AN: Still don't own Harry Potter. Waiting on the papers from JKR signing him over any day now.

Tournament Follies

Harry looked at the Hogwarts Express with a sense of relief. The eight days since returning from the Quidditch World Cup had been very trying on the 14 year-old wizard. Remus wasn't happy learning about Harry's fight with the Death Eaters while he was passed out in the tent. The older werewolf vacillated between blaming himself for drinking too much to have been of help, yelling at Sirius for going off on his own, and concern for Harry's actions and how little impact taking a life seemed to have on him. Then the former Defence Professor's inner-Ravenclaw spoke up and Moony insisted they perform some experiments to study if the basilisk venom did come from Harry, how strong it was, and how it happened.

Their experiments revealed that four of the Beast's paws secreted out of tiny glands above each nail. At certain triggers the gland's secretions covered the nails with a weakened form of the basilisk's neurological venom. Tests on dummies showed a single paw swipe did not cause enough venom transfer to cause death but would cause temporary paralysis in most human-sized opponents.

But Moony and his experiments were not Harry's biggest trial of that last week.

No, his biggest trial was in the form of a 5'6" stunning Veela with long wavy hair that was so black it was almost blue. Kalina arrived a day after the Marauders return from the Cup claiming, "Mr Black, you owe me a round 2 for leaving so soon." Sirius almost carried her up the stairs. Harry rolled his eyes, muttered about the damage being done to his young psyche and thanked Merlin for Silencing Spells.

The next morning Harry walked into the kitchen to find Dobby making breakfast for said Veela clad in sexy bit of nothing nightdress of lace and a gauzy material that revealed a lot and teasingly hinted at the rest. She wore a robe of the same material. It was like walking into a Victoria's Secret photo shoot – except much hotter. With the competition for blood flow between his face and his groin, Harry was just glad he stayed conscious. Kalina called Harry 'cute' and started flirting with the tongue-tied teenager much to Sirius's enjoyment. It was made even worse when she realized his reaction was that of a typical teenage male, not the effect of her allure. That meant to her that teasing Harry just became a game.

But the real surprise was when she was there again the next morning. And the morning after that, and the morning after that. In fact, she was still there to join Remus and Sirius in taking Harry to meet the Express. None of Sirius's other flings were more than one-night stands. (Many of them were never more than one-hour stands.) So Harry and Remus were shocked when Kalina was still around on September 1st. And based on the silly happy grins both were wearing, neither planned on her leaving anytime soon.

Harry found Kalina to be a lot of fun and good to talk to (at least when she was fully dressed). He learned a lot about Veela during their talks. Veela were the offspring of wizards and nymphs. All the Veela were female. A male born to a Veela was a normal wizard, although probably very attractive looking. A female child was a Veela with the full gifts of her line not matter how many generations it had been since the original pairing. A female born to male child of a Veela did not have any of the gifts than that of a normal witch. It was only the unbroken line of mother to daughter that retained the gifts which explained why the world wasn't overrun with Veela.

It was just Harry's misfortune that Kalina had the same sense of humour as his Dogfather – low and lower.

So that last few weeks of Harry's best summer ever was filled with avoiding a misplaced Ravenclaw Defence professor intent on studying him and a sex-crazed wizard and Veela that were trying to 'initiate' every room of the house. That many sex pheromones along with studying did horrible things to a hormone-charged fourteen year-old wizard with a wolf's sense of smell. It was something of a relief to be heading off to Hogwarts again.

-I-

"Harry! It is so good to see you!" Hermione squealed as she entered the compartment Harry had claimed for them. "I have been so busy this summer! But how was it with your godfather and Professor Lupin? Did they show you a lot of new magic? What was it like living with them? Did you go to the World Cup like you talked about? Were you there when the rioters attacked? Did you…"

"Hermione! Stop it already," Harry interrupted in a loud voice.

Hermione looked a bit chagrined when she realized she'd been machine-gunning her questions without giving Harry a chance to answer.

"Sorry," she said. "It is just so much happened since the end of last year."

"Tell me about it," Harry agreed with a roll of his eyes.

"My ankle still hurts from all of those 'changes'," Ron announced from where he stood in the compartment door. Harry grinned up at one of his best mates. Ron had quickly accepted Sirius's apology for breaking the boy's ankle at the end of last year. But that didn't stop the red-head from playing up his encounter with the dangerous fugitive for all it was worth. Ron enjoyed the attention and it diverted attention away from Harry's role. It was a win-win in Harry's book.

