Can't Have It Both Ways!
A/N If you are forced to participate in a competition that's reserved for adults only, doesn't that mean you should be considered an adult? Harry gets some much needed help and advice before having some fun by allowing his marauder heritage out to play. My attempt at a horcrux free forth year fic.
Disclaimer: since I write purely for fun and make no money off my work then I'm most definitely not JKR.
You may recognise the beginning of this story from the aforementioned JKR's 'Goblet of Fire', as usual with my stories, canon up until this point.
"I'm not stupid you know."
"You're doing a really great impression of it," snapped Harry.
"Yeah?" said Ron, and there was no trace of a grin, forced or otherwise, on his face now. "You want to get to bed, Harry, I expect you'll need to be up early tomorrow for a photo call or something."
He wrenched the hangings shut around his four poster, leaving Harry standing there by the door, staring at the dark red velvet curtains, now hiding one of the few people who he thought would believe him.
Harry moved the Gryffindor banner off his bed and lay down, the noise from the party still going on downstairs destroying any chance of sleep. That seemed like a bad joke though as there was no way his mind was going to let him fall asleep for hours yet, the events of another disastrous Halloween that could be added to the Potter's growing collection were playing over and over in his head.
Hermione having to give him a push when his name came out that goblet, then every face in the hall staring at him, the one that stood out more than any other though was Cho. Harry had been slightly crushing on her from afar but her expression tonight crushed all romantic thoughts towards the pretty Ravenclaw seeker.
Only his Aunt Petunia had ever looked at him like that before, when Dudley had pushed him down into old Ripper's leavings in the garden, yes Cho had looked at him as if he'd just been dipped in dog shit. Add to that a Veela who thought he was a 'little boy' and the Potter ego had taken a real battering tonight.
That wasn't even mentioning the fact that the whole school, including his supposed best friend, thought he was a cheating liar and were probably looking forward to watching him making an arse of himself. What really worried him was that this was an occurrence that was more than likely to happen as he hadn't a clue what he was doing.
It was kind of ironic that the only task he set himself this year was to try and find a girlfriend, the former number one candidate would now apparently rather date a dementor than go out with him.
If Harry was being honest with himself he would have to concede that Cho wasn't the number one candidate, a certain witch with beautiful chocolate brown eyes and that lovely hair had haunted his better dreams since the night they saved Sirius. Having her riding behind him on Buckbeak while holding on tight, let's just say he was now well aware that Hermione Jane Granger was all girl.
The problem was that they were a trio, her, him and Ron, though apparently that was no longer the case as Ron couldn't control his jealousy, Harry suspected he never would. On this horrible night Harry came to a decision, if Hermione believed him she would offer to help with his training, this would be his opportunity to ask her if she liked him enough to be his girlfriend, if she said no he could always hope the first task would kill him.
Harry realised that he had been lying there sorting out his thoughts for hours and that everyone else was not only in bed but fast asleep, he drew back his curtains to get his pyjamas when the unmistakable sound of an owl chapping at the window demanded his attention. Opening the window admitted a large, regal owl, wearing the crest of Gringotts hanging from a fine silver chain, and carrying a scroll addressed to him.
Opening the scroll changed his life forever.
Dear Lord Potter
We here at Gringotts are distressed to discover that once again the life of our most prestigious customer is being unnecessarily placed at risk, we goblins consider this latest travesty as the last straw and feel duty bound to help you in any way we can. Our legal team have examined the magical contract and regret to announce it is unbreakable, this does not mean they haven't found a few loopholes that can be exploited, and as this would also be the equivalent of giving the finger to the ministry that would be considered payment enough for us.
You are being forced to compete in a ministry sponsored competition that is exclusively reserved for wizards and witches that are of age, our legal team insists that the ministry therefore must recognise you as an adult wizard. If the ministry fights this then you cannot be allowed to compete in the competition, they can't have it both ways!
Being declared an adult has major advantages, not least of which is full access to your inheritance and the freedom to choose where you live.
