JKR owns Harry Potter…me, not so much
Harry and Cedric were walking side by side through the Great Hall and towards their dorms after the Champions meeting had broken up when Harry broke the silence, asking "Cedric, can you please let the Hufflepuff's know I had no intention of entering and did not want to steal your moment or anything of the like?"
Cedric stopped for a moment and looked at the younger boy, "I will Harry. With the Headmaster's revelation about the reason for the redraw and your own reaction, I would hope that they would be able to see for themselves…" he trailed off, nothing further needing to be said about how people tended to react to the Boy Who Lived. The pair parted ways in continued silence at the grand staircase, Cedric going down towards the kitchens while Harry began his walk up the first of seven stories of stairs.
As Harry reached the third floor, he decided upon a detour before heading on to what he was sure was another impromptu party in Gryffindor celebrating glory and all that rot. Heading down the Charms corridor, he was glad to see that Professor Flitwick's office was lit and the door slightly ajar. Approaching, he knocked and waited.
"Yes, come in," called the squeaky high pitched voice of the diminutive professor and former dueling champion.
"Professor," Harry started, entering the room, "I'd like to ask you to be my council if nobody else already has," he said getting straight to the heart of the matter.
Flitwick looked at him a moment in confusion, before nodding and answering, "Of course I will act as your council, dear boy, of course. May I inquire what it is that made you pick me of all of the options available to you?"
Harry smiled and replied, "Well, aside from being a Charms master and a dueling champion, I figure that the head of Ravenclaw house must be well versed in many types of magic," he said with a smile, then proving once again that he lacked any subtlety at all, he continued, "plus I need to report to my commanding officer, Captain Flitwick sir. Lieutenant Potter reporting as ordered."
The professor's demeanor changed instantly, his wand snapping to his hand. With a wave the door sealed itself; another wave and Harry knew the man had erected privacy wards. The normally jovial teacher was gone and in his place was a hardened veteran who said only two words, "explain, now!"
"Yes sir," Harry responded instantly to the command out of reflex, "When I woke up this morning, it was September 2nd 1996, sir. At your request, during the summer of '96, after Voldemort was resurrected and publicly revealed, several students were recruited for accelerated Mage training. We trained under Captain Thomas Payne and Commander Francis Bacon, our mission was to keep surveillance on certain high priority targets inaccessible to any other team as well as to search Hogwarts for dark objects and destroy them. I was just leaving my first class when Draco Malfoy cursed me in the back with the killing curse. I blacked out for a moment, and when I regained my senses, I was sitting in the Great Hall just after my name came out of the Goblet of Fire."
Flitwick regarded Harry in silence for several moments, brushing against his Occlumency shields briefly. "I believe you, though since you've never sworn your duty to the Mages in this timeline, I believe Mr. Potter and Professor Flitwick are our correct titles for now." The man frowned for a moment, "Tell me, do you know when and how Voldemort was resurrected?"
"To an extent sir, I was an eyewitness, but I am not familiar with the method he used," Harry replied, "May 15th, 1995 was the date, the location is the graveyard in a town called Little Hangleton. Voldemort was, and is even now, inhabiting some sort of disturbing magical construct homunculus. The ceremony required bone of the father unknowingly taken, flesh of the servant, willingly given and blood of the enemy forcefully taken; in this case he used my blood, sir. The Triwizard cup had been turned into a Portkey by Barty Crouch Jr. who is Polyjuiced into Professor Moody, that transported Cedric and me to the graveyard where Peter Pettigrew murdered Cedric then performed the ceremony."
"That is enough information, I believe, for me to identify the ceremony, but it will take some time," the Professor retorted, "What else about the future can you tell me, Mr. Potter?"
Harry winced, "Until I tried to be clever and refuse to participate in the ceremony without thinking through the consequences, I could have told you all of the events in the tournament and how I survived them. But that's out the window now. I believe you need to know that there is a prophecy concerning Voldemort and me in the Hall of Prophecies that he will obsess over until it is destroyed. It states that one of us must die at the hands of the other, neither can live while the other survives, and that I have a power the Dark Lord knows not." He paused, thinking, "Let's see, Rita Skeeter is an illegal Animagus, a beetle. Deloris Umbridge is a horrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and should be avoided by any means. She also set loose a pair of dementors after me and my cousin in an effort to silence me or to railroad me out of Hogwarts for the use of underage magic. All of this was with the full support of Minister Fudge, who was, or will be replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour after Voldemort is revealed."
"I see," the Professor acknowledged, "I have several follow up questions," at Harry's go ahead nod, he half asked, half stated "Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crouch Jr. are both dead."
