Just a little one-shot; based on multiple fics where Harry can speak to a certain scaled opponent in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
I do not own Harry Potter, which is a good thing, because it'd get VERY strange. :P
He was going to die.
Harry paced in the champions tent. The First Task of the thrice-damned Tri-Wizard Tournament was already underway, and from the sounds he kept hearing the other champions had nearly finished their attempts.
He was going to die.
He stared morosely at the tiny Hungarian Horntail he'd pulled from the bag, prowling back and forth on a cushioned bench. Of course the Harry Potter luck had to kick in now, giving him the meanest, most ill-tempered dragon, if the dozens of books Hermione had shoved at him were even slightly correct.
He was going to die.
He thumped his head against the wooden beam holding the tent up. At least Hermione hadn't abandoned him. For all that she was bossy, abrasive, and took criticism like Snape gave points (rarely and with ill grace), at least she had believed him, trusted him, unlike a certain red-headed prat! Ron was probably in the stands thinking Harry had a plan, was going for the glory.
Well bugger the gods-damned glory! He'd had fame, fortune and glory for three years now and what had that gotten him? The Dark Wanker trying to kill him at least three times now, a fugitive godfather, Snape as a teacher, and he still had to live with the Dursleys!
He was going to die.
A broom. That's all his plan amounted to, like he was trying to steal the quaffle from a particularly angry Keeper. What had he been thinking? It'd probably swat him out of the air like a gnat!
For the first time since the start of the tournament he felt tears roll down his face. He couldn't take this anymore. Maybe he could quit. Maybe the goblet would recognize he didn't put his name in?
Maybe he could live without magic at all…
He sighed. No. Magic was the only thing that he truly enjoyed anymore. Despite everyone at Hogwarts doing their level best to ruin it for him. Between adults that either didn't listen or abused him, children that were even worse, fair-weather friends like Ron, and the twinkly-eyed bastard that hadn't been able to get him out of this… greatest wizard of the age his arse. He might be a little bitter.
But more importantly, he was going to die.
He heard a fierce roar of approval from the crowd and nearly collapsed to his knees as Bagman's voice carried into the tent. This was it.
His mind went numb for the few minutes before Bagman's peacocking reached into the tent again. Slumping, he trod out of the tent into the arena.
It was a scene from a nightmare. Scorched earth all around, thousands of eyes on him, and there…
His breath caught. The damn lizard was HUGE.
It had to be eight tonnes of muscle at least, thrashing about in the center of the field, spiked tail lashing everywhere and shattering boulders with each agitated, furious pass, even as it roared defiance and rage into the air. Black scales, fierce yellow-green eyes, and teeth so sharp Harry was expecting it to slice up its own tongue.
He. Was. Going. To. DIE.
He didn't move as the crowd booed and hissed at him, nor when Bagman called for him to start his attempt. Nor when the ponce did it again half a minute later when Harry hadn't moved. He just stared aimlessly at the dragon.
Then he smirked. Then snorted. Then snickered, gasped, and finally let out great rolls of laughter.
The crowd actually quieted a bit in confusion. What was wrong with him?
The looks on their faces only made him laugh harder. They actually expected him to DO something! To fight or flee or piss himself! They wanted him to perform like a trained animal, like a freak.
He cackled, causing several, including Dumbledore and Hermione, to look at him with worry as his voice started to become tinged with hysteria. He could hear the whispers in the crowd, wondering if he'd gone mental.
He snorted, not caring. He was going to die and it'd be cheered at by the same people who thought he was some kind of superstar for killing Tom!
He managed to get a mild grip on himself, still giggling a little, as he looked back to the beast before him, which was now leering at him in suspicion. He raised his eyebrows over the frames of his glasses when he say the heavy iron chain leading to one side.
"Heh, wow. Bet you're not happy to be here either." he snorted, drawing confused murmurs from the nearby watchers, as Harry would expect.
Harry did not, however, expect the scaled beast to actually snort in response.
Harry blinked. "...wait. Did…" he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes before replacing them. "Did… uh, do you understand me?"
Harry never imagined a dragon could sneer, or that it would look so much like Snape, but nevertheless, that's exactly what he was looking at.
