A/N: Sasuke returned the fic as promised, and now we're back at Hogwarts…
That said, PLEASE REVIEW! I'M IN WITHDRAWAL! I NEED ME MY REVIEWS!
by Shadow Crystal Mage
Chapter 23: GoF, Genin Remix 7! Grave Peril! Sorry, No Zombie Dinosaurs
Disclaimer: yes, the title is back to the way it should be. I don't own Naruto or Harry Potter. I'm not making any money off this. Please don't sue me. TvTropes it, dattebayo!
"Did we ever get the sewage question answered?" Cedric asked philosophically.
"I veleive ve decided ve did not vant to knoh," Fleur said.
"Ah, that's right," Cedric said. "Still, it really shouldn't matter, after all. I mean, all sewage goes into the ocean eventually, right?"
"Cedric…" Harry said.
"So that means the ocean is full of sewage. But no one ever really seems to care, because people still take their holiday at the beach, right?"
"I mean, that beach water must be full of sewage! But no one ever seems to get sick from it so–"
"Cedric! If you don't stop babbling about sewage right now, I'm stopping this broom right here and leaving you behind! Now keep a bloody eye out"
The four champions continued through the water, eyes looking everywhere. The lake was murky green, and they'd needed to shine their wands to see through the mess. Harry lamented not stealing one of the periscope things when he'd had the chance. The weak winter sunlight made for a sickly light, made all the worse by the waving forests of seaweed. Lake weed? Kelp? Actually, Harry wasn't sure.
The other champions trailed behind him, tethered to his broom by their lines.
"I wonder how much trouble we're going to be in when we get back up," Cedric said brightly.
"Don't be defeatist Cedric," Victor said.
"'E eez right," Fleur said. "Ve might die and not 'ave to go back!"
Harry looked over his shoulder and glared at them. "Hey, I'm the one who makes the bad jokes in this group, darn it! Stop stealing my only contribution!"
In response, the three pointed. "LOOK OUT!"
Harry turned in time to get a face full of Grindylow.
This wasn't the first time he'd been hit in the face. After all, hitting someone in the face had certain tactical advantages. You negated at least three senses if you hit right, you interrupt their thought processes, it was hard to effectively armor against so it was always a soft target, and it hurt like hell. Being hit in the face underwater was kinda new, though.
Harry was knocked off his broom by the impact, his Bubblehead Charm popping out. Water pressure suddenly became a pressing (ha-ha!) issue as the secondary benefits of the spell went bye-bye. He flailed about, momentarily panicked. Underwater combat wasn't something that they spent a lot of time with in the Academy, the idea being if you were stupid enough to be pulled underwater you deserved to die anyway (or at least that's what Anko said), so he had no instincts to fall back on. He could feel tentacles wrapping around his head, and little claws cutting at his scalp, and kept his mouth firmly closed. ALL ninja knew how to react to tentacles, at least. He felt more claws and tentacles beginning to settle on his arms and legs.
The sensation of heat against his neck was quickly followed with the Grindylow being ripped off his face and he involuntarily let out a lungful of precious air as he cried out in surprise in pain. The cold of the lake was a thematically unpleasant contrast to the sudden fiery pain of suction cup wounds all over his head, not to mention friction burns.
A part of his brain that sounded suspiciously like Naruto said he was acting too uncool for a ninja.
Distantly, a distorted, bubbly voice called out a spell.
And suddenly he was breathing again as another Bubblehead Charm wrapped around his head, the pounding on his ears fading as the spell fixed the issue of water pressure. He took a deep breath, choked, and threw up water, popping the spell again.
There was a warbling, annoyed sigh, and a feminine voice cast the spell on him again. "'Onestly, 'Arry, are you trying to get keeled?"
"I tried to sign up for this, didn't I?" Harry said.
Fleur glared at him. "Do you vant to keep breazing, 'Arry?"
Harry's hand snapped to the knife at his shoulder, drawing the blade and leveling it at her face. She kicked back, her own wand reciprocating.
"Relashio!" they both cried. Jets of heated, kinetically-energized steam bubbles flew from wand and knife-point.
Both looked over their shoulders at the Grindylows flying back.
"Wow," Harry said. "If this were a movie or something, that would have been awesome!"
Fleur rolled her eyes and shot another curse at the Grindylows.
"Cedric! Viktor! Back to back with us!" Harry called, sniping at the little water demons. "Hey, get away from my broom you little sea monkeys!" A shadow passed over him, and he looked up in time to snap a spell and stop a repeat. "Fleur, watch the area under us! We've got two more directions to watch now!"
The two other Quidditch players had moved to watch each other's backs. Their playing experience had taught them to watch all three axis, and from the number of jets coming from them, they were quite enthusiastic to finally be able to hit back in this situation. Fleur was less experienced, but her quick eye managed allowed her to make up for it somewhat, and apparently walking around with her nose in the air and wearing a skirt had given her an instinct for knowing when something was coming at her from below. Harry kept the area above them clear, while taking on the rest on his side and keeping his broom clear of the little things. The others were still tied to it, keeping it from sinking to the bottom.
Slowly, the two groups came together, managing to watch all directions. They managed to drive off the Grindylows; they were ambush predators who relied on surprise and numbers to win. In no time, the things were zipping back down into the weeds… kelp… whatever.
"Wow…" Harry said. "Awfully convenient we took up those things with Professor Lupin last year."
"Time," Cedric reminded him. "Accio Firebolt!"
"Hey, my broom, remember?" Harry said, taking it from him and getting mounted. "Hold on! I'm going to see how fast I can get this up to. And watch out for monsters this time!"
The other three wrapped their hands on the lines securing them as Harry brought the broom back to life, moving faster through the water. A few random Grindylows darted at them from the weeds, but there was no big rush like last time, and they were easily kept back by blasts from the Champions. At one point, Viktor had them dive among the weeds as the shadow on the giant squid came ominously close. No Grindylows were in the weeds with them, making Harry wonder darkly that the little buggers might be smarter than they thought.
