Author's minirant: I have done unforgivable things to both fandoms. I've messed with personalities. I've messed with timelines. I've even gone so far as to screw with geography for my own amusement. In fact, I'm fairly sure that Harry Potter and the Hunger Games just weren't ever meant to be crossed at all, that's how much of both universes I had to rewrite for the sake of this fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or the Hunger Games; if I did, things would probably have ended up like this:
And then, against all odds, Dudley Dursley's name comes out of the box.
There's a long moment of silence. The fat blonde teenager looks around desperately. The double chins begin to quiver. Tears well up in piggy blue eyes. He looks pathetic. Weak. Slow. Cries easily. An easy mark. Piggy Dudders is going to go down first. Can't run fast. Can't fight back. Dead meat.
Harry's hands clench into fists by his side. A thousand thoughts flash through his mind in a second: Looks like he's going to experience Dudley Hunting for the first time. He wouldn't have lasted a minute against even the weakest Death Eater. He's not ready for this. The system is barbaric. Dudley is going to die. My cousin is going to die.
I didn't die for this.
Aunt Petunia begins wailing hysterically and Dudley takes his first slow, lumbering steps toward the stage, a look of terror plastered across porcine features.
Harry's eyes harden. The same stony surety that came over him when he heard Voldemort's ultimatum during the Battle of Hogwarts washes over him now. His parents are dead. Sirius is dead. Remus is dead. He never really had Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon to begin with, and they've never let him forget that they will never love him. Dudley is the closest thing to family he has left.
The Receiving Room is supposed to be empty; he's supposed to be meeting with his family and friends for the last time, saying all the good-byes it's possible to say in an hour. Instead, Kingsley Shacklebolt is pacing around the small room, a contingent of three scowling Aurors stationed at the doorways and windows.
"Do you realize just how much trouble you're in?" is the first thing out of the Minister of Magic's mouth.
"Hello, Kingsley," Harry says calmly. This is the second time he's walked to his death. It gets easier. "Nice to see you again. How are Ron and Hermione doing?"
"I can't get you out of this, Harry," Kingsley says, running a hand over his bald head. His ornate robes swirl around him as he stops sharply in front of Harry. "Over a million people watched you volunteer. There will be cameras on you every single minute. We can't Obliviate everyone, and there's no way to get you out of this. Do you have any idea of what you've done?"
"I saved my cousin's life," Harry says, meeting Kingsley's eyes.
"Do you even have a plan?" Kingsley throws his hands up in disgust. "Merlin's beard! For this first time in my life, I understand why this 'saving people' thing of yours used to drive Severus crazy. It's not easy being in the position of the person supposed to get you out of the messes you keep getting yourself into. If you'd just gone to Hogwarts to finish your seventh year with the rest of your friends, you wouldn't have even been in that crowd. What a mess!"
"You know why I didn't go back," Harry reminds him softly.
Kingsley Shacklebolt doesn't look happy about it, but he does nod. "And I understand it, I really do. But did you even think of the consequences of your actions? You didn't go back to Hogwarts because you wanted peace and quiet for a year, and not even three months later, here you are volunteering for yet another bloodbath. Sometimes I just don't understand the way you think."
Harry suppresses his smile. There are grimmer matters to discuss right now. "Kingsley... did you ever think that maybe Voldemort was right about a few things?"
That, of course, is enough to freeze Kingsley where he stands. The Auror escort bristles, their hands going for their wands. "Just what," Kingsley's voice is icy cold, "do you mean by that?"
"I don't mean the blood purity debate. You know where I stand on that front. But the idea of reforming Muggle Society has some merit. These Hunger Games are barbaric, Kingsley. Children should not be forced to kill each other. For entertainment. This entire system is wrong. And I'm going to do something about it."
"Harry," Kingsley says slowly, a look of dawning awareness spreading across his face, "What have you done?"
They dress Harry and his District Partner, Adele Polkiss, as human versions of the drills that are produced in the factory that Uncle Vernon manages. "Remember, you represent District Three, now," the haughty stylist tells Harry, before shooing him out of the door. "Keep your chin up, and don't let them down."
Adele glares at him. He's never liked her, and once upon a time he even hated her brother. But the sight of her in that ridiculous silver getup would enough to drive even Snape to smile. Not only have her skin and hair been dyed a metallic silver color, but her eyebrows have been crusted with what looks like diamonds. Her clothing is bizarre - barely more than a skimpy unitard, wide at the shoulders and tapering to a point at the crotch, with spiraling lines reminiscent of a the threads of a drill.
