Chapter Thirteen: The End of Childhood

Earth 7/Beta

26 November, 1994

Veela Portable Embassy

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

Harry stood looking out the window of his room thinking about everything that had happened in the last two days. The aftermath of the first task had been hard to deal with, harder still to come to terms with. The death toll was almost too much to bare when the final numbers were released just this morning. Besides Cedric Digory, eighty-three spectators including three Hogwarts students, and seven Aurors who had been stationed in the stands, were dead because one man had tried to play god. The investigation of the remaining stands after the dragon's rampage revealed runic arrays under every seat in the arena. When they checked the runes it was clear the array was designed to hold the spectators in their seats and place a compulsion on them to not think about standing up or running away. There was more to the runes, but a registered ICW Rune Master confirmed it was a poorly designed runic array almost guarantied to fail. She also confirmed the runes were powered by Albus Dumbledore, who was now sitting in a Ministry of Magic holding cell until a preliminary hearing could be held today.

Harry thought Ludo Bagman should be in the cell next to Dumbledore for his part in Cedric's death, but the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had instead released him with a heavy fine. That didn't mean the man wasn't running for his life. Amos Digory, Cedric's father, had sworn a Magical Blood Oath that he would see Bagman dead for the death of his son. The moment Bagman hear that, he packed his things and vanished. Rumor had it the Goblins were also out for Bagman's head, seeing as how the man owed them a considerable amount of money they were unlikely to ever see now that he had lost his job with the Ministry and was on the run. Harry couldn't help but wish both sides luck, hoping Ludo paid most heavily for his stupidity.

Plans had already been made to finish the last two tasks as soon as possible. The original tasks, which Dumbledore had created for the tournament, were scrapped and replaced with two sets of duels to determine the winner. As it turned out, nowhere in the rules of the tournament was there any mention of what type of tasks must be completed, only that the Goblet be invoked to create wards around the area and each competitor must cross the wards before it was declared complete. That had been the cause of Cedric's death, the fact the young Hufflepuff never crossed the ward and thus the Goblet thought he had reneged on his part of the contract with it. There was also an element of time involved, the tasks must all take place within a set amount of time, namely that of one lunar year, else the contract be violated. So, they would compete two more times under highly controlled circumstances before the tournament would be declared complete and then the Goblet would be destroyed to prevent something like this ever happening again. The destruction of the Goblet had been demanded by the French and Bulgarian Ministries, though the British Ministry was reluctant to agree.

Harry didn't really care about the details, he was more focused on other news that had reached his ears the night before. Evidently there had been an incident in London where a magical extremist group had attacked Diagon Alley. Their stated intent was to draw out the "abominations" that had saved the jet airliner and kill them for their "transgressions against magic." Nineteen people had died, including seven of the terrorists, before the Aurors had stopped them, but it reinforced Harry's belief that he had to keep his powers hidden from the magical world. He dreaded the thought of what would happen if anyone in the magical world figured out he was gifted with more power than just the ability to use magic.

The political atmosphere was also getting murkier by the day. If Neville's reports were right, the American government had two magical agents investigating the jet rescue now. One of the agents had been figured out rather quickly, seeing as how the fool had used the alias of Magnus Richard Head. Calling oneself "Big Dick Head" was probably not the wisest of things to do when trying to keep a low profile. Unfortunately no one had figured out who the other agent was, other than it was a female. Kara suggested they look for any women entering the country over the last few days with names that suggested parts of the female anatomy. So far that had turned up fifty-three names including Harry's favorite, Petma Kitty Rough, a woman in her late sixties who had been a stripper in her youth and kept her stage name.


Harry turned from the window to find Sirius standing in the doorway behind him. "What's up, Sirius?"

Sirius walked in and sat on the edge of Harry's bed, looking tired. "Just got the news, Dumbledore was found not guilty on account of mental instability. A nice way of saying he's bat shit crazy."

Harry scoffed, taking a seat at his desk and turning to look at his godfather. "Well, we knew that already. So, he's going to be set free?"