As the squid faded back into the water and they were breathing sighs of relief, Fleur cocked her head, raising a hand. "Do you 'ear zhat?"
Cedric and Viktor frowned, shaking their heads, but Harry cocked his head to the side too. "Is that… singing?"
"Accapella," Fleur said critically, and sniffed. "Zhey need more mid-rangez."
"How you know?" Viktor asked.
"Zchool choir," Fleur said. "Four years."
"I think it's coming from over there," Harry said, pointing. "Come on."
They flew off, leaving the kelp beds and over plains of black mud. Or at least, Harry hoped it was mud. Really, really hoped it was mud. He saw the others trying not to look at it. Soon, the other two began to hear it too, a haunting, ethereal tune. Harry aimed for it, and soon a large rock resolved out of the muddy water ahead. It has been crudely painted with drawings of merpeople, like children's scrawls.
A little further on, and suddenly what looked like stone dwellings faded out of the water. They were crude, hollow affairs, more a means of defining 'inside' and 'outside' and a place to keep possessions than shelter.
"We not alone anymore," Viktor said grimly.
Merfolk surrounded them, just out of sight, the fishy sheen of their bodies rendering them near-invisible, but what little Harry could see of them, he had to wonder how drunk and horny sailors had to have been to find them hot. The 'dwelling' were getting more complicated now as they went deeper into what was obviously an urban center, growing more numerous and crowded together. There were kelp gardens in front, and even some pet Grindylows, a few wearing the Grindylow-equivalent of those ridiculous shoes and sweaters some pet owners put on their cats and dogs. It looked no less absurd on the Grindylows then it did on the mammal quadrupeds.
"Hey, Cedric, maybe they know the answer to the sewage question," Harry said brightly.
Cedric gave him a dirty look.
Not long afterwards, the little stone huts opened into what looked like a central square. And in the center, four figures floated, eyes closed. Fleur gasped.
"Your little sister?" Harry asked as they slowed, beginning to swim on their own power. The little girl having silvery hair was sort of a dead giveaway
"She's cute," Harry said mildly.
Fleur stopped dead in the water, turned and leveled her wand at a surprised Harry's nose. "Touch my leetle sister," she said flatly, "and I castrate you. Understood?"
"Perfectly," Harry said, going cross-eyed as he stared at the wand. "Absolutely clear."
Fleur nodded curtly, turned and swam away. She somehow managed to do that huffily.
Harry turned to the other two. "I don't come across like that, do I?" he said.
The two exchanged looks.
"Oh, come on!" Harry said. An ungenerous person might say he was pouting. "Do I look like some kind of sexual predator?"
They shared another look.
"I hate you guys," he muttered, turning and also managing to swim away huffily.
Cedric and Viktor exchanged smirks and followed.
As the merfolk circled, Harry gave the other three a withering look. "Three older wizards supposedly better prepared than me, and not one of you thinks to bring a knife," he said, sawing through the rope tethering Ginny in place.
Fleur sniffed, making her head bubble ripple. "Arry, ve could 'ave used our vands for this."
"Oh, then should I use my wand then…?" Harry asked, pointing his dagger-wand at Fleur's sister.
"Try and I keel you," Fleur said.
"Ah, Fleur, every word out of your mouth just turns me on even more," Harry swooned.
Fleur raised an elegant eyebrow. "So vhat elze eez new?"
Harry laughed. "My knives it is."
As Harry sawed through the rope tethering a Durmstrang boy in place, Viktor said, a bit defensively, "He's my study partner."
"I didn't say anything," Harry said.
"Nothing wrong with it at all," Cedric agreed, securing Cho as well as he could to the end of his tow rope.
"It's just Quidditch takes lots of my time, I need help catching up," Viktor continued.
"Perfectly understandable," Fleur agreed.
"Why is blud coming from your nose?" Viktor said.
"No idea vhat you mean…"
"You'd better hope there aren't any sharks down here," Cedric warned her.
"Don't be zilly. Zhere are no fresh-vater sharks in Great Vrittain."
"Like there aren't any giant squid?" Harry said.
The trip back was slow going. They needed to make sure their hostages didn't get tangled up in their ropes after all, plus they were no longer tied down themselves. Harry had to fly slower, mainly because he had Ginny on his lap, and the combination of having to keep a hold on her and trying ot use a broom underwater was making for some awkwardness. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn't a pervert. He only messed with girls when they were conscious, so they'd be perfectly capable of screaming in protest and expressing their displeasure. That was only fair. Be unconscious, and he was positively a gentleman.
The hostages were still alive… somehow...
"Eet must be ze spell on zem," Fleur had hypothesized. "'Ostages are no use dead."
"So they should be fine even if we stay underwater?" Cedric had asked, wrapping his rope around his arm.
"The ride is smoother down here than if we bring them to the surface and drag them along," Harry had agreed. "We just need to be careful we don't run into any Grindylows."
And they hadn't. Not one Grindylow, fish, suspicious moving shape. The way back was pretty free and clear.
It took all of Harry's not really that considerable impulse-control to keep his mouth shut about that.
"This easy," Viktor commented, shifting his study buddy. "I actually thought be harder."
Harry threw back his head and screamed.
Everyone looked at him, surprised.
"You had to say it," Harry nearly sobbed. "Why did you have to say it?"
"Vhat did 'e say?" Fleur asked, equally confused.
"He tempted fate!" Harry cried. "He waved a banner in front of fate reminding it we existed! Things can only go down from here! We're probably going to be attacked by a freshwater-shark or something! Fate is going to bitchify us! Fate is going to shove us against a wall and brutally sodomize us!"
"Fleur, your nose is bleeding again," Cedric commented.
"Eez eet?" Fleur said, looking half-dazed.
"Harry, you are being silly," Viktor said.
"Whatever happens to me, take care of Ginny!" Harry declared emo-ly.
Cedric sighed as the water began to darken. "Harry, come on. We're running out of time. Nothing bad is going to happen. Fate is not out to… bitchify… us."
Harry didn't answer. "What happened to the sun?"
