Summoned by the cup
Disclaimer: none of this is mine. None of it. I just wrote it for fun and letting off steam (strange, right?), but I have no claim to the material it is based on. No money, no profit, no perks, just writing.
A/N: Well, you know the storyline. Harry/Harriet/Rose/whatever goes missing/is abducted/is believed dead/gets tossed out/runs away from his/her/its relatives/parents/guardians for an indeterminate amount of time. After repeated failures to find and secure The One, a tri-wizard tournament is held. His/her/its name comes out of the cup and is consequently summoned right into the great hall. Think 'familiar of zero'-style plot with one helluva twisted hero coming out each time.
Below is the first entry in the series. Enjoy.
The Career Tribute
The District 1 tribute training centre is not what you would call a humane environment. Out of all the training centres, it is the biggest, with the most comprehensive terrain-specific training grounds offered by any training centre in Panem. Rain soaked jungles, stagnant cesspools that pass for swamps on a good day, mountainous environments, small villages, ruined cities, empty plains and lush forests are but a few of the areas that the various career tributes 'enjoy' during their training. Then you have the classrooms offering a high-quality education, complete with the latest in electronic gadgets & computing technology as well as a luxurious set of dorms that include a spa, well-appointed gyms, TV rooms, libraries and even an indoor amphitheatre where the students could indulge in theatre performances, political debates, public lectures and even the odd honour duel.
In theory it's all bright and lovely and a tribute to the generosity of the citizens of Panem in general and the Capitol in particular.
The reality is far more sinister. The tribute training centres provide the best, yes. But the whole purpose of these facilities is to train children to kill on command. The students that roam these grounds, attend these classes, enjoy these facilities and entertain themselves here are stuck in a gilded cage. Outside, no future awaits. Inside, the sole path to glory is through murder. For a select few of them, eternal glory and undreamt of wishes await if they survive the gauntlet of the hunger games. In the meantime, the children learn all about the price of ambition, the cost of privilege and the depths of depravity humans will embrace if only it makes their lives that tiny bit better. And the greatest tool they have is that they can, within these walls, kill with impunity. All have a reason to, though many refuse to indulge in such acts. Mostly. But the children that go here are, regardless of origin, all united in their desperation for advancement once outside the walls.
The elite students, the ones who came from the Capitol's more influential families, were those that stood to inherit nothing since their siblings or cousins would, as they say, get it all. They were sent to the academy to train them to be as ruthless & bloodthirsty as they possibly could be, to prepare them for success in the vicious set-up that was everyday life in Panem. They will brutalise and kill all who oppose their rule.
The orphans, the ones who were dumped on the training centre's doorstep, belonged to the training centre. Only the best would thrive alongside the children of the major families there. The rest would become the target practice Career tributes use to bloody themselves in preparation for the Games. They are both the most numerous and the most viciously competitive students in the centre and will stop at nothing to keep themselves alive.
And then you had the orphans who caught the eye of self-same influential families, adopting them in exchange for services rendered later. These children would be granted the same privileges as the elite, never having to fight their peers for better grades to avoid being used in the training areas as prey to their faster, smarter and stronger peers. Never having to go hungry if they missed a meal after being chased by those looking to eliminate the competition for their grade point average. Never being hamstringed in some way, shape or form before phys-ed evaluations take place, where the fates of those not up to snuff is rumoured to be short, painful and loud. Begging for mercy is not an uncommon sound to emanate from the phys-ed teachers' offices following said evaluation. However, all this comes at a price.
To the families, it guarantees that those with abilities far exceeding those of their peers' get to benefit from their skills, an investment of sorts.
To the adopted, it's an understanding that they will spend a decade calling this or that person boss, master, sir or any above combination, depending on whether the family had adopted them for family-related matters or if they were simply acting on behalf of one of Panem's numerous business interests.
To the other students, it's a means by which the orphans cheat their way out of their proper place by whoring themselves out to the highest bidder. And since a great number of elites attending the training centre have mothers who were 'adopted' by their fathers whilst studying in the centre's halls, there is a grain of truth to the whoring out part of the equation.
