A/N: No one's perfect, least of all me. I did warn you that there might be some wiggle in this story relative to 'Harry Potter and the Alternative Tournament', but there were also a couple of slip-ups, as well. Considering that most of the story was written in a two-day epic type-fest of sustained madness at the keyboard, I'm surprised parts of it make any sense at all. After about fourteen hours straight, things get a little wonky….
RATING: M for language, violence, implied SLASH!
WARNING: as always, there's going to be implied SLASH—DON'T LIKE, DON'T READ! Once again, no bodice ripping or spraying of bodily fluids about the room, but this Harry is a healthy young man with all that implies. He's beaten Voldemort, and is on a first name basis with people that give lesser wizards nightmares. He's also 'rich as a troll' as Pippi Longstocking used to say, and has a battle llama and vicious attack owl as familiars. So, don't expect him to be particularly worried about being 'in the closet'. For some reason, Scourges of Dark Lords seldom get bashed….
Disclaimer: see previous chapter. Still waiting for the Star Destroyer to pick me up. Also, to satisfy the curiosity of Tlcatlady, you too can have an inflatable sheep; there are companies out there (readily findable on the web) that will ship one to your door. Helium can be found at your local balloon shop. You're on your own for the cookies.
Aero-shock was the first (and thus far, only) reviewer to point out that Oliver is a Keeper, not a Seeker. So how did he wind up catching the Snitch at the Puddlemere/Falmouth game? Well, that's an interesting story….
"Mordred's stinking scrot-hairs!"
Brian Aimsworth, Head Coach of the Puddlemere United Quidditch team, swore mightily as his reserve Seeker tumbled arse over teakettle across the pitch. He made himself stand there in the team box while his trainers and team mediwizard dashed onto the pitch. He had a bit of a reputation as a cold fish, and worked hard to feed it. So, rather than running out onto the pitch—where'd he only be in the way—he stood shock still, arms crossed, his customary glare fixed on his face.
The tension in the stands rose steadily for the next few minutes as the team auxiliaries clustered around the downed player. Finally, after what to Aimsworth was a disturbingly long time, they managed to get the bint up and walking to the sidelines, albeit with more than a bit of help from the trainers. The stands opened up with polite, subdued applause as the player managed to make it off the field under her own power, more or less.
A tiny shake of the Healer's head told Aimsworth all he needed to know. Still, he was the Head Coach, and had to see for himself. Stepping onto the pitch, he lifted his player's chin and looked her in the eye.
"Bartleby, look at me!" he barked. "How many fingers?" he demanded, holding up his hand with two fingers spread in a 'V'.
Blurry eyes struggled to focus as the player paused, then, "…cow?.."
Dropping his hands, he stepped out of the way of the trainers as they led the severely concussed young woman towards the aid tent, where his starting Seeker had already the bones in his leg removed so his crushed knee could be regrown. The lad had stopped a bludger with his kneecap, and would be out for the next three days, at least. It was small consolation that immediately after being hit he'd plowed into the Falmouth Seeker, taking both of them to the ground (and out of the game) in a tangle of brooms and limbs that crunched on impact. The broom costs alone for this match were going to have Management screaming for weeks, but he had other worries at the moment.
"I like cheese…" Bartleby was insisting as she was being led off. Aimsworth growled, shook his head, and looked at the scoreboard. Puddlemere was down 230 to 320, and had already put in both Seekers and two reserve Chasers. Falmouth, while leading, wasn't in much better shape; their reserve Seeker had just barely managed to pull off the Wronski feint that had taken Bartleby out, and they'd had to replace their Keeper (he'd rammed his head into a ring, making a rather spectacular block, and was probably just as addled as Bartleby), a Chaser and a Beater. A small part of Aimsworth was appalled at the level of carnage they'd seen just in the first two hours of play, but he ruthlessly suppressed the feeling—he had a game to win! After all, nobody had died…yet.
Still, without a Seeker, his chances of winning were somewhere between laughable and 'pleasant day in Azkaban'. Grinding his teeth, he turned a baleful eye on his remaining players. Griggs, his last reserve Chaser, Wood, his reserve Keeper, and Bottle and McIntyre, his reserve Beaters all looked back at him, various expressions on their faces. Aimsworth thought furiously for all of three seconds, before making up his mind. Griggs, in a pinch, was a fair Beater; McIntyre, a middling-fair Keeper. Bottle was a Beater to the core; putting him at any other position was a recipe for disaster. At the rate things were going, he'd need at least one more substitution after this one, so that left….
