Content Harry Potter Trixie Belden Star Trek: TNG My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
  • Previous
  • Next

Disclaimer: Do not use without a helmet. Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup. Do not think that anyone other than JK Rowling owns any of this.

Note: This chapter is later than I wanted it to be, due to a computer crash that ate everything in the original version of this chapter that followed the word 'correct' in the third paragraph. This led to me rewriting the way that Harry finished the first task, since I had independently come up with the exact same solution that DrT had for TriWizard Redux. I think my new solution works a bit better.

But it means that I'm writing a little slower, because I'm trying to catch back up to where I should be.

As his vision returned to him, he found that things had changed. He saw everything in front of him as though it was a very highly colored dream. There were hundreds and hundreds of faces staring down at him from stands that had been magicked there. And there was a Horntail at the other end of the enclosure, crouched low over her clutch of eggs, her wings half-furled, her evil, yellow eyes upon him, a monstrous, scaly, black lizard, thrashing her spiked tail, heaving yard-long gouge marks in the hard ground. He said the first thing that came to mind.

"Oh, fuck!"

A gasp went through the crowd. "Hmm, I guess that the crowd can hear me. Nice if they'd told us that the crowd could listen to everything I say." There was laughter in the crowd now, so he knew that his thought process was correct. "Hmm, again. I wonder." He pointed his wand toward the egg that was his target and said, "Accio egg!" The egg resolutely remained exactly where it was.

He stared at the dragon again for a long moment, and then tried something as if met his gaze. Legilimens! he thought, and found himself touching the mind of the creature.

<I am not so easy to control, human!> was the bellow he received in response.

I don't want to control you, or even steal your children. What I do want is the extra egg that they have you guarding.

<Extra egg?> she thought, and looked down. <Ah, the gold one. Why do you wish it? It is rather attractive, after all.>

True. Perhaps I could return it to you later, after I have gleaned its secrets. He paused. Actually, let me admit something to you. I am from the future, and I am here to fix a great wrong. I was placed here. In the original time, before I had learned to speak to you, I summoned my broom and flew around you, annoying you greatly, the way that an insect would annoy me. I need to recover that egg to be allowed to continue forward in this contest, and change what needs changing.

She stared at him for a long moment, and he could feel himself being probed, but it was far gentler than anything that Snape or even Dumbledore could do. He got the feeling of a smile, and smiled himself when she reached down, gently picked up the egg and placed it well outside her nest.

A feeling of amusement flowed at him. <Let us have some fun with these watchers, shall we?> She sent him the image and he laughed aloud, startling the spectators.

People gasped as they watched him pocket his wand and walked forward to the gold egg. He then reached up and unclasped the chain holding her to the ground and climbed on her back at the juncture where neck met with torso, where her wings would not strike him. With that, she took to the air, Harry riding behind her neck, laughing happily. He was now aware of some of the 'mind woogie' that God (or whatever she really was) had done, and thanked her.

They spun around the sky, and Harry could see Charlie on the ground nearly tearing his hair out at the spectacle. He knew that he was making his 'legend' grow even more, but this was worth it. He was back and able to save the lives of all his friends, he could tell people how he really felt about them, and he was doing something he'd never thought possible. He was riding a dragon!

He could feel her preening, and realised that their link was still open. Something else no one ever bothered to learn about dragons, he thought with amusement.

<We find it interesting to let them treat us as dumb beasts. It makes mealtimes easier, at least, and by allowing them to deal with reserves, we find mates easier.>

We should probably land, my lady. As much fun as this is, you have a clutch of eggs that should probably be taken care of.

<You are a credit to your kind. I wish that more were like you.>

Perhaps I can talk to the redhead that you're approaching now. He's a friend, and loves your kind. I think he'd likely give up the ability to procreate to be able to be closer to you than he already is.

<He would want to think twice about that,> she thought at him with some amusement. <There is a female of your species who would rather like the idea of at least practising the act with him as often as she can. Tell him to speak to Sheila. I know that he would be pleased with it as well.>

She was landing as she told Harry that, so people were treated to the sight of a wind-blown Harry suddenly bursting out laughing. "You understand English? I could have just talked to you normally?"

There was a shimmy down the Horntail's neck scales that Harry just knew was laughter of some sort. "I just might decide to go into dragon 'handling' when I finish school, you little minx," he said as he climbed off. "I should probably reconnect the collar now, since I'd imagine they'd all feel safer." He reached down and picked it up, and she stretched her neck upwards to make it easier for Harry to fasten it to her. "If I can, I'll come down and see you again before they take you back to the reserve."

Charlie and Hagrid were staring at Harry for a long moment before they met each others eyes, and with a shared grin dropped to their knees (the ground shook very slightly when Hagrid hit) and they began to chant, "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" as they kowtowed to him.

