|SIYE Time:18:38 on 23rd May 2017|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 71050; Chapter Total: 2068
Chapter Twenty-Five, The Goblet of Fire Part Twelve
Ginny’s hands were cold as they gripped his hand tightly. Her mind was filled with quiet dread over everything that could go wrong. He tried not to make it worse by echoing her every thought.
On his other side, Remus kept a hand on his shoulder and the other gripping Sirius’s arm. Hermione and Ron walked just behind him, and he could practically hear Hermione’s silent frets. The walk to the Quidditch pitch and the maze hadn’t ever seemed so short, and he was standing in the entrance.
Hermione hugged him, Ron shook his hand, and they went to go get seats. As his guardian, Sirius got to sit in the very front row with the judges, and he had convinced Dumbledore to allow Remus to sit with him. Ginny refused to let go of Harry until absolutely necessary, and Dumbledore had agreed. She would sit with Remus and Sirius near the entrance, and Dumbledore promised that he would call off the task if something went wrong. By wrong, he meant panic and by something he meant the distance between Harry and Ginny. He did not want their minds wreaking havoc among the spectators.
Harry was just grateful he had someone to lean on, as his knees were shaking like twigs.
“Harry, m’boy, good, good,” Bagman said distractedly as he approached them. He absently patted Ginny’s shoulder, probably assuming it was Harry’s, as he stared out at the entrance to the maze. As if it needed more help being spooky, there was thick mist pouring out of it and covering the tops of the hedges. Harry held back a curse; if the mist remained that thick Ginny wouldn’t be able to see him if she decided to do a fly-over.
And I won’t, she reminded him. A map is one thing. You made that yourself.
He ignored her and turned back to Bagman. The older wizard glanced down and noticed that it was Ginny’s shoulder rather than his and pulled his hand back. He met Harry’s eyes and gave him a faint smile, then spotted someone else and hurried off. Bagman seemed just as nervous as Harry felt.
“Potter.” Harry turned and saw Professors Moody and Sinestra walking towards him. Sinestra was the one who had spoken. She tipped her hat and said “Good luck.” Moody merely grunted.
He waved to them as they went to find their seats. Remus squeezed his shoulder.
“You’re going to do well,” Sirius said, almost to himself. “You’re going to win.” Harry nodded vaguely. Ginny laid her head on his shoulder and gave his hand a squeeze.
Just make sure you have your wand at the ready, she thought. That maze is filled with things very willing to make you their lunch.
That’s a reassuring thought, Harry grumbled mentally. Dumbledore waved them forward; he was talking with Minister Fudge bestowed in a bowler hat, Crouch, and Karkaroff.
“… be sure that all the proper charms are in place,” Crouch was saying as they approached. “I do not want something else to go so wrong as it did in the Second Task.”
Ginny pursed her lips scornfully. Like they couldn’t have simply put Bubble Head Charms on us, she thought distastefully. Harry didn’t respond, as Fudge had seemed to suddenly notice him and was beaming fondly at him.
“Harry, dear boy,” he said, stepping forward. “Wonderful to see you; all pumped for the final task, eh?”
Harry wasn’t sure how to respond so he simply smiled and nodded. Fudge beamed wider. “Splendid, splendid.” The Minister’s gaze drifted to Remus and Sirius standing beside them, to Remus’s hand on Harry’s shoulder and Sirius’s arm around Remus. “Black, it is good to see you as well,” Fudge said with well disguised discomfort. He smiled with false geniality and extended a hand. Sirius shook it politely, as did Remus. “I’m glad to see you are up and about,” Fudge continued.
“I’ve been up and about quite frequently,” Sirius said through a tight smile. “I’m assistant Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher here at Hogwarts.”
“Yes, yes, I am aware of that,” Fudge replied. His tone was still masking a great deal of unease. His gaze flicked to Remus again and his smile changed slightly. “It is a good thing to see a schoolboy friendship last so long, yes?”
“Yes, I quite agree,” said Sirius. Harry heard something almost like smugness or amusement in his tone, but he didn’t quite understand why.
Fudge nodded, then turned back to Dumbledore, Karkaroff, and Crouch. “Well, it seems to me that one last check of the charms would not be a poor idea. Dumbledore, walk with me?”
Dumbledore inclined his head and fell in step behind Fudge. He caught Harry’s eye for a moment and smiled reassuringly. Harry returned it but without much of the calm. Ginny squeezed his hand again.
Mister Crouch turned his gaze on Harry and Ginny. He gave them a tight lipped smile and then transferred his attention to Remus and Sirius. Harry thought he saw his expression shift and his eyes narrow, but then Crouch had turned and was walking towards the Judges stand. Karkaroff looked very awkward standing there alone, and it seemed he felt that way, for he turned away and headed for the stands.
Welp, Harry thought.
Ginny kissed his cheek.
“Harry, m’boy, if you’d step over here,” Bagman called. Harry, with reluctance, moved to where Bagman was standing with Fleur, Krum, and Diggory. Ginny remained beside him, as per Dumbledore’s orders.