"No sir, Pettigrew was an illegal Animagus, a rat, and hid out as the Weasley family rat until last year, when he was revealed by Sirius Black, who is innocent. Remus Lupin, Ron, Hermione and I all were witnesses to this as well. Barty Crouch Jr. was saved from Azkaban as his mother's last wish. Crouch Sr. and his wife visited him with a supply of Polyjuice, I guess she was rather ill," Flitwick nodded, "anyway, she Polyjuiced into Junior and Junior into her and Senior took Junior home under the Imperius curse, where he kept him until Junior broke free at the World Cup this year. It was he that conjured the Dark Mark."
"Very well," the Mage Captain stated, "I must admit this is a little overwhelming," the man said, his demeanor once again becoming that of the happy and excitable professor. "Do you know when Barty Crouch Jr. replaces the real Professor Moody?"
"Yes sir, he already has sir." Harry answered, "The Moody that arrived at Hogwarts during the feast is Crouch Jr. The real Mad Eye is held hostage in the seventh compartment of his seven key trunk."
"I see, do you have any way to prove this, preferably without you having to expose your future knowledge," Flitwick asked.
Harry thought for a moment before an idea came to him, "I do sir, it's not concrete, but should be enough to raise suspicion," he grimaced a little, "I have a map that shows me where everyone is in the castle, real time no matter if they are under a glamour, Polyjuice or if they are an Animagus. In my original time through forth year I spotted Junior on the map, but I didn't understand what it meant until it was too late."
"I believe that is enough for tonight," Flitwick decided, "we will announce me as your council in the morning. After classes, come to my office with that map and we'll work from there," Harry nodded and stood, knowing he was being dismissed.
"Yes sir, thank you sir," the young Gryffindor answered.
"You seem to be taking all of this very much in stride Harry," Flitwick pointed out in a concerned voice.
Harry nodded, answering, "I've been doing what is necessary in case all of this turns out to be real, sir. I don't have another option."
"You do Harry, you could have panicked and broken down. I think you are acquitting yourself quite well. Know that I'm here as more than your professor, council and would be commanding officer. If you ever need to talk…" the diminutive man let the sentence trail off.
"Thank you," Harry replied with heartfelt gratitude. He turned towards the door, to head to the tower and yet another challenge.
"One more thing Harry," the professor called.
"Start doing an assessment of as many classmates as possible, how trustworthy they are, their wand skills, O.W.L. scores if you know them and any information you believe is pertinent," the man ordered.
"Yes sir," Harry said with a smile, as he remembered the DA and how he had left out mentioning it to the Professor.
After leaving Flitwicks' office, it wasn't long before Harry arrived at Gryffindor tower and the portrait of the Fat Lady, unfortunately for Harry, two years and dozens of password changes rendered him speechless as the guardian asked for the password.
"I…uhhh…I forgot," Harry mumbled to the portrait, "any chance you could let somebody know I'm stuck out here?"
"I'm afraid not, dear," the Fat Lady replied.
"How about giving me a clue," Harry inquired.
"Sorry," she replied, though she didn't sound very sorry.
"Bloody hell," Harry cursed.
"That's not the password," the Fat Lady said, sounding entirely too smug.
"Oddsbodkins, flibbertigibbet, fairy lights, pig snout, scurvy cur, balderdash!" Harry shouted, repeating every password he could remember. Oddly enough, the Fat Lady nodded and the porthole opened.
"Bugger, I still don't know which one was the password," he grumbled as climbed past the open portrait.
"Balderdash, dear," he heard the portraits voice answer.
Harry entered common room, braced for what he knew was to come, he wasn't really in the mood for a party, he was barely holding his sanity together, trying to adjust to what had happened and react to it the best he could. Without his Mage training, he knew, he would have lost it by now.
The room erupted in cheers and Fred and George lifted Harry on their shoulders, carrying him to the middle of the room, chanting "Potter, Potter, Potter!" Someone wrapped a sash around him proclaiming him Triwizard champion, and someone else was calling for a speech. Harry held his hands up, calling for quiet.
"Today has been strange beyond the telling of it," he said loudly, as the rest of the Gryffindors quieted, "I was entered into the Triwizard Tournament against my will. I do not seek eternal glory nor do I seek some prize money. I do not seek out the danger of this tournament, but found it I have." There was some muttering now among the crowd, but Harry pressed on, "Danger is nothing new to me, so whoever entered me will get no satisfaction from my fear, because I do not fear this. I may not have a choice but to compete, regardless, I intend to win! I'm a Gryffindor, and Gryffindors go forward!" Harry shouted the last; playing up the part of the hero they wanted of him. It was a role Harry had dreamed of fulfilling once and now with the line between what was real and what was not so blurred, it was the role he would willingly step into.
