Here's to the Losers
A version you've never read of the Triwizard Tournament.
Chapter 1: I Did it My Way and Other Life Lessons
"I didn't put my name in that cup," Harry snarled at Ron, who was as usual being a prat. "I don't want eternal glory."
Eternal glory is what Ron wanted, not Harry. What Harry wanted was his family back and since they were dead it was unlikely to ever happen, despite the many insistences on Voldemort's behalf to the contrary.
"If you didn't, then who did?" Ron demanded, looking petulant and mean simultaneously which was a feat usually pulled off by Draco.
"I don't know!" Harry shouted. "Voldemort, perhaps! He's been behind every other terrible thing in my life, why not this too?"
The mean look slid from Ron's face, leaving him looking like a pouty four year old. "Saying, I believed you, how could You-Know-Who enter you into the Goblet of Fire? It's impossible."
Hermione chose this moment to butt in. "Not impossible as clearly Harry is in the tournament, though I don't see how he could have gotten past Dumbledore."
"Why not? He snuck in on the back of Quirrel's head, didn't he?" Harry said.
"Do you think that trick would work again? I would think Dumbledore would plan for it and be prepared. He is after all the greatest wizard since Merlin."
Harry scoffed. "With as much foresight as any other wizard, Hermione, excepting of course Trelawney and she's a crazy old bat with very few true predictions."
Hermione frowned. "Then perhaps somebody on his orders put you into the Goblet of Fire?"
"That's my guess," Harry said. "There's got to be a reason why loads of Death Eaters showed up at the Quidditch Cup this year and my guess is because they know something we do not. If Voldemort isn't back in action, he soon will be."
"Crickey, mate," Ron gulped. "Somebody on Voldemort's orders want you dead."
"So you believe me now?" Harry demanded, glowering at his best friend.
"It makes sense, and it is you we're talking about."
Hermione, still frowning, looked at the two boys. "What are you going to do Harry?"
"Barty Crouch says I have to compete because it's a binding magical contract, but I don't see how magical kitchenware can force me to compete."
"Oh Harry, you must," Hermione insisted. "I've read all about magical contracts. They're legal and binding and one constructed through an magical artifact as powerful and as old as the Goblet of Fire would have serious consequences of not fulfilling it. Probably not death, but you might lose your magic."
"A squib!" Ron gasped. "You've got to be kidding, Hermione. Why would they allow something like that in the school?"
"Because you ninny, they thought they were taking precautions with the age line and students personally submitting their name and only their name. Dumbledore drew the line himself!"
"A lot of good that did! I'm in the bloody tournament, Hermione," Harry growled. "Somebody must have done exactly what Professor Moody said—hoodwinked the Goblet with an extremely powerful confundus charm."
"Well that rules out Draco and his cronies then," Ron said with a laugh. "They couldn't spell their way out of a jumper."
"It's magic way beyond anything taught at Hogwarts… not the confudus bit, but the channeling of that much of your magical core to do something like that."
"No students then, but we kind of figured that out already, Hermione. Voldemort, remember? It's got to be a teacher. My money is on Snape. He used to be a Death Eater."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You always think it's Snape."
"There's three new teachers this year, Harry. My guess it's one of them. It's almost always the new teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts, yes? Why not Professor Moody? He even shared how he did it."
"Moody? You're dead wrong about him," Ron declared, crossing his arms. "He's the greatest dark wizard catcher ever to grace the Aurors. He's the reason I want to be one when I graduate."
"You have a career goal in mind?" Hermione asked, blinking owlishly at him. "Why I never thought I'd see the day."
Ron blushed scarlet. "It's that or Professional Quidditch Keeper."
"That sounds more like you," Hermione said, somewhat calmer.
"You said three teachers, Hermione," Harry reminded her, bringing the two back on track. "Who are the others?"
"The Heads of the other schools - Igor Karkaroff and Olympe Maxime."
"I can see Karkaroff, but Maxime is too tall to do anything discretely, ever. If it was her then someone would have seen," Ron mused.
"Both were very angry that I was called by the Goblet to compete. They thought Hogwarts was cheating."
Hermione shrugged. "Smokescreen. What if they were trying to fool you into thinking they were innocent?"
"Muggle military term," Hermione explained. "It means to mask something, like troop movement."