Harry was laughing rather hard as he finally managed to choke out, "Arise, Sir Rubeus and Sir Charles!" The two stood, laughing themselves, and Hagrid pulled him into a rough hug. "I knew yer could do it, "Arry!" he said. "More style ter it than anyone else!"

"Hell of a finish, at least," Charlie agreed.

"Yeah, well, that was her idea," Harry admitted. "By the way, you might want to find a teacher of a skill called Legilimency and you might also want to look up Sheila, according to her," he said, jabbing his thumb back at the dragon.

"I wouldn't stand a chance with Sheila! She's shot down every handler at the camp!"

"According to her, it's because none of them were Charlie Weasley. She seems to think that Sheila is rather taken with you."

Charlie looked up at the dragon. "So they understand English," he finally said. "They've let us run around being silly for their own amusement?"

No matter what species they were, no one mistook the mock-innocent look of "Who, me?" on the dragon's face.

Laughing, Harry said, "Actually, I think they're telepathic. Legilimency requires eye contact, and I can still feel her tapping me mentally, occasionally. Probably a surface thing, if only to get the language and general feel for the person. You get along pretty well with almost all the dragons, don't you?" Charlie nodded. "It's because they understand that you love them for who they are. I'll bet you've had handlers that didn't last very long because the dragons just wouldn't be still around them, and tried to hurt them?"

Charlie nodded, then shook his head. "Well, let me get you to the first aid tent, because Madam Pomfrey won't be happy until she knows that you're not bleeding to death out here." He led him up to the tent in question. "I need to get back down there and see to her. I'll see you around, and see if I can get you to her again before we take her home."

Madam Pomfrey bustled over to Harry as he stepped inside the tent. "Dragons!" she said, in a disgusted tone. The tent was divided into cubicles; he could make out Cedric's shadow through the canvas, but Cedric didn't seem to be badly injured; he was sitting up, at least. Madam Pomfrey examined Harry carefully, talking furiously all the while. "Last year dementors, this year dragons, what are they going to bring into this school next? You're very lucky ... I've no idea what made you think that you could just walk up to a dragon, let alone ride the beast ..." He got an insight to the woman as he saw suspicious wetness in the corners of her eyes.

"She's not a beast, she's quite intelligent," he said softly. "And thank you for caring about all of us students." He stood and hugged the woman gently.

When the hug broke, he saw a smile on her face. "And thank you, Mr Potter. It's nice to know that my efforts are appreciated."

"Whether or not I ever said so, they always have been, ma'am. You must be a saint to put up with us for so long."

"Maybe they'll name a hospital after me when I'm gone," she responded with a small smile.

"Then let us hope that such a hospital doesn't get built for many more years," he said, giving her another quick hug, which she returned this time.

The tent flap burst aside suddenly, and Harry turned, knowing who he'd see — Hermione, followed closely by Ron.

"Harry, you were brilliant!" Hermione said squeakily. There were fingernail marks on her face where she had been clutching it in fear. "You were amazing! You really were!"

Harry walked over to the two of them and pulled her into a hug before releasing her and running his hand down her cheek, a soft healing spell on his lips. The marks disappeared. "Such a pretty face shouldn't be marred by worries." She blinked in surprise at the comment before blushing coyly.

He turned to Ron, who was white. "I ... someone looks like they're trying to kill you!" he finally said.

His look hardened slightly. "No shit, Sherlock," he finally said.

"Harry, I'm ... I was a jealous idiot, and I ..."

"I actually do understand, Ron," Harry interrupted. "I forgive you, but I won't forget this. Please don't ever do this to me again, either, because you won't get a third chance to hurt me like this." Then, as Ron looked about ready to stop pretending that he was the manly sort and give in to a good cry, Harry pulled him into a hug — a good, solid, manly back-slapping hug. "Don't take this wrong, but I love you, Ron. It's why it hurt so much. You're my brother in all but blood."

"Never again," Ron said seriously. "I'll die first."

"Please don't," Harry said. "Madam Pomfrey? As your soonest convenience, could you tell the Headmaster that I need to speak with him? Make sure you tell him that the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches."

The school's healer looked at him in puzzlement. "All right. I assume that the phrasing is important?"

"Very much so. He'll likely want to come running to me immediately ..." He paused and asked for some parchment and a quill. Although she wasn't wearing her backpack, Hermione handed him both almost immediately. "I'd ask where you had those, but I'd likely become very jealous of the quill," he said before remembering that he wasn't this forward originally. "I do not believe that I just embarrassed you like that, Hermione," he said in an attempt to mitigate the damage. "Please forgive me."

The bushy-haired girl was blushing furiously as she said, "You're forgiven, Harry."

"I may think that a lot, but I shouldn't be so crass as to vocalise it in front of you," he answered. "Thank you."