Of course, everybody completely ignores the lengths the Orphans went to to net themselves such benefactors. Again, it was normal for aspiring adoptees to sabotage or even outright kill their rivals if it meant making their odds that much better, staying ahead of the pack for that much longer. And after they get what they want, the adoptees still have to shield themselves from assassination attempts by both the Orphans looking for a second round and the Elites looking to warn off the other aspiring adoptees. So they retaliate. And as time goes by, the attacks get more and more vicious while the retaliations become downright horrifying. Most of the deaths are attributed to adoptees looking to save their skins, gradually losing their faith in humanity in the process and pre-empting their perceived enemies by killing them as viciously as they can. By the end, the most successful start murdering for sport, simply because they can no longer dissociate their peers from their enemies. Anyone in their age bracket is a danger, and killing is the only viable response they know that works.
One such adoptee was currently standing in front of her 'father'. He'd been the one to discover her during a hunt for Dissidents in one of the ruined cities. Initially, he wanted nothing to do with the wretched little bitch. No matter how young she was, no matter how filthy and hungry she had been at the time, under normal circumstances he would have just gutted the girl and watch her life bleed out of the little bitch's carcass with a smile on his face. She'd been found outside Panem, outside a district and, therefore, was born to those outside of his control. In other words, she was the offspring of Dissidents or was even a Dissident herself. He didn't give a shit about how young she was. She was a threat to his authority and he would have gladly removed that threat from the face of the earth.
But alas, the cameras were rolling and he couldn't say 'no' to some good press while his forces dug mass graves not two hundred metres away. And so he'd taken her back to his estate, bathed her, fed her, given her a bed to sleep in. And then dumped her at the tribute training centre the very next day. He wasn't an unkind man when the fickle media was involved though, and so he arranged a stipend for her and gave her conditions for adoption, namely that she be at the top of all her classes, that she excel in academics and her physical education until the age of eleven. In private, though, he added a further stipulation; to bring him the heads of five Elite students without anyone else finding out before he did.
Five years later and he'd forgotten all about it. How couldn't he? That promise, made to a fucking barbarian parasite no less, held no meaning for him or anybody of any importance. There was simply no way that the little bitch could possibly pull it off.
Except she did.
He realised he was missing something when, on one fine autumn's day, a package had been flagged by his chief of security. Now normally these packages contained fun junk like poisonous gas, hungry nanites or even the good old nailbomb or five, but that never warranted for him to be called in by chief Cuddles to request clarification. What he'd found was insane. It was a plastic box filled with severed heads. On the top of the box, a transcript detailing perfect scores in everything as well as a letter with the words 'Remember the promise' written out in perfect Panem script, signed by someone calling herself 'Rose no-name'.
The photo of the person on the transcript eventually reminded him of the promise he'd made.
So he went to meet her and make discreet inquiries about her with the faculty and to see for himself whether or not this girl should be shot for lying to him. The staff all grumbled at the little bitch of course. She'd been quiet up until her tenth birthday, but then she'd started to correct them whenever they made a mistake during their lectures. When they tried to fail her or give her bad marks, she challenged them in the principal's office... and won. She'd goaded and insulted as many Elites into attacking her as she could, always getting away with nary a scratch while the others nursed broken bones and damaged muscles for their pains. Then, a few days ago, she'd broadcast the fact that she would be training in the Jungle Arenas, alerting all the Elites in her class as to her whereabouts over that weekend. They had yet to report in.
He'd gone in incensed at the little bitch's lies, hoping to find something to give the media when he had her skinned alive for treason. He left the principal's office intrigued at the girl. So he'd gone off to meet her. It was like staring into a mirror. She had the faint sneer he adorned whenever the cameras weren't rolling. She had the stance that screamed 'danger' to the sheep and 'leader' to him. She had the look in her eye that promised pain and death to her enemies and enslavement to her followers. She was perfect.
So he, President Snow, adopted a little Dissident girl into his family, making her the de facto heir to his holdings in the process. But that came at a price. He made clear to her that just one slip-up would result in her death. One wrong move in front of the cameras, one off-hand remark too many, one criticism, witticism or insult directed towards him at any time, one slip in her public and/or academic career before his death... all would result in torture, humiliation and protracted agony before he slit her throat himself. And she'd grinned at him, a slightly crazed look entering her eyes as she nodded. Then she'd hugged him, which he promptly beat her for.
