Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Harry Potter, the rights to which are the sole property of J.K. Rowling.
THE LEGEND OF HARRY POTTER: PHOENIX BURNING
Chapter 1: The Legend Begins Anew
Harry could hear the drops of water falling onto the wet floor behind him, and he strained his ears to make out any sound beyond it.
Hearing nothing, he chanced a glance outside from his hiding spot at the base of one of the carved stone serpents.
Ginny's distinct red hair was still visible on the floor, and he could barely make out Riddle's shade behind him.
The Basilisk was nowhere in sight. Sighing slightly in relief, and trying to suppress his ever rising terror, Harry cast around his mind for something to help him out of this mess, but came up blank.
He saw Riddle shift, hissing something, and he ducked behind the statue again. He wished he had his wand with him – it had become a constant in his life, and even feeling its warmth in his hand would give him a shred of confidence.
Not that it would do him much good; he couldn't think of any spells that could kill a Basilisk. On second thoughts, he didn't know anything that would even help him to escape this situation.
He cursed as the fear within him seemed to multiply in leaps and bounds, chastising himself for being so lackadaisical about his education – something that was about to cost him his life.
Help, he thought fervently, desperately. Anybody, help!
He was rewarded with a beautiful, haunting melody that echoed around the chamber and sent courage running through his veins like liquid fire. He looked up and saw a magnificent golden-red bird flying down at him, and recognized Dumbledore's phoenix.
As Fawkes came closer, though, he suddenly realized that the bird wasn't so much focused on him as something behind him. His brown eyes were narrowed at something over his shoulder, and without thinking, he turned around –
And found himself looking at burning, bottomless yellow eyes.
Harry shot up, gasping. He hadn't dreamt about the Chamber for a long time, fitting that it happen today.
He peeked at the bed opposite him through the heavy silence in the dormitory. His best friend had showed no signs of stirring in his bed, illuminated by the pink rays of the sunrise.
His ex -best friend, Harry reminded himself, trying to ignore the sharp jab of sadness at Ron's betrayal.
He still found it hard to deal with. Ron, who'd stuck through him all through the events surrounding the very Chamber he'd been dreaming of, had left him hanging when Harry had needed him most.
Pushing thoughts of Ron out of his face, Harry got out of bed groggily and set about readying himself for the day so that he might get out of the Gryffindor Tower early. He had no desire to face any of the people who believed that he was an attention-seeking prat like Ron had made him out to be, and he definitely didn't want to come across one of his round-eyed worshippers who'd believed he'd done extremely complex magic to get himself entered, and was a winner for sure.
Still, he thought grumpily, as he came out of the bath, drying his hair. At least they support me. He had no illusions that he'd be on the black list of over three-quarters of the school after the Goblet of Fire fiasco last night.
Hermione, he realized, making his way down the stairs, it's Hermione whom I need to talk to. He'd already lost one friendship, and he wasn't going to lose another. It was time to be completely honest with her, and tell her what he should have told her ages ago.
The very prospect gave him a mild headache.
Nevertheless, he besieged his bushy-haired friend when she arrived for breakfast with a stack of toast ready for her, and demanded that he take a walk around the lake with her.
Thankfully, Hermione was an early riser, so the Great Hall was still empty when they made their way out, saving him from the glares and whispers that were sure to come in droves.
He pondered how to break the truth to her as they walked down the shore of the Black Lake and watched the Giant Squid waving its tentacles lazily in the early morning light.
"What's going on, Harry?" asked Hermione, looking up at him with big brown eyes. Frankly, the girl was more nervous than him about the entire thing, and he was nervous enough to seriously contemplate doing a runner from it all.
He decided to go for the blunt approach. "Hermione," he said bluntly, "I need to tell you something extremely important, and you can't tell anybody about it."
He could see her eyes light up at the prospect of discovering a hitherto unknown fact, of solving a piece of the puzzle that was him. "What is it, Harry?" she asked carefully, though he could sense the interest in her tone. "Is it something to do with the Tournament?"