"As long as it's not too crude, go right ahead," she said with a voice that surprised Harry. It was shy, but also a little husky at the same time.

She's flirting with me! he thought, and started to do a little dance in his mind as he wrote. Finally, he rolled up the parchment and handed it to her. "He'll want to set up a meeting with me when he hears you tell him what I said, so let him know that the meeting needs to involves these people, and only these people. Stress that I said only the people on that list." He smiled. "I know this is very weird, but this is me we're talking about," he finished with a laugh.

She smiled as well. "I understand not being able to talk about things, Mr Potter. I am the head of the medical staff for the school, after all." She bustled off to the others again, and the three of them left the tent to get Harry's scores, which turned out to be one point shy of perfect, since Karkaroff had given him a nine.

"You're in the lead, Harry!" Hermione squealed, surprising him by throwing her arms around him and bouncing. In the original time-line, this would have likely made him laugh and maybe hug her back, but there was a much wiser mind in the head now, and he was being forcibly reminded that a girl that he was attracted to was rubbing her body against his, although she wasn't aware of the potentially erotic aspects of her jumping.

He threw his arms around her to stop her. "Stop!" he strangled out.

Startled, she did so. "What's wrong Harry, did I step on your foot? Did I hurt you or something?"

"No," he answered slowly, trying to figure out how to say it without embarrassing her. "Um, fourteen, boy, fifteen, woman," he finally said equally as slowly as before, pointing first to himself on the first two, and then to her starting when he said 'fifteen'.

She thought for a moment before her eyes went startlingly wide, and she blushed furiously and tried to break away. "No," he said. "I stopped you because I was liking it too much, if you understand me. You are not going to run away and pretend that this never happened, unless you tell me right now that you want to." He held his arms around her.

She looked into his eyes for a long moment before saying, without ever breaking eye contact with Harry, "Ron, if you have anything you want to say to me, now would be the right time, because I have a choice to make."

Showing far more maturity than Harry could remember from Ron at this point in their lives, Ron said, "Honestly, I think you're pretty, Hermione. But we fight too much, and I'm not ready for a long term thing. If you want to date Harry, I'll just sit back and bitch and moan about how he always gets the best things in life." He ended his statement with a grin that they both could hear.

Hermione turned her head to look at Ron and said, "Thank you. I'm attracted to you both, but ... I think I want to explore things with Harry for a while."

Harry said, "Besides, there's another redhead in the school that you might want to talk to. I understand that Susan Bones thinks you're kind of cute." He shrugged. "Personally, I think it shows that she's a bit insane, but then again, I'm a guy who is rather solidly interesting in the female of the species, thank you very much." He thought for a moment. "I'd go find her and see if perhaps she might be interested in going to a dance with you, if perchance one were to happen this year. After all, we had to have had some reason for bringing dress robes." He met Ron's eyes. "And we'll talk to maybe Parvati and Lavender to see about some reworking of those robes. Parvati's got an eye for fashion, and I'm betting that the two of them just might manage to find a way to make those things look good on you."

"You know something," Hermione said with an air of certainty.

"More than I'm willing to admit to out here," he replied. "That meeting that I insisted on with the Headmaster? Your names are on there. It's vital that this meeting happens." He looked in her eyes. "But for the moment, there's something far more important to do." He lowered his face toward hers, and smiled as her eyes closed softly and her mouth opened very slightly. Their lips met, and suddenly their bodies were crushing even tighter together as the kiss seemed to take on a life of its own. He had missed her for so many years, and his feelings of loss and something that could only be described as rebirth coursed through him. She moaned softly against him as their tongues met, and he found himself embarrassed as she gently pressed her entire body against him, since he had responded as a fourteen year old boy would to having a pretty girl snogging the hell out of him.

They broke, and her eyes sparkled with mirth. "I'm not ready for that yet, but it's nice to know that you think of me that way."

"Oh God, I'm ..." he started to say when it hit him that she really was here, that this was not a dream. Somehow it had taken this long for it all to strike home that he really was in the past, with a chance to save their lives. He choked back a sob and hugged her tighter, trying hard not to cry uncontrollably.

Their tender moment was interrupted by the quiet sound of clicking from the bushes. "Accio camera!" he snarled, and as a familiar camera shot toward him, he yelled "Reducto!" and blasted it to smithereens.

"How dare you!" screeched the voice of his least favourite reporter. In his original timeline, she'd continued to be a thorn in his side, writing articles that somehow both condemned and praised him at the same time. The public was about to lynch him before he finally defeated Riddle, which had luckily been her downfall, since he had 'accidentally' stated in public that she was an unregistered Animagus. Her prison sentence was probably excessive for the crime of not registering, but people in power suddenly realised how much she might possibly know about them, and chose to keep her away from those who might want to know that information.