They all looked up.
There was a high-pitched, girly scream of utter terror.
Everyone blinked and looked at Harry.
He blushed, coughed, and let out a low-pitched, manly scream of utter terror as the giant squid descended upon them, its tentacle's spread.
"Harry, relax," Cedric said. "It's just the giant squid. It's harmless."
"It has tentacles!" Harry hissed. "Nothing with tentacles is ever harmless!-!-!-!-! You just know it wants to take its phallic little limbs and violate Fleur all over, shoving it's naughty little meat sticks where the sun doesn't shine…"
"Ew…" Fleur said, giving him a distasteful look.
"Harry, your nose is bleeding," Viktor said pleasantly.
"I can't help it…!"
The giant squid began to descend lower, its tentacles extended.
"Um, not that I agree with Harry, but it's still coming closer," Cedric said.
Fleur sighed. "Alright 'Arry, eet vas funny and all, but look, just because somezhing 'as tentacles doez not mean zhat it vill–"
She screamed as a tentacle wrapped around her leg, losing her grip on her sister. It was, in retrospect, much lower pitched and less girly than Harry's had been.
"Gabrielle!" Fleur cried as a tentacle snaked down to the smaller girl.
A jet of superheated bubbles flashed, stinging the reaching tentacle, which recoiled. "Protect the loli!" Harry cried.
"Accio!" Cedric and Viktor chorused, and Gabrielle stopped her downward drift.
Harry cursed. The water rendered throwing anything impossible. He leveled his wand at the closest tentacles, sending curses at them, stinging the squid as Fleur grabbed her sister, grabbing the rope tight.
Harry grabbed his Firebolt and kicked it into gear, holding Ginny tight against him. Ropes went taught as he towed the others through the water.
The squid overtook them in one lunge. Harry dove, barely avoiding the leading tentacles, but he knew this was a losing proposition. It was only a matter of time before the squid trapped them against the lakebed if they kept diving. Behind him, he could hear the other three throwing their own curses to try and discourage the squid.
He knew it wasn't going to go away, however. He knew deep in his ninja soul that it wouldn't rest until it had captured him and forcefully stuck its–
Harry stifled his whimpers as he realized what he needed to do. He looked back and made a snap decision.
"Viktor! Take over the broom!" Harry cried, slapping a temporary sticking charm to Ginny to keep her on the broom as he kicked off. He poured chakra into his legs and arms, trying to smooth out his movements as he swam at a right angle from the others. There was a cry as Viktor dropped his classmate, but Harry ignored them, swimming as hard as he could. He didn't know any fancy jutsu for getting through water fast, but he knew enough to keep himself going.
He heard voices crying out behind him, but he ignored them. He could feel the giant squid swimming through the water, coming after him and hoped to the Shodai Hokage he came out of this with his anal virginity intact…
Up on the platforms, people waited with bated breath, murmuring excitedly to each other and wondering what had just happened. There was no other topic of conversation, everyone focused on the second task. People rotated around the underwater periscopes, while others
"So, you slept with the Patil twins?" Dean asked Lavender.
She elbowed him shut. "Keep it down," she hissed, blushing.
Well, most of them.
"So, where are they?" Hermione asked Ron, who was handling the periscope.
"Oh, they were on their way back," Ron said. "I can't see them right now, the giant squid is in the way."
Out in the lake, giant tentacles erupted from the water.
"Release the Kraken," Luna said dreamily. "Despite the joke being several years out of date."
Everyone took a few steps away from the crazy girl.
Hermione frowned. "I hope Harry's okay."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Hermione, it's just the giant squid. It's not going to kill Harry. It doesn't even have teeth."
Hermione gave him a flat look. "Ron, giant squids are carnivorous."
"Hermione, they don't even have teeth."
"No, they have vicious beaks that can tear a whale apart."
Ron blinked. "Really?"
"Huh. So that's what Harry was trying to swim away from," Ron said.
He yelped as Hermione grabbed his collar. "What?" she shrieked.
"Relax, I think he got away…" Ron said.
Down below the water broke, and there were cries as Fleur scrambled onto the deck, pulling a small girl with her. Her classmates surrounded her, one throwing a warm robe around her and another on the little girl. Another came with a bunch of towels. She waved the second one off as she spoke in rapid fire French. Cedric broke the surface, heading for the closest platform, which happened to be where Fleur was. He hesitated halfway, since the Beauxbatons students were crowding thickly on the edge, and he turned towards the next platform instead.
Fleur broke through her classmates, letting her robe fall open as she knelt and extend a hand towards him and Cho. Cedric smiled and took it, and she helped pull him up, the two of them carrying Cho out of the water. The two of them were ready when Viktor popped out, holding his classmate in one arm, and Ginny and the Firebolt in the other. "Quick, quick!" he cried, and the two leapt into action, Fleur grabbing the Gryffindor girl and tugging her out of the lake as Cedric did the same for the Durmstrang boy.
As soon as his arms were free, Viktor turned and mounted the Firebolt, rising out of the water towards the writhing mass of tentacles.
"Hey!" Cedric called out. He leapt, his feet landing into the water but grabbing Viktor's leg. "You're not going without me!"
Viktor grunted, reaching down and pulling Cedric on behind him as the broom began to accelerate.
"Hey!" Fleur called out angrily, shaking her fists at them as the Tournament began climbing down onto the platform. "Come back here, you (VLEEP)-ing (VLEEP)-ing (VLEEP)-ing (VLEEP) voys!"
"Mademoiselle Delacour!" Madame Maxime cried, shocked.
"My word!" Bagman stuttered.
Letting out one last string of (VLEEPS), Fleur turned and, dropping her robe on a reviving Ginny, she barreled through the judges and ran up the stairs, rushing towards the highest point of the platform, dodging students from all schools as she ran frantically to the top. She ignored the cries behind her, demanding that she stop, asking what was going on, and where Harry was.