There was a roar of approval from the assembled Gryffindors. Butterbeer flowed freely, and there was much laughing and music and merrymaking into the night as the house of the Lion had a champion. Harry found himself being pulled from one group to another around the room like some sort of prize; he was congratulated by most of the elder years, and awed many of the lower years as if he had accomplished some amazing feat.
Finally, Harry managed to break free of the cycle and found himself surrounded by his Quidditch teammates. In the past, much as he had tried, he never had been able to really fit with them off of the pitch. Maybe it was the extra two years of life experience showing through, or that he was not held back by insecurities, but this night Harry felt like he belonged among the group.
Butterbeer flowed freely and conversation roamed from the tournament and Quidditch to music, to pranks and to flirting. At one point, Harry ate an innocuous piece of toffee, forgetting the golden rule of not accepting candy from the Weasley twins, and found his tongue shooting three feet out of his mouth. Harry waggled it about experimentally and found he had a fair amount of control causing no end of mirth for Fred and George. When he figured out how to move it like a wave, he wagged his eyebrows at Katie, and then winked at the girl causing her to blush spectacularly, Fred and George wiped fake tears from their eyes.
Harry was exhausted, mentally and physically by the time he had finally managed to extricate himself from the common room. Entering his dorm, he saw Ron sitting on his bed, a scowl on his face, and seemingly waiting to pounce. He just managed to bite back a groan.
As soon as he walked in, Ron stood up and angrily demanded, "How'd you do it?"
"Do what?" Harry replied in a tired voice.
"How did you enter the tournament," the redhead spat, "how did you get past the age line?"
"How did I do it," Harry repeated angrily, he was too tired to deal with this, "I didn't do it Ron, or didn't you hear me say that earlier?"
"I know you have to say that out there, Harry," Ron backpedaled slightly, but the tones of jealousy rang true in his voice, "but I'm your friend Harry, you should have taken me with you, we could have both entered."
"Is it so hard for you to believe me, Ron? Is it so hard to believe that somebody might want to enter me in a dangerous competition that I'm woefully prepared for? Is it difficult to imagine somebody hoping I'll get horribly injured or killed?" Harry demanded in return. "Or do you really believe that for the lure of glory and a thousand galleons that I somehow bypassed the Headmasters protections, and hoodwinked the cup into picking a forth champion. Then, if that weren't enough, I somehow managed to do it a second time; in front of the whole school and Dumbledore and Moody and the headmasters of both of the other schools, no less. Then, to top it all off and prevent them from doing a third drawing, I somehow enchanted the cup so that the greatest wizard of the age couldn't undo it. Do you really believe that?" Harry shouted in askance.
Ron stared back at him stubbornly, but didn't answer his question, "I'll tell you what Ron," Harry said in a deceptively calm voice, "I'll give you a thousand galleons free and clear; your winnings for completing one single task, how does that sound?" He pressed on, not giving the redhead time to respond, "All you have to do Ron, is pull your head out of your arse you bloody moron!" Without waiting for any further response, Harry stomped out of the room to bathroom to change and ready himself for sleep. When he returned, Ron's curtains were pulled shut.
Harry climbed into his own bed and closed the drapes around it. For the first time since whatever had happened, happened, he had time to himself to sit and think and realize the enormity of the situation. He had somehow survived the killing curse again, only to be thrown two years out of time. That meant Voldemort had not risen, Cedric had not died, and Sirius Black was still alive! Harry's mind stopped and his heart skipped a beat at this realization.
His godfather was alive, and it had taken him hours to realize it. He wasn't certain how to feel about that. On one hand, the thought was almost euphoric; on the other hand it was sorrowful. It had taken him nearly two months to come to grips with the reality of the man's loss, but he had not gotten over it by any means. Harry was only able to calm his breathing and regain his composure after simultaneously laughing and crying by the disciplined he had learned in order to successfully practice Occlumency. Slowly Harry calmed himself and fell into an uneasy sleep. His dreams playing out the good times and bad that he remembered, but that might never happen.
Harry awoke early the next morning, a bad habit he had picked up in Mage training. He quietly dressed and left his sleeping dorm mates and headed to the Room of Requirement. When he arrived, he paced back and forth in front of the door three times, focusing on a track and field with a full rucksack. Over the next hour he pushed his body to the brink of exhaustion, the first day of many to regain his former fitness. His fourteen year old body was not out of shape by any means, but it was a long way from what he'd had.
His workout finished, Harry returned to Gryffindor tower, showered, and nipped to the Great Hall for a quick breakfast. The common room was slowly coming to life when he returned to it; intent on polishing his wand for the wand weighing ceremony he knew was scheduled for later that day. Harry set himself down and began taking care of his wand as his past self never had.
As he worked, Hermione seemed to materialize in a chair opposite his own, "Harry," she said seriously, "we need to talk."