"I dare a lot, Rita," he said. "I apologise for the camera, but I was in the midst of a tender moment here, and heard someone spying, so I took measures to deal with it. I promise to buy you a top of the line new one, Bozo," he said to the cameraman, who simply raised his eyebrow at the use of the name.

"Ah, child, be careful about trying to play with the big boys. Little boys who think they're big boys get hurt."

"Someone should tell that to Draco Malfoy, then," Harry said. "He tries to run with the big dogs, but it's hard for a toy poodle to run with wolves, except as lunch." He looked her in the eyes. "And as for me? I'm a bigger boy than you might think, Rita."

Hermione snickered softly against him and whispered, "I'll say."

"Shush, you," he said with a small grin. "There's a lot of things I can quote at you, but probably the best one right now is this: 'Do not start with me. You will not win.' I can back that up, too, Rita."

"And just what can you do to me?" she asked, the ridicule obvious in her voice.

"Make sure that everyone knows that you're an illegal, unregistered Animagus. You are a particularly ugly little beetle, to go with those particularly ugly glasses of yours."

"And your proof of this claim is what?" she mocked.

"Don't need any. We'll all just see to it that any beetle we see around us is crushed and gotten rid of. Who'd complain about the death of one little beetle in the scheme of things?" She looked startled. "I know your secret, Skeeter. As I said, you will not win if you push against me. You are not allowed on the grounds except during the actual events, so I think we're safe in that regard. Beetle in winter? Kill it. Pure and simple. No murder charges either." He stared at her coldly.

"You wouldn't?" she gasped.

"How would we know?" he asked innocently. "We could simply capture every beetle we see and subject it to the Reversal Charm for Animagi. Of course, being in a jar when we do that could get ugly for you."

Rita Skeeter scowled at him. "What do you want from me?"

"Something I think you're ill-equipped to handle, to be honest, but I'm going to give you one chance to prove me wrong. Stick only to the truth when it comes to writing about people. You want to interview people? Feel free. Don't use that ... ah, to hell with it." He pointed his wand at the acid green quill that was still scribbling away and vaporised it. "Don't buy a new one of those. Get one that quotes exactly. Be honest in your reporting and I'll leave you alone. Start embellishing again and I'll destroy you."

"You're only fourteen. What can you possibly do to me?" she asked, the mocking tone once again in her voice.

He murmured for a moment, and Rita glowed a brilliant sparkling blue. "What have you done to me, you half-blooded little prick?" she asked, her eyes going wide a moment later. "Your mudblood whore looked this up for you, didn't she?"

Harry smiled as he snapped his wand at her and fired off two spells almost simultaneously. The first shot her back against a tree, where the second spell made her stick fast, unable to move. "Rita, luckily we both know that you're usually better at not saying what you're thinking. Otherwise you'd never have made it as far as you have. Right now I've cursed you with a week of telling the unvarnished truth about what you think whenever you open your mouth to speak. If you cross me again, I'll make it permanent. And one of my friends is one of the best curse-breakers in the world. He'll know how to make it such that it'll take years to break, if ever." He stalked over to her. "And if I ever hear you speak about Hermione in such a manner again, I'll kill you, pure and simple. She's a better woman than you'll ever be, and more than I deserve. I'll destroy you literally, if you make me."

There was fear in her eyes as she nodded her understanding. He released her from the tree, and made a shooing motion to her. She took off at a surprising speed.

He turned to face Hermione, who looked at him with a mixture of shock and — if her blouse was any indicator — some arousal at his comments. "I'll understand if -"

"No one has ever felt that way about me before," she said. "I was always the ugly bookworm."

"You're anything but ugly," he replied, "and bookworm has nasty connotations. You're a woman who loves her studying."

"That's the second time you've called me a woman, rather than a girl. Why?"

He grinned and looked down her body once and then met her eyes. "You have to ask why?"

"Yes. I'm only fifteen, and in certain meanings of the word, still innocent. That doesn't qualify me as a woman."

"But you are also quite mature, emotionally speaking. Far more so than someone like Rita Skeeter for example. Why is she considered a woman? Because she's — pardon my crudity — spread her legs to climb the ladder? Doesn't work for me. That strikes me a particularly im-mature. So if someone like her can be considered a woman, then why not you?"

Her heart was in her eyes. "If you keep talking like that and acting like that, Mr Potter, I just might have to keep you around forever," she said softly.

"I shall endeavour to treat you as you deserve, then, dear lady," he said, bowing extravagantly to her before offering his arm to her, and then clapping Ron on the back. The three of them headed toward the castle, but not before Harry made a slight stop to the Owlery to send a letter, once again wondering where Hermione was keeping the quill and parchment. (He was hoping to get a chance to go searching sometime soon, he had to admit to himself.)

