Sigh...I'm going to put this here since I guess some people don't bother to read the A/Ns at the end of the chapters. I have, yet again, received reviews and messages from a few people who disagree with the way I've written things. I'm American okay? I've lived in America for like, 18 of my 22 years of life. I apologize if my story sounds too American for you. I don't mind constructive criticism, I actually am for it, but it's hardly constructive to merely say, this fic doesn't sound British. I feel like an asshole for this, so I apologize if anyone gets offended or anything. I really do feel like a jerk now. Sigh...
Disclaimer: I was given the rights to Harry Potter...APRIL FOOLS! Wait, am I late? Well shit...
Awkward. That about summed up everything currently and about to happen. Harry leaned against the stone wall in the Entrance Hall lazily as he contemplated just why he had agreed to this. After having been at it for nearly ten minutes, he had nothing. Was it because he wanted to make Daphne jealous? No, he was trying to be mature about this. Was it because he had no better offers and nothing else to do? He felt like a git admitting it but probably. That still didn't help him much as he spotted the form of Tracey Davis emerge from the door that led to the dungeons. Man, this was going to be awkward. Let's try to avoid as much awkwardness as we can.
"Hi!" Harry greeted with far too much enthusiasm, taking his last thought to heart.
She blinked three times, he knew because he counted, before responding. "...Hi."
"Sooo, how's it, uh, how's it going?" For the love of, you are such an idiot Harry.
"Fine," she replied reluctantly. Then, as if it was a nicety she had barely managed to remember, "and you?"
"Oh, you know," he said sheepishly. The look she was giving him indicated she didn't know, along with a look of slight pity laced with the smallest of regrets. "Super," he added lamely.
Tracey just blinked, staring at him with an incredulous look that spoke volumes. Harry assumed her thought process was something between 'Is this really happening?' and 'I now understand the definition of absolute regret.'
"Should we, uh, go or something?" Harry suggested. Tracey really was Daphne's best friend as she sighed, rolled her eyes and grabbed his arm, leading him out the doors. Harry walked beside her with a feeling of apprehension. This was quite possibly the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me.
Harry tried his best to take in the girl sitting across from him while not staring at her like a creep. She was slightly shorter than Daphne. Not as tan, but it worked well for her with her dark brown hair and brown eyes. He had to admit she was quite pretty in her Muggle attire, letting her straight hair fall just past her shoulders. She was gazing around the Three Broomsticks absentmindedly as she twirled a strand of hair around her finger. They hadn't spoken the entire walk to the magical village until Harry asked if she wanted a butterbeer when they arrived at the pub. He had no idea what to say. Something Harry, say anything!
"Anything," I hate my life. Why does this always happen?
"...what?" Tracey stared at him, her eyes slightly narrowed in confusion.
"I...nothing," Harry, you are the biggest moron at Hogswarts.
Tracey went back to twirling her hair and gazing at Seamus and his catch of the week with mild interest. This continued on for several minutes until Tracey had taken a sip of her butterbeer. That was until she heard him snicker slightly as she lowered the mug.
"Hmm?" She looked at the Gryffindor expectantly.
"There's some foam on your face," he explained.
"Where?" He was beginning to think Tracey was the queen of one word answers. He amused himself momentarily by picturing her dressed as the Queen of England before motioning vaguely in the face area. How helpful.
"Gone?" She asked after she had rubbed her jacket sleeve across part of her face.
"Well, get it off!" she ordered. Harry hesitated slightly before leaning across the table and wiping the foam away with his thumb. Things got even more awkwardly silent after that.
"Can I ask you something?"
"You just did." Fair enough.
"Well, can I ask you something else?"
"Did you really just do that twice in a row Potter?" That had to have been the longest sentence he had ever heard her speak.
Harry smirked amusedly. "Suppose so."
"Merlin Potter," she muttered under her breath. "Really?
"Huh? Oh right!" Tracey rolled her eyes. "Why did you invite me to Hogsmeade?"
"Why did you accept my invitation?"
"Haven't the foggiest." Which was pretty true.
"You really know how to make a girl feel special," she retorted as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"That doesn't answer my question though. Isn't there some sort of girl code against that?" Harry honestly wasn't quite sure what all fell into this girl code. Heck, he only knew about it because he had overheard Parvati and Lavender gossiping about who knows what and the term caught his attention. Girls were weird.
"You have no idea what that is, do you?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but hesitated. "No."
"Didn't think so."
"I'm still pretty sure that there is some sort of rule against going out with someone your best friend went on a date with."
"Yes, but that doesn't apply in this situation." Tracey explained simply.