"Oh hush, Madam Pomprey fixed it that night," Hermione responded.

"It still aches when it rains," the red-head whinged playfully.

"Wasn't that your excuse for why Ginny scored so many goals on you even though your ankle has nothing to do with flying or tending goal?" Daphne asked from behind Ron. The Slytherin witch moved past the surprised Ron to drop into the seat across from Hermione.

"Who told you that?" Ron demanded.

"That would be me," Ernie answered as he moved past Ron to sit down next to Daphne.

"You're supposed to be my mate!" Ron yelled in mock indignation. "That means backing a bloke up!"

Ernie smiled beatifically. "I am a Hufflepuff. That means we stand for fair play and honesty. I just reported the truth. It is not my fault is a dastardly and sly Slytherin twisted my words for her own nefarious purpose." Daphne giggled at the expression on Ron's face at Ernie's response.

"Eat a thesaurus this summer?" Harry asked with a grin.

"I wish. Mum made me take elocution lessons," Ernie answered with a wince.

"I for one think it is nice to hear the English language used properly and to its fullest extent," Hermione commented. "I can practically feel the average intelligence quotient in this compartment going up twenty points already."

"And here I am to do just that," Padma announced as she walked into the compartment. Her announcement was met with snarky comments all the way around as she settled in next to Harry.

Ron just shook his head and settled to sit on the floor. Daphne made room for him to lean against the bench. "You're all daft. All that readings made your brains all mushy. You need to actually get out and do something. Like, Harry, what the bloody hell happened at the World Cup?"

"And there is the epitome of a Gryffindor," Daphne signed in mock distress. "No tact. Just charge off into the face of danger."

"Harry didn't charge off to face danger," Ron responded in an offended tone. "According to the Prophet, he forted up in their tent." Daphne smacked him lightly across the top of his head.

"I was referring to you, twit."

The rest of the students laughed at the byplay. The group had been much relieved when Ron ended his stupid grudge against Daphne and all things Slytherin early the year before. Now he just hated most things Slytherin – like their Quidditch team, their head of house, and Draco Malfoy.

Which was entirely understandable to Harry.

-II-

The Hogwarts Express chugged its way through the English countryside. Harry and his friends were sitting in their enjoying catching up with all of their summer news when the door swung open. Harry braced for the annual Malfoy visit.

But this was worse.

Fred and George Weasley stepped dramatically into the compartment. With their hands on their hips they glared down on Harry. It was enough that his friends unconsciously shifted away in anticipation of a Weasley twins prank.

"Mr Potter…"

"it has come to our attention,"

"that you now consider yourself a Marauder."

"Oh, you have have you?" Harry answered the twins but with a glare thrown in Ron's direction.

Harry's roommate flushed. "I mentioned you were going to the World Cup with Professor Lupin. Mum said something about he was a very nice man for a werewolf. She was a bit worried though about you being bothered by people for being out in public with a known werewolf. I said you'd be fine with Moony. That's when these two went off their nut."

"Our youngest male,

"and most disappointing sibling,

"also mentioned your new guardian's home,

"being called the Marauder's Den."

Harry grinned at the glowering twins. "Yep. Padfoot wanted to call it Padfoot's Shag-a-delic Love Shack, but Moony talked him out of it." Harry pretended to consider. "His new girlfriend would have probably made him change it now anyway."

An awed look crossed the twins' faces. "You are really living with the Marauders?"

"What happened to Prongs?"

"And Wormtail?"

Harry threw Ron a questioning. 'Did you tell them about the end of last year?'

Ron shrugged and shook his head. 'Nope.'

Turning back to the twins, Harry said," My dad was Prongs. We don't talk about Wormtail anymore. He's no longer a Marauder." Shock and surprise warred on the twins faces.

"You may call me Mr. Jack." The twins narrowed their eyes at Harry's announcement.

"As the current Prank Lords of Hogwarts,

"we challenge your right to call yourself a Marauder,

"as you have no pranking credentials to speak of." This last was met with general snickering by the younger students. The twins shared a glance wondering what pranks they could have missed.

"Best prank of the year without getting expelled

"bonus for not getting caught and artistic execution,

"but no use of any assistance

"by non-Hogwarts residents!

"So you may use your little friends here."

