First chapter. Hoping to avoid some cliches in the Videogame!Fic. But mostly, this here for me to explore any plotbunnies I get so if there's a sudden New game, that's why.
Some thanks goes out to people at DLp and my betas/advisers/maybe-more-like-co-authors BitMyFinger, Republic21, Evan Tide, Lungs and recently Bulwersator.
Also Nauro for various edits.
Wherever he was, it was dark and he was drifting, on currents of inky, black water.
Shock prevailed through his mind. Belief was elusive and hard to grasp, constantly slipping through the framework of his thoughts. He'd lost. Teeth as sharp as daggers had swam through his vision and in an instant, he had failed. Failed in the worst way. Death. It hadn't entirely hit him yet, the shock only allowing for a hollow, empty feeling that left his thoughts going in circles.
He had failed and he was dead. He had died and he was a failure. He'd failed and died. He was a failure who died. Dead failure who had failed and was now dead.
Failure smelled like the rot of an old corpse.
It was starting to sink in now, allowing his thoughts to finally go forward. It remained to be seen if this was a good thing, as his thoughts had turned to his friends. He wouldn't ever see them again.
And that thought was the worst, even worse than the fact that he was a failure. He would be alone in this inky blackness forever.
The hollowness that had been present was quickly being filled by a cold, choking despair. One desperately frantic thought crept through his mind.
I don't want to die!
Harry felt as if someone had just stepped upon his grave, a ghostly touch traveling up his spine and making him shiver. It shouldn't have been possible to feel such a thing, after all he was already dead. The thought sparked off the realization that he could feel. He could feel his hands as his fingers twitched and his feet as they lazily drifted in the dark. However, he also realized that his breath was leaving him. It was as if he was suffocating, the not-air unable to get to his lungs and his hands went to his throat.
'But does it really matter,' a voice in his head passed by, one he recognized as his own, 'if I'm already dead?'
His throat was tightening more and more, and his hands were still trying to find what was wrong. This was bad, he knew and his body was starting to jerk and struggle. Something like a vague instinct told him that he didn't have much time, though for what he didn't know. A scream tried to leave his throat, but nothing came but gasps.
Please! The thought rang out in his mind, Someone, anyone, help!
Something answered him back.
Are you sure?
His last breaths were coming, even though they should have already been spent, and he couldn't get his mind to focus. The last thought he had before blackness, one that seemed all the more dreadful than the one he was currently enveloped in, encompassed his consciousness was a short, hurried and all around panicked one.
And with that, whatever he had been staving off reached Harry Potter.
When Harry came to once more, it was with a groan and a headache. At the same time, he felt more...calm. Relaxed even, as if everything was going to be alright. Still though, he couldn't help but rub at his throat. The memory of choking on his blood, a dragon having torn out his throat, was still fresh in his mind. Not to mention whatever had happened in that black void.
Shaking off the thoughts of his death, Harry looked around at where he was.
It seemed he was within some kind of room. The stone walls, reminiscent of those at Hogwarts, had torches decorating them to provide light. A red carpet was rolled out on the floor and and it lead up to some kind of pedestal. The pedestal itself was made of marble and didn't seem too special. You know, except for the weird bowl atop it, that seemed to be emitting an ominous purple flame. As far as Harry could tell, there was nothing else in the room.
Nothing else to do, he proceeded to walk up to the pedestal and the strange flame. Getting closer, a thought made him grimace sprang up.
If I'm dead, then this must be what comes after.
Though he had to say, he'd expected the afterlife to be a tad…different. The hairs on the back of his neck had started to stand up on end, as the feeling of being watched surged. His eyes darted back and forth through the room, searching for the cause of the feeling. However, no matter where he looked, he couldn't find anything.
Finally reaching the pedestal, he found that there was a couple more things besides the flame upon it. There was a bit of old, wrinkled parchment, clear and concise letters of green ink flowing along the surface. Besides it sat a white quill that had no prominent qualities. Turning one last glance over his shoulder and still finding nothing, he looked at what was written upon the parchment. Hopefully, there would be a clue as to where this was or what was happening.
What was on the parchment, was not something he had expected.
