The Inner Eye of Harry Potter
The Reluctant Champion
Disclaimer – It’s fanfic.
Acknowledgements – Thanks to the usual suspects at Alpha Fight Club. I’m putting this up unbetaed. I’ll merge it with the betaed version after I get it back.
The Inner Eye of Harry Potter
Chapter 4: The Reluctant Champion
“What do you make of, ‘Three will be expected, but four will arrive.’?” Harry asked his Auntie Sibyll gesturing to the line in his book of predictions.
His mentor’s brow furrowed and her eyes winked behind her overly large glasses. “I’m not certain, Harry. A strict interpretation of it means there will be an unexpected result.”
“An unexpected result? That never happens at school,” Harry answered as dryly as possible.
She smiled at him and said, “If you look at from a numerological standpoint, three is a prime number and is seen as powerful. Four is the first non-prime number, but is symbolic of balance. On the surface, three becoming four sounds like a good thing. I suspect the powers are being intentionally vague with you, Harry. Be patient and allow the answer to come to you in good time.”
Admittedly, Harry had tried to force several things since the events of last year. The ghost of Peter Pettigrew had vowed revenge and was actively seeking Voldemort. His lack of discipline had likely angered the powers and they were only giving him vague responses. The most ominous one being, “Beware the man that walks as a woman.” The powers also cautioned him that he’d need the “Moon’s gifts.”
“You ever think about playing Quidditch? Your dad was rather good.” Sirius said as they prepared to go to the World Cup.
“Not really sir,” Harry didn’t really care for the game. “There’d be too much temptation to use my abilities and that would be an affront to the greater powers.”
“James would really be impressed at how you stay in character. You’re pranking the whole wizarding world, Harry. Don’t ever stop!”
Harry wondered how those long years surrounded by Dementors had affected his newly acquired godfather. The man seemed to believe that Harry was acting and nothing Harry said or did would convince the man otherwise. It made him wary of going with Sirius unless they were accompanied by someone else.
Fortunately, Remus Lupin would be meeting them at the World Cup. The man was kind and respectful of Harry’s talents. Thanks to him, Harry could make the Patronus mist and he had plenty of stories about Harry’s mum and dad. Even with the werewolf’s presence, Harry was certain this whole trip was going to end badly. All the signs pointed toward it.
Dumbledore had just finished his welcoming speech, trying to ease everyone’s concern about the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup. Everyone was excited about The Triwizard Tournament and the chance to be a champion to represent the school.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Padma Patil asked. They had an odd friendship. She liked her logic and puzzles, but listened to what he said and accepted him on his word. It was far more than most of his house offered. Often, Harry had the sneaking suspicion that she was using him as a test subject and planning to do a research paper on him. He pictured himself chained up and Padma running test on him in a secret laboratory she had stashed away in the castle.
Lately, that idea had begun to intrigue Harry. This, his Auntie explained, was the result of Harry entering puberty. She said he would begin to be attracted to young witches and talked to Harry at length. He politely refused her offer to provide diagrams and other paraphernalia. It was the most awkward conversation they’d ever had.
He’d accidentally walked in on Cousin Dudley’s “demonstration.” Sadly, the owl he sent to Gilderoy Lockhart, requesting if he could possibly remove that particular memory was answered by his publicist. She informed Harry that Mr. Lockhart had left England to travel extensively and would be unavailable for the foreseeable future.
“Harry, you’re doing it again.” Padma sounded slightly irritated at his drifting off in thought.
“Sorry, I’m just trying to figure out if it ties in to a prediction I made this summer. If so, there’s going to be four champions. I wonder why?” He finished by repeating the prediction to her.
Padma answered, “Well, I guess anything is possible. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.”
He gently tapped the blonde girl next to him, so Luna would know that Dumbledore was finished speaking.
“What did I miss?” Luna asked removing the enchanted butterbeer corks from her ears. She’d told Harry about Dumbledore’s alleged ties to the Heliopaths and vowed not to listen to anything the man said all year.
“There’s going to be a contest. We’ll be hosting visitors from two other schools.” Padma summarized.
Luna smiled, “How nice. I’ll have to let Daddy know. Harry, don’t forget to get extra hard boiled eggs tomorrow at breakfast.”
Harry saw Padma rolling her eyes. “Luna, you’re not going to try that chicken egg ritual in the common room again this year? It’s not going to work.”