Harry's grin widened. "Fine. And you two can keep your agreement with Peeves since he is a current resident." The red-headed twins looked a bit surprised that Harry knew of their pranking agreement with the poltergeist. They nodded respectfully and left the compartment.

The door hadn't completely closed when they heard, "This is going to be so wicked! Us against the second generation of Marauders!" Harry glanced out to see the twins skipping down the corridor in excitement.

Back in the compartment, Hermione sighed. Padma asked her what the big sigh was for.

"Well, every year it seems Harry gets into some kind of trouble. Usually it is Dark Lords or escaped murderers. Now, its self-proclaimed Prank Lords. I thought maybe this year would be different."

"Don't see why," Ernie commented. "He's cursed this one is. The big fuzzy ball is a trouble magnet."

"Oi!" Harry protested. Unfortunately for Harry, the rest of his friends simply nodded agreement.

-III-

The Great Hall overflowed with energy on this September 1st. Harry's class and the ones on either side had been rather small due to the war of the time. Not many wanted to start families when Death Eaters attacked almost every night. However, the night of October 31, 1981 changed all that.

The people of magical Britain threw a party unequalled in centuries with the announcement of the fall of Voldemort. The large amounts of alcohol and recreational potions consumed probably explained why nine months later, a baby boom started. The first of these baby-boomers were born on July 29, 1982 and the boom continued to run for the next five years. Ironically, where Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter were the only magical children born on July 30th and 31st in 1980, two years later over twenty magical children were born each of those days. The incoming class Harry's Third year was seventy-five per cent larger than Harry's cohort. This year's class was half as large again as the one before it. Where Harry's cohort was forty students, there were now seventy Second years and 105 new First years waiting to be Sorted.

"Bloody hell! Look at all of the little gnomes!" Ron groaned. "It will take forever to Sort'em all! I just want to get to the feasting!"

"Easy there, Friar Tuck," Harry reassured him as they watched the First years enter behind McGonagall. "Here, I saved this from the train." He handed his red-haired friend a chocolate bar.

Ron took the candy and ripped off the wrapper. "Cheers, mate. You're a lifesaver."

Harry shrugged. "Not a problem. I think the twins left it for me to find." Dean Thomas screamed like a little girl when Ron suddenly spit out the chocolate straight into his face.

"Merlin, Harry! What are you doing giving me that? Who knows what crazy shite they did to it?!"

Harry made a play at patting his pocket before pulling out an identical candy bar. "Oh wait, this is the one the twins left. My bad." The Gryffindors started to laugh at the glare Ron was giving Harry. Harry simply smiled unrepentantly.

"Cruel, that was just cruel, that was," Ron complained. "Waste of a perfectly good piece of chocolate."

"Oh, would you two grow up," Hermione huffed. "Look, they are almost done the sorting so you two can stop playing."

Harry and Ron turned just as Dumbledore stood to give his welcoming speech. It was fairly standard until the Headmaster announced the new Defence Professor had been detained but would be joining them shortly. Not ten seconds later the huge doors to the Great Hall slammed opened and in stomped the ugliest man Harry had ever seen.

"I'm here, Dumbledore. Some wanker Dark Wizard tried to get the best of me. Had to deal with the mess," the scared man announced as he stomped up the aisle with his peg leg. The man had a large blue orb where his right eye should be. More than one student felt vaguely nauseous watching it swirl as it seemed to search the room for something. Some students noticed the orb seemed to pause several times on their most famous (or notorious) student, Harry Potter.

Dumbledore ignored the other wizard's language and simply said, "Welcome, Professor Moody. Please take your seat." The former Auror merely grunted and stomped over to the indicated chair. His blue eye seemed to be searching the chair and everyone around it for threats.

"Off his rocker, that one is," Ron whispered to Harry. "Dad had to go out last night to help the DMLE settle things when Moody destroyed his Muggle neighbour's garden. Claimed a Dark wizard attacked him then too. Supposed to be a total nutter but a great Auror."

Dumbledore was just restarting his welcome speech when the doors slammed open again. Only this time they admitted an enraged and crying caretaker.

"Who did it?! I want them DEAD! Send the little creeps off to Azkaban!" Filch screamed. He focused on Harry. "Was it you, Potter?! Trying to finish of what you started yer Second year? I'll kill you!"

"Argus!" Dumbledore shouted. "What is the meaning of this?"

