Rufus Scrimgeor was the minister of magic who had replaced Fudge, and he approved of the Triwizard contest. Harry rolled his eyes when Lucius told them.
"What a waste of time," he said. "I couldn't care less about quidditch, I have no interest in it at all, though I can see a point in using brooms offensively. I'd be happier with a Chinook helicopter though," he added. "I can't believe anyone would want to subject the brightest and best of their students in their NEWT year to such a farce."
"Wizards," said Hermione. "Remember how impressed they are with outward show, how do you think Dumbles got so much power? It's all about spectacle."
"Huh, well, plainly Sophocles wasn't a wizard, he said that of all the aspects of drama, spectacle was the least," said Harry. "We'd better go over the rules of this damned contest to make sure that nobody can do anything against us as a result of it."
It was almost unheard of to have a DADA teacher around for two years running, but Remus Lupin had run the curse to earth, written on the door, on the top, bottom, and side next to the hinges. He had merely removed the door and burned it, replacing it with the door from an unused classroom. His lupine senses had a bad feeling about the Triwizard Competition. Knowing that Dumbledore had deliberately tested Harry in the first year, he scowled at the headmaster when the competition was mentioned in the preterm staff meeting.
"I know you, Albus, and if Harry's name comes out of that goblet, I will hold you personally responsible," he said.
"Me too," said Snape, getting in a fraction ahead of Sirius, who scowled to be beaten to it.
"I assure you, the goblet will be surrounded by an age line, and so Harry will be unable to put his name in," said Dumbledore.
"It doesn't stop an adult putting his name in, though, does it?" said Snape, shrewdly. "Someone who thinks it's a good idea to set up an obstacle course on the third floor, with a Cerberus and a troll amongst other things. The sort of obstacle course which almost got two of the brightest and best potioneers of the age killed," he added, silkily.
"Really, Severus, you are talking nonsense," said Dumbledore. "Besides, if anyone puts Harry's name in, it's hardly going to come out if the goblet doesn't think him worthy, is it?"
"None of us care that much whether he could compete or not," said Lupin. "He isn't going to, and that's final."
"Well, if his name did come out, by some extraordinary chance he would have no choice, since he'd risk losing his magic," said Dumbledore.
Snape threw back his head and guffawed in genuine mirth. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin looked at him askance. Severus Snape wiped his eyes.
"You still don't get it, do you?" he said. "Harry may have stopped bellyaching about having been dragged from his muggle school and forced to attend Hogwarts, but he hasn't stopped missing it."
"Why would he have to be forced to attend Hogwarts?" asked Black.
"Because he had gone up to secondary school two years early, and was doing very well and enjoying all the extracurricular activities as well as his classes," said Snape. "And their extracurricular activities actually sound pretty exciting, here he has the choices of quidditch and gobstones, and he doesn't like either of them."
"He must like quidditch, his father was a demon on a broom!" Sirius objected.
"Well, he doesn't. He likes cross-country flying, especially allied with collecting potion ingredients, but he told me that quidditch was on a level with all things in the wizarding world, a puerile hotchpotch of ideas ranging from the daft to the moronic. He doesn't like wizards and he doesn't like the wizarding world. Why should he, when Minerva told him in as many words that he would be kidnapped if he turned down Hogwarts, even if he got a tutor in magic?"
"I told him what Albus would do, and he's never denied it," said Minerva, when Sirius turned to look at her in shock.
"The boy keeps up with studying his muggle subjects in the common room," said Madam Sprout. "He doesn't make trouble unless people go out of their way to irritate him. Cedric Diggory saw him fly and tried to bend his ear about trying out for the team, and would not take a 'no thank you' for an answer. I had to ask Harry to undo the enchantment which had something he tells me is called 'the yingtong song' being sung very loudly every time the word 'quidditch' or 'team' was mentioned in the common room. It was a nice piece of waffling logic and beyond my ability, and as he hadn't even started his electives when he did it, I was impressed, if deafened."
"And powerful and knowledgeable as Harry is, he has said time and again that he would prefer to be in the muggle world, and would not care if he could never do another spell," said Severus, silkily. "You emphasise his ability, there, Pomona, but I talk to Harry most days and listen to his frustrations. The only thing he would miss from the wizarding world are his friends, who will probably stick by him anyway. If he becomes a squib, he will probably still be able to brew potions, which is his biggest interest in the wizarding world, and his line would still be sought after so it would not disrupt his betrothal."