“No, we still have to wait a few more months before I can try that again. Venus is completely in the wrong position. Harry and I are going out to feed the Giant Squid after breakfast. It likes breaking the shells with its suction cups after we engorge them.” The third year student paused and giggled. “It’s cracking good fun, right Harry?”
Harry nodded, “Rather friendly creature. The lake was one of the few places I was allowed to go last year with the Dementors and the ruckus over my godfather. Would you like to come with us, Padma?”
“Perhaps another time. I like sleeping in.”
Harry knew there was an ongoing debate inside Ravenclaw tower concerning which one of them was more “barmy.” Luna was oblivious and thanks to Padma running interference for the young third year, she was left in her own private world. He often wondered how much “interference” Padma was running for him. The powers had seen fit to put her in his life and he was grateful for her assistance.
All said and done, they were a most odd trio.
“When Professor Moody sleeps at night, do you think his eye sees through his eyelid?”
Padma blinked several times. She did that a lot when Harry or Luna said something completely off the wall. “I don’t know, Harry. Maybe it comes out? Perhaps you should ask him.” Quickly, she added, “Just make sure you stay after class to do that. It doesn’t have anything to do with the course, after all.”
“Too right you are,” he replied and she could see that he was already moving on to the next random thought in his mind. Both he and Luna Lovegood were oddly insightful – nothing like her dingbat of a sister and her vapid circle of friends. Being around the two was a true mental exercise. Their thought processes were so vastly different when compared to the rest of the student body. Luna’s approach to solving a problem was so very random and Padma could actually picture the thousand monkeys inside the girl’s head scribbling away in their notebooks. Harry was different. He would start on a logical path and sometimes even complete the journey. More often than not, he would suddenly diverge, inspired by the powers he believed in and arrive at a solution no one, except for he, could predict.
It was fascinating to watch, but sometimes a bit of a gamble to be his partner during Transfiguration classes. Having seen many of his visions come true, Padma seriously wondered whether he manifested accidental magic that would fulfill his soothsaying almost like a magical “lucky streak.” Perhaps during their sixth year, he’d allow her to privately examine him. She stopped that line of thought and hid a blush with a cough while scolding herself to not think such thoughts.
For the most part, she studied them, looking for patterns of behavior and enjoyed the increased cerebral acuteness that came to her from being around her two friends.
The only troubling thing was over the summer, when Vati had her friends over, Padma would be listening to their conversation and found herself thinking and almost saying things that either Harry or Luna might say.
It made her wonder if they were “contagious” and if she should closely control how much time she spent around the duo this year.
These thoughts circled her mind as she watched Dumbledore gesture for Cedric Diggory to follow the other two selected champions into the staff room behind the Great Hall. When the Goblet of Fire relit for a fourth time, she heard Harry’s sharp intake of breath and saw him grab his knee and lean forward.
He has very soft looking hands. Funny, I’ve never thought about that before.
She halted that line of thought and focused on the fact that he said there would be four champions instead of three. If the “improbability field,” as she liked to call it, around him was powerful enough to affect magical items, he must be an extremely powerful wizard.
“Harry Potter!?!” The Headmaster sputtered in near disbelief.
She looked at Harry and he was paler than usual. People all around him were turning and glaring at him.
“Bugger! I didn’t …” he started.
Padma took that opportunity to take his hand and give it a gentle squeeze. “I know you didn’t.” Privately, she added, “on purpose.”
Harry responded with a grateful smile and let go of her hand. He looked a frightful, despondent mess as he walked slowly toward Albus Dumbledore. People were already whispering and Padma felt her protective hackles coming up. She knew he’d put up a good show and act like it didn’t bother him, but she suspected that he’d be spending a lot of time hiding from the rest of the students this year, either with his aunt or all the other places he goes with that invisibility cloak of his.
She looked at her hand and recalled that she was correct. His hands were very soft.
There’s room for two under that cloak as I recall. No, he’s not boyfriend material just yet. Maybe next year.
“Where did Harry go?” Luna asked, once again removing her makeshift ear plugs.
“It’s a long story.” She replied with a sigh.
“Do you have a plan for your dragon?” The disguised Barty Crouch, Junior asked.
“What dragon, sir?”
“Don’t play dumb with me, boy. I’m in no mood. The one you’re going to face tomorrow, lad. You don’t have to pretend with me, Potter. I’d be surprised if there weren’t ten people in this entire castle that don’t know about the four dragons in the forest.”