"Oh," Harry replied mildly. He wasn't really interested in fighting with his other friend, nor was he interested in being chastised, which is what he was expecting to happen.
When it became clear that he had said all he was going to, Hermione huffed, then spoke, "You've changed, Harry. Whatever else happened yesterday, you're acting very different all of the sudden."
"Am I?" Harry asked, continuing "is that such a bad thing?"
"You are," Hermione insisted, ignoring his follow up question. "You've never wanted to be the center of attention, and last night, not only did you make a big production about being in the tournament, you spent the rest of the night with the twins, who are always the center of attention. I'm not trying to attack you Harry, I just want to understand."
"You're right, Hermione," he admitted, "I don't like being the center of attention. I don't like being different or special. Call it a learned reaction from the Dursleys, most of the times I've been the center of attention, I've gotten hurt," he pressed on, unwilling to allow her to make assumptions about deeper meanings of his words, "but I've come to the point where I have to accept that I am different, Hermione. I have been coming to this realization for a while, and last night when my name came out of the Goblet, I decided that I have to embrace what I am if I'm ever going to be happy with who I am."
Hermione sat looking at Harry as if he were a stranger before slowly nodding to herself, "I suppose I can understand why you feel that way, Harry," she admitted, and then changed gears, "So, have you decided who you're going to ask to be your council? You should ask Professor McGonagall, she is your head of house after all, or maybe you could ask Professor Moody…"
"I've already got my councilor, Hermione, I asked Professor Flitwick on my way back to the common room last night," Harry interrupted.
"Professor Flitwick?" She questioned, as if the idea hadn't occurred to her, "why Professor Flitwick?"
"A couple of reasons, Hermione," Harry replied, "He's the head of house for Ravenclaw, so he has to be nearly as knowledgeable as Dumbledore, he was a dueling champion in his youth and of all of the professors, I learn the best from him."
"Oh," Hermione seemed to deflate a little, "I guess that makes sense." She took a deep breath, "About Ron," she started.
"What did he tell you," Harry interrupted, wanting to know if Ron had been honest about their argument.
Apparently recognizing what he was asking, she replied, "He told me that you were lording about that you had money and were in the tournament. Why don't you tell me what happened."
"He's supposed to be my friend, Hermione; out of everyone, he's supposed to believe me, and he didn't believe I hadn't entered the tournament. He was only upset that he didn't get to enter. So I pointed out a few things about how often I end up in the middle of bad situations, and then offered him 1,000 galleons to pull his head out of his arse."
"That wasn't very nice, Harry," Hermione admonished, "he always has been in the…"
"Spare me the poor Ron and his inadequacy complex speech, Hermione," Harry snapped, "the simple fact is Ron feels inadequate because he is. He puts no effort into anything but chess and wants everything handed to him. He reminds me a lot Malfoy that way," Hermione scowled, but Harry pressed on, "I know that his heart is in the right place most of the time, Hermione, but I have enough to deal with without him acting like he's entitled to everything."
"I think you owe him an apology, Harry," Hermione said sternly.
"I think he owes me an apology, Hermione," Harry countered.
"I agree that he was out of line, Harry," Hermione admitted, "but you didn't have to be so mean about it to him. You hurt his pride, when you taunted him about money. It's a really touchy subject with him."
"I know it is, Hermione," Harry agreed, "but I can't help having it, just like he can't help having a living family. But I can't see him trying to see things from my point of view. I'll apologize to him, if he can see what all my money and fame cost me. He has a family that loves him, Hermione, and so do you, and I'm so jealous of that sometimes that I can hardly stand it. But I'd never let that feeling hurt our friendship and I'd never begrudge you having it while I don't."
Hermione flung herself out of her chair and grabbed Harry in a tight hug, "Oh, Harry, you do have a family, no matter what I'm here for you, and Sirius is too, Ron will come around, and even the twins think of you like family!"
"I know," Harry said calmly, hugging the girl back, it was good to have Hermione talking to him again, even if she was a younger version, she was still his best friend.
"Come on, we'd better get to class," Hermione said, much more secure in her friendship with Harry.
"I'm not going to class today Hermione," Harry responded, "There's a ceremony and press event that I have to go to," she looked at him in confusion and he rolled his eyes at her, "The Weighing of the Wands."
"Okay," Hermione smiled at him, "I'll let Professor Snape know," she said as she grabbed her bag.
"No sense in making yourself a target unnecessarily," Harry commented, "tell him if he asks, but don't go out of your way to do so."
"Alright," Hermione conceded, "Just don't make a habit out of skipping classes," she said with a mock glare.
"No promises, Hermione," Harry replied happily, "After all, I don't have any year end exams this year. What kind of normal teen would I be if I didn't take advantage of that just a little bit?"
