Discoveries of the Heart

DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter (and associated characters, likenesses, concepts, etc.) belongs to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic, Inc. AOL/Time Warner, Inc., among others. I make no claim, written or implied, upon Harry Potter. No money is being made and no infringement or disrespect to the creators / copyright holders is intended.

Warning: The primary focus of this story will not be romantic relationships, but eventually there may be some relationship material included.  In that event, this story will contain slash (i.e. male/male relationships) although it will not be graphic.

A/N: This story was inspired by the many wonderful stories that I have read and enjoyed here at fan fiction and any similarities to existing stories is not intended. This story is completely AU, meaning that the events that occurred in the first five books have not been taken into account and am I in no means suggesting the material described in this story should be considered as a direct interpretation of cannon. Also, I am American so I apologize in advance for any Americanisms.

This story has not yet been betaed, so please excuse my mistakes.  I will repost a corrected version at a later date.

Chapter Two:  The Salem Academy of Magical Arts

The Headmaster smiled as he looked over at the two heads clustered together at the seventh year table on the far right of the large hall.  One head was dark sable brown in appearance and the other a tawny light brown color, best friends since the two had met on their first day of school six years ago.  The two of them huddled that close together could only mean one thing…trouble.

Harrison Ryan Stone shook his dark head in response to something that his friend had just whispered and looked over at his great uncle, the Headmaster. Noticing that he was being closely watched he gave the older man a small grin, his unearthly turquoise eyes alight with laughter.

The Headmaster wasn't the least bit fooled by the look of complete innocence on his Great Nephew's face.  Oh no, he only knew too well the types of tricks that he and his best friend Michael McNaught could get up to, seeing that he was a victim himself of several of their pranks over the past six years.  Harrison, or Harry as he liked to be called much to his Grandfather's disapproval, was most likely the most famous prankster The Salem Academy of Magical Arts has ever seen in its brief history.  Located in Salem Massachusetts in the United States of America, the school had only been open since the late 1500s, which is only a drop in a bucket compared to its sister schools located through out Europe.

During the previous six years of his educational career, Harry had managed to leave on many occasions permanent, everlasting marks that were, and continue to be, woven in the schools brief, but colorful history.  The headmaster sighed with mixed emotions as he contemplated Harry's seventh and final year.

Even though Harry proudly currently holds the school record for the most detentions ever served, both for a single year and cumulative through out a student's educational career, it came as no surprise that the young man was named Head Boy this year.  Some people who were envious of Harry's popularity would probably say that he only got the appointment because his Grandfather was the former American Minster of Magic.  However, Headmaster Bradford knew that if those same people would put their jealously aside and be honest with themselves, that there was no possible way that even they could believe those malicious rumors themselves. 

It was no secret that Harry's Grandfather was a tough old coot.  The light in the Headmaster's eyes dimmed only slightly as he thought about his brother-in-law.  Clayton Stone had always been a rather stern and foreboding public figure but was well known for his honestly and fairness.  But the man had lost so much in his life that he wasn't really to blame if some people thought he may be a little lacking in the warmth and cheerfulness categories.  However, a more ethical man you are not likely to meet and he made sure that Harry grew up living and breathing those same very strict set of values.  No, Harry had certainly earned the Head Boy position this year, of that there was no doubt.  It was almost a shame that he wouldn't be around to enjoy it.

The Headmaster sat back in his cushioned high-backed chair as he continued to fondly study the young man.  His nephew, Kyle, and his wife, Kathleen had tried for several years to have a baby and were about to give up when Harry came along.  By that time, they had picked up roots here on the East Coast and moved out to California's silicon valley.  Time past as it inevitably does and before long years had past since the last time he had seen his brother's family. 

Unfortunately tragedy struck the young family and Kyle and Kathleen were killed in an auto accident when the lad was only a small baby.  Of course when word reached Massachusetts of the terrible event, Clayton and the Headmaster's sister Alyssa traveled immediately to California to comfort and claim their only grandchild.  Although, they never got over the death of their son, Kyle, at least they were able to raise their Grandson.

Harry, undeniably, became the center of their world in short order.  Harry was only five years old when his Grandfather had decided to retire from his position as Minister focus his attention on administering the family's considerable wealth and corporate investments.

