The Victory Ceremony
Author's Note: Well, turns out my muse decided to ignore the pain in my thumb and get this chapter written! And it is a long one!
Warnings: Severe Character Bashing: Dumbledore; Ron, Ginny and Molly Weasley; Manipulative!Dumbledore plotting
Friday, June 25th, 1995 – Malfoy Manor – Early Afternoon
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were once again, sitting at one end of the long table in their dining room. Lord Voldemort sat at the opposite end, dining on lunch. Aside from the three of them, they were alone. The other Death Eaters had all left earlier that morning when Voldemort had excused them.
Suddenly, an owl flew into the room. Lucius recognized it as the eagle owl, belonging to his son, Draco. The owl dropped a scroll of parchment in front of Lucius, then flew out of the room. Before Lucius could pick it up, Voldemort summoned the scroll with Lucius' own wand. Lucius stared at the Dark Lord as he opened the parchment.
"Very neat penmanship, your son," Voldemort said.
"Thank you, my Lord," Lucius said. "I am sure Draco will be most pleased that you said such a thing. That is, once he is informed of your return, of course."
"Of course," Voldemort hissed; "Your son says Dumbledore has granted Sirius Black Sanctuary at Hogwarts, until Black gets a trial. My, my, Lucius, Narcissa, has your son always been this... demanding?"
Neither Lucius nor Narcissa answered. Lucius winced, wondering what his son was demanding of him now.
"He demands," Voldemort said, "that you meet with the Minister, and tell him to stop Sirius Black from getting his trial, so that Draco can be Lord Black when he reaches his majority. My, oh, my. I am sure he will next be demanding you Emancipate him in the very near future!"
"How should I respond, my Lord?" Lucius asked.
"Simple," Voldemort said, with a smirk. "Tell your son... to grow up."
"My Lord?" Lucius asked, shocked at such a response.
"Tell him to grow up," Voldemort repeated. "Tell him to show you some respect, and to stop giving you these silly demands. It certainly sounds as if he has had a long habit of demanding you to do things for him. A habit you need to help him break. Because if you don't... I believe it will be up to me to teach the future Lord Malfoy how to respect his elders. After all, how do I know he will respect me if he cannot respect you."
Lucius shivered, and Narcissa looked terrified. They both knew exactly how Voldemort would 'teach' their son.
"Yes, my Lord," Lucius said. "I will do as you wish, my Lord."
"Of course you will," Voldemort said; he tossed the letter aside, and pushed his plate away. "I grow weary, Lucius. I am still recuperating from the ritual, after all. I trust your house-elves have finished preparing my room for me?"
"They have, My Lord," Lucius said.
"Wonderful," Voldemort said. "Narcissa?"
"Y-yes, my Lord?" Narcissa asked.
"Will you lead me to my quarters?" Voldemort asked, "While your husband replies to your son's letter. I am sure your son is waiting impatiently for a response."
"O-of course, my Lord," Narcissa said.
Voldemort stood, and Narcissa stood soon after. Lucius' hands shook as he watched his wife lead the Dark Lord out of the room.
He wondered what he should tell his son. He knew he couldn't tell his son about the Manor's new guest. He also knew he didn't want his son to come home as long as that... monster... was there. Voldemort's hints about 'teaching' his son had terrified him.
He needed to do something before his son came home. He just had no idea what that 'something' was going to be.
Friday, June 25th, 1995 – Afternoon
Albus Dumbledore was sitting at his desk, trying to decide what he should do about Harry Potter's budding romance with Hermione Granger. Of all the possible girls Harry could have started a romance with, Miss Granger was the one he feared had the greatest possibility of coming to pass. And his fears were correct. Miss Granger was smart, very opinionated, and – above all her other compliments and faults – was very loyal to Harry Potter. She had stood strong with Harry, when much of the student body believed Harry a cheat, and a liar and a glory-hound, after his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire.
He had even predicted this would happen, and had tried to prevent it from happening! Due to injuries suffered during the First Task, Viktor Krum had been in the Hospital Wing under Madam Pomfrey's care – much to Igor Karkaroff's chagrin. Albus had intercept the House Elf that usually brought patients in the Hospital Wing their meals. The elf had been bringing dinner to Viktor Krum. He dosed Krum's pumpkin juice with Attraction Potion, keyed to Hermione Granger. And it had worked. Viktor Krum had invited Miss Granger to the Yule Ball, taking the opportunity away from Harry Potter, and Miss Granger had accepted. She hadn't even needed any influence via Potions to accept Krum's invitation; she had been that flattered.
Albus had then used Krum's date with Miss Granger as the reason why she would be 'the one he'd miss the most'. So she was placed in the lake during the Second Task. Dumbledore had influenced Krum again for the Second Task, giving him the idea of transifiguring his body into a shark. Albus had hoped that, with the shark's fury, that he wouldn't be able to control himself, and therefore harm Miss Granger during the Task, possibly even kill her. But Krum's skills at transfiguration were so bad, that his change was only partial. Therefore, his mind was still his own, and he was able to safely free Miss Granger from where she had been bound, and return her to the surface.