"No, it's a lot worse than we ever suspected," explained the older man. "Dumbledore rambled on about how he was the only hope for the magical world, but only if they handed you over to him. He then told the whole court the prophecy regarding you, not to mention claiming you were 'falling to darkness' because of me and Kara."

"Bastard," growled Harry.

Holding up a hand to stop Harry, Sirius continued. "Seems Dumbledore then went on to explain, without ever being asked, how he had blackballed you from every magical school interested in you. How he had done the same to Kara along with his continued attempts to forcefully take custody of you. It also came out that he had cast numerous compulsions on the Dursley family to abuse you in an attempt to make you see him as your savior when brought to Hogwarts."

"He wanted me to be abused?"

"Yes, he did," replied Sirius with a nod of his head. "Seems he also had plans in place to usurp your control of the Potter family, along with several branch families that were absorbed by the Potters, some of which we didn't know about previously." Sirius paused, wiping a slightly shaking hand across his face. "He had even gone so far as to have several people killed, to insure their families fell under your control. Evidence found in his office revealed he had written up a Last Will and Testament for you to sign that would have turned everything over to him. No one knows what he planned on doing with it all, seeing as he has no children, nor does his brother."

"So long as he had control of it, I don't think he cared about it after the fact," stated Harry, feeling his anger building inside him.

"Most likely," agreed Sirius. "Dumbledore also admitted to setting the runic arrays on all the seats in the stadium. Seems he wanted Kara dead, along with a random selection of spectators, in order to make you more tractable to his way of thinking. Two experts from the ICW confirmed the arrays were poorly designed and had all activated rather than the random selection he had intended. It was horrifying to listen as Dumbledore ranted about how some had to die in order for the 'Greater Good' to be achieved."

"So, he admitted to his guilt?" asked Harry, looking puzzled. "If that's the case, why was he found not guilty?"

"Because the old bastard is nuttier than squirrel shit," barked Sirius. "When they started talking about a possible sentence he stood up and called for his familiar, Fawkes the Phoenix. Nothing happened, but he seemed to think it had. Old nutter reached up into the air like he was holding on to something, then started walking away from the Wizengamot. It was obvious he thought no one could see or hear him, mostly because he started talking to himself. The whole court heard him as he started talking to himself about how he was free now and they couldn't touch him. Aurors blocked his path, but Dumbledore acted as if he couldn't see them, claiming it must be some new type of ward that worked against Phoenix travel. When they wouldn't move from his path, he started throwing a tantrum like a child, wailing and kicking on the floor until someone stunned him."

"Damn!" exclaimed Harry. "They sure he wasn't acting?"

Sirius nodded again. "They called in a mind healer and dosed Dumbledore with Veritaserum. The healer confirmed Dumbledore was out of his bloody mind, had been for a long time. Seems his familiar left him several years back, but Dumbledore was convinced it was still there and had been talking to an empty perch for years. Not to mention numerous other indications he had lost the plot, but he managed to keep it all hidden thanks to calming draughts and various other potions he was taking regularly." Sirius paused again, looking up at Harry with a sad grin. "He's addicted to most of them now and the healer thinks it unlikely he'll survive the withdrawal."

"Fuck me," groaned Harry, standing up and walking back to the window. "I wanted him out of our lives, not dead. He's been a bastard to us for years, but if he really is insane then I can't help feeling sorry for the old fart."

Sirius nodded, standing to join Harry at the window. "I know. I've wished a lot of misfortune on that man over the years, but dying like that was never one of them."

It was several hours later when the next bit of bad news was delivered. Supporters of Dumbledore had snuck into St. Mungo's where the deranged former Headmaster was being kept. The group of elderly witches and wizards had managed to make good Dumbledore's escape. Harry couldn't say he was surprised by the news, but what the group intended to do now with the insane old man was a question he wasn't sure he wanted the answer to. Thankfully Kara had found him by the lake and the two of them were happily trying to distract one another from the harsh reality outside the school gates.

"Do you think he'll come after you again?" she asked, curled up into his side with her head resting on his chest.