“Now, I have your last instructions before you enter the maze,” Bagman said. He glanced at Ginny, furrowed his brow, then shrugged and kept on. “First, the points are thus: Miss Delacour, you remain in fourth with 36, Mr. Diggory, you have 74; Mr. Krum you are in second with 77 and Mr. Potter you are in the lead with 79.”
Bagman fixed them with a serious gaze. “These standings do not matter.”
Harry frowned. The four champions exchanged glances of confusion.
“The object of this task is to reach the trophy,” Bagman continued. “I have hidden it in the middle of the maze. The first person to reach it becomes the Tri-Wizard Champion.”
Harry tried not to look happy about that. He had a map.
“Mr. Potter, you shall enter first, followed by Mr. Krum, then Mr. Diggory, and lastly Miss Delacour. Harry, when you first enter you will reach a four-way crossroads. Once you choose your path, it will close behind you, leaving three.”
Harry’s happiness froze. Close behind him? Bagman went on. “Mr. Krum, the same will happen to you and Mr. Diggory. Miss Delacour, once you enter the maze it will be closed to us out here, but there are exits on the other three sides that we will be able to enter through should the need arise. If any of you should find yourself in a situation where you are unable to defend yourself, send red sparks into the air and one of us will come fetch you. You will be removed from the tournament, so I advise you try your best to act on your own.”
“Lastly, the maze is filled with beasts and charms,” Bagman said. “But the maze itself is alive.”
“You will frequently find yourself in the position where the way back or the way forward is blocked by the maze itself,” Bagman said. “Once all four of you are inside, the structure of the maze itself will be subject to change.”
Bugger, Harry thought.
Bagman gripped Diggory and Krum’s shoulders. “Good luck,” he said, and turned away.
Harry met each of the other four’s eyes. Fleur eyed Ginny with curiosity. Ginny raised her eyebrows defiantly.
“Good luck to each of us,” Diggory said, sticking out his hand to Krum. Krum took it hesitantly. They shook, and Diggory offered the same hand to Harry.
They all shook hands with each other, then moved away. Harry went back to where Remus and Sirius were waiting. Sirius pulled Harry into a bear hug.
“Good luck in there, kiddo,” he said, clapping Harry on the back. Harry remembered their dream from two weeks ago and the tall bald man who had said to them: “I would wish you luck, but that never ends well.” He felt suddenly uncomfortable about all the ‘good lucks’ that had been spread that morning. Remus hugged him too, then they stood waiting for Dumbledore and Fudge to return and begin the task.
Five minutes later, they were there. Fudge waved to the crowd as though he were a rock star about to begin a performance before taking a seat in the front row. Four large, round mirrors appeared before the crowd, then an image of each Champion flashed onto each one. Harry glanced up at his, then at his feet, trying to ignore the flush creeping up his neck. He glanced back up at the other three and saw that Fleur had by her side her younger sister and her parents; Krum stood alone, but Diggory had his parents by his side. Mr. and Mrs. Diggory were beaming at everything in sight. Harry looked around at Sirius and Remus, their tense but smiling faces and their arms around each other’s shoulders, then at Ginny whose face was angled towards the ground.
“Welcome!” Bagman’s voice rang through the stadium. “Welcome to the Third and Final Task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament! Our champions stand at the ready, eagerly awaiting their entrance to the maze.”
“Speak for yourself,” Harry muttered. Sirius squeezed Harry’s shoulder.
“If you will train your eyes on the mirrors beholding your favorite champion’s image,” Bagman said. “We shall send Mr. Potter into the maze at the sound of the whistle.”
Harry bit his lip, then realized that the entire stadium could see him biting his lip and released it.
“You’re going to do spectacularly,” Remus assured him softly. Harry was glad to see that whatever was capturing his image wasn’t catching any audio.
A piercing whistle broke the air. “Let us wish Mr. Potter good luck!” Bagman cried.
Harry took one step forward, then turned back and grabbed Ginny in a quick but sincere kiss. He heard Bagman’s gasp and awkward laughter, imagined that Ron was yelling “OI! LIPS OFF MY SISTER, POTTER!” and heard a mixture of amusement and disappointment from the crowd (the later likely coming from any women, he thought with slight irritation). He released Ginny and she smiled nervously.
“Good luck, love,” she whispered. He nodded, then walked to the maze entrance.
He stepped inside. He heard the crowd roaring behind him. He saw the four pathways Bagman had mentioned, and chose the center right. Harry turned back and waved to Ginny as the maze grew, blocking the way out. Then there was silence.
Harry slowly lowered his hand. He had a cup to find.
The map, remember the map! Ginny’s thought came. He smiled; at least the maze didn’t block out her voice. He pulled the scrap of paper from his pocket and glanced around.
Krum’s gone in. We can’t see your hands, go on.
Harry began walking as he unfolded his map. He spotted his dot on it, then gave it a quick glance over. The cup was somewhere in the middle, which was northwest of him by the key in the bottom of the map.
Bagman’s wondering why you’re looking down.
