Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon or Harry Potter. I do own this story though.
AN: Sorry about the long wait folks. I was without a computer for quite some time. I now work full time and go to school, but I managed to find some time to work on the chapter. Hopefully it's still good, yeah? Also yes, I see it's an incredibly short chapter and it was rather hard to write it out. The next one will be longer and less filled with filler now that the more interesting parts of the story will be here.
Harry felt like he was in a daze, like homework and classes didn't matter nearly as much as they used too. They had been interesting, but now his mind was swarmed with other thoughts. Thoughts that felt too big and too small all at once and left him awake at night. Where even the Unown lullaby did little to close his heavy eyes. He knew his attitude was worrying Zororak, and that she had every right to be worried because Harry…was unsure of himself. Of what he was. And of what it means to be human or Pokémon, or some freakish mix of them both. In Defense, they're still practicing the Unforgiveables and he's still the only one who can sit out. Half the time, Moody dismisses him entirely and he's left to either wander the castle, or stay in the library. Lately, the library has been a sort of refuge. He almost feels like he could find an answer there for himself if he searches hard enough.
There are other students, however, that are getting better at throwing off the curse. Sometimes, Harry notices a few even get to leave early, though most end up at the Hospital wing for headaches or painfully bruised shins. Ron and Hermione, however, appear to still need whatever lesson that Moody is giving and they come out of the class rubbing their arms on occasion, Hermione looking quite cross about the whole situation.
"If I didn't think I would need this later, I wouldn't even bother. That man…can't honestly call him a Professor when he throws his students into walls," she grumbled, nursing a painful looking bruise on her chin.
"Can't really say he's pushing us into walls if we're throwing ourselves at them," Ron replied, sighing a bit. He looks less bruised, but there's a limp to his walk that makes Harry worry.
As for the daze? Harry snaps out of it slowly, deciding that what he is isn't so important that he can let his grades suffer, or his friends worry about him too much and does so in time to notice that the castle is…unusually clean. Several portraits that he can remember being grimy and dark, now sit pink-faced and irritable along the walls. Not to mention that the suits of armor no longer squeak when they move and shine with an unholy polish. On particularly bright days, it's almost painful to look at them.
"It's been very…clean lately," Harry said as he sat down at the Great Hall, pulling an empty plate towards himself and filling it with food. As of late, he has been favoring more 'raw' affairs than before; apples, salads and whole foods, but grabbed a few pieces of chicken too.
Hermione gives him a strange look, "The delegations from Beauxbatons and Drumstrang are arriving this Friday, Harry. You were there when we read the sign, remember?"
"Oh, right…sorry. Guess I've had a lot on my mind," Harry said, looking sheepishly at his friends and as bad as it sounds, he can't help but think about how more difficult it's going to be to sneak out with more people in the castle. So, lost in thought, Harry misses the looks his two friends share before they too dig into their food.
Friday dawns with a feeling of anticipation, everyone eager and ready to see the delegations that would arrive. Nobody can pay attention to lessons all that much and even Potions isn't as unbearable as usual. Sure, Snape takes 10 points off Harry for turning his potion seafoam green instead of the gentle mint it was supposed to be, but since Potions also ended half an hour earlier, he doesn't really mind. It's just Snape being Snape. When class is let out, Harry, Ron and Hermione head up the castle steps to their dormitory to drop off their bags and then back down to the Great Hall.
Professor McGonagall, their Head of House, quickly ushers them into a line, set by year and not height which Harry is thankful for. He's still the shortest in the year and even Colin is starting to become taller than he is.
"Take that thing out of your hair, Miss Patil, thank you," Professor McGonagall says, sniffing faintly at the large ornamental butterfly at the end of her plait, before turning her eyes on Harry's hair, which still holds a bright red crest. Her eyes narrow briefly, but she says nothing and moves further down to straighten up the first years.
"How do you think they'll arrive?" Harry asked curiously, looking up at the sky. Evening is falling and the sky if a faint purple, dusted with stars. A faint streak of pink catches his eye, but it's too high up to see clearly. It makes him think of Mew.