"I'm sure he will," Harry said with a frown. "He's as bad as Voldemort ever was, probably just as crazy. I'm more worried about what he has in mind for you, than for me. He seems to think you and Sirius are bad influences on me and we know he wants you dead."

Kara shuddered in his arms when he said that. "He caused the deaths of all those people, just to kill me. If it wasn't for Luna, I would have been killed."

"Maybe, maybe not," countered Harry as he wrapped his arms around her tighter. "We don't know if the dragon's fire would have even harmed you, but you're right, we owe Luna for making sure we never had to find out."

"Harry?" she suddenly asked, lifting her head to look him in the eyes. "You remember what Angelique said about multiple loves?"

"Yeah, I remember."

"What about Luna?"

"What about her?" he asked, looking at her with a crooked grin. "She's great, don't get me wrong, but I love you. Besides, I talked with Angelique about that and 'loves' can mean a lot of things to a Veela. Like the love of a family, of friends, or even the family pet. It doesn't have to mean loves as in lovers. Hippolyta says there are numerous levels of loves, but only the ones closest to you can truly become more than just friends, family, or sexual partners."

"So, you're not going to have multiple girlfriends?"

"Nah, not my style," he said in reply. "Luna's great, but can you actually see us in a relationship with her? Not to mention the fact she's got her eyes set on someone other than me."

Kara perked up at that, moving to straddle Harry and pin him down. "Who? Tell me!"

He laughed, leaning up to kiss her on the nose before laying back down. "I think she has a thing for redheads."


"God forbid," he snorted. "Fred and George. I saw her flirting with the two of them last night. Never thought I would see anyone blush as hard as those two when she asked them if they were, 'completely identical?'"

"Mister Potter, Sir?"

Harry looked up and got a rather nice view up the battle kilt of one of the Veela guards. Blushing, he turned his head before sitting up with Kara giggling in his arms. "Could have warned me," he whispered in her ear. "Damn Veela and Scotsmen."

"Can you think of a better distraction in battle?" asked the guard with a smirk having heard what he said. "It works on you when you spar with Clan Leader Hippolyta, does it not?"

"Please, don't remind me," Harry said with a blush covering his face. "Not only is she ruthless in a fight, but she's shameless as well. I can barely beat her as it is, but when she starts flashing me…"

"Exactly the point of it, Sir," replied the Veela with a smirk. "You use every weapon you have in a fight. Be it sword or skin, for us it is a weapon. Now, if you are done blushing, Clan Leader Hippolyta is ready for your daily spar, Sir."

"Oh yeah, like that's going to get me to stop blushing," grumbled Harry as the two women giggled at his discomfort.

After standing to allow Harry to get off the ground, Kara kissed her boyfriend on the cheek before watching him head to where Hippolyta awaited him. "He downplayed what they told him, didn't he?" she asked the Veela guard.

"Somewhat," agreed the guard. "He is right, Veela do see relationships in that fashion, but we also have a different view on intimacy. It is not uncommon for us to be in a relationship with multiple partners, even after marriage, though we are always open and honest about it. It can make it difficult for us to find suitable mates, most human males do not understand that our magic calls out for intimacy with those we love."

"Even family members?"

"Not as much," explained the Veela with a shake of her head. "Blood relations we tend to just be more, well, cuddly with. More hugs and kisses, but never intercourse. What good is reproducing with a father or brother, it brings nothing new to the possible child, just weakness. Every Veela knows this instinctually, just as we know instinctually who would be the best possible candidate to mate with for the sake of a strong child."

Kara nodded, understanding that, but having one more question. "So, I'm guessing you all know Harry would be the best possible mate?"

"Above all others we have ever met, Harry Potter would make beautiful and strong children," agreed the now blushing Veela. "None of us will try anything with him, out of respect for him and you."

Kara nodded, turning back to look at the lake with a sad smile. "Now I know the price."