And thus Rose No-Name became Lady Snow to Panem. If anything, she became even more vicious after her ascendancy to power even while the media made goo-goo faces over President Snow's new offspring. She started with her classmates who, after hearing about her killing off a dozen of the best fighters in her year, quickly latched onto the girl. Then, she expanded her reach in the dorms, using her new minions to quickly subdue the younger ones while she systematically beheaded the leadership of the classes in the older years. She sent him the severed heads of the offspring of his most trusted allies, with a plea to make them into trophies. He indulged her in that. The girl truly was taking after him to a most satisfying degree.
And, finally, she consolidated her hold on power a month after finishing off the last Elite in her classes by either ambushing or duelling the Elites in training from other parts of the campus. Knowing that she couldn't extend her reach too far, she opted to leave one Elite alive per dorm. That Elite reported to her and only to her. He found it amusing that she used the very threat he'd used against her to keep them in line. Watching one of their own be slowly disembowelled by a media darling, in broad daylight, inside the administrative building's Atrium was a nice touch.
Then she went even further when it came to training and education, often ending up with scores above the theoretical maximum awarded. Oh, it sometimes dipped when some of the dimmer minions tried to set themselves up as competition, but they never lasted very long. After all, the highest grades always belonged to her and her followers. If they ingratiated themselves with her, they got personalised training by her as well. Seeing a mediocre Orphan languish at the bottom of the class only to rocket to a position in the top 5 within a month showed just how effective she was, oh yes. And they'd do anything, anything to stay close to her, to reap the awards being in her good graces brought, to live just that tiny bit longer.
He had been impressed at the girl despite himself. And during the summer of her twelfth year, she came to stay at his place for two weeks. It would have been two months, except that she'd put in a request to join a hunter-killer squad that was rounding up Dissidents outside the districts. The following year and the year after, she continued her academic studies via distance education, sending in assignments whenever her and her fellow troops touched ground. The officers had grumbled about having a teenager join a spec ops squad, but that had quickly disappeared beneath a slightly awed respect for Rose's skills and the fear of what either of the Snows would do to them if a bunch of their nominal social subordinates continued annoying them. Needless to say, for her superior officers' quick thinking and performance managing Rose in the field, the man had been appointed as part of his personal guard squad. After all, if she ever came after him, he wanted someone who knew exactly what it would take to kill the girl before she got to him. And so it went for two years, getting perfect results from schoolwork even as she pitted herself in battle against the toughest & most determined enemies of the state left within striking distance of the districts.
And now, following two years of distinguished service fighting Barbarians, Dissidents and Terrorists in the woods around Panem, here they were back on campus.
"Are you ready for this?" He asked, clearly proud of the girl that carried his name now.
"Yes sir, Mister President, sir!" she exclaimed, the salute ruined by her cheeky little smirk. Huh, he probably would have shot her on the spot before she'd made him laugh at her Medal of High Merit Awards last year. Now he merely smiled at her antics. How strange.
"Well, if you're sure..." he shrugged. "Don't get too cocky. The Hunger Games have proven, time and again, that training and experience may work most of the time, but that you don't stand a chance in hell if you don't follow your instincts."
"Yes sir." She said, once more completely serious. He nodded, then grabbed the back of her head and brought her to eye level with him.
"And if you lose, I will erase you from history. Nobody will ever know your name, Lady Snow. You know I can do it." He hissed at her, smirking at her whimpering flinch. That was what she'd always craved; the power her name would bring. The power she gave it. Her actions on the battlefields no-one talks about in Panem made it clear that the secret to her success was that she always put everything on the line. To her, being remembered was more valuable than being alive, and her reaction confirmed that she understood his threat perfectly. "Ah, so now you understand." His smirk turned into a crazed grin at seeing her glare. "Ah ah ah now, fair warning is all I'll give you and I just did."
"Yes. Sir." Ah, but the grinding of teeth was music to his ears. He released her from his hold, letting her stand to attention again after re-adjusting her uniform.
"Now rein in that lip of yours, girl." Ah, that delightful flinch never gets old. "Save your energy for your prey." At her nod and slightly relaxed shoulders, he clapped his hands together. "Excellent! Now go in there and show the world what it means to be a Snow. You know the consequences of failure girl, now get to it. And may the odds ever be in your favour."
