Harry walked aimlessly through the corridor, wand tucked beneath his robes.
This sucks. Why did he have to be entered in the bloody tournament?
The students that were walking past him were whispering to each other or giving nasty glares.
It wasn't exactly his fault that he was the Boy-Who-Lived, now was he? He would much rather not have someone try to kill him every year.
As he sat down on a nearby bench, he rubbed his temples and sighed. Harry had no idea where to start and worse, no idea what the First Task actually was.
"Hello," a voice said dreamily.
Harry frowned as he turned around to face perhaps the strangest student he had met here at Hogwarts.
A young third year student, from Ravenclaw with dirty blonde hair, radish earrings and a necklace of butterbeer corks?
"Err…hi," Harry replied awkwardly.
"There are a lot of Gizargens around your head," she stated simply as she flicked through a magazine called The Quibbler.
"Gizargens?" Harry was, at this point, completely lost. "What are they?"
The girl was surprised. "You don't know what Gizargens are?"
Harry shook his head.
"Lots of them are floating around your head," she said. "Interesting little creatures, you know. Very strong and are quite powerful, but only when they need to be. Otherwise they float around, doing absolutely nothing. Quite lazy, really."
Harry looked at her in complete and utter shock. Is she…
"Unlike the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks," she continued. "Very hard-working and it pays off. Impossible to find as they're such cunning predators. Daddy said that once we raised enough money we might be able to go to Sweden to…"
But Harry wasn't listening. Instead, his gears in his brain were starting to turn – slowly, but they were.
The wizard stood up. "Thanks…um…"
The young witch was snapped out of her little reverie. "Oh? My name is Luna Lovegood." And with that, she began to hum her own tune, nose buried back in the strange magazine bearing the title NARGLES: THEIR POSSIBLE NESTING SPOTS as well as the title of the magazine.
That was certainly one of the strangest conversations Harry ever had, but he was certain of one thing.
He couldn't just sit on his ass and do nothing.
If he was in the Tournament, then so be it. He would make sure he was well-prepared.
"It's nearly past curfew, Mr. Potter," the librarian said with a stern face. "If you want to borrow some books, better do so now and leave."
"Let me just check the ones I want," Harry replied as he looked through the stack of books he had chosen.
There was a large variety that he had chosen, from ones on Battle Transfiguration, Dueling, powerful hexes and curses and some even on swordplay and fencing.
According to one of the books on swordsmanship, it stated that only a fool relied completely on his wand, and swords were an elegant and practical way of defending oneself if need be.
And a sword saved my life, Harry thought as he remembered second year.
As he checked the books out, carrying them back to the Gryffindor Common Room, he remembered also how lack of knowledge and spells had very nearly killed him on many occasions. Luck had been on his side those times, but it was too unreliable.
Ron glared at him as he entered the Common Room, as did the general populace of Gryffindors. Hermione stood up, but as she was about to approach him, Harry quickened his pace and went up to the Boys' dormitory.
Long through the night, Harry read through the books, noting down anything useful on a scrap piece of parchment.
The next day in the morning, as Harry was munching on a piece of toast, he had another book out on his lap.
To his annoyance, Hermione sat down beside him with a worried expression on her face. "You should really apologise to Ron, you know." She stated in that know-it-all voice.
Harry didn't even look up as he replied. "I didn't do anything. It's Ron's fault for being jealous and until he gets over it, I'm happy with the time being."
Hermione huffed, about to say something – then realised she had no retort for that.
Harry ate for a little while further, and then glanced at his schedule. "Defense Against the Dark Arts first. We'd better go now."
At the end of the lesson and the students disappeared, Harry walked up to Professor Moody. "Professor, can I ask you something?"
"Yes, Potter?" he said gruffly. "Is it something about the Tri-wizard tournament?"
"More or less," he replied. "I was wondering if you knew anyone who could teach me swords or fencing."
If Moody was surprised, he gave no show of it, only gazing at him levelly before replying. "That's an interesting question, Potter. Not a very good idea of course, to rely only on your wand. Yes, in fact, I do know one of the teachers is an adept swordsman."
"Who?" Harry asked, excitement bubbling inside him.
Moody gave a crooked smile. "Professor Snape is a master swordsman."
Harry was shocked. "Professor Snape?"
"Surprising, isn't it? Yes, Professor Snape knows how to handle his swords. I'm sure if you ask him nicely enough he'd be kind enough to teach you," Moody added in an almost sarcastic tone of voice.
Harry gave the mental equivalent of a snort. Yeah right. But at the very least, it's worth a try.
Unfortunately – or thankfully, Harry didn't know which – they didn't have Potions today so Harry skipped along to his next two favourite classes, to ask the Professors something that could greatly help him.
"Ah yes, Mr. Potter!" The diminutive little Charms professor Flitwick chirped as he came up. "Do you have any questions about today's class?"
"No sir," Harry replied very respectfully and earnestly. "The charm is quite straightforward. I was just wondering, sir… Hermione mentioned a while ago that you were a dueling champion."
Flitwick chuckled. "Yes that's quite correct, Mr. Potter. As strange as it may seem so with my…height, I was quite the dueler in my younger years. No more, of course, with my Hogwarts duties."
"So does that mean, if you were not a Hogwarts teacher then you would continue dueling?" Harry asked.