Harry glanced around the crowd, and saw several of them looking at him with pale faces… that reminded him of second year. "Oh bugger, I'm speaking Parseltongue again-" He stopped, eyes wide, then spun to look at the dragon. "Wait, you can understand Parseltongue!"
The Horntail glared at him and cocked it- uh, her?- head in obvious irritation.
Harry put his hands up placatingly. "S-sorry, sorry, I… I didn't know. No one told me that it wasn't just snakes." He scowled. "Not like they would if they knew."
The dragon's expression didn't change.
"...yeah, you probably don't care. Why would you, no one else has. Not the judges, not the teachers… I doubt I have more friends than I have fingers that actually believe me when I told them I didn't want to take part in this bloody fucking tournament!"
He was ranting, he knew it, but he didn't care. "And they think I'm after the glory! That I'm going to walk up to your nest and steal a shiny fake egg because I'm Harry Potter, and I killed a Dark Lord when I was two! Well, news flash you idiots, my mother killed him, it was her protection! It sure as hell wasn't me, what was I going to do, pee on him?"
The crowd was glaring at him now, but he still didn't care. He was going to fry as soon as the dragon got over its shock anyway, he might as well get this out! "I get sent to my relatives, who hate me because of something I can't control, starved me, shoved me in the cupboard under the stairs… and that twinkly asshole there," he growled, pointing an accusatory finger at a suddenly pale Dumbledore, and several of the judges leaned away from him in fright. "-said it was for my own protection, that the wards on the house would keep me safe; well guess what Goat-beard, it might have kept the Death Eaters out but I haven't been safe since you left me on their doorstep! Not at their prison of a house, and sure as HELL not at Hogwarts!"
The crowd reacted to that with bewilderment, and the way that everyone looked at Dumbledore made Harry realize he'd said that last part in English. He turned back to the dragon, who was eyeing him critically. "Oh, you want to know more? I got beaten when I didn't finish chores, as a five year old. I was cooking their meals as soon as I could reach the stove, but gods forbid I get any, no, such food was too good for a freak like me."
He could feel tears pricking in his eyes. "Did you know, I thought my name was freak? They never called me anything else. It wasn't until they realized the teachers at school might notice if I didn't respond that they taught me to respond to my name… and beat me when I got that wrong too. During the summers Aunt Petunia made me work in the garden, without gloves, planting rosebushes… if I hadn't used the hose I would've died from thirst."
He smiled sadly. "When I finally got the Hogwarts letter, I couldn't believe it, it was the first time someone had mailed me something, you know? Someone knew my name, and had actually sent me something. Of course, they destroyed the letter, but more came, and eventually I learned all the 'unnatural' things I'd done, all the abnormal things, it was alright, because I was a wizard… I was special, I could do something the Dursleys couldn't! They couldn't take it from me!"
He faltered. "And then I came here. In my first year, I nearly died three times. Four if you count helping Hagrid with Norbert… oh, that's the baby dragon he helped hatch, I helped move it to somewhere it was safe…"
Harry didn't notice, but the crowd certainly did when the dragon's posture relaxed slightly. "But first it was Quirrell trying to jinx my broom and kill me during a Quidditch game, my first. The troll at Halloween was another… now that I think of it, running into Fluffy, that big three headed dog nearly got us too. And then finally, I nearly die to the Dark Wanker Voldywarts himself, trying to resurrect himself from the dead. And I killed Quirrell."
He laughed tonelessly. "A killer at eleven. Mum would be so proud. I asked Dumbledore why he was after me but he said I was too young.. Bet he'd say the same now, the goat-tosser…" he glared at Dumbledore again, who fidgeted in his seat.
"Second year, the whole school turned against me when they found out I could speak to snakes. I got hexed in the back so many times it's a wonder I'm still not scarred. My best friend gets paralyzed by a basilisk," the dragon's spines rose in aggression at the mention, making several in the audience scream, but Harry didn't even look up, kicking at a loose stone. "-an innocent girl gets dragged to some ancient chamber with a horrible monster, and guess who had to go save them? Not the teachers or adults, that's for sure. One even tried to wipe my memories when I dragged him along to help! So I nearly died again, saving someone I barely knew and getting bitten by the most deadly snake known to… well, anyone, and I only barely manage to kill the thing with a bloody sword I pulled out of a hat!"