"Sort of," he replied, shuffling his feet a bit. "It's very secret, though," he stressed again, making sure to get the point across.
"On my magic, Harry, and all that nonsense," she said amusedly, her eyes shining. "This remains between us. This isn't something to do with...puberty, is it?" she whispered, her eyes suddenly widening.
Harry, who'd been momentarily distracted by a tingle of magic in the air, blushed deeply and shook his head wildly. "No, no!" he protested almost violently. "It's nothing of that sort."
Hermione looked distinctly relieved. "All right then," she said, "is it about Ronald? Give it some time, Harry, I'm sure he'll come around..."
"No," he repeated again, forcefully. Deciding to take the bull by the horns, he blurted out, "Hermione, I'm smart."
There was a pregnant pause following his announcement. Hermione raised an eyebrow, looking at him incredulously. "I know that, Harry," she said a bit slowly, as if fearing for his intelligence despite what he'd just said.
"No, no, it's not like that," he said, frustrated. "I'm smarter than I look –"
"I've known that for years, Harry."
"No, no," he was getting angry now. "Hermione, in the Chamber of Secrets, I looked the Basilisk in the eye."
That got rid of any amusement she'd been showing. "What?!" she shrieked in horror, and he winced at her shrill tone. "Harry, you should be dead! How did you survive?"
It was his turn to be slightly amused as he tapped his scars. "I think I have a little bit of history when it comes to surviving impossible attempts to kill me, Hermione," he said, and he flushed a bit.
"But, Harry," she said, lowering her voice, much to his relief. "What happened?"
"My scar," he explained tentatively, absently running his finger across the lightning bolt shaped mark on his forehead. "It sort of exploded, with Dark Magic. Damn near took the head of the Basilisk off. There was a lot of screaming, too...dunno, it all went a bit hazy there near the end."
Hermione's mouth was hanging open, but he continued anyway. "Dumbledore told me after the Chamber that Voldemort had left a bit of himself in me when he tried to kill me. I reckon whatever the Basilisk did; it drove it away from my scar. I felt lighter too, my brain felt lighter, if I can explain. I could literally feel more powerful," he finished, chancing a look at her.
She seemed to be taking it well so far, so he pressed on. "And after that year..." he said, "well, I'd already had my life in mortal danger twice in two years at Hogwarts, so I bucked up and studied a bit. It was like someone had cast a spell on me to be the best I possibly could, I don't remember ever being so motivated or driven to study."
"So that's why you dropped Divination and took up Arithmancy and Runes with me," exclaimed Hermione, feeling pleased as she finally found an answer to another mystery behind her best friend.
"Yes," agreed Harry, "it was almost like my brain and magic was compensating for everything it had gone through, and I was determined to be the best I possibly could."
"But why hide it, Harry?" asked Hermione testily, her eyes narrowing. "Why not tell me, or Ron?"
Harry paused, wondering how to answer that. In reality, he didn't know how to go about doing that. He couldn't explain why he'd kept it silent, he just had. Maybe it was to keep an ace up his sleeve next time someone tried to off him, or simply because he didn't want to go through the harassment of all the explanations once his performance at school improved drastically.
"I don't know," he offered lamely, finally.
Hermione's eyes widened, he could almost feel the cogs whistling and whirring inside her head. "Harry!" she nearly screamed once he could see that she'd arrived at some conclusion, "you did enter your name in the Goblet of Fire!"
"What?!" he asked, completely stumped.
"It's only logical!" she said, more to herself than him. She paced around, wringing her hands together, before she came to a stop and looked up at him, putting her hands on her hips and putting a disapproving look on her face. "I can't believe you did this, Harry," she said, "while I understand your need to be the best, and to come out of the shadow of your fame as the Boy-Who-Lived, this isn't the way to go about it!"
He could only mutter a helpless "What?" again, because he was at a complete loss as to how she'd come up with something like this so fast.
