"They were also awesome but you were the best…"
"Of course I might be biased…"
"I'm your best friend and all…"
"We are still friends right? You're not mad…?"
"Granger! Let me go, woman." Harry tried the Snape voice.
"I was being a bit arrogant… I'm sorry… can we be friends again?"
"HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER!"
"What?" She finally looked up.
"You are insufferable." Harry muttered and kissed her… thoroughly.
"Oh… that was nice…"
"Shut up Mione." Harry mumbled and sealed her never-stop-working-lips.
Harry endured the playful ribbing from his now closest male friend Cedric. It was all in good fun. Hermione was once again avoiding him after she ran off blushing. He wasn't really sure he knew why he kissed her… she was his friend but was she more? Harry simply wasn't sure but her avoiding him did bother him even if he didn't show it. He wondered if it was only to shut her up… then again he could have simply silenced or stunned her. It was something he thought on regular basis now. Maybe it was because he had missed her constant presence beside him.
Draco, who had been somewhat quiet (after Cedric took off a hundred points trying to bully his partner for the tournament with disgusting badges) picked up the news from the Hogwarts vine and followed Harry everywhere. Cedric had even joked that he had a male stalker- unconventional but there was definitely something there. Harry started putting as much distance between the blond and himself as possible- just to be safe.
His emotional turmoil over Hermione came to an end when McGonagall announced the ball. Harry, after a moment of panic, immediately thought of the girl he had missed so much during their small fight. He lost no time in seeking her out… only she didn't want to be found. It was three days and a lot of hard work later that he cornered her in the library.
"Hermione Granger. Would you please stop avoiding me?" He growled at the girl trapped between the shelves and his body.
"I'm not…" She squeaked.
"Uh huh…" She blushed.
"Stop avoiding me, okay? We can… talk about it if you want." Harry told her uncomfortably.
"Okay." Hermione nodded meekly.
"I've been hunting you down for three whole days! You're good at hiding." He told her seriously.
"Um… thanks?" Hermione answered confused as to if she should be thankful or indignant.
"You're welcome but I am not teaching you that spell until I know you won't try hiding again." He smirked recalling her initial excitement about the disillusionment charm.
"Come on…" Hermione instantly whined and blushed.
"Nope." Harry grinned. "On a brighter note, would you be so kind to allow me to escort you to the Yule Ball, Ms. Granger?"
"Why not you?"
"Yes or no, Mione. Stop thinking so hard. I won't mind even if you say no."
"Yes." She said hurriedly.
"Yes?" She nodded. "Brilliant." He grinned at her.
"Um… we need to talk about…" She blushed.
"The other day… in the tent…" Red was a very becoming color on the brunette.
"Why did you… ki…kiss me?" She stuttered but met Harry's eyes squarely.
"Why? I'm not too sure." Harry mused. "I think it was to shut you up and gain your attention… also because you looked cute in your worry-rant mode. Probably because I missed you very much. Maybe I might like you just a little…"
"That's it?" Harry asked amused.
"Yes." The witch nodded.
"So why'd you run?" Harry asked after a moment of comfortable silence.
"I was embarrassed." She had absolutely no trouble admitting that.
"Why'd you hide?" He grinned.
"Because you were chasing me."
"That's not a reason." He pouted. Hermione giggled.
"Oh all right, I was confused and wanted time to think about what happened."
"And what did your brilliant mind conclude?" Harry drawled.
"Well… thanks." Hermione said with a straight face.
"Answer, my dear." Harry prodded playfully.
"Darn." She muttered unhappily at failing to distract him. "My conclusion is… well, I might, maybe, like you also, Harry." She blushed heavily at this. "But I don't want our friendship to suffer because of this."
"Even if I try to boss you around?" She asked in amusement, referring to their small fight.
"Well… if you continue trying to boss me around… I'll do this." He leaned down and pecked her lips.
"Works." She muttered and hugged him. Harry hugged her back with a smile.
The weekend after Harry managed to get a date was a Hosmeade day. Cedric had tutored him in wizarding customs especially for someone of his stature. Harry had raised an eyebrow at that which led to Cedric explaining the family tree of the Potters and their political power as well as their traditional role as the leaders of the Light faction. It was a fascinating lesson on his own roots and Harry was going to explore this at Gringott's but that was not the most important thing he learned. Apparently, he needed to buy his date her dress and provide all accessories to go with it. He was going to have a hell of a time explaining the intricacies of wizard customs to his maybe-girlfriend.
Eventually, Hermione understood that Harry was responsible for 'dressing' her in return for gracing him with her presence… though no one said anything about her actually accepting it. Harry told her they could figure it out later and she should let him buy for now. She had given him a suspicious look but had nodded- she after all did not have too much to spend at the moment and would have to wait until her parents sent her some money before shopping. This way she got to shop with all the girls and Harry was happy to go along and be the house-elf. Cedric and his date Cho joined them as did Neville and Ginny.
It took hours for the gaggle of girls to pick their dresses. The men were then given a bit of cloth so they could match their dates. Cedric, Neville and Harry took ten minutes each to pick out a design, decide on the material and match the colors in either the lapel or the main parts of the robe. Cedric's date Cho had chosen a white and gold outfit and so the hufflepuff had chosen a decent black set with regal gold piping and pale gold under-robe. Ginny had chosen something in a midnight blue with silver highlights. Neville chose a set of robes the same color with the lapel decorated in silver embroidery with a deep blue under-robe. Hermione had given a swatch of green with a darker green stitching. Harry chose a simple black dress robes with the dark green on the lapels and the design on the sleeves and hem; his under robe was a pale green, the perfect match to Hermione's dress color. Once done, the boys had to endure another hour while the ladies chose their shoes.
Given the choice of clothes, Harry got Hermione a nice set of jewelry to go with it. The set was forged in gold and consisted of three pear-drop shaped emeralds- one for the pendant and two earrings; there were also three small diamonds to offset the emeralds. He knew Hermione would not accept anything expensive but this was apparently a low end gift from the Head of the Potters. He wondered briefly what a moderately expensive gift looked like.
The day of the Yule Ball, Harry hung out with the boys- Cedric and Neville. They played exploding snap, discussed random topics and generally had fun. They had squirreled away in their training room and so were not bothered by the others. Dobby was a dear and provided them with food and drinks. Two hours before the ball, they separated to hit the showers and get ready- it was better to finish early lest the shower rush block them. Neville waited with Harry for their dates.
When Ginny came down, both Harry and Neville were shocked at how different she looked. Neville seemed really close to drooling until Harry tapped him on the shoulder. Hermione though was stunning and no amount of tapping got Harry out of his daze. Neville had to viciously pinch him to get a coherent response. Harry quickly got himself in order and extended his hand to his date. Once he had captured a dainty hand, he laid a small kiss on it and then one on her cheek. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Neville do much the same to the blushing Ginny. They left before they had to see Ronald.
The Ball was enjoyable, especially as Harry had put in some of his 'training hours' learning how to dance. At first Cedric had tried helping, although his greater height made him completely unsuitable to play the part of the female. Eventually, they had asked (begged really) Cho to help out. Cho was still taller than Harry who had yet to have a real growth spurt but was at a more manageable height. It took the entire month but the young teen had at least the waltz (the opening dance) down to a respectable degree and had an idea about the other common forms of dancing. Hermione was pleasantly surprised that he did not step on her toes- she was half expecting it.
"I learned." Harry replied sourly.
"Not bad, Potter."
"Thank you milady." He smiled at her. "Want to take a break? I'll get us drinks."
"Sure. I am a bit tired."
They broke off the dancing platform and found themselves some seats. Harry went and got them drinks. When he got back, he and his date talked about some things Harry was now taking an interest in.
"Hermoninny… Vould you dance with me?" A deep voice more or less snuck up on them.
"Hello Viktor… I would love to if my date doesn't mind." Hermione replied with a smile.
"Please… as long as you don't steal her indefinitely." Harry grinned; he had been told about Krum's elegant request for Hermione to be his date and didn't really mind. Hermione smiled approvingly and left to dance with Viktor whose date sat across from Harry. She looked oddly familiar.
"Hey, enjoying yourself?" Harry decided to be friendly.
"Yes, Harry Potter." The witch with almost whitish blond hair answered.
"Ah, you know me!" His exaggerated exclamation earned him a giggle. "I am sorry to say I have not made your acquaintance fair lady."
"Oh silly me. I'm Luna Lovegood, most call me Looney." Harry's eyebrow ticked in anger.
"Well you don't look looney to me, in fact you're quite smashing tonight, if I say so myself."
"Thank you, Harry."
"Anytime. So which year are you in, Luna? I know I've seen you around the castle." She looked surprised that he had noticed her.
"Third year, Ravenclaw."
"Ah the brainy type. I do attract them… take Hermione for example." Luna beamed at him.
"Rumor says the brains are attracted to brawn." Luna quipped.
"Are you insinuating something, Luna dear?" Harry smirked at her.
"Not at all." She waved him away. Harry chuckled.
"If you're not too tired, want to dance?"
"Sure." Harry took the slip of a girl by the hand and led her to the dance floor. Hermione noticed them and raised an eyebrow but smiled when she saw the younger girl's bright smile as Harry twirled her around in some random circles.
As the evening went on, all the champions switched partners. Harry had danced with Fleur, Agnes, Luna, Tracey Davis (from Slytherin) and Cho. Hermione had found herself dancing with Viktor (more than once), Marko, Roger Davies (Fleur's date and a Ravenclaw), Blaise Zabini (Slytherin date for Agnes) and Cedric. By the time the tables were rearranged for supper, all of them were pretty comfortable with each other. Even Roger snapped out of it and Fleur seemed happy (she later told Hermione that she was able to better control her allure due to excellent company). Dinner conversation was in a word robust. The twelve of them had a table to themselves and nearly everyone could see the champions and their dates enjoying the night together.
The night that had ended in a sweet kiss was in many ways a beginning for Harry. His determination to protect his friends and especially his Hermione grew day by day. He pushed himself to study anything he could lay his hands on and was becoming quite a bit proficient in ancient Runes and was beyond OWL level for his core subjects.
Still, the egg had not yet revealed it's mysteries. Hermione and Cho were very amused to see their respective boyfriends carrying around the egg everywhere. Hermione commented that they were getting training in family life which led to her explaining to the two purebloods how sometimes a fake baby was used to teach responsibility in muggle school. Cho had then started looking at Cedric with a gleam every time he was spotted with the golden egg.
"We have to do something!" Cedric muttered. "Cho is driving me crazy!"
"Yeah? What? I have no clue about this nightmare of an egg."
"Why don't we try spells on it?"
"Um… I guess. We might as well practice on it." He sighed.
They took their precious egg to their classroom and put up silencing charms. Cedric managed to find a spell to muffle things out of necessity and the two teens were ready to face the music. They first tried to send spells at the closed egg but soon realized it was impervious to magic from outside. So they grudgingly opened it and started firing the host of spells they had learnt over the past few weeks, whilst plugging their ears with some conjured wool.
"Cedric, that was stupid. Glacio!"
"Whatever Potter. Finite!"
"It's already open!"
"Try something else then!"
"Expecto Patronum!" A stag pranced around looking for trouble and looked to Harry who pointed to the egg angrily. The stag prodded it with the antlers and shook its head. It nuzzled Harry and dissolved.
"You're teaching me that later." Cedric declared.
"I wonder… Frenculus!"
"Um… langlock! Damn it didn't even shut it up."
They continued in that vein for nearly two hours before collapsing by the completely undamaged egg. Both teens looked exhausted, Cedric more so.
"How exactly did that thing withstand all that?" Harry asked breathlessly.
"Probably runes… lot of them." Cedric guessed tiredly.
"There's an idea…"
"Examine the runes and see if we can figure out what the hell this thing says." Harry put forth his idea.
"We could try… maybe get a hint or something." Cedric agreed with a sigh, knowing it would be hard work.
"Alright… tomorrow then. I'm knackered." Harry decided. Cedric didn't think an answer was necessary.
The next day, the whole day, was spent copying the runes down on parchment for later study. The teens split the pages between them and poured over them. When their girlfriends found out what they were up to, they joined and further divided up the work.
"Does anyone else recognize this rune? It keeps appearing in each string." Hermione frowned and drew the said rune, large enough so everyone could see it clearly.
"Looks strange… I don't recall it…" Cedric mused.
"It does look familiar." Cho mused.
"It does, doesn't it? Let me see…" Harry took the enlarged rune and slowly moved the parchment around, looking at it from all angles. He frowned and rummaged in his book bag and pulled out the runes text Neville had gifted him over christmas- it had listing of runes sets… some common and some not so common. He flipped the pages as the remaining three tried the same method of deciphering the rune and referred to one or the other text procured from the library.
"It's not here… but I have seen it. Look at this… it looks like the hurricane rune in this set and the spring from this one but it isn't exactly the same." Harry announced.
"Strange." Cedric murmured.
"It also looks remarkably like a water rune… see these lines here?" Hermione pointed at the three seemingly parallel lines embedded into the rune.
"Water… Hey… maybe it is some form of a water rune." Cedric said excitedly. "All the similar runes we have found have something to do with water element. We don't know what it is but it probably has to do with water!"