Harry isn't anywhere as dour as Snape, so his reaction is to burst out laughing.
She's still glaring, but the corners of her lips have twitched upwards. "Shut up. You look ridiculous too, you know."
"Oh, I know," Harry grins. He is, after all, dressed exactly the same way she is. "They really screwed this up, didn't they?"
The glare lessens, and she smirks. "Screw you, Potter."
What starts as silly laughter quickly turns hysterical. By the time the chariots pull them out into the open air, they're laughing so hard they can barely stand upright.
No-one knows quite what to make of the boy with the messy black hair and the vivid green eyes.
He's handsome enough, the people of New London say to each other. He'd look better with some enhancements and without those silly glasses he wears. He's too thin, though. Not very muscular. His smile is more sheepish than dashing. And why isn't he happier to be there? It's an honor to partake in the Hunger Games. He should be ecstatic. Instead, he's ungrateful.
District Three's Capitol escort is too busy trying to figure out why there have been so many mechanical failures this year to pay much attention to either of her tributes. For some reason, every time that Potter boy gets close to a camera or computer or any kind of delicate machinery, it breaks down.
As far as their mentors are concerned, neither Harry Potter nor Adele Polkiss shows much promise. Neither has the raw intelligence or sheer cunning that has in the past led a District Three tribute to victory. And at least little blonde Adele is trying to make something of herself; Harry Potter doesn't seem to care whether he lives or dies. They'll do their best, as they always do... but they've seen too many years, too many dead tributes, to hope for anything better than a quick death in the Arena.
The other tributes don't think that Harry Potter is a threat. Why would they? He spends his time in the training rooms talking with the other contestants. He hasn't looked twice at any of the stations, and it's clear from his lack at musculature that he doesn't have any secret talents. He's a nice person, though. Friendly. It'll be a real shame when he dies.
Adele Polkiss looks at the way he can laugh easily even with the Career tributes from District Two, and thinks. Considers how he knows everyone by name, and wonders. Sees his calm confidence, and makes a rash decision.
They're just children, Harry is thinking after he returns to his rooms after another day in the Training Center. Even the ones from District Two, who have been preparing for this their entire lives, who know how to kill and who want the glory for themselves or for their District. They aren't killers, not yet. They don't have that deadened look in their eyes, not yet. They knew what was happening when they volunteered, they are resigned to their fates- but they aren't hopeless.
"Potter." Adele Polkiss's voice stops him. She's standing in the hall, watching him. There's something about the set of her lips, the way she's crossed her arms over her stomach, the way she's standing braced against the wall, that makes him think that she's doing something she isn't entirely sure of.
"Adele," he smiles at her. He knows her name, and her birthday, and her favorite color, and her favorite thing about home, and what she wanted to be when she grew up. He knows the same thing for every one of the other tributes too. Right now, all he wants is for her to get the chance to grow up, away from the specter of the Hunger Games.
"What my brother did to you in the past..." she stops. Smiles, as if at some funny memory. "Okay, I'm not going to lie. It was funny. I laughed. I'm not sorry for any of it. But please, Potter. I don't want to die here." Her voice breaks, but she soldiers on. "I'm only fifteen. There's a million things I'm never going to get the chance to do. I'm small, and weak, and my only hope is running, and it's not going to be enough to save me. I don't want to die."
He doesn't want her to die either. "Where are you going with this?"
"You have a plan. I want..." Adele swallows desperately. "I want in."
Harry considers it. "What makes you think there's a plan?"
"For one, you're far too calm about everything for someone who's not on drugs," Adele says matter-of-factly. "And second... I don't know where you used to go every year. But no-one else knew either. You just... disappeared, year after year. No-one believed the lies your Aunt and Uncle made up. But you came back different every year. Stronger. Dudley was terrified of you for the longest time. Whatever secret society you're a part of is coming to save you." She shrugged self-consciously. "It's the only thing I could come up with."
She's right. Harry could use another ally, especially one in the know. And if he pulls this off - by some miracle - she'll figure everything out in the end eventually.
And for the first time, Adele Polkiss feels like maybe, just maybe, she isn't doomed to die just yet.