"He could not seriously risk his magic, could he?" gasped Minerva.
"Of course he could if he saw it as thumbing his nose at you and Albus," scoffed Snape. "How many times do I have to tell you that he is planning his career in the muggle military as soon as he has, in his own words, escaped from Hogwartskaban?"
"I, too, have heard him use that term," she said.
"At least we know he is not going dark, whatever anyone might say," said Filius, giving Albus a dirty look, "If he is willing to give up his extraordinary power."
Snape sat back and closed his eyes in thought.
The best thing to assume was that someone would put Harry's name in.
But the contract was binding to the legal name of the contestant, the one used to sign documents.
Think outside the box. Channel your inner muggle, though Snape.
Changing one's name by deed poll was easy, and not expensive, and so long as Harry also registered it with the goblins in Gringotts, there would be no trouble.
Two days later, Harfang James Johan Gambolputty de Von Ausfern Potter [of Ulm] signed his name at Gringotts Bank.
Harry just liked the name Harfang, and figured that you could not go wrong with Monty Python, even if he only picked a small amount of the name used in the sketch.
"Cost of the train into London; £17.63. Cost of changing my name, £30. Cost of registering it at Gringotts, 50 Galleons. Look on Dumbledore's face when he finds out?" he grinned and he and Dudley high-fived each other as they said in unison, "PRICELESS."
"This is plainly some muggle reference," said Millie, as Leo had met up with Harry to sign as his magical guardian that Harry had permission to change his name.
"It's an ad for Mastercard," said Harry. "A credit card, or is it a debit card? Anyway, it's a strip of plastic and you use it to pay in shops so you don't need cash, and the bank settles it up for you."
"Mr. Potter, we may need to talk about this; it sounds a very interesting idea," said Bartok. "I think there could be wealth in that idea for both of us."
"I'll go away and read up on the mechanics of it, then, and it will be my secret and yours until we launch it to the board, good Bartok," said Harry.
"May your gold increase, and your enemies beg for death," Bartok said.
"May your fortune become uncountable, and your enemies unrecognisable," said Harry.
It meant a bit more work, and another trip to Gringotts, but the concept blew away Ragnok and the board, and Bartok and Harry were going to be very, very rich for negotiating a percentage of the profits from the interest charged. Buying the wizarding world just became possible.
That Harry also suggested wizarding cash machines as well for places like Hogsmead and Godric's Hollow guaranteed him and Bartok a place in the annals of the Great amongst Goblinkind, and Harry was granted the right to call himself Harfang Goldspinner, an honourary goblin. This was because the goblins hated the idea of a wizard profiting from their endeavous, but they could hardly cut Harry out of the profit, and so to make him a goblin satisfied the treaty.
Harry's OWL results had his new name on the form, which was a little worrying, but Leo assured him that this was an automated system, and probably nobody had noticed yet. Harry had aced the OWLs he had taken, and when he phoned Hermione, he found she had done just as well, and so had Draco, who sent a message via Kreacher.
"I think I should call you Bratworst Von Knackerthrasher," said Luna on the train.
"Only if you can remember all the rest of the names that came after that," said Harry, impressed that she knew any of the parts of the name of Johan many names of Ulm.
Luna wrinkled her nose.
"Oh, rats," she said.
Harry was not surprised when his name came out of the Goblet.
"Come on Harry," the jovial old manipulator dared to twinkle at him.
"I did not put my name in the goblet," said Harry, coldly.
"Nevertheless, my boy, your name came out."
"Did it?" said Harry.
"Why, yes, didn't you hear me read it out?"
"I heard you read out the short name by which I am known. I believe that in order to be a legally binding contract, a person's full name has to be on the document."
"Well, Harry, it says Harry James Potter."
"Good; that's not my name."
"Harry, stop being a nuisance; of course it's your name." Dumbledore had stopped twinkling.
"No, sir, not any more. I changed my name by deed poll over the holidays and registered the change at Gringotts, so it is a legal change in the wizarding world as well as in my own world," said Harry. "So that isn't actually my legal name, though I am happy for my friends to call me Harry. You don't count amongst them, however, Headmaster, so I would prefer you to refer to me as Mr. Potter."
"What nonsense is this?" demanded Crouch.
"No nonsense, sir, but the truth," said Harry.
"I was there as his godfather when he changed his name," said Sirius. "He's telling the truth."
"And are you going to tell me what you changed your name to, Har... Mr. Potter?" the headmaster was twinkling again.