"So we sprinkle it with water?" Harry asked.
"No, no, we already tried augumenti on it."
"Submerge." Hermione declared. "It's either sprinkle, pour or submerge."
"Right… the lake?"
"So you want to freeze to death?" Cedric asked.
"No but I don't know where else to submerge it…"
"Prefect's bath of course."
"You are sitting with three of them." The girls giggled as Harry stared at them in new light.
"Wait! All of us?!" Hermione protested.
"Why not?" Cho asked.
"It's the bath." Hermione huffed.
"Yes and we can wear swimming gear in them." Cedric drawled.
"Right…" Hermione grumbled and followed the two boys. Cho gave her a sideways hug and winked at her.
They transfigured their clothes to comfortable swimwear (one piece for Hermione, bikini for Cho and trunks for the boys) and dove into hot water. Given the time of the year, getting into the large swimming pool sized hot bath was heaven. After soaking and enjoying the water, Harry tipped the egg into the water where it sunk to the floor. The four friends dove in and shared wide-eyed looks as sweet almost ethereal music floated to their ears.
Come seek us where our voices sound,
We cannot sing above the ground,
And while you're searching ponder this;
We've taken what you'll sorely miss,
An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took,
But past an hour, the prospect's black,
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back. [from 'Harry Potter & Goblet of Fire']
"Guess we all will be visiting the lake." Cedric commented. Harry and the girls nodded dumbly, quite sure that he was absolutely correct.
The only question was if both of them will have things taken or only one of them. They decided that to make things even, the organizers would take one hostage per participant. How the rescue will be staged was up to imagination. They could have them do it individually, in which case Cedric and Harry decided to help each other anyway. They could have Hermione and Cho together and expect them to work as a team to retrieve them. Either way the teens had a solid plan A, B and even C. Plan A included Cedric casting a bubblehead charm on both of them. The only problem was that Harry was having difficulties casting it, so if the charm failed chances were he'd drown. Plan B was using Neville's input of using a plant called Gillyweed; it was safe and fail-proof but it was somewhat expensive. The third and final idea was to use self transfiguration- again something Harry was completely clueless about.
As for strategy, they figured they could put tracking charms on the girls before-hand and simply follow it. If it worked, they would transfigure a boat and use animation charms to make a show of propelling the boat to where the girls were. From there it was a simple dive and retrieve mission and getting back to shore.
Normally, best laid plans tend to get sidetracked, or so they say, but this day their predictions were spot on and the strategy required little deviation. The tracking charms worked like a…er… charm. Cedric took care of the small boat while Harry transfigured some twigs into two oars. They got in and each animated an oar and made them beat in sync with each other. They stilled over the spot where their tracking charms led. Cedric transfigured some of the water into a iron anchor then levitated it on board. Harry transfigured some rope and tied one end to the anchor and the other to the boat- he was sure McGonagall was proud of them for thinking of transfiguring the water, which was not as impossible as simply conjuring it. Cedric cast a bubble around his head and dived with the anchor, to make sure it didn't hit the hostages who were probably unconscious. Harry followed soon after, swallowing enough gillyweed to last him fifteen minutes (and extra in his pocket) when he received the signal- three tugs on the rope. They encountered a thick mass of seaweed which they were forced swim around and later cut down. This unfortunately woke up some denizens of the lake reminiscent of the piranhas which started biting and generally tried to eat the teens. Thankfully, they were prepared and warmed the water around them driving the cold-loving aquatic fauna away almost instantly. It took around four minutes to reach the hostages even with the inconvenience of the flora and fauna. They each cut down their girls under the watchful eyes of the mermen and swam straight up (avoiding the floating plant) and surfaced a bit away from their boat. A quick swim brought them close enough to board the craft. As Harry had five more minutes of needing to be underwater, he cut the rope with enough to hold on to as they once again animated the oars and sped back towards the shore; he stayed in the water and pretended to water-glide (under the water) much to Hermione's amusement. Cedric cast warming charms on all of them except Harry. Incidentally, the effects of Gillyweed wore off just as they hit the platform and Harry climbed onto it, helping those in the boat get out. They were soon in the medical tent being fussed about.
While Cedric and Harry were doing their thing, the remaining four champions had dived in head first. Fleur and Agnes dressed in powder blue one-pieces had used bubble-head charms. They swam out towards the general direction of the center of the lake where the Merpeople village was purported to be… according to one vague mention in one of the books on Hogwarts they had read. They had swum for about ten minutes when Agnes became aware of the missing Fleur. She immediately flipped back in search of her friend who she soon found battling little fiends known as Grindylows. As she hurried to firing range of the raging battle, Fleur's charm broke and she started choking on the icy water whilst the little monsters bit into her legs and swiped at her in general. Agnes took but a moment to blast the creatures all off and re-cast the charm on her friend. She soon realized that the Veela was suffering in the water and cold and so cast low-powered water boiling charms around them. Fleur soon looked better though still battered and bleeding through her tattered clothes. Fleur fixed her clothes to afford some modesty and nodded thankfully to Agnes. The two resumed their swim, more vigilant than before.
At the same time Viktor who was half-impersonating a shark and Marko who had transfigured a pair of gills onto his neck, made a beeline towards the Mermish song that beckoned them through Krum's heightened shark senses. They too encountered the grindylows, a mere minute before the girls did, but the little vicious beasts had taken one look at Viktor's teeth and scrambled into the relative safety of the nearby seaweed. The giant squid, however, was not so smart. The squid saw a fish (or half of one); also known as food to satiate it's hunger. Viktor used his jaws to rip several of it's tentacles to shreds while Marko threw high-powered spells at it. The squid proved formidable and engaged the two in fierce battle for nearly fifteen minutes before it cut its losses and retreated to safer, deeper waters away from dangerous food.
The girls' path was a bit different from the Durmstrang boys and thus they missed meeting the giant squid and even overtook the boys a bit. They started casting 'point-me' spells to locate their hostages as they swam as fast as their human bodies allowed. They soon encountered a mermaid who stared eerily at them as they swam by. Soon they began seeing more of them, male female and child. It was creepy noticing the effect Fleur was having on some of the relatively younger looking mermen; the Veela was doubly glad she had the protection of her friend. They soon spotted something large up ahead just as Viktor and Marko swam by them waving at them with huge smug grins on their faces (assuming sharks could grin…). Angered the ladies swam harder, using their wands to send jets of water behind them to propel them further.
Harry and gang were cleared just in time to see Fleur being rescued and the middle of Viktor and Marko's battle. Unknown to the champions, the organizing committee had installed some magical method of letting everyone to view what was going on beneath the still waters of the lake. They settled down on one corner of the platform in cozy and comfortable love seats the boys transfigured, much to the twinkling amusement of the headmaster (Harry was reminded the Headmaster too was a master of transfiguration). Viktor and Marko (who had jokingly transfigured his teeth to pointed monstrosities sometime after the battle with the squid) scared a few more of the lake's residents much to the crowd's amusement. The Beauxbatons booed when the Durmstrang overtook them and cheered when the ladies expertly used their wands to propel them after their competition. The crowd held in their breaths as both teams reached the hostages almost at the same time and hastily cut the seaweed anchoring them. With a competitive gleam in their eyes they took off from the giant mermaid statue as even the Mermen cheered.
The girls shot up in a slight slant and broke water in a minute. They then used their wands to propel them and their now awake hostages toward the platform. In the meantime, Viktor and Marko (who once again changed himself by transfiguring his feet into some cross between flippers and fins) used their strange forms' skills to make headway under the lake. neither group met with any more dangers.
The superiority of the fins was proven when Viktor and Marko emerged from the water a few feet ahead of Fleur and Agnes. Marko was first to dispel his gills and climb aboard. Still sporting some scarily sharp teeth and flipper-fins for feet he helped Luna and Tracey out of the cold water. Viktor soon resumed full human form once again and proceeded to cast warming charms on the girls. Just as Poppy reached the Durmstrang group, Fleur and Agnes reached the platform and soon everyone was out of the water. The cheering which started as soon and Marko had climbed up continued well after the the task was completed and through the judges' deliberation.
"Amazing performance by all the champions! Let's applaud their brilliant performances!" Bagman announced making the crowd literally scream. "Now for the scores! We'll start first with the ladies… Beauxbatons! Both ladies finished at forty-nine minutes, let's see what the judges think."
Maxime had a broad smile as she held up two cards with large "10" on them. Karkaroff, easily impressed with any fight (and maybe a bit impressed by the young Veela's body) gave them a six each, docking points for being last. Dumbledore twinkled away as he allowed an even seven citing the lapse in vigilance and coming in last. Crouch gave them a eight each since both girls almost succumbed to something as basic as Grindylows and were last to complete.
"Well! Beauxbatons scores an even thirty-four! This puts Ms. Delacouer at sixty-six and Ms. Blanche at sixty-eight!" He let the crowd celebrate a few moments. "Let's hear how the judges rate Viktor Krum and Marko Stanimir! Forty-eight and a quarter minutes!"
Maxime gave both boys an eight claiming they failed to recognize the threat of being seen as food and harmed a famous magical creature; no bias there at all. Karkaroff gave his boys ten; none of the infamous bias here either. Dumbledore smiled genially and explained the boys had been unprepared for the denizens of the lake to an extent and commented on the incomplete transformation (Krum blushed- he had meant to become a full shark but wasn't that talented); he commended the teens on excellent defense skills and commended Marko for his ingenious 'additions; though he did seem disappointed he hadn't used them from the beginning. He gave them an eight. Crouch Gave them a nine; taking one point each for literally running into the giant squid but since they did finish second, he grudgingly gave them that high a point, according to the rules.
"That puts the Drumstrang boys at Sixty four for Viktor and Sixty-three for Marko!" The crowd cheered even louder… if it was possible. Harry thought some were using sonorous charms. "Now last but definitely not the least, our very own champions, Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter! They finished in just under twenty minutes and are in the lead! Judges?!"
"I must ask… waz zat conjuration you used?" Madam Maxime asked leaning forward towards the boys.
"No ma'am, we transfigured the water into the boat and iron. Twigs for the oars." Harry told her.
"Amazing…" She muttered.
"And animation charms on the oars, I presume?" Dumbledore twinkled.
"Yes sir." Cedric answered.
"Brilliant." Dumbledore beamed.
"And efficiently done with a clear plan and preparation."
"Those things still attacked them." Karkaroff scoffed.
"There was no way to predict the location of a floating seaweed plant, sir, we did prepare for the eventuality of encountering it and it's oft inhabitants." Cedric said, knowing the man was fishing for some excuse to dock points.
"Very well." Maxime smiled and gave them both ten. She seemed to like Harry and Cedric as much as her own kids. Dumbledore gave them a ten each as well, giving them a proud smile along with his brightest twinkle to date. Crouch found nothing to deduct points from and also gave them full points- he even seemed impressed by the relatively risk-free planning. Karkaroff seemed to pout (a manly pout to be sure) before grudgingly awarding them a eight- since they didn't actually swim like they were supposed to (no matter the task said nothing about swimming only rescuing) and got hurt by harmless fish.
"Hogwarts leads with Seventy points! Cedric and Harry are tied and closely followed by Agnes and Fleur. Bringing up the rear are Viktor and Marko! What an intense competition! Let's hear it for all of them!" After he was done riling up the crowd and utterly tiring the whole lot of them he made the announcement of the final task. "The champions will be given the specifics one month before the task on the 24th June. Meanwhile, relax everyone! We will see each one of you next time!" He waved at the retreating audience and turned to congratulate the champions especially Harry.
"Well, that was fun." Harry commented as they made their way back up to the castle.
"The third task will be even more fun." Cedric muttered.
"Joy. We should train up."
"I'm joining you Harry." Hermione declared challenging him to deny her.
"Me too." Cho quickly added. The boys shared a look and shrugged.
"Hm… the classroom might be too small…"
"Well, we will just have to find someplace bigger." Hermione was really determined to help.
"Sure, let's think on it." The other three nodded. For now they wanted to rest from the stress of the task.
The group brainstormed for a few days whilst making do with the small classroom. Finally, it was Dobby who came up with an answer… well two answers. Harry had missed dinner one evening and had traipsed down to the kitchens for something. As fate would have it, Dobby had instantly spotted him and rushed his legs.
"Hey Dobby. How are you?"
"The Great Harry Potter sir wanting to know how Dobby be feeling?!" The elf squeaked with large bulbous eyes looking at Harry with pure adoration. "Dobby being good, Sir. What cans Dobby be doing? Yous wanting food, of course… come Harry Potter sir be sitting here."
Harry was ushered in and seated at a small table in the far corner of the kitchen. Within a minute he had a plate piled high with food steaming in front of him. Harry beamed at his elven friend as the other elves looked on in awe.
"Won't you join me Dobby? It's no fun eating alone."
"Yous wanting Dobby to be joining yous? Oh Dobby is so lucky! Dobby be loving to, Harry Potter sir!" The elf exuberance was rubbing of on the wizard.
"So tell me, how is working at Hogwarts?"
"It being okay…" The elf's ears drooped.
"You sound sad?"