The boy continued playing innocent. “I know that I have to retrieve something, but that’s all my crystal ball would tell me. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about a dragon.”
This kid killed the Dark Lord? It’s hard to believe.
“Yes, you’ve got to get a fake egg from the dragon’s nest. You’ve got to find something that you’re good at and have an edge. So tell me, what are you good at, lad?”
Potter began listing off all sorts of useless things, but finished, “I didn’t want to do too much scrying, because it would be cheating.”
“Listen up,” he said, trying to picture what the real Alastor Moody would do when faced with such abject stupidity. “It’s a given that everyone cheats in this contest. Do you think Diggory’s knack for Transfiguration is a cheat? The French girl is as much a fairy princess as I am a football player. Don’t even get me started on Krum! They’re playing to their strengths. If throwing dice and reading tea leaves gives you an advantage, then you’d be daft not to use it!”
It was beginning to make his head hurt. There was a knock on the door to his office and he used his wand to open it. An older woman stood there looking perturbed. She looked down at the boy, frowned, and asked, “Not giving any coaching, Moody, are you?”
“Not a bit, Bertha. Potter was just leaving.”
They waited for the boy to leave and he cast a privacy ward and spelled the door shut.
“What news do you have, Crouch?” The pseudo witch asked.
“That boy doesn’t stand a chance tomorrow, Pettigrew. I told him to trust in his skills. Even if he does have a gift, that’d hardly help him against a dragon.” Crouch wondered exactly what the Dark Lord had done or taught to Peter Pettigrew that allowed him to claim Bertha Jorkins’ body. It was probably best that he never knew.
“Good,” the possessed witch answered. “I’d like nothing better to see him burnt to a crisp.”
“The Master won’t be pleased. He still wants the boy for his ritual.”
“That bastard killed me, Crouch! He deserves to die!”
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” Barty said enjoying the irony. “He doesn’t have a clue about what to do with a dragon. Potter’s a mediocre spellcaster at best. He spends too much time staring into tea leaves.”
The ghost possessing his father’s assistant fought and regained control of the body he was possessing. After a moment he shrugged and said, “I’m stuck in this bint’s body! If I just up and kill the little shit, the Dark Lord would leave me as a ghost me in retribution, but if he dies all on his own, well that’s just a shame now isn’t it?”
“I agree in principle, Pettigrew. The Master is too fixated on Potter. Virtually anyone would be suitable for the ritual, but he insists on the boy. When the boy’s gone, our lord will come to his senses and rise again. We will be able to get out of this forsaken place and be first in his new inner circle.”
“The sooner we leave the better, Crouch.”
Albus Dumbledore worried for young Harry Potter and curious at the same time. The young wizard didn’t seem too concerned with the prospect of stealing something from a Dragon’s nest and he was facing a particularly foul-tempered Horntail.
The fourth year Ravenclaw stood at the entrance to the pen. He was taking a moment to stare at the enormous beast. Privately, he wondered whether Harry’s seer talents would aid him here. After looking at the creature for a full minute, he turned and walked to the exit and out of the enclosure.
While Dumbledore blinked his eyes, Bagman and the crowd were in a full uproar. Reluctantly, he stood and headed for the tent. Upon his arrival, things were out of control.
“The boy weasels his way into the tournament and then does this! It is an outrage!”
“Calm down, Igor,” Albus barked. “I’m certain answers will be forthcoming. Harry, would you come here. Facing a dragon is understandably frightening, but I’m wondering why you did not attempt a single spell.”
“I didn’t have to sir,” the young wizard answered.
“Do tell. Why not?”
“I took the egg from Professor McGonagall’s office last night. I already have my clue for the next challenge.”
If Albus thought the shouts in the room were loud before, they were nothing compared to the next minute.
“He’s a cheater!”
“Potter should be disqualified!”
“Enough! Why would you do such a thing, Harry?”
The boy shrugged, “Professor Moody convinced me that using my talents wasn’t cheating, so I did. After divining the locations of the eggs, I checked both my cards and my runic dice and received a favorable outcome. So, I went ahead and retrieved the egg from Professor McGonagall’s office.”
“How did you know that you had to retrieve an egg or where they were located?”
“Afraid I let that slip when I was speaking to the lad, Albus. Please accept my apologies.” Alastor hobbled in and joined the conversation.
“I see. Alastor, you and I will have words on this matter later. Now Harry, how did you discern where the eggs were being held?”