The dragon actually rose to its feet at that, startling the crowd, but Harry just watched it get up without comment; he was dead anyway, he might as well finish the story.
She was listening at least. No one ever had before, and he had to get it out while he had the chance!
"Then that summer, I learn the betrayer of my parents escaped prison, and that for our protection they'd post soul-sucking demons around the school! I nearly had my soul drained three times! THREE! And when I found the 'betrayer'? Turned out he was my godfather, and he was innocent! But the guy who did it got away, and when I try telling the adults my story, what happens? I'm brushed aside and I have to violate the laws of reality to go and save him! And he's still a fugitive!"
Harry feels the tears flow down his face again. "I was so close, you know? So close to escaping the Dursleys, finally getting out of that hell, with someone who actually cared… and that long-bearded bastard can't get him a trial to prove his innocence. Useless wanker…" he sniffed, hanging his head low.
"And finally this year, after nearly dying again at a fucking sporting event I come back to this deathtrap of a school and get pulled into this… this farce." He laughed that hysterical cackle again, even as the dragon padded closer. "My best mate thought I wanted in on this idiocy, and abandoned me. My house mates think I'm some kind of hero, and the rest of the school thinks I'm a fame-grubbing glory hound. Which brings us to now, I guess!"
He looks up and sees the creature looming over him, her neck craned to peer at him. She was magnificent, he had to say, so Hagrid was right about dragons in that regard at least.
"So… I guess this is the part where you kill me."
The collective gasp from the crowd once again proved a sudden transition to English. He considered making a break for the egg, or just back to the tent… but to tell the truth; "I'm just tired of it all." He mumbled, but another gasp from the peanut gallery proved he wasn't as quiet as he would have liked. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Dumbledore get to his feet, panic in his eyes. Wouldn't do for his Golden Boy to die in his school, after all.
He ignored the tosser, looking up at the dragon. "Go ahead. I won't blame you. You're just protecting your own, right? I don't mind, go ahead."
The crowd drew in its breath as the Horntail leaned in. Harry closed his eyes, feeling oddly at peace. He could hear Hermione screaming in the crowd… maybe she'd get out of the school now. Go to Beauxbatons. She'd probably get killed if she stayed here, what with everything that happened… she hoped she would forgive him.
Harry waited for death.
...And so he was rather surprised when he felt something long and wet slide against his face. Shocked out of his fugue, he opened his eyes…
And saw that the dragon had licked him.
From the silence of the crowd, they couldn't believe it either.
Enormous yellow-green eyes bored into Harry's. He could see the imperfections in the iris, the glow of magic behind the sclera. At that moment Harry was absolutely and utterly convinced that, no matter what anyone else said, dragons were intelligent, thinking creatures. Still primal maybe, but no stupid beast could look like they were carefully measuring your soul.
After a moment of staring in awe Harry opened mouth to speak ."W-what?"
The horntail's slitted eyes peered at him… then softened. The long neck snaked forward and he was gently nudged forward towards the nest.
Tentatively, and unable to think of anything else to do, Harry moved towards the rocky hollow. He didn't notice Hagrid babbling in excitement or the dragon tamers on the sidelines gesticulating wildly. Nor did he know that, in the history of dragon taming, only four people had ever been willingly allowed into a nesting mother's domain, and certainly not by a twitchy type like the Horntail!
Harry knew none of this as he carefully picked his way up to the lip of the nest. Inside the small crater lay seven eggs all smooth and black, with tiny ivory-colored ridges. "Even your eggs get horns? Wow."
The mother snorted at that.
Harry carefully leaned over the eggs and retrieved the gold, metallic oval hiding among them. As he reeled it in, he stopped for a moment and, as softly as he could manage with shaking hands, laid his palm on the surface of one of the eggs.
A susurration of awed whispers broke out from those that could see, with one dragon tamer actually fainting from sheer envy. How was the boy not a pasty smear on the dirt right now!?