"Why?" Harry replied, feeling slightly offended. He wasn't sure if that was an insult or not.
"Because that rule only says you can't date someone you best friend dated. One, you and Daphne went on a date, you were not dating. Two, this isn't a date."
"I'm not that bad, am I?" Harry had a feeling this conversation was straying further into the territory of insults. Capital of the Tracey Davis Land.
"I'm going to ignore that."
"Ouch. So do you feel like elaborating?"
"On why I'm ignoring that?"
"Yes. Wait, no. On why you're breaking that girl rule or whatever."
"I already said I'm not breaking the rule. Even if you and Daphne had dated, that still doesn't apply to this situation."
"Why?" If you had told Harry two weeks ago that he would be sitting in the Three Broomsticks, drinking butterbeer with Tracey Davis and discussing girl code, you probably would have been laughed stupid.
"It doesn't count if you do it for your friend," Tracey said with exasperation, laying her arms on the table.
"Wait, what?" This was getting confusing.
"It doesn't count because I'm doing it for Daphne."
"Um...what?" Scratch that. This was getting very confusing.
"You heard me Potter," Tracey said defensively, but without any rudeness or hostility.
"Well yeah, but I mean, do you feel like sharing with the class?"
"I was going to bring it up later, but may as well now. "
"Bring what up?"
"Look, Daphne doesn't know I'm doing this so you can't say anything."
"Okay?" Harry really wasn't sure what was about to happen.
"Do you like Daphne?" It was such an honest and direct question that Harry had to double take at the Slytherin girl.
"Well, yeah. I mean, we're friends and what not."
"Do I really need to spell this out like you're a freaking ten year old?" Tracey stared at him incredulously.
"That would probably make it easier," he replied, rather bluntly.
"Do you like like Daphne?" she replied, much more girly than she usually spoke.
"Why wouldn't I?" It seemed like the obvious response.
"I don't know. You were the one that turned her down last Hogsmeade trip."
"...I didn't want to," Harry muttered into his mug of now cold butterbeer. How unfortunate. Butterbeer should be drunk warm or not at all. Too late now. He took a swig anyway as though this would help avoid the awkward silence. For the record, it hadn't.
"Oh?" Tracey's eyebrows raised ever so slightly.
"Yeah. I kinda got...stuck," he said, choosing his word carefully. There was no way he could tell Tracey about Sirius. "Doing something important."
"Important meaning..?" she trailed off, gazing at him with the curiosity that was no doubt off somewhere murdering a cat.
"I can't say. I wish I could," he wasn't sure how honest that last part was, at least with Tracey. He wished he could tell Daphne. "But I can't. And I felt pretty terrible about it for the record."
"I see," Tracey spoke slowly. She appeared to be contemplating something for a minute. "She didn't think you felt that way about her after you turned her down for Hogsmeade. Why do you think she agreed to come to the village today with Vlad?"
"Because he's a blood-sucking vampire who lures and hypnotizes teenage girls into unknowingly being victimized?"
It was the first time Harry had heard Tracey Davis give an honest to God laugh. It took her a good 30 seconds to recover. Harry was rather grateful that her mug was already empty.
"I think I'm going to need another butterbeer Potter," Tracey managed to say, still catching her breath from her spontaneous fit of the giggles.
"Oi Colin!" Harry grabbed the third year as he was passing by their table.
"Hey Harry!" Colin Creevey bounced enthusiastically. "What's up?"
"Wanna do me a favor?" Harry asked, continuing when the camera clad boy nodded. "Can you get me two butterbeers?"
"Sure," Harry pushed a handful of gold into Colin's empty hands. "This is a lot for only two drinks."
"Keep it. Go buy yourself something uh nice or something," he finished awkwardly. He felt like he was slightly taking advantage of his fellow Gryffindor, but he didn't want to put a halt on this conversation about Daphne. Even a temporary one.
"Carry on," Harry spoke once the tiny form of Colin Creevey disappeared into the crowd.
"What I was saying was that after you told Daphne no, she didn't think you liked her. She only accepted Vlad's invite because of that. She didn't think you were interested so she found a guy that was," Tracey explained. Merlin, this sounded very familiar.
"Okay Hermione." At Tracey's look of confusion he added, "Hermione said practically the same thing."
"But I bet Granger didn't know this. And if you repeat this then I will jinx you into next week," she looked like she meant business.
"I bet you felt like it was your fault that Daphne is with Vlad because reasons out of your control, you weren't able to go to Hogsmeade with her last trip, am I right?" When Harry nodded, she continued. "Now Daphne feels as though she's the one that messed up and is missing out."