With Harry's death, his friends were grief stricken. Hermione turned to the one thing she had always found comfort in- her books. In an attempt to keep her mind off of her recently deceased friend, she poured through every book she could get her hands on. Unlike most times, she did so with no real objective besides pushing the sorrowful thoughts to the back of her head. As a consequence, she slowly drew further and further away from her peers than she already had been. Later on in life, she became an Unspeakable and even though she normally would have been content with such a job, there was no real happiness in her life.
Ron, whose relationship with Harry had been in a state of disrepair, was hit even harder. Anger and guilt dominant in his heart, he proceeded to delve into the subject of Magical Creatures with a vengeance. Though the rest of his skillset stayed relatively the same, later on in life he became a member, and eventually Head, of the Department For the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. He enacted many restricting regulations and was eventually forcibly retired. After that, still angry even 20 years later, he became something of a poacher, killing many Magical Beasts. Eventually, he was killed by a Romanian Dragon at the age of 58.
Sirius and Remus both went into a drunken stupor for the next few months. With Sirius stuck to out of the way places or staying in dog form, things were starting to take their toll. Remus was in no better shape either, as the mental disarray made the full moons harder and harder on him. By the time Voldemort regained his body and had started acting, they were both more than a bit unhinged. They would tear into the Death Eater ranks in something of a berserk state, alienating them from their allies even as they reduced the opposition's numbers. Both eventually fell in a large battle where Pettigrew had been sighted. Sirius had died with his hands around Pettigrew's neck and Remus had been torn apart by the opposing werewolves.
Voldemort regained a body shortly after Harry's death. Without the Boy-Who-Lived, Magical Britain's morale had been low and Voldemort was quick to take advantage of it. Dumbledore had been able to gather a group to oppose him, however, and the two sides fought a long and bloody war. The Ministry could no longer ignore what was happening and was drawn into the conflict. In the end, though Voldemort and the Death Eater's were defeated, a large majority of the population had either fled or died, including Dumbledore himself.
It felt like a bucket of ice cold water had been dumped over him. This is what had happened after he had died? His friends' lives had been ruined, and the country at large had apparently been devastated. All because he couldn't even sneak by a damn dragon. Harry couldn't help but squeeze his eyes shut in frustration. If only he'd done better.
He took a short moment to calm down. There was more he had to read. In fact, there seemed to be extra pieces of parchment under the first that he had missed before. The first few continued on in a similar fashion, listing out how the lives of the people he knew had gone. Cedric had apparently won the Triwizard Tournament, but had died himself shortly after. Hagrid had died in the war. McGonagall had survived and had continued teaching at Hogwarts, before finally becoming the Headmistress after Flitwick. Names he knew, and some he didn't. They were all there, but not in as much detail as the first few. In fact, they were all fairly vague, as if whoever had wrote this had known what had happened, but had not wanted him to know too much.
Finally, the descriptions stopped and he was at a new section. It seemed to be a list of various things he had done. Things like, 'Basilisk Killed,' and 'Sorted Gryffindor!' graced the paper. Some, like 'Snuck out to Hogsmeade,' had points next to them and he noticed that together they added up to the score from were hundreds more of these, ranging from the embarrassingly true 'Chivalrous invisibility cloak owner: never peeped on girls,' to the mysterious '1/? XXXX destroyed'. Time seemed to have no meaning as he read through it all, until the last bit of parchment came into sight at last.
Congratulations, you have unlocked:
10 Ancient Coin(s)
Harry wasn't entirely sure what any of this all meant, his entire life chronicled before his eyes, but it had to mean something. To be completely honest, he was a bit irked that his life was being graded, even more so that apparently his score was so terrible. He looked around once more, a grimace still on his face. It would not surprise him if this was some kind of joke, though who would be playing it on him he didn't know.
The room was still empty save for him and the pedestal, so he reluctantly looked down once more at the paper. To his surprise, he found that what was there previously had vanished, new parchment in its place.
Go to Main Menu _
Continue Current Session From Last Save _
Next to each option was a line to check off whichever he picked. That was not, however, what held his attention right now.
Harry had seen Dudley playing games. He knew what these terms meant. Someone was treating his life - and afterlife - like a damn video game - one that defied reason. He had never heard of anything like this, though it wasn't like he had much experience with videogames. The irritation he'd been feeling up until then rose and he had to take a moment to calm himself once more.
Releasing an exhale from his lungs, he decided that whoever was doing this didn't matter. If they were giving him the option, then there was no question.
Harry picked up the quill and checked off the second option.
The next moment, he was landing on his backside as dizziness hit him.