"I can't believe you, Harry!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air. "Why would you do something so completely asinine?!"
He had no idea what asinine meant, but it didn't sound nice. "Hermione, you don't understand –"
"Oh, I think I understand just fine, Harry! You lied to your friends for over a year, and now you're telling me to garner sympathy because you're in too deep! What'll Dumbledore think of this?" she asked him, building up a second round of steam.
"You can't tell him!" Harry hissed, the idea of Dumbledore – who'd allowed him into the mess without doing anything – of finding out about this was terrible. "You swore not to tell anyone! You have to trust me!"
"I don't know how to, anymore!" she protested in her high voice again, "you kept me in the dark about something as big as this, and now you won't let me tell the one person who can make sense of what happened to you?"
"I'm not a puzzle, Hermione!" he retorted, feeling his own anger start to stir, "I just can't be made sense of with some Q&A with the Headmaster, or be unravelled with logical thinking! And you swore an oath, on your magic!"
Hermione scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Magical oaths are a myth, Harry," she said, and he suddenly found himself hating her condescension. "I don't care about any silly fantastic promises, we need to talk to Dumbledore."
Harry opened his mouth in anger, but stopped short when Hermione's eyes glazed over suddenly. He stepped back in horror, looking around to see if someone had noticed; but everything around was deserted.
"Harry?" Hermione suddenly asked him frostily, and he replied with a "Yes?" even without thinking.
"What are you doing here? Come here to apologize?" she asked loftily, and his eyebrows shot into his head.
"For entering yourself into the Tournament without telling me!" she said, hints of anger showing in her eyes.
Harry sighed in exasperation. "Did none of our conversation just now register?" he asked. "I. Didn't. Enter. Myself!"
"What conversation?" asked Hermione, mystified.
He would later discover how foolhardy it was to ask for oaths so nonchalantly, when she just as easily could have been killed. It seemed Magical Oaths existed, and they didn't like it when they were broken.
As he read the section on Unbreakable Vows, though, he thanked the high heavens that the Magical Oath had only let her off with a mild memory modification.
That had led to a whole new set of questions about the depth of intent while making vows.
Hell, it led to a whole new set of questions about intent behind performing magic.
Harry Potter? Spoke the surprised voice of the Sorting Hat within his head. I don't remember the last time I sat on the head of the same student twice, let alone thrice. What seems to be the matter?
Harry only thought about everything that had transpired over the past few days, willing the Hat to understand.
Aah...said the Hat heavily. You find yourself at a crossroads again. On one hand, you are nervous about the fact that someone has entered your name into the Tournament, and may even be trying to kill you.
On the other hand, it continued, you wouldn't mind winning this, would you? It asked, almost crooning in his ear.
For a moment, a vision flashed before his eyes. The Triwizard Cup was in his hands, he was lifting it up to the crowd's roar of 'POTTER!'
Yes, said the Hat, sounding almost entertained. Ambition, the thirst to prove yourself...traits generally connected to the house of Slytherin, Mr. Potter, it said. My word remains the same. You would have done well in Slytherin.
Frustrated, Harry made to take the Hat off; he had no desire to listen to something he'd already heard before.
Wait! Said the Hat, and he paused. On the seventh floor corridor, Mr. Potter, there is a very special room. Walk thrice past the room with your problems at the forefront of your mind, and you may just find a way out of this mess.
There may be time yet to find the Snake within, Mr. Potter, the Hat told Harry as he pondered this latest piece of news. You should need it now, more than ever.
Why are you telling me this? Asked Harry.
I'm a hat, it said, once every year, I sit on the head of a student, judge them as best as I can, and then let go of their thoughts. And then I spend the rest of the year in solitude. As I said, no student has sought me ought for a second time, let alone a third.
And Mr. Potter, said the Hatas he made to take it off, though great things may be expected from you, what you really need is more...time.
And unbidden, another thought flashed through his mind; a memory concerning the very Headmaster whose office he was in. More time...
