Has anyone noticed that despite not wanting to be in the tournament, Harry resigns himself to it quite quickly and actually competes? This struck me as odd because I can remember when I was fourteen and no way was I as complying as Harry was. So in this fic I have done my best to make Harry completely normal. This is how a normal teenager would react to being forced to do something they don't want to, especially something this life threatening.
"Harry, you're the underdog in this competition, are you sure I can't be of any help?" Ludo tried again.
"No sir, I have everything planned but I do have a question about the task, if you could answer it?" Harry asked innocently. It was mere minutes before the first task was due to start and Ludo Bagman had just pulled him out of the champion's tent.
"Of course, Harry my boy! I haven't memorized the rules like ol' Barty but as a judge I know all the ones I need to."
"You said we'd be judged on how quickly we get the egg but I was just wondering if there's a time limit." Harry felt himself blush at the suspicious look Bagman was giving him. "It's just… Like you said, I'm the underdog here. I'm only a fourth year and I'm facing a dragon, the people I'm competing against have years of magical study to their advantage. I highly doubt I'll be faster than any of them. I was just curious, if I don't manage to get my egg very quickly, how long do I have before the judges just give up and say I was unable to complete the task?"
"Don't worry, Harry." Ludo told him with a nervous smile, his chin never looked so weak. "I'm sure you'll do great."
Harry tried not to roll his eyes. With the amount of bets the man took at the world cup it stood to reason he'd done the same with the tournament and Ludo was making it increasingly obvious which horse he had backed.
Oh well, it didn't really matter if he got an answer or not, it wasn't like he cared how much time was wasted, he really had just been curious.
He quickly made his way back into the tent as Cedric was leaving it. He looked distinctly green around the gills, Harry's heart went out to him. It actually went out to all the champion's. The thought of facing a dragon must be terrifying.
Harry wrung his hands as he waited for his whistle. It had been horrible. Listening to the commentary on the other champions but not actually knowing how they were doing. He just hoped no one was seriously injured. What kind of absolute moron used dragons in a school competition? If it took six or seven fully trained, experienced dragon handlers to deal with one dragon, how were school children supposed to do it?
Just because the others were of age didn't mean they could handle something like this but at least the hard part was over now so Harry could breathe easier.
Harry was jolted out of his thoughts when the next whistle sounded, calling for his presence in the arena. Slowly he made his was out of the tent, he felt like a gladiator. Fighting for his life for the entertainment of the Emperor Dumbledore.
He breathed deep as he felt the magic of the tournament wash over him and felt himself relax, it was already over. Now all he had to wait for was for Dumbledore to give up.
He could see the dragon at the centre of the stadium, crouched low of her eggs, poisonous yellow eyes watching him carefully. He just hoped the flames couldn't reach him where he stood. He raised his wand and pointed it in the vague direction of the castle.
"Accio 'Quidditch Through The Ages'" He shouted, drawing extremely confused looks from everyone in attendance. In almost no time at all he could hear the whistling sound of something travelling at high speeds and almost gracefully plucked the book out of mid-air before it could slam into his chest or face.
He briefly considered summoning one of the chairs from the Gryffindor common room, knowing it was going to be far more comfortable that anything he could conjure or transfigure but decided against it. He really didn't want to be hit with an armchair and he highly doubted he could catch it the same way he had the book. So instead he calmly pointed his wand at the nearest boulder and turned it into a nice comfortable armchair he could quite happily spend a few hours relaxing in.
It wasn't the easiest thing to do. Relaxing when you had a stadium full of people staring at you, not to mention the nesting dragon that was still watching him carefully. He could hear the crowd getting restless, their whispers growing louder and louder.
He just wondered how long it would take Dumbledore to bow to pressure and actually ask him what he was playing at. He could already imagine the reaction some people in the audience were having. No doubt Malfoy was up there telling anyone who'd listen that it was obvious Harry was scared. Ron would be in the Gryffindor stands trying to figure out how Harry doing nothing meant he was showing off even more than the redhead already thought he was.
And Dumbledore… Dumbledore would be furious. He'd be sitting there at the judges table silently seething and artificially twinkling at anyone who spoke to him. Harry could barely hold in his giggles. It was nice to be the one calling the shots for once.