After Hermione had left for class, Harry spent time relaxing and reading over his recent correspondence, reacquainting himself as much as he could with what was going in his life at that point. Thankfully, the common room was mostly empty and allowing him some peace, with only 6th and 7th years having the option of not having a class first thing and even then, there were only a few that didn't.
He had just finished putting away his letters and was going to head to the library to look for something to read when Collin Creevey found him, "Harry, I've been looking all over the castle for you!" the boy exclaimed, going on to explain that he'd been sent to find him for the ceremony.
Harry followed the young Gryffindor to the room where the other champions, Ludo Bagman, Rita Skeeter and her photographer Bozo were waiting for him. Bagman made introductions and explained the gathering as part of the Weighing of the Wands ceremony, and once again Rita Skeeter zeroed in on Harry, pulling him into a broom closet for a 'cozy' interview.
As soon as she had shut the door behind them, Harry smirked and cast a silencing charm, then immobilized her quick quotes quill. "Before we start with your interview, I wanted to say one thing off the record to you, if that's okay," Harry began shyly at her upraised eyebrow.
"Go ahead, sweetie," Rita said predatorily.
Harry's smile turned a little nasty, "I know you're an illegal Animagus and have the form of a beetle," Rita's smile froze as Harry continued, "Now, do you want to cooperate with me, or do you want me to expose you so you can get some in depth time with the dementors?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Skeeter replied with only the smallest hint in her voice that she was anything but calm and composed.
"Okay," Harry said happily, "I have no problem exposing you." He stood and began walking towards the door.
"Wait," she called out in panic, "wait, Mr. Potter, I'm very much enjoying your delusions, tell me more, my readers will love to hear it."
"I'm sure they will," Harry said with a smirk. "We don't have much time; Professor Dumbledore will be interrupting us long before I can explain what you can do to keep me from exposing you."
Rita nodded slightly, looking defeated, "cheer up, Ms. Skeeter, it won't be so bad, you might even get a few stories out of it." At this, the reporter snorted in disgust. "Trite as it sounds, after we leave here, meet me in the Astronomy tower tonight, and I'll explain. Until then, all I ask is that your article on the tournament be balanced, profiling all of the champions equally."
Before the woman could respond, Professor Dumbledore pulled open the door and blinked as he noticed Harry standing in the doorway. "It's time to begin the ceremony," he said, shooting a mildly disapproving glance at the Animagus reporter.
Things went as they had before; save for that Harry's wand appeared properly cared for, unlike the last time. With the ceremony over, Rita convinced the headmasters to allow her to get a quick profile of each contestant and a quote on why they entered the tournament. Harry went last, and with Professor Dumbledore standing over his shoulder, commented, "Somebody entered me into the tournament against my will, however as it is an honor to be a champion; I intend to do my best to do Hogwarts proud alongside her genuine champion, Cedric Diggory."
Shooting a scowl at Harry, Rita led her photographer from the room, and the champions were released for the day just in time for lunch. He was joined on his way to the Great Hall by Cedric. "I heard what you said in there Harry," The elder boy stated, "If I hadn't believed you before, I do now. Let's do what we can to ensure a Hogwarts victory, eh?"
"We will, Cedric," Harry agreed, "so, have you picked your councilor yet?" he asked, changing the subject.
"No, I was considering asking my father, it'd be an honor for him and all, but much as I love him, I don't honestly think he could help me win," Cedric admitted, "how about you?"
Harry smiled, "Professor Flitwick," he answered, "we'll be announcing it today, whenever we're both in the same place."
"Flitwick?" Cedric questioned, "I'd have thought for sure you'd have gone with McGonagall or Moody."
"Everybody thinks that, apparently," Harry replied, "I don't know Moody well enough to trust him, and I learn better from Flitwick than McGonagall. I never really thought of asking anybody outside of the school though." Cedric nodded but didn't reply and the pair split, each heading to their own house table once they reached the hall.
Harry noticed, with some amusement, that the 'Support Cedric Diggory' badges were back, as he sat down. He was pleased to see that outside of Slytherin, very few of the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were wearing the badges. He hoped that between Dumbledore announcing again that he was entered against his will, his quote to Skeeter and his picking Flitwick as his council, that the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws would be pacified and everyone but the Slytherin's would stay off his back.
"Hey Nev," Harry said sitting down next to the Longbottom scion, noting that was Ron sitting down the table with Seamus and Dean, and Hermione wasn't at lunch.
"Hey Harry," the shy Gryffindor answered, "Where were you during potions?"
Harry sighed, "there was a Triwizard Tournament ceremonial Weighing of the Wands as well as pictures and a brief interview for the Prophet," he lowered his voice and leaned towards Neville a bit saying, "I was also taking advantage of the fact that I don't have end of year exams, and ditching Snape's class."