"Wood! Off your arse! You're in at Seeker!" he barked, waving the official over. "Cross-position substitution," he growled at the stern wizard in referee robes. "Wood in for Bartleby, at Seeker." The official nodded, and flew off to the box to inform the records people there.
"Coach, I'm not a Seeker…" Wood began to protest from right behind him, only to be cut off as Aimsworth spun around.
"Shut it, Wood, I don't want to hear it. I've seen you and Potter play 'catch the snitch'" and didn't that just have a whole different meaning when you were talking about those two, the stray thought danced through Aimsworth's head, "and you're almost as good at it as he is. So…now, you're a Seeker. Get in there, and catch that Snitch!" Slapping the young man on his back, he stepped away, giving Wood room to mount up and take to the air. As Wood pulled away, Aimsworth cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled at his team. "Formation Lumos-Eight! And this time, do it like you mean it!" Satisfied that they'd heard him, he stepped back into the box while the team hovered in mid-field, making plans and waiting for the referee to re-start play.
"Coach, you know that the poof's boyfriend is in the stands, don't you?" Griggs asked carefully.
Aimsworth nodded, knowing that Griggs didn't mean anything insulting. He'd once boasted to one and all, in "their" pub after a particularly strenuous practice Potter had joined, that "Merlin's bleeding arse, they're shirt-lifters, but they're OUR bloody shirt-lifters!" He'd had one arm around Wood and the other around a grinning Harry Potter (who had, coincidentally, just bought yet another round for the team) as he said it, then hugged them both, sloshing his beer over all and sundry.
Potter had also picked up the tab for damages to the bar after two of the patrons had reacted unfavorably to Grigg's pronouncement…or perhaps it was just the beer shower. In a statement to the press the next morning, Aimsworth had described the evening as "a great team-building experience", and he'd been assured everyone would be released from St. Mungo's within the week.
He'd expected a reaming from Management over it, but nothing ever came of it. Management was too happy with the free publicity, especially since it tied the team to the Boy Who Lived. Plus, they didn't have to pay to rebuild the pub!
Aimsworth later found out that Potter had simply bought the establishment outright, which explained why the Coach couldn't pay for a drink in the place…but Griggs, Bottle, Bartleby and Smythe (the starting Keeper) had a strict three-pint limit. Unless, of course, they'd just come off of a win, in which case the team drank on the house. Motivation like that you couldn't get in potion form!
The Coach brought himself back to reality with a jerk as the whistle sounded for play to resume. "Yeah," he nodded, irritated at himself for woolgathering. "If anything will inspire Wood to get the bloody Snitch, it's having Potter in the stands watching him."
The remaining players and assistants in the box all snickered at that. "Good call, Coach," McIntyre said, while heads nodded around him.
"Shut it, you," Aimsworth growled, smiling inside. "We've still got a game to win."
What followed was thirty minutes of some of the most intense Quidditch in recent memory. Bottle went in not two minutes later, replacing Malloby after the starter tried to use his shoulder rather than his bat. In short order, Bottle managed to take out Falmouth's second starting Beater with a perfectly-aimed 'accidental' shot to the man's broom that sent the Falcon spiraling into the cheap seats at the north end of the pitch. That stopped the game just long enough for the player to be extracted and portkeyed directly to St. Mungo's, while the aid teams picked up the pieces and the game resumed.
It was good old-fashioned 'three broom-lengths and a cauldron of blood' Quidditch so rarely seen in this sissified, safety-obsessed age. The fans roared, the players screamed back and forth at one another, and Aimsworth and his opposing number (Tommy Figg, a good friend of Aimsworth's and a damned fine Coach himself) cursed like drunken Aurors.
And then, just as Falmouth scored yet again to make it 370 to 250, Falmouth, it was over. A triumphant Oliver Wood was holding his arm aloft, the wings of the Golden Snitch flapping on either side of his clenched fist.
Aimsworth sagged, then straightened and jogged to the center of the pitch. Figg met him there, scowling, his hand already extended. By long tradition, the press and fans gave the two coaches a wide berth while they spoke.
"Damn fine game, you sodding bastard," he growled, shaking Aimsworth's hand.
"Right back at you, you poxy son of a hag," Aimsworth grinned. "See you and your boys at the pub later?" he asked. He didn't have to say which pub, since there was only one pub in all of England that Puddlemere would invade after a home-field victory. Professional Quidditch was a small family, when all else was said and done; there were precious few secrets between them.