She reached the top of the stairs, which was relatively clear except for two of her classmates, Illyasviel and Kurosviel, making out. The two split apart, but she ignored the sisters as she ran to the edge, drawing her wand. She held it before her, facing the mass of tentacles writhing above the water, flashes of green and red light flickering around it. Her wand made a complicated gesture as she put her advance classes to bear. "Lumièreia-Desii-Étoilesin Disjoncteurius!"
An intense beam of light erupted from her wand, streaking towards the giant squid. Below her, there were sudden cries of surprise as the blinding radiance lit up the day. When Fleur's vision cleared, the squid's tentacles were waving frantically, and Fleur allowed herself a smirk. She'd finally managed to find a use for that lighthouse spotlight spell. She didn't know much about squids, but she'd seen enough to know one thing: squids had enormous eyes.
And she'd been aiming for one when she'd thrown that spell.
"Fix your clothes you two," she snapped at the Einzbern twins in French. "It's cute and all, but the teachers might not think so…"
"Stop oppressing our lifestyle choice!" Kurosviel snapped.
Illyasviel sighed and dragged her sister away, telling her to button up her blouse and straighten her skirt, her panties were showing…
There is no exercise in the world like combat.
All ninja faced the problem of running out of energy, whether that energy was chakra, the calories to keep their body moving, or the mental awareness, acuity and concentration that translated to spiritual energy. Rival clans and villages had devoted countless manhours to finding out how the Akimichi clan managed to stay fat while still having the active lifestyle of a shinobi. In the shinobi world, the challenge was keeping the calories on, not off.
Harry knew he was in the average range for his age group when it came to chakra. Physically, however, he knew he was slightly below average. Despite all his training and exercise, the relatively sedentary lifestyle of school like had taken it's toll, and the hellish training– and, he grudgingly allowed, proper reconditioning– of summer was a long way off.
He'd tried to head for the surface as soon as the others were out off sight, sending back Cruciatus curses to try to keep the giant squid at bay. The parts he'd hit reeled back, but it kept on his trail. He wasn't sure if it had a significantly different nervous system or if it was just too big to affect with the spell the way he was throwing it around in panic. His fire jutsu were useless underwater, and his other stuff was too close-range.
A tentacle wrapped around a leg, and he screamed, his wand flashing down and flicking a Severing Charm. Dark squid blood erupted, and the grip loosened. One kick, and he'd wrenched out the suckers, swimming harder, but more tentacles came his way. He threw Furnunculus Curses at them, causing boils to break out over the tentacles. The tentacles suddenly twitched, as if extra sensitive, and he managed to doge past them, cursing any in his way.
He heard water churning, and felt hopeful. Churning meant there was air nearby to churn. He looked up, saw the glistening mirrored surface close, and made a break for it. He broke the surface, but he could hear tentacles breaking out of the water around him as he charged his hand and legs with chakra, pushing himself out of the water and onto his knees, then getting to his feet. The water was roiling, making his footing less than stable, but was a steadier battle position than being underwater, he drew the blades he got for Christmas from his back, slashing at the tentacles coming for him as he tried to orient himself. He was in the middle of the lake, and he couldn't see the platforms anywhere, but from the side of it, they were right on the other side of the giant squid.
He supposed that was a blessing. At least there wouldn't be any awkward questions about why he was walking on water. He supposed there was probably a spell for doing that, but he probably wouldn't be able to answer if asked, and even he recognized there was a limit to what people would swallow. Those were considerations for later, though, as he tried to stay out of the giant squids reach. He could feel the terror rising in his shinobi heart at the sight of this most ancient and nefarious enemy of his people. Minds had broken because of these things, families destroyed. There was probably a provision in the agreement between the ninja villages banning thee things from being used as a weapon. He'd heard from Miko-san that the Miroku had once devoted themselves specifically to finding techniques to counter these… things and had failed miserably. Not even their specialized clan jutsu had given them an advantage, and it was whispered the attempt had seeded the entire clan with insanity. That certainly explained a couple of things.
A tentacle wrapped around his leg again, but his response was faster now, slashing downwards in the accepted academy manner for getting your leg out of snares without cutting it off. The tentacle recoiled, dark blood dripping as it drew back.
"How many tentacles does this thing have?" he cried in exasperation as he stood on the increasingly choppy water. The flasks tide to his body burned hot, in sharp contrast to the rest of him, which was starting to freeze in the wind.
Then there was light.
Harry's pained scream of "GAH! MY EYES! I'VE GONE BLIND!-!-!-!-!" was sort of overshadowed by the vibrating roar of the giant squid. He tried to blink vision back into them, but even with the squid blocking whatever it was, that light had been intense, and all he could make out were hazy shapes in the midst of bright flickers. He could see the colors of the tentacles and the water, but both were hazy, and the flash had destroyed his ability to estimate distances. He saw a blur of flesh try to lash at him, slashed and missed, and saw he'd misjduged, he wouldn't be able to bring his blades back in time…
A spear lashed out of the water, piercing the tentacle, and it drew back. Harry tried to blink his eyes clear. There shapes under the water, and he could hear a mix of high-pitched shrieking and barely legible bubbly words. Merfolk? What were they doing up here? He could barely make them out, some half-way above the water, most below, stabbing at the giant squid with spears, a few bursting up from the water like dolphins to throw their spears in mid-air.
He looked up. There were less spots in his eyes, he he could vaguely make out a broom in the air, it's rider strangely distended and huge. As it flew, closer, he saw it was two people. "Here!" he called out, waving his arms. "Cedric! Viktor!"
He belatedly remembered he should probably let himself sink into the water when a flailing tentacle whipped around his torso and jerked him into the air. He let out a cry as a distinct crack erupted from his torso at the impact. Broken rib, he thought dazedly, perhaps two. At least it wasn't his spine, because he could still feel the flasks warm against his legs. Thank goodness for small mercies…
Now, if it would just not pierce his lungs…
He tried to stab at the tentacle, only to belatedly realize he'd dropped the blade. Oh, wouldn't Naruto and Sasuke be pissed. He fumbled at his shoulder, at the wand dagger he'd holstered there, but his fingers felt thick and mushy. Oh, was he going into shock? Well, between the cold and the rib, possibly ribs, it wasn't a surprise. Wow, Anko was going to be pissed a him, letting such a little injury turns his brains to mush like this…
His eyes were clearing more, his gaze bleary, and but the tentacle squeezing on his broken rib was keeping him awake, why was it getting darker? And what was that beak… thing…
Oh! It only wanted to eat him! What a relief! He was going to die with his virginity intact!