"Harry?" the boy wizard in question looked up from his ponderings to find that the Headmaster had finally graced him with his presence. "You must be curious as to why I have called you here?"
Even though Harry did nod gratefully when the old Headmaster, his eyes twinkling with amusement, told him that he could return to his office to speak to the Sorting Hat anytime he wished; he only listened with half a ear as Dumbledore engaged him in a conversation about his scar hurting over the summer.
He had a time-turner to steal.
Hermione had told him at the end of third year that she'd returned her Time-Turner to McGonagall, who would then have to return it to the Ministry of Magic since they were regulated object.
Would it still hurt to look? The wonderful room which the Hat had told him of – which had even identified itself as the Room of Requirement on a piece of paper when he'd asked – was unable to conjure Time-Turners, or even food, for that matter.
So it was four days after his name had emerged from the Goblet that he snuck his way into McGonagall's office at one-thirty in the night. His heart racing with the familiar thrill of breaking school rules, he pulled his wand out and began creeping about the place, opening drawers and looking in cupboards.
He struck gold in the third drawer under her desk – it was almost too easy to be true, but he'd had plenty of luck before; he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
As he cast a whispered Geminio on it, he decided to return every week to recast the spell so that it wouldn't fade away and give away his theft.
Deciding that he had no time to think about why McGonagall had kept it with her, or what would happen if she decided to use it sometime.
As much as he hated to make the overtly Gryffindor-ish statement, he'd deal with the storm when it came.
"Potter!" Harry jumped in shock, drawing his wand as he whirled around to face whoever had accosted him on his way back to the Room of Requirement from dinner.
He was feeling a bit disoriented; he couldn't even tell the date properly. He'd spent the last few hours-days-months? working in the Room, and he wasn't really thinking straight. He needed to go back and sleep for an entire day, since he was under no obligations to attend class as Triwizard Champion. In fact, he needed to sleep for several days, if he could risk it.
He sighed as he noticed Mad-Eye Moody stumping up to him. "Why haven't you been in my class recently, Potter?" growled the retired Auror, his good eye fixed on Harry while the other whizzed about eratically.
"I've been training for the Tournament, Sir," answered Harry honestly, and Moody nodded in approval, his face clearing slightly.
"So I take it you have a plan for Friday?" asked Moody, and Harry blanched slightly. While he'd been killing himself practising, he still didn't feel confident about taking on whatever the Tournament had in store for him in...in...
Moody must have misinterpreted the look on his face, because he roared, "Are you having me on, Potter! Six days to the task, and you're telling me that you don't know what it is?!"
Ah, it was Saturday. He had six normal days to go before he was forced into a Gladiator fight for the entertainment of the masses.
"I don't think I'm supposed to know, Sir," he replied, "it's going to be a test of our courage and thinking under stress."
Moody's eyes widened, before his face turned a shade of purple that would have made Uncle Vernon shed a tear or two in kinship. It seemed like the grizzled old man was struggling to speak, even though it was costing him to do so.
Moody gave up, finally. "Damned enchantments," he growled, "I can't tell you what it is, so on your own head be it. Make sure you know what you're doing."
He nodded, and began to move away, before Moody called to him again. "Potter!" he said, and Harry turned around, not wanting to talk to the deranged man at all.
"Sir?" he asked wearily, wishing for nothing more than to go back to the Room of Requirement and hit the sack.
"Walk with me," said Moody, his tone brooking no argument.
Harry complied wearily, only to find himself in Moody's office and facing a basin filled with a weird watery substance.
"A Pensieve," said Moody, by way of explanation. "It allows wizards and witches to review memories."
Harry was struck by the thought of Riddle's Diary from second year, and braced himself for the discomfort he was sure to feel within a few moments.
He was not disappointed though, and he felt an intense swooping in his stomach as Moody seized his head and dunked it into the Pensieve.
He was surprised, though, at what his Defense Professor had in store for him.