As a result of the constant love and guidance he received from both his Grandparents, Harry grew up to be a confident, loving, considerate young man, even if he did occasionally stray on the wild side once in a while.  Oh, who was he kidding?  If there was ever a kid that had to be in the thick of things when something dangerous was going on, it was Harry.

Not only a star athlete, Harry had also earned his popularity as being one of the best students in school.  Only hitting the books when he needed to Harry's natural magical abilities allowed him to excel in most areas of coursework, although History of Magic and Divination really weren't his thing.

The Headmaster closed his kind brown eyes as he recalled the countless times that he heard his Clayton lecture Harry about his disgraceful study habits.  'If only you would apply yourself and focus, you would be the top of your class.  If you spent half as much time with a book as you do a broom…..', but the lectures never seemed to have any real impact.  Oh sure, Harry would pretend to study a little more diligently for a week or so, and then gradually slip back into his old habits.  Thank goodness that the boy seemed to soak up knowledge like a sponge, so Clayton never had to carry through on his frequent threats to remove Harry from the school's Quidditch team.

Harry had such a vast aptitude for raw magic that Clayton and Alyssa had even hired private tutors for Harry each summer to teach him magic at levels much more advanced than what is usually covered in most undergraduate courses.  Heck, not that very many people even knew it, but the child was an animagus before he was even fourteen years old.

But then to everyone's astonishment, hardship once more fell upon the small Stone family.  During the summer between Harry's fourth and fifth years, Alyssa lost a short struggle with a muggle illness.  Cancer was not commonly found in the wizarding world, so very few resources had been dedicated to trying to find a cure for the terrible disease.  The Headmaster bowed his head briefly in remembrance of his delightful sister.  It still hurt to remember her and he couldn't even image what Clayton and Harry were still dealing with.

Not wanting Harry to dwell on his grief last summer, his Grandfather had enrolled him to compete in a national dueling championship.  It proved to be a wonderful distraction to the boy who had become so downtrodden and mired in sadness. 

No one had really expected Harry to last very long, as he had yet to graduate from school and the vast majority of the competition were experienced adults, many of which were Aurors and Unspeakables or otherwise relied on dueling for their livelihoods.

Even now the Headmaster shuddered, remembering how Harry's face had showed new determination the moment that his first opponent had seen him and started to laugh.  It was certainly something to see, when after dutifully bowing to each other the still laughing man didn't even get a spell off before Harry had disarmed him.  The disarming charm was so strong that the man was blown completely out of the dueling arena and into the stands.  That was the last time anyone laughed at Harry.

Amazingly enough, Harry had gone on to beat the odds and came in a distinguished second place in the tournament.  The Champion went on to France to complete in a world wide tournament.  It was regretful that Harry did not qualify to go as the Headmaster would have liked to see how his nephew would have faired up against some of the best duelers in the world.  But now, it seemed that the Headmaster may get the chance to see his nephew compete against some of the world's finest witches and wizards after all.  Sure it wasn't a dueling competition, but in reality it was so much more.  It was a chance to earn some respect, to really put the Salem Academy of Magical Arts, and even the United States on the magical map, so to speak.

To be honest, the Headmaster was still astounded that they had even been invited to compete in such a world renowned contest as the Triwizard Tournament. Perpetually overlooked as inferior, such an invitation such as this one had never been presented before.  True, they had only been invited because one of the regular competitors had declined to compete in this newly resurrected event, but still an invitation, even on the B list, was better then not going to the party at all.

It was bothersome that the reason that Beauxbatons elected to stay away from Scotland where this year's tournament was to be held was due to dark whispers of the dreaded Dark Lord's rebirth.  The Headmaster had expressed his concerns to his School Board and was told to dismiss the rumors for what they were, absolute rubbish. 

Although long since retired, Clayton made discrete inquires among his Ministry contacts regarding the possible return of the Dark Lord and was told quite vehemently that besides promoting interscholastic relationships, that the other reason that this tournament was resurrected now and hosted by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was to try to dispel any such claims.  The Ministry of Magic further indicated that they were cautiously optimistic that their populace would become so distracted by the events of the Tournament that they would forget all about the lies concerning Who-Know-Who.

Pushing any lingering worries to the back of his mind, the Headmaster stood tall in front of all the children entrusted into his care to make his annual start of term notices.  Biting back a smile that was sure to be a dead give-away that something unusual was up, Headmaster Bradford raised his hands, signaling the students to quiet down.