Harry stuffed the map in his pocket and set his wand in the middle of his palm. “Point me!” he whispered. The wand shuttered and pointed just to his right, directing north. He was currently facing the center, so he would need to head straight.
Harry broke into a run, heading straight down the path. He reached a fork and turned right. He slowed to a jog, wand out and ready.
Don’t turn left, Ginny thought as he approached another turn. He opened his mind to hear what she was hearing, and caught Bagman saying: “If he turns left, he’ll reach the flock of fire breathing chickens, provided by Hagrid, the Hogwarts Gamekeeper.”
Harry thought fire-breathing chickens wasn’t all that much, but he didn’t turn. Five minutes later, he was faced with a dead end. He checked Ginny’s eyes before pulling out his map. According to it, there was no dead end but a three-way crossroad. Swearing, he shoved it back in his pocket and turned back. He found a left turn, avoiding fire-breathing chickens, and kept on. He reached two more dead ends, one on his map, one not, and ended up going too far east. He still had not reached any beasts, though that was partly due to Ginny warning him if Bagman mentioned anything, but there should have been something. So far, Ginny had only heard mention of the chickens and a golden mist that made it feel like gravity was reversed. It made him uneasy.
This whole damned thing makes us feel uneasy, Ginny reminded him. Check the map again.
Harry reached into his pocket as the hedge to his right rustled. He instead raised his wand, an Impediment Curse on his lips, when Fleur stumbled out of a gap between the hedges, smelling rather horrible.
“Oh, mon dieu,” she muttered. “Qui les d'enfer envoûte un tas de fourmis to cracher gaz faute?”
She spotted Harry and gave him a look as though she were trying to maintain her dignity. “Qu'est-ce que tu regardes?”
“Err…” he muttered. She mumbled something else in French under her breath, whipped her wand over herself and stalked away, leaving her scent a little cleaner after her charm.
I don’t speak French, but I don’t think you should go the way she came, Ginny thought cheekily.
Oh, shut up, he thought back. He kept going. Fleur turned off to the left as soon as she could, but Harry kept going straight until he had to turn, then he turned right.
Which was when he found his first obstacle.
A huge, hairy spider brought its ugly face up to meet him. Harry let out a strangled yelp and jumped back. The spider let out a hideous roar, but the worst thing about it was the smell of its breath. Harry choked, then ducked its madly swinging pincers. He tucked and rolled out of the way, then jumped up and shouted “Stupefy!”
The stunning spell merely bounced off the spiders hide.
“Bugger,” he mumbled.
The spider screeched again as it shuffled around to grab him. Harry dodged it and tried to aim for the beast’s underbelly. When his next spell failed, he turned and ran in the opposite direction, hoping that there was some magic keeping the spider in its place. When he glanced over his shoulder and saw it crashing through the hedges, he guessed not.
“Stupefy!” he shouted, flinging the curse over his shoulder. It hit the hedge; the plant shrunk away from the magic, then grew back good as new. Harry turned, running backwards, and tried to hit the beast’s underside with an Impediment Curse.
The spider shuddered, its pincers inches from Harry’s face, and halted like a windup toy that had run out of tension in its springs. Harry, panting, straightened and stepped back. He heard from Ginny’s ears Bagman shout: “Incredible! That, folks, was an Impediment Curse against a fully grown Acromantula, creatures notorious for their resistance to magic. Excellent job, Harry!”
He saw through Ginny’s eyes were the angle of his image was, and turned to face it. He gave them a two-fingered, mock salute, and started away.
Show off, Ginny thought with amusement. Harry only smirked as he heard the female part of the crowd ooh and aah.
Harry used the Point Me spell again and found that he was facing south west, so he re-angled himself and checked his map surreptitiously. According to it, there was going to be a left turn coming up that would bring him closer to the center.
Very suddenly, a scream broke the air. Harry froze, looking around, his wand at the ready.
Fleur’s unconscious, Ginny thought. Something hit her from behind.
He heard Bagman announce: “One of the other champions probably stunned her; we’ll have one of our patrollers go and fetch her. Oh, my, look at the size of that beast! Diggory has got his luck cut out for him…”
Harry frowned as he turned left. Why did none of the mirrors catch who stunned her?
I don’t know. Diggory’s facing a wyvern.
It’s a like a dragon, but much smaller and with only two legs.
Harry nodded vaguely and kept on. He turned left again and found the ground covered in mist. He looked up and was met with a tall, hooded creature. Harry gripped his wand tighter. What idiot put a Dementor in here?
“Expecto Patronus!” he spat, as Ginny’s face flashed in his mind. A silver stag burst from his wand; he heard through Ginny’s mind the crowd go suddenly quiet and Bagman said softly: “A corporeal Patronus?” Then, louder: “That, folks, is a fully formed, corporeal Patronus, one of the most difficult magics to perform!” The stag lowered its antlers and charged the Dementor; the damned creature turned to flee and stumbled over the hem of its robe.
“Dementors don’t stumble,” he mumbled.
