A/N: This story was partially inspired by Bobmin356's story "The Power of the Press". As such the stories contain similar beginnings. If you are unfamiliar with the author you should check out his stories as he is a far greater writer than I.
A/N 2: In this first chapter Harry will act a tad out of character in the form of him being more aggressive than his canonical counterpart. But hey, almost all versions of Harry on this site differ from his canon personality in some way large or small so no big deal as far as I'm concerned. Hope you all have fun.
Hogwarts, Great Hall, Halloween Night 1994…
Harry Potter was worried. All day long Harry was waiting for something to go wrong. Something always goes wrong on Halloween. During the first year, it was the troll that almost killed Hermione, Ron and him. During the second year, it was the night of the first petrification along with the bloody writing on the wall promising more suffering. And during the third year, it was that whole nasty business where a supposed serial killer snuck into the castle and slashed up a portrait trying to get into the Gryffindor common room. Let's not even mention this date was also the anniversary of his parent's murder. Needless to say Harry was not looking forward to October 31st this year.
"The Durmstrang champion is...Viktor Krum!"
Harry vaguely registered that there was applause all around him. In fact it was only Ron clapping as hard as he could for the Bulgarian seeker that caused Harry to briefly break out of his thoughts at all. As the Goblet of Fire began glowing red again, Harry closed his eyes and prayed to any god that would listen that his name would not come out of the cup. He went over his day again in his mind and couldn't find any fault with it so far. It had been, objectively speaking, a near perfect day. Professor Flitwick had waived his essay assignment for the week since his class was doing so well; and in Potions that afternoon the greasy git had by some miracle not taken any house points from him during class. If the date was October 30th, then this would have Harry feeling pretty ecstatic. Hell, if the date was literally anything besides Halloween he would have a stupid wide grin on his face while he enjoyed dinner.
"The Beauxbatons champion is… Fleur Delacour!"
Harry closed his eyes again and steeled himself, blocking out all the applause once more. There was only one way left for the day to go to hell in a handbasket and it was less than a minute away. Thinking logically, he knew he was being paranoid. He hadn't gone anywhere near the Goblet since it was unveiled; and he made sure the others knew he wouldn't want anything to do with it, even if he was of age.
'Eternal Glory' and 1000 Galleons as a prize? Sounds nice and all but if the glory was eternal then how come not a single student could name one of the past winners? Well no student besides Hermione anyway. 1000 Galleons? Certainly a fortune to any student. But to any adult it was less than two year's wages. At least at any decent job. Sounds like some pretty meager rewards for a competition where 40% of all the competitors who entered had died in one of the tasks. If you included maimings, then that figure becomes closer to two-thirds. Let's not forget the reason this tournament was discontinued in the first place back in 1792, when an unusually large rampaging cockatrice killed every single champion in the first task.
Harry broke a light smile at the memory of Hermione spouting off these facts to any who would listen. Angelina Johnson was so jarred by these records she nearly fainted before ripping up a piece of parchment with her name on it. For the rest of that day she wouldn't leave Hermione alone, claiming she 'saved her from possibly the worst mistake of her life'. Harry's gaze shifted to the piece of parchment that was now floating down into the awaiting hand of the Headmaster. This was the all or nothing moment.
"The Hogwarts champion is…Cedric Diggory!"
Elation. Pure elation. The moment had passed without incident. Harry clapped harder and with more enthusiasm than anyone else in the room. The curse of Halloween had been broken. This was a sign from heaven on high that things were going to be alright. His dream of a normal school year was coming true. That's all he really wanted you see. Just one normal year…...only for his dream to shatter before his eyes when the Goblet began to glow red once more.
'No...no no no...please god NO!' he screamed in his thoughts.
The room became deathly silent as the red flames of the Goblet rose higher and higher until finally expelling a 4th unplanned piece of parchment. Harry watched with eyes full of terror as the Headmaster snatched the paper out of the air.
"Harry Potter..." he said in a voice just above a whisper.
And in that instant all the terror in Harry's eyes turned into rage.
"Harry Potter!" he called across the great hall.