"Dobby is being thankful…"
"Dobby wanting family…"
"I thought you like being free." Harry blinked in confusion.
"I dos! Dobby likes being free from bad evil masters."
"So… you're looking for a family?" The elf nodded.
"Does Harry Potter sir wanting an elvsie?" Dobby asked looking for all the world awkward.
"Well… I never considered it Dobby. But I could use another friend."
"Dobby is Harry Potter sir's friend?" The elf asked disbelievingly.
"Of course." Harry nodded.
"Dobby cans be friend and elvsie."
"I suppose you can." Harry smiled. "But I'm not sure I have much for you to do…"
"That being okay. Dobby cans work in kitchen when yous not needing."
"Well… can you tell me why you want to bond so much then?" Dobby tilted his head in thought.
"Well… Elvsies wither and die with no bond… master's magic helping us be healthy and strong. So we's needing bonding…"
"So, elves help the master and the master shares his magic?"
"That being correct."
"Ah… Well if you really want to, I suppose. But there will be rules."
"Yep. First, no punishing yourself. If you do something wrong you come to me and I will decide if you need punishment or not."
"Dobby can be doing that…" He said uncertainly.
"You have to call me Harry…"
"Master Harry." Dobby nodded. Harry sighed knowing he wasn't going to get more than that.
"If you are tired or unwell or worried or anything you have to tell me."
"With bond… Dobby is not being tired or sick." The elf looked at him strangely. Harry stared back and nodded.
"And lastly, you are explaining this whole thing to Hermione before she kills me."
"Master's Grangy being scary!" Dobby protested.
"Which is why you and not I get to explain." Harry explained smugly.
"Dobby no liking but Dobby be doing." The elf agreed, looking very reluctant.
"Great, so how do I get me an elf?"
After a simple ceremony Dobby bounced around in happiness. Harry watched the little guy with a grin as he finished his very large helping of Treacle tart.
"What cans Dobby do for Master Harry?" Dobby asked as he wiped his mouth.
"Hm… nothing much at the moment… unless you know a place where four people could do intensive training… secretly." Harry shrugged.
"Yous can practice in the Chamber…"
"Chamber of secrets?" Harry asked.
"Yes… yous can be using the come and go room but the headmaster knows of it."
"How'd you know I wanted to keep away from the headmaster's eyes?"
"The bond, Master Harry."
"Ah… I see. Well, want to go by the chamber later with me?" He asked with a grin.
"Dobby is loving to go!" The elf nodded vigorously.
"We should probably do something about the basilisk…" Harry pondered.
"Basilisk be good for potions."
"Do you know how to harvest it?"
"No, but Dobby knows elvsies that will help."
"Great. We'll go tomorrow after breakfast to check things out and you can contact your friends and find out if they can do the task… and their price, I guess."
"Dobby knows what they wanting."
"Theys wanting shiny things."
"No… shiny rocks…shiny objects…"
"They not being expensive… made of glass, Dobby thinks."
"Ah you mean things made of colored glass? Like vases and paperweights?"
"Well, they can just buy them."
"They be in muggle world so elvsies can't buy them." Dobby explained patiently.
"I see. Let me see what we can do." Harry said slowly as he considered- he supposed expensive glassware could be traded for labor….
The very next day Harry and his trusted elf Dobby traipsed down to Myrtle's bathroom. Thankfully, Myrtle was not in and they quickly slid down the pipe. Dobby could actually pop into the chamber but he wanted to humor his wizard, besides the slide was fun! Dobby took in the state of the ancient chambers and noted he'd have to have some help redecorating the place. He also identified strong wards protecting the walls, some which could use some boost. He made his report on the findings as the two advanced to where the Basilisk was.
When Dobby saw the large dead skin his eyes grew impossibly wide and he sang his master's praises before declaring the hide somewhat useful for small items and potions. Harry was highly amused when the little guy pulled out a muggle spiral bound notepad and scribbled something on it- presumably the details about his findings. They moved on to the chamber Harry had killed the beast in and found that it had not decomposed at all. Dobby circled the dead beast with something like madness in his eye while Harry stayed wisely away.
"Well, Master Harry, this beastie is big… and useful. The hide can be made into armor, will Master Harry wanting armor?"
"Sure… do you have elves for this as well?"
"Dobby sad… no elvsies for clothes. But Dobby be knowing a shop which will make with measurements… Master no worry, Dobby will take care of it." Harry was beginning to appreciate just how resourceful the little elf was.
"Alright then. Let me know how much gold you need and I'll see if we can afford it." Dobby looked at him as if he was crazy.
"Master can just be selling what he don't need." He explained, as if to a small child.
"Oh… well what do you think I should keep?" Harry asked amused.
"The venom is very rare and expensive. Dobby thinks preserve most of it and sell maybe a few ounces…"
"Few ounces? How much will we get? I did puncture the poison sac." The elf went closer to examine the sac and nodded to himself.
"A snake this size can have from sixty to hundred ounces."
"Dobby may get fifty or more."
"So we sell… say ten ounces?"
"That will bring us thousand galleons." Dobby informed him. Harry blinked as he processed this and a huge grin spread on his face.
"What else is useable?"
"The fangs make wonderful blades. Dobby can have them crafted and magicked… me da was being good at it."
"Wait… you know how to craft weapons?"
"All elvsies have specialties." Dobby nodded. Harry wondered how many wizards knew that. "The small toothies can be made into daggers or spears. The hide is rare but making very good armor. Heart strings for wands and staffs, though Dobby not knowing any good maker. Dobby will search. The eyes be damaged but still good for staffs. The nerves can be used in potions… there being a eye-correcting potion Dobby will commission for yous." The elf nodded to himself. "The meat is prized by several magical species… goblins paying a lot. Giants also like… maybe they can pay in loyalty. Brain and other organs are priceless for potions and also for some very powerful rituals. Blood is also being good for many olde potions. The remaining parts… guts and other thingsies can be sold… not very potent or good but some still use them for potions and rituals."
"Woah. You're one knowledgeable fellow, Dobs." Harry commented wide-eyed, a little intimidated with all the planning the elf had already done.
"Dobby be studying." Dobby blushed at the praise.
"You're the best." Harry beamed and gave the elf a hug. "Now, what was that about rituals?"
"Strengthening rituals, magic boosting rituals, cleansing rituals mainly. Dobby be thinking Master Harry needs strengthening ritual to correct damage bad mugglesies be doing… and cleansing ritual, he has bad magic in his head." Harry's hand flew up to his forehead.
"Uh… do you have books and stuff I can read?" Harry asked softly.
"Master can read from Slytherin library." Dobby pointed out.
"What?" Harry asked gobsmacked.
"There being a library behind that wall." Dobby pointed. "But elvsies cannot get in. Yous find password." He shrugged.
"Right. You work on harvesting the beast… I'll see about the library. Any other rooms in here?" Harry asked faintly, tamping down on his astonishment to get things moving.
"There being bedchambers, big bath, duel room, plant room, potion room, study, storage room, guest rooms."
"Merlin! Did Slytherin live down here?"
"Dobby be thinking so."
"Alright. We'll get to work then."
Dobby popped away and returned with a dozen excited elves who simply attacked the corpse with little glinting tools. It occurred to Harry that Dobby may have forged the tools. He watched the elves work for a while and went to examine the wall. He was shocked to find the snakes twisting around until he could read what it said; it was a riddle in parsel and he assumed the answer had to be in parseltongue.
Once he got in through the the wall, which had slid aside almost noiselessly, Harry was frozen in awe at the sight before him. He was standing in a circular common room of sorts which had a few cozy armchairs around a fireplace. The fire lit automatically when he stepped onto the rich forest green carpet. The walls were decorated with the four Hogwarts crests and between them were several doors spread evenly from the fireplace. Harry opened the first door to find darkness within, however, the moment he stepped in torches lit with a roar to show a wide hallway having several doors and ending in a elaborate double door. Harry surmised this was the master and guest bedrooms and retreated.
He opened the door beside the one that led to the bed chambers to see a beautiful study. There was a fairly large mahogany table, delicately carved and obviously an antique. It was slightly glistening in the flickering light. A high backed chair stood behind the table made of matching wood and having plush green cushions and padded backrest as well as armrests to afford comfort. On the other side plainer chairs with a single cushion each. On the table was a large book, a decorative ink pot with a quill holder which held an elaborate feather (Harry wasn't sure what animal it had come from). Harry walked around to find the table had a set of draws containing parchment, more quills, seals and other daily needs of, he assumed, Salazar Slytherin. The wall opposite had a portrait which was not moving. He ignored it and entered through a door set opposite the door her had come in through. This proved to lead to a larger library than the current Hogwarts library and contained many tomes in different languages and some, to his shock, in parseltongue. He picked up a parsel book that was describing parsel magic to take with him. On a Whim he checked the book on the study table and was excited to find it was a comprehensive book list of the library and it even explained how to use it. Determined to finish his exploration, he left the room, not noticing a pair of sharp dark green eyes watching him.
Next he moved across the fireplace and entered what could only be a dueling room. It was basically a large cavern with swords and other weapons lining one wall and a few dummies half destroyed in a corner. He grinned at the room and fired a random spell, which simply bounced off the walls He retreated happily and hoped into the last room which was undoubtedly a potions lab. A door to the far corner led to an underwater potions garden (he was in awe of the bit of magic making natural sunshine falling gently on the garden). The garden had another door leading out of it and it led to a storage area where all manner of ingredients were preserved under spells and other means. Finishing the circle, the storage led back into the lab.
"So, who exactly are you?" Harry jumped a foot in the air and turned very slowly to face the voice, wand in hand.
"Uh… Hello? I'm Harry…"
"Harry of?" The portrait raised an eyebrow with an amused smirk on his face.
"Um… of Surrey? No… technically I should be of The Potters…" Harry mused.
"Ah, Harry of the Potter clan, is it? Godric's eldest daughter married into the family."
"Huh?" Harry blinked.
"Surely you know your own history child?"
"Sorry, but no. I was orphaned at one and no one taught me anything. I only know my parents names…"
"That is unfortunate. What of books? Family Grimoires?"
"I… don't have them?"
"That cannot be right! Every old family has a Grimoire!"
"Well, then I don't have access to it. Maybe it got lost when the house was destroyed."
"Destroyed… I sense something deeper… tell me child, the whole truth."
"Well…" Harry told him about the Godric's Hollow and how Voldemort had killed his parents and how he failed to kill him. He added that it was all speculation since no one but he survived and he did not remember. With a little prodding, he told the portrait about his life at Dursleys; maybe it was because he was a mere portrait or maybe it was the familiar eyes but Harry found himself being very comfortable revealing secrets no one else knew. He even told about the attempts on his life in first year and second. The triwizard tournament had the man interested.
"What an adventurous life you have had Young man." The portrait praised.
"Sorry sir… terribly rude of me but I didn't catch your name?"
"Silly child! Whose rooms are you exploring?" The man asked with a laugh.
"Slytherin? Oh… You're Salazar Slytherin!" Harry exclaimed.
"Correct. Now, I am curious, how is it that the descendant of Godric speaks the ancient tongue?"
"Ancient?" Harry repeated.
"You had to use it to get in here." Salazar huffed.
"Oh… parseltongue! Um… the headmaster says Voldemort, who is supposedly your heir, passed on some of his powers when I was a baby."
"That's preposterous… unless Slytherin magic chose you… which means someone in your line was my descendant… perhaps your mother?"
"My mother was Muggleborn sir."
"What is a muggleborn?" Salazar asked.
"Um… someone born of muggles."
"Non-magical people." Harry supplied. Salazar nodded in understanding.
"Ah. Well, it may be that her parents were squibs… one of them at least."
"Is that possible?"
"Indeed. A simple blood test should solve things. How good are you at potions?"
"Not very good… the professor hates me."
"Well, I shall have to teach you then." Salazar nodded to himself.
Harry was a bit skeptical seeing as Slytherin was supposed to be evil but who was he to look the gift horse in the mouth? Salazar had Harry retrieve his potions stuff, which Salazar postulated were better than his thousand year old equipment. In case of knives he was right; cauldrons, not so much. So Harry laid out his knife set, scales along with Salazar's cauldron. There was a frame in every room and Salazar was in the frame right in front of the work station.
"First, little one, brew me a simple burn salve." Harry shrugged and removed his first year potions text and started brewing. Salazar watched quietly.
"Finished." Harry announced.
"Not bad. I do not understand why you consider yourself bad, Harry."
"Well… I don't get good grades… Then again it is possible it's because of the professor's hatred of me."
"Possible. Now in that brew, you did not complete a few turns. It was unintentional but it effects your potion. For burn salve, it only decreases the potency by a little bit as evidenced by the slight green tinge."
"Oh… I missed a stir, then?"
"No, you didn't complete the stirs. You assumed it was done and removed the stirrer too early."
"Next time pay attention to details. Potion making is about details and intuition. You need to know your ingredients and how they work and interact with each other. You need to develop a feel for ingredients through knowledge and practice. Then you will produce the best potions."
"Makes sense." Harry nodded in understanding.
"Good. Now, do you know why you added mint?" Salazar asked.
"As I suspected. Go to the library. I'll meet you there." He ordered and promptly dissapeared from the frame in the lab.