He was in Diagon Alley. The entire street was in chaos, with people screaming and shouting in joy, with many of them on their knees. Tears leaked down their faces, people randomly hugged each other, beer and ale were brought out on the street to the obviously public celebration.
His eyes widened as he caught snippets of the conversation, and Moody only nodded as Harry looked to him for confirmation, before motioning forward.
He turned to find a woman standing on an elevated platform, obviously drunk. She had exotic features, and was dressed in just a brassiere and a loincloth, he noticed. She tottered slightly as she held herself up to full height, holding a chalice in one hand, and a knife in the other. Surrounding her, a troupe of performers set up, placing huge drums before them.
Holding the knife up for all to see, the woman slit her hand open as the drums around her started beating with a thunderous sound, and she started swaying hypnotically. She let her one lifeblood seep into the chalice, before one of the drumbeaters healed her cut with a flick of his wand.
She handed the chalice down as she danced slightly to the tentative rhythm. Harry saw, with a horrifying thrill, that many wizards cast spells to make minor cuts on their arm and let droplets of blood fall into the chalice. He even heard some mutterings about Dark rituals, but nobody seemed to come forward to call her out on it. It seemed most of these wizards knew what was going on, and were rapidly explaining to those who didn't.
Finally, the chalice was passed back to her, and though many had bled into it, it was still only halfway filled. She held it close to her and started swaying in earnest to the beat of the drums.
The rythm picked up, and so did her speed and dancing, as she turned and twisted atop the table lithely. Perspiration coated her spinning body, as she almost became a blur, her movements still fluid and graceful like a coiling snake. Silence descended on the Alley, as more and more people sank to their knees, as if waiting for a giant crescendo.
He could almost feel the magic in the air through the memory as she came to a stop. He could almost see the tangible aura surrounding her, as she lifted the chalice into the air with an emphatic flourish.
"TO HARRY POTTER!" she screamed, and he was awed to find the crowd echoing her.
"TO HARRY POTTER!" they roared, and raised their arms up, their wands in their hands.
A second's pause - and then the blood in the chalice burst into fire. Blood red flames burned in the chalice before it changed colour to a glowing golden. Harry was reminded of the Goblet of Fire itself.
She raised the burning chalice, the golden light illuminating the fanatical look on her face. She looked around the crowd, her face proud and determined, before she screamed again, and the crowd followed suit.
He emerged from the Pensieve right then, thoroughly shaken by what he had just witnessed.
"What was that?" asked Harry, both nauseated and entranced at what he'd just seen.
"A rite of victory," said Moody, "performed by Druids after they won their battles. The woman was a Druid, and she was grateful enough for what happened that Halloween night, Potter. Their kind were looked upon as filth by Voldemort, though he had healthy respect for their power."
"What happened to the chalice?" Harry questioned again, still unable to shake the image of the dancing woman from his mind. "Why did they do that?"
Moody fixed him with an indecipherable look. "People went a bit stir-crazy when the War ended like that, Potter," he said, "I don't know why the hell you don't know about either the War or the gifts people gave you, but you have no idea what it was like at the height of the War. We were losing, we'd been losing for almost a decade, and people knew it. Your defeat of Voldemort was a Godsend for some of us, I personally know heathen wizards who even took up religion after the Dark Lord's fall."
Harry still couldn't wrap his head around the gravity of what he'd just seen, of what he was to these people. His mind started racing though, as he thought of what Moody had just said.
"Gifts from the people?" he asked, unsure of himself.
"Contact Gringotts," said Moody shortly, "but that's beside the point. This is what you are, Potter, and you can't run away from it. I've heard stories from the staff about your modesty, but I can see now that it's bordering on plain stupidity and teenage insecurity."
"You. Are. A. Hero." Growled Moody, "People expect you to win this thing, you cannot sit around and twiddle your thumbs. Former Champions have cheated their way through the Tournament, and yet here you are, with all your connections, doing squat!"