Wait a minute…
The horrible incongruity of that thought snapped him mostly out of his shock as he realized what he'd just thought. Water lapped over his legs as he finally drew his dagger wand, trying to get out of the squid's grip.
The giant squid shrieked suddenly, and Harry cried out as the tentacle whipped outward, pressing against his rib. There was a crimson flash, and suddenly he was in freefall, the cut tip of a tentacle still wrapped around him, the muscle spasming randomly.
Viktor appeared out of nowehere, Cedric behind him, one arm extended. The Hufflepuff managed to grab Harry's free arm, but it slipped, and the older boy swore. "Closer!" he snapped.
The water was five feet below them when Cedric managed to grab Harry's forearm in a more secure grip just as Viktor pulled up sharply. Harry's feet trailed the water as they took to the air, leaving the giant squid behind fighting the merfolk. He could feel a warmth inside him. How nice. This must be that warm and fuzzy feeling they talked about…
"Hang on, Harry!" Cedric cried. "Hang on! Stay with me!"
What a stupid thing to say. Of course Harry was hanging on. Look, his dagger was still in his hand, so he hadn't let it go! Now, if they'd only do something about this pain in his side, he'd be just dandy, right cute girl with the top hat flying next to him?
The platforms were in chaos as they landed, Harry's feet scrapping along the ground, a length of tentacle still wrapped around him. People were crying, and he could vaguely make out Ginny and Hermione's voices. Someone grabbed him roughly, and he let out an involuntary cry. He heard Cedric yelling, saw Luna chatting pleasantly with the girl in the top hat as blackness overcame him…
He came to in the hospital wing.
At first, he just lay there, wondering vaguely just what had happened this time to land him on his specially-reserved bed. Then the memories started trickling in, and he jerked upright, then winced as the bandage tightened along his chest. He could feel the tingly-tingly feeling of Skele- grow in his system, and his mouth was full of strange flavors he dearly hoped were potions and not some sort of giant squid semen.
He looked around, but the pitcher next to his bed was empty. Well. How do you like that. He glared at the motley crew napping around his bed. They could have at least left him some water. Hermione had fallen asleep on her chair with a big medical book entitled 'Lungs: The Hows and Wherefores of Curing' open on her face, a line of drool trickling down her partially-open mouth. Ron and Ginny were passed out on the bed next to his, looking like they'd fallen asleep sitting up and gravity had inevitably dragged them downward. Someone had lain a blanket on the sleeping pair, who were lying against each other, looking absolutely adorable. He had to wonder why Ginny looked like she'd been crying, though. Maybe she'd had a nightmare? Well, it looked like it was all done, at least.
On his other side, Cedric, Viktor and Fleur were similarly passed out on their own chairs, The stoic Bulgarian was sitting more or les upright, his arms crossed, eyebrows furrowed sullenly as he slept. Cedric was slightly less dignified, sleeping wit hhis head lolling back over the rear of his chair, mouth gaping open, his nose whistling slightly as he breathed. Fleur looked tiny in her chair, her knees pulled up under her chin, gripping Harry's sheathed dagger tightly in her hands.
That prompted Harry to look down at himself. Someone had changed his clothes, and his weapon belts with their empty sheathes were on his other bedside table, along with his hitai-ate. He picked that up and deftly tied it around his head above his scar, tying it securely it wouldn't slip off due to its slightly awkward placement. There was a trick to it. He smacked his lips, grimacing at the horrible taste in his mouth. It was late– or very early– if the shadows were any indication, and he really needed a glass of water. He slipped out of bed, walking quietly so he didn't wake anyone up. The light was on in Madame Pomfrey's office, but he didn't think she had any water in there. And speaking of water…
He sighed as he relieved himself in the lavatory next to the hospital wing, washing his hands in the cold water of the faucet. He scooped up at little and tried to gargle the foul taste out of his mouth, spitting it into the basin and wiping his mouth on his pajamas. He stretched, yawning, and winced at he pain in his side, before shuffling back to the hospital wing.
Someone had turned on the lights, and he could hear Madam Pomfrey bustling excitedly as he slipped into the room with ninja-like stealth. Wait, not ninja-like since he definitely was a ninja. Just plain stealth then. He padded back towards the bed as the others roused themselves, talking excitedly around his bed. He frowned. Oh, what now? He wanted to get back to sleep, darn it?
He tapped Cedric on the shoulder to get his attention. "What's going on?" he asked.
Cedric jumped and whirled to face him. "Harry!" he cried.
"Yes, that is my name," Harry said dully. "Please don't overuse, as you'll rub off all the specialness."
"HARRY!" everyone else cried, rushing towards him and ignoring Madame Pomfrey's admonitions not to be noisy in her hospital wing.
"You're rubbing the specialness off," he said, only to be cut off as Ginny hugged him, sobbing into his chest. "Ack! Rib, rib!"
"Ah! Sorry!" Ginny cried, horrified as she recoiled.
"Harry! You… YOU…!" Hermione tried to say, torn between relief and a slowly bubbling anger. "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!-?"
"I had to take a leak," Harry said, as if that explained everything, and it did. "What are you getting all bent out of shape for?"
"Out of… sshapergh… miraghethff… ARGH!" Hermione exclaimed in Angrish.
"Hermione, calm down, you can beat Harry up when he's healthy," Ron said, holding her back as she tried to thump Harry with her reference book.
"Harry," Cedric said, looking him up and down. "You look well."
Viktor was less chatty, going for the traditional manly inquiry about another man's health. "Yo."
Harry nodded at him, answering with the traditional response. "'Sup."