“Riddikulas!” Harry cried. The Dementor suddenly exploded in a burst of confetti; Harry got an image of Remus beaming with pride from Ginny and he strode on. The stag trotted alongside him for a moment until it faded from sight. Harry turned right and then left, then took the center right turn in a four way fork, then found a dead end and turned back, taking the middle left.
He found a ten foot tall block of stone in front of him. Harry didn’t pause, he whipped his wand at it, said “Reducto!” and the thing imploded with his red curse. He shielded his mouth from the dust, stepped over the rubble, and kept on. He turned right, checked the map and found that he should be at a dead end, moved straight, turned left, and stopped.
A huge lion was pacing the path in front of him. When it turned to face him, he saw that the beast had the face of a woman rather than a lion’s.
“Er, hello,” he said. The sphinx smiled politely and came to a stop in the middle of the path.
“You are very near your goal,” she said hoarsely.
Horsely. Heh, Ginny thought unhelpfully.
“The quickest way is past me,” she continued.
“And I suppose you won’t just move?” he asked. The sphinx shook her head. “All right, do I have to fight you or…”
“I have a riddle for you,” she said. “Answer correctly on your first guess, and I will allow you to pass me unharmed. Answer incorrectly, I eat you. Do not answer, and I will let you leave without an attack.”
“Eat me?” he said. “Really?”
The sphinx only smiled.
Well, no harm in trying.
“What’s the riddle?” he asked.
The sphinx’s smile became more eager.
“It was a tradition long ago,
When the world was dark and full of woe.
When men turned darkness into light,
By mixing, melting and decanting in the night,
To seek for youth and gold and riches,
Just to be burned as witches.”
Harry blinked. “Right. One second.”
The sphinx only smiled.
Help? Harry thought.
Tradition long ago, Ginny thought. World was dark… Burned as witches means it’s a magic and long ago probably refers to medieval times.
Men turned darkness into light, Harry thought.
Seek for gold and riches…
And youth, he added.
Oh! The Sorcerer’s Stone!
Harry glanced at the sphinx. I think it might be a bit more than that.
Alchemy itself? People certainly got burned at the stake for it.
Harry eyed the sphinx. He definitely didn’t want to get eaten, but maybe he could take her if he was wrong.
“Alchemy?” he said softly.
The sphinx’s smile sweetened, he tightened his grip on his wand, but she slid to one side. Letting out his breath, he moved past her with a wave and a grin.
He rounded a corner and used Point Me again; he was facing northwest. He then came upon a break with no straight forward option. He saw deep darkness to the left, and orangey light to the right. He glanced between both, then chose the right path.
He regretted it instantly.
Ginny had described this creature to him earlier, and so he recognized it as a wyvern. He swore loudly, though no one would have been able to hear him over the wyvern’s sudden and gleeful screech. He dodged a plume of flame and shot a spell towards its underbelly. He assumed that the wyvern would chase him if he tried to run, and he didn’t want whatever was causing the inky blackness to have a helper.
Diggory hit it in the eyes!
Harry raised his wand, then tripped over a root that had sprung up suddenly and landed on his face. He tasted blood, but didn’t linger long, instead rolled to the side as the wyvern blasted fire again. “Oculo Inflammare!” he cried, as it was the first incantation to come to mind and spat out blood.
The wyvern screeched loudly. He’d have to keep that spell closer to hand. He jumped up, wiped blood from his nose, and aimed his wand at the beast’s open mouth. “Stupefy!”
The wyvern swallowed the jet of red light, and fell over backwards. Harry spat out more blood and fingered his teeth, hoping he hadn’t cracked any of them. He began walking again and wished he knew a spell to clean up blood.
Scorgify Sanguina Macula.
Harry mentally thanked Ginny, then turned his wand on his face and clothes and murmured the spell. Quickly, the blood vanished, but there was still a leak from his nose. He pinched it and leaned his head back, standing still in the path.
He heard murmuring behind him, and started forward, now breathing through his mouth. He jogged into the next passage, took a left, and wiped his nose on his sleeve. He checked Ginny’s eyes and saw that not only was his back to the crowd but that Krum was facing three Acromantulas at once. He smiled sardonically as he took out his map and checked it. He was very near the center. All he had to do was find the cup.
Harry put it back and stepped around the next corner. He eyed the large purple cloud of smoke before him suspiciously.
What was the spell Hermione found to detect wards? Harry asked Ginny.
Oh, er, Quod Nomen Incantatores.
“Quod Nomen Incantatores,” Harry whispered, fixing his wand tip on the purple cloud. White smoke came from his wand, swirled around the target, then formed a vial bearing a large rune.
“Great,” he mumbled.
At least you know it’s a potion mist, not a spell. You should be able to pass through it if you hold your breath.
Harry glanced behind him, then muttered “Point Me!” His wand angled off to the right. His goal was through that mist.
He scanned the ground at his feet and spotted a large rock. He grabbed it, then tapped it with his wand. “Mus Estis,” he said. The rock squirmed in his hand and grew whiskers. He growled and repeated the incantation. The hue of the rock lightened and its texture morphed into fur. A moment later, a wriggling mouse was in his hand. He set it on the ground and it scampered forward, reached the purple mist, and fell over, snoring.