Harry entered the large meeting room that the Headmaster had set aside and pulled Hermione onto his lap. "I want to get in some kissing time before everyone starts arriving." Before they could do anything more than look into each others eyes, the door opened again and Cedric Diggory walked in, the orange paste he'd worn for his burns gone, leaving behind a vague pinkness where it had been.

"Good go there with your dragon, Potter. And thank you. I've talked to my House-mates, and none of us will wear those badges."

"As long as you can charm them to not flash that Potter Stinks message, go right ahead and wear 'em. You are the real Hogwarts champion, and I'll say that in the Great Hall at breakfast, lunch or dinner, whichever one has more people." He laughed quickly. "Heck, get rid of that extra slogan and I'll wear a Support Cedric Diggory badge."

Cedric looked at Harry for a long moment. "You should have been in Hufflepuff." He looked to Hermione. "You definitely have good taste in boyfriends, Miss Granger."

With the most wicked look in her eye that Harry had ever seen, she replied, "I wouldn't know. I've not had a chance to taste him yet."

Harry stared at her for a moment, surprised by the comment and barely noticing Cedric's guffaws. The surprise suddenly gave way to other images, and he was suddenly telling her without a single word that he was intrigued by the idea. She looked rather startled as she parsed some information that she hadn't when they'd first kissed earlier that day.

Harry reluctantly moved her off his lap, and smiled his own wicked smile when he saw her eyes look where she'd just been sitting and widen. He was amused and a little aroused when she unconsciously licked her lips.

The rest of the room began to fill, Harry being surprised that Dumbledore had been able to get Krum and Fleur away from their keepers, but pleased at the same time. The Weasley family — all nine of them — came in as a single group and sat as one, but not before Molly could come over and give Harry a quick hug, and begin to complain about what they were doing and how they'd allowed Harry to compete. He hugged her back and eventually she took a seat. Ginny was looking daggers at Hermione. Remus walked in with a large black dog at his feet, which proceeded to look at Harry and do the closest thing to a wink that a dog could do.

The Ravenclaw contingent came in as a group, bringing Su Li, Cho Chang, Luna Lovegood and Padma Patil in, as well as her twin sister Parvati. Neville, Hannah and Susan entered at the same time, Neville fairly deep in conversation with Hannah about something down in the greenhouses.

The last to enter were Albus Dumbledore, who walked into the room behind Daphne Greengrass and Severus Snape. All three sat down.

"Excuse me, Headmeaster?" Harry asked calmly.

"Yes, Mr Potter?" Albus Dumbledore asked, sounding somewhat confused.

"We seem to have an extra person at this gathering, one who was specifically requested not to be here."

"I believe that Severus has a point of view that can only add to the conversation, Harry," Dumbledore began in a grandfatherly manner.

"I disagree, Headmaster. I had specific reasons for not wanting him here." He pulled his wand and did a complex wand motion. "Well, at least you kept half of it. Nobody else is here who shouldn't be other than him."

Severus Snape sneered at Harry in his characteristic manner. "Do you honestly believe that I would want to listen to anything that you have to say, Potter?"

Harry grinned at him, a less than pleasant smile on his face. "Either that or you're afraid to leave your student with the Headmaster of the school. Are you attempting to insult him by staying and making sure that we don't do something rude to your student?"

Before Snape could respond, Harry turned to Daphne and said, "My apologies for putting you in the middle of this, but unlike your Head of House, you have a right to the information, I believe. If it wouldn't end up with everyone in your House — including your Head of House — shunning you, I would offer the hand of friendship."

She snorted. "Most of those little boot-lickers shun me already. I accept." She held up her hand, and Harry took it with a smile. "Pity that Granger got to you first," she purred. "That would really drive the House insane."

Harry saw Severus Snape nearly vibrating. "Problem is, I think that a certain person next to you would likely poison you 'by accident', if he could manage it before his head exploded." He smiled softly. "Besides, I am quite happy with Hermione. I appreciate the offer, though."

He turned back to Snape. "Since you were not an invitee to this gathering, I am politely asking you to leave."

Snape smiled his oily smile and sat back in the chair, making himself comfortable. Harry turned to the Headmaster. "I have information for you, sir, but it will not be given with that man in the room, when you knew quite well that I specifically insisted that he not be here."

Albus frowned. "Harry, you need to learn to work with other people. I believe that he is uniquely suited to this meeting, based on the small snippet that you quoted to Madam Pomfrey."

"Why? Because he's the one who heard it in the bar and went running to Voldemort? I should trust him because the fact that I am an orphan can be laid quite clearly at his feet?" He turned to Snape, who was starting to rise from the chair and pull his wand. "What you heard was 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ...' You never heard any further because you were caught eavesdropping and were kicked out."