Slowly, the wooziness left him and he was able to right himself, rubbing his back to sooth some of the pain. His eyes squinted shut at the sudden increase of light around him, making it hard to see. Slowly, he opened his eyelids and allowed them to adjust and take and in his surroundings.
What greeted him was the inside of the tent where the Champions were to wait for their turn in the First Task.
Which meant he was back.
And not dead. Mostly that.
The Gryffindor couldn't keep himself from smiling stupidly. He was alive and well. In fact, it was almost like a dream and he couldn't help but wonder if he'd just imagined everything from before. An outlandish waking nightmare, as it were.
Shaking his head, he said, "There's no way my life is a video game. I must have been imagining things. Yeah, it was definitely just nerves messing with my head." He was lying to himself though, no matter how he tried to deny it. The thoughts were pushed to back of his head, however, as he refused to accept it.
Still, if it was true, you'd think I would've noticed before.
However, whether or not he had imagined it all, or if his life was now a video game wasn't important. The Tent was empty, so it must mean he was up next, and he could hear the mutterings of the crowd as a champion who he presumed to be Viktor tackled his turn at the Task.
He needed to figure out what to do about the dragon and quickly. Summoning his broom to outfly it didn't sound so smart to him all of a sudden. Seriously, who tries to outfly a dragon? But what else could he do?
Harry glanced to the flaps that led out to the First Task. Whatever he was going to do, he needed to think of it quickly. He didn't have much time.
Alright, let's see, what are my Options? There was a sudden 'ding' at the thought, startling Harry. Shifting, he looked for the cause of the sudden sound, his thoughts temporarily abandoned. The first thing he noticed was a fly, frozen in mid-air right in front of his face. Turning to look around, he immediately found something even weirder than the frozen fly. Behind where he had been standing, there was now a pedestal, much like the one he had seen earlier, and he could feel his eyes widening.
No. No no no. This can't be happening. There's no way!
Slowly, haltingly, he looked down upon the parchment he knew would be there.
Background Music: Off
POV: First Person
Bypass Pause Screen: On (Verbal/Thought)
Back to Pause Screen?
The Triwizard participant stepped back, forced to realize that no, he wasn't hallucinating, and yes that pedestal was real. Harry could feel himself start to hyperventilate, his breathing becoming harsh as he doubled over.
It's not there, it's not real, there's no way it can be real! This is not a videogame! The Parchment and Pedestal were still there, however, and it was becoming evident that he couldn't keep himself in denial forever. Still, he took a moment to sit down and rest against the pedestal, his eyes a bit unfocused.
He was unsure of how long he lay there, his back against the pedestal as he came to terms with his situation. Either he was crazy, or this was real. Or maybe he was under some sort of spell? It was better than the alternatives, but he doubted it. He had no idea how it could be real, and he didn't know of any spells with these effects but he'd rather not be crazy. So, if he wasn't crazy, and he didn't know how this could be orchestrated with magic, that left only one option.
His life was now, or always had been, a video game.
A video game for who, however? Was he in control of himself, or was someone playing through him, and he only had the illusion of free will?
Harry picked himself up with a sigh. There was no use dwelling on that, he understood. It didn't matter, now. He could dwell on such things later, when he had the time and he wasn't already so stressed.
Whatever he had done, it had somehow seemed to stop time. It was kind of frightening, actually. Objectively, he knew that manipulating time was possible, but Harry had never heard of someone outright stopping it before. It was just another absurdity, adding to the already absurd situation.
He tried to walk towards the tent's exit. As soon as he passed by the spot he had Paused at, however, his body refused to move any further. His muscles stopped, and he couldn't move. Panicked, he tried to backpedal backwards toward the pedestal, and his body was unfrozen. He fell on his arse painfully, and took a few deep breaths to calm himself. Getting to his feet, and after some experimentation, he realized that the only place he could walk to while time was stopped was the spot he actually stopped time in, and the pedestal itself.
Taking off his glasses and rubbing at his eyes, he groaned, "What the hell have I gotten myself into now?"
Replacing his glasses, he turned his attention to the pedestal, notinf that nothing had changed. He couldn't help glaring at it, trying to figure out what some of it meant. What was a HUD, exactly? And why would he want music? It was all very strange.
"I probably shouldn't mess with Brightness or Language. But how could my Point of View change? And how would I even read the subtitles? For that matter, why am I even considering this?!"