A Sleeping Draft, Ginny thought.
Must be, he said. Harry gingerly stepped forward. He sucked in his breath and dived through the cloud. He landed in a heap on the other side, then jumped up and darted a few more steps before hazarding a breath. His head suddenly felt light; he dropped to his knees to shake off the effects. He heard a distant roar and pushed himself to his feet. Harry took off running down the path, skidded around a right turn, and found him face to wand tip with Krum.
Harry panted, gripping his wand, but Krum hadn’t made a move yet.
“Vat have you done?” he growled.
“What?” Harry said.
Krum jerked his head behind him, his wand still aimed at Harry’s left nostril. Harry flicked his gaze off to where the Bulgarian had indicated, and saw Fleur’s limp body.
“She’s not — she isn’t dead?” Harry whispered.
“Unconscious,” Krum said. “But you vould know that, seeing how it vas you who attacked her!”
“No, I didn’t!” Harry protested. “How do I know you didn’t attack her? And why are you upset about this; it means one less person in the running.”
Krum slowly backed up, wand still trained on him, and rolled Fleur over to expose her face. Harry sucked in a breath. Her eyes were wide open, her mouth split in a scream, and an angry red.
“It vas a very dark curse that hit her,” Krum growled. “I have seen it before. No trophy is vorth the penalty for using this curse.”
Harry took a hesitant step forward, but stopped when Krum jumped back up and jabbed his wand at him.
“Why do you think it was me?” Harry demanded.
“At the time she suffered this, Diggory and I were dueling the sphinx,” Krum said. “That leaves you.”
Harry blinked, gazing down at her. “But I’d just gotten out of a fight with an Acromantula,” he said. “I was halfway across the maze!”
Krum poked him in the chest. “How do I know you are not lying?”
“I swear it!” Harry insisted.
Krum only grunted.
Harry looked around, suddenly wondering where the fourth of their lot was. “Where’s Diggory?” he asked.
“Off fighting another sphinx,” Krum said with a shrug. “How should I know?”
Harry muttered a swear word. “How many bleeding sphinxes are in this place?” he said under his breath.
Something rustled beside them. Harry whipped out his wand and aimed it towards the bushes on the right. Krum turned his wand on the same spot.
A small mouse shot out of the hedge. It ran straight to Harry and scrambled up the leg of Harry’s trousers.
“Ah, yuck, get off!” Harry said, shaking his leg. The mouse clung to his sock, trembling. Harry reached down and pulled the rodent out by the tail. It squealed and hefted itself onto his hand, where it darted up his sleeve and froze, still shaking like mad.
“That is slightly amusing,” Krum said. Harry glared at him.
“I have half a mind to transfigure you back into a rock,” he said to the mouse, pulling it back out his sleeve.
The hedge before them burst into flames and the wyvern shouldered its way through. Harry’s mouse squeaked in terror and ran up Harry’s arm to come to a stop on his shoulder.
“Oh, bugger,” Harry muttered. The wyvern roared, then a second cry came from a ways behind them. Krum sent off an immediate Conjunctivitis Curse, but missed and hit the beast’s armored neck.
The wyvern screamed at Krum; Harry shot a Stunning Spell into its mouth, but the wyvern must have gotten smarter since their last meeting, for it ducked the spell and shot flame at Harry’s feet. Harry jumped back from the blast of flame; Krum shot water from his wand, dousing the flames, before hitting the draconic creature in the face with his jet of water. It screeched and flapped its wings, rising maybe five feet off the ground. It blew flames over the entire clearing, catching the hedges and spewing its hellish spit into the sky.
Krum’s wand spat out more water, but against the wyvern’s angry fire breath it seemed like a small squirt gun. Flames danced over the ground towards Fleur’s body; Harry dived for her, pulling her away from the fire. Krum jabbed her body with his wand then flung her over his shoulder like she was a sack of feathers. Harry guessed he had used a weightless charm, but didn’t have time to ask. He tried the charm Krum was using and small bursts of water came from his wand. The wyvern landed and roared at them again.
“Oculo Inflammare!” Harry yelled, giving his wand a flourish. The wyvern screech, its eyes were suddenly just as flaming as the hedges around them.
Krum stared at him in shock. “Vere did you learn that spell?” he yelled over the wyvern’s roars.
“Just go!” Harry said, gesturing to the crumbling hedge behind them. Krum jumped through a gap in the flames, and Harry followed. Krum turned his wand back on the hedge and it transfigured into a solid block of marble.
Krum turned to Harry, his eyes narrow. “Vere did you learn that spell?”
Harry frowned. “I don’t remember; it’s just a spell.”
Krum shook his head. “That isn’t a real spell,” he said. “Vatch.” He jabbed Harry in the chest. “Oculo Inflammare.”
Harry flinched, but nothing happened. Krum lowered Fleur from his shoulders, then returned to watching Harry appraisingly. “That shouldn’t have vorked for you,” he continued.