"Okay." Harry confusedly obeyed.
"Now, look in the third shelf to the right, all the way to the back on the lowermost shelf. Do you see potion books?" Salazar asked when Harry entered the library.
"Yes. These look very old… and handwritten."
"They are books I wrote for the benefit of my students." Salazar said.
"Awesome…" Harry touched the spine of one reverently.
"Now take out the slim one bound in light brown leather. The title is 'Basic Elements in Potions' Bring it back to the lab." And the portrait in the library was empty again. Harry shook his head at the strange portrait and found the book he was directed to. He returned to the lab.
"So, what now?"
"I want you to read that later. It lays out the common ingredients used in potions and how they interact and why, their properties, their acidity and other unique attributes. It will be useful when you need to correct a potion. If you have questions do not hesitate to ask me."
"Thank you." Salazar nodded.
"Now brew a calming draught." Harry raised a brow and shrugged before he pulled out his second year book. Salazar asked him to brew three more potions before he allowed Harry to clean up.
"From what I can tell, you, child, have natural talent in brewing." Salazar declared much to Harry's shock and wonder. "The problem seems to be the quality of teaching. You do not understand the details. That book will correct it. Despite not knowing things, your brews are acceptable. Your prep work is perfect, you just need to pay attention to amounts and stirs as well as the temperatures and timing. We'll get you there, little snake."
"You're a good teacher, Sal. I mean that's the first useful lesson I've had in potions or any other class really. It helps to know what I'm doing wrong." Harry told him sincerely.
"Of course." The newly christened 'Sal' sniffed. "I am willing to help you in other subjects as well. My library has several self updating books you may use once you get the basics."
"That will be incredible. Could I bring down my friends for dueling practice? I was going to use the chamber but we have a dueling room here…"
"If they are trustworthy, you may bring them, little one. Also there is an exit from the master suit that opens near the great hall. The password in through there is '~Chambers~'"
"I like simple and straightforward." Harry grinned at him.
"It's late, I should return before I am missed."
"Read that book."
"I will. Good night Sal."
"Good night little snake."
Over the next few days, Harry kept disappearing much to the confusion of his girlfriend. Though Cedric and Cho assured her he must be just practicing, the girl could not help worry; she was simply used to Harry telling her almost everything. She decided to catch him one day and followed him from breakfast early. To her shock he hissed at the wall. She was about to take him to Pomfrey, thinking he was caving under pressure, when the wall slid open. She gaped only a moment.
"Harry James Potter!" She called sternly.
"Hermione?" He turned around, halfway through the wall opening. He beamed at her, relieving her fears and motioned her to come over.
"Where are you going?" She demanded. Harry smiled, grabbed her hand and pulled her through the opening. The wall closed in on itself and wall scones lit up the small staircase leading down.
"Harry? Where are we…?"
"You'll see." Harry smirked.
When they reached a door, Hermione's curiosity had taken over. Harry hissed again and the door swung open to a well decorated living room. It had forest green carpet, dark wooden furniture and small pillows in muted colors all over the sofa set. There was a fire-place above which was an enlarged emblem similar to Slytherin crest. The remaining walls were decorated with tapestries and portraits.
"Where is this?" She asked in awe.
"Salazar Slytherin's chambers. This is the main hall. Come here." He led her into a wide hallway. "Each door leads to a guest room. This door to the common area of sorts, I call it foyer." She looked around with wide eyes. "From here through that door is a dueling room, that one goes to potions lab and the last one to a library."
"Library?" She perked up.
"Yes, you may see it." Harry chuckled and led her over. "Hello Sal, meet Hermione Granger."
"Your Lady? Nice to meet you my dear." Sal bowed in his portrait. Hermione stared for a full minute before she pointed rudely at the painting and turned on Harry.
"Saa….Salaz…Salazar Slytherin?!" She demanded. A little scared, he nodded. "You… he… he is evil?"
"That's rude." Sal pouted. "I am not evil. Harry tells me I have a reputation… and let me tell you it is false."
"So you don't hate muggleborns?"
"How could I? My lovely wife was a first generation witch. By your society's standards my children would be half-bloods…I myself was born of a first generation wizard and my mothers magical ancestry went back five generations." Sal explained haughtily.
"Oh…" Hermione deflated a little.
"He is really nice, Mione. Sal's been teaching me stuff… from potions to spells."
"That's what you've been up to." She whispered.
"Yep. Sorry, I got preoccupied. I'm also having Dobby and the others clean up outside. Come let me show you before I loose you in here."
"A girl after Rowena's heart, then?" Sal asked. Hermione blushed.
"You don't know the half of it, Sal." Harry chuckled. "We'll be right back."
Harry showed the half harvested basilisk to her and the girl nearly fainted.
"Harry, how big was it… if this is the half harvested version?"
"About seventy feet? Let me ask Dobby. Dobby?"
"Master Harry needing something?"
"Hermione wants to know how long the beast was." The elf turned to her and paled a little before collecting himself.
"Seventy eight feet and five inches." Dobby referred to his notes.
"Is that…?" Hermione pointed to the notepad.
"Elves think the muggle stationary is handy." Harry explained. "How's the harvesting and selling going?"
"Harvesting being good. We being finished in one week. Dobby be saving the hide, eyes, half the blood and most of venom. The meat, I is haggling."
"The goblin want to pay ten galleons, Dobby says twenty-five."
"Twenty five? For all of it?" Hermione asked wondering if that wasn't too cheap. Dobby gave her 'the look'.
"No Master Harry's Grangy. Twenty-five per pound." The girl's eyes bugged out.
"Basilisk meat being rare delicacy." The elf shrugged. "Dobby thinks he can get twenty per pound. The giants offer to supply building materials when wes needing them."
"Why would we need building materials?" Harry asked confused. He got 'the look' and a deep sigh.
"Master has many homes that needing repair. The Potter manor is nearing crumbling, Master no wanting his home to be perfect?" He asked almost accusingly.
"Uh… I didn't even know I had homes."
"Then Master needs to go to Gringott's to find out." The elf sighed, seemingly exasperated.
"Right, I'll do that." Harry agreed.
"Dobby cans pop yous over, if yous wanting?"
"Sure. Let me finish a few things first." The elf nodded. "So… how many pounds are we selling?"
"The whole beast would weigh more than seven thousand, including the hide and bones. The blood, bones, heart and other parts, and hide will make about two thousand… thats Five thousand… yes… eleven thousand pounds, Ms. Grangy."
"At twenty that's…"
"220,000 Galleons. But Dobby be selling only nine thousand pounds to goblins, the rest is going to the giants."
"But don't the giants eat more?"
"There being only eight giants. There being many goblins. And this being business." Hermione nodded thoughtfully.
"Dobby is also talking to merpeople. They being difficult though."
"They want to trade a single gem for all the meat. Evil fishies." Harry chuckled and patted Dobby's shoulder.
"Save the heart strings and eyes, I think I can get Sal to help with them later."
"Anything else I need to know?"
"Not right now."
"Okay then. Good work Dobby, I'll be in the lab for the day." Dobby nodded and popped back to supervise the elf teams.
"You are paying them?"
"I am paying the harvesting team. Dobby, I am not. He wanted to bond to me and he won't take money from me."
"Let me finish." Harry glared, inwardly cursing his elf for popping away before Hermione could demand answers from him. "Instead of a salary, he is going to get bonuses for excellent work. I still have to convince him to take and use it. If all else fails, I'll gift him stuff. As far as I'm concerned Dobby is part of the family, so he is free to use the gold in my vault. Currently, he is working to increase the amount." He added thoughtfully.
"Listen, talk to him. He told me interesting things about elves and you should hear it from the mouth of the horse. You saw him just now looking happy and in his element!" Harry protested, wanting to foist off this particular task on the elf.
"I guess. Fine, I will talk to him."
Satisfied with that, he ushered the girl into the library and removed himself to the lab. They were going to brew the special potion today to figure out his ancestry.
"Ready?" Salazar asked.
"I think so. I have the recipe here. And you're watching to make sure I'm fine. If anything happens Dobby will know to come for me."
"Good. Get started."
Harry worked in silence, cutting, slicing, cubing, crushing, mincing, and shredding various ingredients. The potion had quite a few ingredients and required constant motion, either adding things or stirring in a specific way. Depending on the ingredients used, the potion could go back two generations up to five hundred. It was possible to go back some more but it required two ingredients Harry had no clue how to obtain. Besides within hundred Generations, he was bound to find some familiar names and go from there. Salazar was sure there were no more that 50 generations between them if that many (he was adamant that Harry was his descendant as well as Godric's). So, they went for a hundred generation history. Harry had a large stack of parchment ready to record what came out.
After nearly one hour of brewing, the potion was set aside to cool. After a further fifteen minutes, he filled vials making about ten doses of the potion, with the shelf life of at least a year. Harry then took the ceremonial knife Salazar had in his study and sliced his palm. He let the blood fall into a wooden bowl until it reached a pre-marked point-about ten milliliters. He then took one of the vial and tipped it into the bowl. The bright purple potion darkened as it mixed with the blood and started changing colors. It flashed nearly all the colors of the rainbow before settling on a blinding white. Harry took an ordinary quill and dipped it in the potion, chanting a short spell that he had been practicing for a few days.
Salazar looked on with a smug smile. The child truly was good at potions given he received proper instructions. The potion was in a word perfect and he looked forward to see the family of the little snake traced back to his time. It took a while for the magic to run its course. Harry took the time to clean up his workspace and put away the potions safely. He washed his hands of the residue and came back just in time to see the parchment ready.
"Okay… how do you read this?" Harry asked looking at a lot of names arranged in some kind of order.
"Cast the other spell to put it all into a tree on a single parchment."
"Uh… okay." Harry did as asked and watched as the parchments fused and became one large roll. He used sticking charms to put the giant chart on the wall opposite Salazar's portrait.
"Let's see… that's me. There's mum and dad. Lily and James Potter. Mum's parents… huh looks like grandpa was a squib?" He paused at Grandpa Evans.
"Yes that symbol means squib. The muggle grandmother's line will no longer be shown."
"So it's all based on magic. If someone was a true muggleborn, the tree would end at the parents."
"Look for the year on the right to sift through ancestors."
"Ok… 930, right?"
"Close, I was born 929, Godric 925, Helga and Rowena were born 935 and 936."
"Alright, here we go… damn you were right!" Harry grumbled as he spotted Salazar Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor. He was however shocked speechless to see Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff as well. "But… all four?" He stuttered.
"Of course." Salazar said. "I and Helga were married as were Godric and Rowena… don't they teach you history?"
"Nothing but goblin wars." Salazar grimaced.
"No matter. Now, we know you are one of the, if not the heir of Hogwarts."
"What does that mean… exactly?" Harry asked warily.
"It means, you could simply control the school and fix it for me." Salazar said almost casually.
"What?!" Harry fell over in shock from his chair.
"I heard you talk about a completely incompetent potions teacher, a ghost that only teaches goblin wars, a drunkard with delusions of being a seer and overall inattentive irresponsible teachers." Sal explained.
"Uh…" Harry wasn't sure how to respond to that; it was after all true.
"Even if you, child, do not see it, I do. I want you to, somewhere down the line correct the mistakes of the headmasters past."
"Now the next thing you need to do is go to Gringott's and ask for an inheritance test. I am hoping you are my true heir and not Riddle. I'm sure you're Godric's and Rowena's heir."
"I really don't want all the attention." Harry grumbled.
"Child, you're a powerful wizard. You're bound to attract attention, you might as well learn to use it to your advantage." Sal smirked.
"I suppose." Harry grumbled, knowing deep down Sal was being practical and completely right… even if he loathed the attention.
The following day Harry made plans to go to Gringott's where they declared Harry was an adult due to being declared so by the ministry. His blood test revealed he was indeed The Heir of all four founders… if he wanted he would be able to take up their titles. Knowing what Salazar would want, he immediately put on his rings- including Potter Lordship and Black heir ring. He grumbled about not being normal but then was given a large portfolio of his holdings. He spent the remainder of the day trying to understand his accounts and taking his account manager's advice in a few of the ventures.
"Good." Salazar proclaimed when Harry got back.
"It means you can access certain things and I can help you defeat Riddle."
"From your stories, it is obvious the fool has made horcruxes. There are easy ways to deal with these things." Harry blinked and rushed to the library, guessing that's where his mentor disappeared to. He was directed to the table in the study with the book list and was told to say his full name and asking for books on Horcrux. Harrison James Potter-Gryffindor-Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff-Slytherin had two thin books in his hand.
Harry poured over the books in his spare time. He continued his training with Cedric and with Salazar separately until the clean up was done. He brought his friends down to the chamber- Neville, Cedric, Cho and (reluctantly, Ginny). They were awed by the magnificence of the structures in the main chamber and gleeful when he showed them the dueling chamber.
"Wow. This is incredible. How did you get the idea to come here?" Cedric asked.
"Well, I asked my elf Dobby. Resourceful little guy. From there a bit of exploration."
"This is great mate… all of us can practice in here." Neville commented. Cho and Ginny were simply struck dumb.
"Yeah, I have someone to introduce to you." Harry grinned.