"He kilt her! He did it! Wanted to finish the job 'e started!" The caretaker held out a bundle he had clutched to his chest. "He kilt Mrs Norris!" The students and much of the staff drew back in disgust at what was inside the thread-bare blanket the old man held out. Some of the students were already throwing glares in Harry's direction.

For Harry's part, he felt sad at the news of the cat's death. While Mrs Norris had a disposition to match her owners, he'd respected her as a something of an honoured opponent. The devil-cat tried to get him in trouble while the Beast played at evading her while trying to sneak up on her in turn.

"Mr Potter has been here or with his classmates since arriving on the Express, Argus," McGonagall was saying. "There is no way he, or any other, student could have done this."

Dumbledore nodded agreement. "Quite so, Professor McGonagall, quite so. Hagrid, would you please escort Mr Filch to my office? We can deal with this once the students are dismissed."

"'Course, professor. Come'on Filch. Let's get ya something to drink. The perfessor will sort this all out. Tis a shame what happened to yer friend."

"'E kilt my cat, Hagrid!" the man cried at the giant Care of Magical Creatures professor led the man out of the Great Hall. The doors shut as Hagrid was heard saying Harry wouldn't do such a thing. Harry appreciated the big man's support.

Once the students had settled, Dumbledore started his welcome for a third time. The news of the cancellation of the Quidditch season due to the newly announced Tri-Wizard Tournament was met with silent shock. Most of the students were still distracted by the death of Mrs Norris and Filch's accusation against Harry and the news that students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons would be joining them this year.

It was a dazed student body that left the Hall that night.

-IV-

Waiting for the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students to arrive, Harry was considering that Ernie might be right about his comment on the Express. He was cursed. It was like the old Chinese curse. "May you live in interesting times." Harry absently wondered if the old Muggle saying was based on a real magical curse. Might be worth having Hermione check the restricted section for it.

Because Harry was living in interesting times. Once again, at least half the school believed Harry was a murderous criminal. Only now instead of trying to kill of the Muggleborns he'd downgraded to killing a cat. Maybe he'd moved from future Dark Lord to future Purple Lord? Or Blue, maybe? Or it could be that at some level they realized he was a wolf? Cause they all had the tendency to act like sheep…

Thank Merlin for his friends. Ron and Hermione were with him in almost every class as fellow Gryffindors. Padma and Ernie were there to help when he had classes with Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, respectively.

Aside from the core classes, Harry was taking Care of Magical Creatures and Ancient Runes this year. Remus had talked Harry into dropping Divination and tutored him on the Third year material to catch him up over the summer. Remus explained that using Runes was behind many of the Marauders more spectacular pranks much like the Weasley twins used potions. The Marauders Map was a mixture of charms and runes. As Remus was a gifted teacher and with only one student, he covered much more than just Third year Ancient Runes which was really about learning the symbols and the proper way of forming them. Remus went into how to use and charge the runes, even some basic warding and ward-breaking.

"Look Harry, here they come!" Ernie yelled enthusiastically as he pointed to where a large carriage had appeared in the sky.

The entire student body of Hogwarts watched as the beautiful carriage pulled by six glistening white pegasi rolled to a stop on the broad grassy front lawn of Hogwarts. Harry had the impression of the carriage from Disney's Cinderella.

'Wonder if someone at Beauxbatons liked to movie or if Disney was a wizard and used it as the model,' Harry considered as they watched the students starting to emerge from the carriage. It quickly became apparent the interior was greatly expanded as more and more students emerged.

"Bloody hell, guys! Look at that one over there," Ron gasped in that immature teenage male way that announced there was a female that made them act … well, like Ron starring at a roast beef dinner. The witches weren't any better. It was just their 'squee'-ing sound was much louder.

The collective drooling of the Hogwarts males was interrupted by the surfacing of the Durmstrang students in what looked like an old sailing sloop in the Black Lake.

"Bet the Giant Squid loved that thing showing up," Ron snarked only to be shushed by many of his fellow students.

Now it was the chance for the girls, and the many Quidditch crazy guys, to react with shock, awe, … and more than a little drool as Victor Krum led the Durmstrang students down the gangway of their vessel.

"You know, if we went to their school we would have had to have you leading our entrance," Ernie pointed out to Harry. Harry glared at his mate at that comment. "What?" Ernie persisted in an innocently earnest tone. "You are the only student that could get a similar reaction by their students. Certainly none of the upper years can."

"Well, I am bloody glad I am too young," Harry grunted.