He looked up at the Horntail, confusion clouding his face. "...Why? I'm nobody special, just a kid with the worst luck on the planet… why me?"
The Horntail tilted its head, regarding the young man. Then, with grace that belied its size, it curled around the nest in a slithering of scales, raising its wings over the pair and obscuring it from view. Apparently it wanted this part to be private.
A minute passed. Then two. Then three. Finally, as the dragon tamers started to edge towards the immobile beast, it unfurled dramatically, rising to its feet in a smooth motion, revealing Harry at the edge of the nest holding the golden egg.
What baffled everyone (beyond the ludicrous amount of bafflement going around as it was) was that Harry Potter was smiling with happy tears in his eyes.
The two stared for a moment at each other, then Harry bowed low, shocking many of the traditionalists who thought to bow at any non-wizard was a disgrace in the highest extremes.
Which made it all the more incredible when the mother bowed in return. Wizards might hate to bow to anyone, but dragons didn't bow period. Until today, it would seem.
Harry nodded, turned, and stumbled back towards the tent, a happy smile on his face as he vanished through the flaps.
It took a moment later, but the voice of Ronald Weasley summed up what everyone else was thinking.
"What the bloody hell was that about?!"
After a fast check in with Madam Pomfrey, who had run her diagnostic charm three times before accepting that, somehow, Harry Potter hadn't been mortally wounded in some harebrained scheme, Harry walked out of the tent to see Hermione walking up, tear tracks under her eyes and red in the face. As she opened her mouth, Harry raised a hand, stopping her upcoming rant. "Later, Hermione. Let's head back up to the castle."
Harry didn't acknowledge the scoring or judges beyond a quick nod as he passed, trying to beat the rush out of the stadium.
Hermione rushed up behind him. "Harry, why-"
"Inside, Hermione. We're attracting gawkers."
"You're the one attracting them, Harry."
Harry felt the sudden urge to curse. Either with words or spells, he didn't care. "What do you want, Ronald?" he said coldly.
Ron, as always, seemed absolutely oblivious to the situation or Harry's subzero tone. "That was wicked, Harry! You actually got the thing to listen to you! D'you think you can command it, like-"
"-in those stories they printed about you, the ones-"
"-Ginny is always nattering on about? I bet you could get it to set Snape on-"
"WEASLEY! Why are you here?!"
Ron finally seemed to notice that Harry was looking at him balefully. "What? Well, we're mates, yeah? I figure someone's tryin' to off you with the tournament, and you'll need me around to help-"
"So, that's it? Nothing else to say?"
The redhead's eyebrows knit in confusion. "What? No, that's it."
"Nothing at all? An apology maybe?"
"What? What for?"
"For abandoning me? For calling me a liar and a cheat?"
Ron smiled nervously. "Come off it mate-"
"No. NO. You don't get away with doing this, Weasley. You don't get to just abandon and betray me and come back like you went out for a butterbeer!"
Ron's face turned red. "What's the matter with you, Harry? I'm here now, aren't I?"
"Too late, Ron! What if I had died today? What if that dragon had shredded me to potions ingredients? Would you have said sorry to my tombstone!?"
Ron paled at that, along with the crowd forming around them. "I-I…"
"Go on, Ron. What do you have to say?" Harry growled, stepping up until he was face to face with Ron.
He backed away, pale-faced. "You're mental. Sodding mental!"
"Probably, but that doesn't mean you have an excuse. Don't talk to me until you're ready to apologize, Weasley." He glares around at the others in the crowd. "The same goes for every one of you that called me a liar and a cheat! If you beg, I might forgive, but I will not forget your words! Now MOVE!"
The crowd immediately parted, and Harry led a bewildered Hermione into the castle.
Ten minutes later, the door slammed shut in the empty classroom they had used to learn summoning. Harry turned to face Hermione-
-and got a ringing slap across his cheek for his pains.
"You idiot! You numbskull! You… you…"
Harry rubbed his cheek. "Dunderhead?"
"YES!" Hermione screeched, beating her fists on Harry's chest before being overcome by sobs.