"Yes sir. And thank you... Father." And with that, she walked away, not seeing the look of shocked surprise on her adoptive father's face. "May the odds be in your favour as well." Was the last thing he heard before the doors closed on the strange girl.
"All rise." A roar of squeaking chairs and muffled curses followed that statement. The non-descript Capitol Celebrity stood there, all done up in what the currently trendy fashion designers thought looked pretty enough to go on camera. Instead, she looked more like one of those circus clowns to young rose; all make up and strange shoes with little in the way of substance lurking beneath. That lady was a disgusting creature. Rose wondered what the boys back at the barracks would be willing to pay for her, then dismissed the thought. They were too used to not paying for anything like that out in the Wilds. And, quite frankly, the wilds had better girls than that... thing strutting in front of the cameras right then. More sporting ones, at the very least. Still, maybe she could ask Father for the use of her and a couple of other throwaway camera girls as a birthday present next year. The thought left her smiling in anticipation.
The clown in expensive clothing cleared her throat. "Dear students, I congratulate you on having completed your final year here, at the District 1 tribute training centre-"
She stopped listening at that stage, merely nodding along in the right places while she drifted off into her own little world. After graduation, she would be eligible for entry into the Hunger Games. And all would know her name.
Three hours later, a tired Rose Snow was sitting in the presidential ground car, staring out at the outer rim of the Capitol flashing by. A massive tent city had built up over the past few months, courtesy of Rose and her fellow HK troops raiding an almost intact small town that had been lost in the woods for years. There had been thousands living there when Rose abseiled into an important-looking structure and started rounding up and executing whoever she came across. Now, only a couple of hundred could have been left from what she saw going into the suburbs. Say what you want about morality, but an HK squad is thorough. And the best thing, to her, is that most of the survivors would then come to Panem requesting citizenship! She still found it baffling. Panem troops had just killed everyone and everything they ever knew and now here they are, begging to be assigned to a district? What the hell?
If there was ever anything that proved her Father's old adage about Might being right true, it was this. He was evil, he was immoral, heedless of the well-being of others and known to be a sadist without par in Panem, which was quite the achievement. But he was also her Father and, for all his faults, he kept his promises and had come to treat her with respect. Loads better than what she had become accustomed to before... Anyway, no use thinking about Before. Nono, bad place Rose, baad place. No food, no fun, no space. Think about other things...
She had graduated early and at the top of her class. She was the only one to have done so in the Centre's history. She had earned herself a place in the history books alread. But she hadn't been chosen to participate in the next Hunger Games. Hadn't been given the chance to prove herself as quickly as she wanted to. She shrugged. Maybe a few more years taking out Barbarian settlements would do her some good. Maybe not. She was lucky to be here now. She was lucky to escape the Dark and the Damp, though she did spare a thought for the spiders she'd left behind. She just wished that it had not left her with so many unanswered questions.
She shuddered, her cheerful spirit broken by that one question she'd never dared to ask anyone, either Before or during her time in Panem. She thought about it, the question that she wanted an answer to so badly it burned sometimes. The emotions and thoughts behind it were complex (I mean, who thinks about green laser shows and insane laughter when trying to picture loved ones?), but the question itself was rather simple;
"I wonder who my parents were." Too late she realised she'd said it out loud. She looked around the car, half expecting a hidden murder machine to shank her in the kidneys or even a bomb to go off. She waited fifteen seconds before sighing in relief – and promptly disappearing with a CRACK.
Albus Dumbledore was an old, old man. Many would have said that he was past his prime, too far removed from his own experience with adolescence to be expected to understand the vagaries of youth nowadays. For all that, though, there was a reason why being a hundred and fifty had not impacted his career as a politician and part-time diplomat too badly. Simply put, he looked old. But that was it. Massive amounts of magical power and a judicious use of potions had done nothing to make the outside look better, but had kept him out of the retirement house for close to fifty years now. Inside, he had the muscle tone and healthy organs of a laid-back twenty year old; not perfect, but he'd take what he was given.
