One Wizard Too Many
Harry Potter felt like shit.
"What the bloody fucking hell happened to me?" He wondered. "I haven't felt quite this badly, well, ever! Even when I lost a fight to Dudders, or that reflex test with Petunia's frying pan, or that time Vernon backed over me with the car…"
A gentle voice interrupted his 'fond' remembrances.
"Harry? Please come back to us."
He forced his gritty eyes open and tried to speak. A spate of coughing seemed to clear the throat for him.
"Hermione? Is that you? Are we alive?"
A grin. "Yes, Harry. It's me, and we're both among the living."
"Thank God, or the gods. Or Merlin. Or whomever!"
"Thank Hermione." Sirius added. "She really saved your bacon!"
"Yes, her impromptu decompression chamber most likely saved your life, or at least spared you a great deal of suffering." Remus declared.
Harry smiled up at the slightly embarrassed girl. "My hero."
"Oh enough, you guys! Wasn't anything special, really."
"Miss Granger, if I could still give points, you would be taking a thousand for Gryffindor."
"A million!" Sirius called out.
"You get a billion from me, Miss Granger." Harry said, in his best Flitwick impression.
"Okay, okay. I get it." The now fully embarrassed girl replied. "See if I ever save your life again!" The big smile on her face belied any rancor her statement might've contained.
Harry sat up a bit. He spread his arms to Hermione inviting her in for a much needed cuddle, which she entered into gladly.
Once the two were properly settled (and the smirking from the peanut gallery had run its course), Harry spoke, "Dare I ask, but does anyone have any idea just what the heck has been going on the past few days?"
"Funny. We were going to ask you that very same question!" Remus replied.
"All I can state with any confidence is that something very weird seems to be happening at Hogwarts. Where can we begin?"
"Hermione filled us in on some of it while you were napping. There are a few things missing that only you were a witness to alone." Remus said.
"Such as: what possessed you to take on an entire trainee Auror platoon by yourself?!" Hermione asked from her cuddle position, turning to lightly glare at the 'Boy-who-(barely)-Lived'.
"Good question." Was Remus' response.
"Hey, I thought it was kinda awesome, in a 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' sort of way. But it was still pretty reckless." Sirius said.
Harry gulped. "Well, when I saw Hermione go down," he squeezed the girl tightly, "something sort of snapped." He finished, unknowingly imitating Remus' previous characterization of the event. "Once I was sure she was still alive, all I wanted to do was cause a great deal of pain to those who hurt her." He looked up at Remus with a very troubled expression marring his features. "I didn't really want to kill anyone, exactly, but crippled for life might've been okay by me."
Hermione squeezed the boy. "Did you see who cast the spell that took me out?"
"Yes, it was Auror Dawlish. I made sure to mess him up pretty good." He turned towards the werewolf, "Did I kill anyone that day?" he asked.
"No, Harry. No Aurors were killed in the incident. In addition, Madame Bones has called for a full investigation into the entire affair."
Harry sighed. "Welp, its Azkaban or the lam for me, it seems. Fancy some company there, Sirius?"
Sirius grinned. "Actually pup; it would appear I'm still the only fugitive from 'justice' in this family. You're immune from prosecution. Lucky git!"
Harry gawped. "How is that even possible? I distinctly remember nearly beheading some bastard on those stairs! I impaled Dawlish through the stomach with a piercing hex! And what about Barty Crouch? It can't be legal to shoot a judge in the guts with a spear gun!"
"Language, dear! Do you remember what I told you when we were going over the tournament rules?" Hermione asked.
Harry thought for a moment. "No killing, castration, or permanent maiming. But I can remember slicing off several people's arms and legs! How is that not maiming?"
Hermione smiled. "In your experience, is magical healing capable of re-growing a limb?" She rubbed his arm for emphasis.
"Yeah, I suppose it can. Especially if some fraud manages to vanish your bones!"
"Exactly. As it happens, three Auror trainees were medically discharged, but the Auror corps has a higher standard of fitness than most of Wizarding society. Now, did you specifically intend to damage or remove anyone's … reproductive ability?" The girl asked.