Somehow Harry was on his feet and walking now. Hermione may have pushed him up, he wasn't sure. It was difficult to notice anyone besides Dumbledore holding that infernal piece of paper with that bloody twinkle in his eye. Harry stopped mid-stride halfway through the hall.
'He knew...' Harry thought. 'He's not surprised at all that my name came out of the stupid thing. It was almost as if...he...planned...it.' Memories suddenly danced in Harry's mind. Scenes of all the terrible trials he'd suffered since entering the magical world. All the unfortunate encounters with dark wizards and dangerous beasts he'd had to endure.
'If he planned this...then what about all the rest? Did he...is he...IS HE THE REASON ALL THIS CRAP HAS BEEN HAPPENING TO ME?' he screamed in his mind.
Harry begun to experience an emotion that was new to him. The rage he was feeling towards the unfairness of the world became focused on the old man standing before him. It was strange...bizarre... the anger inside was somehow both cold and unfeeling as well as a boiling fury.
"Harry my boy, will you please wait for me in the backroom with the other champions?" Dumbledore asked with a soft voice and gentle smile.
"No." the fourth year replied lifelessly.
Dumbledore looked above his spectacles. "I'm sorry?" the headmaster said in a little confusion.
"I said no Headmaster. I did not enter this tournament. I have no desire to be in this tournament. And I'm fairly confident that I'm not even legally allowed to be in it in the first place." Harry ranted in the iciest tone he could manage.
Ludo Bagman, the stuttering bumbling ministry employee in charge of this whole farce, rose from his seat and hurried to Dumbledore's side. "The boy must compete Albus! The Goblet has a binding magical contract with all those it has chosen."
Harry didn't even glance at Bagman, immediately recognizing him as the unimportant player that he was in this game. He just continued to stare at those blasted twinkling eyes.
"I'm afraid Ludo is correct Harry. You really don't have a choice here. I'm afraid my hands are tied in this matter." he said in that oh so familiar grandfatherly tone.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. The effect was minimal but it was worth a shot. "And what would happen if I refuse to compete anyway and break this 'contract'?" he asked as slowly and calmly as he could manage in his current state.
"It pains me to say, but you can't refuse Harry. The consequences would be quite severe." Harry couldn't help but notice that based on the look in Dumdledore's eyes that it didn't look painful to say at all.
"Are you saying I would die?" Harry questioned. Why must Dumbledore be so damn cryptic all of the time?
"No no my boy, nothing quite so morbid. Although many among us would prefer death to the actual punishment. Breaking a magical contract of this nature will result in the complete loss of one's magic." he paused to let the reality of the consequences sink in. "Now come, let us join the others and continue this in private."
Dumbledore was beginning to get a little irritated.'Why is the boy being so difficult? He's never questioned me before.'
To Dumbledore's ire Harry did not move. He was stuck in place silently seething and reflecting on all the bullshit he'd had to deal with since coming to this bloody school. That's when it hit him. The light bulb over the head epiphany. Even if he did this tournament and by some miracle survived it, then next year it'll just somehow get worse. And then the year after that will somehow trump that one.
If he stayed on Albus fucking Dumbledore's path then he probably wouldn't live to see 18.
"Fine." Harry muttered with a tone of resignation.
"Good Harry. If you would follow me please." 'Excellent' thought Dumbledore. 'We're finally back on track.'
"You misunderstand me Headmaster...I meant fine in regards to my Magic." Harry only had magic in his life for three years. It was a sad thing to lose but he knew he could get by without it. Billions of people did it every day.
If there was any sound in the room before then it was silenced with that statement. Losing your magic was unthinkable! When one lives in the magical world you use your magic in almost every daily task! Cooking, cleaning, any type of work one could name! Most purebloods couldn't survive two months in the real world if they were robbed of their powers.
"Let's not be so rash Harry. The loss of your magic would be tragic." Dumbledore responded with a voice laced with sympathy. "You'd be expelled from Hogwarts, unable to see your friends and would be lost to the magical world. Surely you must reconsider?" Oh this was not good, not good at all. 'I need the boy here so I can lure Tom out of hiding.'