"As long as Potter's buying the drinks, where else would I be?" Figg grinned. "Going to hit Mungo's first, check on my boy, then I'll be there." He paused, then went on. "Annie's wanting you and Sarah over for dinner next week. Up for it?"
"For Ann's cooking? When am I not?" Aimsworth laughed. "I'll tell Sarah; she and Ann can set it up and tell us when we're supposed to be there." Their wives had been in Hufflepuff together, and swapped dinner invitations regularly. Their husbands, neither of them being fools, had long ago mastered the magic phrase "Yes, dear." Neither Coach had any illusions as to just who called the plays in their respective homes, but then again, neither had any complaints, either. They'd both come to the conclusion over a few empty glasses some years back that the rumors about Helga's Secret Sex Book had to be true. Sadly, neither Brian (home schooled) nor Tommy (Portsmouth Academy) had ever found a 'Puff who would do more than smile mysteriously, then refuse to either confirm or deny, no matter how drunk he was at the time.
"Young Wood did himself proud today," Figg was saying, gesturing towards the stands with his eyes. "That was a brilliant catch, especially for a Keeper."
"Boy's good, there's no doubt. Plus, he's done a lot of one-on-one Seeker games with Potter, so he's not exactly new to it," Aimsworth agreed, magnanimous in victory. "Now there's a picture for tomorrow's Prophet," he laughed, watching as Wood solemnly shook Potter's hand.
"Damn me if I don't want a poofter or two like them on my team," Figg groused. "I'd give a sack of galleons to have Potter Seeking for Falmouth."
"He'll Seek for me before anyone else, and you know it. I've got an unfair advantage," Aimsworth laughed louder.
"You snagged his bloody boyfriend is what you did," Figg groused, then laughed. "Pity that Diggory boy's gotten himself married. I might could steal him from Portree, then use him as bait for Potter," he said. "Rumor was, they were 'close' at one time, if you get my drift."
"No idea," Aimsworth shrugged, not caring. Wood wasn't going anywhere, so that meant Potter probably wasn't, either. Besides, he'd already tried several times to recruit Potter, without any success. It was sad, really; the lad would have been a magnificent Seeker. "Later, then?" he said, ready to get himself around a pint.
"Later," Figg agreed, heading back to where some of the press were waiting for him.
Aimsworth turned and braced himself to meet the slightly larger group who were about to descend on him. He'd never really enjoyed this bit, but it was the price of doing business.
"All right, all right; let me begin by congratulating Tommy Figg and Falmouth for a hard-fought game," he began. "I can't remember when I've seen better Quidditch played. We made some mistakes, but the lads pulled it out in the end, and I'm proud of them for it," he went on, flashes from the photographers going off around him.
It was some time before he actually got that first pint, but that made it all the better.
Von (who did it first) and Numbah six-sixtysix both caught the fact that Harry actually uses parseltongue to de-curse the Stone before Hades gives him 'the present' from Voldemort at the end of the duel. Here's a bit of back-story that should set your minds at ease about just how he could do that:
"I know it's here somewhere…" Harry Potter grumbled, shoveling papers here and there on one of the tables in his study room.
"What's where, Harry?" Remus Lupin asked curiously, entering the room with a steaming cup of tea in his hand. He stopped just over the threshold and sipped his tea, an amused look on his face as the Boy Who Triumphed made an even bigger mess of the place.
"Some notes I made on the Parselinguia spell," Harry said, not looking up from his shoveling. "Luna asked me to teach her the spell, but I want to give her a copy of my notes to go with it," he went on. "She thinks that she can use snakes to help her find the Snorkack nesting grounds."
Remus nodded as he moved a pile of musty-smelling books off a chair and sat down. He was familiar with the young Ms. Lovegood's…eccentricities, and now understood the reason for Harry's manual search. Trying an 'Accio spell notes' in this room would only get you buried under an avalanche of parchment and paper. Taking another sip of his tea, he considered the problem. "Couldn't you just re-create your notes?" he asked.
Harry shrugged. "Maybe. Probably. I just wanted to find the notes because I wrote down a couple of references to other animal-language spells, and she'll probably want them, too."
"How about going back to the original source?" Remus asked. "Where did you originally find the spell?"
"It's in some of the stuff I picked up in that cool used tome shop in Athens," Harry said, still picking up, then discarding, sheet after sheet of notes. "You weren't along with me that day; it was the day after your 'Time Of The Month'," he giggled.