Earth 7/Beta

26 November, 1994

Herbology Greenhouse #3

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

Neville was replanting several Mandrakes into larger pots as a means of distracting himself from the recent events. He had been caught off guard when the dragon attacked the crowd having left his battle suit in the hidden compartment of his trunk. As such he was forced to watch as innocents died, all the while being trapped in his seat by a trap he felt he should have known about. Bruce, his suit's AI had told him it wasn't his fault, but Neville knew better. He knew if he was a better Batman lives could have been saved that had otherwise been lost.

Hermione had told him the same thing, even though she was dealign with her own guilt over the events of the task. She was just as torn up about it as he was, but admitted there was little they could have done with so many people watching. They were all aware that the magical and non-magical governments were looking for them after the rescue of the crippled airliner, but that didn't stop him from feeling he had failed the dead. This was twice he had failed to save innocent lives, Ginny Weasley being the first. Both times he had known something was wrong and yet both times he felt he had failed when the time came.

"I have to be better," he grunted, slamming a fist down on the workbench and knocking an empty pot over on the floor where it shattered. "I need to train harder so this never happens again!"

Earth 7/Beta

26 November, 1994


Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

Ronald Weasley was doing what he always did when he was depressed, he was eating. Sure, he was always eating to try and keep up with his freakishly fast metabolism, but when he was depressed it was a horrific sight to see. The remains of sixteen full meals sat around him with the seventeenth in front of him. It was the only way he knew to smoother the feelings of guilt he felt at not being able to do anything when the dragon attacked the stands.

Fred and George had felt the same way, but both accepted they had been restrained and unable to stand when the runic arrays under the seats activated. The two of them were devastated by the events, but seemed determined to make sure it never happened again. To that end the both of them were working on special armor to wear under their clothing, intended to make sure no one could ever stop them like that again. Ron wished he could help them, but inventing things had never been his strong suit. Sure, he was smarter than his grades might indicate, but he had never had the desire to fully apply his mind except in chess or quidditch.

"Can't even play quidditch," he groused, stuffing another spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth and swallowing. "Bloody reflexes are too fast not to draw attention, even if the brooms could keep up with me."

The three Weasley boys had discovered after receiving their gift of speed that any broom they rode on would destroy itself within minutes of mounting them. It had forced the three to give up playing the sport they all loved so much, at least until they could find a way to keep their brooms intact. Another reason Ron wished he was just a normal kid again, without having to worry about starving in the summer or accidentally hurting someone if he moved to fast.

"Finally, I have something that makes me stand out from most of my brothers, but I can't do a damned thing when it matters," he growled, stuffing more food in his mouth. "Can't even save the girl I like."

Lavender Brown, a Gryffindor girl in his year Ron had been crushing on for a while now had been one of the three students killed in the dragon attack. She and her friend Pavarti Patil, along with their friend Sally-Anne Perks, had been the only three students sitting in the stands the dragon attacked first. The three girls had died instantly, having been sitting in the front row, but thanks to Ron's incredible reflexes he had turned his head to them just in time to see their faces before the flames reached them. All three had looked beyond terrified as the flames washed over them and Ron doubted the nightmares the memory caused would ever go away.

Ignoring the tears that were now running down his face and falling onto his food, Ron stuffed a large chuck of roast beef in his mouth, tearing at it savagely. "Meats a bit salty."

Earth 7/Beta

26 November, 1994

Fourth Year Girl's Dormitory, Gryffindor Tower

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

Hermione Granger was finished packing the last of her things in her trunk, trying not the look at the three other empty beds in the room. All of her roommates had died when the dragon attacked during the first task of the tournament and Professor McGonagall had approved her use of the Gryffindor Head Girl suite for the rest of the year. Hermione was grateful for that, not wanting to be constantly reminded that the three girls she had shared a room with for the last three years were now dead. That thought alone had nearly driven her to resign from the school and seek her education elsewhere, but McGonagall had a solution.