Neville laughed and shook his head, "I envy you that," he replied, and then sobered slightly, "you should know there was an incident with Malfoy though." Harry's smile faded, "he was insulting you and had these badges…"
"I've seen the badges," Harry interjected.
"Yeah, anyway, Hermione was defending you and Malfoy cursed her," Neville explained, "Ron jumped to her defense, right as Snape showed up. He wasn't even going to let her go to the hospital wing to get her teeth fixed, the git! Hermione ran off, and Ron ended up with a week's detention, then got kicked out of class and lost 50 points for trying to defend Hermione!"
Harry shook his head in dismay, no matter what time he was in; Snape was allowed to do as he pleased. It didn't seem like much of a cover, as he was obviously given leeway other teachers were not. It wasn't a large leap of logic to figure out just why that was; if one knew that he was a marked Death Eater.
When he had finished eating, Harry stood and approached the head table. With a nod to the Charms professor, he announced, "Professor Dumbledore, I have asked Professor Flitwick to act as my council for the Triwizard Tournament."
Dumbledore looked to the professor in question, "And your reply, Filius?"
Flitwick's high pitched voice rang out through the hall, "I have accepted the position as Harry Potter's Triwizard council," he said formally.
"Very well," Dumbledore intoned.
The Charms professor turned his attention from the headmaster to Harry, "do you intend to attend any classes today Mr. Potter?"
"No sir, I don't," Harry answered honestly.
"Meet me in my classroom after lunch then and we'll get you started on some preliminary training," Flitwick ordered.
"Yes sir," Harry responded, his training coming to the fore. Fighting off the urge to salute the man, he returned to his seat next to Neville to eat his lunch.
Dumbledore stood half way through the meal and announced the details of how Harry was entered into the tournament. While the headmaster was making his announcement, Harry was watching Ron for his reaction. The redhead scowled, shot a glance at Harry, and then left the Great Hall, his lunch only half eaten.
Flitwick was waiting for in his office when Harry arrived. The Charms professor invited him in when he knocked and quickly got to the point of their meeting.
"I must say, Harry, that the information you provided yesterday has been at the forefront of my mind," the Professor began. "I have several of my contacts investigating the resurrection ceremony He used and how best to disrupt it. Working from the description you provided, it may take some time, but I'm confident we'll be able to stop him. I contacted the Mages and they are looking into Little Hangleton, at the least they will be removing the bones of all of Riddle's blood relatives buried there."
Harry nodded, it was a reasonable strategy. He was impressed at how quickly the Professor had begun work on the information he had provided. He was sure, now more than ever, that trusting Flitwick was the right thing to do.
"Now, I have been trying to come up with a reasonable way of exposing Crouch Jr. and rescuing Alastor without exposing your secret," the Charms professor stated, "I believe that the use of your map, however clever and accurate it is, should be our last resort as it's veracity will be questionable and it will undoubtedly be confiscated before I can figure out how to duplicate it," he said. "What can be done, though it's unfortunately a slower process, is to use Skeeter." He grimaced in distaste, "Threaten to expose her if she doesn't play along and then feed her the information and let her weasel out proof then expose it publicly."
"I've sort of already started that sir," Harry admitted. At the retired Captains look he explained, "She ambushed me at the weighing of the wands ceremony. I told her that I knew she was an Animagus, that I wanted fair press and that in order to avoid being exposed; she needed to meet me tonight at the Astronomy Tower at midnight. I was going to ask for your input on how to handle her."
"Did you now?" Flitwick replied thoughtfully, "we'll have to come up with a list of leads and their priority and set her loose. Better to use the carrot than the stick, she's likely to betray you later rather than sooner that way." Harry agreed; it wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
"Sir," he though suddenly, "could we use her to push Sirius innocence, lack of trial and expose Pettigrew as still being alive?"
"I suppose you could give an interview about that, Harry," the part goblin reasoned, "and the other witnesses could give their accounts as well, but public opinion isn't on your side with Sirius Black, so it's best to hold off on that for now unless you can come up with some evidence that Pettigrew is alive."
"How about I give her the basics as a low priority investigation and let her look into it? At the very least she'll probably be able to expose further corruption in the ministry," Harry commented.
"Very well," Flitwick answered, "Is there anything else you can think of that we should be acting on?"
"The dementors," Harry answered, "If or when Voldemort is resurrected, they let all of the Death Eaters in Azkaban escape. They abandoned the prison themselves a year later, though the Mages captured them somehow."
"Yes, they've long been considered a threat; but there is a plan in place for them. It's a relief to know it will be effective," Flitwick responded, and when Harry couldn't come up with anything more of immediate or moderate concern, the Professor continued, "If you think of anything else, write it down and come see me as soon as you can."
"Yes sir," Harry agreed. "Sir?" he questioned, "do you know why I came back?"