"I've been training –"
"I don't care about your childish attempts to teach yourself a spell or two, Potter!" roared Moody. "Did you know that the French ignored our pleas for help during the First War? Did you know that half of Bulgaria was on the side of You-Know-Who?! I will not have us losing out to those bastards, not even in this Tournament! You are a messiah to the people, and it is your duty to win this now that you've been entered!"
The Auror was breathing heavily now, and he took out his hip-flask, most likely to calm himself with a drink. Seeing that it was empty, he threw it against the floor in frustration, startling Harry.
"Out," he growled, and Harry started. The man had just showed him one of the single most disturbing yet moving things he'd seen in his life, and just about told him that he had to win the Tournament by hook and crook because of who he was...
And he was asking him to leave?
"OUT!" roared Moody again, now going for his wand.
A thoroughly confused yet somewhat inspired Harry Potter left the office rapidly, his mind still a jumbled mess as he pondered upon what he'd just seen.
He needed to write a letter to Gringotts fast.
Harry sat alone in his section of the tent, staring into the depths of his Chalice as if hypnotised by the flames. He'd written to the Goblins and found out that the reason behind the heaps of wealth in his Vault was the gratitude of the common people, who'd gifted him several other exotic items as well, according to them. Harry intended to take them up on their standing invitation to browse through his possessions as soon as he could.
He had personally asked after the chalice, though, and had it sent to him. It was a thing of beauty - simple yet brilliant, he'd decided. It didn't have any overt magical properties, though, but it always gave off a comforting warmth and calmed his mind immensely.
He also couldn't shake off the feeling that the smell of fresh soap and cookies that he got from it were the scents he remembered of his parents, and he swore to look into the matter as well.
Basking in the feeling of being loved, Harry stared at the mysterious note that he'd found waiting in his tent. He went over it again, looking at the three words written on it.
"Don't stop running."
And it was written in his handwriting.
If this meant what he thought he meant, then he'd found a way around the task, and survived enough into the future to go back in time and send himself a note. He knew that he was creating an infinite loop, but the concept of a time paradox was too intriguing.
A mild gong announced the arrival of the judges, and regretfully leaving the mystery of the note and the golden flames, he walked outside to the main area.
Bagman and Crouch had arrived with the rest of the heads, and he found his nervousness rising as he saw the silken pouch in Crouch's hand.
"Gather round," said Bagman jovially, as though they were convening at a favourite niece's birthday party. Harry nevertheless did so, standing at the end of the row, next to Fleur who wrinkled her nose at him.
Trying to ignore the subtle smell of daisies that she was giving off, Harry concentrated on what Bagman was saying.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, "for the First Task, you have to...capture a Golden Egg!"
The other champions only nodded – Krum granted – resignation on their faces. Bagman seemed a bit put out that they'd understood without the rest of his theatrical introduction, but Harry was still perplexed. He knew that the other Champions already knew of the Task, so he'd decided just throw a shitstorm their way and come out smelling of roses.
"What do you mean, capture a Golden Egg?" he asked, still puzzled.
The other three Champions turned to him, and his eyes narrowed dramatically. "Why aren't any of you surprised?!" he challenged them, "Did you know of this beforehand?!"
Krum, dealing with trash talk and tight situations throughout his career, was able to maintain a poker face. Fleur and Cedric, though, took a few seconds to rearrange their faces into unassuming ones.
That was time enough for Rita Skeeter and her photographer to pounce, immediately throwing about rapid fire questions about the integrity of the elder Champions. Krum, though visibly harried, maintained a stoic silence, but Cedric and Fleur stuttered their way through the firing squad's attack.
"Enough, enough!" shouted Bagman, and Harry was shocked to see an almost manic gleam in his eyes. "I daresay Mr. Potter will be feeling better soon. Right, that's enough, Rita...cheating's always been a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament," he finished, a wide grin back on his face.