That certainly focused Harry's attention, he didn't know what to make of an inheritance but anything that could take him away from Privet Drive was all good in his book.
To claim your inheritance, and independence, simply press your thumb into the segregated square in the bottom left hand corner of the attached form, this will draw a drop of blood and signal your status as an adult wizard.
All at Gringotts eagerly await your decision on this matter but feel it is important to emphasise the choice is entirely yours to make, while we at Gringotts are pleased to offer advice, any final decision will always belong to our customer.
Head of the Potter Accounts
Potter accounts, just how many accounts did he have? Harry's eyes kept returning to 'freedom to choose where you live' which effectively meant no more Dursleys as, given the choice, he wouldn't go within fifty miles of them.
Since he was effectively being given that element of choice Harry didn't hesitate for a second, he pushed his thumb firmly into the square thus drawing the required blood. The parchment was surrounded by a blue energy before it completely disappeared, leaving Harry to wonder if he was dreaming or perhaps it hadn't work.
Another Gringotts owl chapping at the window held a scroll that answered his questions.
May we at Gringotts be the first to congratulate you Lord Potter on your becoming an adult in the magical world. I consider it imperative that we meet at the earliest opportunity therefore this note will act as a portkey to Gringotts bank, it is voice activated by the phrase "Lord Potter" but will only work outside the Hogwarts wards. We at Gringotts are looking forward to continuing our long and profitable partnership with the house of Potter.
Head of the Potter Accounts
Harry wanted to race out the front doors right this very minute but figured it would be easier to sneak out tomorrow. His mind was already forming a plan as he lay back on his bed and unbelievably fell asleep, dreaming of a life with no more Dursleys but definitely containing a beautiful brown eyed girl.
Laughing and a running hey, hey
Skipping and a jumping
In the misty morning fog with
Our hearts a thumpin' and you
My brown eyed girl,
You my brown eyed girl
This was the soundtrack to Harry's most pleasant dream ever, he was almost sorry to wake up but he had to talk to the real Hermione, hoping his dream didn't turn into a nightmare. It was Sunday but he was up, showered and dressed before trying to sneak out the portrait hole without encountering any of his housemates. He was about to congratulate himself on escaping Gryffindor common room undetected when he almost collided with the one person he wanted to find, she was standing there like an angel with toast and pumpkin juice for him.
This simple gesture almost overwhelmed him, "Hermione I can't thank you enough, it's not just the toast but the fact that you're here for me."
She smiled sweetly, "Don't worry Harry, I figured you wouldn't want to go anywhere near the great hall this morning."
Harry made sure his mouth was empty of toast before replying, "That bad huh?"
"The Hufflepuffs think you stole their thunder, Cho is Cedric's girlfriend and turned Ravenclaw against you while the Slytherins would rather see anyone win but Harry
Potter. All of Gryffindor is fully behind you though, well nearly all."
"Yeah but every one of them thinks I cheated my way into the competition, especially Ron"
"Harry, one look at your face last night and I knew you didn't put your name in that goblet, and anyway you know you can't keep secrets from me Potter. I've already started work on a training schedule, researching what spells could be useful…"
Harry banished what was left of his juice, leaving his hands free so he could throw his arms around Hermione, this had the effect of silencing the young witch. Harry leaned in slowly for a kiss, giving Hermione plenty of time to object but found her leaning in as well while her arms reached up to his shoulders to ensure he wasn't going anywhere.
Their first kiss was gentle, loving and held the promise of many more to come, they finished with their foreheads resting against one another as Harry fought to get himself under control before speaking, "Knowing me I've probably made a mess of things by not asking you before that kiss but Hermione, would you be my girlfriend?"
Hermione kissed him again before answering, "Harry James Potter, if you think I would let anyone but my boyfriend kiss me like that then you don't know me very well."
Harry lifted Hermione off her feet and spun her around as she giggled, he kissed her once more before dragging his new girlfriend away from the Gryffindor entrance, "Hermione we have to talk but not here," Harry's whole face lit up with joy as an idea came to him, Hermione thought that if this was a cartoon, a light bulb bright enough to illuminate the entire castle would be beside Harry's head.