Not that Hermione wasn't planning to leave as soon as possible anyway. She had already been talking with the Headmistress D'Angelo about possibly transferring schools for the following year, but that was still up in the air right now. Luna hinted she was interested in it as well, though truth be told she and Luna could probably both take their OWLs and NEWTs tomorrow and pass them with flying colors. No, the truth was Hermione didn't feel she was ready to grow up, even if she did look the part. She just wanted a year where things didn't go horribly wrong, she had already lost too many people she knew to Hogwarts and Hermione wanted out before the trend continued.

There was also the issue of training. Since meeting Harry Potter and Kara Black, Hermione had been introduced to an entirely new world. In Harry's world Hermione could be something more than just a bookworm with a sexy secret and deadly right hook. No, in that world she could be so much more than what she currently was, especially if she continued to train with Clan Leader Hippolyta and her Veela. Already the Clan Leader had taught her so much about her abilities, to the point Hermione found herself wishing she could live with them forever. It had to be better than living at home with parents that barely noticed her, let alone tolerated her. Maybe with a new start she could learn to be better and wouldn't fail to save the lives of her friends the next time.

"I can't let this happen again," she moaned, falling to her knees and collapsing on top of her trunk in tears.

26 November, 1994

Astronomy Tower

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

"We failed."

"We were powerless."

"This cannot happen again."

"This will not happen again."

"The suits are nearly ready."

"Only a view last things to tidy up."

"We will protect those in need."

"We will not fail again."

With that, Fred and George Weasley vanished from the tower in a burst of speed. The two pranksters returning to their private workshop located in an abandoned classroom. They would not bee seen for the rest of the day, finishing three sets of dragon hide armor for themselves and Ron. The armor would be considered a masterpiece by experienced leather workers, that is if they ever were to find out about them. Not that the twins would ever let that happen. No, they would guard their secrets religiously till their dying day. Both agreed, better they die than another innocent, that was their sworn oath to each other and they would not break it.

26 November, 1994

Forbidden Forrest

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

"Could we have stopped it, Bert?"

The glowing green orb of light floating around her head seemed to shake back and forth before answering. "You had less than a second to react and even then you barely managed to get a shield up in time to protect yourself. You did what you could in the time you had."

Luna nodded, not liking the answer, but she understood the truth in what Bert had said. "We need to train more, don't we?"

"Affirmative, Luna," agreed the energy construct. "Your current plan of action will allow for that along with placing you in a more stable environment."

Again the blonde nodded, not happy with the situation but knowing it was for the best. "I've already forged daddy's signature on the transfer paperwork and Headmaster D'Angelo says I can start classes with Harry and Kara after the Yule break."

"You still need to talk to Mr Black about assuming guardianship over you," added Bert, slowly floating around her head as he spoke.

"I'll do that during the holiday," she replied with a sad smile. "Daddy signed the paperwork already, I think he'll be happier now that he doesn't have to worry about me any longer. I'll still miss him, but it's time to grow up and get prepared. We have so much to do and so little time."

26 November, 1994

Unknown Location

Albus Dumbledore sat in a rather dirty and dusty replica of his office at Hogwarts trying to understand how things had gone so badly over the last few days. Did no one but him understand that sacrifices must be made in the name of the Greater Good? How could those fools at the Wizengamot have possibly thought to arrest him, Albus Dumbledore, for doing what needed to be done? Thankfully he still had loyal followers such as Elphias Doge and Bathilda Bagshot to see to his freedom. With that freedom and the return of Fawkes, he would be able to continue his work of guiding Harry Potter to the appropriate conclusion of his life.

"Elphias, my dear friend, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help," said Albus as he looked to where his longtime friend was sitting.

To his eyes, Doge was smiling happily at him, but reality was much grimmer. The elderly wizard had pushed his aged body far past what it was capable of while freeing Albus. They had no sooner arrived than Elphias had slumped into the chair he was currently in before his heart gave out. The now dead wizard's body was already starting to smell, not that Albus noticed in the least. To Albus' eyes, his friend was hale and hearty, ready to stand at his side when they confronted those that would stand against them.

Turning to the second chair, Albus smiled at his other dear friend. "Bathilda, I also owe you a debt of gratitude for your part in my rescue."