“I did a card reading and the avatar of the ‘faithless servant’ came up. So I went to the kitchen and asked Dobby the house elf. He didn’t know, but the female elf he’s good friends with cleans Professor McGonagall’s office.”
“So, you broke in to a teacher’s office?” Snape growled. “Here I thought you weren’t like your arrogant father.”
“No sir,” Harry said hastily. “Professor McGonagall always says that she has an open door policy if we need help. Since she doesn’t actually have a door, I assumed that meant her office was always open to students.”
“Then why were there four eggs there this morning?” The Headmaster asked.
“I figured out the clue inside it after a few minutes and took it back.”
“What?” Several voices asked in unison.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Harry replied.
Albus could tell the child was nervous being at the center of all this attention. “Harry, if you would whisper how you know this into my ear, I’d like to confirm that you’ve broken the riddle.”
He bent down to let the boy whisper. Harry said, “I’ve been learning to speak some Mermish. The Giant Squid understands that and Swahili, but we don’t have any books on Swahili here.”
With the eyes of the crowd on him, Albus nodded and patted Harry on the head. “Harry has indeed broken the riddle of the egg.”
“Well, I’m giving him a zero!” Karkaroff growled. Madame Maxime also seemed irate.
“Ludo, Barty” Dumbledore said to the other officials, “you know the rules of the tournament better than anyone else. What do they say about this? Does this constitute cheating?”
He hoped whatever penalty levied wouldn’t be too harsh on the lad. The men consulted the tome. After ten minutes of flipping through pages, both looked up with incredulous looks on their face. “Nothing,” Bagman said. “If he was caught cheating before his challenge, we could penalize him, fine him, even flog him publically. But we had to have caught him in the act. Instead, he admitted it after he left the field. We did not catch him; therefore Mr. Potter has successfully completed the challenge in the fastest recorded time.”
Albus jumped in before the shouts could start again. “Harry, I will also have to award you zero points, but as you are not suffering any ill effects, the contract you have entered into with the Goblet of Fire does not appear to be breached. Additionally, I will speak to the elves to ensure that they cannot be used to provide that kind of assistance again.”
Harry shrugged, “I never entered this contest to start with and I don’t particularly care where I am in the standings.”
Barty Crouch also joined in with the rest of the zeroes. Strangely enough, Ludo Bagman gave Harry the full ten points. Of course, given Ludo’s own dubious history, it wasn’t a complete surprise.
“Could I still have the egg? Luna said she really wanted to see it.”
“I don’t see any harm in that.”
Harry smiled and added it to the bag with the tiny model of the Hungarian Horntail in it.
Lavender turned and was startled to see Harry Potter standing inches away from her. The Ravenclaw wizard had a way of just turning up and scaring the woolies out of people.
"I have meditated, consulted the cards, dice and my crystal ball. Will you be my date for the Yule Ball? Hmmm, I hadn't intended for that to sound like a rhyme."
Lavender was almost speechless. "Why me?"
"You appreciate the subtleties of the Inner Eye. Unlike many, you know that magic is not all about wand movements, precise chanting, and which potions ingredients to mix together. That is how the mundane access the power that surrounds us. You are one of the few that can rise above those limitations. There is an aura of greatness about you."
No one had ever said something like that to her before. They usually just told her how pretty she was. Flattered, Lavender blushed and stammered a thank you before saying, "Excuse me for a moment."
Harry watched the girl walk over to Seamus and tell him that he would have to find another date to the ball. He'd have to watch out for Finnegan for a time. His aura was most unstable.
The choices for a dater to the Yule Ball were narrowed down to three; Luna, Parvati, and Lavender.
With his housemate Luna, the cards predicted hand holding and a kiss goodnight. It sounded like a good deal of fun. Luna didn’t really want to go to the dance after she learned that the third years and below couldn’t go. She had her heart set on taking Colonel Sanders and doing the “Chicken Dance.” Padma and Harry both tried to explain that it wasn’t quite what Luna thought it was.
Although, the costume she had started to make for the giant rooster did look impressive.
Parvati, the tea leaves boldly predicted that there would be heavy petting, but an underlying resentment from Padma, which was odd because she was going with someone else already. Still, she
was one of the few people friendly to him and Harry didn’t want to risk her companionship. His choice was made much easier with the crystal ball’s prediction of naked frolicking
with Lavender. Harry had to admit, Lavender certainly had a lovely ... aura.