Flitwick gave Harry a thoughtful look, "I've been trying to come up with a reason why it happened and why you were sent to when you were and thus far, I haven't come up with much. There are a small number of spells that I'm aware of that can displace a soul in time like you have been, but none of them are capable of more than a few seconds of displacement and all are borderline black magic. I'm afraid that time magic is very limited; or at least the knowledge of it is. I shall continue to research this, however." Harry nodded, but it was apparent that he wasn't particularly happy with that answer, "give it time, Harry. You only just arrived yesterday." Harry nodded again and the Professor pressed on, "now, unless there is something else, let's figure out what to say to Skeeter, write out a list of what we want her to investigate and the information we know ahead of time. It's not inconceivable that she'll find things you didn't know about in the future that could cause problems, well…in the future. We should request approval of what information she gathers before she releases it."
"That makes sense," Harry answered, "that will give us a heads up before we start making enemies."
Harry and the Charms Professor spent the next forty five minutes writing out all of the information they'd be giving to Skeeter. When they were done, the shorter man smiled at the young wizard saying, "That takes care of that. Now we need to figure out where you are in your training so we know where to start."
"Well, I could show you, I guess," Harry said, drawing his wand.
"No, no, Harry," Flitwick motioned him to stop, "I believe that it will be of benefit to us both to alleviate any questions about your increased skills ahead of time." Harry smiled sheepishly not having considered that. "Only some of your new skills can be explained by you holding back or not trying your best in class. I think that we need to create the appearance of a lot of hard work."
"I've already told Cedric that I picked you because I learn best from you," Harry replied, "so it would make sense for me to learn quickly with individual instruction, hard work and a little bit of panic. I know I did in the original timeline."
"In that case, I think I will devise a number of tests, both written and practical for you to take over the next week or two." Harry groaned loudly at the thought of the tests, causing the elder of the pair to chuckle.
Despite his protests, Harry agreed that it was necessary. He knew he wouldn't be able to hide anything for long. For one, Hermione was far too observant, and for another thing, he was a very different person with two more years of hard life experiences than his 14 year old self had been.
"Wait a moment, sir, how can we do all of that testing and you still teach your classes?" Harry wondered aloud "and didn't you have classes to teach today?"
"As for today, I cancelled classes and had you excused from your own. Tomorrow, I will begin your testing and will check on you throughout the day," Flitwick answered. "Don't worry, Harry, it will work out. Now, why don't you get some rest, you have a busy night tonight and a long day ahead of you tomorrow."
Harry was casually leaning against one of the ramparts at the peak of the astronomy tower, waiting for the arrival of Rita Skeeter. He wasn't particularly worried about the meeting with the nasty reporter. The worst that could come of it was her refusal, some bad press and ultimately her exposure as an illegal Animagus. Harry could deal with that, he felt that it was better than he had endured the first time around. Shortly after midnight, he glimpsed a small insect fly into the tower. He braced himself for the meeting, patting his pocket where the information he intended to impart was written on a parchment spelled by Flitwick so only those who were told what it was by the spell caster or the writer could read it. Turning, Harry witnessed the fascinating site of a grown woman morphing from a beetle.
"Whatever else you think of me Potter," Rita began heatedly, "I am not a whore!"
Momentarily taken aback by her vehemence, Harry took a moment to try to understand what had set off that sentiment. The thoughts 'astronomy tower' and 'midnight' when combined suddenly made her declaration make sense. "I apologize, Ms. Skeeter. That was never my intent. Whatever else you think of me, I fancy myself an honorable man," he waived his hand casually and smirked, "our current predicament not withstanding of course."
"Fine," the woman said, sounding mildly relieved through her obvious anger, "Get to the point then."
"Of course," he pulled the parchment from his pocket and held it out to her, "this is a list of things I wish for you to reveal to the public. You will need to do real research, find proof and submit it to me for approval before publishing it."
Intrigued despite herself, Skeeter asked, "If you know it, why not reveal it straight away?"
"An excellent question," Harry responded, "there are two reasons; the first is that there is a difference between knowing a truth and proving it. The things I wish for you to reveal are the type that require proof in order for the desired result from their revelation to come about. The second is that I want no association to the revelation of the information. My knowing these things raises questions I'm not prepared to answer."
"Just what sort of information is in here?" she asked finally snatching the folded parchment from his grasp, but hesitating to open it.
"I believe information you can take a great deal of enjoyment out of revealing," Harry smiled, revealing the carrot portion of his plan, "like the fact that Bartemius Crouch broke his death eater spawn out of Azkaban several years ago at his dying wife's bequest, held him under the Imperius curse for several years under the care of a house elf named Winky who now works at Hogwarts, only to lose control of him at the Quidditch World cup where he managed to steal my wand and cast the Dark Mark. Furthermore, that he, along with a very much alive Peter Pettigrew ambushed Alastor Moody before the start of term, and the man who is acting as the Defense professor is none other than Barty Crouch Jr. using Polyjuice potion as part of an elaborate plot to resurrect Voldemort."