"Not the basilisk?" Ginny whispered.
"No, the snake is dead, Gin. Now, turn around all of you. Let me introduce you to Salazar Slytherin, the most cunning of the founders of Hogwarts."
"Good evening, Children." Sal greeted.
The next few moments were chaos. Cho fainted in shock. Ginny screamed. Cedric stared at the portrait. Neville looked like he wanted to run and was trying to drag Ginny and the unconscious Cho with him.
"Guys!" No one heard. "GUYS! He is a portrait, really what can he do?"
"I can use terrible language." Sal suggested.
"Not helping." Harry glared. "He's harmless and dare I say it a good guy."
Cho was by that time enervated and joined the others in staring at him.
"Look these are his chambers and he agreed to let us use them." He pointed out.
"Come now, I'm not that scary." Sal pouted.
"Unfortunately, your reputation is." Harry quipped dryly.
"When are you fixing that?" The ancient portrait demanded.
"Um… I'm not sure how, Sal but I'll do what I can." Harry assured him.
"So… Slytherin wasn't evil?"
"Merlin, no." Sal snorted. "If anyone was evil it should be Godric. He is the one who used to torment all the unwed maidens."
"Godric…" Neville muttered looking a bit lost. Ginny giggled next to him.
"Oh yes. And Rowena was the one who threatened to hex men's jewels off. Probably why she was able to reign in that cur."
"What of Hufflepuff?" Cedric asked.
"Ah, my sweet wife." Sal smiled to himself. "Helga was the kindest and most wonderful woman. She had a temper as well, strong-willed and formidable but just as soft hearted."
"You loved her." Cho said softly.
"Of course. My Helga gave me three wonderful boys and two lovely daughters, even if they took after their godmother Rowena." He said wistfully.
"I'd like to think, I was the peaceful sort… unless Godric got on my nerves. Potions, Herbology and Animals were my forte. Helga was the healer. Rowena was the one who set the curriculum and Godric ran the school- frankly we felt he was no good for anything but getting into trouble but the children loved learning from him, sword fight and transfiguration."
"So you taught Potions, Herbology and Care?"
"Oh no. I only taught Potions and Herbology- it was more of a combined class back then. The knowledge of Magical creatures was taken by Godric- he had a certain knack for them, though I helped care for the beasts in the forest. I took care of all the gardens myself."
"What did Rowena and Helga teach?" Harry asked curiously. They hadn't talked of the past yet.
"Rowena was a seer and helped the others with the gift. She also taught Runes, arithmancy and warding. She was also quite good at spell crafting and helped any student who was interested. Helga taught charms, astronomy and healing in addition to serving as a healer."
"Hah, women were smarter even back then." Ginny grinned.
"Oh I have no doubt child." Salazar grinned. "Now enough talking. I want to see you duel!"
The teens laughed at his exuberance and started off with their training, starting with dodging while the rest fired stinging hexes. This way the others worked on their aim and even had fun. The first to dodge was Harry. Ten minutes later, Neville took his place. Then Cedric, Ginny, Cho and even Hermione, who emerged from 'her spot' in the library, took their turns. They then practiced 'power casting' which was to put in as much power as one could into a spell. Salazar told them it helped increase their reserves and made them stronger. They paired off for this and one shielded while the other cast powerful stunners. Salazar hadn't told them but they soon found out that the walls were charmed to not harm them when they crashed. It greatly helped their training.
"You lack stamina." Sal commented once they were ready to return.
"We do? How to increase it?" Cedric asked.
"Do you have any physical exercise class?"
"Then start running in the mornings. Around the lake. Start with one lap and increase until you can run five."
"Five laps?!" Neville asked startled.
"It's to build up your body and core. It will help in the long run." Salazar explained in his no-nonsense tone.
"Alright. I'll do it." Cedric declared.
"Um… I'll join you." Cho decided.
"I'm in." Harry added.
"Me too. It sounds like a challenge." Ginny mused.
"Alright, I'll come along." Neville sighed. They all looked at Hermione who looked like a deer caught in headlights.
"What? Me? No no no… I can't run… no thanks. I'm good… really!"
"Mione, you're spending too much time indoors. I think you should do it." Harry said gently, taking her into his arms.
"And why should I?" she demanded.
"You'll be stronger and able to learn more magic that way." He pointed out.
"I hate you Potter." She hissed, unable to fault his logic… she did want to learn as much magic as she could.
"You love me. And to sweeten the deal, I promise a snog after every exercise." He grinned roguishly.
"You're supposed to do that anyway." Hermione giggled.
"An extra snog." Harry corrected himself importantly.
"Oh fine." She huffed. "But don't you laugh when I can't run as far as you."
"Promise." Harry nodded.
The succeeding few days the entire castle was confused at the group who started running every morning without fail before breakfast. The Slytherins taunted them and the others watched in amusement and confusion. The group ignored them all. Even the teachers were curious about their activities.
"Why are you all running?" Minerva McGonagall was the first to ask, after a few days of running around the lake.
"Hello, Professor." They all greeted.
"We found out recently that having a fit body strengthens our bodies and cores. Therefore, we have taken up running." Harry explained.
"Well, a healthy body is necessary for remaining strong but where did you hear about the core?"
"Word of mouth, Professor." Harry grinned. "Anyway, it wouldn't hurt me and Cedric to get some muscles. Our lovely girlfriends and our friends thought they'd give us company."
"We are enjoying ourselves. I feel more energetic after running." Ginny added.
McGonagall looked around at the happy lively faces and gave them a rare smile.
"As long as you are careful. If there is any problem breathing or cramps, you must go to Poppy, immediately. Do not push yourself too much and get yourself sick." She warned. She got determined nods from the students and left with a spring to her step.
In the days leading up to the third task, the students lost the interest they previously had in the running teens, especially as the other champions and Luna joined them. Viktor and Luna seemed to have formed a bond as did Agnes and Marko. Harry fully expected them to end the year as couples. Only Fleur was left in that department but she assured her new friends that she was waiting for the right man… Roger didn't quite make it. The teens became very close during this time, though Harry did not ask them to join them in the chamber for the first few weeks and finally did so after they promised to keep it quiet. Harry mused it would become public knowledge soon, if this went on.
A month before the task Bagman called all the champions together and explained the task to them. The four boys were understandably upset.
"The third task will be taking place here." Bagman announced, not noticing how the Hogwarts' Champions froze.
"What did you do to our pitch!" Cedric asked in horror.
"Whose bright idea was this?!" Harry demanded angrily.
"Now, don't worry, the pitch will be restored…" Bagman tried to placate them.
"That's not the point!" Cedric shouted.
"How could you!" Harry fumed.
"Dis is preposterous." Viktor agreed.
"De English are very strange." Marko agreed. Fleur and Agnes kept snickering; they didn't care for Quidditch much but understood the boys' irritation.
"Well… anyway…" Bagman continued, looking like he wanted to hide from the glares. "Any guesses on what you are seeing?"
"A sacrilege." Cedric muttered.
"An insult to all Qudditch players and fans all over the world." Harry said clearly, intensifying his already fierce glare.
"Foolishness." Viktor added.
"Disgrace." Marko nodded.
"Now, boys…" Bagman was by now sweating profusely.
"Just get on vith eet, Monsieur Bagman." Agnes waved her hand at him.
"Oui, I do not wish to waste my time." Fleur added.
"Yes, yes… very well. Um… this is a maze which is still growing. By the time of the task it should be ten feet tall. Your task is to navigate the maze and reach the cup in the center. The one who reaches the cup first will be declared winner." He ran through it quickly, anxious to get away from four very murderous looks.
"Zen… what if more than one reaches the cup at the same time?" Fleur asked.
"This is individual competition, however if that does happen, the one with the higher marks previously will be declared winner."
"So if Cedric and Viktor touch the cup together, Cedric would win?" Harry asked.
"What if Harry and Cedric touch it together?" Marko asked.
"Zey have ze same score…" Agnes mused.
"Ah… The judges will decide based on performance." The champions nodded, deciding to give the portly man a break. "Now, The entry will be based on your existing points and there will be obstacles, so prepare well. Report here at six sharp on Twenty-fourth of June. That is all! Good luck Champions!"
The group shuffled away grumbling. They spent the next few days wondering about the obstacles.
"Harry, you don't think they'd use Hagrid's beasts?" Cedric asked.
"Bloody… I hope not but knowing them…"
"We better prepare." Cedric said grimly.
"Should we tell the others?" Harry asked worriedly.
"I don't see why not. There is nothing in the rules that says we can't help each other. I don't want our friends to get killed because they didn't know."
"No, I'd rather celebrate with them, no matter who wins." Harry agreed, relieved Cedric understood.
"Besides that, I am worried." Cedric admitted.
"Why?" Harry tilted his head in confusion.
"Well your entry was not a fluke was it?" Cedric said quietly.
"No… I still think someone's out to get me."
"The first two tasks were normal… nothing happened. Don't you think the third task will be when you will be attacked somehow?"
"Shit… I guess you're right. I better go in prepared for should split up." Harry frowned.
"I'm going with you." Cedric crossed his arms.
"I don't want you to get hurt." The younger wizard protested.
"The same applies to you. We'll be careful and get out alive, whatever the trap. You could use back up."
"Alright but you will put on the armor I will provide." Harry decided, recalling Dobby had identified a good armor-smith.
"Basilisk hide. Dobby has mine ready and I'll have him take your measurements as well… It should be ready in a week."
"So you harvested the whole basilisk?"
"It is mine by conquest." Harry shrugged.
"Alright, I'll agree to the armor." Cedric nodded.
"Thanks." Harry smiled. "Let's train?"
They told the remaining champions their suspicions and told them to be on guard, just in case. They agreed to keep an eye out for any interference and to take down whoever it is that intended to get Harry killed- not that the 'leetle boy' couldn't handle the tournament but the intent was he'd die.
"All right there Harry?" Hermione asked softly. They were standing near the Judges' table, waiting for the task to start.
"Not really. What exactly is that woman's problem?" He groused.
Molly Weasley and her brood had come over as his 'family'. Remus and Padfoot were also there but the woman had shoved the two men aside. Harry though considered both his godfathers family and was upset at Molly's treatment of them. To further annoy him, she had spotted Hermione holding his hand and had made rude comments about how uncomely it was to hold hands even if they were best friends and how Ginny was so nice to not mind. Behind her Ginny had been red with anger and her wand only stayed away because Neville held her wand arm. Finally, Harry told her in clipped tones that Hermione was his girlfriend and as such had every right to hold his hand and more. He proved it by kissing her thoroughly, much to the marauders' amusement. Before Molly could respond with shouting Ginny told her mother not to bother Harry and that she was dating Neville. Harry then grabbed Remus and his 'dog' and walked off to the lake where they spent the time with Neville and Ginny who had followed. He wasn't sure where Molly was but he hoped not to see her anytime soon.
"Calm down love. She just had dreams of you marrying into the family. I don't think she meant anything bad." Hermione soothed.
"You're right." Harry sighed, it had been hours since he had to face that woman and he was still upset.
"And you should calm down before they call you in." She reminded.
"I can't… I'm nervous."
"I can think of a thing or two to help." She mused.
"Yeah?" She leaned in as if to kiss and Harry was hit with a rictumsempra point blank.
"Mione! Hahahaha stop it! hahah…." Hermione looked on with a smug smile until Cedric, ever the loyal friend, hit her with the same hex. A moment later Cho hit her boyfriend and someone from the crowd hit Cho. Before long everyone in front of the maze and a few in the audience were laughing uncontrollably. When Albus arrived with the other judges and Bagman, they were stunned for a few moments before they quickly ended the hexes on everyone.
"You are something else, Mione." Harry told her once both were recovered but red in the face from all the laughing. She gave him a sweet smile and bestowed a loving kiss on him for good luck.
The event started with Bagman doing his usual stunts and a loud whistle. Harry and Cedric were tied for the top spot and so entered together. As soon as they were in, the maze closed behind them. With a shrug they turned right and continued roughly towards the center. They soon came upon a dark figure- dementors which Harry dispatched with his patronus, only to find it had transformed into a some creepy multi-coloured thing that made Cedric pale. Harry laughed as he realized what they were facing and hit it with a riddickulus. Cedric realized what had happened and shaking his head conjured a chest and together they forced the boggart into the trunk. Harry cast a locking charm on it and left it out of the way. They moved on just as the second whistle went off.
Agnes walked in, wishing Fleur was with her for this. However, since Fleur was a few points behind her, she had to go in alone. She walked fearfully into the dark maze and turned left, not noticing the maze closing behind her. She walked for a few minutes without encountering anything when she saw something move in the hedges. She fired a stunner at whatever it was only to realise in horror that it was one of those infamous blast-ended skrewts. Thanking her friends mentally, she cast several freezing charms on the beast, slowing it down. It was larger than she expected and took more precise casting on her part but soon the thing was frozen and it cracked when he kicked it for burning her leg. Well, it was now a dead skrewt. She shrugged and moved on.
Fleur was allowed to enter next and the maze opened up straight ahead for her. She shrugged and went forward, wondering if she could fireball her way through the hedges. Her thoughts came to a stop when she saw a huge acromantula. Her instincts kicked in and she let loose a fire-ball frying the beast until it was blackened and decidedly dead. She felt no remorse at all and hopped over the corpse in her journey through the maze.