His hidden youth and vitality was nowhere near as obvious most of the time, except on special occasions such as the one he was currently presiding over. He grinned at the residents of the great hall.
"And I think that it's about time now..." He said, covertly hoping that those ministry idiots hadn't screwed the pooch again. Merlin, why had the Wizengamot elected to keep Cornelius in the drivers' seat for so long? It would be just like him to have the ceremony delayed by about a minute or so just to make a fool out of Dumbledore once again. May the gods have mercy on the man, but there were days where Albus wanted to team up with Lucius and turn the little rat into... well... a rat.
Finally! The first piece of paper fluttered downwards, its seemingly random vector pointed unerringly at the palm of his hand. He snatched it out of the air anyway, hoping to speed this up.
"Victor Krum!" the Durmstrang delegation erupted in cheers, clapping their comrade on the back as he walked down the aisle towards the head table. "Mister Krum, could you please proceed to the back room please?" The boy nodded, changing directions and making haste out of the room.
The second piece of paper came flying out of the Goblet as the door closed, Dumbledore snatching it out of the air once again.
"Cedric Diggory!" The Hufflepuff's reaction was... predictable, really. The whole house was known collectively as the House of Losers, and to have one of their own be declared the best representative of what Hogwarts had to offer was a powerful statement to the three other houses. And so the newly crowned King of the Badger House received his congratulations and sped off to the back room, eager to meet his competition.
The third and final piece came flying out.
"Fleur Delacour." Ah, a subdued reaction to their new champion. A few shook hands with her, congratulated her... but the vast majority of her colleagues just glared at her. He just shrugged it off as a French thing. Merlin knows they'd gotten better since his youth, but they still were a bunch of pretentious bastards whenever he had the misfortune of running into their ICW delegation. So much class, so little in the way of tact. How on Earth they got along with the myriad American governments was beyond him.
The blonde bombshell made her way to the backroom, her delicate derriere leaving Albus to ponder about whether he should look into making himself a bit younger at some stage. Ah, no matter. His little break from reality would soon be over. Back to the grind, as they say.
"Ah, now that the selections have been made, I believe that food will be arriving shortly. If you would please wait until after the feast before questioning the champions, it would be greatly -"
The Goblet flared once more, the eerie blue-red colour of the flames gaining a sickly emerald and grey colour. The ceiling flickered and the candles vanished, leaving the goblet as the only light source in the room. The fire fanned itself and blasted towards the ceiling, the flames bathing the whole room in a sickly green light that had many of the Blood War veterans instinctively ducking for cover.
In the meantime, the stupefied headmaster looked down into his hand, feeling a strange sensation there. It was a piece of paper. Staring at it stupidly for a moment, the name on the parchment-like material only registered as the flames when from an eerie green to an Aqua Blue.
He'd said that out loud? Why were they staring at him? Was this some kind of sick joke? He'd spent the better part of the last nine years looking for her, did whoever had done this really think it'd be this easy? Hell, the entire Wizarding world had looked for the ever-elusive Girl Who Lived for years! The cash bounty alone would be enough to set anyone up for life. Add in the expected titles... When he found the bastards that had hi-jacked this tournament and endangered the life of an innocent girl then, light-sided or not, he would take a special kind of joy in presiding over their execution.
Nobody said a word, horrified glances darting left and right, searching for the face, the scar, the legend. And still nothing came. The flames of the Goblet started to recede, candles appearing once more in their predetermined spots and the ceiling's enchantments returning to normal.
A body appeared in thin air directly above the head table, crashing down hard on top of the enchanted Ebony surface. Not that that stopped the body from reacting ever so suddenly. Whoever it was, they'd ducked underneath the table before anyone else in the room could blink, coming up behind Albus and putting a knife to his throat so fast, nobody else had even moved. Oh, a complete unknown now held a knife to his throat. How nostalgic. It was like he was fifty all over again.
"Old man." a young female voice asked in a panicked voice. "What the fuck am I doing here?"
"Rose Potter?" He breathed, not daring to hope, after all this time.
"Shut the fuck up!" She hissed, the knife digging ever deeper into the tender, tender skin above his carotid artery. "I asked you a question. Answer the fucking question, then we can play the 'I show you yours if you show me mine' game."