"Is this true?" Remus asked dangerously. "Were you the one who took the prophecy to Vol ... to You Know Who?"

"Are you actually going to believe the ramblings of a fourteen year old glory hound?"

"Compared to your word? Hell yes!" Remus said. "Remember, I went to school with you, Severus. I remember what your word is worth."

Harry watched Dumbledore, and saw that there was no intention in the man to chase Professor Snape from the room. He stood and walked toward the door. "Remus? I'll talk with you later about setting up this same meeting, minus the Headmaster and Professor Snape. I had wanted to let the Headmaster know about some things, but since he is proven that he can not be trusted, I feel that he should be left out of the loop."

"How dare you insult the Headmaster's integrity, Potter!" Snape bellowed. "Just what I would expect from the Gryffindor Golden Boy, however."

"Now Severus -" Dumbledore began.

"Cedric," Harry said, ignoring the Potions professor and Headmaster, "You set up a meeting, and inform the person setting it up that ... oh, let's say Zacharias Smith is specifically forbidden to be at the meeting. Smith walks into the meeting just ahead of the person you told to set up the meeting, and sits down. Are you going to trust that person ever again?"

"Not unless they give me a good reason to trust them, and I haven't heard one yet. In fact, in the scenario you set up, I would probably not trust them anyway, because the person doing the actual set up should have come to me and given his reasons as to why Zach should be at the meeting. To spring him on me when I asked otherwise is actually a power ploy to show who's really in charge." With that Cedric stood and joined Harry by the door. Hermione was on her way as well, and in moments, all the students save Daphne were with him, including Fleur and Viktor. Daphne looked at Harry for a moment before looking to her Head of House, and then stood and joined the other students. What surprised Harry was when Percy stood and joined the group, which also surprised Ron, Ginny and the twins.

"Bill? Charlie?" Ron asked. A minute later, the only ones remaining at the table were Molly, Arthur, Snape and Dumbledore.

It was when Molly stood and walked over to Harry that the Headmaster seemed to slump in defeat. "You had best have a good reason, young man," she hissed at him. "Albus is a respected man!"

"Who specifically ignored me," he said in a conversational tone. "He assumed that I would refuse Snape entry to the meeting on purely childish grounds. Did you notice that he never really stepped on the professor when he was going after me? I have had Snape on me since my very first day here, acting as if I were a pampered prince who needing bringing down a peg, while giving Draco Malfoy the exact treatment that he accused me of being used to. Yet if I don't use his title, most of the adults complain that I must give him respect. Why? Because he's a teacher? Because he turned on Voldemort after setting him on my parents and the Longbottoms? Because he thought he was saving my life in first year when Quirrell-mort was trying to hex me off my broom? I fell farther than that when the Dementors showed up in my third year. I remember him coming into the hospital wing literally foaming at the mouth, accusing me of setting Sirius Black free, even though the door had to be unlocked to let him in, and that door had been the only entry into that room. The day he treats me with a modicum of respect is the day that I might think about calling him Professor when I am anywhere other than in his class."

Harry threw a powerful reflective shield up as he finished speaking, and the gonging noise as the curse struck it was terribly loud in the room. "Severus!" Albus barked. "Leave this room now!"

Severus glared at Harry as he left the room, then turned to Daphne Greengrass. "Return to the Slytherin Common Room now, Miss Greengrass."

"Unlike you, professor, I was requested in this meeting," she said.

"Ten points from you, Miss Greengrass, and a weeks' worth of detentions with me, starting immediately." He paused, then said dangerously, "Now, Miss Greengrass!"

She stood as tall as she could and said sharply, "No. I was requested, and you were specifically asked not to come. I have a right to be in this meeting, and you do not."

"I will see you -"

"Shut up, Snivellus," Harry growled. "Do you remember the two mottoes that cropped up in regards to my father? The main one was the Potter family motto — Audaces fortuna iuvat. His personal one, one that I'm sure he said to you many times, was 'Non ini me. Non vinces.' I just quoted that to Rita Skeeter a little while ago, and backed up my point quite well. I'll say it to you again in English, since I think that you might not understand it otherwise. Don't start with me. You will not win. She is here for the exact same reason that you should not be. Now leave."

Severus Snape drew himself to full height in preparation of delivering some scathing retort or grand pronouncement, but suddenly found himself sliding out the door and slamming into a wall across the hall with some considerable force, driving the wind from his lungs. He lunged back for the door, aiming for Harry, who was rather obviously the one who had ejected him, but the door suddenly slammed in his face such that they actually heard him impact with it. Daphne had a look of innocence on her face.

Impishly, Harry created the illusion of a halo over her head, making the others laugh. All but Albus Dumbledore, that is. "Was that truly necessary, Harry?"