Having no idea what to do with a crying witch, Harry just awkwardly encircled Hermione in his arms and patted her back. "I'm fine, Hermione. It's okay-"
"No!" Hermione looked up, tears streaming down her face. "No, it's not okay! Harry, you nearly died! Worse, you gave up! I saw you! I h-heard you!" She wailed, choking on another sob. "W-why? We had a plan, Harry, with your broom and… and you gave up! You were going to let it kill you!"
Hermione blinked away her tears. "What?"
"Not 'it'. She."
Hermione punched him in the arm. "Prat! Why Harry? Why would you… how could you!?"
Harry grabbed Hermione's hands before they started beating on him again. "Hermione, what are you going to do when you graduate?"
Hermione paused. "W-what? Um…" she was a little thrown by the sudden change in topic. "I'll go into the Ministry, try to help the poor house elves and fix things for them-"
"They're probably hidden somewhere in the school, ask Fred and George if you want to talk to them about that. But my point is, you actually are going to graduate. I, on the other hand, have the Dark Wanker gunning for me every year. That or nearly dying from the Ministry or Dumbledore's idiocy."
Hermione looked affronted. "Harry, Dumbledore-"
"-is my Headmaster, nothing more. Hermione, ever since I got dragged into this mess with the Goblet, I've been thinking about my previous years, and honestly, you are probably the only good thing at Hogwarts for me right now."
Hermione blushed, but managed to reply; "Harry, how can you say that? You're learning magic of all things-"
"True, but only when I'm not being jinxed off my broom, dodging hexes from the Slytherins, fighting trolls, looking into cursed mirrors, delivering baby dragons to safety, running from three-headed dogs, getting yelled at by Snape-"
"Professor-" Hermione started to correct, but Harry rolled right over her words. "-being sent to the Forbidden Forest for a nearly-lethal detention, escaping Devil's Snare, murderous flying keys, homicidal chess pieces, and finally, the disembodied spirit of my parents' killer in the back of my Defense teacher's HEAD!" Harry finishes. "Hermione, any one of those would be the danger-filled highlight of someone's school career, and that all happened first year!"
Hermione shuffled her feet. "But none of that was Dumbledore's fault-"
"Hermione, he is responsible for our safety at school. Now, I'll admit, we did kind of go looking for trouble with the stone, but we went to McGonagall first, remember? And she didn't listen. Me or Ron, I could see, since we were sort of troublemakers, but not listening to you? The brightest witch in her year, who had never once had a detention or even points taken? Hell, you earned at least a quarter of all our points! She could have at least posted guards!"
Hermione blushed at the praise but still frowned at Harry's disrespect. "Still, Harry…"
"Another thought for you then, Hermione; the obstacles for the stone. Dumbledore had an amazingly powerful artifact hidden in the school, and yet he and the teachers set up obstacles three students, three first-year students could defeat!"
Hermione sputtered trying to come up with an excuse as he rambled on. "Why not keep it in his office? Why not put an age line over the door to keep students out, like he did with the Goblet this year?" Fat lot of good that had done, though. "What about the Fidelius charm, like my parents were under? Hide some random classroom and stick the stone in there, or even do it somewhere in Hogsmeade! Professor Flitwick's a Charms Master right? So even if Dumbledore couldn't cast it, Flitwick could, and make Dumbledore the secret keeper, right? So why didn't he?"
The conversation continued for over an hour, as Harry pointed out as many flaws, errors and straight goof-ups that the staff at Hogwarts had shown, picking apart Hermione's increasingly desperate arguments until, finally, she had to admit that the teachers hadn't looked after their students… and were possibly downright negligent.
She did have to ask what had prompted him to think about all this.
"Well, that brings me back to the Task. When the dragon licked me… well, I was amazed. When it took me into its nest, I was shocked!"
"So was everyone else, Harry. Only four people have ever been willingly allowed into a nesting mother's nest."
He sighed, but with a light smile. "Oh great, another thing to be known for… Well, I have to say Hermione, it was… intense. You could feel the heat coming off the eggs. Like there was fire inside. I swear I felt a kick too." He grinned as Hermione giggled. "But when it wrapped its wings around me… it… I…"
"What? What's wrong Harry?"