Still, Harry couldn't help his curiosity. What exactly would happen if he messed with one of these things? His curiosity was also doing a good job of keeping other things from his mind, namely the giant dragon that had previously killed him.
Looking to the side, he found the same white quill from earlier. Hesitating slightly, he slowly grabbed it before taking it and crossing out the 'Off,' next to 'Background Music.' As soon as he finished crossing it out, a slow lilting melody drew up comfortably in the background, while the crossed out text faded from view and was replaced by an 'On.'
"Huh. That's actually kind of cool. Not sure I'm not crazy yet, but cool."
Unfortunately, he knew it would get distracting sooner or later and so crossed out the 'On', 'Off' taking it's former place. He messed around with a couple of the options for a bit longer, having a particular bit of fun with the Point of View option. He could now understand why his aunt complained about his hair so much. The Gryffindor had also found that by putting a fair bit of intent behind a word, as if casting a spell, he could change the Options verbally.
Finally, he decided to mess with whatever 'HUD' was.
"HUD, On." As soon as the words had left his mouth, things changed. It was like someone had stuffed a hot poker into his skull and swirled his brain about. At some point his hands had flown up to grasp his head and a groan of pain escaped his throat. It took awhile, but finally, mercifully, the pain was going away.
When his eyes snapped open, not having realized he had closed them, he found things… different. In the corner of his vision, there was a see through version of the Marauder's Map, except it only seemed to cover his immediate area, showing the borders of the tent and the stands further out from that. In the other corner, there was a red bar and a green bar under it, that both seemed important, but he didn't know how. Next to those was a stylized thunderbolt, that seemed to also be the edges of his vision were numbers with small icons besides them, but he had no idea what these were. Finally, right above and in front him was an arrow, pointing to the outside of the tent.
Still holding his head in residual pain, he tried to figure out what he'd done. Obviously, the Map was a map, and he could see his name on it. However, unlike the real Marauder's Map, he could not see any names outside of the tent. He still wasn't sure what the red or green bars were, but the fact that the red one pulsed slightly in time with the flashes of leftover pain made him suspect it may have something to do with his health. The stylized also thunderbolt had also seemed to stop pulsing down as he regained some of his calm.
"That….was a stupid idea."
He looked at the pedestal with wariness now. Crazy or not, that pain had been real. It suddenly occurred to him that messing with things he had no idea about, might not have been the been the best course of action.
Pulling at his hair in frustration, a huff of air left him. At the very least, he needed to get time working again. With much more reluctance than previously, he went back to the parchment once more. Idly, he noticed the things that had appeared in his vision seemed to fade if he ignored them, lessening the obstructions in his view, and becoming appropriately prominent if he focused on them again.
Looking down at the parchment, he tried to figure out how to get rid of it. If he was lucky, he'd never see something like this again and he'd simply have to deal with his new vision problems. That was much easier than having to believe his life was in a videogame. Scrutinizing it some more, he decided on what to do.
"Bypass Pause Screen, Off. Err… Back to Pause Screen?"
Before his eyes, the ink faded and was replaced. Wanting this to be done with quickly he skimmed through the various options and found what he was looking for at the very bottom.
Immediately, the world went back to the way it was. One instant the pedestal was there, the next it was gone in a flash of purple flames and another faint 'ding.' His shoulders slumped and he let out a relieved sigh. It was gone and things were back to normal. Well, as normal as they could be, when he was losing his mind. He idly swatted the fly out of his hair.
Cheers suddenly came from outside the tent and there was the shriek of a Chinese Fireball. "That's some nerve he's showing," he heard Bagman's voice, while at the same time some faint text appeared near the bottom of his vision, with Bagman's name followed by what the man was saying. Subtitles made a bit more sense now. Bagman was saying the exact same thing Harry remembered him saying the first time. There was a sinking feeling in his gut. "And- Yes, he's got the egg!"
Krum had finished and Harry knew it was almost his turn. He was frozen, his mind and body still. And then the sharp whistle broke through, signaling his turn. The white, translucent arrow was pointing insistently towards the exit of the tent.
Dimly, he realized he'd never gone over his options - at least, not the ones he had meant to - and now time was up.
The dragon was different. The frame was a larger, if only by a bit, the spikes that adorned it's body were sharper and deadlier looking and the teeth... Well, they were definitely bigger than before and he would know. He'd seen them up close after all.
