Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise.
I know it will be late by the time you get this, but it's important. They chose the champions for the Triwizard Tournament tonight, and Harry is one of them. The problem is, I don't think he entered. I saw the look on his face when his name was called. He couldn't have done it anyway. No one else could figure out a way in, so how could he? People die in this tournament. There must be some way for him to get out of this thing, but I don't know how. I need your help.
Percy, I'm scared. Something's not right here. Things have been strange for a while now. I knew something like this would happen…I just had a feeling. Even if you can't come up with anything to help, send a letter to Ginny. I'll hear about it.
When Harry at last reached the portrait hole to the Gryffindor Common Room, his only thought was to fall asleep and forget any of this had ever happened. His legs still felt like they'd been hit with a Jelly-Legs jinx; Seamus and Dean had to haul him to his feet when his name had been called. But when he trooped into the Common Room, he found that the whole house had stayed up to wait for him. He blinked once, twice, unable to hide the dazed expression on his face. Instantly, half the Gryffindors surged forward to hug him and slap him on the back and shake his hand. Colin Creevey's camera was flashing at a rate previously thought to be impossible. A seventh year he didn't even know ruffled his hair. A second year girl asked for his autograph. Somewhere along the way, a Gryffindor banner had been draped around his shoulders.
A third year boy piped up. "How'd you do it?"
A hush fell over the assembled crowd. Harry took a moment to breathe before he answered. "I didn't," He said simply, shrugging.
Blank stares for half a second. Then a clamor rose up as everyone turned to their neighbor and wondered what exactly he meant by that. Harry could feel a headache coming on, but before he could attempt to explain, Angelina let out a shrill whistle.
She had climbed up on top of a couch, standing with her hands on her hips. "Everyone, shut up," She ordered. Then she turned to Harry, softening ever so slightly. "Harry, are you saying you didn't enter the tournament?"
"I didn't enter," He repeated, frustrated.
As if on cue, all of the Gryffindors turned to a corner with a picture of two lion cubs wrestling playfully. Sir Cadogan, who had become a semi-permanent fixture in the Gryffindor Common Room, lurked at the edge of the frame. "That's what I heard," He protested heartily. "McGonagall said the boy'll compete."
"I have to compete, but I didn't enter." Harry tugged hard on his fringe.
"We believe you," Alicia said soothingly, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Don't we?" Her stance grew vaguely threatening as she questioned the others, who all nodded quickly.
"So what happened?" Leann inquired.
Harry tumbled into a squashy chair by the fire and yawned. "I went in there, and…Crouch came in and said I had to compete…McGonagall asked if I entered, and I said no. I—I think she believed me—at least I hope she did. Burbage was there, too. She was crying, a little." That hadn't reassured him at all, of course. "Then Crouch said it didn't matter, because it was magically binding, so I had to compete. Moody thinks someone must've enchanted the goblet to think that there were four schools, and that's how my name was picked."
"But—but why?" Dennis Creevey whispered, his voice ringing out in the dead silence of the tower. "I thought people died in the tournament."
"Someone's trying to kill you," Romilda Vane surmised shrewdly.
Harry flushed, surprised that it had already been figured out. "It looks that way," He confessed finally.
"Well…" Parvati began slowly. "We're just going to have to make sure they fail, aren't we?" She smiled shakily and looked about for support. A surprising amount of younger years jumped up and nodded enthusiastically. Though some of the seventh years must've been put out over not being chosen, they too came around.
Soon everyone was murmuring back and forth over how, exactly, they should help Harry. Books were yanked out of bags; lists were written; money for supplies was pooled (though Harry quickly put a stop to that). Ginny began to talk of writing Percy for his advice. Alicia mentioned that her mother had some dueling experience. Cormac's father was apparently an expert at magical law. From the entrance to the room, a soft shuffling could be heard. Burbage had entered the tower at some point during their discussions and stood in the corner, beaming.
"Oh, don't mind me," She told them, wiping away something from the corner of her eye. "I'm just so…so happy!"