"Yes, well," Lupin huffed, pretending to be irritated. Neither Harry nor Sirius seemed to tire of using that particular phrase for his little 'furry problem'. Not that 'little furry problem' was much better, but still…. At least they knew and accepted both the 'problem' and the man with the 'problem' without any other complaints, for which Lupin was forever thankful.
"You really should take the time to organize this mess, and bring your Grimore up to date," Lupin chided. It was an ongoing sore subject with Harry, but it needed repeating.
"I know, I know," Harry said. "It's not like I was training to kill a Dark Lord, or anything," he groused. Dropping his hands to his sides, he stood up straight and sighed. "I could have sworn it was right here," he paraphrased himself. "But, I guess it's not."
"The original source," Remus reminded gently. Not that a single book might be any easier to find than a sheet of parchment, given just how many books Harry had accumulated over the last three years. One of the first things Mary Poppins had taught his pup was how to speed-read, and as a result Harry had blown through more books in the last three years than most wizards read in their lifetimes…not that that was saying much, unless you were only talking about Ravenclaws. One consequence of Harry's bibliophilia had been that he'd turned into something of a fiend for old magical books of all types, and magical bookstores were always one of the first places Harry went when he arrived in a new location. Remus suspected that before too long Harry would be forced to purchase another house just to house his library. The Black library, already expanded to its limit in Grimmauld Place, just couldn't take any more.
On further consideration, Remus suspected that wasn't the only reason Harry had been browsing the real estate section of the papers lately. Harry and his godfather loved each other dearly, but after several years of living and traveling in a pack, Harry was starting to chafe at the bit. He could certainly afford his own place, and quite frankly Remus thought it was a good idea. Harry was an adult in the eyes of the wizarding world (and would shortly be eighteen, giving him the same status with the muggles), and was more than capable of taking care of himself. Sirius would complain, naturally, but he'd come around. So, Remus had taken to leaving his muggle papers on the kitchen table, rather than binning them as soon as he finished reading them.
Harry was standing in the middle of the room, gnawing his lower lip, a look of intense concentration on his face. Then, he darted to one particular trunk, shoveled the papers off the lid (ignoring Remus' 'Harry!' as he did so), opened the lid and began burrowing into its depths. In short order, he sat back on his heels with a triumphant "Ah ha!"
In his hand, Harry was holding not a book, but a scroll case. By its appearance, it was very old, and Remus feared for the contents of the case if it was as old as the case itself. "Harry, what is that?" he asked curiously.
Harry turned around and shrugged. "It's where I found the Parselingua spell," he explained. "It's real old, and kind of fragile, which is why I made so many notes before putting it away." Standing, Harry popped the end of the case and let the scroll slide out into his hand. "It's by this Hypocrite guy, who's supposed to have been some kind of hot-shot healer, like, a gazillion years ago. He had a snake for a familiar and wanted to talk to it, which is why he invented the spell," Harry shrugged.
Remus almost dropped his tea in shock. "Harry…Hippocrates was one of the most famous wizards and healers of all time. He lived almost twenty four hundred years ago, and both muggle and wizarding healers still take some form of his Oath," the werewolf sputtered. "If that scroll was actually written by him, it's priceless…" Lupin trailed off, overwhelmed by what his pup might be holding so nonchalantly.
Harry smiled brightly, mischief dancing in his eyes. "Gee, Remus…you're really old, did you know him? No, let me guess…you guys worked on the pyramids together, didn't you?"
Remus' temper flared, and he was about to make an indignant response, when Harry couldn't hold it in any more. The Boy Who Won burst out laughing, but Lupin noticed that he was actually being very careful with the scroll and case he was holding.
"Oh, Remus, you're too easy! Of course I know who Hippocrates was, which is why I couldn't resist getting this when I saw it. I talked the shopkeeper down to forty galleons, and he still thought he was getting the best part of the deal because he was convinced it was a fake, or a copy. I didn't think it was, but it was worth the forty galleons just to get my hands on a copy. Aunt Perry did the magical dating on it, and she's convinced it's an original work of Hippocrates, done in his own hand."
Remus sat back, gobsmacked. His irritation had vanished—oh, the pup was definitely a Marauder, Morgana take him! —but just to be looking at an original work by Hippocrates…he was stunned, no other word for it.
"Harry…we need to make copies, and then secure that scroll, Gringotts is probably the safest place for the short term…."