They all nodded and that was that.
Fleur, face blank and cold, stalked up to Harry and slapped him full-armed across the face. "You stupide, idiot, le héros égoïste!-!-!-!-!" she snapped vehemently, pounding on his shoulders for emphasis. "NEVER do zat again!"
Harry nodded solemnly. Her touch was as light as air despite how violent it looked. "Got it. Never get killed to prove a point, don't go being a distraction for a giant squid. I'll try not to do it again."
Fleur nodded fiercely, grabbed his ears, pulled him in for a very thorough kiss, pushed him away and turned with a huff back to her chair. Harry swayed slightly, blinking as he tried to catch up with events. "Okay, what's going on? You guys are all kinda over-reacting, aren't you? Seriously, I'm fine."
"Mr. Potter, you almost died," Madame Pomfrey said as Ginny gave Fleur a glare. "Again!"
"So what else is new?" Harry said. He yawned. "So, what did I miss? Anything juicy? Oh, who won?"
Cedric and Viktor exchanged looks as Fleur steadfastly ignored him. "Well, that's the thing…" Cedric said.
People were being a bit hysterical as Fleur pounded down the stairs, limping slightly from her fall on the third landing. She pushed through the crowd of assorted students, yelling at them to get out of her way as she pushed forward to where the other champions were. She shoved through to the front, stumbling slightly as she reached the cleared space, and gasped, her hands rising to her face.
Harry lay, dripping wet on the platform, his wetsuit torn in curving lines. There were sucker marks on his bare leg where most of the fabric had been torn off, and even as she watched, Viktor was determinedly pulling off the length of tentacle wrapped around him. It had managed to tear off most of his wetsuit there, and a hideous bruise was growing on his side. Harry's breathing was labored, and he looked pale as death. He was starting to shiver as well, the movement thumping ominously on the platform like the hoof beats of Death's horse. Cedric was holding down Harry's arm, still clutching his dagger, the Hufflepuff trying to keep the Gryffindor from hurting himself. Ginny was crying hysterically, clutching at her brother, while Hermione was blabbering random facts non-stop as if unable to help herself.
And then the teachers were there, Professor McGonagall swearing fiercely as she knelt by her student's side, heedless of the water. The judges were right behind her. Fleur ignored the disapproving look her own headmistress cast her way as she knelt down next to Harry, pleading with him to wake up.
It was all a bit blurry after that too. Madam Pomfrey had arrived, sworn just as much as Professor McGongall had– apparently the appropriate response to Harry's injuries was swearing– and they'd levitated him back to the Hospital Wing as fast as wizardly possible. There'd been no tabulation of scores, just mad bedlam.
Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Harry's other friends had rushed off to his side, but the other three champions had stayed behind, staring after their fallen competitor– and there was a bit of a question mark about that last– as he was taken away.
Then Fleur had turned to them and slapped them both, hard. "Don't ever leave me ve'ind like zat again," she hissed, turned and, ignoring her own classmates, followed after Harry…
Harry winced, finally catching the fading shadow of a handprint on the other boy's cheeks. "Ouch. Okay, never die to prove a point, never by squid bait again and never ditch Fleur. Got it." He frowned. "So, they haven't declared a winner yet?"
Cedric shook his head. "Apparently, there were… abnormalities…"
Viktor snorted back a laugh. Cedrci smiled and continued. "So they're going to talk to use first. Probably first thing tomorrow."
Harry sighed and, under the gaze of Madam Pomfrey, clambered back to bed. "Then I'll worry about it then. I just wanna go to sleep right now…"
Madam Pomfrey nodded in approval, then turned to glare as Harry's friends sat back where they'd been. She said nothing, however, and after inspecting Harry's bandage, gave a sniff of good night and went back to her office, turning down the lights.
Soon, all were asleep in the hospital wing again.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" Karkaroff said, though 'demanded' might be a closer word.
Come mid-morning of the next day, the mood of the Hospital wing was wildly different. Ron, Ginny and Hermione had been shooed out as the judges descended, accompanied by Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick. The lack of Professor Snape hovering around was sort of off-putting. Harry sat upright in bed as Madam Pomfrey fussed over him, the healer shooting dark looks at the adults and muttering about 'stress to her patient'. Arrayed between him and the judges like some kind of wall were the other champions, looking disheveled after a night sleeping on chairs.
"I'd like a glass of water?" Harry said.
"Mr. Potter, this is hardly the time for levity!" Professor McGonagall snapped, not looking at all caring as she glared at her student. "You are all facing very serious accusations of cheating!"
"Oh, cheating," Harry said dryly. "Well, I wouldn't want to incriminate anyone in that, right, Viktor?"
Viktor smiled tightly, but said nothing, looking down as his headmaster glowered at him.
"Can someone tell me exactly what we've allegedly violated?" Harry said. "Because I wouldn't want this to be a repeat of the night I was shanghaied into this badly-thought out tournament against my will."
"You vere trying to put you name in ze cup all day!" Madame Maxime said.
"And famously not succeeding," Harry reminded her. "I have a school full of witnesses to attest to that. But let's not repeat ourselves. What did we allegedly do? Because last I checked– and I checked very thoroughly, since I didn't want to be caught in some weird contract against my will again– there is no rule against cooperating in the tournament."
"There doesn't need to be!" Karkaroff snapped. "It's a competition! It is understood that the champions are competing against each other!"
"Is it?" Harry said.
"Of course!" Karkaroff said, turning towards Bagman, who was looking less like his usual bubbly self. "You're supposed to be running this! What do the rules say?"
"Um, well…" Bagman fumbled with is copy of the rules. "I don't… let me see…"
Bagman grabbed the rulebook from him and roughly leafed through it. "Aha! Look, it says so right here! 'The Champions shall participate in the Triwizard Tournament, competing in a variety of Tasks not to number more or less than three to the satisfaction of the judges'!"
"I've read it, Professor Karkaroff," Harry said. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"It is implicitly stated there that the champions are to compete against each other!" Karkaroff snapped. "To do otherwise is a violation of the rules!"