“Well, it did,” Harry snapped. He turned away, then froze.
There was a glowing cup, resting on a pedestal in front of them. At an equal distance from the pedestal, on the other side of the round clearing, stood Diggory.
Krum glanced around, and saw both the Tri-Wizard trophy and Diggory. He pulled out his wand.
Diggory’s face was oddly blank. Harry took a hesitant step forward, but Diggory didn’t move. That was when he noticed the odd splotch of dark red liquid slowly spreading across the front of Diggory’s robes.
Diggory slumped forward. Behind him, a masked and robed figure wiped the blade of their long, silver dagger on a cloth.
“Kakvo po dyavolite?” Krum gasped. Diggory’s killer chuckled softly.
“Step forward boys.” Their voice was garbled and metallic, almost like a robot’s.
Harry raised his wand higher. The person waved at them to come forward with a gloved hand. Every inch of this person was covered in black leather or metal. Their mask was a theatrical comedy mask made of some shiny metal, and even the eyes and mouth were covered in a black mesh.
“No need to panic,” the person said. “The boy might live. Possibly. Not likely, but possibly.”
“You’ve killed him!” Harry said.
The person shook their head. “A bit slow to the punch, eh, Potter? I always did wonder exactly what it was that made you so special. I guess we’ll never know now.”
“Who are you?” Krum spat.
“That is of no concern to you,” they answered.
“I believe it is,” Krum growled. “You have just killed one of my allies.”
Harry glanced at Krum out of the corner of his eye. He was right. They were no longer opponents in the Tournament.
“Oh, well, shame on me,” the person simpered. Their laugh was almost demonic through whatever was scrambling their voice. “But I care not. I only need Potter, you know. You may take the French girl and leave now, if you wish. You may even take the Diggory boy. My lord has no need for you.”
“I shall not leave,” Krum said. “I shall kill you.”
The person then truly laughed. “Oh, you’re funny,” they said. “I do appreciate a good joke. Ah, well, no use crying over spilled blood. I gave you your chance; now we duel.”
Krum stepped forward, and jerked his wand up to his face. The person before them did the same. They bowed to each other, then took a step back.
“Potter, you’ll be Krum’s second, won’t you?” the person called airily. “When I kill him, you must concede the duel and come with me.”
“You’re mad!” Harry said. He rushed to Krum’s side, but the older boy held out a hand.
“We duel properly,” Krum said. “Wait.”
Harry faltered. Then he took a step back and waited.
We can’t see what’s going on, it looks like Diggory and Krum are dueling again.
What? Diggory is dead!
Their enemy cast the first curse; they were not speaking but performing their magic non-verbally, as was Krum. Harry saw through Ginny’s eyes and saw a flickering image of Krum and Diggory fighting. It didn’t look as if anything was wrong. Ginny’s mind only just realized what he had said, but no one else appeared to realize it yet.
Diggory is dead, you need to tell Dumbledore that he has to get in here somehow!
Krum took a jet of purple light to his left side, he gasped aloud and stumbled backward. The person cackled and sent another curse. Harry flung out his wand and cried “Protego!”
The curse rebounded and struck a hedge. Diggory’s killer merely chuckled and kept fighting Krum. Krum’s left arm seemed to have gone numb but he was still fighting. Harry stood on edge, half watching the fight and half listening to Ginny talking to Dumbledore. Harry brought up another shield charm to deflect a stray spell, then sent another in front of Krum.
On Ginny’s side of his mind, he listened to Ginny’s conversation.
“What do you mean, there is no one else in the maze,” said Crouch’s voice.
“There is, that isn’t Diggory!” Ginny answered, gesturing to the four mirrors before the crowd. “Diggory’s been attacked and so has Fleur, and whoever attacked them is dueling Krum!”
“How can you know?” Crouch questioned.
Dumbledore’s voice interjected. “I ask you not to push that question. Ginny, are you sure?”
“Yes!” Harry and Ginny shouted, and both voices came equally from both mouths. The hooded person attacking Krum paused at the sound of another voice, and those around Ginny looked startled.
Dumbledore gripped Ginny’s shoulder, and suddenly there was a third voice in their minds. “Harry, this is Dumbledore, I am using Legilimency to contact you through Ginny; what do you see?”
Harry opened his mind to allow Ginny to see through his eyes and subsequently Dumbledore.
“Has this person indicated a name or anything that might give a clue to their identity?”
“Separabunt Brachium!” their enemy cried.
Krum screamed in pain and blood spurted from his elbow; his wand arm fell to the ground, cut from his body.
Harry clasped a hand to his mouth. Diggory’s killer shot one last curse, and Krum crumpled. Harry darted to Krum’s side; there was blood shooting like a pressure hose from his severed elbow. Desperately, he jabbed his wand at Krum’s arm and the stump cauterized.
“Ooh, I didn’t think you’d know such spell,” the person said. “I was hoping he’d bleed out.”
Harry rose to his feet, Krum’s blood soaking his front and right arm. He turned to their enemy and raised his wand.
