"You seem tense," Draco commented, looking at Harry from the corner of his eye. Harry chewed on his lip and shrugged.
"I feel like something is about to go wrong any minute now," he admitted. He looked around at his friends, including an equally tense Viktor. As a precaution, Harry had the Bulgarian's wand on his person, the hornbeam wand a weight in his pocket.
"Welcome, everyone!" Ludo Bagman announced from the field. He and the three champions stood at the mouth of the maze, the champions cutting a far more impressive figure than Bagman. "Tonight is the night you've all been waiting for - the third and final task of the TriWizard Tournament!"
The crowd roared in excitement. Harry's own enthusiasm was dampened by the sense of impending doom, though he and his friends clapped and smiled along with everyone else.
"And of course, it wouldn't be a TriWizard Tournament without our three champions," Bagman grinned. "From Hogwarts, we have the dashing Cedric Diggory! From Beauxbatons, we have the ever elegant Fleur Delacour! And of course, our current reigning champion is Durmstrang's very own marvelous Marvolo Gaunt!"
The Durmstrang contingent, along with other various supporters, stood up to let out deafening cheers. Harry couldn't help but smile at the show of overwhelming support.
"For the third task, we have devised a fantastic maze filled with many challenging obstacles. In the center of the maze lies the coveted TriWizard Cup, and the first to take it will be our top champion!" Bagman continued. "The champions will enter the maze according to the points they've accrued thus far - Mr. Gaunt will go first, Mr. Diggory second, and Ms. Delacour second. If a champion is unable to continue, they are to send red sparks from their wand to signal so. Do note though, that it means a forfeit from the tournament, and the champion will not be able to reenter the maze."
Without himself and Viktor in the tournament, Harry wasn't sure how things were going to play this time around. Harry had faith in Tom in getting to the Cup first, but in their private discussions they could admit that anything could happen once he actually grabs it with his own hand. Will it be a portkey again? Or an innocuous trophy? More importantly, will it lead to this dark lord that's been dogging their footsteps the past few years?
Harry hoped though, that regardless, there won't be any unnecessary casualties this time.
"Good luck," Cedric offered the other two sincerely as the seconds counted down 'til the start of the task. "It's been a pleasure competing against you both, as crazy as the entire thing has been."
"Crazy is an understatement," Tom drawled before forming a small smirk. "But the pleasure is the same."
"I agree," Fleur said. "See you on ze the other side, boys."
A loud bang came behind them, Bagman yelling, "First in, Marvolo Gaunt from Durmstrang!"
Tom sprinted into the maze, instinct taking over the first five minutes as he navigated deeper into the maze. When he finally heard the second bang that signalled Cedric's entrance to the maze did he slow down to catch his breath and survey his surroundings. The hedges rustled around him, the space behind him disappearing and a fork ahead of him appearing with the shifting of leaves.
"Left or right, huh?" Tom mused, looking down both identical paths. He twirled his wand contemplatively before swiftly shooting a spell down the right side pathway. A moment later, the air filled with the shrieking of young acromantula. Tom snorted. "Left it is, then."
Three minutes after Cedric's signal, another bang meant Fleur had joined the other two champions in the maze. Tom heard the distant sounds of blast-ended skrewts exploding and Cedric loudly cursing as he continued down the straight path. He quickly turned a corner and came face to face with a figure of a person. One he knew very well.
"A boggart," Tom acknowledged and Harry's doppelganger smiled.
"You're his boggart?" Hermione murmured confusedly, looking at Harry. Other people around them were also glancing at his direction. Harry shrugged, unconcerned, and sent a crooked grin her way.
"And he's mine."
After a beat of silence, Ron blinked. "Wow, that's kinda fucked up."
"Playing games, Tom?" Boggart-Harry crooned at Tom, who frowned. It was a good thing no one else could hear the boggart, as that name would raise quite a few questions. Boggart-Harry stared at him impassively before clicking his tongue in disgust. "Of all the people I could have - "
"How cute that you think you could affect me," Tom rolled his eyes and leveled his wand between the boggart's eyes.
Harry snorted as they watched as Tom ruthlessly put the boggart back in hiding, scoffing at the trunk it came from.
From the looks of it, Tom still kept his lead though the other two were quickly gaining on him. Cedric had lost time dealing with the nest of blast-ended skrewts but Fleur was fortunate enough not to have met with much trouble thus far.
"I'm terrified," Viktor whispered in German to Harry, leaning towards the younger boy slightly but keeping his face transfixed on Tom's image. "Something is going to happen, and I feel like I can't breathe until everything is all over."
Harry gazed at the Bulgarian and wrapped a hand around his wrist, catching his eyes intently. (Eat your heart out, Skeeter.) "Trust in him," he said. Viktor clenched his jaw and was about to say something when a few people in the crowd started gasping.