Harry didn't answer at first. Looking closer, Hermione could see slight tears at the corners of his eyes. "...did you know mothers want to care for hurt children? Any hurt child?" He eventually replied. "I didn't. I've only had Aunt Petunia as a reference, and the dying words of my mother. And Mrs. Weasley, I guess..." he trembled slightly. "Apparently, while the Horntail didn't understand everything I said, she did see that I was a child in distress…"
"...What… what do you…?"
Harry pulled down the shoulder of his shirt, revealing a small cut that was glowing a faint orange. "I think it adopted me, in a way. It nicked me with one of the spines on its face. It hurt, but it healed immediately and started doing… this."
"Harry! You should have that examined-"
"No, I don't want it getting back to Dumbledore. And I don't think it's like Spiderman, like I'm going to wake up and breathe fire one day. I think it… just wanted me to remember."
"There are still people who care about me, that want to help. You, Remus, Sirius… You're my family, the one I never had. The one I deserve and the one I want."
Hermione's smile was bright enough to blow out a power station, even through the tears. She lunged forwards to wrap Harry in her arms, sobbing into his shoulder. She could feel him doing the same, but neither cared.
After a few minutes, they reluctantly parted. "So, that's it? That's all it did?"
"Well… it did give some advice."
"It did? What did it sound like? Was it even clear? How did it sound in comparison to snakes?"
Harry laughed. "One at a time! In order, yes, like I'd imagine a volcano with a feminine and ponderous accent, quite clear, and it didn't sound the same at all to snakes."
"How odd… so what advice did it give?"
"Well, first it told me that, if where I nested was not making me happy, then shouldn't I think about finding another nest? That's what made me start thinking about this a lot more… but second…"
Harry grinned, and a small thrill went down Hermione's spine as she realized it looked eerily similar to some of the dragons during the tasks. Maybe Harry would be able to breathe fire...
"She told me I could hide from predators and let their words pierce me… or be the predator and burn them down to salt and ash."
His grin widened. "On that note, Hermione, when you were looking up things about the Triwizard contract for me, you said something about magical oaths…"
That evening in the Great Hall, many people were still talking over the results of the task… particularly Harry Potter's performance. Some people talked about how he sounded before the dragon had licked him. Several commented on how he'd shot down the judges and Ron Weasley, who was sulking at the Gryffindor table. A scant few talked in worried whispers about his words before the dragon had apparently gone insane and licked him.
So when Harry walked into the hall, hundreds of eyes turned towards him.
Glancing towards the head table, he saw Dumbledore and the other judges all chatting amongst each other… though Crouch and Karkaroff were glaring, one out of spite, the other out of habit.
He stepped into the center of the hall, and pointed his wand at his throat.
Several people were impressed. That was normally taught much later in the year, but Harry had performed it flawlessly. Conversation immediately ceased as some realized the Fourth Champion had something to say.
"Is this thing on?"
Students snickered and rolled their eyes. Snape sneered. Dumbledore… looked curious.
Well, he was about to get a nice little wake-up call, Harry thought.
"I've been informed that there are a lot of rumors flying around about what happened today, how I put my name in the Goblet, and a bunch of other little details that haven't been adequately explained to the student body by the staff or myself…"
Dumbledore, McGonnagal and Snape all frowned at that, though the other professors nodded. They'd wanted to just explain it all weeks ago and put these silly rumors to bed.
"However, many people here doubt my honesty, due to frankly slanderous articles written about me in the Prophet by Rita 'Shit-Quill' Skeeter…"
In the laughter and boos that followed that statement, McGonnagal's cry of 'Ten points from Gryffindor for language, Mister Potter!" went unnoticed.
"So let me ensure that's not an issue." He raised his wand. "I, Harry James Potter, swear upon my magic that I shall immediately explain my actions involving the tournament to everyone here, unless they are deeply personal."
The staff gaped in shock. No one ever dared make such a public oath, save in official capacities like Wizengamot trials or Ministry summons!