He knew that he was considered odd by the other students, the staff, the elves and perhaps even the castle itself - only the squid and the centaurs really seemed to understand, but he was also a 14 year old boy and naked frolicking sure looked like a
lot of fun.
Harry listened to the rules of this challenge. Lavender was his hostage. That explained the bad omens he'd been seeing all day.
The others leapt into the water and Harry paced nervously on the platform. He was just about to get started when a breathless Parvati Patil ran up to him.
“Harry! Lavender’s down there!”
“Um, they did just tell us that. Don’t worry. I’m going to get her in a minute,” he answered wondering if Granger was using her roommates to practice the Confundus charm.
The judges were walking over to them as Parvati said, “Yes, I know, but what will happen when you get back here with her.”
Even the with the ability to commune with the powers above and below, Harry was still somewhat mystified at the workings of the female mind. “What are you getting at Parvati?”
"Is there a problem, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.
"I’m not certain, sir. Parvati seems to believe there’s a problem with Lavender."
"Miss Brown? She was quite enthusiastic about being the thing you would miss the most for this task."
“Harry,” Parvati said in a tone that clearly meant that he should know this already, “when you come back up here, everyone’s going to take pictures of her.”
“Lavender likes getting her picture taken.” Harry was clearly confused.
“Her hair is going to be drenched and she’s going to look a frightful mess! Mark my words - she’s not going to be happy!”
"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore interrupted, "Shouldn't you be a bit more concerned about the task? The clock is ticking, after all."
Harry just realized that his task had suddenly become much harder. An unhappy Lavender Brown didn’t fit into Harry’s plans. The Headmaster didn't understand - he'd never dated Lavender Brown. If there was going to be any naked frolicking for the next month, Harry needed to solve this problem before he returned to the surface with her. "How are your glamours, Vati? Are they good enough to take care of this?"
The Gryffindor looked slightly panicked. "I don't know. I'm not sure."
"I know the disillusionment charm. I'll put it on her when I break the surface of the water. How fast can you go and get my broom?"
"Fifteen minutes. What are you going to do?"
"I'll get her out of here before the charm wears off. We'll be back at the tower and she can get cleaned up."
“Mr. Potter, We have to actually see your hostage. I’m afraid that your plan won’t be allowed.”
Karkaroff sneered, making Harry wonder if he and Snape were related. "Dumbledore, your champion is making excuses. He should be disqualified."
The judges started arguing, but Harry scratched his chin and looked inside for inspiration. “I’m ready to start.”
With a sigh, he walked to the edge of the platform. Using his wand, he summoned a piece of driftwood and transfigured it into a small boat. He placed the boat into the water and cast a
strong engorging charm on it, making the toy boat about fifteen feet in length. At the same time, he made a net out of a length of rope and conjured a bucket. With the using his wand, he
cast the net out and summoned it back and removed the fish that were squirming in them. Dropping the three fish inside into a nearby bucket, he cast again and again until he had a dozen fish sloshing
around in the container.
The crowd, no stranger to the bizarre behavior of the fourth champion watched the spectacle and murmured. Finally, Harry climbed into the water and held his wand to his lips. He whistled and used a charm to amplify the sound of it to a piercing shriek forcing many to cover their ears.
Thirty seconds passed before the surface of the water broke and the head of the Giant Squid rose. The massive eye and its pool of darkness looked down at Harry as a pair of tentacles snaked around the boat Harry made. The rubbery extremities lifted it out of the water and crushed it in a display of raw power. It then waved the rest of the tentacles in the air in amusement.
"Hi!" Harry said screaming in Mermish. "I thought you’d like that. I know it’s not the Durmstrang ship, but it’s the best I could come up with it. We can do a bigger one later. Listen, I need to go down to the Merfolk's village, pick up someone and bring them right back. Will twelve fish cover it?"
A giant tentacle slapped the water once and then flicked in the air conveying a sense of annoyance.
"Okay, I'll catch another twelve when we get back, or we can work on your egg juggling later. It’s up to you. That's my best offer. If it's all the same to you, I'll just hold my breath and we can do this in under a minute."
A tentacle slithered around the bucket and pulled it off the platform. A second one wrapped around Harry and deposited him on top of the squid's head. Several people in the crowd were already complaining, chief among them being Igor Karkaroff. Harry wasn't sure why. The other champions could have taken the time to befriend the Giant Squid, but they didn't. How was that his problem?
This is just like the egg thing all over again! This really is a stupid contest.