Harry actually chuckled at the statement. "Yes I suppose leaving my friends is a high price. But those other things? Good fucking riddance. I'd rather be an alive muggle than a dead wizard and that is what I will undoubtedly be if I stay in this damn school!"
"Mr. Potter!" a shrill voice cried out. "Whatever do you mean?"
Harry turned his head slightly to see Professor McGonagall standing up at the staff table looking quite alarmed.
Harry wasn't so much stunned by her entering the conversation as he was by the question she asked. Harry could feel his anger rising again.
"What do I mean Professor?" he repeated in a voice barely above a whisper. "How can you ask that?" he asked much louder. "Surely you know what I'm talking about!" Harry was nearly screaming now.
"Since my admittance to this institution I have had to save my best friend from a Mountain Troll, stare down a wraith in the forbidden forest during a school detention, almost get ripped to pieces by a Cerberus, near strangled to death by Devil Snare and was forced to kill one of my own Defense Professors when he was possessed by the aforementioned wraith! AND THAT WAS JUST FIRST FUCKING YEAR!" he screamed at the Scotswoman.
McGonagall paled and sat back down; whatever retort the deputy headmistress had died in her throat.
Dumbledore raised a hand to try and get the boy to stop. "Mr. Potter...err Harry please. This is not the place for this-" But, before Dumbledore could say any more he was interrupted by Harry's continued tirade.
"What's that you old goat? Don't want these secrets getting out? Well let's just GO ON SHALL WE? An entire school thinking I'm a dark wizard after I saved a Hufflepuff from a venomous snake, running for my life from an entire goddamn colony of Acromantulas, and then having to slay a 1000 year old 20 meter Basilisk with no help except a sword, a talking hat, and your pet fire chicken. By the way Headmaster how is it that such a monstrosity could travel through the halls unnoticed? Don't all the ghosts, elves and enchanted portraits of the castle report to you? Either you're incredibly unbelievably incompetent at keeping track of the happenings in this school or you honestly didn't care when students started getting petrified. I'm not sure which I'd rather be true."
"Mr. Potter I must insist-" Dumbledore said worriedly, glancing at the shocked expressions of others in the hall.
"Then we move to third year! I had my soul almost sucked out by a Dementor no less than THREE bloody times during the school year. And they were supposedly here to protect me! Protect me from what you may ask? An escaped serial killer who's apparently out for my blood specifically. So I had that hanging over my head every goddamn day of last year. And you know what? He actually found me and we had a nice bloody chat. He's actually one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Did you know he never even got a trial? Someone stunned him in the back and he just woke up in Azkaban! So what did I do?" Harry questioned to the room, seeing if anyone would answer his rhetorical question.
When no one spoke he continued.
"I told the Headmaster here to his face that Sirius is innocent and what does he do about it? Tells me to keep it quiet because he doesn't want to upset the ministry by telling them they threw an innocent man into hell for 12 years. Tells me that no one will believe me and my friends anyway. Even has Snivellus over there lie to Fudge's face about it. Now...now we have this tournament...I'm done Headmaster. I refuse to play whatever role it is you want from me. I actually want to live beyond my teenage years and that's not going to happen if I stay here. So please believe me when I say from the bottom of my heart. Fuck this tournament. Fuck You. And Fuck this MADHOUSE YOU CALL A SCHOOL!"
All the color in Dumbledore's face had drained by this point, McGonagall's face was in her hands, Bagman had somehow found a chair to slump into and most of the staff simply had looks of horror plastered to their faces. All except Mad-Eye of course. The crazy old Auror actually looked amused at the whole thing.
Harry took this brief respite to catch his breath and take in the faces of all the students around him. The expressions he saw there were as diverse as a box of Bertie's every flavor beans. Confusion, anger, pity, reverence, horror, adoration and even a few students on the verge of tears. Harry didn't blame any of them for not knowing what to think. He wasn't sure how he would react if he was a spectator to this scene. That's when he had a little idea. This ought to piss the old man off.