In the end it only took about twenty minutes for Dumbledore to give in to the crowds demands. What made it even sweeter was that he couldn't even approach Harry to speak to him quietly. The task only officially started once the champion had entered the arena and once the task had started the judges couldn't leave their designated area and the champion's couldn't speak to anyone but a judge. That meant the whole conversation would have to take place with the use of a Sonorus charm and of course privacy spells weren't allowed. There was almost every rule and enchantment you could think of in place to stop any possible cheating.
Harry had been eagerly anticipating this conversation ever since he found out what the headmaster had done.
"Mr Potter," Dumbledore's enhanced voice said sternly. "What, may I ask, are you doing?"
Harry quickly pointed his wand at his own throat. "I'm doing the task." He answered with feigned confusion.
"But the task is to collect the egg from dragon." The headmaster told him, Harry had to grit his teeth at the patronising tone.
"No." Harry responded in a childishly innocent voice, drawing out the 'o' just ever so slightly. "To complete the task I would have to get the egg from dragon however just entering the arena constitutes competing which is enough to satisfy the contract."
"But Mr Potter, surely you want to bring prestige to your school, to show the world what you are capable off?" Dumbledore's 'grandfather' tone was slightly strained this time. Harry wondered how close that façade was to cracking.
"If I wanted that," Harry countered with a cold tone. "I would have willing entered this tournament."
Harry heard the whispers start up again at his implication. Even those who believed he hadn't entered his own name still thought he would be pleased at the chance. After all the contract needs his verbal or at least implied agreement to activate which he had unwittingly given.
The headmaster closed his eyes and made sure his disappointed sigh was heard by everyone present thanks to the Sonorus charm. He was gratified to several former students, including Severus, flinch at the sound. Though that pleasure was short lived when he saw he'd had no effect on young Mr Potter. In fact the boy had simply gone back to reading his book!
"Mr Potter," Dumbledore tried again, his tone expressing just as much disappointment as his sigh. "If you are going to be difficult and not take this seriously-"
"I'm not being difficult." Harry interrupted with a cheeky grin. "I was born difficult but, with just a little bit of effort, I'm impossible."
"Mr Potter-" Dumbledore voice rose, trying to cover the giggles that had erupted in the stands but it was no use as he was interrupted again.
"You tricked me," Harry stated coldly, his eyes boring into the headmaster's even at that distance. The audience was once again silent, not wanting to miss a single second of the confrontation. "Into agreeing to a magical contract, one that will take my magic if I don't fulfil it, so I'm fulfilling it but I refuse to do any more than that."
"I'm not arguing the point with you, Mr Potter." Dumbledore answered in a tired voice hoping Harry wouldn't push the topic in front of such a full audience. It wouldn't do his reputation any good if everyone realised exactly how ignorant he'd deliberately kept the Boy-Who-Lived. "Either way, you are obviously going to do no more for this task so if you will stand while the judges give your scores."
Harry closed his book and stood, absently turning his chair back into a rock. He watched with distant amusement as the British members of the panel gave him zeros with the exception of Bagman who gave him a four. That man couldn't be more desperate if he tried. Though he was surprised when Madam Maxim and Headmaster Karkaroff both gave him scores of three.
They could have been impressed or amused by his display, Harry mused, it was possible. They had both been in the anti-chamber when Harry had professed his innocence and they knew the rules as well as Headmaster Dumbledore. It was entirely possible they had finally realised Harry hadn't been aware that by just entering the room set aside for champions he was non-verbally agreeing to be a champion.
Of course it was also just as likely that they wanted to come across as the nice judges. Giving the youngest champion some points even though he hadn't really done anything.
Harry could have laughed at the look on Dumbledore's face. It was one of the funniest things he'd ever seen. The old man looked like he'd shoved too many sour sherbet lemons into his mouth at once. His lips were pursed, his cheeks sucked in with an air of extreme displeasure around him. He could only hope the Daily Prophet managed to get a picture of him like that.
Harry was almost looking forward to the next task.
This story is marked as complete because for now it's just a one-shot, maybe if people like it I'll consider doing the other tasks but for now this is it.