He looked down at the scrap of paper, marvelling at the irony of having the girl he'd long thought lost drop into his lap, almost literally at that, after so long only to be killed by said girl once he told her about this. "Well, Miss Potter... It seems that you've been selected to participate in the tri-wizard tournament." He closed his eyes, waiting for the startled twitch that would end his life...
Only, the knife loosened its hold on his neck. "Is that so? And where are the two others that are chosen for this... tri-wizard tournament?"
"You are the fourth contestant, actually."
"What? But it's tri-wizard. Tri. As in three. Can you people actually count?" She asked, clearly amused about the whole thing.
"Trust me, nobody was more surprised than I when your name came out of the goblet."
"I bet." He could hear the cheerful tone coming out of her mouth, sounding strikingly like her mother at that point.
"Now, can we please adjourn to the anteroom? We both doubtlessly have some questions, which I won't be able to answer correctly if I have to watch my breathing as much as I currently am."
"Hah!" She withdrew the knife from his throat, making him and most others in the room (wands all pointed at him rather than at her, the stupid idiots) relax... until he felt the sharp pressure of a blade against his kidneys. "Lead the way. And oh," she said in a louder voice "if any of you fucks does anything stupid, then grandpa here is going to be spend the last minutes of his miserable life trying to keep his guts from falling out through a hole in the back. Is. That. Clear?"
Well, Dumbledore thought, she sure knew how to handle a crowd. The old man chuckled. This would be a challenge, probably one worthy of his genius. Then again, maybe he shouldn't tempt fate too much, given his track record these days.
"And by the way, the name's Snow. Rose Snow."
Little Rose Snow sat at the table, clearly stunned at the things she was learning. The other officials just looked on in disbelief at the fact that their supposed Hero knew nothing about magic, nothing about the wizarding world and nothing at all about her heritage. This was a disaster!
"Magic exists. Well shit." she stated. It was kinda hard to ignore that something was going on when one of the most heavily scarred people she had ever seen turned the chair you were sitting on into a pony. Of course, said person had almost been killed when she drew and threw a dagger at him, but the old man had had the foresight to deflect the projectile into the ceiling and call in the school nurse for later. Rose hadn't missed the implications of being given immunity from prosecution for justifiable actions taken during the tournament, no matter how stunned she was. What it translated to was being allowed to kill anyone who gave her any lip during the whole of this year. And the headmaster hadn't missed the grin on the girl's face.
"Indeed." The old man said, eyeing his awesome-looking wand in puzzlement. What was the big deal with that, anyway? So it didn't work once or twice, so what? "Say Rose, can you please hold this wand for me?"
"What?" Was the old bastard using slang for something?
"The wand." He said, waving it around in mid-air. "Can you just hold it for a second, please?" She just nodded, clearly skeptical about why this man was handing his weapon to her. But she put that aside and reached for the length of darkened wood.
The feeling the wand gave her was... orgasmic. It felt like her body was on fire! She was vaguely aware of the world around her, but not so much that she noticed her skin glowing a deep emerald green while her body convulsed at the sheer amount of power, pure, unrestrained power, coursing through her veins. Then, it stopped just as suddenly as it started, leaving her panting, gasping, aching for more. More power. More control. "More knowledge." She whispered, the stick (no, wand) in her hands responding on its own. She didn't even see her own hand, still clenched around the wand, shoot up at her head at snakelike speeds. The tip of the wand reached the small, barely visible scar sitting on her forehead and pushed through the skin. A roiling wave of black pus squirted out from the scar, covering her face as she screamed in incredible pain. And then she knew no more.
The other people in the room, having just sat through what could be best described as a one and a half minute trip through insanity land that ended with this strange Girl-Who-Lived impaling her scar on the headmaster's wand (who, by the by, had fainted by that point as well) and then passing out after screaming bloody murder, just stared at the two people lying on the floor, one covered in blood while the other was covered in robes. At least, until Poppy Pomphrey finally arrived
"What in the name of Hades is going on in here?" The irate nurse exclaimed as she dashed towards the two unconscious people on the floor.
"I have no fucking clue." Barthemius Crouch said, still eyeing the dagger embedded in the ceiling. The others in the room silently agreed with him. This whole event was turning out to be too weird for words.