"But professor Karkaroff, surely you can't be serious!" Bagman protested, glancing at Harry. "Look, I'm sure that–"
Viktor abruptly stepped forward. "Honored Judges, I have confession to make," he said, looking up, his head held high, poised and confident. Karkaroff froze. "I confess that it was I who coerced my fellow champions into assisting me in Second Task. The blame all lies with me, and I accept full responsibility for my actions! I submit myself to any penalty the judges wish to impose."
Karkaroff froze, both he and Harry choking on their own tongues, staring at Viktor.
"Ah," Dumbledore said, the first words he's said all day. "And why do you are you admitting to these accusations, Mr. Krum?"
The Quidditch player drew himself up proudly. "I am afraid that I can no longer bear the shame of being a party cheating," he said, almost defiant. His gaze went nowhere near his headmaster. "As a public figure, I must set an example to our impressionable youths, who might easily be led astray by such flagrant breaches."
Madame Maxime had a glint in her eye as she spoke. "Vell! A confession. I am afraid it is perfectly clear that–"
"Pas si vite!" Fleur suddenly cried, stepping forward dramatically. "My 'eart cannot ztay zilent anymore! I confess! Ze one who eez ze cause of all zhis is… moi!"
Madame Maxime blinked at the half-veela girl as Harry began to gag.
Madame Pomfrey gave him a sharp thwack on the back. "Now Mister Potter, remember to breathe," she said sternly, though there seemed to be a twinkle in her eyes.
"I uzed my charms to zeduce zhis fine young gentlemen into doing my dirty vork!" Fleur said dramatically. Harry gulped at the way she said 'dirty'. "Monsieur Krum might 'ave thought eet vas all 'is idea, but 'e' vas actually just ze tool of moi! But alaz, I cannot bear to zee an innozent take ze fall for vhat I 'ave done!"
The room was so filled with ham Harry was surprised flying pigs hadn't started spontaneously appearing in midair.
"Thank you for such candid words, Miss Delacour," Dumbledore said as Madame Maxime stared at the girl in stunned horror. Harry got the feeling the old man was positively enjoying himself. "They shall be taken into consideration,"
Cedric coughed and stepped forward. "Um, yes, professor," he said, looking self-conscious. "Just want to say, what these two are saying are utter bunk. I was all me. I seduced these two and made Fleur think she was telling us what to do, but it was all my idea. I did it all of it."
"You seduced both of them?" Professor Flitwick squeaked.
Cedric didn't so much as blush. "Secret Seeker Trysts were involved. I would rather spare you the details professor, as they'd be rather graphic, and inappropriate for polite company."
Harry managed a dry rasp of indignation.
"Rubbeesh!" Fleur declared. "It is clear zhat it was I who did ze seduction! Just loot at moi!"
"No, I cannot take allow you to take blame, Fleur," Viktor interrupted. "Your mind is clouded by the Dakr Arts my school known for, you do not know what you are saying. It is understandable, the mind plays tricks to cope–"
"Look, stop trying to cover for me you two, I did it, it's a fair cop–" Cedric was saying.
"OH, PLEASE!" Harry cried. "I did it, it was all my idea! I blackmailed them with Fleur's stolen underwear and Viktor's pants, then got Cedric to come along with it using pornography! I used my black market connections to get us our gear! Heck, it was MY Firebolt we were using, or was everyone blind!-!"
He panted, eyebrow twitching as everyone turned to him… and the other three champions burst out in laughter.
"Oh, ignore zhe leetle boy, 'e doez not know vhat 'e is saying," Fleur tittered.
"Mind scrambled by Dark Magicks," Viktor said, straight-faced. "He is pawn, manipulated by forces greater than him."
"Harry, everyone knows you're a raging egotist," Cedric said. "Do you honestly expect anyone to believe you of all people would put together a plan that would involve working with others and sharing the glory?"
Harry threw his pillow in the Hufflepuff's face.
Cedric didn't even so much as budge. "See? How can someone as immature as that possibly take credit for my actions?"
"Zhey are my actionz!" Fleur insisted.
"Balderdash," Viktor said. "I mastermind!"
Professor Dumbledore laughed, his hands clapping in applause. "Yes, yes, I believe you have made your point my lady, gentlemen."
"There was a point?" Bagman said, confused.
"As they are implicitly pointing out," Dumbledore said, "they were all involved in the alleged violation of the rules. Thus, no one person bears responsibility," his twinkle-to-eye ratio went up, "despite what the champions would like us to believe. We cannot disqualify them, as then we would have no tournament. And even if we were to lay a penalty on them, it would on the whole be rather pointless, since the penalties would have to be equal, and thus mathematically would cancel each other out."
"And that's just it!" Harry broke in. "No rules were broken!"
"Ah?" Dumbledore said. "And how do you come to that conclusion, Mister Potter?"
Hary pointed at the rule book. "I've read that book cover to cover, repeatedly, and the phrasing is very exact, and quite repetitive. The champions are to participate, and they have to compete in the tasks," Harry said, emphasizing. "Those are the exact phrases used in any mention of competition. We need to participate, and we to compete in the task." He leaned back. "NEVER is it mentioned anywhere that we need to compete against each other."
"It's the same thing!" Karkaroff snapped as light dawned on the other champions.
"Point in fact, Headmaster, it is not," Cedric, Quidditch Captain and veteran of much quibbling over the rules, said. "Given the structure of the tasks and the point-sytem employed, we are competing for the approval of the judges. It is possible for the judges to approve of each Champion equally, resulting in a tie, since we are judged on the merit of our performance, not on the merit of our performance as compared to the other Champions."
Viktor was nodding, as much a veteran, and in a less forgiving battlefield. "Therefore, in rules as stated at time of Task, for Champions to cooperate violates neither spirit or letter of rules."
"Actually, for us to cooperate is actually to live up to the spirit in which the Triwizard Tournament was founded," Harry said. "After all, we're supposed to be fostering friendship and cooperation, right? And I'd be proud to call any of these three my friend, rotten, glory-hounding liars that they are."