Seamus frowned for a minute. "What's there to be happy about?"
"It's just—seeing you all working together and…and trying and helping each other—it's all I've ever wanted for you!" She swiped away a few more tears, gratefully accepting a mug of hot chocolate from Fred ("Of course we paid the elves," he told Hermione indignantly. "Or tried to," George admitted later). She smiled proudly at all of them, at last setting down her mug to reach out and hug Harry.
"Everything's going to be alright," She whispered against his shoulder. "You'll see." Then she pulled away slowly to bring all their attention together. "Tomorrow's a Saturday, which means there isn't really a set time that you have to be up…" She trailed off deliberately.
"Sleepover!" Lee whooped, already taking the stairs two at a time to grab his pajamas.
Harry moved to follow, only to find his way blocked by his dorm mates, minus Ron.
"Why don't we get your stuff, Harry?" Dean offered, one foot on the stairs. "You must be tired after everything." Neville nodded nervously from next to him. Seamus leaned up against the banister, avoiding Harry's eyes.
Harry froze for a minute, suspicious. "What's going on? Where's Ron?" He added absentmindedly, scanning the Common Room for his closest friend. Neville squeaked loudly in response.
"Uh…" Seamus stalled.
"What our good old pal Finnegan means—" Fred grabbed Harry by his right arm and began pulling him back to the table set up with snacks.
"—is that our brother is being a bit of an idiot, right now." George seized Harry's other arm and helped his twin out.
"What do you mean?" Harry struggled slightly, but the twins continued to drag him. "What's going on with him?"
George shrugged, focusing on the fireplace. "Dunno, mate. He went up the stairs as soon as he got back."
Fred passed Harry a butterbeer and a Cauldron Cake. "You can talk to him tomorrow," He suggested.
"But why-?" Harry stopped as a thought occurred to him. "He can't seriously think that I entered, can he?" Despite his exhaustion, Harry felt fury well up in him. Ron was supposed to be his best friend! Why did everyone else in Gryffindor believe him, but Ron didn't? Harry tossed the Cauldron Cake aside and headed back for the stairs.
"Harry, don't!" Katie called, rushing over and grabbing his arm. "He just needs some time to think, he'll be okay tomorrow—"
"Will he?" Harry snapped, barely registering Katie's taken aback expression. He ran a hand through his hair, frustrated. "Never mind. If he doesn't believe me, then I don't need to talk to him." He turned on his heel and walked away, unconscious of the worried glances his friends shot him.
You told me to keep an eye on Potter, and that's what I'm doing. He's in the Triwizard Tournament now, and everyone's letting him, because he's Saint Potter. But I know he's not smart enough to get in on his own. I think it may be His doing. I've made friends with Krum in the hopes that I'll get to observe Potter more. I won't let you down, Father.
P.S. Theo says hello.
"I still can't believe Diggory got to be champion over you, Ange," Lee complained, throwing an arm around Angelina's shoulders. "You were obviously the better choice."
Angelina shrugged it off. If she was honest with herself, she felt like marching over to the Hufflepuff Common Room and decking Diggory right in the face. She'd hit him before; she could do it again. Her anger had momentarily faded when Harry's name had been called, but now that help was on the way, she'd gone back to brooding. It was incomprehensible that Diggory should be chosen as the one student who best represented Hogwarts! Even if it wasn't her, did it really have to be the person she despised most?
Perhaps that was a little harsh, she allowed. Adrian Pucey was a complete cad, and Marcus Flint thought hitting people with a Beater bat counted as subtle cheating. Still, Diggory was hardly any sort of Golden Boy. "What'd he say to you? Was he a prat?" She added, swiveling in her seat to fix Harry with a look.
He shook his head mulishly. "No. He didn't say much, but he wasn't mean. I don't think he believes I didn't put my name in, but he seemed like an alright bloke. Fleur Delacour was worse. She called me a little boy." Seamus, Dean, and Neville all gave him sympathetic looks.