Albus had simply sat back and watched as Krum and Miss Granger's relationship evolved. He hoped their romance would grow deeper, thus she wouldn't be available for Harry, when it came time for him to Bond.
Therefore, he had been utterly surprised when Minerva had told him earlier that day about Harry and Miss Granger's new upgrade in their relationship.
It was a mistake, not influencing her with Potions, Albus mused, She is already of the appropriate age to start the Bonding process. Had I given her the right Potions, she would have started Bonding with Mr. Krum. But alas... I could not. Molly has already claimed the Muggleborn for her own son, Ronald.
The last he had heard about Molly's plans, she was going to wait until the summer Ginny turned fifteen, before she would begin sending Potions in care packages to Harry and Hermione. But now... well, it seemed Molly would be speeding up her plans. Even if he had to make the suggestion to her.
Likely Revulsion Draughts to start out with, Albus mused, So that Harry and Miss Granger will experience a bad break-up. Then Ronald can swoop in and help her heal from her broken heart. And Ginny can help Harry heal. Harry and Miss Granger will likely be quite... agreeable with such events... under the right influence of course.
Albus decided he would leave Harry and Miss Granger to Molly Weasley. He had other things to worry about, instead of silly love-lives of teenagers.
Like why Severus Snape was making his way up to his office with much haste.
Albus waited patiently as Severus stepped into the office.
"When were you going to tell me, Albus?" Severus asked, his voice low.
"I beg your pardon?" Albus asked.
"When were you going to tell me he has made his return?" Severus asked. "I felt it. I felt him summon his followers?"
Albus raised an eyebrow. So Voldemort had already summoned his followers, those not in Azkaban at least, and likely had obtained a wand. But from whom, he wondered. Which follower's wand would he choose?
"And you did not answer his summons?" Albus asked.
"No," Severus said. "I am sure he believes I am deeply undercover here, to watch you and Potter and others. He likely believes I cannot get away until the term is over."
"So you will go to his side when he summons you after the students have gone home?" Albus asked.
"Yes," Severus said. "He will be expecting it. Why didn't you tell me, Albus? You could have told me last night after the incident with the Dementors."
"I am sorry, my friend," Albus said. "You are right. I should have told you. Yes, he returned last night. The Portkey took Harry to a graveyard, yes. But he did not duel Peter Pettigrew. He captured him, after the fact. Pettigrew tied Harry up, and helped Voldemort return to a full body, via a ritual. Harry escaped his bindings, once the Ritual was complete, but before Voldemort had fully recuperated. Harry then killed Voldemort's familiar, the serpent Nagini. He then Summoned Pettigrew, and Voldemort's wand, and took the Portkey back here."
"He Summoned Pettigrew?" Severus asked, raising an eyebrow. "Impossible! The boy has no..."
"No power? No skill?" Albus asked. "Come now, Severus. Don't let your... negative feelings... toward the boy blind you. After all, Harry did kill ten Dementors a year ago, and make the rest – upwards of one-hundred – flee from the Hogwarts Grounds. Just because you cannot summon an actual human, does not mean Harry cannot. I'm afraid you would be most incorrect. The boy showed impressive power, skill and magical knowledge in the maze last night. He dominated the maze and the Task. Do not underestimate Harry's power, Severus. You will come to regret it."
Severus' lips thinned, but he did not say anything.
"You are excused, Severus," Albus said.
Without another word, Severus turned and left the office. Albus sighed and relaxed in his chair, pondering thoughts about Voldemort. He wondered where Voldemort was now. Was he using the house of one of his followers as his current residence? Several of his followers – those who did not go to Azkaban – had lavish homes and manors which would suit Voldemort well. He also wondered whose wand Voldemort now had in his possession. He wouldn't choose a wand if it wasn't very compatible with him.
But no wand will be compatible for Tom more than his own yew wand will be, Albus mused. And it doesn't seem very lilkely that he will ever be able to use it again.
The wand was now locked away in his safe, which was hidden with heavy Notice-Me-Not Charms amongst other protections. He didn't use a Fidelius... not yet at least. He wasn't sure who he wanted the Secret Keeper to be. It couldn't be him. He had to resist temptation. Temptation to take the wand, give it to Severus, so the man could take it to Voldemort. But if that happened...
No... Amelia Bones was likely already on his warpath. Even if she wouldn't be attempting to arrest him in the near future, she would likely be watching him. If Voldemort got his wand back... yes... he knew she'd immediately place him at fault.
He needed to be careful. One wrong move and it could ruin all of his plans.
Friday, June 25th, 1995 – Early Evening
It was roughly ten minutes to six-o-clock, and Amelia Bones was making her way, once again, to the Minister of Magic's office. That afternoon, she had asked one of her family house-elves to bring her an outfit, so she didn't have to go home to change for her visit to Hogwarts that evening. She was dressed in a formal version of her usual feminine style of robes.