Hermione smacked Harry's arm lightly. "Language, Harry! But Ernie does have a point. From the Ministry's point-of-view they would probably love to have had you in the tournament. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Dumbledore insisted on the age rule partially to prevent exactly that. According to Hogwarts, A History, none of the previous Tri-Wizard Tournaments had the age requirement."

"But that would be wicked if Harry was in the Tournament!" Ron jumped in. "Think of the excitement if you won! That's a thousand Galleons! The average Ministry employee makes less than that in a month."

"Really?" Harry asked in a shocked tone.

"Yep!" Ron confirmed. "I heard him and Percy talking about it when Percy got hired." Harry nodded his thoughts elsewhere.

-V-

The entire population was stilled as they looked towards the Goblet of Fire to choose the first contestant of the Triwizard Tournament. Dumbledore reached forward as the first name popped out of the Goblet.

"From Durmstrang Institute, Victor Krum," the Headmaster announced. The Durmstrang students cheered their most famous student. The stoic teen simply stood up and walked out to the meeting room as they had previously been told about without acknowledging the crowd.

The instant Krum disappeared the next slip of paper appeared. "For Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Ms Fleur Delacour!" This time many (at least the male) students joined in the cheering. Fleur acknowledged them all with a wave not all that different than a Muggle beauty queen accepting her crown.

Then it was Hogwart's turn. "For Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Cedric Diggory!" Even many of the Slytherins joined in for cheering the popular and friendly Diggory.

Dumbledore stepped forward to announce the end of the feast when yet another slip of paper appeared. Nervously, he stepped forward and took the paper.

"For Dogged Magic, Rodger Davies."

Davies stood up with a slight grin as the rest of the students and staff looked on in shock. What did this mean?

The Heads of the other schools were just winding up their protests when yet another slip of paper popped out.

"For the Boneyard, Alfonse DiGiamotto." A boy in Beauxbaton's blue stood up.

"For Howling Mad Witches, Sarah Dimitriova." A girl in Durmstrang robes stood now.

"For Loser Academy, Draco Ignatius Malfoy." Draco looked flushed at the name of the faux school but strutted up to the front anyway. Although he paused to glare at the Gryffindor table when he heard Ron comment, "Wow, he's a dim loser!"

The School Heads and the other Tournament observers were getting frustrated as the names kept coming out. Michele Desmarais of Beauxbatons (Selene Witches School) and August Penev of Durmstrang (Romulus Wizard School) joined the other seven champions in having their names called. Once Mr Penev's name was announced, the flames of the Goblet died. The adults followed the now nine champions into the crowded meeting room forgetting to dismiss the remaining students.

"I guess it's now the Tri-Triwizard Tournament," Ernie commented in the suddenly silent Hall.

-VI-

Alone in his office, the man fumed.

All of his careful planning with the Master was all for naught. Somehow their plan failed and instead of setting up Potter they got a bunch of nothings! Foreigners and half-breeds most of them!

'The Master would not be happy with this news,' the man thought glumly while taking another shot of his drink.

His thoughts fell back onto the events of the night. There might be a way yet to get Potter to the ritual site in a way that would satisfy the ritual's requirements. Old Magic was finicky.

The man smiled and took another shot as another thought occurred to him. There might be some fun to be found here after all. The wizard's grin would have scared a dementor.

"You cheated," Fred (or George) said while glaring at Harry later in the Gryffindor common room.

"You can't bring them into our prank war," George (or Fred) added. Harry merely smiled.

"By them you refer to Mr Moony and Mr Padfoot?" Harry asked. "I didn't. This was purely the work of some lone prankster." Harry paused and then grinned. "Although the Marauders may have had some input into the naming of the schools."

The twins continued to glare for a few more moments. Then they simultaneously broke into grins. "Not bad, Harrikins. It's a prank that will play all year. We might actually have to put some effort into topping you."

"Actually, I even made a profit on that prank," Harry admitted with a smirk.

"You what!" Fred, George, and, ironically, Hermione yelled in protest.

"Harry James Potter, what did you do?" Hermione demanded.

"Well, I wanted to make sure Ernie's little predication didn't come true. So, I placed my own ward line outside Dumbledore's Age Line. Any piece of paper with my name on it would be replaced with Malfoy's name. Roger Davies saw me doing it and asked what was up. He offered me 10 Galleons to improve his chances of getting picked. Then a bunch of Durmstrang students stopped me. Apparently their unofficial motto is 'if you're not cheating, you're not trying.' They all offered me 20 Galleons. I helped the French for free just to make it fair. Made 230 Galleons."