"Do you have any idea of how expensive this is going to be?"
Harry rolls his eyes. "I can afford it," he waves his hand negligently. "The Lestrange vaults passed to me, if you recall. There's enough in there to pay for the lot of it; and besides, I think it fitting that dear Auntie Bella's money is used to save the lives of a bunch of Muggle families."
Neville grins at him despite himself. It makes him look younger and the scars that cross his face less severe. "Come on, Hermione, don't you think he has a point?"
As part of his agreement with Kingsley, Harry's location and exact coordinates were made public. It's a wonder that the Muggles running the Hunger Games haven't noticed the sheer amount of Witches and Wizards Apparating into and out of his small room. Everyone wants to try to talk him out of his decision, it seems. People he have never met have come to try to talk him out of it, save himself, leave the Muggles to their games.
He meets every impassioned request with a bland smile. "I'm not going anywhere," he promises firmly, "Until something has been done about these barbaric Games."
And then, of course, there are his co-conspirators:
"To be honest, Harry, I think this might actually work." Hermione is his most ardent supporter, as usual. She was born into District Four, and because of her late birthday had to wait almost until she was twelve to attend Hogwarts. She grew up watching the Hunger Games on television, knowing that one day, that could be her. Discovering she was a witch was the greatest thing to happen to her; it's a sentiment most Muggle-borns share. "It'll cost a bit extra for the Extractors and Obliviators to get all of the families out on such short notice, but we've got a real shot. It's just..."
"Whatever you're worrying about can wait, Hermione," Ron pats her shoulder. He's sprawled out across Harry's bed, fiddling with the broken air-conditioning unit in fascination. "Now tell me what this fiddly bit does again?"
"Ron!" Hermione shrills, her face turning red. "Harry is once again facing insurmountable odds and a battle to the death, and you're worried about a broken machine? You-"
"Relax," Ron soothes her ineffectually. "You said it yourself. It's going to work. No need to get worked up over everything. Worst case, he puts on the Invisibility Cloak and Apparates out. Stop worrying so much."
His two best friends are really perfect for each other, Harry thinks to himself with a smile as Hermione starts shouting at Ron at the top of her lungs. She's the only one that can get past his laziness and force him to do things, and he's the one who can distract her before she worries herself into a panic. Judging by the way a wide-eyed Neville is edging away from the violent row, he doesn't share Harry's opinions.
"What are our housing options?" Harry prompts his friend, letting Ron and Hermione work things out their way in the background.
When he returns from dinner, Ginny is waiting for him in his room. Harry doesn't know how she got away from Hogwarts, or if anyone knows she's there, but the sight of her fills with a warm, happy glow that doesn't diminish even when she slaps him across the face. "How dare you!" she shrieks.
"I missed you," he sighs happily, reaching for her.
"Don't you start with me, Harry!" she yells at him, and he notices finally that there are tears running down her face. "You promised! You promised me you wouldn't go off and do this kind of stupid thing without me! You said you'd be safe in the Muggle world! You said- you said-"
"Merlin, Ginny, I'm so sorry," he says sincerely, and this time when he moves closer she doesn't push her away. Harry hugs her to his body and buries his face in her hair. It's dark, and the moonlight isn't quite bright enough that he can see the fiery red color he loves so much, but he breathes in her familiar scent and something in his chest relaxes immediately. "It was a spur of the moment thing, and then I didn't have a chance to contact you. I didn't plan this, I promise."
"You are so stupid," she grumbles. He doesn't take it personally. Her tears soak his shirt, and he doesn't mind.
After a long moment, she pulls back just far enough to look him in the eye. "Don't you dare die on me, Harry James Potter," Ginny scowls at him. "Because I will find that stupid ring of yours and make you come back just so I can yell at you. Do you understand me?"
"I promise you, I have no intention of dying," he swore.
"Good," she said, and buried her face in his chest again.
"Harry? Are you up- who's that?" Adele walks out onto the roof and stops dead when she sees the two of them locked in their embrace.
Harry reluctantly lets go of Ginny, and the redhead surreptitiously wipes away some of the tears that still wet her cheeks. "Ginny, meet Adele Polkiss. Adele, this is my girlfriend, Ginny."
"I'm holding you to that promise," Ginny tells him, and pulls him down for one last, long kiss. Then she turns on her heel and Disapparates with a loud crack.