"No. I didn't blast anyone in the bollocks, much as they might've deserved it."
A swat to the arm. "Harry! Behave. Did you kill anyone? Hint: we just said you didn't."
"Okay, I guess not just then. But what about the Lake? I must've slaughtered dozens of mermen. Surely that counts as 'killing', right?"
Remus sighed. "You do know that wizard-kind is one of the most racist and bigoted population of sentients on the planet, right?"
"Yeah. So?" Harry replied, uncertainly.
"The tournament rules only specify fully human wizards, Harry. You're free to kill as many non-humans and non-wizards as you like." Remus said.
"What?" Harry choked out.
"Not that you should, of course." Remus added, rather unnecessarily.
Hermione was taken aback. She hadn't noticed that! "That's disgusting! How the devil can that be allowed?" She turned to Harry. "Not that it's bad in your case though." She turned back to Remus. "But the concept violates nearly every magical pact and treaty ever written!"
She figured it was a waste of breath to mention the affront to basic morality and civilized behavior, for all the weight they carried in Wizarding culture!
Remus nodded wearily. "It should. Unfortunately, or fortunately in your case, Tournament rules predate and supersede all Magical law except the Statute of Secrecy. As long as you don't endanger the existence of the magical world, you can cheerfully slaughter any merman, vampire, werewolf, goblin, centaur, elf, or muggle you wish. You can even kill me if you wanted."
"What a horrid rule!" Hermione gasped.
Harry gawped again.
"Not that you should, of course." Remus repeated with a grin.
Harry closed his open mouth and sighed wearily.
"Why does anything surprise me anymore? What about Crouch? A spear to the navel doesn't do a body good, as it were."
"He's not dead, so he doesn't count." Sirius said.
"I hope the lousy elf abuser enjoys his new, all-liquid diet!" Hermione muttered.
"Well, if it's any consolation, he seemed to be having a thoroughly miserable time when he was last seen." Remus said.
"Good." The vengeful witch said with some satisfaction.
"Okay, we've covered everything up to the task. What in Merlin's name happened down there?" Sirius asked.
"In short, it was a set up. Do you know who the current Ministry rep to the Mermen is?" Harry asked.
Remus thought for a moment. "It used to be Cresswell, before they moved him on to the Goblin office. Dumbledore was it before him. I did hear that the Creatures department took it over on an ad-hoc basis." Remus gasped. "It couldn't be Mac Nair, could it?"
"Yup. Cedric told me just before we all dove in."
"My gods! I'm sorry pup! We should have been aware of that beforehand."
Harry grunted. "Well, I didn't think to ask either. Based on the behavior of a few of the mermen, Mac Nair probably paid for a hit. When the attempt failed, the rest of the tribe came after me."
A pale Remus asked, "And the mines? What did you do with them?"
"I planted them along my route into town, finishing with City Hall. Covered the escape pretty well, really."
Remus pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Although we haven't heard the mermen casualty figures, I don't think any civilian mermen were killed in the destruction. I'm sure the mer-chieftainess would have been sure to bring that up when she lodged her complaint with Dumbledore. It did sound like a number of warriors were lost, however, along with a great deal of damage to the village itself."
Harry sulked a bit. "Well, they did try to kill me first. Again." He thought for a moment. "By the way, what is going on with Professor Moody? He stunned me after the Auror battle and said some weird stuff, then he jumped on Crouch when I plunked him in the belly after the lake. Why would he do that?"
Hermione answered. "Well, it makes perfect sense why he would restrain someone who was cutting down Aurors left and right, considering he used to be one. What did he say?"
"He said I did a good job, or something. Couldn't really focus on what he was saying."
"Old Mad-Eye was always a fan of a big brawl. Maybe he just liked your style." Sirius said.
"Maybe, but I can't think he'd be happy to see an entire year's crop of Auror candidates taken out like that." Remus said.
Harry was appalled. "An entire year? I incapacitated an entire graduating class of Aurors?! What have I done?"