"Oh that is perfect, I probably won't understand half of what they say anyway. You will come with me, please!"
Hermione felt her heart melt at the needy expression on his face, she'd had a boyfriend less than two minutes yet that look could totally undermine all her defences. She just couldn't say no to him and only the fact that this was Harry saved that from being a terrifying thought, he would never do anything to hurt her.
A hug and kiss later found her once again being dragged along but this time she had worked out their destination, she would be a good girlfriend and give him a chance to explain before biting his head off.
They arrived at the statue of the one eyed witch where Harry took his father's map out, checking that the coast was clear.
"Harry, could you please tell me what's going on?" Hermione asked sweetly.
Had Harry been a bit more experienced with girls or even paying full attention to his girlfriend he may have recognised the danger signals in those words, as it was only pure luck deflected their first argument as a couple.
"Hermione I promise you'll know everything I do, just not here. Trust me love it's quite a story."
Promising full disclosure, peaking her interest with 'quite a story' and calling Hermione 'love' had placated his girlfriend for now, she consoled her rule breaking concerns with the fact that they wouldn't technically have left the school grounds, just standing in a tunnel that led directly to Hogsmead.
"Dissendium" led to the opening appearing as Harry helped her escape the castle, she was soon joined by her boyfriend as they lit their wands. There was no ambiguity in Hermione's next statement, even someone as thick as Ron couldn't have missed the obvious danger signals, "Ok Harry, so far I've been a good little girlfriend and we can't be overheard down here. Spill it Potter, now!"
Harry pulled her close as he tried to figure out the best way to tell Hermione just what was going on, the only thing that came to mind was to give it to her straight, "Hermione, all the adults in that room last night agreed I was being set-up for something, they all had opinions but nobody gave a shit about mine!"
Once Harry started the floodgates opened, "Whoever entered me for the tri-wiz did not do so for the sake of my health, quite the opposite in fact, yet the people who are supposedly charge with my safety and welfare seem quite happy to have me staked out there like a sacrificial lamb. Their only interest seems to be who would take the bait, not what could happen to me, I felt like a worm on a fisherman's hook, about to be cast into the water to see what fancies a nibble."
Hermione was holding him tight as she tried to reassure him, "Listen Harry, anybody attempting to nibble on you who is not named Hermione Granger is going to have to deal with your seriously angry girlfriend first."
The thought of Hermione nibbling on him couldn't fail to raise a smile, he knew that was why his girlfriend had said it. "Last night I received an offer of help that I willingly accepted and we're on our way there now. What would you say if I told you your boyfriend was of age, not only that but apparently a lord to boot."
Hermione was nonplussed so Harry helped her out, "The goblins contacted me with an interesting legal point, since I'm being forced to compete in a competition the rules clearly state only of age wizards or witches may enter into then I must be considered an adult. Either that or I should be disqualified for being under-age, the ministry can't have it both ways and the goblins will help me make sure that they don't. I have a portkey to take me to Gringotts and want you to come with me, we need to get outside Hogwarts wards before it will work though."
Hermione had been worried sick ever since his name came out of that goblet, her relief that someone was actually helping her Harry far outweighed any concerns she had about breaking rules by leaving the school grounds. She grabbed his hand and began dragging him along the tunnel, "We had better get a move on then."
Barchoke felt the wards trigger indicating Lord Potter's portkey had been activated, the appearance of two teens in his office confirmed this, "Good morning Lord Potter, my name is Barchoke and it's a pleasure to meet you, though I wasn't expecting you to bring company."
"Barchoke, this is my best friend and girlfriend, Hermione Granger. Anything you have to say to me can be said in front of her, she's stood by me through everything and I trust her with my life."
"Good morning Miss Granger, I meant no disrespect and will happily comply with Lord Potter's wishes. I have taken the liberty of requesting some refreshments as I fear we may be here for quite some time. I suggest we deal with the Potter estate first, sorting out the legal requirements before moving on to more recent matters."