"Welcome by dear students to another wonderful, and I'm sure to be eventful, year at the Salem Academy of Magical Arts."  The Headmaster couldn't help but to once more catch his nephew's eye and coughed slightly to cover up a chuckle as the look of pure innocence on Harry's face when he uttered the word 'eventful'.

After continuing through the usual start of term notices, the Headmaster paused for dramatic affect before dropping his next bomb on the unsuspecting student body.  "I'll try not to take up too much of your time this evening, but I have one last thing that must be announced.  Many of you are not familiar with the history surrounding the Triwizard Tournament.  This event has not been held for many, many years and has historically been between the three largest and most prominent European magical institutions.  This year, however; the various Ministries of magic have elected to reinstate this old tradition."

                   

Harry wasn't even paying attention when his Uncle rose to recite his usual start of term nonsense.  It was practically the same speech every year, and Harry could recite it by heart after listening to it six times already.  However, when the girl sitting beside him nudged him painfully in the side, abruptly interrupting his very interesting conversation with Mickey regarding their plans for their first 'welcome back' prank, he realized something was different about his Uncle this year.  The man seemed excited, almost bubbly.  Deciding that perhaps the prank discussion would have to wait until they were back in the dorm, Harry turned to face the head table, just in time to hear the words 'Triwizard Tournament' fall from the Headmaster's lips.

Gasps filled the room as Harry tired to process what he had just thought he heard.  'So there was finally going to be a Tournament again.  Maybe we'll get a chance to go watch.'

Harry had studied the Tournament and its origins in his fifth year History of Magic class, along with an overview of the founding of the various schools of magic and their related governments.  While not fascinating subject matter, it had been a nice change from all the goblin rebellions that they had studied in their third and fourth years. 

At one time or another to be a Tournament Champion was every teenage witch or wizard's fantasy.  To know that your entire school was depending on you to represent them with honor and valor; that everyone was behind you, supporting you, and of course in the end you were victorious.  After all, it was your dream.  But now, it seemed that after centuries, there was going to be another one, and Harry was certain that he didn't want to miss it.  Harry hated having to ask his Grandfather for anything, and tried to avoid asking the old man for favors at all costs, but this might be his one chance to ever witness something like this.  Making up his mind to send off his bald eagle, Talon, with a request the moment his Uncle stopped talking, Harry settled back in his seat.

Harry tuned back into the Headmaster's speech just as he was finishing a brief explanation of the Tournament, for those that hadn't heard of it before.  "As I was saying, this traditionally was a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang.  However, this year, one of these schools elected not to compete in the event, as such, the invitation was tendered to us here at the Salem Academy of Magical Arts to compete in their place."

There was a moment of complete silence before the questions started, softly at first but then the children and teachers alike grew bolder in their excitement.  "What did he just say?"  "Surely he is mistaken, I mean, why would they ask us to compete in such a prestigious event?"

Harry's mind was racing, and for the first time ever he was grateful for all those extra lessons his Grandfather had insisted he take.  Had the selection of Champion been based on Professor recommendations alone, Harry knew that he would stand a good chance of being named Champion, but teacher's recommendations didn't select the school Champion, the Goblet of Fire did.  Knowing that he stood the same chance as the other students, Harry's excitement grew as he heard the Headmaster say that he, along with all the seventh years, would be leaving Massachusetts for Scotland sometime in October and would not be returning until the end of the Tournament, which was scheduled to conclude after the NEWT exams.  The seventh years would be spending practically their entire seventh year at Hogwarts.

                   

The Headmaster smiled at the upheaval his unexpected announcement had made.  The reactions of the seventh years had been most amusing to behold.  The excitement on Harry and Michael's faces had made his old heart feel warm again.  One thing was certain it was going to be an interesting year indeed.

To Be Continued…..

Important A/N:  Sorry for the long time since I had last updated.  I am still not done with my other story AMiT, as such this story is still on the back burner.  However, it will be continued, it is just a matter of when.  There are only about three more chapters of AMiT, so again, once that story is finished I will continue with this one.  I still have several holes in this story, so please keep in mind that these first two chapters are very much WIP and are subject to change.  If I do major revisions to these chapters, I will post a note.  Thank you for your time and consideration.