Angelina rolled her eyes. Of course Harry was more concerned with a pretty girl dismissing him. Boys, honestly! "Just watch out for Diggory, okay? He's a charmer. He might appear nice and friendly, but he's a…a wolf in sheep's clothing!" She waved her arm to get her point across.
George sidled up to her, shoving Lee off the couch so he could sit. "Ange, don't you think you might be taking this one a touch too far? Not that I don't agree with you," He tacked on hastily at her murderous glare. "It's just that—yeah, he acted like a git, and I'm really glad you socked him right in the gut—but I'm not sure that he's the evil overlord you're making him out to be."
Angelina's nostrils flared. "You just wait, George Weasley." She hopped off the edge of the couch and faced him with her hands on her hips. "That's how it always starts. Guys start torturing ants or—or killing puppies, or being rude to girls, and the next thing you know, they're murdering psychopaths." She stormed away.
"Well, that was fun," George murmured under his breath.
Mrs. Petunia Dursley,
Normally, the Hogwarts staff would have students write their own letters to family members in such a situation, but Harry is feeling (naturally) overwhelmed, and requested that I write to inform you of the current circumstances. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the magical world, so I believe some background information is in order.
The Triwizard Tournament is an annual competition held between the three major European wizarding schools: the French Beauxbatons, the Eastern European Durmstrang, and Hogwarts. Each school chooses a champion to represent them in three distinct tasks. Each task is meant to test the champions' nerve, wit, and ability to perform under pressure, as well as their magical skill. Due to the challenging nature of the tasks, the tournament can be quite dangerous. It was ended many years ago, as the casualty rates were too high to justify holding it any longer. However, this year the tournament was brought back to Hogwarts.
Because of the danger, the tournament coordinators agreed that only students of age (17, in the wizarding world) would be allowed to compete. Several security measures were put in place to ensure that no one else could enter, but I'm afraid to say that these measures seem to have failed. I am writing to inform you that Harry Potter has been entered in the tournament.
I won't go into explicit detail on the magical law of such a thing, as I don't fully understand it myself, but: due to the magically binding nature of the contract, he is obligated to compete. I cannot apologize enough for this. I understand that you don't want to hear this, but Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic are truly sorry for what has happened. Although the staff is not allowed to help the champion, I can assure you that Harry will not go without assistance during the tournament.
I won't lie to you. This tournament is intended for the best and the brightest. Harry is certainly not stupid, and he is very powerful for his age, but he will compete against students three years older than him. The chances of him surviving this ordeal are…extremely low, to say the least, even with all of the modifications we've made.
What Harry needs most right now—above all else, is the support of those around him. He hasn't gone into details with me, but I understand that your relationship is still fragile. That being said, he needs to know that there are people there for him, and I think you would help him greatly, if only in moral support. I apologize again for bearing such terrible news. There is truly nothing I can say to make things better.
Gryffindor Head of House
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry
Dudley poked at his egg-white omelet sadly. He'd thought that after a few weeks of this, his mother would give up, but his diet continued. Harry had offered to give him some wizard sweets, but Dudley had been too terrified of ending up with another pig's tail to say yes. He regretted that decision now; surely magic sweets couldn't be too bad? But his cousin was off at school now, so Dudley's only chance to contact him was if Harry wrote a letter first and sent his pet owl. And wasn't that a strange sentence?
His father had already left for some overtime ten minutes earlier. His mother scrubbed at a plate in the sink.
"Hey, Mum?" He called out, keeping his tone light.
"Yes, Duddykins?" She replied, taking a break from the dishes.
"Can you get a letter to Harry's school without one of those birds?" He asked, scraping a bit of the omelet into his mouth. To his surprise, it wasn't that bad. Maybe his mother had gotten better at cooking?
She looked down at the ground. "I…I don't know, dear. I haven't tried." She picked the plate back up and continued to clean.
Dudley didn't understand how his mother couldn't know. "Didn't you ever write a letter to your sister before she wrote you one?"
Mum slammed the plate back down in the sink with a clatter, her shoulders shaking. "No, Dudley, I didn't!" She snapped. She flung the rag into the sink and left the room without another word.