Flitwick was taken aback. "Of – of course not, Mr. Potter! The sport of dueling is dominated by the younger wizards, it seems, these days, but I would rather pass on my art to another eager student."
"Like me?" Harry said suddenly. "Sir, the reason I asked was because of my accidental entry into the Tri-Wizard tournament. I'm at least three years behind the other students and I…" he trailed off, not knowing exactly how else to put it.
Flitwick's eyes brightened at the prospect. "Of course, Mr. Potter! It would be a great honour to help such a fine student. Why, even your mother didn't ask for dueling lessons, from me or anyone!"
"Didn't she?" Harry asked.
"Oh, your mother was very talented at whatever she set her mind to. If she had ever entered the sport of dueling, a fine dueler she would be…" Flitwick sighed. "But your mother wouldn't very much enjoy that kind of career."
"Thank you, sir. When shall it be then?"
"Next week on Tuesday would be an adequate time for me, I believe. Seven here in my classroom we shall begin. But I think you should be heading to your next class now. Professor McGonagall is most unpleasant when she is angry."
And as expected, Professor McGonagall was not very pleased with his lateness but calmed down relatively when Harry explained that he was talking to Professor Flitwick.
As he had been doing for many classes, Harry did not sit either with Hermione or Ron; instead he decided to sit beside Neville.
Neville looked at him only briefly – he was smarter than his pudgy face let on as he knew exactly what was going on between the so-called Golden Trio.
Inside Harry was laughing sadly. His supposed 'best friends', they were? One was plagued by jealousy issues, the other by control and bossiness issues. Yes, a perfectly close friendship they had.
At the end of the otherwise normal Transfiguration class, Harry walked up to the stern professor.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall said. "Is there something you wanted?"
"Yes, Professor," Harry replied, trying to make his face as earnest as possible. "As you know, I was entered into the Tri-Wizard tournament however I'm three years younger than the rest of the Champions. I read that Transfiguration however has many practical uses other than those shown here."
"You wish for me to teach you Battle Transfiguration." McGonagall caught on quickly, and it was definitely not a question.
"A fine decision, Mr. Potter." McGonagall's lips curled up in what appeared to be a smile, and there was a look of…pride on her face? "Few people ever think to use Transfiguration in a duel. I will not lie – it is difficult, however, you have the talent I believe to advance far in it. Monday of next week, come straight after dinner."
Harry thanked her politely, and then exited.
At the end of the day, when all his classes were finished, Harry was walking across the fourth floor, engrossed in another book about Defense.
Suddenly he came across a very…interesting spectacle.
"I'd like to have my wand back, please," a dreamy but familiar voice said.
Harry snapped out of the text on the different Shield charms as he looked up.
A Ravenclaw student in Harry's year…Michael Corner, he thought his name was, had two wands in his hands.
Luna was standing in front of him, trying to grab her wand back. Although her voice remained the same, Harry could see the frustration in her silvery eyes.
Michael had a sneer on his face as he held her wand out of reach. "What's the matter, Loony? Your Crumple-Horned Snorehacks can't help you now."
"They're Crumple-Horned Snorkacks – please give my wand back."
By now Harry could detect the note of pleading in her voice. Of course she would want it back – it was a wizard or witch's most important asset. Harry would feel naked without his.
"Not exactly like you deserve it," Michael continued. "After all…your mother blew herself up with one, didn't she?"
If possible, Luna's face paled several times and Harry could have sworn she started shaking.
That's enough. Harry decided to make himself known. "What's going on here?"
"Oh look what we have here," Michael's insults were unrelenting. "A loony bin and an attention-seeking prat. How are you going for the First Task, Potter? Wouldn't be too surprised if you get your head cut off!"
Harry's face became as hard as stone as he took out his wand. "Give Luna her wand back and apologise. One funny comment and I'll hex you."
Michael however didn't seem to listen. "Is that right, Potter? Well let me…"
"Silencio," Harry growled darkly. "Incarcerous!"
Although the last one was a fifth-year spell, Harry had managed it quite easily although in his anger didn't notice. "That was just a taste," he snapped at the now whimpering form of Michael. "Next time, I might do something more creative. DON'T bother Luna again." He took back the wand, handing it back to its rightful owner.
Luna smiled. "Thank you, but you didn't need to do that. It'll just become worse. I haven't found my pillow for a few months now."
Harry frowned. "Why are they taking your stuff?"
"I don't think they seem to like me very much," Luna replied thoughtfully. "They always call me Loony Lovegood."
Harry did not find the nickname at all amusing. "Have you gone to see Professor Flitwick?"
"Telling a teacher always makes it worse," Luna replied in a tone that made it seem they were discussing the weather. "So I try to get along as well as I can, really. They always return to me at the end of the year," she added casually.
Harry simply hated just sitting there and doing nothing about it, so he smiled. "Well it seems no one really likes me around here either. At the very least, if I hang out with you no one will try any stunts like Michael would pull."
"You would do that?" Luna asked in shock, in a slightly less dreamy tone.
Harry shrugged. "And I could use someone to help me with researching new spells. I have no idea what the First Task is, so could you be my research partner?"
The Ravenclaw aspect of Luna, it seemed, was not lost on her oddities as she brightened at the idea. "I'd love to."