Viktor waited impatiently for his turn. His little Luna gave him a sweet kiss which had him wanting to show her what he could do. He finally walked in confident in his prowess. He turned right and walked past a strange chest in minutes. Shrugging as the chest wasn't doing anything he went on. The maze shifted suddenly and he frowned as he took the left path. He soon came upon a stretch of a few feet which was filled with burning coals. He considered what to do and decided to vault over the pit. At the last minute he saw the creatures within the pit and paled. Why couldn't Harry come across snakes, especially the ones that could jump several feet in the air and were poisonous? He grumbled to himself and rethought his strategy. He eventually had to recall his lessons on ashwinders and based on the fact that they hated ice and stayed away from it, he conjured a wide ice bridge. He hurried over it before it melted.
Marko was getting very agitated since he wanted to be in there not out here waiting. He was relieved when Bagman told him it was his turn in thirty seconds; he jogged in without delay eager to participate. He turned a few times and was getting bored not encountering anything when he came face to face with a lion. He blinked along with the giant cat before they both roared. The lion sat back in surprise as Marko scrambled back in fear. He retreated behind a hedge and disillusioned himself while he calmed his heart. Once his mental faculties had returned, he pondered his problem and with a grin aimed his wand at the animal. A moment later a small kitten meowed. Marko simply pet the confused cat which wondered how it got so small and continued on his way.
Many obstacles faced the champions but as they were well prepared for the creatures they had to face, it was not too much of a hassle. The illusions though were a bit of a problem. When Viktor walked into a golden haze, he was very worried when he seemed to be walking upside down. However, he used Luna's unique perspective to get over it. Harry and Cedric faced the illusion of the cup, unfortunately they simultaneously touched something slimy and completely gross- a tree stump filled with flobberworms. Fleur had her allure turned on her when some weird sound beckoned her into a swamp. It was fortuitous that Marko walked nearby and dispelled the swamp before she could drown. Agnes hd been engaged in a battle for her life- or so it seemed to her; the spectators only saw the french girl twisting and twirling, jumping and dodging for no reason until someone proposed that she was suffering an illusion.
As the tournament dragged on Harry was getting a bit tired. He was thankful for the extra training they had undertaken in the morning and knew that without it he'd have sent up those red sparks long ago. Beside him Cedric was also doing the same. They were about to turn left when a scream startled the boys. They shared a look and ran towards the sound. They came upon Fleur being strangled by Devil's snare.
"Fleur! Calm down!" Harry shouted from afar.
"Shit she is panicking." Cedric muttered. The two boys quickened their steps and reached the girl in seconds. They both had already cast lumos solaris on the plant. The combined spell caused the plant to shrivel up and die. Cedric carried Fleur away from the walls, in case there was another evil plant.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked in concern. Fleur was covered in red welts and her neck was the worst affected. The bloody plant was trying to kill her! Her dress was ripped where the thorns had been and she was also bleeding from a few bruises.
"Merci… vous m'a sauve!" She croaked.
"She said 'you saved me' in french." Cedric translated.
"Can you continue? Should we send up sparks?"
"Oui… I am… finished." She nodded.
"Okay, rest now. Madam Pomfrey will take care of you." She smiled and closed her eyes. They made her comfortable and sent up sparks for her. The boys then took off towards the next challenge. Moments later, McGonagall had rescued the girl from the maze and took her to the mediwitch.
At about the same time, Agnes happened to see her boyfriend of a few weeks and called out to him. He turned around and together they faced the next challenge- a deep pit which seemed to be filled with venomous snakes. Something was keeping the snakes from crawling out. They tried to build a bridge but the magic had failed. They were at a loss as to what to do when Agnes suggested they use a plank. She transfigured a few branches into a thick plank, wide enough to allow them to walk. Marko slid the plank to the other side. The magic held. Just to be sure they each transfigured an animal and had them walk through. Satisfied of it's safety they made it across one by one, eyes froward away from the snakes.
Agnes and Marko continued together and it was after about fifteen minutes that they met another friend. Viktor was standing at the middle of a circular clearing into which several paths led. Marko called out to the famous champion who seemed to be lost in thought as he stared at one of the entrances. To their utter surprise, Viktor turned with his wand in hand and started dispensing some very dark curses. Agnes and Marko dived to the side but Agnes was caught in a cruciatus curse while Marko rolled back onto his feet. He was hesitant to attack his friend who had become so close, so blasted the ground in front of him. Viktor flew back and crashed into the hedge and was bounced back towards Marko.
Marko barely checked to see Agnes was alright when a bright red beam headed his way. He instinctually dodged but unfortunately Agnes had decided to sit up and got hit by the torture curse once again. Marko screamed in Bulgarian to stop the older boy but he was enraged at the attack on his girl. He started sending furious curses at Viktor designed to incapacitate him. To his utter horror and incredulity, Viktor was using dark hexes on him. It was true that Durmstrang practiced some dark arts but none so dark as what Viktor was throwing at him. He also happened to know that Viktor despised the curses that harmed others- he would use dark healing curses and some minor hexes but nothing like the ones that had in the past harmed his dear mother. This behavior was unbecoming of his friend but he was hard pressed to simply defend himself and Agnes, making it impossible to talk some sense into Viktor or even find out what was wrong.
It was into the furious battle that Cedric and Harry walked in. While Cedric gaped, Harry watched Viktor closely. He soon determined the cause as the imperious curse.
"Cedric. Make sure Marko will be fine. I need to find the responsible one."
"Imperious. look at Viktor's eyes."
"Bloody hell… ok I'll back up Marko. Go." Harry was already invisible.
Cedric first removed Agnes from line of fire and then stood in front of her, behind Marko, to help the teen. Harry meanwhile used a parsel spell to scan the area for magical signatures. Apart from the signatures of the four of them and the weak ones from various creatures, there was one coming from the maze wall next to one of the openings. Activating his mage-sight, he realized who it was. He had been practicing the spell in class so he had a good grasp on things. He recognized the particular outline of this person- Moody. Thinking quickly he pointed his wand, appearing as if he was pointing at Viktor.
"Accio magical eye!" He whispered hoping it would work. "Stupefy! Stupefy!" He then sent several stunners at the hidden person. Moody fell out of the hedge on the fourth spell, as he had very limited movement in the hedge. Harry then turned and stunned Viktor.
"Are you alright?" Harry jogged over to Marko who had crumbled to his knees."
"Ne… Gubi… su…" He fainted.
"He's hurt bad!" Harry exclaimed. Cedric helped Agnes over to Marko.
"Non! Marko! Se levez, mon amour!"
"Hey, calm down. He's alive and we'll get him help." Harry sent up sparks. "Are you alright?"
"E sent ze pain curse."
"Twice." She nodded, tiredly lying down next to Marko. "I can not continue." She said sadly.
"It's alright. You did very well so far." Harry soothed. Cedric levitated Viktor over to them.
"He is also hurt pretty bad. Looks like he was attacked by a skrewt before his duel. Some poison is spreading."
"Will he be able to continue?" Harry asked.
"Don't know if he is still under the curse." Cedric replied.
"I'll send up two more sparks." Harry decided as Cedric used his limited medical knowledge to stop the extensive bleeding on both Bulgarians.
They waited with the hurt champions as McGonagall and Flitwick came through.
"Mr. Potter! What is going on here?"
"No time, Professor. Viktor was imperioused and dueled with Marko, both were bleeding badly, Cedric sealed the wounds as best as he could."
"Marko is worse." Cedric added.
"Agnes was put under crucio."
"Very well, time for explanations is later. There were three sparks and I am assuming it was on behalf of the three hurt champions?" The boys nodded. "Go on and finish this, Mr. Potter, Mr. Diggory. We will take care of things."
"One more thing, professor. Moody was the one who cast the imperious. He's over there, stunned. You better secure him."
"What?" The professor reared back in shock.
"I don't know if that is really Moody but…" Harry shook his head.
"I see. Go. I will personally secure him." McGonagall promised with lips pursed tightly.
"Thanks. Let's go Cedric."
They ran off towards Moody, deciding he must have been guarding the entrance to the path which led to the cup.
There they met a beautiful lady with the body of a lion who quirked her eyebrow at them.
"Uh…" Harry and Cedric stared at the bare breasts before a cough from the Sphinx caused them to give her sheepish smiles.
"The shortest path to the cup is behind me. Answer my riddles and I shall allow you passage. Answer wrong and face me in battle. Decide to walk away and I shall not follow thee."
"Riddles? I'm not that good at this…" Cedric muttered.
"Might as well hear her out. We may get lucky."
"Alright." Cedric whispered back and turned to the sphinx. "Um, what is the riddle?"
"There are two as there are two of you." The boys nodded, a small notepad and muggle pen in hand.
"Consider first the end of the rainbow and the beginning of the world; then ponder the past of consumption. End the thought by beginning of a rainbow and middle of the world. Now tell me, put together, what is it that sustains life, falls from the sky and furrows through the soil?
"Uh…" Cedric scratched his head. "That's a tough one."
"No kidding. I have absolutely no clue… um… let's work through this slowly…"
"We can try. I wish our smart girls were here."
"Bet Hermione would have it a second." Harry snorted.
"Excuse me, Ms. Sphinx?"
"The name is Diana."
"Er… right Diana. May I confirm if the puzzle is in parts?" Harry asked.
"I suppose it won't hurt… and the answer is yes."
"Thanks." He turned back to Cedric and continued in a whisper. "Let's take it apart."
"Okay first part… Consider end of a rainbow and and beginning of world… End of the rainbow is leprechaun gold."
"No cedric, it's a riddle not a quiz. And since it is in parts, we are looking at the whole puzzle ending in a single word or maybe two words." Harry scolded lightly.
"Oh… Then… What's at the end of a rainbow?" Cedric pondered.
"At the beginning of world?" The older teen raised a brow.
"No can't be bow."
"Wait, can it be a letter?"
"Sure… wait… the letter 'W'!" Harry beamed at his partner.
"Wonderful!" Harry snickered.
"Stop it." The older wizard ordered, though amused.
"Right so we got the first letter."
"The next part says past of consumption."
"Consumption is not a verb." Cedric frowned.
"No genius." Harry rolled his eyes. "How about consume?"
"Consumed? How does that make sense?"
"Don't know. Let's see the last part."
"Again Rainbow… this time the beginning and the middle of world."
"Er… letter again?"
"Let's see… R…middle is also R."
"So the word begins with W and ends with 's in the middle?" Harry asked himself.
"Consumed." Cedric answered drily.
"No… try something else." Harry punched the boys' shoulder to get him be serious.
"Don't know. The last bit refers to the answer as a whole. Sustains life, falls from sky and furrows soil." Harry mused.
"Weird." Cedric drawled.
"Wish I had a thesaurus."
"What is that?" The pureblood asked confused.
"Um a dictionary, only it gives words that mean the same thing." Harry explained.
"So we are looking for something that means the same as consumed?" Cedric asked thoughtfully.
"Yeah." They both pondered the problem while the Sphinx waited patiently.
"Eat." It was Cedric who spoke.
"Consume can mean eat, less sophisticated." Cedric shrugged.
"Past is ATE… that makes our answer WATER… water sustains life."
"Falls from the sky as rain but the last bit?"
"Oh furrowing soil? Water, when it flows digs up trenches and rivers and so on." Harry informed him, recalling his primary school science class.
"So the answer is water?" Cedric asked.
"One way to find out."
"Right I'm ready for battle." Harry threw Cedric, who actually looked ready to battle a Sphinx, an amused look.
"We have the answer: Water." The sphinx stared for a long moment and then sighed.
"I just came up with that one! No fair." She whined.
"Sorry?" Harry answered.
"It's alright. Your answer is correct and you were supposed to answer after all." She flicked her hair in a huff.
"The next puzzle…" She started.
"Can it be a bit easier this time?" Cedric asked.
"What exactly is easy?" The sphinx asked.
"Um… how about 'What is one and one put together?' that's simple."
"Are you so sure, young one?" Cedric nodded.
"No!" Harry shouted but too late.
"Very well. What is one and one put together?" Harry did the next best thing and clamped his hand onto Cedric's mouth. Then silenced the older boy for good measure.
"Shut up or I will stun you." Harry growled.
"Ah, smart one aren't you?" Sphinx mused.
"One and one if added give you two. If put side by side make eleven. If one of them is female and other male it could be three, four or any number depending on how many times they procreate. If it's the count of letters you wish, the answer is six. If you want something more complicated then one and one together could also be 1011, the binary equivalent to decimal eleven. Come to think of it… 1 and 1 together in binary is a decimal three. And may I say it is completely unfair to take this idiot's suggestions."
"That… can I borrow that book?" she asked eagerly.
"Why?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"I only knew about 2 and 11… the other ones I need to note down to trip up my big brother… please?" She looked like a cute pup for a moment, begging for a treat and Harry blinked.
"Uh… will you let us pass, then?" The green eyed champion asked slowly.
"Of course. As far as I'm concerned you got both answers right. I'll overlook that you answered both." She shrugged. "The book… and the pen, if you will."