Dudley stayed seated at the table, stunned. His mother didn't call him Dudley! He poked the omelet again, unsure what it meant. He didn't think she would come back any time soon, so maybe he could look through the cupboards and find where she kept the biscuits now. He stood, deciding to check the china cabinet first, when he spotted something through the window. Perched on the windowsill was Harry's owl.
"Mum!" He shouted, walking over and letting it in. As usual, the bird glared slightly at him and flew in, resting briefly on top of his head. It kind of hurt, and he had a sneaking suspicion that was why the bird did it. "Mum! It's got a letter for you!"
"What?" Mum entered the kitchen, saw the bird, and took a step back. "I see. Duddy-dear, give Hedwig some of your omelet. I'll make you another one." She gently took the envelope from the snowy white owl, as though worried it would explode at any moment. Hedwig eagerly darted towards the plate, and Dudley let her. He certainly didn't want to get in the way of the thing's food.
Instead, he opened the fridge, searching for something edible. When his mother was done, he would sneak in a request for chocolate with her letter to Harry, but for now, he pulled out a small container of yogurt. It was supposed to taste like chocolate. That was almost the same, right?
His mother let out a tiny gasp. Without turning to look, he put the yogurt back with a sigh. Even chocolate flavored things were out of the question, apparently. But when he reached for an apple instead, his mother made a choking noise.
"Mum?" He turned just in time to see her stagger and brace herself against the table. "Mum!" He grabbed her arm and tried to hoist her up, but she shoved him off.
"Get out," she whispered weakly. Confused, he made to leave, but then she slammed her hand down on the table by his plate. "Get out!" She screamed at the bird.
Hedwig jumped and stared indignantly at his mother.
Mum swatted the air near Hedwig. "Shoo! Go!" As the owl fluttered near the window, she shouted, "And I don't want to see you back here ever again!"
"Mum!" Dudley whined. "I was going to ask Harry for one of those Chocolate Frogs he told me about!"
"No," She snarled at him. He looked at her and reared back in shock. His mother was shaking, with one hand placed over her mouth. Her face crumpled as though she was going to cry. "No, Dudley," She repeated more strongly. "I was right before."
"Magic destroys everything it touches."
When Percy received Ron's letter, he had been working late. Really late. In fact, he was the only person at the Ministry, not counting the guards and the janitors. Crouch had assigned him an impossible amount of work for the week, and this was Percy's one last push to get it all done. His body protested strongly at the long nights and early mornings, but he needed to keep going. That promotion was in sight; yesterday, Crouch had actually remembered his real name!
But Percy's ambition was placed aside when he read the letter his youngest brother had sent him. It should've been impossible, but Percy couldn't honestly say he was surprised that Harry had gotten into a tournament only available for adult wizards. He just couldn't figure out how. He didn't believe for a second that Harry had entered himself, but no one should've been able to put his name in the Goblet. The Ministry had designed the security protocol themselves, after all.
As he pondered what to do, the door swung open. Crouch stepped through, looking haggard and slightly unnerved. He strode to his desk and pulled open a drawer, rifling through it impatiently.
Percy cleared his throat.
Crouch jumped and glanced up. "Weatherby! Finish those reports?" He demanded, pushing the drawer back in hastily. Something told Percy his boss wasn't there on official business.
"Yes, sir, they're right there on your desk." Percy stood and pulled his coat on.
"Good, good," Crouch murmured. "Doing an excellent job, Weatherby. Who knows where it will take you, this drive of yours?" Crouch scooped up the reports and shoved them in his bag.
"Sir?" Percy began.
"Mmm?" Crouch replied absentmindedly, already halfway to the door.
"Is it true that Harry Potter's in the Triwizard Tournament?" He asked tentatively. He couldn't get in too much trouble for asking a simple question. Worst case scenario, Crouch reprimanded him for believing in foolish gossip and sent him on his way.
Instead, Crouch's eyes narrowed and his smile turned brittle. "News travels fast, I see. The champions will be announced officially tomorrow, of course, but…yes, Harry Potter is one of them."