“What is your name?” he said softly.
“Sorry, didn’t catch that.” The person bowed theatrically to him. “We duel?”
Harry cast a Blasting Curse at them. They blocked it easily. He sent another, they side-stepped it and retaliated with a jet of red light. He threw up a shield charm and cast the Reductor Curse. His opponent summoned a block of stone to absorb it. Harry advanced on her, his blood thumping in his ears.
“Diffindo!” he shouted. His spell was blocked. “Bombarda Maxima!” Again, blocked. “Petrificus Totalus!” They ducked.
“Who is aiding you?” they asked, their tone dark. “Whose voice is it?”
Harry did not understand. “Silencio!” They blocked it with another stone and sent another red curse.
“You use two voices!” they yelled. “Who is your help? Dumbledore? Is it he who re-enforces your spells?”
“Oculo Inflammare,” he spat.
They screamed as his spell landed. The person fell to their knees and clawed off their mask, then sprayed their face with water from their wand. Harry sent a Body Bind and they became rigid. He strode to them, then picked up the mask and studied it. Then he grabbed the face and pulled it up. His jaw dropped.
“Professor?” he whispered.
She bared her teeth, and too late he realized the Body Bind had broken. He jumped out of the way of a curse and collided with the pedestal.
“What voice is it?” Professor Aurora Sinestra hissed.
Harry fell to the ground, and the trophy landed in his lap. Sinestra’s eyes widened, then she grabbed the handle of the cup. Harry was about to throw it off him when it glowed blue. Harry gasped, then a hook around his navel tugged him forward.
Ginny surged out of her seat and yelled “NO!”
The images vanished. The whole crowd was on their feet, exclaiming loudly. Ginny whipped out her wand and jumped out of the stands, running for the maze.
Remus grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop. She screamed loudly and he let go; she started running again then her body froze up.
“Ginny, remain calm!” Dumbledore cried.
“Let. Me. Go,” she hissed through a locked jaw.
Remus turned her around to face Dumbledore and the judges. Maxime was on her feet, her face in shock. Karkaroff’s face was white; Bagman was clearly trying to hold back terror; Crouch was sitting there with a blank expression.
Dumbledore was forcibly holding Sirius in his seat. His eyes were dark. “Ludo,” he said. “You placed the cup. What do you know of it being turned to a Portkey?”
Ludo stammered incoherently. Ginny suddenly narrowed her eyes, then she forced herself to move and her wand was at his throat. “What do you know?” she growled.
“Miss Weasley!” Dumbledore said.
Ginny thrust her hand at him, motioning him to be quiet. She half expected him to keep talking, but he fell silent.
“Tell me,” she insisted.
A trickle of sweat appeared at Bagman’s temple. Sirius forced his way over and grabbed the nervous man’s left forearm; he forced back the sleeve and hissed. Ginny glanced down for a moment, and pressed her wand into his Adam’s apple. The man was branded as a Death Eater.
“You would not have that mark unless you had meant it,” she spat. “Where is Harry?!”
“Hangleton!” Ludo gasped. “The Big House!”
Ginny let him go, then said: “Stupefy!” Bagman slumped onto Crouch, who still hadn’t moved.
The adults around her stared in shock.
“Professor Sinestra,” Ginny said to Dumbledore.
“What?” said the Headmaster.
“Sinestra,” Ginny repeated. “She was the one in the maze.”
Dumbledore opened his mouth, closed it, then lowered his head into his hands. Ginny looked around, then leveled her wand at Karkaroff. He leaned back in his seat, but she pressed the tip into his chest.
“You were pen pals with Riddle in school,” she said.
“How could you —” he gasped
“That doesn’t matter,” she cut him off. “Are you still in contact with him? I know you’re a Death Eater, too, by the way.”
Karkaroff rubbed the inside of his left forearm. “I — no, no I haven’t contacted any of his followers since his defeat,” he said in a raspy voice. Ginny angled her wand at Maxime and raised her eyebrows. The French teacher shook her head with a jerk. Ginny looked over the rest of the crowd, then at Crouch and his still blank expression.
“You?” she said.
“Ginny!” Remus gasped. “Bartemius Crouch was one of the lead in the fight against You-Know-Who!”
“Yeah?” Ginny said. She stepped towards him and looked him in the eye. He looked up at her, then down at his feet. She gripped her wand more tightly. “What do you know?” she hissed.
Crouch’s shoulders began to shake. Ginny frowned. He finally looked her in the eye, and there was cruel amusement in them.
“Stup—” she began, but Crouch had already grabbed Bagman’s arm and had disappeared in a flash of blue light.
Ginny clenched her jaw. She turned to Dumbledore.
“I want myself, Sirius, and Remus transported to Hangleton,” she said. “You may bring anyone you might still trust.”
Dumbledore nodded quickly. “Alastor!” he called. Professor Moody stumped forward and grunted. Dumbledore gripped Ginny’s arm. “Hangleton, in Wales,” he said. The ex-Auror nodded, and the group hurried from the stadium to the gates where they could Apparate away.