Harry whispered his final instructions while tapping the rubbery flesh of the Giant Squid to tell it that he was ready. His friend accelerated across the surface, forcing Harry to hold on for dear life and creating a massive wake behind it. It stopped above the Merfolk village and hesitated.
His talents weren’t needed to know what was going to happen next. The Squid enjoyed a good fast dive. He let go halfway down and let the pull of the mammoth creature drag him the rest of the way. It was every bit as fun as that first drop at an amusement park and one of Harry’s favorite ways to pass a free afternoon. Within a minute, they were in the village and the swarm of singing Merfolk were screaming and fleeing the scene.
Lavender floated motionless along with a young French girl, his housemate, Cho Chang, and surprisingly enough, Hermione Granger. He picked up a discarded spear and swam to her. It took longer than Harry hoped for the blade to cut through the rope as Harry started to feel the burning in his lungs.
He swam back to the Squid and held on to it along with Lavender. It was kind of an awkward arrangement, which made him rather glad that his girlfriend was in a magical sleep. The Squid made a few noises to indicate that the Merfolk were returning in force and that they should leave before the task became life threatening. The Merfolk didn’t exactly like his friend, but his friend really enjoyed “pranking” them. That included the giant cloud of sticky ink the creature was releasing at that moment. Harry cringed realizing that all the other hostages and about twenty Merfolk were going to be ink stained.
Surfacing just before Harry’s lungs burst, the Giant Squid propelled them back toward the spectators. As they approached the platforms, the squid smacked four of its tentacles in the water sending a wave of bitterly cold water into all the people.
“Why did the Giant Squid do that, Harry?” Lavender asked having come out of the spell placed on her. “I’d ask why we’re on the Giant Squid, but I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that one.” She knew he had an odd way of making entrances. There was one story about him and Ginny Weasley riding through the second floor hallways on Harry’s pet chicken. Though, she supposed the Squid was a step up from a chicken, so she wasn’t that terribly upset.
“Well, I could’ve used a drying charm on your hair, but I’m not very good at those, and I know you’ll want to style it before we take pictures. The only other solution was to make sure everyone else had wet hair too. This should buy us a couple of minutes. Here use my wand.”
The Gryffindor girl felt her hair and realized the embarrassment he’d just saved her from.
“You’re the best boyfriend ever, Harry! I mean it!”
After taking a few pictures with Lavender, she’d run off to talk with Parvati and her other friends leaving him to finish up catching the fish he owed the Giant Squid. He elected to go back to the docks and get away from the angry crowd. A voice interrupted his work. “You’ve done well thus far, Harry. I am impressed.”
Harry looked at the familiar face towering over him, “Hello, Firenze. How have you been?”
The centaur nodded. “I am well. The unicorns send their greetings and gather in your name. They have long memories and will not soon forget your heroism.”
“Well, send them my greetings when you next speak to them. Did you come out to watch the task? I don’t seem to be doing so well. Still, I guess twenty-three points is a step up from ten.”
Firenze guffawed, “Most humans think in linear terms, young one. They see this contest in terms of the power you manifest not the actual power you choose not to use. It is clearly their loss, not yours.”
“I keep telling them that I didn’t enter and they don’t believe me,” Harry said reeling in the net and levitating the fish into the bucket.
“I’m worried for you, Harry. I sense powerful forces are aligned against you. One of our wisest mares, had a vision when observing Mars, Phobus, and Deimos. Your enemy is symbolized by Mars. He has two followers circling him and they will strike at you first.”
“I suppose it’s a good thing my enemy isn’t Jupiter. It’s up to sixty-three moons. That would be a serious problem.”
“Indeed, even the smallest of satellites have an effect on the greater planets as a whole. Jupiter, to our herds is symbolic of your Ministry and the recent impacts caused by the comet over the summer give us pause to consider that a great upheaval is coming in your government. It remains to see what will happen when the patterns of chaos conclude.”
“Your observations confirm things I have predicted and my Auntie as well. She had one a few weeks ago that said, ‘Enemies flee from the claws and the screams.’ I was half-expecting an attack today.”
“I’m afraid I have to leave, Harry. May your sight serve you well.”
“Sure you’re not interested in the familiar position?” Harry asked.
“I would never stand between a boy and his chicken. It just wouldn’t be right.”
“Then I’ll have to settle for being your friend. May the clouds never obscure your skies.”