"Yes. Now, can I have an oath from you that none of what we talk about in here will be told to Snape? No, before you say it, I will not call him professor for the reasons that you heard. I am not in his class."

"Have things fallen so badly apart that you would require such an oath from me?" the Headmaster asked, looking quite hurt.

"You actually have the testicular fortitude to ask that after what you've seen and heard here so far?" Remus asked him incredulously.

Harry threw a series of spells at the walls of the room, and laughed slightly at the muffled "Ouch!" from the other side of the doorway. "Anti-spying spells. No scrying, no remote seeing or listening, or any of the other methods of learning from outside. Any listening spells are simply picking up a hissing now. The spells I cast tend to bite back at the people trying to circumvent them, hence Snape's cry of pain."

He turned to the Headmaster. "You were given a list of people, all of whom are here. The list also specifically stated that I did not want Severus Snape or Alastor Moody in the meeting for reasons that would become obvious in the meeting. You invited Snape anyway, and yet I'm the one showing no trust. You will need to rein him in regarding Miss Greengrass, by the way."

"I felt that he would give a unique view on the situation, since he had been the one to hear the words you quoted."

"And it didn't strike you odd that I knew the words that you've fought so hard to keep me from hearing? I know the rest of it too, sir. Doesn't it strike you odd that I've somehow heard the first prophecy of Professor Trelawney's without ever getting to the Hall of Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries? After all, when she prophesied that Pettigrew would rejoin Voldemort at the end of my third year, you referred to it as her second valid prophecy."

"How did you learn of it, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

"Oath first, sir. Explanations after."

Somewhat sadly, Headmaster Dumbldore swore the oath that Harry requested, and they sat down to speak.

"Simply put, sir, I heard the entire prophecy from you at the end of my fifth year at Hogwarts."

"Harry," Hermione began.

"I know, Hermione. This is my fourth year. You now have all the data you need."

"You're a time traveller?" Padma asked quickly, only seconds ahead of both Hermione and Cho, who were both giving the beautiful Indian girl dirty looks.

"Have you any idea how dangerous that is?" Dumbledore asked, horrified. "The damage to the time stream could be immense! You can't make any -"

"I already have changed things irrevocably, sir. In the original time stream, I Summoned my broom and showed why I play Seeker. I also never harassed Rita Skeeter into laying low for a while."

He looked around the room. "Before anyone can ask me why I came back, I'll tell you. Cho, Cedric, Padma, Parvati, Hermione, Ginny, Ron, Luna, Neville, Daphne, Su, Hannah, Susan? You were all dead, Sirius Black was dead. Twelve of you at the same time, all because you were my friends. All of you at the hands of Voldemort or his followers. That goes for the dog at your feet, Remus." Padfoot shot to his feet and looked carefully at Harry. "I'm going to let all of you in on a few secrets. You've heard me mention Pettigrew. Peter Pettigrew is alive, and Sirius Black is innocent of the charges that put him into Azkaban without a trial. I have seen Pettigrew with my own two eyes."

"What happened that was so horrible that you needed to endanger countless lives?" Dumbledore asked, the horror still in his voice.

"Voldemort's final ritual backfired and killed everyone in the room. Including me. The problem is, the ritual he had been performing was supposed to siphon the life force of the people that he had kidnapped and put it into him. He could then take fatal damage and get up from it."

"The wrong person got the immortality, didn't they?" Luna asked.

"Yes. Twelve of you died at the hands of Tom Riddle just to give me a lifespan of about two thousand years."

"Did you keep the lifespan when you travelled back?" Remus asked.

"No. That was one of my conditions when the chance was offered me. No extended lifespan, no restrictions on what I could do, and no memory wipe from the trip." He stood and bean to pace. "Do you have any idea how painful it is to have to pull an icepick out of your own eye, because jamming the damned thing into your brain didn't kill you?"

"Why would you do such a thing?" Hermione asked, sounding on the verge of tears.

"Because I couldn't become a Dark Lord and take my suffering out on everyone else."

That was a response that no one expected, and they all sat back heavily in their chairs. Finally, Albus broke the silence. "My deepest apologies, Harry. I see with that comment how badly I have managed to fail you. I should have trusted you, and you were correct to demand the oath from me."

Harry was confused. "Why would that statement ... I'm confused."

Cedric spoke up. "You were being a proper Hufflepuff again," he said with a small smile. "Would the reason that you couldn't take it out on everyone else be that you felt that those who had died before would be disappointed in you?"

"Of course," Harry answered in a voice that made it clear that it really was that simple to him.

Hermione stood and kissed his cheek. "It's one of the reasons I love you, Harry Potter."

He shook his head. "The important thing is that I can deal with him this year, and possibly manage to deal with all his Death Eaters at the same time." He looked to Cedric. "And save the life of the real Hogwarts champion."