As she made her way down the corridor of the first basement floor of the Ministry of Magic, her mind wandered over the events of her busy day. She couldn't help but think of her meeting with the, now former, Healer of Hogwarts, Madam Poppy Pomfrey. Poppy had resigned from her job at Hogwarts, because she believed she had a history of being Obliviated by Albus Dumbledore. She also believed she may have been a victim of other various mind magics, like Compulsions.
Amelia had promised to investigate. While she didn't tell Poppy this, she knew it would be a very difficult investigation. Albus Dumbledore knew how to play the political game. He was very good at it. He'd likely be able to worm out of such an accusation. She would need more proof. More evidence. It certainly wasn't something she was going to tell the Minister about yet.
And she definitely wasn't going to even attempt to arrest Albus that evening. She'd be lucky to still have her job starting the first of July if she even attempted to do something like that this evening. Not without some concrete proof... or evidence that was far more damning than what she had.
Come on, Bones, Amelia mused, You already know the best way to get more evidence.
She would accept Albus' invitation into the Order of the Phoenix. While inside the Order, she could investigate Albus deeper.
When she arrived, she found he Minister's secretary, Isabella, standing near her desk, obviously waiting for her.
"Good evening, Director Bones," Isabella said. "The Minister is waiting for you."
"Thank you, Isabella," Amelia said.
She walked over to the door of the Minister's Office, and opened it, then stepped into the room. Cornelius Fudge was sitting at his desk, dressed in a magnificent set of formal robes Amelia hadn't seen him wear before. Had he bought a new outfit just for this occasion this evening? Cornelius looked up, and smiled when he saw her.
"Ah, good evening, Director Bones," Cornelius said. "I did not expect you to arrive this early. I'm just finishing up some paperwork, before we head off to Hogwarts."
"Good evening, Minister," Amelia said. "Better early than late."
"You're correct, obviously," Cornelius said, smiling.
"Did you still want to hear about Dolores Umbridge, Minister?" Amelia asked.
"Oh, of course, of course!" Cornelius said. "What did you find out?"
"I'm afraid you're not going to like it, Minister," Amelia said.
"How about I be the judge of that, Director?" Cornelius asked.
"It wasn't Madam Umbridge's idea to bring the Dementors to Hogwarts last night," Amelia said. "She was influenced by someone else, who gave her the suggestion."
"And who was this person?" Cornelius asked.
"Lucius Malfoy," Amelia said.
"What?!" Cornelius asked. "Amelia, you must have misunderstood. Lucius was with me at Hogwarts last night to watch the Task."
"Indeed," Amelia said. "Lucius didn't tell Dolores his reasons for his suggestion. However, I figured it out myself. Lucius watched Harry Potter return with Peter Pettigrew. Peter Pettigrew's survival meant one thing for Lucius. His son, Draco, was in line to become Lord Black when he reached his majority. But that won't happen if Sirius Black is found innocent at his trial tomorrow. Lucius Malfoy didn't want Pettigrew to live long enough for me to interrogate him. He didn't want me to find out that Pettigrew framed Black. Without the information I got from Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black wouldn't have a trial tomrorrow. He'd still be a fugitive, still have the Kiss-On-Sight Order over his head. He'd likely be dead before Draco Malfoy reached majority. Draco would then become Lord Black.
"Lucius Malfoy sent Dolores Umbridge to Hogwarts with two Dementors to kill Peter Pettigrew. Minister, I know Lucius Malfoy is a good friend of yours. But this is information I received while Umbridge was under the influence of Veritaserum. She couldn't lie."
Cornelius frowned. He then cleared his throat and stood up. He fiddled with his tie, and walked over to the Floo.
"I need to think about this, Director Bones," Cornelius said. "But not right now. Right now, we need to get to Hogwarts."
Amelia merely nodded. It wasn't as if she was surprised at what the Minister had said. Lucius was one of his biggest supporters, and Cornelius had just heard some very bad things about the man. So she would give him time to think about what she had told him.
"Would you like to go first?" Cornelius asked, holding out a bag of Floo Powder.
Amelia shrugged and took a handful of the green powder. She stepped into the fireplace, then dropped the powder, and said, in a clear voice, "Hogwarts, Headmaster's Office!"
Less than a minute later, she landed and stepped out of the Floo, and into Albus Dumbledore's office. Only it wasn't Albus Dumbledore waiting for her. Minerva McGonagall was standing near Albus' desk, and Albus was nowhere to be seen.
"Director Bones," Minerva said, "Good evening."
"Good evening, Lady McGonagall," Amelia said, as she stepped away from the Floo, "The Minister will be here shortly."
Less than a minute later, Cornelius stepped into the office. He looked mildly surprised to see Minerva there, and looked around for Albus. He frowned when he did not see the Headmaster.
"Good evening, Lady McGonagall," Cornelius said, "Where is Albus? I thought he'd be greeting us."
"Good evening, Minister," Minerva said. "Albus is in the Entrance Hall, greeting our other guests for the evening. He asked me to greet you here."