“What do you think we should do?” Barty Crouch, Junior asked his partner in crime.
Still possessing the body of Bertha Jorkins, Peter answered, “The Master wants us to turn the cup into a Portkey and make certain that Potter is the one to win.”
“It’s too risky. We’d have to put an imperius curse on one or more contestants and still hope that Potter doesn’t get bogged down in the maze, or caught by the creatures. Plus the others have a huge head start because of Potter’s poor performance. Plus, he’s too unpredictable. He may not even try to get the blasted cup.”
“You’re right,” Peter said. “How about we snatch the little bugger and put a polyjuiced imposter under the imperius curse in as his substitute? They’ll never know he’s gone until it’s too late!”
Barty smiled and evil grin and said, “I like that plan much better.”
Harry struggled to open his eyes and remember what had happened. He wasn’t at Hogwarts, unless someone had hidden a graveyard at the castle. The last thing he recalled was walking with Luna. She said she had to go to the water closet and handed him her bag of stuff to hold. Professor Moody and that woman who was Mr. Crouch’s assistant came toward him and said they were going to escort him to the site of the third task immediately.
They were on the path to Hogsmeade when he realized they were heading the wrong way. He probably could have dodged the stunner from Professor Moody, but the woman held him firmly in place and pulled a necklace out of her robes. It must have been a Portkey.
Here I thought the woman who walks like a man was Millicent!
The stone arms of a statue were wrapped tightly around him. A man he didn’t recognize jabbed him in the arm with a knife and cackled, “Blood of the enemy forcibly taken!”
“Let me see him,” a voice, tiny, but menacing at the same time said. The Jorkins woman held something and turned it to face Harry. It was a hideous creature.
“See what you have reduced me to, boy? You will suffer before you die.”
“I’m not scared of you,” Harry replied. It was mostly true. His wand and Luna’s bag were sitting on a nearby tomb.
“We have his blood, Master. Let me kill the boy for you.”
“No Peter, I want him to bear witness. Young Mister Crouch. I believe it is time for flesh of the servant willingly given.”
Harry cringed. The woman was Peter Pettigrew. The other Death Eater walked to the cauldron and held his hand over the boiling edge as the woman/thing used a wand to slice his hand off and then lowered the abomination she carried into the pot while the man whimpered and staunched the bleeding stump with a charm from his wand.
Please let it die! Please let it die!
It didn’t. The gurgling, churning mass took on a man shape and the cauldron toppled. Out of the steaming liquid pooling on the ground, that figure stood.
“Robe me, Wormtail.”
Casting a glance skyward, Harry saw that Mars was bright in the sky, but there was a cloud drifting into its path. Things looked bad, but not completely hopeless.
Lord Voldemort was savoring every second of his rebirth, from regrowing Crouch’s hand, to humiliating Lucius and the others begging for his forgiveness, to simply breathing and standing as a man once again.
A gesture from his wand released the boy. “Though I hear you haven’t been properly instructed in the art of dueling, I will give you a chance to face me boy. Go ahead and take your wand. Killing you without it doesn’t seem sporting and it is time to correct history’s mistake!”
The pathetic boy picked up the wand and grabbed the he tiny leather pouch next to it. The Dark Lord gestured to a clear area where he intended to finish the boy.
Instead, the insipid child broke into a sprint and dived behind a mausoleum!
Harry didn’t have much time. He realized that the contents of Luna’s bag were the “Moon’s gifts.”
Dumping everything out of the magical moleskin pouch on the ground, he saw his horntail model from the first task, the egg from the second, her butterbeer cork earplugs, a block of cheese, six gobstones, two issues of the Quibbler, five socks that were all different colors, his pen knife she’d borrowed the first week of school and said she’d returned, and several pieces of macaroni art.
There was one spell Harry truly excelled at. A masked Death Eater apparated a few feet away from Harry as he cast the engorgement charm on that tiny dragon model. It swelled up to the size of his godfather’s Animagus form and leaped on the man slashing with its claws and biting him.
Harry wasted no time inserting the corks into his ear canals. He felt the earth tremble as a portion of the tomb he was using for shelter was obliterated. A second Death Eater appeared and “discovered” his toy dragon. The rest of the tomb simply vanished and Harry was looking at an angry Lord Voldemort and the rest of his Death Eaters.