"Which is why we took certain measures this year," said Crouch, a similar smile playing on his lips. "The true challengers in the task maintained the illusion of Dragons admirably, which is a given considering their affinity for anything to do with fire."
The looks on the faces of the three original Champions, along with Karkaroff and Madam Maxime when they realized that they'd been had, was priceless. Harry burst out laughing, ignoring the looks thrown his way, and wishing that he had a camera to capture the moment.
A flash reminded Harry that Skeeter had one, and he immediately decided to ask her for a copy, enemy or no enemy.
"B – but!" spluttered Karkaroff, twirling his goatee almost compulsively. "This is trickery –"
"It isn't trickery if they cheated in the first place, Igor," said Crouch, his voice suddenly stiff. "It seems our youngest champion was sadly the only one to maintain any semblance of honesty."
Skeeter's quill nearly blazed a trail of fire across her pad, it was writing so fast. For the first time, Harry felt like he'd have a good headline about him the day after.
"Now," said Bagman, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, "the real task is still to get a Golden Egg, but it will appear before you only when you successfully manage to Capture a Flag..."
"Guarded by Ifrits," finished Crouch, pulling open the silk bag. A fiery creature flew out on burning wings – its entire body was aflame. "The Arabic Cousins of the Djinn, and Higher Level Spirits of Fire."
Harry's good mood vanished as he beheld the devil like creature, which was also carrying a blazing whip of fire. He felt the icy sensation of raw fear in his stomach, and suddenly found himself wishing for his Chalice immensely.
"When the whistle blows," said Crouch, "you will all walk out to the lawns and take in your surroundings as best as you can. On the second whistle, the Ifrits will descend, and then you have to find your way to the Flag. Lowest time and no harm will result in a perfect score, irrespective of how you manage it. Points will be taken for shoddy spellwork, injuries, and for taking excess time. Any questions?"
"No?" he said, now leering again. "Good. And before I depart," he continued, "might I leave you with the little thought that cheaters never prosper?"
Despite everything, Harry couldn't help but snort at his words, resulting in ugly looks from the competition. Dumbledore's eyes merely twinkled.
The four Champions stood outside on the grassy lawn, and Harry was gratified to see that even he had a core group of supporters. Ron and Hermione had still decided to sit with the Hogwarts students, showing neither him nor Cedric favouritism, but merely watching the task.
He ignored the stab of anger he felt, and concentrated on memorizing his surroundings. Off in the distance, he could see the grinning devil-like creatures, brandishing their whips mockingly in their direction.
Fleur,he reasoned, could have an advantage in this Task thanks to her Veela heritage. The Beauxbatons Champion was still looking uncomfortably pale, though.
Harry stared at himself on the huge magical screens that had been set up in the area, one for each of the Champions. He wondered what the weaknesses of these creatures could be, and came up with the most obvious one – water.
Which meant that he had to get to the Black Lake.
When the second whistle blew, and the others took off in the same direction as him, he realized that they'd come to the same conclusion as him.
"-And they seem to be heading for the Lake together, to exploit the Ifrits' weakness!" Bagman had begun his commentary, but Harry tuned him out.
The four champions made their way down to the shore of the lake, and stopped short.
Right in the middle of the Lake, in a small island that was completely bare except for a few trees and shrubs, was the Golden Flag. A narrow neck of land, connected to the Forbidden Forest, joined it with the mainland.
They'd lingered too long, though, as a huge fireball struck in their midst, and they dived away from the openly laughing spirits. A rain of fire began upon them, and Harry had to hastily cast the Glacius charm to throw up a rudimentary shield of ice.
It began melting in moments though, in which time Viktor Krum had been able to get off a spell. His jet of water was intercepted by a wall of fire, and a burst of steam was the only indication that the attack had ever been made.
Harry's eyes widened in shock, and instinct took over. Reinforcing his shield, he took off running towards the Forest for cover. Since the only way to the island was through the Forest, he knew that there would be a trap set up for them; but he had no immediate option.