"And for all those who may be thinking I'm just a liar or an attention-seeking prat...I'm willing to make an unbreakable vow right here right now with anyone in this room that everything I have said so far is the truth as best I know it. If I'm lying then it will kill me. Well then? Do I have any takers?" he challenged to the room.
The great hall was so quiet he could hear his own heartbeat in his ears.
"Wow...I at least thought one of the Slytherins would go for it." Harry thought in genuine surprise.
"Nobody?" he asked. "Well I don't have time to wait for you all to make up your minds. It may not be backed up by pain of death, but please believe me headmaster when I say that I solemnly vow that I will NEVER, not EVER, willingly participate in the meat grinder that is the Triwizard tournament!"
To say this statement got a reaction out of the Goblet of Fire would be a gross understatement.
The passive blue flames that danced fickly on its rim flared violently into the air and changed to a blood red hue. A torrent of enchanted flame launched itself at Harry and struck him center in the chest. Harry fell to his knees and screamed a silent scream as he felt his magic being literally ripped from his body one chunk at a time. The pain far too intense for Harry to do anything but suffer through it.
Ministry of Magic, Department of Mysteries Prophecy Room
The instant those horrible flames struck young Harry a certain glowing prophecy orb began to dim. With each passing second the orb lost some of its sheen and was beginning to appear dull and lifeless. And then...at the very last moment, when there was only the tiniest shimmer of light still present in the orb that spoke of a Dark Lord and the one who could defeat him...Fate intervened.
How dare this enchanted cup try and take the magic of Fate's chosen hero?
How dare it go against Fate's grand designs?
This could not be allowed.
It will not be allowed!
If Fate's hero is not magically strong enough to defeat this obstacle...well then...Fate will just have to give him more magic until he is able.
Hogwarts, Great Hall
This was undoubtedly the worst feeling Harry had ever experienced.
The flames would pulsate against him and each time he would feel another piece of his magic gone. With each passing half-second the fires flashed and The-Boy-Who-Lived would feel another piece of himself gone. Piece by piece he was slowly being transformed into a plain, ordinary, everyday muggle. Unbeknownst to Harry at the time, as he was admittedly quite distracted, a piece of magic quite small in scope, but extremely vile in nature was also ripped from his being...from directly behind his scar.
Another chunk was ripped away and Harry was down to his last sliver of magic now.
It wasn't even enough for him to be qualified as a squib.
But for some reason that Harry couldn't understand nor explain that tiny sliver just refused to leave him. Instead it began to swell, growing larger and larger more rapidly than Harry could track. His magical core expanding just to contain it all. The overwhelming torture began to lessen...his mouth closed, no longer screaming that silent scream...he got off of his knees and managed to focus his eyes on the oversized cup in front of him.
He wanted to speak...to scream at the damn thing! 'IS THAT ALL YOU GOT? BECAUSE I'M GETTING USED TO THIS!'
Yet he couldn't get the words out, his body too preoccupied grinding his teeth together to get through the pain. And still his magic grew. The pain was becoming tolerable. Harry felt like he could fight back properly now.
Not only that.
He could win.
With a loud scream, not of pain or terror, but something far more primal, he forced all this newfound power into a wave of pure magic and expelled the flames backwards to their source and sealed them there.
And just like that it was over.
As the light show abruptly ended Harry became aware of several things at once. First, it seems the flames had been so bright that most of those in the room had been forced to shield their eyes. Second, the Goblet of Fire had burned out. There was no sign of even the tiniest spark of any color of flame. And finally and most important, Harry could not feel any of his magic. Not even that little sliver that was too adamant to leave him when he was at his weakest.
He felt empty. He felt hollow. He felt confusion as he couldn't explain what that surge of power was. However, at this moment he didn't care about these feelings. They simply didn't matter.
He was free.
Harry Potter turned around and calmly walked out of the great hall and headed towards the exit that lead to the Hogwarts grounds. Despite how his body still ached from the whole ordeal, he actually managed to crack a smile as he made a rough plan of what he was going to do next.