"Here Harry!" Colin set two foaming mugs down onto the table before grinning at him.
"Thanks Colin. I owe ya."
"No problem. See ya back at the Common Room." Harry gazed around the pub as Colin walked away. Harry had that odd feeling that someone was watching him. Yes, he was aware he was in a crowded pub, but it was more than just others being unable to open there eyes without looking at someone. It's just that unexplainable feeling that someone is watching you intentionally. As though with a purpose. His brief search proved not fruitful, or was it unfruitful? Harry wasn't really sure.
"Can you explain that a bit for me?" Harry asked as the Slytherin took a large gulp of butterbeer, ignoring the being watched feeling that was prickling at the back of his neck and the fruitful debate going on in the back of his mind. Wiping both from his mind, he set his concentration on the girl in front of him, who was back to twirling a strand of hair around her finger. By the time 'date,' if you could call it that, was over, she would have all straight hair and one really curly strand.
"She feels as though you don't like her now because of Vlad even though you pretty much asked her on a date after she thought you didn't like her. Make sense?"
"English Tracey. Speak it," she merely laughed at him and gave a slight eye roll.
"Look, she agreed to go out with Vlad because she thought you weren't interested."
"We've established that already."
"Shut up and let me finish Potter," she said, not unkindly. "So she agreed to go out with Vlad because she thought you weren't interested in her."
"Yeah, I know. We literally said that barely a minute ago."
"I'm going to smack you. So, here is Daphne thinking you only want her as a friend when of the blue, you ask her out to Hogsmeade with you."
"Funnily enough, I did hear rumors about that. It wasn't like I was there or anything," Harry replied sardonically. Tracey responded by staring at him intensely before lightly smacking him upside the head with her free hand.
"Do you want my help or not?"
"Continue," Harry said, slightly guiltily.
"Okay. Now, do that again and I'm pouring this butterbeer down your pants," she threatened.
Harry opened his mouth to sarcastically reply how risqué that was, but promptly closed it upon seeing the look in her eyes.
"So here you come, asking her to Hogsmeade. Now she is the one that has to say no, and now she feels like it's her fault and that because she is here with Vlad that now you really aren't interested."
"And Daphne told you all of this?" Harry questioned.
"She's my best friend. She doesn't have to tell me," Tracey replied with a knowing tone. "But for the record, yeah she told me."
"Thanks Tracey," he said earnestly.
"No worries, actually," she broke off, a devious smirk made its appearance. "Having the Boy who Lived in your debt might not be so bad."
"You're such a Slytherin."
"Aww, thanks Potter," Tracey smiled. Harry couldn't help but notice how white her teeth were. Too white. It was almost scary. "That's just so sweet of you to say."
Yep. That settled any small, lingering doubts he may have been thinking. This girl was definitely best friends with Daphne Greengrass.
For the rest of April, Harry had way too many thoughts bouncing around his head. Sirius was still hiding out in the cave outside of Hogsmeade, which just worried him. He really didn't want his Godfather to get caught. Malfoy was still being the world's biggest git. Nothing new there. He still wasn't sure what the Third Task was, although he would be finding out as soon as May came. There was also the small fact that someone inside the castle wanted him dead. He felt as though a guillotine just hovered above his head, following him wherever he went. Not an inviting prospect. Then Daphne, the thought that wouldn't sleep. Everything that was said between him and Tracey in the Three Broomsticks ran through his mind over and over like a broken record.
Also, the fact that he simply thought about that conversation and its subject more than his potential murderer running loose and free inside the castle was a tad unnerving. Priorities, they were important. What does it matter who he likes or who Daphne likes if he gets killed during the final task? Being dead seems to be a bit of a deterrent when it comes to dating. If he were suddenly pushing daises because of an impromptu meeting with that charming Grim Reaper, then what? He'd be stuck with Moaning Myrtle. Whoa, stop. Stop everything. Let's agree to forget that last part was said. Like, gone. Never to be spoken of again. Ever.
Things with him and Daphne were awkward at first, but only for the first couple days after the Hogsmeade trip. She was still 'with Vlad,' if you wanted to call it that. Though, he hardly ever saw them together. Daphne still berated him about classes and homework and Harry still annoyed her whenever they were near each other. There seemed to be a silent agreement between them not to discuss the Hogsmeade trip. Though Daphne was aware that he had spent the day with Tracey, she never bothered to ask him about it at all. At least not with him. Apparently Daphne decided that the best, and probably straightforward, results would be found by pestering Tracey about it.