"Let's recap," Harry began quietly, counting off on his fingers. "Somebody put my name into the Goblet. Somebody possibly acting on Voldemort's orders. If so they are probably a Death Eater, previously known or unknown. Our best guesses are the three new teachers, Moody, Karkaroff, and Maxime, and then of course, Snape. I know you don't think he's the one behind everything, Hermione, but we are sure he was once a Death Eater. That's fact. We know I have to compete or risk the epithet, Boy-Who-Became-A-Squib. The first task is unknown and I must compete against three seventh years, who can reasonably said to be the best of the best from their schools. I have about as much chance as winning this tournament as I do surviving it. I can't possibly match any of them. What the hell am I going to do?"
"What do you mean," Fred began.
"-Not Compete?" George finished.
The Weasley twins stared at Harry in compete bewilderment and shock.
"Just what I said," Harry repeated. "I will show up, because I am forced to, but I won't raise a finger to try to win. I'll take zeroes across the board for my score rather than risk life and limb."
"But we bet on you just the other day with Bagman."
"You have to try or we're going to lose everything! Mum will kill us for sure."
"Then change your bet, if you still can, or take the loss, guys, because not even for you will I fight a dragon today."
"Dragons are easy, mate," Fred started, looking imploringly at George.
"Right, easy, Charlie deals with them all the time."
"Then Charlie can try to steal an egg from a nesting dragon mother. I am perfectly content losing. I never wanted eternal glory."
"But you're a Gryffindor!"
"You can't just sit out, you've got to bring glory and honor to Gryffindor!"
Fred nodded enthusiastically. "Right and Hogwarts too."
"Cedric Diggory is Hogwarts true champion. I've even got the button to prove it." Harry pressed his and it switched to Potter, Stinks.
"You can't let Draco get to you, Harry, he's just a stinking Slytherin."
"Hogwarts will be fine without me, and you will be too."
"You're a real pal, Harry."
"You'd think you'd do this for us because we gave you—"
"—the Marauders Map from the goodness of our hearts."
"I could introduce you to two of the original Marauders before the semester is out or return the map if it means clearing that little debt."
"I swear I'm not. You've even met one without realizing it, you know."
"WHO?" they shouted together.
"Professor Lupin is Moony."
"And we let him get right through our fingers," George bemoaned.
"Who's the other?" Fred asked, eager to learn the other identity.
"Sirius Black, my godfather. He's Padfoot."
"Wait, does that—"
Harry nodded. "Prongs. Before you ask the last betrayed my parents to Voldemort and no I don't want to talk about it."
"You're the son of Prongs?" George whispered in awe.
"Yes, George, we're in the presence of Prongs Jr." Fred confirmed before turning to Harry. "We're going to hold you to your promise. Good luck with losing the tournament."
"Lupin is probably in the stands. My godfather probably not, with dementors and the Ministry of Magic and dark wizard catchers trying to find him."
"We'll see you after the first task, then."
When the gong rang for Harry's turn to face his dragon, he stood reluctantly and ducked through the tent opening. The crowd was loud and noisy, the decibel volume earsplitting. Harry distantly noted how tiny the Gryffindor crowd supporting him was compared to the massive presence of icy blue for Fleur, blood red for Viktor, and sunshine yellow for Cedric.
The Hungarian Horntail was eyeing him shrewdly and Harry felt years of his life run away in sheer terror. That thing was scarier than the Basilisk he faced in second year. If only Fawkes would bring him the Sorting Hat and he might contemplate actually competing.
Why scarier than a Basilisk? Because of the dragon's huge advantage that the Basilisk didn't have…long tongues of wicked flame shooting out its mouth. Harry didn't fancy being served up on a platter. For one thing he didn't bring the catsup.
Ludo Bagman was narrating his non-movements with so much fervor Harry wondered how on earth he managed it as there was nothing to talk about.
"One must wonder what Harry is thinking. Is the youngest champion scared beyond thought? That would explain his just standing there while the clock ticks down."
Harry cast a sonorous on himself and answered Bagman. "Actually, I'm doing this on purpose. I have no intentions of doing something so stupid as facing a Hungarian Horntail or in fact any real dragon. Professor Snape might think I have a death wish, but far from it. The only times I fight against things much stronger than myself is when there's no other choice."
The crowd was so quiet one of Luna Lovegood's invisible Crumple-Horned Snorkacks could have sneezed and people would swear to have heard it.