"Sorry, Remus, I've got other plans for it," Harry grinned. "Oh, I'm going to have copies made. This is too valuable to be lost again for Merlin knows how many years. There are spells here that literally haven't been used for more than two millennia, but are still useful today. No," Harry shook his head, "this is just the kind of thing that needs to be preserved, and the knowledge disseminated. Locking this scroll up in Gringotts is the last thing I'd ever do with it." He paused, looking down at the ancient scroll. "The hard part is deciding which museum to give it to. I can't decide if it needs to go into the Library at Alexandria or into the magical wing of the British Museum."
"I'm sure that either of them would be more than happy to have it," Remus said weakly. And wasn't that just the understatement of the year? Librarians the world over would be offering up assistants as sex slaves or human sacrifices (or both) for the chance to add an original work of Hippocrates to their collections.
Harry shrugged, unconcerned. "Well, either way, they're not getting it today," he said casually. "First, I've got to write out the Parselingua spell for Luna, along with some of the other spells here. Then, Winky's making shepherd's pie for lunch." He walked over to an antique scroll reader and gently laid the delicate old scroll on it, folding out the small side table so that he'd have a clear space to work. Turning, he began scrounging for fresh writing materials, completely focused on his newest project.
"I'll be down in the kitchen if you need me," Remus said, rising. Harry, still very much a teenager, grunted his acknowledgement as Remus left the room carefully. "I need another cup of tea," the werewolf muttered to himself as he walked down the stairs. "And a drop of something stronger in it, time of the day be damned!"
Remus missed lunch that day, begging off to go to his room and rest a bit. Still, the shepherd's pie was excellent as always, and Harry had three servings, to Winky's delight.
That's all I have for now. There's more in this universe coming. I know, I keep saying 'no more', and then writing more. I can't help it, I'm weak. However, since I've already given Harry a battle llama, I figured one more pet won't hurt. Also, I'm setting up a Hermione-bashing fic that will be consistent with the end of 'Harry Potter and the Alternative Tournament', while giving me (yet another) chance to bash our 'favorite' bitter witch (without the 'itter w'). It's not that I hate Hermione, it's just...okay, I hate Hermione. At least she's workable, as long as you have lots (and lots, and LOTS) of patience, unlike Ron.
And now, here's a little ficlet featuring Ronnikins:
Harry dragged the large orange muggle device into the center of the courtyard at Hogwarts, sweating and swearing under his breath as he did so. By the time he had it where he wanted it, and all set up, quite the crowd had gathered.
The thing was basically a large orange box, mounted on a single axle. A large triangle-ish bin thing was on one end, a much smaller square metal neck curved up from the other. A device the muggle-born recognized as an engine sat just behind the bin-thing, and on each side in bold black letters was the name 'Asplundh'.
Hermione had taken one look at it and quietly disappeared. Ron, being Ron, had stood around and spouted off to all and sundry (no one actually listened, except to mock him) about how Harry had finally cracked under pressure, and was obviously totally barmy.
Harry looked up at his 'best mate' and grinned. "Oi, Ron!" he called. "Want to see my new toy?"
Ron shrugged and stepped forward. "Sure, Harry. What does it do?"
Harry's grin stretched a little wider. "Just stand right here," Harry said, positioning Ron carefully in front of the bin's opening. "Now, hold still, and don't mind the noise."
Stepping back, Harry tinkered with some controls on the side of the thing (Ron couldn't see, no matter how much he craned his neck), and it roared to life with a belch of blue smoke from somewhere off to the other side. Harry hurried to the far side, under the neck, directly opposite Ron. Whipping out his wand, he cried 'Accio Dumbarse!', then ducked and rolled away.
Before Ron could react, Harry's spell yanked him from his feet and into the bin. Immediately a horrible grinding sound was heard, initially accompanied by screaming, which quickly stopped. A few moments later, a stream of red, white and purplish bits began pouring out of the neck of the device, while Ron's feet-no longer wiggling-disappeared into the maw of the thing. Shortly thereafter, the stream of bits diminished, then stopped all together.
Harry calmly walked over and shut off the machine as the crowd stood there, frozen in shock.
"Well, that's one down," he said, grinning madly. "Anybody seen Gin-Gin?"
Seconds later, Harry Potter-the Boy Who Shredded-was alone in the courtyard.
A/N: *sigh* I've ALWAYS wanted to do that. I feel so much better now.