Percy swallowed hard. "Oh." The room grew uncomfortably hot as Crouch studied him closely. Percy remembered the Basilisk and steeled himself. If he could be Petrified, he could handle a frightening boss. "Does this mean there are four champions, then, sir?"
Crouch set his bag down on the floor and took a step towards Percy. "Yes, Weatherby, I suppose it does. It wouldn't be right to kick out the Hogwarts champion so that Potter can have a place." He smiled without showing his teeth and adjusted his hat. "How did you find out so quickly about this whole affair, if you don't mind my asking?"
Percy met Crouch's dark, bottomless eyes with his own. "My brother wrote me. He and Harry are friends." The explanation, despite its truth, sounded weak to Percy's ears.
Crouch quirked an eyebrow. "Not one of those brothers that made a bet with Ludo? Because I must say, and I do hope you'll forgive me, but they don't seem the most sensible sort." He chuckled humorlessly and picked up his bag again, once more making his way to the exit. "If that's all—"
"Actually, sir," Percy interrupted, following after his boss, "I did have another question."
Crouch sighed. "Out with it, then."
Percy gathered his Gryffindor courage. "If Harry's only fourteen, and the rules clearly state that each champion must be seventeen to enter, then how can he be expected to compete?"
Crouch gave a none-too-subtle yawn. "If you could wait until tomorrow, you'd read the explanation I already gave to the Prophet, but I can see you want answers now. The Goblet of Fire is an ancient and powerful magical object. Each name entered in the Goblet is subject to a magical contract. The Ministry made the rules, but magic has its own set to follow." Crouch left the room, signaling the end of the conversation, but Percy wasn't so easily dissuaded.
He followed Crouch into the lift, grabbing onto the handle. "But, sir, shouldn't Harry be given the chance to withdraw?"
Crouch frowned at his new tagalong. "Potter certainly may withdraw if he so chooses, but he must also withdraw from our world and live out the rest of his days as a muggle."
Percy nearly dropped his bag in shock. "But—but sir! If Harry didn't put his name in, how can-?"
The lift jolted to a halt, and Crouch eagerly stepped out. "Young man, the only one saying Potter didn't enter himself is Potter. We can hardly just take his word for it, can we? Besides, even if he truly didn't enter, there's nothing we can do." He tipped his hat to Percy and crossed the atrium.
"Sir!" Percy continued after him, almost running to catch up. "If the Goblet is so ancient, maybe there's some law you've forgotten about. If we just have a little time to search through the archives, we could find a way to get Harry out of this mess!" Percy saw Crouch begin to shake his head and finished frantically, "Sir, isn't it possible you've just made a-a mistake?"
Crouch drew himself up to his full height and gazed steadfastly at Percy. He was no longer smiling. "Weasley. I have already given a statement to the Daily Prophet. As the Ministry representative, I have formally announced that the boy is to compete. As far as the Ministry is concerned, there is no way out for him. And the Ministry knows what they're doing. Are we clear?" Crouch's face remained still.
Percy felt the blood in his veins turn to ice. "We're clear, sir."
"Good." Crouch tossed a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace before turning back. "Oh, and Weatherby? I'll be busy with the tournament, so get ready for some more overtime." With that, he stepped into the flames.
"This is completely outrageous!" Minerva pushed her chair back from her desk and stood.
"I agree," Karkaroff snapped, standing as well. "You cannot possibly tell me that Hogwarts will be granted two champions!" His fancy fur robe had been discarded already in his anger.
Minerva wheeled about to face him. "Excuse me, Igor? I am not the one insisting that a child be allowed to participate in the tournament!" She crossed the room to stand directly in front of him.
In the corner of her office, Ludo Bagman twittered anxiously. "Now, now, let's not get too heated," He chuckled and pushed his way between the two heads.
"No, I agree wiz' 'zee ozzers." Maxime folded her large arms across her chest and loomed imposingly over the rest of them. "'Ogwarts 'as a big advantage now, and I will not stand for eet."