Bagman was aghast. "You don't mean to just stand there the whole time do you?"
"That's exactly what I mean to do until the time runs out."
Bagman started to sweat. "But you're the Boy-Who-Lived, you can't just not compete."
"How do you think I stay that way? It's not because I go up against a nesting mother of the deadliest types of dragons. That would land me in the hospital wing and frankly I spend too much time there. Madam Pomfrey would agree."
"What about the egg? You will need it for the second task. Without it you will be at an extreme disadvantage."
"I already am. Fourth year, remember? The others have three years on me and are the best their respective schools can offer."
"You must do something, it's in the magical contract!"
"Oh I must, must I?" Harry replied walking toward the judges stand, and conveniently away from the dragon, who settled down seeing that Harry wasn't a threat. "Then I believe this will count…"
He bowed to the judges and stood straight again. "Good afternoon judges. Please let me explain what it is I am doing today for the first task. I am taking a knee. That's an American Muggle football term for preserving a lead. Yes, I realize that at this point I do not have a lead, but you might begin to see things my way when I share with you my argument for not competing against a dragon in a game of wits.
"Hogwarts' motto is Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus. While the Hungarian Horntail is not in fact sleeping, the point is the same. One must never enrage a dragon for the purpose of sport. This applies not only for this tournament, but also in real life where dragons may not be in fact actual dragons. You see it's a metaphor for putting oneself at unnecessary risk. I am therefore acting in as close a manner as I could in regards to the primary principle Hogwarts tries to instill in its students. Magic is fun, but one must never endanger one's health because of it. Thank you for your time, I hope you will consider my argument carefully."
With that final appeal on their commonsense, the gong rang and Harry walked off the field. There was much booing and hissing accompanying his steady and calm pace, but Harry kept his head high. They could force him on the field, but they couldn't force him to do jump through hoops. That's what a Keeper did. Not a Seeker.
It surprised nobody more than Harry to hear what the judges decided to give him. Because he had cast a spell and because the spell was years above his level and held for most of his time on the field without breaking off, they were forced to grade him accordingly. True, they docked him for not completing the task's goal, but also true, they had to take his prepared speech and grade him on that too which evened things out. From the five judges came the scores: 8, 9, 9, 10, 4. This, incidentally, put Harry in first place, tied with Krum.
"Bloody unbelievable," Harry muttered. "You'd think with a performance like mine, I'd get straight zeroes."
"Don't complain mate," Ron advised through a mouthful of bacon. "You got away with doing nothing!"
"Viktor should have been docked more," Hermione fumed. "The nerve of Karkaraff giving him a perfect score when his actions caused the loss of real dragon eggs. Why I could just wring his neck. Dragons are endangered! That why there are reserves and if there was any possibility of losing real eggs, the dragons should never have been introduced into the tournament to begin with. It's simply inexcusable."
"That was bad," Ron agreed. "Charlie's furious."
"As he should be!"
"It's really unfortunate," Harry said, taking his glasses off and scrubbing the bridge of his nose before covering a huge yawn. "I'd be happy to sign whatever petition you've got cooking in your brain right now Hermione, but I'm beat."
"Why's that? You didn't get injured like the other players and didn't do anything strenuous. Why are you tired?"
"I had to entertain the twins and introduce them to some of their idols right after the first task. They kept me out for bloody hours. I never knew how many pranks Sirius and Lupin did while at school. It was cool hearing more about my father, but keeping track of four rambunctious and hyper males takes its toll. Plus I ate something I shouldn't have and got turned into a canary."
Hermione laughed. Ron gaped at him.
"Yeah and then Sirius turned into Snuffles and chased me around for a good hour before the twins gave me the antidote."
"Bloody hell, remind me not to eat anything they give me," Ron said.
"Would you actually heed the warning?" Hermione asked, pointedly staring at the food he was busy shoveling into his mouth.
"I think Lupin took a photo too," Harry moaned, thunking his head on the table. "I have no bloody luck whatsoever."
"Oh dear," Hermione mused. "You really are in trouble."
"Think it'll get into the Prophet?"
"Yes," Hermione said, unfolding her paper. "It appears Rita Skeeter somehow managed to record the event. She even has a picture."
"I'm going to get Lupin," Harry growled. "Stupid werewolf."
Edit: Apparently something similar has been done. I have not read the story, and won't until I finish this fic, but it might interest you. It's Unchampion by kb0.