His enemy was saying something, but Harry cracked open the egg and cast the Sonorous charm. Even with Luna’s enchanted hearing protection some of the noise got through. It was painful, but nowhere near what the others were experiencing. They collapsed to the ground. A few had the sense of mind to apparate away. Pettigrew’s ghost was dislodged from the witch. Harry struggled to his own feet and moved away from the painful wail.
Voldemort reappeared as Harry ran to the fallen witch. Harry thought he was going to die before he could find the Portkey, but it was Voldemort collapsing in agony. Harry looked around and saw his toy dragon badly injuring a massive snake. It occurred to Harry that Tom Riddle might have a connection to the monster.
Finding the necklace, he wrapped his arms around the witch and felt the pull on the middle of his body.
Harry faithfully relayed his story to Dumbledore and several others in the infirmary finishing with a feeble attempt at humor, “I guess, technically, they're Deaf Eaters now.”
“Preposterous!” Minister Fudge exclaimed. “The boy is known for telling fanciful tales.”
“How do you explain finding Alastor Moody locked in his magical trunk, all the used vials of polyjuice in his office, and the mental state of poor Bertha Jorkins? How do you account for those inconvenient facts, Cornelius?”
“Moody’s claiming that Barty’s son, dead and buried at Azkaban, was the one impersonating him! I’m not certain what to think, Dumbledore, but I’d advise you not to take this rubbish to the papers. I’d be forced to discredit you and it wouldn’t be pretty.”
“Perhaps if we were to contact St. Mungo’s and inquire if there has been an unusual number of people seeking treatment for hearing loss or other noise related injuries, we might have some corroboration of young Harry’s story. At the very least, there should be an inquest. Do you not agree?”
Fudge shrugged his shoulders, “Fine Dumbledore. If you don’t go running out and scaring the public with this nonsense, you can conduct an inquest. My business here is concluded.”
Harry watched the Minister leave. “We should try and warn people.”
The Headmaster gave him a sad smile and said, “People believe what they want to believe – much like those that continue to doubt your talents and resourcefulness, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Minister Fudge only agreed to the inquest because he is certain that he can control the outcome or how the facts are released to the public. He seeks to bury me in bureaucracy, but that is my battle to fight, Harry. You’ll probably have to make an official statement at the board of inquiry, but I will do my best to shield you from the backlash. Later, when you are rested, perhaps you would share with me the memory of your encounter with Tom and his followers.”
Dumbledore paused for a moment and said, “Unfortunately, we will also have to explain how your name has been magically inscribed on the Triwizard Cup as this year’s champion. I believe the Cup has judged that your performance in that graveyard to be superior to Mr. Krum’s performance in the maze. I’m inclined to agree.”
The Headmaster left and the nurse asked Harry if he wanted something to help him sleep. In his absence, a polyjuiced Lavender Brown had been compelled to compete in his place. She hadn’t lasted very long and had a broken arm and three cracked ribs to show for her efforts. Harry opted to sit next to her for awhile.
“I’m sorry you got hurt,” he said.
She forced a smile, “Me too, Harry. Being your girlfriend was fun, but I think I have to break it off now.”
Harry understood. It meant no more naked frolicking … at least with Lavender Brown.
“So, will I still be able to see her?” Luna asked in the deserted classroom. “Is she only invisible to you or to everyone in the castle? What a strange curse.”
“No,” Harry clarified while Padma shook her head. “When I said that I can’t see Lavender anymore, I meant that we’re no longer dating. In fact, I wanted to warn you two that you might be in danger.”
“I’m not too worried, Harry,” Padma said. “My family is going to India for the entire summer.”
“I’m not worried either. If it was the Rotfangs or the Heliopaths, I would be, but it’s just a bunch of Dark Wizards. That’s what Daddy says we have the Aurors for. Besides, Daddy is taking me to the continent to search for the Snorkack breeding grounds. If we’re searching for something no one has ever found, by extension, we can’t be found either.”
It was hard to argue with Luna’s “logic,” so Harry didn’t even bother trying.
“I’m sorry I lost your pouch and everything inside it. It did save my life. If there’s a way that I can make it up to you, let me know.”
The young blonde smiled and soon he was sending an owl to his Aunt Petunia with a request that she go to the record store and purchase an album with the “Chicken Dance” on it. He didn’t relish the idea of getting Colonel Sanders into the outfit Luna had made for the rooster, but he was interested in seeing if the giant bird could indeed dance.
Next up is Turn Me Loose Chapter 13. Dead Eye makes a great stocking stuffer … just saying. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today.