Again there was no reply, for how could she reply when she was long dead. Bathilda had not even made it out of the Long Term Spell Damage Ward at St. Mungo's before a stray spell from an Auror caught her in the back of the neck. Nearly decapitating her, the woman's death had been instantaneous. It was the strain of apparating her body and Albus to their secret bolt hole that had been the final strain to Elphias' heart. He had dropped her body on the chair it now laid across before he died in his own. Albus, had rearranged her positioning in the chair and stuck her head back atop her shoulders thinking of it as healing her.

"Fawkes," Albus called, looking at the perch where a poorly preserved stuffed parrot sat nailed in place. "I don't know what foul wards they used against us in that courtroom, so we must begin research to prevent it from working again."

For in Albus Dumbledore's mind he was sitting in splendor surrounded by his most loyal friends and companions. In reality he sat in a grim reflection of his former life, surrounded by death and madness. His madness was only marginally tempered by the numerous potions he consumed daily, but he had stockpiled enough in his hideout to last years.

"Now, to planning," barked Albus, slapping his hands together with a mad twinkle in his eyes. "How shall we kill Harry Potter?"

26 November, 1994

Beauxbatons Carriage

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Northern Scotland

Fleur sat on her bed looking at the box in front of her, the contents of which she had found when she was eleven. Thanks to the items inside she had found a new freedom she honestly never thought she would experience. Opening the box, she leaned forward and lifted out the two items inside, a mace made of the hardest metal she had ever seen and a belt that granted her magical wings along with almost impervious skin. Wielding the two items now in her hands Fleur had gone on many adventures when not in school, even stopping several crimes in both the magical and non-magical world.

"I'm not worthy," she whispered to the items. "I thought I was a hero, but I'm not. I'm a coward who ran and hid while people were dying. Too afraid that someone would find out my secret to even make the attempt."

Laying the items back in the box and closing it, Fleur got up from the bed and put the box back in her trunk. "Gabrielle would make a better hero than me, like the Angels that saved that jet. She has the desire to help others, I'm to afraid to even help myself. After this damned tournament is over, I will give you to her."

Closing her trunk and locking it, Fleur crawled back into bed and cried for the loss of life and her own failures.

26 November, 1994

Riddle Manor

Little Hangleton, England


"Yes, Master?"

"A change of plans," replied the high pitched voice. "My spy tells me the Tournament has been changed due to the events at the first task. We need to accelerate our preparations for the ritual. Have you gathered the last of the needed ingredients?"

Peter Pettigrew, more commonly known as Wormtail, nodded before stepping out of the way of the large snake slithering past his feet. "Yes, My Lord, the last ingredients arrived this morning. I Obliviated the delivery person then sent them on their way."

"Why did you not kill them, Wormtail? demanded the shrunken and horrific looking form sitting before him. "Did you even think of the consequences should your pathetically weak spell work fail and he remember where we are? CRUCIO!"

As Peter writhed in pain on the floor under his chosen master's spell, only one thought passed through his mind. "I should have never betrayed you, James."

AN: So, it's official, Dumbledore is bat shit crazy! Honestly, I always thought he was in cannon, but he was a likable type of crazy. Albus is actually one of my favorite characters from the books, but he just makes such a damned fine bad guy that it's hard not to use him as such.

Sort of a transitional chapter to show a bit of character development. Hope you don't mind too much?

Yes, Fleur got the egg with Hawkgirl's legacy. I personally saw it as quite fitting given her avian ancestry. Will she turn it over to Gabrielle, who knows? (Well, I do, but I'm not telling.) At least now you've met all the main characters. :)

Oh, we've also seen Voldemort for the first time in this story. It was always my intention to show him off before the end of the story and not just have him there as some last final hurdle for Harry to overcome. He is that, don't get me wrong, but he's so much more.

Also, killed off a few minor characters and eliminated the final two canon tasks. Never intended to do them in the first place, seeing as how I always intended the first task to be the one where things really diverged from canon. Now we're headed into brand new territory, or we will be after the next chapter.

Hope you enjoyed.

Now, go read something and leave a review.

Chris :)