"Probably improved the overall quality of the remaining Aurors, gotten Dawlish reassigned once he recovers, and undoubtedly made a few enemies for life; nothing really earth shattering." Sirius quipped.
"Just what I need; more people trying to kill me. What about Moody and Crouch?"
"Barty used to be Moody's boss, back in the day." Sirius said. "Maybe they're still pals, or something."
Remus looked contemplative. "Possibly; who can say? It does seem odd, what with Pomfrey right there to render aid. A trip to a private healer, perhaps? Still, Moody bears watching, I think."
Sirius laughed. "Paranoid old bastard will love that! I see a largish purchase of silver cutlery in his future if he catches you snooping in on him."
Harry chuckled a little. "Ah, lovely to see someone else in the line of fire for a change! Anyway, I think we all can agree that Moody is a weirdo, Crouch is a flaming cu-, uh, conundrum," a nervous glance at Hermione, who was glaring back through slitted eyes. "And Harry is kind of hungry, and would like to eat sometime today before he expires of malnutrition."
"And after that?" Hermione asked, while helping Harry rise to his unsteady feet.
"I think we should take some prime beach time, to bake some heat back into our old bones!"
"Hear, hear!" Hermione could get behind that idea.
"Aaahhh." Harry sighed in contentment as the warm Caribbean waters rolled over his feet. Just being on that beach and away from the awful Scottish weather was like a tonic for his soul. "After this tourney nonsense, I am so going to retire here!"
"Retire? Sounds just a bit odd coming from a fourteen year old!" Sirius added from his beach chair nearby. "Now, for someone of my advanced years perhaps…"
"I don't think they allow dogs on this beach, what with the mess and all." Harry replied.
Sirius laughed. "Any sort of mess ol' Padfoot might make would pale in comparison to the disaster you looked when you first got here! Look quite a bit better now though."
"Yup. Complete dog shit doesn't even cover it. Do I really have to go back to Hogwarts?"
Sirius sighed. "It would appear that you do, unfortunately. Moony said you have to remain in fairly close proximity to the blasted goblet throughout the course of the tourney,"
"How long can I stay away?"
"The Moon-Doggie said the rules say you have a fortnight."
"It's a long and incredibly stupid story, like most of our exploits. Basically you get a two week vacation from the stupid crazy bullshite."
"It just has to be me, right? You, Remus, and Hermione don't have to go back, I gather."
Sirius barked a laugh. "No, we don't have to return. But I don't think you have either the stones or the magical wattage to keep us away. No offence, pup."
Harry chuckled. "Yeah. If it were just you and Remus, maybe…"
"You're a funny little guy, Harry." Sirius grinned. "What a pity that you might be right."
Their island idyll lasted just seven days of the possible fourteen, as Remus and Hermione both agreed that the 'fortnight' rule was just a bit too fuzzy on which to stake Harry's magical ability. Their safety, at least the safety of Harry and Hermione, required Unbreakable Vows wrung from both Dumbledore and Fudge on behalf of the school and Ministry respectively to respect the Tournament rules.
Remus remarked that Fudge's expression while performing the vow resembled nothing so much as man expecting to pass a stone only to find he must pass a nettle instead.
Hermione condemned the crudity but savored the content nonetheless.
In due time, the happy couple prepared to return to Scottish shores, and the glares and recriminations of their schoolmates.
As the pair looked around the beach one last time as they waited on a portkey to trigger, Harry sighed wistfully.
"Hermione; what say you that we retire here one day?"
"Mmm, I think that might be a great idea. One day, at least. Don't know if I'm ready to retire just yet."
A wry grin. "No, I suppose we've a bit more mess to make before we're done."
A portkey flash and they were gone.
AN: Another shorter one, but it seemed like a good place to stop. This update did occur in a bit less than the two year interval the last one required, so there is that at least. Apologies for the lack of action in this installment, I shall endeavor to rectify that particular lack shortly. Thank you for the reviews and I do hope you enjoy my meager efforts.