Amelia raised an eyebrow. She wondered if Albus knew she'd be coming with the Minister that evening, and wanted to avoid her. Or perhaps he thought she'd be coming from Hogsmeade with the other guests, and wanted to meet her as she walked into Hogwarts. She would bet a healthy amount of Galleons that it was the former.
Cornelius frowned at Minerva; obviously he wasn't happy with this turn of events.
"I see," he said. "Well, we best be heading off downstairs so we can greet Albus and the other guests. Lady McGonagall? Do you happen to know if Sirius Black is attending the feast this evening?"
"I do not," Minerva said. "He could decide either way. It is his godson who is one of the main stars of the evening, after all. He might want to witness such a spectacle. Or he might avoid it altogether, in order not to spook the others, who do not yet know about his reasons for being here. We'll see which one he favors more."
"Very well," Cornelius said. "Lead on then, Lady McGonagall."
Minerva bowed her head lightly and led Amelia and Cornelius out of the office.
Friday, June 25th, 1995 – Hogwarts– Early Evening
Harry and Hermione were, once again, at their new private spot on the Grounds. It was an hour before the feast which would end the Triwzard Tournament with Harry being named the victor. They had spent most of the late morning and half the afternoon talking with Sirius. They had skipped lunch, so were both looking forward to dinner. After leaving the Gryffindor Head Boy's Private Quarters, Harry and Hermione stopped by the Hospital Wing. Andromeda – or Madam Tonks, as they had to refer to her now, whilst in Hogwarts – had checked Harry's arm, and had told him he no longer needed the bandages, and that it needed open air to breathe and heal. She said if he felt any more pain in his arm before leaving Hogwarts, he should see her. He promised he would, and she released him.
"You haven't talked about it, you know," Hermione said, "It is almost as if you're avoiding the subject."
"Talked about what?" Harry asked.
"Madam Pomfrey's resignation," Hermione said. "You feel guilty."
"She resigned about an hour – or less – after I yelled at her," Harry said. "Even an idiot like Weasley could connect the dots."
"She just realized she was likely Obliviated by a person she thought she trusted, Harry," Hermione said. "She couldn't work for the man anymore, so she resigned. The only thing you did was help her realize what was going on."
"I suppose so," Harry said. "It's just... this didn't happen last time, you know. I wanted to make changes, of course. But... I didn't plan for this change."
"You can't plan for everything, Harry," Hermione said.
"You don't think I know that?!" Harry replied, with heat; then he winced and sighed. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I didn't mean to yell like that. You're right, of course. It is just frustrating."
Hermione started chuckling and shaking her head. Harry raised an eyebrow. He wasn't expecting that response after he had raised his voice at her.
"What?" Harry asked. "What's so funny?"
"Whether you're fourteen or thirty-nine," Hermione said, "You're still the same Harry Potter. Still the same Harry who feels guilt over everything that remotely happens around him. You may not remember, Harry, but I do. When we were learning the Summoning Charm, before the First Task, I came into the Gryffindor Common Room one day, and you were staring at the fireplace. And I asked you what was wrong. You said... 'If I had known the Summoning Charm last June, I could have summoned Wormtail and he wouldn't have gotten away. It is my fault I didn't know this stupid Charm earlier!' You blame yourself for every little thing. Be honest with me... did you blame yourself when I got Petrified?"
"I should been there to protect you," Harry said.
"I was researching the Basilisk while you were getting ready for a Quidditch match!" Hermione replied, with her own touch of heat. "It was my fault. If I had gone to the game, I wouldn't have been there -"
"And Penelope Clearwater wouldn't have known to use a mirror," Harry said, "And she'd probably be dead."
"Precisely!" Hermione said. "I was there for a reason. You blame yourself for every remote thing that happens around you. And it sounds like you still do it. You blame yourself for... what happened to me in the future, don't you?"
"We were poisoned with Potions for over two decades, Hermione," Harry said. "I was an Auror. How did I not notice something like that? It took... her death and me obsessed with investigating it for me to discover something was off. If I had noticed something long ago, she would never have... you wouldn't have..."
"Maybe... maybe not," Hermione said. "But don't you think I – my other self – whatever – should have noticed it too? I am, after all, the smartest witch in my generation. I don't know if you've heard about that or not. My counterpart should have noticed something was off too! But she did not! Not until... not until it was too late. Of course when she finally found out, she... well...
"Well, it doesn't matter now. You're here. You came back. You came back for me. We're together now, and thanks to you, we know what the Weasleys might do to us in the future. Because of you. Stop blaming yourself. You're my hero, Harry. You've already saved me from that future.."
Harry smiled, blinking back tears. "Thank you, Hermione. This is one of the reasons I came back. To have moments like this. Moments those bastards stole from us."
Hermione smiled. She leaned toward him and kissed him. They continued kissing for nearly a minute, and when they broke apart, they saw, in the distance, Madame Maxime leading the Beauxbatons toward the castle. A line of torches coming from the Hogwarts Lake indicated that, though they couldn't see who was holding the torches, that the Durmstrang contingency were making their way toward Hogwarts as well.
"Guess that is our signal that we should be heading back to the castle too, huh?" Hermione asked.