There were new additions to his vision as well. When he looked at the dragon, a red bar would appear by or above the dragon itself. There also a golden symbol next to the bar, that looked like a wheel of spikes. He also noticed that the arrow above him was pointing at the eggs. However, his attention drifted back to dragon.
There was something off about the Horntail's eyes, Harry decided.
It wasn't that the color was off, as they were still the same shade of yellow as before. No, it was something more, something that couldn't quite be defined in color. In fact, it was much like the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes that one so often saw, except that this was much more malicious. The dragon's gaze had piercing quality to it, one that spoke of intelligence, but also a roaring fury that had no real discernible cause.
Needless to say, it was frightening.
Harry hadn't realized he was standing still, frozen in a locked gaze with the Horntail until it opened it's mouth, preparing to blast fire at him. Quickly and franticly, the young Gryffindor scrambled to get out of the way. While he was quite a distance from the Horntail and its fire breath most likely wouldn't be able to reach him yet, an instinct developed from several near death encounters told him to move.
He'd only gotten a few feet to the side when a jet of flames blasted past his back, close enough to singe the hair on his neck and the back of his head.
Oh yeah, something was definitely off.
At the blast of fire, the spectators had broken out in cheers, excited by the close call. There were some jeers, mostly from those recognized as Slytherins and some who were upset by his becoming a second Hogwarts Champion. Still, apparently he wasn't the only one who had noticed something was wrong as there were few hushed whispers, he couldn't make out what they were saying, but they came from the dragon handlers that were on standby.
Harry couldn't keep a grimace from his face or help the roll of his eyes. 'Let's see themtry and fight a dragon!
Reality came back to him, however, at the sight of the dragon turning its head and preparing another jet of white hot fire. This time he was more prepared and knew what was coming, so he was able to completely avoid the flames. The game of cat and mouse kept up for a couple of minutes and by the end Harry was sweating from the sweltering heat.
Finally, he was able to get behind a boulder, hopefully buying himself some time. Pushing his back up against it, he could hear some vicious roars from the dragon, like it was shouting out a battle cry. Right after, he could feel the heat from the flames that were hitting the other side of the rock. Rubbing at some raw areas, he noticed that the red bar in his vision had shortened the slightest bit and if he was correct, it was from some of the close calls he'd had with the fire.
For some reason, the dragon was a lot more aggressive this time around. Considering it was a Hungarian Horntail which were notorious for their ferocity and aggression, that was saying something. He needed to do something and quickly or he'd be baked alive.
'Looks like I've got to go with Plan B. Or is it A?' Harry couldn't help but groan. This was a horrible idea. Calming himself as much as he could, given the present situation, and focused. He pulled out his wand, but his hands were sweaty and shaking. Focus would be needed to actually cast the spell.
Harry knew before he had even finished. The spell wouldn't work, his shaking hands had made the arc too angled, less circular than it should have been. That was when things turned didn't know what, but something felt wrong, like a sharp poke in the chest, but it wasn't anything physical.
It was like the words were spoken in his head, but at the same time they appeared in his vision. Big, blocky words, that acted much the same as the other new additions to his eyesight. Slowly they faded and with it came a sinking feeling. Even now his cracking mind wouldn't give him a moments rest. Something else caught his notice, however, as new words started to appear. Unlike in the tent, it seemed time hand't stopped and the heat at his back made him acutely aware of the fact.
Spell Failure is caused when a Spell
is not entirely Learned. One can fully
learn a Spell by studying. You can check
how Learned your Spells are by checking
the Spell section of the Character menu.
Go to Character Menu?
The Triwizard Champion quickly absorbed what the floating text said. Harry still wasn't sure about this, but the burning on his back and the sides of his arms was telling him he was running out of time. Just how long could the Horntail keep this up? It was unreal! If the damn game could help him, well, why not? It wasn't like he had any other options!
Gritting his teeth, he grunted out a reluctant, "Yes!"
Immediately the block of text faded away and box of text appeared next to it.*
You have Perks you can choose!
Go to Perks Tab?
It was getting hotter and hotter and sweat was pouring down his face. Harry took in the see-through sheet as quickly as he could, noting the Tabs at the top, much like one would see in a filing cabinet. The rest of it seemed to describe his current condition and abilities, not counting his magic. He wasn't entirely sure what 'Default Origin' meant, but it wasn't the time.
