Harry swept his hands over the goblet, watching the flames flicker into existance in the juice.
It was a habit he had picked up in the aftermath of the Chamber of Secrets fiasco. He didn't remember everything from that day. He had gone to save Ginny Weasley from Lord Voldemort's sixteen year old self. But somewhere in the madness of being bitten by a twenty foot snake and cried on by a magical bird, he had managed to dream up some crazy world. At fourteen, Harry was quite sure that the place was some weird product of his imagination.
Orcs? Elves? Dwarves?
It was a little too unbelievable to be real.
He had tried to tell Ron and Hermione at some point, but between the rush to send the students home, his Aunt Margie's visit, and the escape of the convict Sirius Black... well things had pushed it from his mind a little too easily. It was probably for the best.
No use dreaming on delusions.
"Aragorn," he whispered softly, ignoring his own advice. He still remembering the dark blue eyes that stared out in the darkness. The echoing scream. "What would you do?"
He waved his hand back over the goblet, using his magic to snuff the fire from existence.
He had been entered in a dangerous tournament only the day before. There were only supposed to be three candidates, but he had somehow ended up with four. Now the entire school had turned against him. His own best friends were arguing incessantly with him, his Godfather was on the run, and he really wished that the Ranger were here. He'd probably pull out his sword and slice the stupid cup in half, declaring it all foolishness.
Harry smiled softly, reminiscing.
It was amazing the man hadn't run him through with a sword as annoying as he'd been.
He looked up to see Neville staring at him curiously, a little nervous. Harry wondered if the boy had come to tell him off as well? Wasn't it enough that he had a huge bag of unopened mail with rude messages about his fame-loving, glory-seeking ways?
"Yeah?" he asked roughly, glaring at the goblet. It sparked back in flames again. He saw Neville twitch nervously at the spontaneous combustion.
The trick bothered everyone dearly, as well as his tendency to curse in a language none of them understood.
Ron claimed the venom might have addled his brain. Hermione had slapped him, but he knew she privately agreed.
"I just wanted to tell you I believe in you."
He looked up in shock, blinking as he nearly knocked over the flaming goblet.
"I don't think you put your name in."
He studied the nervous boy, watching him shift beneath the intense gaze. It was a trait he had picked up from Elladan. Finding no deceit, he smiled back lightly, a little sheepish.
"Thanks," Harry replied, rubbing the back of his own head. "That means a lot, Nev."
The boy blushed and sat down next to him. Harry swept the flame away with a simple gesture, smiling slightly.
"Would you tell me where you learned that?"
Harry looked at him in surprise, a little rueful.
"It was in a dream," he said softly.
"I'd like to hear it," replied the shy boy all the same, building more courage.
"Alright," Harry replied. "It all began in this town called Bree. There was an inn there called the Prancing Pony, and a inn-keeper named Butterbur. It was a loud establishment, with a warm hearth and tasty ale. Rosmertta's reminds me of it sometimes. The inn-keeper found me in the woods and helped nurse me back. He was a kind man, though a very forgetful. And it was there that I met Strider."
Harry grinned wistfully.
And they sat there for hours, Harry talking animatedly for the first time in a long time, about the mysterious dream world that had brought him so much pain and joy. He spoke of how he battled the Basilisk, killed it even, but laid wounded beyond reach, dying. How the poison would end him, and with him Ginny. But it didn't. He told the boy how it changed him, moved him to a world he hadn't known existed.
It gave him hope.