"I guess so," Harry agreed.
He stood up and offered Hermione a hand. She smiled and took it, and he pulled her to her feet. She smirked as she stood and wrapped her arms around his neck then kissed him again. She backed away only moments later.
"Such a tease," Harry purred.
Hermione winked, then took his hand and pulled him forward. The new couple started off back toward the castle.
It took ten minutes to reach the Entrance Hall. They found it was crowded with students, as well as several adults. In addition to the staff, there were several others, including Amelia Bones, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, and Ludo Bagman, as well as others who Harry assumed worked for the Ministry. Harry also saw Barnabus Cuffe, and Xenophilius Lovegood. Xenophilius was speaking to his daughter, Luna. Harry frowned as he looked at Luna. He hadn't even given her a single thought since he had arrived back in time. Luna had been a good friend in the future, and he hadn't thought of her once over the past twenty-four hours.
Tomorrow, he decided. Tomorrow he would fix that.
"Ah, Harry Potter!" Cornelius Fudge's voice boomed across the Hall, "There you are! The Triwizard Champion!"
Harry couldn't help but blush as nearly everyone currently in the Entrance Hall looked toward him. Still hand-in-hand with Hermione, he crossed the Hall to where Minister Fudge, Amelia Bones, Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall stood.
"Good evening, Minister Fudge," Harry said, "Allow me to introduce my girlfriend, Hermione Granger. If you recall, you met her briefly about a year ago in the Hospital Wing."
"Lovely to meet you, Miss Granger," Fudge said, smiling; he turned back to Harry. "Harry, as I was just mentioning to your Headmaster, I believe the four Champions – who have performed so magnificently over the past several months – should be the guests of honor this evening for the feast. I have invited the Champions to sit with me, Director Bones and Mr. Bagman at a private table near the Staff Table, during dinner. How does that sound?"
"It sounds wonderful, Minister," Harry said. "I have a request, however. I wish for Hermione to join me as my plus-one."
I am not going to risk Hermione sitting at the Gryffindor Table without me, Harry thought, Not with Weasley there – Ronald, that is.
"Harry – Mr. Potter," Albus said, "I don't think that is appropriate."
"Oh, tosh, Albus!" Fudge said. "Mr. Potter is the Victor of the Triwizard Tournament. It should come with its benefits. Yes, Mr. Potter, your lovely girlfriend may accompany you as your plus-one this evening."
"Thank you, Minister," Harry said.
"Minerva," Albus said, "Will you escort Mr. Potter and Miss Granger to the Champion's table? I believe Mr. Diggory is already there."
McGonagall nodded. "Follow me, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger."
Still holding hands, Harry and Hermione followed McGonagall into the Great Hall. They walked between the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor Tables. As Harry and Hermione passed by the spot they usually sat at, without sitting down, Harry spotted Ron Weasley glaring at them. He ignored the git, as he and Hermione continued walking. He then noticed that the Triwizard Cup was now located next to Dumbledore's podium, resting on its own stand, encased in glass.
Soon they reached a large round table, near the left end of the Staff Table. Cedric Diggory smiled when he saw Harry and Hermione approach. Harry chose their seats, where they could have a good view of both where Ron Weasley was sitting, and where he'd be able to get a good view of others, such as Dumbledore and Snape as well.
"I imagine Minister Fuge will give you the same instructions, Mr. Diggory, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger," McGonagall said, as Harry and Hermione sat down, "The Champions Table is much like the meal was at the Yule Ball. Instead of an assortment of food options arriving at the tables, menus will arrive here at this table. Simply choose an option from the menu."
Harry, Hermione and Cedric thanked McGonagall, and she smiled and walked off. Cedric, meanwhile, looked between Harry and Hermione, but shrugged and looked elsewhere.
"Thank you, Cedric," Harry said.
Cedric looked back at him, puzzled. "For what?"
"For not asking why Hermione is here too," Harry said, "When this table is supposed to be for the Champions, the Minister of Magic and his guests."
"You're the Triwizard Tournament Victor, Harry," Cedric said. "I figured you asked if your girlfriend could join us here, and since you're the Victor, the Minister granted your request. If you couldn't get a favor like that, then what use is it, being the Victor? A thousand galleons... you'll spend it before too long. Glory... can anyone honestly remember the name of any of the past Victors... could you, Miss Granger?"
Hermione blushed and shook her head. "I couldn't name them off the top of my head."
"Everyone knows how smart your girlfriend is, Harry," Cedric said. "If your girlfriend can't name a past Victor, then what hope does give for the rest of us? Now gifts... gifts granted by the Minister? That sounds like a good reward to me."
"Me too," Harry said, smiling.
Over the next ten minutes, more arrived at the table. Fleur Delacour and Madame Maxime. Viktor Krum... without his Headmaster.
Interesting, Harry noted, where is Igor Karkaroff? Did he realize Voldemort is back? Has he already fled?
And then Harry noted something even more interesting. Viktor was eyeing him and Hermione with an expression that looked quite similar to jealousy.