It was well over an hour later when two badly shaken Gryffindors were drinking cups of tea, trying to come to grips with the fact that Harry was exceedingly wealthy and had his choice of homes rather than the Dursleys. Hermione was trying to work out why Harry had been dumped there in the first place while the boy in question was rubbing the back of his hand, there were a stack of documents that had required his signature in blood. She was so pleased he'd asked her to be his girlfriend before she had found out about all the gold, it was easy to say it didn't matter but with that sum involved who would believe her.
Barchoke then wanted to hear about their adventures at Hogwarts, when Harry told the tale of the chamber of secrets, the goblin's eyes widened to almost Dobby proportions but he didn't interrupt, just adding to his now copious notes. His quill sped up with the happenings in the shrieking shack and only stopped after Harry related the manipulations after his name was spat out the goblet.
They then had a lovely lunch in Bachoke's rather plush office to give the goblin time to digest the mountain of information he'd just been given. "Lord Potter, what you have told me here this morning not only confirms suspicions the goblin nation had but fills in a few gaps as well. Your actions since attending Hogwarts have major ramifications that should have been explained to you, it could change your status dramatically which I believe is why this information was deliberately withheld."
Harry and Hermione hadn't a clue what Barchoke was alluding to so he attempted to explain it, "You have now defeated the heir of Slytherin three times in deadly combat, the last confrontation was in Salazar's own chamber and you battled his Basilisk at the same time. I believe you could now claim to be the heir of Slytherin by right of conquest, the sword of Gryffindor coming to your aid would give you a strong case for being heir of that house as well."
Hermione could clearly see the utter panic in Harry's eyes, she took his hand and felt the Potter head of house ring, this appeared to bring her boyfriend's mind into focus as he reached a decision, "Barchoke, in the last twenty four hours I've been entered into a competition where people have died, become head of house Potter and a wonderful girl agreed to be my girlfriend. I have no idea what being heir to Slytherin or Gryffindor means but, since I'm only fourteen I think I have quite enough to be going on with at the moment. We can always come back to it at a later date."
Hermione wanted to grab him to snog his brains out, she'd never been so proud of him. The only thing stopping her was the certainty that it would breach goblin etiquette and they still needed their help, "Barchoke, you mentioned helping Harry with the competition, how can you help him?"
The goblin was momentarily stunned, he'd never met a wizard who'd refused power before, Barchoke needed to see how far this couple wanted to go. "Lord Potter, can I ask what your goals are for the competition?"
There was no hesitation from Harry, "Be alive at the end of it and hopefully not have made too big an arse of myself in the process."
A grinning goblin was a fearsome sight, "We goblins are a warrior race, banned by magic users from even having an army, so we have had to develop more subtle ways of winning the battles. Our American cousins have a saying that's rather appropriate, they call it sticking it to the human!"
Both teenagers tried not to laugh at the adaptation of a phrase they were familiar with.
"We now take great delight in spoiling a witch or wizard's day, not grovelling at their feet and being deliberately pedantic in our dealings with them can put a pureblood off their lunch. We have here a golden opportunity to turn this very high profile, ministry organised competition into a farce, your late father would have called it a prank."
The two teens glanced at one another and nodded, Harry didn't want to be entered in the first place so why shouldn't he take the piss out of the people who were forcing him to compete while Hermione just wanted him safe.
"What did you have in mind?" Harry asked
That goblin grin was back in full force, "All the financial arrangements are done through Gringotts, we even made and charmed the golden articles you have to retrieve in the first task. I really see only one problem"
Both teens waited for an answer but Barchoke was looking unusually pensive, "In the second task something you prize will be taken from you and placed at the bottom of the lake, you will have one hour to rescue it. I have only known you for a short time yet it is blindingly obvious what they will take."
Hermione was still trying to figure it out when she felt Harry stiffen beside her, his voice suddenly held a quality of menace she'd never heard before. "Anyone trying to lay a hand on my Hermione will find me waiting for them, I might just need Gryffindor's sword after all."
"Won't I be able to just say no?" Hermione asked, not relishing the thought of being under the lake at all.