"Portkey's maybe? I dunno," Ron replies, shifting from one foot to the other. It's getting bitterly cold now that the sun is down and even in cloaks, there is a chill in the air. Harry watches in amusement as Ron and Hermione bicker over proper transportation, with Hermione having to explain yet again that one cannot apparate onto school ground when a gasp shoots through the crowd.
Beauxbatons arrives first, their house like chariot pulled by a team of enormous winged horses and then Dumstrang next in a ship that pops out of the lake like a giant toy. Harry almost snorts, but manages to keep his act together. There's a feast afterward, with Ron the whole time muttering darkly over Victor Krum sitting with the Slytherins instead of with them and then explanations about the Triwizard Tournament before they're all sent to bed. Harry waits later than usual, and when his year mates are finally asleep, he looks out the window. 'Well this sucks,' he thinks, noting that both schools are living on the grounds. Sneaking about will be more difficult than he previously assumed.
Still, Harry isn't one to back away from a challenge and the cloak keeps him well hidden as he slips through the castle like a ghost and out into the Forbidden Forest.
'Zoroark?' He called, shifting beneath the cloak into his Zorua form as he settles into their usual clearing. He keeps the Invisibility Cloak nearby, just in case.
'Little one,' Zoroark replies as she slips out of a shadow and pads closer to him. They nuzzle briefly, with her pulling him into a hug shortly after. 'You appear to be doing much better. Your attention as of late has been…worrying.'
Harry winces faintly, feeling guilty as Zoroark fusses with his fur. He's gotten so used to it that he doesn't even try fighting it anymore. 'I'm sorry.'
'About?' Zoroark replies, looking curious.
'About my attitude as of late. I've…not been myself and I'm sorry for worrying you about it,' Harry replies, looking down at his paws. He scrunches them in the dirt a bit, kneading the grass into a pulpy mess. 'I was scared.'
'It's alright to be scared sometimes. I keep forgetting that you…weren't always Zorua. That you were Harry Potter, as you say. So, it's my fault as well, for pushing such things onto you as I did,' Zoroark replied gently.
They both sat quietly, before Zoroark gently coaxed Harry into telling her about his day. When she learned of the tournament, she felt her body go cold that such a dangerous thing would be hosted in a school. 'I really don't like this school of yours, Harry. It's so dangerous. And now there are more people on the lawn? It just seems…suspicious. Do be careful, little one,' she said, sighing heavily. Having heard an abridged version of her little Zorua's adventures at school, she knew well to be worried. Trouble always found him. Always.
'I'm not going to be putting my name in. Don't worry. I don't want fame or fortune. I just want a quiet school year…and maybe try and figure out a few things dealing about…me,' Harry said with a sigh, before he pulled himself away from her grip. 'Can we practice now? I think I'm getting close with my Shadow Ball.'
Zoroark looked at Harry with some amusement, before standing and instructing him once more in the proper power and aim needed for a successful hit. The stars were just beginning to fade from the heavens when Harry finally managed to hit the tree, blasting apart the bark with the force of the attack. They celebrated with apples that had been soaking in the river, chilling them to the core before Zoroark hurried Harry back to the castle before he was caught out of bed.
Saturday left Harry regretting his later than normal night. Having gone to sleep roughly at 4am, Harry was woken up by Ron only two hours later. "Ron, I love you like a brother, but if you wake me up before eight I will end you," he said, curling back under the blankets.
Ron seemed gobsmacked at that, before he laughed and pounced on Harry's bed. "Come on mate! If we wake up early we can get a look at that goblet and maybe see Victor Krum again!"
Harry, who could care less about some famous Quidditch person who seemed to be quite a sullen guy, merely curled up tighter. It took the combined efforts of Hermione and Ron to drag him out of bed and force him to get dressed. When they made it to the Great Hall, he was quite grumpy and more than a little annoyed at his few hours of rest.