I hope he doesn't try to cause me and Hermione problems, Harry mused, He will regret it.
Finally, Minister Fudge, Amelia Bones and Ludo Bagman arrived and sat down as well.
"Mr. Krum," Bagman said, "Where is Headmaster Karkaroff?"
"He left this morning," Viktor said, "Headed off in direction of Hogsmeade. I suspect he Apparated from there."
"He just left you and the other Durmstrang students?" Cedric asked. "How will you get back to Durmstrang?"
"Karkaroff did not steer," Viktor said, gruffly. "He stayed in his cabin and let us do the vork. Ve need no help to get back to Durmstrang."
Before anyone could reply to Viktor, Albus Dumbledore – who was standing in front of his chair at the Staff Table – shot three fireworks from his wand, getting the attention of everyone.
"Good evening, students, staff, and our esteeemed guests," Dumbledore said. "Tonight is a special night. We finish off what was a memorable Tournament, with a feast and a celebration. We celebrate the four Tournament Champions, but most importantly the Victor of the Tournament."
Harry once again felt himself blush as most of the students collectively turned their heads in his direction.
"But... that will all come later!" Dumbledore continued. "First, I am sure all of you are quite famished. So... we feast!"
While several food options appeared in front of the five other tables, menus appeared in front of Harry, Hermione and the others at the Champions Table.
"Simply choose your options from the menus, ladies and gentlemen," Fudge informed them. "And they will come forth. Like so... goulash and a fine glass of gillywater!"
The requested meal appeared in front of the Minister. The rest of those seated at the table picked up the menus and looked through the options.
"Rib-eye and Baked Potato!" Harry said, "And butterbeer!"
He grinned as a rib-eye, baked potato, sliced carrots, and a couple buttery rolls appeared. Hermione ordered Ravioli on a bed of Linguine, which looked quite delicious, as well as butterbeer, like Harry.
"Mr. Potter," Fudge said, as everyone at the table began eating, "Have you heard that Sirius Black is getting a trial tomorrow? I merely ask because... well... I heard that he is your godfather."
"He is," Harry said, "And I have, Minister."
"When Director Bones, here," Fudge said, "informed me that Sirius Black had never been given a trial – as was the fault of Minister Bagnold, and Bartemius Crouch, Senior – who was Director Bones' predecessor as Head of the DMLE at the time – I immediately decided to give him the trial he had been denied. While I cannot be completely sure about the results, of course, I think we can rest assured that your godfather might come out a lot better this time, especially with Peter Pettigrew in Ministry custody. But, of course, you knew that part already, having helped apprehend him."
"Yes, sir," Harry said.
"My actions towards you last night were most regrettable, Mr. Potter," Fudge said. "I wish to apologize. Obviously, I was in shock over the fact that Peter Pettigrew, and Bartemius Crouch's own son were both alive, after all this time. Even so, I should have kept my wits about me. So I apologize, Mr. Potter. I hope you can forgive me."
"I forgive you, sir," Harry said. "Your actions were understandable, but at least it all turned out well in the end."
"I wholeheartedly agree," Fudge said; he turned his attention to Hermione, "Miss Hermione Granger, was it?"
"It is, Minister," Hermione said.
"Are you, perhaps, related to Hector Dagworth-Granger?" Fudge asked.
Hermione frowned. "I do not know, sir. I'm Muggleborn, you see."
"It is still a possibility," Amelia said, "How old are you, Miss Granger? Fourteen?"
"Fifteen, as of last September, ma'am," Hermione said.
"If you go to Gringotts this summer, Miss Granger," Amelia said, "and speak to the Goblins, ask them to give you an Inheritance Test. You may just find out you are the Heiress to the House of Dagworth-Granger."
Hermione raised her eyebrows, and looked at Harry. Harry simply shrugged. Hermione had never taken an Inheritance Test in his future. Whether that was because Ron didn't 'allow' her to, once they were married, or because she decided not to, she had never taken an Inheritance Test. Therefore, Harry didn't know if she was related to House Dagworth-Granger.
"I'll... I'll do that, ma'am," Hermione said. "Thank you."
"Good," Amelia said. "I, for one, tend to encourage Muggleborn witches and wizards to take Inheritance Tests. There is always a chance some of them had Squibs in their families that were members of some of our great Houses, and that the Muggleborn are just the latest in the bloodlines."
"I agree," Harry said. "Especially if it brings back some of those Houses that are thought to be extinct."
"Which would be a wonderful occasion, of course!" Cornelius said. "Something to celebrate. So many of the great Houses and families of Britain, are either extinct, or nearly so. To have just one, or a few, return would be amazing."
Dinner and conversation continued. The Minister mostly took charge of the conversations, wanting to get to know Harry and the three other Champions better. Other conversation was had as dinner moved onto dessert (Harry had treacle tart, and Hermione opted against having dessert).
Then, after everyone was finished with their meals, Dumbledore stood up again and made his way over to his podium. Near the opposite end of the Hall, the journalists, and cameramen were all preparing for what would happen soon.