The twins looked at Harry in shock. Making money for pranks? That was their dream; to sell prank products like Zonko's. But to make money as a hired service? That was wicked!

Padma giggled from her place on the couch next to Harry. She laid her head against Harry's chest and looked up at him with wide eyes. "And how much are you going to spend on your ever-loving girlfriend? I really could use that new Arithmancy tabulator that just came out, you know," she teased.

Harry forced himself to look away from her eyes … and the cleavage exposed, before he answered, "I'm open to negotiations."

Now Padma simply laughed. "I would have gotten a full stammer and blush last spring. Sirius's new girlfriend ruined my fun."

"You're evil," Harry muttered as he grinned down at his girlfriend. "I thought Pav was the naughty one. Maybe I'm with the wrong sister. It's possible since this is the Gryffindor common room."

"Oh you little beast!" Padma growled in mock outrage. She then proceeded to show Harry she knew all his vulnerabilities as she tickled unmercifully.

Harry's friends enjoyed the show as Harry begged for mercy from his unrelenting girlfriend.

The next morning during Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall handed Harry a note from Dumbledore requesting his presence for a meeting after morning classes finished. So after the next class, Potions, Harry made his way up to the Headmaster's office.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Harry asked after being admitted.

"Yes, of course my boy. Please, have a seat. Lemon drop?"

"No thank you, sir," Harry answered.

"Ah, well," Dumbledore said with a small disappointed sigh. The old wizard leant back in his chair. "Quite a night last night. Wouldn't you say?"

Harry shrugged. "I guess."

"Hmmm. I am afraid Harry that I am going to have to enlist your assistance with the Tournament."

"Sir?" Harry asked in shock.

"You see, Harry, we were simply unprepared for nine Champions. Thus, we are being forced to do a great deal of work to compensate. I am being forced to use the other professors' free time to assist with these efforts along with the professors here with our guests. As I will have little time to play host to our guests, I feel that you would be the best substitute in this role. I know you are quite up to this task." Harry felt his stomach fall at that suggestion. Dumbledore had to be kidding!

"Sir, you can't do that! I'm only a Fourth year! Why would they even listen to me?"

Dumbledore smiled and his eyes twinkled in delight. "On the contrary, I found that many of our champions already have quite a high regard for you; particularly our own Mr Davies and the entire Durmstrang contingent. Mr Diggory is quite favourable towards you as well. After all, as I believe Mr Macmillan has suggested, you are our most well-known student at Hogwarts." Dumbledore bent his head down to look out over his glasses to smile at Harry.

'Crap, he knows it was me,' Harry thought in panic.

"Shouldn't the prefects do it? It would make more sense for the Head Boy or Girl to be involved," he tried.

Dumbledore nodded as though considering. Harry felt a brief moment of relief and then Dumbledore said, "While that may be true, with the Tournament I have already added a great deal to their burden. Since two-thirds of the prefects and both Heads are facing OWLS and NEWTS this year, it would not be fair to add more to their tasks. I am sure you can understand that, Harry? However, as a Fourth year you face neither exam and as Quidditch has been cancelled for the year you possess even more free time than normal."

"Yes, sir," Harry muttered in resignation.

"Excellent!" Dumbledore said as he rose from his chair. "Well, let's get ourselves to lunch. I understand our elves have rather outdone themselves today."

Harry stood up and followed the Headmaster out and down to the Great Hall lost in his thoughts. Remus and Sirius were going to laugh themselves silly over this. They were approaching the Great Hall doors before, Dumbledore once again turned to Harry.

"One more thing, Mr Potter."

"Yes?"

"Sometime I would love to hear your theories on how our many Champions were chosen by the Goblet. Mr Crouch was most distraught over that event. Now please find your seat. I shall announce your appointment during lunch."

'Well, this bloody sucks,' Harry thought as he made his way towards the Gryffindor table where his friends sat waiting to find out what the Headmaster had to say. Harry was half way to his seat when he stopped dead in his tracks as a new thought occurred to him.

"The Headmaster just pranked me back?!"

The Headmaster announced Harry's new responsibilities at lunch. He then announced a brief meeting for all of the Champions along with the school representatives immediately after lunch. Harry wanted to groan as he felt all the eyes in the Great Hall turn to look at him after the announcement.