Tracey, to her credit, hadn't said much. Just that they had mutually agreed to try and be friends because of Daphne, which seemed satisfactory and made the Slytherin girl pretty happy. At least, that was what he was told. Tracey had informed him of it all during one of his solo library sessions. Harry had the impression that she was only in there to try and see Viktor, but upon seeing his absence, decided to fill Harry in. His cheek had earned him another smack upside the head when he shared his thoughts on it.
Harry spent most of his free time out on the Quidditch Pitch. Most of the time he was joined by Viktor. He was surprised how much he and the Quidditch star had in common. Hermione was almost always found waiting for them in the stands, reading her book of the day. Oddly enough, Tracey came several times, but again, that was probably because of Viktor. Even Daphne was out there a lot. Unfortunately, she was sometimes accompanied by Vlad, but Harry tried not to let it bother him.
May wasn't the most exciting month in the world for Harry Potter, at least not this year. He didn't have final exams to study for, in which case he had more free time than most. He couldn't even prepare for the final task because they weren't telling the champions about it until the 24th. Harry was glad he was still getting pushed in his classes, he knew he needed to learn more if he wanted a chance at surviving the Third Task. Being the final challenge of the tournament was bound to make it the most difficult, even knowing about it a month before hand. So he had also been trying to spend some time in the library. I know, so unlike him. Neville had proved a big help with this, having been telling Harry useful books suggested by his Gran.
Harry was currently reading one such book at the Gryffindor table, sitting between Ron and Neville. Hermione and Viktor were sitting opposite him, talking to each other. It was an innocent, but highly amusing conversation as Hermione tried to explain her parents occupations to him. Apparently, Viktor had absolutely no clue what a dentist was. Harry had a feeling that Neville and Ron weren't well versed in dentistry either, given how intrigued they looked.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Krum," their conversation broke off as Professor McGonagall approached them at the table. "Tonight, you are to meet with the other champions and Mr. Bagman at the Quidditch Pitch at eight o'clock. Mr. Bagman will be informing you about the Third Task."
The Gryffindor Head walked away briskly as Harry and Viktor looked at each other and nodded with interest. Harry had honestly forgotten today was May 24th. Strange how he had been nervously looking forward to finding out what the task was going to be and he just completely forgot it was that night. Now he just had to hope this day wasn't too long so he could begin preparing. But alas, a long day it was. It was only natural.
At half past seven, Harry left Ron, Hermione and Neville at the Gryffindor table, slowly making his way down to the pitch. It was still daylight out, but give it another 45 minutes, he estimated, and it would be pretty dark out. He always liked this time of day. Maybe it was being able to see the sun set over the lake. This time of day wasn't quite as exciting at Privet Dr. The sun was slowly making it's disappearance, inking the sky with orange, red, and a calm purple. Assuming colors could be calm that is. It looked calm to him at any rate. The moon had already taken its place high in the sky. It was only a quarter moon, but the crescent shape still did the job while looking awesome at the same time. Harry was so enthralled looking at the crescent moon that he didn't realize he was at the pitch already and promptly tripped over a hedge.
"What the?" Harry asked rhetorically from the ground that he was currently sprawled across like a starfish. He thought he heard someone snicker, but couldn't see anyone except Bagman and the others, which were too far away to hear. Standing up, Harry realized that there were hedges all across the pitch. Oliver would have a heart attack if he could see this.
"Ah, hello there Harry, glad you could join us," Bagman called when he was close enough. "What do you think so far?"
Harry was speechless. He glanced at Cedric, who looked about as happy as he was about the blasphemy that was growing onto their beloved Quidditch Pitch.
"Don't worry," Bagman chuckled, seeing their faces. "The pitch will be put back to normal at the end of the task. We'll have her looking brand new. By the Third Task, they should be about twenty feet tall. You guys figure it out yet?"
They all stood in silence for a moment before Viktor spoke up.
"Looks like a maze," Viktor said as though he was merely thinking out loud rather than speaking to any of them.
"Right you are Mr. Krum. It's a maze. The Third Task is a maze," Bagman told the four teens, barely able to contain his excitement.
"That's it?" Cedric deadpanned. "We just have to get through the maze?"
Harry and Fleur both shook their heads in agreement. Harry had the feeling that Fleur was thinking along the same lines as him. Seems pretty straightforward and not very exciting or difficult.
"Oh trust me Mr. Diggory. This will be the most difficult task yet. There will be many things in the maze you will need to get past. Dark creatures, spells and enchantments, and curses. The Tri-Wizard Cup will be placed in the maze and the first champion to reach it will receive full marks," Bagman explained. "Now, the task will be viewed in the same fashion as the Second Task was. There will each be a crystal ball that will follow each of you, providing a small amount of light, but allowing the other students, teachers, and judges to view everything that is going on in the maze. Any questions?"