"Now that our bellies are full," he said, "It is the moment we have all been waiting for. Allow me to introduce British Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge."
A polite applause rang out around the Great Hall, as Fudge stood up and took Dumbledore's place at the podium.
"Good evening, students, staff, Ministry representatives, guests from other countries and the members of the media," Fudge said, "Good evening, everyone. Tonight, the Triwizard Tournament comes to an end, as all things must. This Triwizard Tournament was unlike any other that has ever taken place in the past. I am not sure we could call it a Triwizard Tournament, because there were four Champions. The youngest Champion was placed in the Tournament without his consent. The culprit who was responsible for this was discovered and taken into Ministry Custody last night.
However, even though this fourth Champion, the youngest Champion, was placed in the Tournament without his consent, he still had to compete. And compete he did! He exceeded my expectations, and I am sure he exceeded all of yours as well. He performed so well, that he ultimately came out on top.
"You all know of whom I speak, of course! He needs no further introduction, but I will give him just a little more. The Victor of the 1994-95 Triwizard Tournament, and student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter!"
Hermione was first to applaud, a split-second before the Great Hall roared in applause and cheers. Cameras flashed and popped in Harry's direction, as he stood up and walked over to Minister Fudge.
"Harry Potter, as Victor," Fudge continued, "has won one thousand Galleons and the eternal glory of being one of just a few Victors in the Triwizard Tournament!"
More applause and cheers.
"But first!" Fudge continued; he turned to Harry, "Mr. Potter, will you please give a speech to your fellow students and everyone else here tonight?"
Harry stared at the Minister; he knew he shouldn't have been surprised about Fudge's request. Fred and George Weasley yelled out "Speech!" and suddenly several students were chanting "Speech!" with them. Harry sighed and nodded. The Hall burst into another round of applause and cheers, as Harry took Fudge's place at the podium. The first thing he noticed was Ron Weasley glaring daggers in his direction. Ginny Weasley was staring at him with what he could only describe was a grin of lust and desire. Harry turned to Hermione who was beaming at him.
"I never wanted to be in this Tournament," Harry began his speech, "When the Tournament was announced, I thought I was going to have a normal year for once. I thought I'd be like the rest of you, watching the Tasks, and cheering on for the Hogwarts Champion."
He smiled in Cedric's direction, and Cedric smiled and bowed his head.
"When my name was called, I was in denial," Harry continued, looking back at his audience. "Even when I was told I had to compete, I was in denial. And then I returned to Gryffindor Common Room. All the Gryffindors wanted to know how I put my name in the Goblet, when no one else under the age of seventeen could do it. Nobody believed me when I said I didn't put my name in."
Harry glared at Ron, who flushed red and purple.
"Nobody except for one person," Harry said, still staring at Ron, "My best friend. My most loyal and trusting friend. My girlfriend, Hermione Granger."
He turned to Hermione, who blushed and beamed at him.
"She believed me when nobody else did," Harry said. "At least... nobody else told me they believed me. Nobody but Hermione. She was there to help me get through each of the Tasks. Without her, I wouldn't be standing here as the Victor. I'd likely be in last place, if it wasn't for her.
"A thousand Galleons. I'll accept it, of course and I'll use it wisely. The fame and glory. I'm the Boy-Who-Lived, aren't I? Why do I need more fame? More glory? Who here can tell me the names of the past Victors?"
Harry looked around. Nobody answered. He looked back at Dumbledore, who frowned and didn't say anything. He turned back to his enraptured audience.
"Not even the Headmaster can name the previous Victors," Harry said, "And yet it is supposed to be 'eternal glory'. So that doesn't matter to me. What matters to me, is that I am standing here, only because of the help I had from my best friend and girlfriend.
"I dedicate my victory to my girlfriend, Hermione Granger."
Applause and cheers were heard around the Hall, and Harry backed away from the podium. Even half-blind from the cameras popping and flashing, Harry could see Ron looking pissed, and Ginny's eyes were misty, and she looked heartbroken. But Harry didn't care for now He simply glanced back over at Hermione, who smiled at him. He then turned to Minister Fudge, who gave him the bag of Galleons. Albus Dumbledore, then waved his wand toward the glass surrounding the Triwizard Cup.
"There are no longer any Portkey charms or other nefarious charms, hexes, et cetera, on the cup," Dumbledore assured in a low voice.
Cornelius Fudge picked up the Triwizard Cup.
"Ladies and gentlemen, witches and wizards," Fudge said, "It is my honor to award the Triwizard Cup to Harry Potter and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!"
Fudge passed the Cup to Harry, who took it in both hands and raised it above his head. Flashes and pops from the camera were seen, and more applause and cheers rang out. Harry passed the Cup over to Dumbledore, who held it himself.
"Harry," Fudge said, quietly, as everyone else was focused on the Headmaster, "The media would like to take some more pictures. Since your speech had much to do with Miss Granger, she is welcome to take part. The other Champions will take part as well, of course."
"I... look forward to it, Minister," Harry said. "I am sure Hermione will be happy to agree."