Tom knew he had taken a turn away from the maze's center, but well. He had promised Harry.
"Nothing personal, Cedric," Tom assured his fellow champion, even as he blocked the Hufflepuff's path. "But this is as far as you'll go."
Cedric, looking far more than ruffled, huffed a breath. He tightened his grip on his wand and determinedly met the other boy's eyes. "If you're gonna make me go down, I can at least make sure I bring you with me."
Without warning, Tom sent a stunner at Cedric's way, which was hastily reflected off with a shield. Undeterred, another silent spell was shot out of Tom's wand, followed by another, and another, and another. Cedric struggled to dodge the relentless barrage of spells while Tom didn't even break a sweat.
From the corner of his eye, Tom saw the hedges move and open to reveal Fleur coming to an abrupt stop in front of them. The three of them paused to survey at each other as the hedges shifted again to trap them in a circle. From the distance, they heard Ludo Bagman exclaiming, "A duel of champions!"
Fleur flickered her eyes from Cedric to Tom, and the Durmstrang student saw the spells coming before before they even rose their wands. It made sense, after all, for the other two to team up against him first as the bigger threat.
"Good try," Tom muttered the same time he sent a spell that had vines sprouting from the ground to grab at Fleur. The witch cursed and as she struggled with the vines wrapped around her ankles, Cedric casted a stunner towards Tom - not that it did much when Tom easily flicked it aside and returned it in kind.
"Wow, this is kind of irritating," Cedric sighed after dodging, grinning to show it was in good spirits. Fleur darkly muttered something in French as she stomped at the now-limp vines.
"Like I said, it's nothing personal," Tom said. He carefully eyed the pathway that was beginning to form behind the other two champions and minutely tapped his wand against his thigh. He pointed his toes towards the direction of Cedric and Fleur, who were ignorant of the spell planting itself under Tom's feet.
"Neither is this," Fleur returned a moment before sending a petrifying spell alongside Cedric.
The moment the spells hit Tom's shield, it didn't simply bounce back to its casters. Instead it was redirected to the ground, where Tom's own personal magic interacted with it to create a sudden rumbling of the earth before the ground under the Beauxbaton and Hogwarts champions fell out from under them.
Tom didn't look back from his sprint towards the new pathway, though he did snort at Cedric exclaiming a very incredulous "What the fuck!"
It takes a few minutes and a few turns, but Tom was confident of his path. The Cup was on the other side of the hedge in front of him, and only a sphinx stood in his way.
"A riddle for you," the sphinx said. "If you answer it correctly, I will let you through. If you answer it wrong, I will eat you."
"Sounds fair," Tom said dryly.
"Some try to hide, some try to cheat; but time will show, we will always meet. Who am I?"
Ah, sounds like a familiar friend.
"It can't be anything other than Death," Tom answered. The sphinx smiled toothily.
"Very well," she said as she moved aside.
The Cup shone just yards away, sitting prettily and innocently under the moonlight. If Tom wasn't so sure that it was trap, he would probably feel a bit more than wariness at the sight.
"Let's see who you are then, dark lord," Tom murmured before taking a hold of the cup with his own hands.
Confused murmurs swept through the audience as the Durmstrang champion didn't immediately appear after grabbing the Cup. One minute, two minutes, three minutes - where was Marvolo Gaunt?
"Fuck," Harry clenched his hands, watching as Bagman, Crouch, and the headmasters conferred, just as baffled as everyone else. He and Tom had expected it, for the task to play out like it did before, but it didn't make it any less concerning.
"What's going on?" Neville asked Harry, whose lips thinned at the heavy question. Neville then turned to a pale Viktor, who was also looking at Harry for answers.
"I don't know for sure," Harry carefully said. His eyes sharpened when Karkaroff whitened after an involuntary jerk of his left arm. A scan of the professors' box had Harry seeing the same happening to Snape. He lowered his voice and his friends moved in closer."I can't say anything here. But I think after tonight, some things are about to change. And not for the better."
The familiar tug of the portkey was expected, feeling like being surrounded by howling wind and swirling color. The unceremonious landing on soft, cold soil was also expected, as was the sight of Rookwood standing patiently on the sides.
What wasn't expected was the cold, hissing laughter of a familiar voice.
"Wonderful job with the last task," a clammy hand delicately rose Tom's chin to meet eyes with the apparent mastermind behind it all. Tom breathed in sharply, and felt nothing but ice in his veins.
"Congratulations. As expected of ' my son ,'" said the chilling image of Voldemort.
A/N: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
first of all, sorry for the delay! the next chapter won't be long this time (no for real im srs). i've started on it already i promise so i won't keep you guys waiting in anticipation for long.
second, happy holidays everyone! i hope it's been a good few weeks and i hope everyone starts 2019 well! for 2019 im gonna try to update more often especially when things are getting JUICIER.