The sheet switched tabs and the new page was absolutely filled. Every spell he knew was listed there and some he had forgotten. Next to most of them was the word 'Learned' but most of the ones that he recognized as current spells being taught in class had varying things beside them. Some were 'Barely Known' while others were 'Half-learned' or 'Mostly Learned.' There were some older spells and ones he had practiced relentlessly like the Patronus Charm, that were listed as 'Mastered.' A quick check showed him that the Summoning Spell was put down as 'Mostly Learned.'
"Damnit, what the hell does that even mean?!"
Frustrated and running out of options and time, he tried the Summoning Spell once again. And once again, he got the same feeling as before, like a non-pinching in his chest and another 'Spell Failed' message.
'Well, crap. Come on, think! Maybe… what was the other thing it said before? About Perks?'
It's not like there was anything else he could do. He opened his mouth drawing in a breath of hot air, desperately hoping for this to work.
Once more the sheet in his eyes changed, a new page coming into view. Much like the last two, this one listed things, however the text was in a different color. Whereas all of the text since he had first seen it had been in a dark green, the things listed were in black. The exceptions was the 'Perks' at the top and the message underneath saying '3 Perk points.'
Before he could look at them more, the flames hitting the back of his cover suddenly stopped. Tensing, he stopped looking at the sheet, which became near entirely transparent as he lost focus on it. Slowly, he crept to edge of the boulder, for while the flames had stopped he could still hear the grumblings and occasional roars from the dragon. Craning his neck to look out over the arena, Harry saw the Horntail still in the position it had been in when he first entered.
Only... it looked angrier, if that was possible, and there was smoke billowing out from it's mouth. As he looked out at it, the dragon let out a massive shriek, before stretching out it's neck and tail, as if tensing itself. Then, as the shriek started getting louder, it's tail started to change. More spikes started to grow at the end and the tail it's seemed to be getting longer, sickening crunches and pops resounding from it. When the changes finally stopped, the Horntail's tail had a dozen new spikes and was twice as long as before. Though such a change should have thrown off the things center of balance, and had to have been painful, it still seemed perfectly fine as it stretched out its improved appendage.
Then, it started to bring the tail to the side, as if it planned to hit something with it.
'That… can't be good.'
Deciding it would be a good idea to take the chance to find new cover, Harry booked it to another large boulder that was further back, but also further away. As he ran, he noticed that the entire back half off the boulder he had behind had been turned to slag. The sight gave harry a bit of extra motivation to run faster and get behind more cover.
Sliding behind the new boulder, he got there just in time as the dragon had finished pulling back its massive tail. The gigantic beast swung the appendage towards the half-melted boulder he had hid behind earlier with an earth-shaking roar. When the end of the tail finally hit the diminished boulder, it was like it had been hit with a wrecking ball. It had been smashed into pieces, the debris flying everywhere. A couple shards had even whizzed by his face, causing him to duck back behind his cover.
'If I'm hit with that tail, I'll be turned turned into a bloody smear on the ground!'
Worse, he was sure his cover wouldn't hold at all against the force of that tail. Quickly sparing a glance at the still nearly transparent sheet of 'Perks," he decided to risk it. He skimmed as quickly as he could, knowing he had little time. There had to be something useful for the situation in there. The sound of the dragon bringing back it's tail in preparation for another blow was easily heard and it made him all the more frantic.
Though he was quite panicked, he was able to take note of the many different perks, some embarrassing like 'Kama Sutra Master,' and others that were a bit weird like 'Lockhart's Smile.'That wasn't all there was though and he soon he found three that may help him. The words he needed flew out his mouth as quickly as they could.
Don Wand Chosen
Mile-High Club Chosen
Mean Muggin' Chosen
Not wasting time and hoping this worked, he tried the summoning spell one more time, putting all his effort into it. This time, the spell seemed effortless, like he had been long comfortable with the charm. It was completely different to how he had been before, it was as if the moment he had started to cast the spell, he had calmed and his mind had sharpened to a fine point.
There was no pinching in his chest this time and no words telling him he had failed. In fact, he could see his broom flying towards him right now. The first Perk he had chosen seemed to have worked. It was supposed to give him a bonus to his skill with Charms and it seemed to have been enough, more than enough, even.