"How did she get here? How did she just- disappear like that? What's going on?" Adele looks hopelessly lost. "What just happened?"
Harry smiles at her gently. "I think it's time we let you in on the rest of the plan."
Two days until the tournament. He's gotten word from Kingsley: the families of all of the tributes have been evacuated to mixed Wizarding-Muggle villages, protected by Notice-Me-Not and Muggle-Repelling wards. There will be problems, of course. There always are. The families from Districts One and Two hadn't been particularly willing. The Tributes from those Districts are also likely not to appreciate the lengths to which Harry is prepared to go to save them.
Everything has been prepared. All of the preparations have been completed. There is nothing more he can do now except hope that his plan is as foolproof as he thinks it is. The only thing left is to hope for the best.
Harry isn't particularly worried when he gets a Training Score of three, even if his mentor looks crushed.
"You could have at least tried," Adele murmurs, but he can tell that she doesn't really care either.
It's not like it actually matters.
His mentor has never known what to make of him. He's a small, nervous man with pale skin, black hair, and ill-fitting glasses. This is how Harry might have ended up, if the only place to run from Dudley's fists had been the library. Harry was lucky enough to have magic; his mentor wasn't. Harry isn't sure of how to handle the man's hesitant advice; after all, he doesn't plan on using it.
He's sitting in the dining room of their apartment, looking out of the wall-sized windows and counting the stars in the night sky when the female mentor finds him. Harry is halfway through naming the stars in Canis Major when he hears her faltering footsteps approach. The small, pale-skinned, dark-haired woman sits next to him hesitantly, and after a few minutes, tries to speak.
"...did not go as well as we had hoped," his mentor finishes. The man is standing awkwardly in the doorway, and twitches when Harry looks over at him.
They're sad, both of them. They think he's going to die a horrifically bloody death tomorrow, and there will be nothing more they can do to help him or stop it. They go through the same thing, year after year, fighting futilely against an unbending, barbaric system.
Harry can't stand to look at their sad, sad eyes and defeated postures. He looks back at the inky night sky. Mars is bright tonight.
"I have a plan," he says at length, not looking at either of them. "A foolproof plan. You don't have to worry about me."
They don't believe him.
"What can one boy..." Adele's mentor starts.
"...possibly do?" his mentor finishes sadly.
When Harry smiles, he's still facing the window, so only the stars are able to see it.
Harry James Potter is a Hero. Capital-H and all. Everyone knows his name; everyone knows what he's done. Every single Witch or Wizard has heard of his exploits; there are a dozen unofficial and unauthorized biographies in the works right now.
And now a Muggle institution is threatening to kill him. For entertainment.
The Muggle world has been descending into turmoil for years, while the Wizarding World has remained stable. The fall of England and France, the creation of Tannica and Gall, the implementation of the Hunger Games, the worsening conditions all over Muggle lands have been taken as evidence of Muggles' inherent inferiority to Wizardkind. Most Muggle-borns are happy enough to cut ties with their pasts, bring their immediate families to live in peaceful, idyllic mixed enclaves, and forget about the oppression they left behind. Muggles can tear each other apart, for all that Wizards care. It's not their problem.
The people of Tannica watch, breathless with suspense, as the horn is blown. Some tributes are running for the cornucopia, others are running for the trees.
It takes them a few minutes to realize that the camera that was following the male tribute from District Three has had some kind of mechanical failure and gone dark. By the time another camera has panned over to where he is supposed to be, his tracker has gone dead as well, and there is no sign of him anywhere in the arena.
Another camera goes dark. Then another. Static hisses out over the speakers, but whatever message the Gamemakers are trying to get through is only so much garbled nonsense. The Capitol is in an uproar. What is going on? This isn't how the Games are supposed to work. This isn't how the Games were supposed to end. This isn't fun.
For nearly an hour, no-one knows what is going on. No-one can get into the arena; for some reason, there is widespread mechanical failure and anything sent into the arena shorts out in seconds. There is nothing anyone can do.
They finally get a camera in that doesn't stop working. For a long time, no-one sees anything but smoke.
All over New London, all over every District, throughout the whole of Tannica, people are glued to their television sets. Unblinking, unmoving, they wait for the damage to make itself known. What happened? Where are the tributes? Why isn't anyone doing anything to fix this?
Finally, the smoke clears.
There is one solitary person left standing.