None of the champions spoke, but looked around at each other, as if someone else was supposed to ask something.
"Alright then. Let's head back up to the castle," Bagman clapped his hands together and began making his way towards the castle, climbing some of the hedges.
"Harry, a vord?" Viktor asked him, an unreadable expression on his face.
"Yeah sure," Harry agreed. He half wondered what this was about, but came up with nothing. They mostly talked about Quidditch. Hardly seemed like the time now.
"Let's valk this vay," he suggested, changing direction to the outskirts of the forest. The sun was almost completely set now, the last bit of orange and red on the horizon were slowly being overrun by the calm purple.
Viktor stopped when they were on the very edge of the forest. Harry spoke first however.
"So, why did you want to come all the way out here to talk for?" Harry was rather curious about it, it must have shown in his tone.
"Don't vant to be overheard," he glanced around to see if anyone was skulking about. He must have been satisfied that no one was around because he continued. "I vanted to speak vith you about Herm-own-ninny."
Well, that was unexpected.
"What about her?"
"You haff been friends for long time, no?"
"Yeah, since we started Hogswarts," Harry answered, still not quite sure where this was headed. He didn't think Viktor saw him as competition or anything. At least he sincerely hoped not.
"Could you give me advice?" Viktor looked as though he wanted to hide with mortification, but kept determined eyes on him. Harry's mind went utterly blank for a minute. If Harry had made a list of what Viktor Krum wanted to speak about with him in private, getting asked for advice about Hermione definitely not on the top of the list. In fact, it probably would be about twenty pages into the list.
"Oh," Harry acknowledged the request, still recovering from his mild shell-shock. "Yeah, um sure. Anything in, uh, particular about her?" He managed to stumble out. This was, well, weird.
"Most women fawn over me because I'm a Quidditch star. Herm-own-ninny does not. I like it, but do not alvays know vhat to talk about."
Was, was this really happening right now? International Quidditch star Viktor Krum was seriously asking him for advice...on girls. Is this a thing now? I mean, it's so, I don't even, what?! At least his want for secrecy suddenly made sense, something needed to. What would people say if The Viktor Krum had girl problems. It must be confusing when the girl you like is the one girl who doesn't go fangirl on you. As much as he liked Viktor, Harry had a sneaking suspicion that the Bulgarian never really had to work real hard at this before Hermione.
At the same time, he was hardly the best person to give advice about girls. He hadn't even kissed a girl yet! At least he wasn't the worst option. That title would either crown Crabbe or Goyle as king. A mental image of Crabbe in a crown and purple king's robe came to mind. He was gazing at Tracey, Queen of one word answers, while his arms swinging stupidly at his side and he grunted something along the lines of 'hehehehe, girls.' Merlin, he really needed to stop doing this.
"See, Hermione isn't the biggest Quidditch fan in the world. She only goes to my games because we're best friends. Same reason she comes to the pitch when we go flying. I'm not even sure she knows anything beyond the basic premise and rules of the game."
"I should teach her Quidditch?" Viktor eyed him conspiratorially, as though it was a rubbish suggestion, which it kind of was. Not that he was trying to suggest that, at any rate.
"Well, I mean, you could," Harry explained slowly. He sped up when a thought occurred to him. "But I would try to show some interest in her more. Like this morning when you guys were talking about her parents jobs. That showed that you like her enough to learn about her likes and her family."
"I see," he rubbed his left hand across his chin in a thinking fashion. "So I should talk to her about dungistry, the mouth stuff?"
Did he just call...gross. Harry didn't know what would be more impolite, to correct his friend for the slight language barrier, which could come across as rude in a way, or let Viktor talk to Hermione about dung, the mouth stuff? Let's just go to plan B.
"It doesn't have to be in particular," Harry tried to stress. "Just something she enjoys. She loves learning and reading. So why don't you ask her about her lessons? Or possibly about whatever book she is reading. I know," he added, seeing the look on Viktor's face. "Not the most exciting thing to talk about, but it would mean a lot to Hermione."
"They like vhen ve talk about them?" The Durmstrang student asked, as though this concept was foreign, and completely ludicrous.
"Girls are," Viktor broke off momentarily, a puzzled expression etching itself on his face. "Quite strange. It's a crazy idea. So crazy, it just might vork."
"Viktor my friend," Harry said, clapping the older boy on the back. Which was mildly difficuly as Viktor was so much taller than him. "Welcome to the club where women make no sense and men are confused trying to understand them."