'And it all felt so natural, too...'' However, there were more important things to focus on at the moment than the feeling he had gotten when casting that spell.
If he'd kept track of time right, than the dragon's tail should just be reaching the end of its preparation. Luckily, his broom had finally gotten to him and he wasn't planning on sticking around.
Climbing on the broom, he noticed the effects of the second Perk, Mile-High Club. Like Don Wand, this one also gave him a bonus. In this instance, it was to his flying skill. Indeed, even just barely off the ground, Harry could feel it, a leap in his prowess on a broom on top of his already considerable talent. Taking off with a whoop of joy, he flew into the sky.
Though he had been wary of this plan, as it had failed him the first time, he couldn't help the grin that settled on his face. From up here, everything seemed so far away, so distant. It was like all of his problems had been left behind. But he still had something he needed to do and so he focused, looking downwards.
He could faintly hear Bagman's voice, still narrating the fight and the stadium's cheers and jeers, which had been almost thunderous on the ground, were now pushed into the background, like the buzzing of a fly. It was not them who held his attention though and soon his eyes zeroed in on the Horntail. The beast was as terrifying from up here as it had been down there and the modifications to the things body were clearly evident.
From his vantage point, Harry could see the dragon turning its head around, looking for him after already having reduced another boulder to dust. He watched as it gave a frustrated roar at having lost its prey, but then it finally turned its gaze to the sky.
Wicked yellow eyes narrowed as they locked-on to his form and Harry felt a shiver go up his spine. This time would be even worse, he could feel it. Already, the dragon was straining against it's bindings, trying to take flight. With all of the 'improvements' to the dragon, they wouldn't hold well at all. Harry was already climbing up into the air, he'd take all he could get, including this little head start.
Even from all the way up in the air, he heard the inevitable 'snap!' of the chains holding down the beast and the screams of the stadium that followed soon after. He ignored it, going up, further and further, though he slowed down after a bit. The air around him shifted and the Gryffindor could feel the presence of the dragon gaining on him.
That meant the Horntail had focused on him, ignoring the spectators. Harry had been fairly sure it would, but the thought that it may go on a rampage had still occurred to him. Even then though, Dumbledore was down there, as well as the dragon handlers and he was sure they could have dealt with the dragon easily.
Returning to the matter at hand, he looked behind him, the roars of the dragon telling him it was getting closer. Indeed, the Horntail was catching up, more than he was comfortable with and Harry decided it was time for some evasive maneuvers. Tilting to the side, he started to drop down, before turning and going in a downwards spiral.
The beat of wings and the snorts behind him told him that the dragon was still there. Making a sharp drop, he leaned forwards on the broom, going straight down, head first. Not for long however, as after gaining a bit of distance, he rolled and straightened out his flight, going in the opposite direction from where he started. This caused him to pass by under the large beast, which wasn't fast or near enough to catch him in it's claws or jaw. Neither could it turn on a knut like he could, giving him even more distance.
Finally, the overgrown lizard was able to turn and shake off the brief dizziness that trying to follow Harry had caused it. It was back to the chase once more. With the amount of distance between them at just about where he wanted, Harry started to climb into the sky once again. After getting to about the same height he had been at before, he turned around once more, facing the oncoming dragon.
'I really hope this works.'
The visage of the dragon was one of malicious glee at seemingly having caught its prey. To Harry, it was a disgusting sort of terrifying, with the dragon's tongue clearly visible between the beast's open jaws and rows of sharp teeth. Still, he forced himself to enact the last part of his makeshift plan and looked the dragon in the eyes.
This was where the last Perk he chosen came in. When he first saw it, he had been ambivalent about it. On one hand, it seemed useful. On the other, it had some negative connotations in his mind. The Perk was 'Mean Muggin' apparently unlocked by his slaying of the Basilisk and it effectively gave him a watered down version of a Basilisks' eyes that could be used at will. He just needed eye contact. Of course, he couldn't actually petrify someone, just temporarily paralyze them. The longer he held someone's gaze, the longer they'd be paralyzed. However, it could be resisted or broken free of by a strong enough magic resistance or mental defense.
But this high up in the air, all Harry needed was a moment. His gaze locked with that of the dragon and he could feel a slight tingle in his eyes. At the same time, he saw the dragon's muscles all tense, some twitching before going still. He was able to hold the gaze for a few more seconds before he had to close his eyes because of a strong wind.