"Was Harry given a choice? There is a way around this but I think I'll make the suggestion then leave you two alone to talk about it. Anyone attempting to place Lord Potter's betrothed at the bottom of the lake would find themselves at minimum facing five years in Azkaban."
The two teens were so intent on each other that Barchoke left the room unnoticed, Harry felt he had to say something, "Hermione you know I would do anything to keep you safe and the thought of you as my betrothed fills me with the most pleasant feeling I've ever known. I realise that this is very quick and not the most romantic of settings but would you at least consider the idea?"
Hermione's heart was racing but she tried to be practical, "Harry what are your plans, your dreams, what do you want to do with your life?"
Harry knew this was a moment for total honesty, if he truly wanted this girl to be his betrothed then he had to do something he'd never done in his life before, lay bare his soul. "Hermione my plans always seem to consist of surviving my current year at Hogwarts and then being shipped off back to my loving relatives for a summer of fun and laughter. My dreams recently have featured my brown eyed girl and any future dreams are hopefully going to continue that trend. What I want to do with my life is survive Hogwarts, never go back to the Dursleys and have you part of it always in whatever form you'll have me. My ultimate aim in life is to have a family of my own and be the best dad and husband possible, I've only ever dreamed this a few times but in every one it was always you that was by my side."
Hermione's sensible/practical side had crashed and burned when he called her his brown eyed girl, those brown eyes currently had tears in them as she answered, "Harry that would be a dream come true for me as well, I would love to be your betrothed."
Outside there may be a dark lord, death eaters and any number of others who wanted him dead but at the moment he didn't care, he was happier than he'd ever been so why shouldn't he be allowed to enjoy it. "I think I need to buy my betrothed a ring."
Harry was positive there must be some kind of monitoring charm on the room because Barchoke re-entered with a case full of Potter family rings.
"There was never any doubt Lord Potter would ask and I was just as sure your young lady would say yes, we have here an assortment of Potter betrothal rings, some dating back centuries."
Hermione found herself drawn to one that was platinum with an emerald the exact shade of Harry's eyes, the Potter crest gave the illusion of floating inside the gemstone, it really was a thing of beauty.
Harry placed it on her finger and it shrank to fit as if especially made for her by a master of their craft. If Barchoke hadn't interrupted they may have stood there, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes all day.
"Lord Potter, I took the liberty of having the Gryffindor and Slytherin rings brought up from the founder's vault and beg you to reconsider your decision. Being a founder's heir would allow you and your betrothed to portkey to and from Hogwarts, the castle itself would protect you from attack within its walls. There are books detailing much more of what a founder's heir can do but for the safety and protection alone I advise you to try the rings on."
If trying on a ring could keep Hermione safe then Harry was going to do it, the Gryffindor ring resized on first contact while the snake motif on the Slytherin ring actually spoke to him in parseltongue, Harry's answer in the same language was enough for it to decide he was the rightful heir.
The grin on Bachoke's face had turned predatory, "Now we need to plan how you want to handle this, we don't want to give away any secrets too soon."
Hermione was adamant though, "I'm not covering up my ring, I don't care who knows that Harry and I are betrothed."
Barchoke nodded in understanding, "I think our first goal should be gaining some control over the media, then…" they talked for hours.
They were in an empty corridor as Harry searched the map for a certain individual, Hermione was still in awe at her new book bag and the gifts it contained. There was everything from books that belonged to the founders to the original rule book for the tri-wizard cup yet it weighed less than a kilo. The ministry had only changed the age requirement so everything else was still valid but she was fairly certain this was the only copy in the castle.
"Found her, she's in the library sitting alone, if we hurry we can still make dinner in time before the show begins."
They hurried towards the library and Hermione couldn't believe how much she was looking forward to tonight, pranks had always made her blood boil as she thought of it as a form of bullying but not here. This was the little guy striking back at authority, unjust authority at that, in one day she'd went from know-it-all bookworm to Hermione Jane Granger, betrothed of Lord Harry Potter and freedom fighter, she really needed to cut down on the romantic novels.