"If you think I'm going to give you any chance of revivifying the goblet and putting my name in, Headmaster, you have another think coming," scoffed Harry. "I do have a courtesy Goblin name, however, Harfang Goldspinner, so you can call me that if you like. I shan't be filing my teeth, though, it would look rather gauche in the muggle world when I can get back to it, a bit like the stupid clothes wizards wear."
Crouch, Scrimgeour and Dumbledore all spluttered at this.
"You didn't ought to even be allowed at Hogwarts!" howled Ronald Weasley.
"For once, Weasley, I agree with you, but I'm here under protest," said Harry. "I never asked to be taken away from a good education to learn stick-waving, stirring and stupidity, and I wish I could report McGonagall to the RSPCA for repeated cruelty to animals, in the muggle world she'd be in prison for a good long stretch for torturing dormice, hedgehogs and guinea pigs."
"Is that why you refuse to participate in those classes?" whispered McGonagall.
"You know that; I asked you what safeguards there were to prevent the animals being hurt and you let me know how callous and cruel and dark you are by telling me not to worry myself," said Harry. "You and Dumbledore are both dark."
"Come now Harry..." Dumbledore flew backwards and impacted with the wall.
"What kind of a pervert are you, trying to use the nickname only my family and friends call me?" demanded Harry. "Are you grooming me? I want my legal representative and my magical guardian! Help! Help! I'm being threatened by a dark lord!"
Harry's friends rallied about him with drawn wands.
"Mr. Potter," said Scrimgeor, "You are making a nuisance of yourself. Now, you have made your point that you did not put your name in, however, as someone has put your name in, and has the intent of it being your name, you have to compete or you will lose your magic."
"You say that like it's a bad thing," said Harry.
"But if you lose your magic you will no longer be a wizard," he said.
"Good," said Harry. "I never wanted to be a wizard in the first place. I wasn't given a choice of coming here or having my magic bound. I'd have chosen to have my magic bound, thank you very much. So I lose it, meh, I've kept up with my real studies, it's not as if any of your fuzzy studies here are very challenging." He nodded to McGonagall and turned her into a desk. "See how she likes it," he said. "And by the way, Minister, you should really be better acquainted with the law if you are serious about making a name for yourself in politics. It might have worked on intention if it had been me putting my name in. As it was a third party, the third party will lose their magic."
Snape grinned viciously, and went to help up the headmaster.
"Albus, as you've just expelled the boy, how are you going to prevent him from going home?" he asked, loudly.
"I haven't expelled Mr. Potter, however bad his manners may be," said Albus.
"Yes you did; you acknowledged him as s fourth contestant, and that means you claim he has full adult rights and also attends a school other than the three represented," said Snape. Potter was right, it was really good fun messing with people's heads.
"I acknowledge fully that Mr. Potter did not put his name in, and suggest that the other two schools have secondary contestants," said Dumbledore, waving a hand.
"Oh, pitting a fourteen year old boy against five adults? How very fair of you, Albus," snarled Lupin.
"I'm not competing anyway, Remus, so he has no need," said Harry.
"We can get around this," said Crouch. He beckoned Scrimgeour and Dumbledore over into a corner and put up a privacy spell.
After a moment, Albus was beaming, and announced,
"Well, Mr. Potter, nobody is going to make you compete, but we will prepare tasks for four contestants in case you change your mind."
"Not going to happen," said Harry. He waved a negligent hand to release McGonagall from durance furnished. She was having hysterics very Scottishly.
Harry was privately given a piece of paper with a poem on it, which had apparently been given to the other contestants; dreadful doggerel about losing what he held most dear.
Percy Weasley came to see Harry.
"I'm not here," he said. "The first task is what was going to be the second task; it's a hostage who is taken, someone you love dearly, and they will be held below the Black Lake. Once you go after your hostage, you will be deemed to have competed, and will then be bound to the competition."
"They had better not," said Harry, all the books in the library shaking.
"Breathe, Harry," Millie rubbed his back and took his hand.
"Dobby!" said Harry
"Master Harry wants Dobby?" Dobby bounced happily.
"Dobby, if any of my friends or relatives were incarcerated below the black lake, could house elf magic get them back?" asked Harry. Dobby considered, and then nodded.
"Good: I shan't have to go grenade fishing until the surviving mermen co-operate," said Harry.
"Harry!" Hermione gasped.
Harry turned his piercing green gaze on her.