Harry was only slightly surprised with the looks of jealousy and suspicion being cast in his direction. He gets a punishment detail and people think it was a gift. What stupid sheep.

It was only a short time later that Dumbledore along with the other school Heads left followed by all four Heads of House. The problems started soon after.

"Couldn't stand not being in the spotlight could you, Potter?" Harry felt only slightly surprised to realize it was Theodore Nott playing Draco Malfoy's role. By the smell, he even had Malfoy's bookends in tow. It also surprised him that several other Slytherins were arrayed out behind him. Since Harry's warning to Snape at the start of Second year, the snakes had pulled in their fangs. Apparently, the Slytherins were feeling confident again.

"Go away, Nott, and take your entourage with you," Harry responded without even turning around.

"So what did you do to get this, Potter? Do some time down on your knees?" The other conversations in the Hall stopped as three schools worth of students waited with baited breath to see what happened next. While some thought Nott merely meant he begged for the position, the older students and even some of the younger students caught the innuendo.

Harry stood up slowly and stepped free of the bench of the Gryffindor table. He noted that his fellow Gryffindors were doing the same while Ernie and Padma made their way over from their respective tables. The Slytherin students responded by revealing their already drawn wands.

Harry ignored this and stepped boldly to face the weedy-looking Slytherin. "Hmm, tonight the role of Draco Malfoy will be played by a short, pathetic little bastard. Do you have a problem, Nott? Or is this just a little Slytherin power play – trying to steal lil' old Draco's position while he has other problems?"

"Ya, Potter, I got a problem," Nott sneered back. "You think you own this place and deserve special treatment. Your family has never been anything special, especially after your father decided to corrupt it with…"

Nott's words trailed off as Harry took a single step to close the gap between the two students. Harry relaxed the control he'd developed over the effect of his eyes a he glared at the boy hard.

"Do you want to finish that comment, wizard?" Harry growled out. The low sound still seemed to reach every ear in the Hall. "Finish it and I keep my promise to Snape right here, right now."

Harry's glance swept all of the students that had supported Nott. He noted Corner and several others of the "Magical Society Club" were mixed in also. "That goes for all of you too. And as the Musketeers would say, 'One for all and all for one'."

Nott couldn't resist stepping back from the power of Potter's glare. The green eyes radiated an intense power that promised a savage, unrelenting foe. Something the pampered Pureblood had never faced.

"I thought not. Now clear out of here NOW," Potter ordered.

Nott was halfway out of the Hall before he even realized it. Every one of his supporters were even closer to the door then he was. Nott decided to find another way to dethrone Malfoy then to humble Potter.

Once Nott cleared the Hall, Harry stepped onto the bench so he could be seen by all of the students. He particularly turned to face the foreign guests.

"I apologize for the poor behaviour some of our Hogwarts students exhibited here today. Please do not judge us all by a few with poor manners."

Now Harry turned to address the Hall in general, "As to Professor Dumbledore's announcement, it came as a surprise to me as well. He felt as I do not face OWLS or NEWTS or have Quidditch this year I would be a good candidate. Yes, the whole Boy-Who-Lived thing played a part in it, but I did not ask for this. If you still have a problem with that, please feel free to take it up with me later."

Harry hoped down off the bench. He nodded to his friends and walked out of the Great Hall although most people watching would have said it was much too intimidating to simply be called a walk. He was quickly followed by his small circle of close friends.

The reactions of the students left in the Great Hall varied according to their school affiliation. The remaining Hogwarts students started to talk quietly about what just happened. The Beauxbatons students were a bit shocked about the open display of power politics. Such things in France were conducted with much more subtlety, unlike these uncouth Englishmen. The Durmstrang students simply nodded to each other. Yes, this Harry Potter was one they could respect. Each of them knew exactly how they got two additional Champions. Potter showed his cunning before and now his personal power. If his magical talent matched the other two he was a wizard to truly respect.

As Harry made his way out of the Great Hall, he was too angry to make any real observations. Besides, most everyone was behind him. However, if he'd turned around, he would have been shocked to see the paled face and wide eyes of a certain Indian witch following along behind him.

AN: So, the real breaking away from canon begins. Harry is not a Champion but will still interact with them quite a bit.

Thanks to txclark for his feedback on a draft of this chapter.

To my American readers, enjoy your long Labor Day holiday weekend! Last weekend of summer… well, unless you are like my kids and already back to school.