"You went to bed before me, Harry," Ron said, a mouthful of toast bursting at his cheeks, "What are you so tired for?"
Harry felt a flash of guilt, before shrugging, "Just…you know…tired sometimes," he said as he fiddled around with breakfast. He choked it down, not feeling particularly hungry, but wanting to please his friends all the same. Giving another yawn, Harry watched as someone walked up to the Goblet and dropped their name it, Ravenclaw clapped, showing it was from their group the person came from.
"Anyone else put their name in yet?" Ron asked eagerly.
"All of Drumstrang did," A girl replied, a third-year maybe from the look of her. "But she's the first from Hogwarts."
"I bet a good chunk did it last night, when everyone went to bed," Harry replied, resting his head on his hand. "I wouldn't have wanted to be caught putting my name in." Coincidentally, Harry had seen a few students skulking out of their beds. Most had probably put their names in last night. If they didn't get chosen, then at least no one saw them slip their names into the cup. Harry closed his eyes for just a moment, but when he opened them there was quite a few more people and Fred and George were looking quite smug about something, each holding slips of paper in their hand. On the count of three, both jumped into the ring, looking joyous that whatever they had done worked, but a loud bang had them both shooting away from the goblet and landing on their backsides, sporting identical long, silver beards.
But Harry's eyes were closing again, his breathing evening out just as Dumbledore came striding down from the staff table. When he opened them again, Fred and George were gone and Hermione and Ron were looking at him with concerned expressions. "S-sorry," Harry said as he sat up, grinning a bit. "Where'd Fred and George go?"
"Professor Dumbledore sent them off to the hospital wing to get the beards removed," Hermione stated, looking at him with a sort of critical eye. "Are you sure you're alright Harry? You've been a bit…different for a while."
Ron nodded his head, "You're so sleepy lately and you don't eat like you used to. I mean, look, bacon! You love bacon!"
Harry floundered for a moment, before speaking, his voice smoother than he felt. "It's nothing guys, really. And I just didn't want bacon today Ron. I had some yesterday, remember? Now why don't we head to the library?" he suggested. That usually got Hermione off his back and Ron would pour and mope the entire way up before finding something interesting to keep his attention while there. Harry himself was thinking about looking into the tournament himself just to see what the whole hub-bub was about. Fame and fortune only met so much.
"Actually," Hermione said as she stood up, "I just realized I've not tried to recruit Hagrid into S.P.E.W. Maybe we could visit him for a spell."
Ron was quick to jump onto the bandwagon, even if it meant talking about house elves for the better part of the afternoon. Anything to get out of going to the library again and before Harry knew it, he was being dragged out onto the grounds. As they left, most of Beauxbaton was streaming into the Great Hall.
"Probably going to put their names in," Hermione stated, rolling her eyes as Ron got all gooey over a blonde veela as they passed.
Visiting Hagrid had been an enjoyable and somewhat disappointing affair. It was weird to see Hagrid all dressed up, even if the man had broken comb teeth in his hair and smelled quite strange. Disappointing because the skrewts were still alive and kicking, even if they had started to kill one another off. They spoke for a time, Hermione getting rebuffed in her attempts of elfish welfare and returned to the Great Hall for the next feast and the choosing the champions by late afternoon.
Harry fell asleep twice in his dinner, being woken up each time by Hermione and Ron respectively and while he knew visiting Zoroark was important and interesting, he idly wondered if she'd be okay with him sleeping early tonight. He was awfully tired. Again, as dessert appeared on the golden platters, he felt his eyes closing and only ate the treacle tart on his plate automatically. He couldn't even remember what it tasted like. His head drooped forward, his breathing evening out again as he slipped back into dreamland. Only…the happy atmosphere he fell asleep to was utterly abolished as he awoke to Hermione frantically shaking him.
Dumbledore, lit by the glow of the Goblet of Fire, cleared his throat once more as he repeated the name written on singed parchment. "Harry Potter."
'Crap,' was all Harry could think as the entirety of the Great Hall turned towards him. 'Zoroark isn't going to be happy about this.'