"They shouldn't be party to a kidnapping if they don't expect to be treated as criminals," he said. "Sue, please ask your aunt and some aurors to be ready to come to the first task. If, as I suspect, they take Millie, as the betrothed to the last of a noble and ancient house, that's attempted line theft."
"Dobby will not let any harm come to Mistress Millie!" said Dobby.
"Good. Uncle Severus isn't going to be a party to it, but ...where's the damned schedule? Thanks Hermione. Yes, it's the morning after Slytherin and Gryffindor have transfigurations as the last lesson. Dumbledore's Scheming Scottish Stooge will kidnap you. Query, do we let her, or do you plead off lessons at lunch time for a stomach calming potion, and then go lie down safely on the holodeck?"
"If they can't get me, they'll go for someone else," said Millie. "And not being stupid enough to take on Susan's aunt, they'd pick Hermione whose parents aren't allowed to protest, and we don't know if whatever they will use underwater will work as well on a muggleborn."
"It ought not to make a difference," said Hermione.
"It ought not to make a difference, but do you want to bet your life on that, 'Mione?" asked Millie.
"Good point," said Draco.
"Hermione, will you marry me?" said Percy.
"I beg your pardon?" squeaked Hermione.
"Will you be my betrothed? I'm a pure blood wizard of good standing," said Percy. Hermione started to bristle.
"Hell, Percy, that's brilliant!" said Harry. "Yes it is, Hermione. Neville, you need a betrothal with Hannah, you're holding hands as it is. Draco..."
"I am not marrying Sue, she'd maim me," said Draco.
"And she has her aunt," said Harry. "Justin, you need to be betrothed to Sue so she can protect you, and Draco you need to be betrothed to Luna. She's your cousin so nobody will turn a hair in this cockeyed incestuous universe. Greg, Vince, unless you fancy each other, you'll have to rely on being under the protection of House Malfoy."
"As a Malfoy cousin, I can be too," said Luna. "No offence, Draco."
"None taken," said Draco. "My father would murder anyone who kidnapped one of his blood or protection."
"Exactly," said Harry. "Percy, you need to get those three betrothal agreements drawn up."
"On it," said Percy. "And I'll talk to the requisite parents too. If it's loose enough to break, I should be able to explain it."
"Talk very fast to my parents," said Hermione.
"I'll enlist the Dursleys," said Percy.
"Dobby had to use the harpoon gun Master Harry Potter sir gave him to release Mistress Millie, because nasty merpeoples wasn't being co-operative," said Dobby. "I hurted one and showed him I could kill him. They understands they must not mess with House Potter. Mistress Millie is in the come and go room with hot chocolate the way she likes it, and Dobby stole some of Headmaster Whiskers' marshmallow sprinkles, so there."
"Well done, Dobby," said Harry. It was a couple of hours before the competition was supposed to start, and he dressed and strolled to the room of requirements, with the invisibility cloak for Millie. They breakfasted there, served by Dobby, and had a dessert of sweet kisses.
Dumbledore was concerned not to see Harry at breakfast.
He stopped Hermione Granger on her way out of breakfast.
"Isn't Mr. Potter going to join the spectators at the lake?" he asked.
"I doubt it, sir, Millie didn't sleep in her dorm last night, and Tracey and Daphne were worried, I think Harry is looking for her," said Hermione. "You know what he's like, he'll single-mindedly tear the castle apart stone by stone if he has to."
With any other youth, that might have been a cliché.
"Well perhaps you and your friends can find him, and assure him that I know where she is, and if he comes outside, I can tell her exactly where she is."
"I hope you haven't put her under the Black Lake sir," said Hermione. "Harry's been reading about interhouse blood feuds, and I fancy that would place House Dumbledore in a blood feud with House Potter."
"Oh Harry wouldn't go that far," smiled Dumbledore, wondering why he had a sudden hollow feeling in his gut.
"I think you overestimate his patience," said Hermione, smiling brightly.
"Har ... Mr. Potter!" Dumbledore sounded jovial. "I have to tell you that your hostage under the lake is Miss Bulstrode, and you have an hour in which to retrieve her."
"You admit it then?" said Harry, coldly. "You and Crouch and Scrimgeour came up with this together?"
"Harry, my boy, you have to compete," said Scrimgeour.
"It's for your own good," said Crouch.
Harry put his wand to his throat for the sonorous spell.