So Harry was left uninterrupted as he further clarified; "Furthermore I shall only speak the truth, and answer all pertinent questions about my life at Hogwarts or elsewhere as truthfully as I can for the next fifteen minutes, or until I utter the words, 'thus ends my oath'-"
"No, stop! Harry!" Dumbledore cried as he realized some of the things that might be accidentally revealed, trying to draw his wand to silence the boy-
"So mote it be!" A flash of white engulfed Harry and his wand, to the despair of the headmaster. He started to cast a silencing charm anyway before Flitwick interrupted. "Stop, Albus! If you prevent him from speaking his oath might drain his magic!"
Albus' eyes widened. Harry had pledged to explain his actions, full stop, and by invoking a time limit… oh dear, how reckless!
Harry was unperturbed, though he did smirk at the head table. "Now, let's start with the basics. I did not enter my name into the Goblet of Fire. Nor did I in any way, shape or form ask, coerce or instigate another to do the same. I have no idea who placed my name in, only that they likely used a Confundus spell to confuse the Goblet into coming up with a fourth school and thus a fourth champion, in what I believe is yet another attempt to kill me. In fact, I never wanted to participate in this stupid tournament at all! Lumos!"
The flare of light from his wand shocked the hall as his words were proven true. But Harry was far from done. "I consider myself to not be a Hogwarts champion; the real Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, and I sincerely apologize to him, Victor Krum and Fleur Delacour for stealing what should rightfully be their time in the spotlight. Lumos!"
Another flash, another round of gasps, the loudest from the three champions and the visiting schools. Glancing at the head table, Harry saw Professor Sprout, Karkaroff, and Madame Maxine all looking at him with respect, whether open or grudging. He bowed to them.
Dumbledore seemed a little bit lost, frowning. While this certainly cleared the air, he couldn't help but think there was something more...
"Now as for the task; I had absolutely no clue that dragons could understand Parseltongue. I could exert no control over the Horntail, I could only speak to it. Also, to all the dunderheads that didn't pick this up after second year…" he glared at Ron, who shrunk in his seat. "...being a Parseltongue does NOT make someone a dark wizard, and I most certainly am not a dark wizard myself! Lumos!"
A brighter, harsher light exploded from his wand, causing many to look away in discomfort or shame, mostly those who had believed Skeeter's articles. Dumbledore was looking a little nervous at Harry's rising temper. "Now, a few of you probably heard my comments and saw my breakdown at the start of the task. I don't know what you all thought of that, but the truth is that I fully expected to die and had absolutely no plan other than to summon a broom and hope for the best." The whispers and gasps of horror rounded the tables. "In fact, I thought it would be a welcome release from the life I've lived at this school currently!"
That silenced the hall. Harry smiled thinly. "Oh, don't like that? Well, many of you helped with that! In first year I'm crowded, questioned, or belittled because of something that happened when I was still in diapers that my parents did! I fought a troll, a cerberus, and the vengeful shade of Voldemort-" cue panicked shrieks. "-oh GROW UP! It's a made up name! There is no 'Voldemort' family! His real name was Tom Riddle-"
Dumbledore's eyes widened. He wouldn't! "Harry! NO!" Dumbledore shouted, desperate to stave off the chaos that would soon ensue.
"And he was a halfblood son of a Muggle! LUMOS!"
Piercing light filled the hall, and jaws hit the floor in shock, awe, and disbelief. It couldn't be true… could it? Whispers of confusion began as Draco Malfoy stood and pointed a shaking finger at Harry. "L-Liar! It can't be true!"
"That's right!" Harry spat, not even sparing a glance to the blonde ferret. "The famed Dark Lord Voldemort is a bastard! In more ways than one!" He quickly flicked his wand through the same anagram as Riddle had in the Chamber a year and a half ago, and several students seemed to wilt or even faint in their seats. "But don't listen to me, look it up! Tom Riddle got a special services award to the school for stopping Rubeus Hagrid, who allegedly opened the Chamber all those years ago… though he was framed by Riddle, and is innocent of his crimes! Lumos!"
Dumbledore sat back heavily in his chair. What was happening? Where had all this come from?
"Oh, and to all the people who read those stupid Harry Potter adventure books? They're all lies. I was brought up by magic-hating muggles! They beat me, starved me, and locked me in a boot cupboard until my Hogwarts letters came!"
Everyone snapped back to pay attention as Harry went on, shock on their faces. Harry actually seemed to hesitate for a moment, but pressed on.