Then the dragon started to fall. With all of its muscles paralyzed and its joints locked, the dragon was unable to beat its massive, black, leathery wings. So, with nothing to keep it aloft in the air, it was forced to go downwards. Because the gaze had been so short, and because of the dragon's innate magical resistance, the Horntail was only halfway to the ground before control of its body came back. By that time, it was too late however, as the way it had fell had made the wings furl up and now there was too much pressure to spread them back out.
Up above, finally able to open his eyes again, Harry watched as all this happened. He couldn't help but feel slightly guilty as he saw an almost human-like panic in the dragon's yellow eyes, but he pushed it to the back of his head. It was like time slowed down, just the tiniest bit, as the Horntail dropped through the air. When it finally reached the ground, with a large 'thud!'and on it's back, it was clear to see that the dragon had survived, though in obvious pain. It wouldn't be moving anytime soon, if the pained groans coming from it were anything to go by.
The Fourth Triwizard Champion felt his shoulders sag with relief as he almost leisurely flew down on his Firebolt. It was an almost entirely anti-climactic affair when he finally grabbed the golden egg.
As he finally landed on the ground, he couldn't help the sigh of relief that left him. He'd done it. his body was sore and his mind was tired, but he'd done it.
The First Task was over and he was alive. Whether or not he was sane remained to be decided.
Corrupted Hungarian Horntail Defeated!
Main Quest: 'First Task' Completed!
Your are Now Level 8
The words appeared, along with a subtly flashing icon of a stylized owl head that minimized and parked itself at the edge of his vision, flashing rhythmically. Harry tried to ignore them as best he could. After the First Task, he was brought to the medical tent for a check-up, even though he hadn't received any injuries besides a few burns on his back and arms. Madame Pomfrey had complained, talking about how things just kept getting worse every year before putting some burn salve on him.
Cedric had been in the tent as well, behind a curtain, but Harry hadn't stayed long. He had taken off immediately after the salve had been applied. The fight had taken a physical and mental toll on him and the adrenaline had worn off. All he knew was that he needed to find Hermione.
Hermione would know what to do. He couldn't tell if he was going crazy or not. If anyone could tell him for sure, it'd be her. Lucky for him, he had barely made it past the flap of of tent when something slammed into him. Normally, this would have alarmed him, but the familiar head of bushy hair told him it was exactly the person he had been looking for.
"Oh, Harry you did it! You're alive, even though that dragon was just off and I'm not sure why that was, because dragons shouldn't be able to do what that dragon did and it was all very curious and frightening and I was so worried-"
Despite his worryings over his mental state, he couldn't help but let out a laugh, interrupting Hermione's ramblings as she pulled away from her hug. Absently, he noticed the marks on her face where she had presumable dug her fingernails in worry.
"Hermione, it's fine! I'm okay, there's no need to worry about my health right now."
'My physical health, that is...'
Taking a deep breath in preparation, he steeled his nerves, "Hermione...Hermione I need to talk to you. There's...there's something wrong and I don't know how to explain it well, but my life now seems like a muggle videogame. I know it sounds crazy, because it is crazy, but I'm seeing things like menus and options and that last part of the fight I shouldn't have been able to do! It's crazy, but I can't help but believe it and I think I'm going insane, because I believe it." A deep pause to breathe and try to gather his thoughts.
"Hermione, I just...I just don't know what to do, or think, and I really need your help with this. What do you think I should do?"
Hermione was taken aback by Harry's sudden change in demeanor, as well as what he was saying. She bit her lip. It was obvious to her by the more than slightly frantic look in his eyes that something was wrong. She didn't necessarily believe that they were now in a videogame, of course, that was preposterous, but Harry clearly believed it and was worried by his own belief in it.
More than that, he was actually asking her for help. Harry was her best friend, of course she would help him, that went without saying, but he wasn't really one to ask for it, usually. Normally, he would've kept something like this to himself, not wanting to worry his friends, but his panicked state seemed to have made him desperate. Professor Dumbledore would certainly have to become involved, Madame Pomfrey at the very least. But before that...
Hermione visibly calmed herself, looking him right in eye. "Harry, tell me everything."
Red eyes, shining through the darkness, stared pensively at the message serenely floating above the ground of the empty chamber, wreathed in shadow.
In the darkness, the being smiled.
All credit for the Bad Perk names goes to BitMyFinger. .