"These three criminals have admitted to kidnapping the betrothed of the last heir of an ancient and noble house," he said. "They are telling me that if I cannot perform a task prepared for adult wizards and witches inside an hour, my betrothed will die. I call blood feud on the houses of Crouch, Scrimgeour and Dumbledore for attempted line theft. So mote it be."
A viciously pea green line arced out of his wand and surrounded all three wizards.
"Harry!" gasped Dumbledore.
"I warned you, old man, I am not competing," said Harry. "Millie loves me as a man, not as a wizard. My line will continue through her children even if your stupid contract can be jiggered to mean I lose magic. I have enough means at my disposal to carry on a feud using muggle methods if need be, and for line theft, it's even legal for me to kill you all."
"You little brat!" snarled Crouch, leaping at Harry.
He flew backwards into the lake.
The middle of the lake.
"See how he likes it," said Harry.
"Mr. Potter, will you permit me to arrest them instead?" asked Amelia Bones. "And I will assign aurors to get Miss Bulstrode."
"You may certainly arrest them," said Harry. "I already employed an agent to rescue Miss Bulstrode, though you might have a diplomatic incident with the merfolk, they tried to stop my agent. He kindly stopped short of killing anyone though. It was that or use concussion devices to kill all the fish and merfolk until they gave up and returned her, however, so they got off lightly. I consider them criminals too."
"But Harry, they were only doing their best to help the competition..."
"Mr. Pottair, please, zey 'ave my seester, and Veela are ill in water!" one of the other contestants, the blonde French bint implored Harry.
"On my way, Master Harry!"
Shortly the tiny blonde girl was brought up by Dobby, who was brandishing a harpoon gun, and the French contestant enfolded her in her arms, sobbing.
"Papa will not have sanctioned zis!" she declared. "Zis is an act of war against France by attacking the younger daughter of ze minister! You 'ave all my gratitude, Mistair Pottair!"
"Perhaps you'll give me political asylum if I need it," said Harry.
Millie emerged from under the invisibility cloak.
"Aurors, arrest McGonagall for kidnap and endangerment of a pure blooded minor," she declared in ringing tones. "Also Poppy Pomfrey for administering the dose to keep me docile!"
It took a while for the aurors to realise as they took a damp, but struggling, Bartimeus Crouch into custody that he was morphing into his own son, and screaming in agony as magic exacted the price of entering foolishly into a magical contract which was not to be kept.
"We'll complete the other two tasks before Christmas with a game of gobstones and a broom race," said Sirius Black, who had assumed control of the school. Snape was secretly jealous, but had to admit that Black managed to both look and act the part with all the arrogance a pure blood background, even one he had turned his back on, could give him.
"Are you going to leave school now Dumbeldore has gone?" asked Millie.
"No, but I'm going to get Sirius to get us some better lessons and more extracurricular activities," said Harry. "Go back to an all-boys school and give up snogging you? Be serious. There are some advantages to Hogwarts, and you're basically all of them."
"Oh Harry," said Millie, happily.
Meanwhile, Lucius ran down the Gaunt shack, and discovered the final horcrux. While there, he killed a gigantic snake which attacked him, and noticed that it had a puff of black leaving it as it died. This led him to suppose that the snake was another horcrux, was probably a familiar, and accordingly discovered the imperioused Bertha Jorkins caring for the sort of baby which would have any mother fleeing in terror.
Being inclined to get things documented, Lucius took the disgusting homonculous in to the DMLE where it swiftly sickened and died. Bertha Jorkins was able to give her testimony from a bed in the long term spell damage ward in St Mungo's. The Malfoys were in good odour in the ministry.
Harry took his GCSEs at the end of the summer, as well as the other OWLs he had not taken the previous year, did his NEWTs the year after, and went back to Smeltings for two years to take his A levels, writing frequent 'darling-I-love-you-my-trousers-are-on-fire' letters to Millie. Hermione and Draco graduated a year early and Hermione married Percy and went with him to work as an Unspeakable. Harry's friend Fido from Smeltings had a sister who was a muggleborn witch, whom Harry's friends looked after, and she eventually married Draco who was adamant that he did not want his family to end up like the Gaunts and many of the Blacks. Lucius bought a helicopter and enjoyed freaking out other wizards with it.
Oh, and Dumbledore died in prison still declaring that Harry needed help to defeat Lord Voldemort.
And whilst Harry decided that fighting wars was not his forte, he took civil pilot's licences and became an aircraft designer.
That the light aircraft he owned was enchanted to do more things than a helicopter and submarine combined could do was not something he advertised.