"Hush, you," Viktor said easily.
"Vell, I suppose zhat is vun vay of looking at eet," Madame Maxime said, "but eet could easily be interpreted anozzer vay!"
"Point of order," Fleur said. "In ze case of ambiguity in any written document, zhe precedent eez ze interpration favours zhe party who did not draft it. And I am zure I speak for all vhen I say no Champion participated in any drafting or revision of ze rules book."
Harry, Cedric and Viktor all nodded.
"Your choice ladies, gentlemen," Harry said, trying not to look smug and mostly succeeding. "You can say we violated the rules and drum us all out… or…?"
"Ladies and gentlemen!" Bagman announced at the Great Hall, the Champions sitting proudly at their various tables, "We have reached our decision! After conferring with Mer-Chieftainess Murcus and the Champions, and factoring in all events, we have decided to award marks out of fifty for each of the champions as follows!
"Miss Fleur Delacour demonstrated excellent use of the Bubble-Head Charm, quick and heroic action when one of her fellow Champions lost his charm and was in danger of drowning, keenness of hearing, foremost concern for the safety of the hostages, ingenious use of the Lighthouse Spotlight Spell and was first to return with her hostage. We therefore award her forty-two points."
There was wild applause, Harry and the other champions leading as they cheered for their friend.
"Mr. Cedric Diggory, who also used the Bubble-Head Charm, displayed brilliant wand work against the giant squid, and managed to catch Mr Potter in the nick to time while under enormous pressure. We therefore award him forty-one points!
"He helped save my skin!" Harry cried, clapping as loudly as the rest of them, his thankfully-retrieved blades riding in the harness on his back..
"Mr. Viktor Krum, who once more used the Bubble-Head Charm, displayed keen presence of mind in leading the escape from the giant squid. He also returned with Mr. Potter's hostage, and displayed incredible flying skills in rescuing Mr. Potter from a potentially fatal fall. We therefore award him forty-four points!"
"You're not coming off very good, mate," Ron said, still following Harry's cue and applauding.
"Still have a chance," Harry said.
"And finally, Mr. Harry Potter, who also used the Bubble-Head Charm to great effect. He was the first one to reach the hostages, and was the one who conceived the idea of using a broom underwater. He prepared for the adverse conditions of the Task above and beyond the normal, showed determination and willingness to see all hostages and Champions returned even at the expense of his own safety, stood with great courage in the face of danger–"
"He fought the giant squid!" the twins yelled enthusiastically, to premature applause.
"–and showed morale fiber in the true spirit of the Triwizard Tournament. Most judges–" Bagman gave Karkaroff a nasty look "– feel these accomplishments merit full marks–"
"HERE, HERE!" Viktor, Fleur and Cedric cried.
"– however… Mr Potter's score is forty-five points!"
The crowd roared, the other Champions standing and making it very clear they approved as the face Harry, cheering for all they were worth.
"The third and final task will take place at dusk on the twenty-fourth of June," Bagman tried to continue over the applause. "The Champions will be notified of what is coming, precisely one month beforehand, and the rules shall be, ah, updated to deal with certain ambiguities in interpretation. Thank you all for your support of the champions."
There was one last outburst of cheers as everyone dug into breakfast, and Ginny found herself the center of attention as people tried to get details of how she had ended up in the lake.
Only the champions were solemn, exchanging long, lingering looks with each other. They all nodded in salute, fully expecting the new rules to come down forbidding their cooperation.
Yet as the days to the third task ticked by, no such update made itself known.
Which was fine. They hadn't bothered worrying about it anyway…
Sirius sighed, feeling suddenly lonely. Naruto and Sasuke had left the village on a mission that morning, and they wouldn't be back for at least three days, perhaps more. At the moment, it was just him, Dobby and Myrtle in the slightly-extended apartment. Naruto and Sasuke had finished knocking a hole through the wall in the now-adjoining apartment, and there was now a large hole in the living room that doubled size of the apartment. For now, the other side was bare, but the floor was clean and they'd managed to put down new floorboards. The two had left some cans of paint for Sirius to varnish the floor with.
He sighed. This authority figure-thing was kinda hard. He stared resentfully at the cans.
There was a knock on the door. He stood up to open it, then paused, peering out the peephole. The kids had nagged him incessantly about security, and asserted that fancy spells and whatever were useless if you just opened the door for anyone.
Anko peered back. "Hey!" she greeted. "Wanna go for a drink?"
Sirius smiled, almost opened the door, then paused and Apparated out. "Sure," he said, appearing outside the apartment.
Anko raised her eyebrow, smiling at seeing a trick well done. "Come on. You're paying, cleaning man…"
"Wah! Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto cried, staring at where Kakashi had been cut in half by the two demon brothers. "He died so young!"
"Naruto…" Sakura said.
"We will miss you, Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto wailed, tears streaming down his eyes, "Don't worry, we'll take your lessons to heart! Okay, dibs on his wallet."
Behind him, Kakashi sighed and bopped the blonde one. "Naruto, get up."
"AH! It's the ghost of Kakash-sensei, here to make out with Myrtle-neechan!"
"Oh, put a lid on it," Kakashi said, turning to their client. "I believe a few explanations are in order…"
The bridge-builder gulped…
- To be continued...
A/N: The squid is all ranma hibiki's fault.
I hope this was a satisfactory resolution to the Second Task.
The spell Fleur used is famous, and has been (most likely badly) translated to French, and then had faux-latin endings added to turn it into a spell. It makes an enormous beam of light, and is exactly what is says on the tin: it was used for lighthouses to guide ships at see. Famous for being visible clear across the English channel. Rarely used now, as technology takes care of it.
Just a note, the cliffhanger from last chap WILL happen. Just not yet…
PROTEST THE TVTROPES "MORALITY" CLEAN UP! PROTEST! BOYCOTT! LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN! JUST BRING BACK THE FATE/STAY NIGHT PAGE!
Oh, and maybe a page for this?
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.