He knew that the casual revelation of this information in this way touched on just about everything he wanted her to look into. The look on her face told him he had her, at least for now. "So, do you feel up to destroying a bunch of political careers and stirring up the largest scandal of the century?"
Rita smiled predatorily, "Very much so, Mr. Potter," she looked at him seriously, "is this information reliable?"
"I'd state my life and magic on it," Harry replied instantly, causing the woman to nod as if she'd assumed as much. "Now, so long as your coverage of me remains honest and at least neutral and the tournament coverage is balanced between all of the champions, I'll be willing to give you an occasional interview. In addition, I will not protest you reporting on my life; I'm unfortunately a celebrity and as such, little as I like it, my life is news. I will not ask for final say on everything you publish, only on what I want you to reveal; which, by the way, I want done as quickly as possible."
"That seems fair… for blackmail." She replied sardonically, "Though it leaves a lot of uncovered territory. If I report what I believe is fair and accurate information that turns out to be biased or incorrect, through no fault of my own, I'll have violated our agreement."
Harry thought for a moment before coming to a solution, "To start with, double check your sources, when possible; don't use people who are known to hate or be biased against me, people like Malfoy or Parkinson the junior or senior versions, as reliable sources. If something does happen, and through no fault of your own you publish something that's untrue, I'll inform you and you'll issue a tasteful, face saving retraction."
Sensing correctly that their conversation was finished, Rita transformed once more into a beetle and quickly fluttered off, leaving Harry alone once again at the precipice of the tower.
Harry lingered for a while after the witch had left, ordering his thoughts and enjoying the peaceful solitude of the tower. He wasn't certain how long he stood just looking over the lake and forest, but he felt a good deal calmer when he finally started heading back to the Gryffindor dorms.
"Harry?" a female voice called out, breaking the quiet. He turned towards the questioning voice and found the slim, blond form of Lavender Brown sitting at one of the class tables, several pieces of parchment, a quill and an inkwell spread before her.
"Lavender?" he replied, "what are you doing up here this late?"
"I'm working on a predictive star chart; it's a combined Astronomy and Divination project," the girl answered, waving halfheartedly with her quill at the various parchments.
"Sounds…fun?" Harry half asked half stated. Lavender rolled her eyes at him.
"What about you Harry; what are you doing up here? Midnight tryst?"
Harry returned the eye rolling gesture, answering, "not exactly."
Lavender giggled at him; "Oh?" she asked coyly, "So what is the dour hero doing in the middle of the night at the top of the Astronomy tower then?"
"I was thinking, and I'm not a hero," he paused, "do I really seem dour?"
"Well," she fidgeted slightly, "you kind of come off that way sometimes, and the rest of the time you come off as unapproachable to most of us. Your sidekicks make sure of that."
Harry took a seat, interested, "How do they manage that?"
"Well, I'm sure you know that Hermione, Parvati and I don't get along very well," Harry looked at her blankly, "or I guess you don't." She sighed, and explained, "Parvati and I are both purebloods. We don't hold with the blood superiority bollocks, but we are proud of our magical heritage and history and with Parvati, cultural heritage as well."
"Okay, but I don't see…" Harry trailed off as the witch scowled at his interruption.
"Ever since that first night when we tried to include her, Hermione's been standoffish," Lavender continued, "I don't know if she thinks that we're bigots, being ignorant, arrogant or just stupid, but she's always been standoffish with us and she hinted that you'd be the same way. Between her, Ron, and Quidditch, there's really been no way for anyone to approach you."
"I'm sorry," Harry said sincerely, "I didn't know. I can talk to her if you want."
"Don't bother, Harry," Lavender said with a smile, "Parvati and I are okay without being her friend. But it'd be nice if you'd talk to us every now and again, maybe ask somebody to Hogsmeade, or let us, Seamus, Dean and Neville include you. We sometimes seem more divided in our year than any other house."
"Ask somebody to Hogsmeade eh?" he asked, eyeing her speculatively, "I'll keep that in mind." To her credit, Lavender didn't blush at all, merely smirked at him. "It's been an enlightening chat, but I've got a ton of training in the morning."
"Alright, good night then, Harry," she said to him, "I hope we talk again soon."
Harry returned to his dorm thinking about the conversation and was still trying to decide what to do about it if anything when he finally fell asleep.
Thanks to VoodooLady for her efforts in making me sound less like a chimpanzee that likes to put a bucket on its head and run into things at top speed.