Especially since Rita won't be anywhere near these articles, Harry mused.
Friday, June 25th, 1995 – Hogwarts – Evening
The Great Hall was mostly empty now, except for a few people: Harry, Hermione, the other three Champions, Dumbledore, Madame Maxime, Cornelius Fudge, Amelia Bones, Ludo Bagman and members of the media.
Photos were taken. Harry and Hermione had a few taken together, and took one together with Minister Fudge as well. Harry had a few with Fudge and Dumbledore while holding the cup, as well as some with the other three Champions.
As Harry and Hermione were finally leaving the Great Hall, they heard a gruff voice call Harry's name as they stepped into the Entrance Hall. Viktor Krum was walking toward them.
"Last month, Mr. Potter," Viktor said, "You told me Herm-own-ninny vos simply your friend."
"It is 'Hermione'," Harry said, enunciating his girlfriend's name, "And yes, at the time that was true. She was only my friend. We became a couple this morning. The reason it has taken us so long to become a couple is because each of us were afraid the other didn't feel how we feel toward them. Which is exactly why I didn't ask her to the Yule Ball, before you got to her first."
"Viktor, I only accepted to go with you to the Ball, because Harry didn't ask me," Hermione said. "I wasn't interested in anything beyond a nice night with you. Especially after I somehow became 'the one you'd miss the most'. You hadn't even known me for that long. How did I achieve such a label like that?"
"That vosn't my choice," Viktor said. "Karkaroff told me it vos your Headmaster's choice to put you in that lake. If it had been my choice, it would have been my mother or my father."
"Well, that certainly explains a lot," Hermione said.
"Yes, it does," Harry muttered; he had theories about that, but it had never been confirmed.
Viktor frowned, looking from Hermione back to Harry. "Fine. I understand. You better not hurt her, Potter."
"Never," Harry said. "I would never hurt her."
"Good," Viktor said, gruffly. "Congratulations on your victory."
"I'm sure you would have done better in the maze had you not been used as a weapon for a Death Eater," Harry said.
Viktor grimaced. "Yes... that vos most... unpleasant. But... I disagree. You had made it to the Cup while I was still at the halfway point in the maze. You vere certainly the better Champion last night. You earned it. It vos an honor to have competed against a vizard vith your talents."
"Thank you, Viktor," Harry said.
"Your girlfriend told me you are a good Seeker," Viktor said, "is this true."
"No, I said he was a brilliant Seeker," Hermione said.
"Perhaps sometime in the future, ve may find a time to compete against each other in a race to a Snitch," Viktor said. "Then ve vill find out who is the... 'brilliant' Seeker."
"I look forward to such a day," Harry said, "Forgive me, Viktor. But we best be off."
"Of course," Viktor said. "Good evening, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger."
Harry and Hermione wished him farewell, then turned and headed off up the Grand Staircase.
"You know what," Harry said, "I'm not ready to be anywhere near Ron this evening. What say we request a bedroom in the Room of Requirement tonight? Two beds, of course."
"One bed is fine," Hermione said, "All we will do is cuddle, of course."
"I'd like that," Harry said.
"But... what if the other Gryffindors want another party?" Hermione asked.
"They can party all they want," Harry said. "I just want to be with you."
Hermione smiled and blushed. "How could I say 'no' to that. Tonight was wonderful... spending dinner with you at the Champions table. Your speech... god I thought I was going to spontaneously combust due to all the praise you were giving me."
"It was all true, Hermione," Harry said, "well... some of it may have been to spite Ron and Ginny..."
"Was that wise?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Harry said. "I wanted to see whether they are angry, or whether they are plotting. If they are plotting, then they won't confront us. They'll want us to underestimate them."
"You're giving Ron too much credit, Harry," Hermione said.
"Maybe," Harry admitted. "But I imagine either Ginny, or their mother, told him he needed to keep calm for now, else he might tip us off on his plans."
"Which could possibly mean the Potions plot will indeed begin soon," Hermione said.
"Yes," Harry said, "But I'm not worried about that. We'll be ready for it. And Molly, Ron and Ginny will rue the day they decided to mess with either of us."
Hermione smiled and squeezed Harry's hand. "I love hearing you plot your vengeance. It is really attractive. Really... all that plotting you did with Sirius, planning for the summer, was really fun to listen to."
"You gave your own suggestions," Harry said. "Good ones too."
"Yes, well... even if some of our ideas don't succeed," Hermione said, "They're fun to think about."
"Yes, yes they are," Harry agreed.
Whew! What a chapter! What did you think?
Would you believe there is still another eight days, according to canon, before the students go home? July 3rd, apparently, when most of the time, they leave sometime in June. I'm considering moving that up, and having them leave Sunday (two days after this chapter ends).
Next Chapter: Harry meets with Fred and George, then with Luna. While Dumbledore's gone from Hogwarts for the trials, Harry retrieves the Diadem. The Beauxbatons and Durmstrangs leave Hogwarts. And more! I'm not sure whether or not I'll show any of the trials (including Sirius'), but we'll see.