He angled his path and put on a burst of speed as a whiplash of fire struck to his left, charring the grass around it for a healthy few feet.
He nearly faltered when he saw that there was only the Black Lake before him now, before the note from the morning came back to him.
Throwing up a prayer to his future self, he closed his eyes, and kept running towards the vast stretch of water before him.
Harry suddenly felt a curious stinging sensation in the scar in his arm where the Basilisk had bitten him. Before he had time to think of it, though, a shiver raced up his spine, and he let out a near serpentine hiss of pleasure.
A second, baser instinct took over.
He'd run out of land, and he opened his eyes as he gave a flying leap. He bypassed earth and made his way over water. Everything slowed down to a snail's pace, and he was suddenly flying downwards towards the surface of the water at hyper-slow motion.
He instinctively kept his right foot completely perpendicular to the surface of the water, bracing for impact. His leg hit, a ripple of water exploded out in slow motion in all directions, and he could literally feel a pocket of air created beneath his foot, applying a reactionary force to his foot.
He angled himself forward, and pushed back with his foot, and then placed another foot, and then another...
Everything sped up almost comically, and Harry took off running so fast that his feet were a near invisible blur.
"LOOK AT THAT!" Bagman was roaring, "Will you look at that?! Our youngest champion is running on water, I wouldn't believe it unless I was seeing it for myself, ladies and gentlemen. This is magic you've never seen before, witches and wizards!"
Harry, meanwhile, was currently entertaining none of these thoughts. He was only wondering how the hell he'd managed this feat.
He had no time to think, though, as an Ifrit came out of nowhere towards him. He could sense its hestitation, though, and without missing a beat, he lifted his wand, and Banished a huge wave of water towards the Spirit.
The poor Ifrit was left with no time to react, a wall of steam almost blinded Harry as fire collided with water, and the defeated Ifrit was sent flying back. It crashed mightily into the water, before two of its kind descended to save it from certain death.
Harry stuttered a bit as his strength started giving out, his legs felt like they'd run miles instead of yards. His magic felt decidedly weaker, too, and a sense of dread filled him.
A final stutter, another, and another; and he'd broken through the wall of vapour before him and crashed spectacularly into the island. He rolled for a good few seconds before he skidded to a halt under a tree.
Pulling himself up, he almost staggered before righting himself. A smirk graced his face as he suddenly felt a shadow on his face and looked up to see the waving flag.
Standing taller now, he turned towards the bank, where Ifrit and Champion alike had paused momentarily to watch the first triumph of the Champions. The elder wizards and witch watched in desperation and humiliation, with burned cheeks and smoking clothes, as their aspirations of winning the task were pulled out from under their feet.
Harry planted his foot firmly around the ground, wrapped his hand around the stem of the Flag, and gave a mighty heave.
As soft loam gave way, and Harry lifted the flag into the air with a triumphant flourish and a huge grin on his face, the roar of the crowd almost sent ripples across the surface of the Black Lake.
And whispers, whispers began amongst the people anew...
About Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived.
Edit 25/5/13: Yes, I'm back. Before the tomatoes and rotten eggs are thrown my way, I confess that I lost interest in my story some time back, not least because I started getting heavy criticism and some negative reviews. But then I realized that those reviews were meant to help me, because I have not received a single flame so far, only constructive criticism. Everybody who left some, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I'll be the first to admit I cringed when I reread the story and realized how shallow it had become. I've already fixed parts of it, but kept some integral to the plot – yes, that means the infamous Time Turner thing is now out, so you may want to go and read that again. I haven't tweaked everything yet, but it's a start. Also, my characters are – hopefully – more complex, with several – again hopefully – sides to them. I can only hope this goes over well with you...if not, bring on more criticism. I can only get better with time and help, I guess. Sorry for holding out on you guys for so long.
Since it's my final year at school, I can't promise a regular schedule, but I'm not abandoning this. No way, not my very first fanfic idea ever.