"Any other suggestions?" Viktor looked hopeful.
"Make her laugh. Like with that story you told us at the ball about how you got to be duck footed. Hermione thought it was hilarious."
"I can do funny," Viktor gazed with a look of contemplation. It was something to see the bloke who always look more serious than his godfathers name talking about being funny. "Between you and me, that story vas just for the girls. I haff alvays been duck footed," he added with a grin.
Who knew tonight was going to be the night of shocking revelation of the real Viktor Krum? What an unforeseen developmet.
"That," Harry paused, but only briefly. "Makes sense, now I think about it. You see though? Do things like that with Hermione."
"Blagodarya," Viktor said, nodding his appreciation before clarifying. "Thank you."
"Oh any time," he wasn't even sure he was all that helpful.
"I am in your debt my friend."
"It's not a big deal Viktor," Harry interjected.
"No, it is. Vizarding culture in Bulgaria, you always repay your debt. It is a custom ve take seriously."
"Really?" Harry asked with interest, to which he was answered with a deep nod.
"If someone does you good, and you do return the deed, in somevay or another, the vhat does that say about you?"
"I never thought about it like that," Harry confessed with honesty.
"Speaking of vhich," Viktor went on. "I am twice in your debt now."
"Twice? What was the other time?"
"I had a talk vith Miss. Da-vees recently."
Da-vees? Who the ruddy hell...wait. Does he mean Tracey?
"Tracey?" Viktor nodded.
"I vas valking back to the ship vhen she came up to me. She vas not very happy that I had introduced Da-vv-nee to Vladimir. I vas told that you had said no to her about the village, so I thought..."
"It's ok," Harry interjected. "You didn't know. No worries Viktor."
"No, I shall repay you," he vowed. "Vhat the..."
Harry had heard it too. Without thinking, both boys drew their wands with speed, as though they had already been in their hands, but invisible. Several sticks and branches could be heard snapping under the pressure of someone's, or something's, weight from the forest. Harry, who had far too much experience with the Forbidden Forest than he would have liked, or probably ever need, knew how potentially bad this could be. Harry could have sworn he heard the sound of 'grass crunching under boot,' it was a pretty distinct sound, coming from behind them, not to be mistaken with the sound of snapping branches. The snapping branches sound was coming from the forest, which was in front of them. Then again, the sound of grass crunching under boot could have been his imagination.
Taking only a moment to glance behind him, Harry found nothing. Another not fruitful, Harry had come to the conclusion that it was not fruitful rather than unfruitful, search. Though to be fair, it was hard to see as the sun had set. It seems the calm purple had won todays battle of the sky in the name of the moon, orange and red shall have their revenge for the sun tomorrow no doubt. But that's not really important at the moment. Point is, the search could have been fruitful is he could see better. Turning his attention back to actual pressing matter, Harry realized he turned just in time. The rather large bush in front of them had limbs flailing around so wildly, it looked like the baby offspring of the Whomping Willow. Viktor looked ready so voice concerns when a man stumbled out of the Jr. Whomping Willow imposter. He looked like, well not to be rude, but he looked like hell. The man, not Viktor.
"Mr. Crouch?" The plot thickens. Not like a couple inches thicker than before. I'm talking like a damn oak tree thick.
"Vasn't he a judge? Vhat is he doing in the voods?" That is the question of the century.
"Hell if I know. He hasn't been seen in months. Ill, supposed..." Harry was cut off.
"Dumbledore! Must...tell.." His breathing was short and heavy, as though a person with asthma had just run a marathon. "Dumble...Ah yes, thank you Weatherby. Could you send workd to Karkaroff, letting him know that Madame Maxime has changed the number of students she is bringing?"
"O...kay," Harry really wasn't sure what else to say? This was, bizarre didn't really cover it. Viktor looked as confused as Harry felt, if not more so. Why must these things always happen to him? "Mr. er, Mr. Crouch? Are you okay?"
"And once you have finished with that Winky, go up to the top box. If anyone asks, you are saving me a seat," Mr. Crouch was in the process of talking to the Jr. Whomping Willow imposter as though it was his former house elf. This was getting weirder and creeper by the second.
"Vhat is wrong vith him Harry?" Viktor interjected, looking uneasy. Harry couldn't blame him for that.
"Harry Potter!" Crouch collapsed to his knees, instantly changing from the rigid Crouch who speaks to nature as though they are people into the Crouch who looks deranged and on the verge of a panic attack. "Potter..danger. All my fault! Bertha...dead...my fault...must warn...Dumbledore! Dark Lord...stronger!"
"Vhat should ve..." Viktor began before a bolt of red light collided with his chest, knocked him back several feet where he lay motionless.