Luna Lovegood heard her name called and cringed, she'd been having a lovely day as everyone was too busy discussing the happenings of Halloween to bother with her, looks like that was about to change. She turned her head around to see who had spoke to her and got one of the biggest shocks of her life.
"You're Luna Lovegood? I'm Harry Potter and this is Hermione Granger, do you mind if we join you for a moment."
Luna could only move her head to signal it was ok, her vocal chords had frozen at the thought that Harry Potter knew her name.
"Luna we understand your father owns the Quibbler, we would like to do a deal giving him exclusive rights to 'Harry Potter'…"
Luna was on her feet, "I thought you would be different Harry but you're just like all the rest, making fun of me." She went to run away but suddenly found herself staring into the greenest eyes she'd ever seen, boy he moved fast!
"Luna enough people have made fun of me in my life to ensure I would never do it to anyone else, please sit with us and we can talk about this."
She felt Harry's hand on her arm as he gently led her back to her seat, "That was a serious offer? Harry our paper is a very small, family run business, we couldn't afford that."
"I'm selling the rights up until the first of July next year for one Galleon, do you think your father would be interested?"
Luna was suddenly all business, "I'm on the board of directors and my father always says I can do any deals, up to the value of one galleon, so on behalf of the Quibbler I would be delighted to accept."
Harry withdrew a contract that Barchoke had drawn up for him, "Luna this deal is with your family and the Quibbler, if your father tries to sell the rights or the newspaper the contract will be broken."
Luna understood and tried to set Harry's mind at rest, "My dad loves that newspaper, he could no more sell it than he could me, we may be purebloods but we don't stick to the old ways."
"This deal means that anyone else printing pictures or stories featuring myself or my betrothed will receive a visit from our lawyers."
Luna's head spun round to see the lovely girl playing with her beautiful new ring, "Congratulations to both of you, are we allowed to print that? Oh I don't have a galleon on me."
Hermione handed her a galleon to give to Harry, "Luna you can print what you want as long as it's the truth, since Harry and I are betrothed, and I have no intention of hiding that fact then of course you may print it."
The contract accepted Luna's signature, glowing golden before duplicating a copy for each party then disappearing.
Everyone was happy with the deal because they all benefited from it, "Luna would you care to join s for dinner? Everyone seems determined to talk about Harry so in about twenty minutes we're going to give them something to talk about, as our newly appointed press representative I wouldn't want you to miss it."
Luna was walking along the corridor towards the great hall beside the couple who were holding hands thinking she wouldn't miss this for the world.
Ron Weasley was in a right funk, what was the point of blatantly ignoring someone if they weren't around for you to blatantly ignore, to make matters worse Hermione had been missing all day as well. She was far too sensible though to fall for that tri-wiz champion fame rubbish though, forgetting that had he been able to enter he would have used the status to get with as many girls as possible.
The silence that descended over the hall drew his attention to the couple that had just entered, the couple who were holding hands, the couple containing the girl he wanted and that back-stabbing bastard Potter. Ron was on his feet with his wand firing a curse while he tried to scream abuse at his former friends, the sudden pain was unbelievable as he glanced down at the chunk of hamburger that used to be his hand, Ron was screaming now for an entirely different reason.
Hermione had watched as the curse sped towards them but, before they could even think of reacting, Ron's wand exploded in his hand. Barchoke was certainly right about the castle offering protection, "I'm so glad you took those rings Harry."
"Not as glad as I am that you took mine," he kissed her forehead in relief before multiple shouts of "POTTER!" emanated from the staff table. This is bloody typical thought Harry, for the first time ever we actually have a plan and barely make it through the door before said plan goes out the window; they were just going to have to wing it as usual.
A/N I know I said I'd never do two stories at the same time again but I was left with little option, this is the story I had intended to write after Fate's Gambit. After starting FG2 this just kept intruding into my thoughts leaving writing it as my only choice, I can only write what's in my head so will continue with my weekly update schedule, just no promises which story it will be. As always, thanks for reading.