"I never knew about magic or the Wizarding World until Hagrid took me for my school supplies! And two summers ago they put locks on my door and bars on my windows to keep me from going back! The summer after that they would have beat me bloody because of accidental magic if I hadn't run away; and that was the first time I heard of my godfather, Sirius Black, who is innocent of the crimes he's accused of, framed by a still-alive rat-bastard named Peter Pettigrew. But when I and my friend Hermione tried to explain this to Minister Fudge, we were brushed off and he was sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss! He's never even had a trial! EXPECTO PATRONUM!"
A few more students actually fainted at the combination of Sirius' innocence and the shining form of Prongs. Dumbledore's face was ashen, along with Crouch's.
"I could go on, but I think I've made my point quite clear. So let me end on this. I, Harry James Potter, intend to leave Hogwarts and Britain at the end of this year if I am not released from the tournament and given reassurances and immediate action for the safety of myself and others at this school."
The uproar was instantaneous. All the professors were on their feet, shouting, as were the students. The foreign exchanges were looking around in bewilderment at the sudden madhouse the Great Hall had become.
"SILENCE!" Harry roared, quieting the hall.
"Harry, how can you say Hogwarts isn't safe?" Dumbledore questioned, fear on his face at the idea of losing Harry Potter. Harry's answering laugh was cold and terrifying.
"Gods, how could I not? In first year, the troll, getting hexed on my broom, and all the damn stupid obstacles you put in the way of the stone and the wraith of Voldemort himself!" To his glee, a few less screams erupted this time, though many did turn to stare at Dumbledore. "Second year, an idiotic glory-hound of a teacher that tries to obliviate me, a fucking basilisk I had to kill on my own with a bloody SWORD, another damn Riddle-Wraith, and giant talking spiders in the forest! In third year, the dementors attacked me three times and I find out my parents' betrayer was in my fucking dorm room for three years! And finally I'm entered into a deadly tournament against my will, three years before I could even be remotely ready!"
The headmaster was speechless, but Harry didn't let up. "Also!" he pointed to Draco. "You permit bullies to run rampant without any kind of deterrent or punishment," He pointed to a livid Snape. "You allow teachers to abuse their students and show blatant favoritism to the point of making the House Cup a joke," he points to McGonnagal, who was surprised to be singled out. "You do nothing when students come to you with concerns, and you don't step in to prevent school-wide bullying against a member of your own house!" McGonnagal's jaw worked soundlessly, before she ducked her head in shame.
Harry turned back to the Headmaster bringing his wand to bear on the old bastard. "And you send me back to my abusive relatives, every year, despite me sometimes begging you not to! You sit on the Wizengamot as Chief Warlock and don't get my godfather a trial! I'm done! Maybe Salem or Beauxbatons would suit me better."
Dumbledore seemed torn between despair and terror. "H-Harry…"
A jet of water flew the length of the room directly into Dumbledore's shocked face, soaking his long beard and sparkling robes, causing gasps of shock and a little outrage at Harry's disrespect… until they realized his magic had just verified everything he had said.
Harry turned to look around the hall. "Any questions?"
Silence met his query.
"None? Then I hope I need never do this again. Thus ends my oath."
Hundreds of eyes watched in mortified silence as Harry turned on his heel and exited the hall, as rapid and angry arguing broke out at the Head Table. Dumbledore, in the middle of it all, watched him go, numb with shock.
McGonagall turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, is it true? Did he truly… was he really living in a cupboard?"
"I didn't know, Minerva, I…"
"You swore he would be safe! That he would be cared for! I told you they were the worst kind of muggles-"
"Minerva," he said, standing. "Please find Mister Potter and bring him to my office. I must speak with him-"
"Let him be, Albus!" Moody spoke up. "You've done a fair bit of hurt to the lad and you'll do no better by pulling him up to your office like some chit of a boy!"
"But Alastor, we must ensure he remains at Hogwarts! He is safe here!"
"Seems to me that he has a damn good case for the opposition there, Albus."
Dumbledore was at a loss. How could this have spun out of control so quickly?
First HP fic! What do you think? Please review!