"Bloody hell!" Harry spun around faster than he knew he could, raising his wand in the process. So much for his not fruitful search. Barely a second had passed when a he saw something red headed for him. Before he could even process a thought, it collided with his face and everything went black.
White was the current theme. Pretty much everything he could see was white, albeit a tad hazy. Was, was he dead? Well this sucks. Oh damn, there really is a white light. How cliché is this. Nope, not going into any white lights. No way. But why is everything so blurry? Harry touched his face. No glasses. Makes sense, no need for glasses when you're dead.
"He's awake," the voice echoed from away. Pshh, idiots. You can't be awake when you're dead. Wait, maybe this was the voice of God. Yeah, that makes sense.
"Here!" Someone shoved his glasses onto his face. They were upside down, but at least he could see. Harry blinked. Oh, Hospital Wing. Awkward.
"Harry, are you okay?" The voice of God spoke. Harry found it pretty ironic that the voice of God was in fact Dumbledore. At least, ironic was the word that came to mind, even if it was the wrong one.
"You and Mr. Krum were stunned. Did you see who attacked you?" Dumbledore, though calm in tone, was speaking as though it was urgent. Harry could hardly blame him.
"Where is Viktor? Harry asked, trying to sit up but Madame Pomfrey pushed him back into the bed before he got very far.
"Mr. Krum is waking up as we speak. Can you try and remember what happened?" Dumbledore inquired.
"Crouch!" Harry exclaimed, suddenly remembering. "What about Mr. Crouch, is he okay?"
"Crouch?" Moody growled from behind the Headmaster. Where did he come from? "Albus, I didn't see Crouch anywhere."
"Harry, I need you to tell me everything you can," Dumbledore addressed him, a serious but ever calm tone of voice.
"Ok, me and Viktor were talking after Bagman told us about the Third Task. We decided to go near the forest for privacy since we didn't want to be overheard. We were just about to leave when we heard something coming out of the forest. It was Mr. Crouch. He looked pretty hurt and was acting really odd," Harry explained.
"What was he doing?"
"Well, at first he was saying he needed to tell you something professor," Harry told Dumbledore. "Then he started talking to a tree as though it was Percy Weasley and that nothing was wrong. After that he went to a bush as though it was Winky, his old house elf. He was telling her to go to the top box the the World Cup and to people she was saving him a seat. Then he went back to seeming injured and mad. He said...he said I was in danger. That Bertha was dead. Something was his fault. And that the Dark Lord was stronger. That was when I saw Viktor get stunned. I turned around and to see where it came from before I got stunned myself."
"Hmm," Dumbledore looked deep in thought. "Did you see anyone around you before Mr. Crouch appeared or when you guys were walking in the forest?"
"No. I thought I heard someone walking toward us when we were talking but when I looked I couldn't see anyone. It sounded as though it was coming from the direction we had just came from, by the pitch," Harry clarified.
"Alastor, you're sure you didn't see anything as you were leaving Hagrid's hut?" Dumbledore turned to the ex-auror.
"No Albus. By the time I left his hut, they were gone. I was scanning with my eye and saw Potter and Krum laying there. No sign of Crouch or anyone else."
"You found us Professor?" Harry asked the defense teacher, who nodded in responce.
"Harry, would you allow me to extract the memory from you?" Dumbledore asked politely, the twinkle in his eyes.
"I...what?" That sounds rather uncomfortable.
"I have a magical artifact called a pensieve. It allows me to store memories and view them whenever I need. I would be able to view your memory of the events. It's quite easy and painless," Dumbledore added, as though he knew what Harry had thought.
"Um, sure. What do I have to do?" This was confusing, not to mention weird.
"Just concentrate hard on the memory, put your wand tip to your temple and then slowly pull your wand away while letting the memory flow. It's much easier than it sounds," the Headmaster reassured him.
Following the instructions, Harry was pretty shocked to find a silver strand of something on the end of his wand. Dumbledore pulled a vial of nowhere, literally, and allowed him to guide the silver strand into it before corking it. Dumbledore smiled gently when the Hospital Wing door opened and in came Professor McGonagall and Karkaroff, the latter of which began causing an uproar.
Silencing Karkaroff by merely lifting a hand, Dumbledore turned back to Harry. "Professor McGonagall, would you be so kind as to escort Harry back up to the Gryffindor Common Room?"
"Of course," she replied briskly.
Harry got out of bed and followed his head of house up to the Gryffindor Tower. She looked as though she wanted to begin firing questions at him about what had happened, but seemed to think better of it. Something for which Harry was grateful for. Arriving at the Fat Lady, she told him to go inside and stay there. Harry was unsurprised to find Ron, Hermione and Neville all waiting up for him.