Bagman sputtered. "Well, I'm terribly sorry, Madame, but you all heard Barty! The Goblet has spoken. The four names chosen are the four champions, there's nothing else to it." His face turned pink and he fanned himself with his hand.
"Bah!" Maxime sat in Karkaroff's recently vacated chair. "'Zis is nonsense! Why is it only zee British Ministry is involved, hmm? I zhink if we were to ask for a second opinion on such a zhing, zhen we would 'ear somezhing very deeferent, no?" Her massive hand reached up and stroked the brooch she wore. She leaned back in the chair, apparently not noticing the ominous creaking noise. Minerva cringed; there was a reason Hagrid never sat in her office.
Bagman swelled up slightly. "Now, listen here, Madame, if you're implying that we've—we've come to try and trick you—"
"Yes!" Karkaroff seized upon this. "Yes, this is it exactly. A plot, a conspiracy, to make the rest of us look like fools and—and make Hogwarts the best wizarding school! Your corrupt Ministry has come up with this entire farce, but I will not allow it." Karkaroff breathed heavily, briefly resembling a caged animal.
One of the headmasters' portraits muttered quietly, "But Hogwarts is the best."
Maxime gasped in shock. "You…you dare? Zhis proves it! I 'ave come 'ere, in zhe spirit of cooperation, and I am treated like zhis. I see that zhis is all a desperate attempt for 'Ogwarts to recapture its former glory."
Minerva could have hexed her. "Hogwarts is still a prestigious magical institution, and, I will remind you, your host for the rest of this school year. We have no need to prove anything to anyone!" She countered angrily.
Karkaroff's eyes glittered dangerously. "Oh no? Then tell me, why are we not allowed to pick two more champions, one for each of us?" He gestured to Maxime, who gave a sharp nod. "Why is Hogwarts allowed two? Your chances of winning have now doubled!"
Minerva had had enough. "I think you've forgotten, Igor, that one of our champions is only fourteen! He will die in this wretched tournament, unless we change the tasks—"
"Change zhe tasks!" Maxime squawked. "I see. I see what zhis is! You zhink your champions will not survive, and so you will make eet easier for zhem to win. Are zhe students at 'Ogwarts not taught well enough to handle zhese challenges?"
Minerva lost her cool. "Are you all mad? You cannot expect this boy to fight dragons. Dragons! For an adult it's dangerous, but for Potter, it's practically suicide!"
Karkaroff laughed harshly. "Well, perhaps Potter should've thought of that before entering."
Minerva strode forwards. "He did not enter." She came close enough to see his very yellow teeth as he sneered in her face.
"Perhaps not, Headmistress McGonagall. I'm sure it must've been another Hogwarts staff member. But no matter who put his name in, he is now a champion, just like the others. And he will compete in these tasks, just like the others." He picked up his coat and left. Maxime gathered up her things and followed him out the door without a word.
Minerva's shoulders dropped. She sat back down at her desk, resting her head in her hands. "Well, Ludo? I suppose there's nothing you can do?" She couldn't stop the sarcasm.
Bagman bowed his hat slightly. He looked ridiculous in a getup entirely too small for him. "I'm sorry Minerva, but the arrangements were made months ago." He took his cloak and scurried out.
Minerva reclined in her chair briefly, before reaching for a bottle of scotch and a glass. So, they were breaking the rules by allowing someone underage to compete. If that rule could be outright broken, she thought, what was to stop a few others from being bent?
I know it is late, and you are a busy man, but I have nowhere else to turn. Everyone knows of your great skill in magic and knowledge in even the most obscure of laws (and I truly am not trying to flatter). I find myself, or rather, a friend, in a great deal of trouble. I prefer not to go into specifics at the moment. I expect by this time tomorrow, you will already know to what I am referring. Please, sir, you more than anyone would know the risks of such a thing. I cannot allow this to happen, but the Ministry doesn't seem willing to budge. Surely someone with your influence could pull a few strings? I know that you are not all-powerful, but any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
I eagerly await your reply.