Harry landed in a heap on soft, squishy grass. Professor Sinestra kicked him in the stomach, and he curled into a ball, the wind knocked out of him. Vaguely, he heard Ginny yelling in the back of his mind, but could not respond while he gasped for air.
“Philip!” Sinestra called. “I have the boy!”
“The potion is nearly complete,” said a man’s deep voice. “Bring him here.”
Harry fumbled for his wand, but Sinestra cast a spell before he could grab it. His body froze. Sinestra snatched his wand off the ground and grabbed his hair. He tried to cry out in pain, but his tongue was rigid. Sinestra dragged him across the grass and from his limited view, all he could see marble tombstones and wet grass.
She flung him at her feet and he saw a fire barely a foot from his face; a cauldron sat on it, and he could see it boiling.
“Tie him to the grave,” a raspy voice commanded. Sinestra gripped the back of his shirt and lugged him to a broad tombstone. She used her wand to levitate him then bind him to a stone angel topping the tombstone. Harry finally saw her angry face; her eyes were bloodshot and the skin around them was puffy and red. Then she backed away and he saw two men, one of them looked like her brother, the other was stooped over the cauldron. He saw greasy black hair and tried to shout in anger at who he assumed was the traitorous Severus Snape, but the Body Bind was too strong.
“We are ready for the last three ingredients,” the stoop-shouldered man said in a soft voice. Harry frowned; that wasn’t Snape’s voice.
“Begin,” the raspy voice said. Harry pinpointed the location as being in the tall black man’s arms.
The stooped man drew a wand and aimed it at the tombstone beneath Harry. Harry tried to squirm again, but the Body Bind held fast.
“Bone of the father,” the man said. The ground cracked and split, then pale white dust drifted upward. The man directed his wand to pull the dust, bone dust, into the cauldron.
“Flesh of the servant,” he continued. Harry tried harder to escape. Sinestra strode forward and stuck out her arm. The stoop shouldered man held out his wand; Harry, through pure will-power, forced his eyes to close. He heard a thwak and a splash, but Sinestra made no sound. He heard a whispered spell, then footsteps.
“Blood of the enemy.”
Harry forced his eyes back open. The stoop shouldered man drew a knife and advanced towards Harry. He struggled to break the curse, to break the ropes, but they held fast. His chest twisted in panic, and there was a sudden BOOM. A shockwave shot out from around him; the stoop shouldered man dropped his knife and grabbed the sides of the cauldron, preventing it from tipping. Harry heard a sizzle and smelled what was undoubtedly the man’s hands searing, but he did not seem to notice it. The man simply cast a charm, then bent and picked up his knife. He cast another spell, and Harry’s body pressed back against the angel. He grabbed Harry’s still blood-soaked right forearm, and dug the knife into his skin.
Harry wanted to scream, he wanted to scream so badly, but his mouth refused to work. Blood pooled on the blade, and the man stepped back. He held the knife over the cauldron and shook it.
One drop fell into it. Two drops. Three.
The potion turned red, then milky white. The man set down the knife then held out his arms to the tall black man. He took what appeared to be a bundle of robes from him, then turned back to the cauldron.
Harry closed his eyes. He heard a groan, then a splash, and began to pray.
Ginny, I don’t know where I am, but get here quickly.
There was a loud pop beside him. Harry opened his eyes and stared as hard as he could out of the corner of his eye, unfortunately his glasses did not cover that far and the two figures were horribly blurry.
“What news?” The black man said.
“The Weasley girl turned on us faster than we expected,” said a voice Harry thought was remarkably like Crouch’s, but too reedy to be exact.
“Weasley girl?” Sinestra’s voice was strained. “How did she suspect you?”
“I do not know, but Bagman caved under her wand. Fortunately he forgot to specify which Hangleton. This place is Unplottable, right?”
“Of course,” the stooped man said. “Why is Bagman unconscious?”
Harry tried to focus his eyes, but they refused. Was Ludo Bagman there? Was he another traitor?
“Weasley stunned him. The girl was furious. I’ve never seen a child look so powerful before.”
The stooped shouldered man did not reply. He turned back to the cauldron, then took a step back. “Your master rises.”
Harry begged silently. Ginny, Bagman might have told you the wrong place! Please, please answer me, Ginny!
He did not know what was restricting his mind, but he could only just hear Ginny’s voice on the other side of his mind. His eyes began to tear up in his fear and panic.
The potion bubbled, and slowly a huge glob rose out of it. It twisted in the air, then a shape began to form, like a skeleton writhing inside of it. It changed again, and became more humanoid. The liquid dripped away. A figure was now apparent in the air.
The cauldron was levitated away, and the figure touched down. The stooped man draped a robe over the shoulders. Skin was forming into a face rapidly as Harry watched, unable to peel his eyes away. The sound of his own panic filled his mind. Eyes opened to reveal blood red irises and slit pupils.
Lord Voldemort inhaled deeply through a nose that was flat. He raised white fingers to stroke a bare scalp. Harry had never felt so afraid in his life.
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