"Merlin mate, what took so long? Ron inquired. "You've been gone for like, 2 hours. The Third Task can't be that complicated."
"It's pretty straightforward actually. They're making a giant maze we have to get through. The Tri-Wizard cup is in the middle and we have to get to it first. They're filling it with loads of spells and creatures to get past."
"Sounds intense," Neville chimed in, to which Ron and Hermione agreed. "How did that take so long though?"
Harry began explaining everything that had happened. He told them about Viktor wanting to talk in private, though he lied about the reason. About Crouch appearing and them getting attacked. Harry tried to joke with them about how he thought he was dead for a minute and Dumbledore was God. They didn't seemed to find it as funny as he did for some reason.
"I wonder if Dumbledore thinks he can find more in the memory," Ron wondered aloud.
"So you said you thought you heard someone, but didn't see anyone but Viktor?" Hermione interrogated.
"Yep. I looked around, couldn't find anyone and deemed the search to be not fruitful."
"Not fruitful?" Hermione looked at him as though there was something on his face.
"Yeah. It's not fruitful right? I've been debating with myself about whether it's not fruitful or unfruitful. It's unfruitful isn't it?" Harry really had no idea why he thought this was so important.
"Harry, it's fruitless," Hermione corrected him, in that helpful but kinda teacher-ish way she does.
"Fruitless?" Hermione nodded. Fruit-less? That makes sense. Harry wasn't sure how he missed fruitless. "Well, damn."
"Why is this so important?" Neville asked as though he had missed something.
"I don't know. It's not really. You guys don't get those like, thoughts like that and they just kinda bother you?" Harry looked at each of his friends, who were all gazing at him like the stunner he took to the had a side effect of brain damage.
"No," they chorused together.
"Oh, must be just me then."
"So what do you think happened to Crouch?" Neville asked the group.
"No idea. How does someone just disappear? And what about whoever attacked me and Viktor?" Harry commented.
"Maybe whoever attacked you took Crouch and disapparated with him?" Ron suggested with a shrug.
"You can't apparate in the Hogwarts grounds Ronald. How many times must I tell you?" Hermione cried with exapseration.
"Then you explain what happened," Ron challenged, turning slightly pink in the face.
"I have no idea!" Hermione snapped back. Neville groaned at what was inevitable.
"We're missing something," Harry stepped in before Ron and Hermione could begin their argument. "Crouch was in no position to go anyone, by his own will or anyone else's."
"You don't think it was Crouch who attacked you?" Neville speculated. "He's a pretty powerful wizard, maybe he implanted a fake memory in you and Krum to make you think someone else attacked you."
"I don't know. He really did seem like he was out of it. I just have a feel there was someone else there."
"That's just what Crouch wants you to think," Neville grinned.
"Okay Mr. conspiracy theorist," Harry chuckled. "Let's just say there was someone there. How was he able to get Crouch away without Moody seeing? He would have had to have stunned him or killed him or something to get him away that fast."
"Don't say that!" Hermione wailed. "That's awful."
"I know, but it's quite possible," Harry yawned, standing up from the armchair by the fire. He could see the imprint of where he had been still there. "I don't really wanna think about this anymore tonight. I'm going to sleep."
A/N: Hmm, this took a tad bit longer to write than I had anticipated. I gotta say, this had probably been my favorite chapter to write so far, in case any of you cared for some reason or another. I'm surprised I lived long enough to write this chapter what with the crowd of people outside my house ready to stone me for how the last chapter ended (All metaphorically speaking) But still, I understand peoples frustration that I'm complicating things, but I don't enjoy happy relationships with no problems. It's so unnatural. Harry and Daphne will be, for lack of better word, 'together,' you could say, pretty soon, but they will have a slightly strained relationship due to the house differences and impending war. Oops. Spoilers. Long story short, don't hate me for too long.
At any rate, hope you guys have enjoyed this chapter. I really gotta say, you guys are awesome. I never expected so many followers and favorites on the fic. I really do appreciate it and all, well like 99%, of the feedback I get. But I love you guys all the same. I also hope that you guys...wow. Don't laugh but I totally just forgot what I was typing mid-sentence. No joke...I feel so embarassed. Is there an emoticon for a shy face or something?
After five minutes of staring blankly at the screen, I remembered! I was gonna say I hope you guys liked the whole unfruitful argument throughout the chapter. I've been having the same dilemma in my head for awhile, so I thought I would attempt to amuse everyone.