"Here. You can keep it." Harry handed it over. He was sure Dobby had more he could use.
"Thanks! What's your name Wizard?"
"Harry Potter." Harry told her, not expecting another fan in a sphinx of all creatures.
"THE Harry Potter?! Oh my! Would you mind signing one of these pages here? I'm a huge fan! Heard you got that nasty basilisk. Amazing, absolutely amazing." She gushed.
"I'm sure that's fine." He signed the first blank page 'To Diana with love- Harry Potter'. The Sphinx was ecstatic.
"What you don't want to know my name?" Cedric asked pouting once he remembered the finite charm.
"What is it?" Diana asked sounding bored.
"Cedric Diggory at your service." The teen bowed with flourish.
"Ah… never heard of you." Diane smirked.
"I'm hurt." The Hufflepuff sniffed loudly.
"Don't worry, we Sphinxes will soon recognize your name." She assured him.
"Really?" Cedric perked up and his eyes brightened.
"As Harry Potter's hilarious friend." Diana continued.
"I guess that's something." He grumbled.
"Come on, you git." Harry dragged the boy by the arm to their next challenge. "See you around Diana.
"You bet!" She called back and giggled.
"Some people have all the luck." The older teen groused.
"Would you like me to pass the sentiment to Cho?" Harry asked with a sideways look.
"If you do, I'll tell Hermione." Cedric scowled.
"Go ahead. She knows lots of girls throw themselves at me only to settle down as good friends." He just had to smile smugly.
"Really? Name one." Cedric asked curiously.
"Well, Ginny used to have a crush on me until she fell for Neville." Harry pointed out.
"She doesn't count." Cedric growled.
"And why not?"
"She just doesn't."
"Fine, how about the Gryffindor chasers?" Harry raised a brow challengingly.
"They crushed on you?!" He could not help but shout.
"At least two of them by their own admission but they're more of my big sisters now." Harry informed him.
"Well looks like we're done for today." Harry pointed to the innocent looking cup.
"It's not another illusion right? I don't want to cover myself with more filth."
"I'd believe it if you said you were Malfoy's cousin, Ced."
"Eww… why?" He whined.
"For one that whine was all too familiar and I can only think of one ponce who'd complain about getting dirty."
"Point noted. Let's get our hands dirty, Potter." Cedric marched.
"Get back!" Harry shouted and Cedric automatically did so. A stunner passed to his right and Cedric's eyes followed to see a medium sized acromatula on its back. He too joined in stunning the resistant beast. It took six stunners before it stopped moving.
"Anytime. Keep your wand out and be vigilant."
"He has a point."
They slowly approached the cup looking around to check for any other traps. Once they reached the cup they shared a grin and grabbed it together on the count of three. They were whisked away in a whirl of colors, a sinking feeling in their stomachs that had little to do with the portkey.
They landed in a heap and both boys rolled in opposite directions into defensive positions. Their wands were seeking any targets when they spotted a cauldron and besides it a silhouette of a short round person. Cedric silently cast a stunner just as Harry spied a large snake and stunned it as well. Wondering how long the charm may last on the snake, Harry sent diffindo to cut off the snake's head. A loud screaming came from it, confirming Salazar's suspicions on how Voldemort had survived. Cedric motioned to the crumpled bundle from which muffled noises were coming. Harry pointed to his scar. Cedric nodded wide eyed.
Harry approached while Cedric stayed a bit back alert for any others that might have been around. Harry levitated the short man, he soon identified as Wormtail, out of the way. The pain in his scar intensified. Harry used a nearby stick to move the blood red blankets to see a severely malformed baby. He was hard pressed not to vomit but managed to stun it. He was sure this was the body Voldemort was using; it was red, bloody, scaly and had no nose and barely there lips with short limbs and a large head. It was the stuff of nightmares.
Meanwhile Cedric cast an area spell to reveal any hidden opponents. No one was revealed and He set up perimeter wards using wand fire distance as reference from where the cauldron was. He then walked up to Harry.
"That's Voldemort alright."
"So what do we do?"
"The spell Salazar had me memorize. Keep an eye on the rat." Harry commanded.
"That is Peter Pettigrew, a rat animagus, betrayer of my parents." Harry pointed.
"My godfather and innocent." Harry rummaged in his robes and downed two potions.
"Pepper up and magic replenisher. I need full power and concentration right now." He handed the same two potions to Cedric who also downed them, just in case he needed to duel. "Make sure I'm not disturbed.
Harry started chanting the long spell he had worked hard to memorize along with the wand motions that went with it. Thankfully the wand motions were repetitive and relatively simple unlike the words. He ignored everything around him, trusting Cedric explicitly, including a loud pop of apparition some distance away.
Cedric meanwhile was nervous as he scanned the area multiple times. He was glad of Harry's potions when he heard the pop. He watched carefully and saw a death-eater with whitish blond hair trudging up the path to the graveyard. The man stopped at a distance and stared at Cedric a moment before he ripped up his left sleeve and pressed his wand into the dark mark there. Moments later Cedric was locked in battle with not one but six death eaters while protecting Harry. He was again thankful for his stamina and training over the past few months. He just hoped Harry would join him soon.
Harry took a further ten minutes to finish the spell and watched tiredly as the small homunculus glowed an eerie red and black balls of energy or what he now assumed soul pieces shot into the body. He was however surprised when his scar split open and a black mass slammed into Voldemort. The body glowed bright red and slowly changed to white. With a final burst of energy the homunculus of Lord Voldemort along with the remaining pieces of his soul were destroyed in a blinding white explosion.
Harry had been prepared and had shielded his eyes. The rest however had no warning and were stunned, including Cedric. This gave Harry a few moments to down a healing, pepper up and magic replenishing potions. He even poured down the same into Cedric before the farthest death-eater managed to move.
Harry hit Cedric with an enervate and the two fell into routine as they battled the six men who had shown up on Lucius' call. The boys had no intention of being killed or kill but had no compunction about hurting their enemies. They stunned, broke bones, set people on fire and froze them. They even threw in tickling hexes just to mix things up. Soon, it was apparent that they too had healing potions and better strategy as well as numbers. The enemy was using killing curses and liberally using dark curses which the two used rocks and bits and pieces to counter or simply dodged. Hermione was actually more precise than these men and Viktor was faster while Cho had a wide variety, so the boys didn't have a need to panic.
"Cedric, push them back as much as you can."
Harry started using his parsel magic. He was a bit unfamiliar with it but with Cedric pushing the death-eaters back with wide area spells, causing them to be out of normal spell range, he got to pick them off one by one with a parsel stunner or two.
"Leave the blond." The blond was concentrating on Cedric as were the others, identifying him as the bigger threat (size wise, he was). Thus, Harry had stunned the blondie who he was sure was Lucius.
"Right most one." Again Cedric left the right-most wizard to get close. He too lay unresponsive a moment later.
The death-eaters getting smart shifted their attention to Harry.
"Pick one." Cedric left one of them to approach but the wizard did not come up. "Guess even old dogs can learn."
"Area." Harry agreed.
They both stepped towards their prey casting area-wide stunners, Cedric, the normal ones and Harry the parsel green ones. Harry mused that the fools must think he had cast killing curses. It worked so why not? Soon, twenty minutes after the battle started, ten after Harry joined, the enemy was down.
"Good job, mate."
"You too. Now what?"
"Gather them around and tie em up. I think the portkey may be two way. Better get out quick."
"Good idea. Let me re-stun them just in case." Harry approached the piles of bodies.
"Harry you used parsel. I doubt you need to." Cedric sighed.
"I'd feel better." Harry insisted.
"Go ahead. What about the dark one?"
"He's gone for good."
"Wonderful." Cedric nodded.
They levitated all the fallen enemies together and Harry stunned them again.
"Hey, why don't we transfigure them into something, so they can't escape?"
"Why?" Harry asked confused.
"With that idiot Fudge as minister…" He flicked off one of the masks to reveal Lucius Malfoy. "People like him will get away. We might even get in trouble for defending ourselves."
"Good idea. Who do we turn them over to?"
"Bones. She's honest and will probably use her seat in the Wizengamot to kick the idiot out before he shoves this under the rug."
"Alright." Harry said slowly. He did have some votes he was looking forward to use as Lord Potter-Hogwarts. He grinned. "How about trash cans?"
"Too big Harry. Try tiny blocks of wood." Cedric rolled his eyes.
"Colored pink." Harry returned.
"Whatever you wish." The older boy conceded.
"Goody." Harry rubbed his hands together and started using parsel to transfigure the blocks into some very bright colored one-inch cubes of wood. Cedric simply watched knowing his young friend was having fun. The rat Peter was transfigured into a clay cube; Cedric got the feeling Harry wanted him to shatter. Once done, Cedric conjured a larger box and gathered the cubes into it.
"If nothing else, I suppose we could use them for some game or other." Harry snickered.
As Cedric thought, the cup did take them back to Hogwarts and they landed in pure chaos. Fudge was frothing at the mouth at being held back from a strange man, which apparently was the fake Moody and really the supposedly dead Bartemius Crouch Jr. according to Hermione who had been the first to spot and throw herself at Harry. Behind Fudge two dementors were hovering, being controlled by three patronii surrounding them. It looked like Fudge was arguing with Dumbledore over the fake Moody as Dumbledore was blocking his attempts with his usual grandfatherly smiles.
Fleur was looking pale and being fussed by a beautiful woman and a tall man who probably were her parents. Agnes, Viktor and Marko were nowhere to be seen. No one was actually paying any attention to either Cedric or Harry, excepting their girlfriends and Luna (who looked like she had been crying).
"Er… Kingsley?" Harry called the tall Black auror he vaguely recognized.
"Harry! Where have you been? Dumbledore is keeping Crouch alive to question him and find out where you were!" Kingsley hissed urgently.
"Right. If I depended on that old man, I'd be dead by now." Harry muttered.
"What do you mean?" The Auror asked with a frown.
"We don't intend to repeat this, so can you get Director Bones?" Cedric asked.
"Preferably while those two are still arguing."
"They'll be in the medical tent." Hermione added as the three girls ushered them to Poppy.
Amelia Bones arrived just in time to hear Poppy reprimanding the boy-who-lived for self medication. The boy was trying and failing to get a word in.
"But Poppy! It was life and death. If I didn't do it, do you think I and Cedric could have escaped six death-eaters?!" He demanded.
"Still…!" Poppy argued.
"What is this about death-eaters?" Amelia asked, cutting off the mediwitch, used to her mannerisms.
"Madam Bones?" Harry asked.
"Yes, Mr. Potter. Now tell me what's going on. I need to go… break up the fight at the dais."
"Certainly. I think it might be easier to view a pensieve memory. Dobby!"
"Master calls Dobby?"
"Yeah. Get us a pensieve please." A moment later a gleaming white stone pensieve with the Potter crest stood on a pedestal by Harry's bed. Harry dumped his memories from that night into it- Sal had insisted he learn how for some odd reason.
"That's everything from when we touched the cup to when we got back to Hogwarts. Cedric can confirm these." Amelia frowned and put her finger in. "You can go in if you want, Poppy." The mediwitch nodded and added her finger. They waited while the boys cuddled their girlfriends and Luna (since Viktor wasn't conscious to do so himself).
"You have the… cubes?" Amelia asked as soon as she got out.
"We do. However, we won't hand them over until we have a promise that justice will be done. In fact, we wish to extract a vow from the minister." The head of DMLE raised a brow and nodded, noting that Amos Diggory's heir was astute.
"Madam, I would also like a written withdrawal of 'kiss on sight' order on my godfather and a trial for him. I will be keeping Pettigrew until such time."
"I understand." Amelia agreed, knowing Fudge had the tendency to fudge things up… badly. "But Mr. Potter, Surely you can trust me?"
"Sorry madam, I have lost faith in all authority figures when these figures practically forced me into this tournament, knowing someone was out to get me. I've read the contract and I could have been out of it had my magical guardian, who by the way I had no knowledge of, had simply refused to allow my participation. I am sure you are very honest as your reputation suggests but I will not take chances with my family."
"I see. Very well." She nodded and left the tent thoughtfully. Soon she would be angered beyond anything when she would realize Fudge wanted to deliver the Kiss to the man without properly questioning him. She dressed the fool down in front of everyone and vowed to get him kicked off soon… if only she had the support. Dumbledore for some reason kept the fool around. Once she had secured Barty Crouch and handed him over to one of her responsible and not dim-witted aurors, she returned to the tent.
"Mr. Potter, I will give my personal vow that the trials will be held. Will you hand over the prisoners?"
"Sure." Harry shrugged and handed over the blocks except Peter to her. He didn't bother telling her they would remain blocks until he turned them back.
"Thank you. I will ensure you receive an invitation to the trials." Again Harry did not tell her he was going to be notified anyway due to his lordships and the seat he had on the body.
"I'd appreciate it. Did you capture fake Moody?"
"Yes. One of my aurors is searching for the real one."
"Tell me in your words what happened?" She motioned to Viktor, Marko and Agnes.
"Cedric and I walked into a clearing where Marko and Viktor were dueling. Viktor was using some really dark curses and it seemed out of character. We noticed he was under imperious as his eyes had the tell-tale glassy look. While Cedric helped Marko defend Agnes and provided support, I observed cast a few spells to detect who else was there. I detected someone in the hedges. Activating my mage sight…"
"Mage sight. I recently found a spell which allows one to see magic. I had been practicing it in class to get used to it and so recognized the man who was supposedly my professor immediately. I sent several stunners in his direction. I think since he was in the hedge he couldn't dodge and I used parsel spells so they must have been able to get through the shields. The moment he was stunned, I stunned Viktor as well. Marko was hurt badly. Cedric helped him a little. Viktor too was in a bad shape. We sent up the sparks and waited with poor Agnes who had been put under cruciatus form the imperioused Viktor. I'm guessing all three would need therapy."
"Do you agree with this version Mr. Diggory?"
"I'd add Professors McGonagall and Flitwick were on site a few minutes later. We had stabilized Marko and Viktor and secured the fake. We handed them over to the professors and decided to finish the tournament."
"You are not in trouble as you were casting in self defense, however, why did you use the killing curse, Mr. Potter?"
"Killing curse?" Harry blinked. "Oh you mean the green colored ones from the graveyard?"
"Yes… it wasn't the unforgivable?" She asked with a frown.
"Oh no. I would never use the curse that took my parents from me. No, it was a stunner in parsel." Harry smiled at her.
"What does that mean exactly?" She asked carefully.
"Well, you know parseltongue is a magical language?" She nodded. "When you speak the spells in parsel, they get a power boost and often change color. Stupefy in the snake tongue comes out green. I can demonstrate." He pointed his wand at one of the aurors and fired a green curse.
"You need to train them more, Ma'am. Not even a shield!" Harry shook his head and enervated the auror. "As you can see, your auror is alive and well."
"Please do not attack my people Mr. Potter."
"Constant Vigilance Madam. Maybe you should have the real Moody training them." He said cheekily.
"Maybe." She smiled slightly.
It took two days to arrange for trials for the wooden blocks. When Amelia figured out the blocks would stay blocks, she had a private laugh. Knowing Fudge's love for Malfoy, she simply told him that the trial was for the kidnappers and it was a routine trial. Not aware of any personal implications, the man had happily complied.
Meanwhile, Harry had visited with Amelia in her home. Amelia had been surprised when Harry Potter had sent his elf with a message and asked for a secure place to meet. She had sent back a letter agreeing and sending a port key to her home that evening. The conversation that he and Diggory brought up put a big smile on her face.
"Good evening gentlemen."
"Good evening Madam Bones. How are you this fine evening?"
"Very well, thank you. Have a seat." She then called her elf for tea. "Now what is this about?"
"We are aware of your dislike for certain people…" Cedric started.
"Like Fudge." Harry added.
"Oh?" Amelia smirked.
"We'd like to help you remove the minister." Cedric finished.
"How do you propose to do that?"
"Like this." Harry put out his hand and willed his rings to show themselves.
"Merlin… Is that… Are you…?"
"Lord Potter-Gryffindor-Slytherin-Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff? Yes. In addition, I have gotten permission from my godfather to be his proxy and as the Heir Primus, the duties fall to me anyways." Harry told her.
"That's… ten votes you control?"
"Seventeen. Each founder seat has three votes. Potter has two and Black three." He corrected her.
"Nearly a Quarter." She said faintly.
"House Diggory will stand with House Potter."
"And I am told House Longbottom and Lovegood are also eager to help." Harry added.
"Of course, House Bones has been trying for ages… as is House Abbott." Amelia added with a huge grin threatning to break out any second.
"Who else can you recruit?" Harry asked curiously.
"I'm not sure. We could ask a few grey families. The Greengrass family is reasonable."
"We have twenty-three assured votes. One more vote and we will have the required one-third vote necessary to have an re-election." Cedric tallied.
"But who do we put forward?" Amelia Bones frowned.
"Someone strong, sensible." Harry smiled.
"Arthur Weasley?" Harry suggested.
"What? Arthur is too mild…" Amelia protested.
"I have insider information in just how fierce he can be." Harry grinned.
"Failing that, we can nominate Augusta Longbottom."
"Between Fudge and Augusta most will choose Augusta…"
"And once we determine the votes are not enough, as per protocol we kick out the lowest scoring candidate, which will likely be Fudge."
"What is the guarantee that it won't be Arthur?" She asked shrewdly.
"After I endorse him?" Harry smirked.
"Ah… Will you sit all your seats?"
"No. I don't want anyone to know I am heir to the founders. Cedric will be the proxy for the Hufflepuff seat. Since it's common knowledge Potter's were descended from Gryffindor, I will hold that seat as well as Potter and Black seats. I have someone to hold proxy the Slytherin seat. And I'd like it if your'd be the proxy for Ravenclaw."
"Yes. Is that a problem?" Harry asked smoothly.
"No, it is an honor… are you sure you wish to…"
"I am. Our goals are similar, madam. Kick Fudge out and serve justice. If there are conflicts in the future we shall discuss them."
"I see. I thank you for the trust placed in myself."
"Your welcome." He handed her a parchment. "That's the official document naming you my proxy, with the ring impression."
"Very cunning, not mentioning your given name." Amelia grinned.
"He learnt from the best." Cedric buffed his nails.
"Sure…" Harry drawled.
"Not really. If you need to contact me call for Dobby. He'll answer your call until it's safe to send me owls." Harry informed her.
"Well, I haven't got around to removing the mail redirection ward my guardian has set up… I am keeping my emancipation from him."
"Am I going to witness Albus floundering?" She asked gleefully.
"I sure hope so."
The day of the trials, Harry gathered Cedric, Andromeda (Tonks' mum and his Slytherin representative) and Madam Bones in the personal office of the Potters behind the Wizengamot conference room. Harry had grown out his hair and gotten rid of the old frames (thanks to Dobby) and looked quite distinguished, even if he was young.
"Ready?" Amelia asked.
"Sure. You should know, Malfoy and Lestrange votes are with Narcissa and she'll be voting Fudge out."
"What? How did you manage…" The Bones lady spluttered.
"I had Sirius order her as Lord Black." Harry was enjoying shocking people.
"Perfect. With a few more votes, we'll have the no-confidence vote."
"We should stick to our plan, just in case."
"Of course… but let me determine that once I talk with the other members."
"Sure. I'll leave it to you to raise the issue, one way or another."
They soon were alerted of the time and shuffled into the Wizengamot chambers. Harry had already submitted the paperwork to remove Albus from being proxy to his seats. As long as the notification was delayed, Albus would not know- unless Harry took down the spell making his visage difficult to remember.
As the session started, Amelia decided to take a chance. She proposed a No Confidence vote and outlined why she believed it to be the correct decision. Her portrayal of his irresponsible behavior when an escaped convict was found, ignoring laws governing such issues and abusing his powers were brought forth. So were the numerous allegations of the bribes he has taken; Lord Greengrass was able to provide accurate evidence. The motion was seconded by Madam Longbottom, making many older members shut up. Some members chose to abstain from voting. Out of seventy votes, not that any of the members cared to count, ten were obsolete. Harry's block was aided by another ten votes, giving the motion a majority vote. Fudge was purple with rage even as he simply bowed out and left.
As agreed, Sirius was then given a trial. Dumbledore looked shocked but seemed to be thinking, probably wondering how this could help him. Sirius asked for Veritaserum and made an oath on top of it before he was asked the predetermined questions. Soon the Wizengamot was grumbling about gross injustice. They cleared Sirius' name and reimbursed him for the years spent in that awful place whilst being innocent; as an additional favor they waived the fees for escaping said prison… as he was not supposed to be there in the first place.
Pettigrew was brought in and they all, being the idiots they were, wanted to give him the kiss until Augusta reminded them that they had sent an innocent man to prison for not following protocol. The questions were asked under Veritaserum and Peter scheduled for the kiss.
The remaining six deatheaters were brought in one by one. Amelia had decided to leave Lucius for the last. Harry was called as a witness for each. They had discussed the questions to be asked and decided to ask the other's who they served and why they showed up at the scene. The answer to the first to all of them was 'The Dark Lord' and the second was 'Because Malfoy alerted us of the our lord's need'. Thus Lucius was already heavily implicated in the crime. When he protested, he was ignored and force-fed Veritaserum. He confessed all his crimes, in addition to lying about the Imperius curse. Someone finally had their brain working and asked about how one got a mark. Once they knew it had to be voluntary and often involved 'special tasks', a blanket decision to try every man, woman, child with the mark under Veritaserum was made. Albus Dumbledore fought it but was overruled. All six men were given life sentence in Azkaban and ten percent of their properties seized, the remaining put in stasis for an heir, if there was one.
Once done, Albus was busy wondering how to save his potions master. Harry had anticipated this and had the man brought under custody during the trials. Amelia had informed him he had come silently. Since the blanket decision was passed, Snape was brought forward as a known marked follower who was purported to be a spy. Snape offered to give an oath, stating he wanted everyone to be sure he told the truth. Harry was impressed, even if he still loathed the man.
The story that came out was sad. Snape had apparently joined because he needed Lucius Malfoy's support and had been under tremendous stress and peer pressure. When asked he told them he had regretted the decision the moment he was ordered to torture a young muggle girl for the dark lord's amusement. He admitted to delivering the prophecy but claimed he knew nothing about it being a true prophecy and never imagined his friend, Lily, would be targeted. He explained how he begged Albus to save them in return for spying on the dark forces. When asked about his attitude at school, he replied Albus thought it best so that the dark side would think he was still on their side. In the silence that followed, Harry asked one question that bothered him and others were too stunned to actually stop him.
"Do you hate me?"
"Yes." The answer was immediate.
"Why?" Harry asked softly, a little hurt.
"Because you look like James and you remind me of my loss."
"Then why did you save me a couple of times?" Harry asked, ignoring the gasps.
"Because I promised Lily I would protect her precious baby. Because, you're infuriating but still my only family." The man admitted, though it looked like he was trying to fight it.
"I see. Thank you." Snape only nodded, probably relieved the brat was done asking unauthorized questions.
The members discussed everything while Albus tried to ask Harry why he was even there and was ignored. Eventually, the Wizengamot members decided that Snape, though not innocent had done everything to correct his mistakes. Therefore the Potions master was pardoned, provided he does community service at St. Mungo's for five hours each week for the next three years, brewing potions. The man seemed happy with that and agreed.
Eventually, Harry had a meeting with the headmaster, when he found the notification that arrived a week late thanks to Dobby. Harry told him first of claiming his lordships and completely ignored the old man's disappointed act.
"My boy… this is too big a responsibility for you. I wish you had consulted me."
"It is still my responsibility." Harry told him firmly. "Don't worry I have my advisors. I simply wished to inform you of this. What I want to discuss today is Voldemort."
"Yes, I'm afraid he can still try to return. You haven't shared the event with me as yet."
"And I am not planning to share it with you. I'd like to inform you that Voldemort will never be returning." Harry said firmly.
"That is… he has done things to stop his demise, Harry, my boy!" Albus protested.
"I am aware. I wonder why you thought not to tell me about his soul anchors." He mused.
"An old friend, no one you know, heard my stories and guessed. He also had a solution to the problem and I was able to learn the spell to end a soul with anchors." Harry decided some information had to be disseminated.
"What spell is that?"
"It's not dark magic. It was an ancient spell lost to us, created specifically to destroy someone with horcruxes. It won't work on an original body, however, it would work on any given horcrux or a homunculus, which is what Voldemort was using."
"You used this spell?" Albus asked sharply.
"I did. Did you know I was one?" He didn't wait for the old wizard to answer. "I was surprised. Anyway, it took plenty power and precise casting. Cedric had a tough time holding back our attackers as I performed the ten minute long spell. All the various pieces of his soul converged, including from my scar and the homunculus was destroyed."
"Not really. Voldemort died from his own curse. This spell, I understand only combines the soul pieces and loosens their hold on this plane and the magic they still hold. Once those two things were gone, I suspect Voldemort's spirit moved on."
"I see… Will you share this spell?"
"I have no intentions to do so." Albus nodded wearily.
"It is perhaps for the best." Albus nodded thoughtfully.
"I also wish to inform you, I will not be returning to the Dursleys." Harry continued.
"But it's the safest…" He never got to finish the sentiment.
"From who? Not from the Dursleys." He sneered. "Voldemort is not an issue. His followers are being rounded up. Sirius and I own several places and we have yet to decide on where we will live. I'll thank you to no longer interfere."
"I am aware of the prophecy, your part in my living conditions and the various 'tests' you set up. I want it to stop. The threat has been taken care of with a power no one actually remembers." Harry chuckled. "I respect you sir. I hope without this war hanging over us, we can get along better."
"Me too my boy, me too." Albus sighed.
"Then I will see you next year, sir. Have a good vacation." Harry nodded curtly.
"Enjoy your time with Ms. Granger, my boy." Albus twinkled. Harry left the office with a smile.
Now to embark on an adventurous vacation, preferably on a lovely beach and a Hermione in a bikini. If only he could shake off Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Dan Granger and Emma Granger. He supposed he could count it as a family outing instead.
A/N: REVIEW! :D