"Good heavens!" Albus said. "Mr Diggory will die this year?"

"Not this time around," Harry growled. It was obvious to everyone in the room that the anger was not at the Headmaster, but at the situation.

He looked to the other contestants in the Tournament. "First time around, I was just a 'leetle boy', and I acted it, and got to the cup with the help of Alastor Moody. It turns out that Moody is actually stored in his own trunk, and has been replaced by Barty Crouch Junior."

"Bartemius Crouch Junior died in Azkaban, Harry," Dumbledore said softly.

"No, his mother did. When you die Polyjuiced as someone, it locks you into that form. Mrs Crouch was dying anyway, so she convinced her husband to make the switch. Well, Junior got free of his father's Imperius. By the way, Professor, see if you can call off the search for Bertha Jorkins. She's dead by Voldemort's wand, if not his hand. Seems that Pettigrew can use the Riddle wand as well."

"Anyway, Barty has been running around the school, and will Imperius Viktor to eliminate all the competition but me. The TriWizard Cup will have been turned into a two way Portkey, and in the original time stream, Cedric and I took the Cup together." He looked to Cedric and said thickly, "The last words you ever said were 'Wands out, you reckon?' I will not watch that happen again." He clenched his fist and leaned forward onto the table, the emotion raw in him. "It will not happen again!" he yelled, raising both fists and bringing them back down on the table.

He had merely intended to get rid of some of his frustration by hitting the table. What he got rid of instead was a chunk of the table, which sat on the ground beneath him, smouldering. "My apologies," he said to the rest in the room. "I have felt responsible for Cedric's death for nearly twenty years now, and now that I'm back here, I swear to you Cedric, if I have to break every bone in your body to keep you from touching that Cup, I will. You can hate me for it, but -""Why does it

"You're saving my life," Cedric said simply. "If it weren't for the magic of the contract to compete, I'd pull out of the Tournament. But I have to do my best."

"What do you need from us?" Albus said. "Other than to detain the false Moody, I mean."

"Actually, I need to make sure that his father is rescued, because otherwise Junior will kill him in February or thereabout of this upcoming year. We should leave Junior in place, since when we discovered it in the original time stream, the real Moody was still alive in the trunk. We don't know if Junior was in constant contact with the homonculus form that Tom is in right now."

He grabbed some parchment from the table and grinned at Hermione, who blushed furiously. After a moment of writing, he slid it to the Headmaster. "Get Bill there to help you if you can. This is where the surviving Horcruxes are stored. If you don't take a curse-breaker with you to at least the Gaunt house, then you'll likely lose the use of your hand. We need those found and destroyed before May. Luckily, as I said, I know where they all are."

He frowned. "That leads me to Snape. In the original time line, we didn't know that the locket was in 12 Grimmauld Place, so we went to where we thought it was. An ugly time later, after you had drunk a poison in order to empty the bowl that held the thing, we came back to Hogwarts to find it overrun with Death Eaters that Draco Malfoy had helped into the school. To make a long story short, we ended up coming across Malfoy and Snape on the Astronomy Tower. You pointed out that Draco didn't have the killer instinct. Snape, however, proved that he did as you kept begging him 'Severus, please!' I watched your already dead body plummet from the Tower after Snape hit you full in the chest with the Killing Curse. I saw it with my own eyes, sir. After all the chances that you gave him, he proved his true colours."

He looked sadly at the Headmaster. "Sir, it would be in your best interest to remove him from this school. He is unfair to all the students, including his own Slytherins, although in the opposite direction, if you will. He treats Gryffindors like they are his own personal verbal punching bags, and it's going to stop, sir. I can imagine that there are many years worth of students willing to complain about Severus Snape and his teaching methods."

"Why does it fall to you?" Molly asked. "I know that you say that you travelled back in time, but why must it be you that deals with it? Why can't the adults — well, other adults — deal with it?"

Harry smiled and put on his very best Trelawney-in-a-trance voice. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ..." He coughed once and someone pushed a glass of water to him, which he gladly drank. "Gah. Don't know why I go for the showmanship on that. But that's the entirety of the reason that I'm an orphan I spent some time hating the professor for leaving me with the Dursleys, but now I'm just annoyed at him for it. He did the best he could at the time, and once I was there, nothing could be done to remove me." He turned to face Dumbledore. "That being said, "I'm moving into Potter Manor this summer, Professor, whether or not I've eradicated Tom. I've had sixteen years of those things, and see no reason to subject myself to more."

"I want to argue with you," Dumbledore said after a moment, "but I am seeing that you must be the person that you state that you are — a Harry Potter in his thirties, in the body of his fourteen year old self."

"I'd like to show some Pensieve memories to the group, if possible, to show that I'm not being especially inventive." Upon the Headmaster's nod, Dobby was called, and the Headmaster's Pensieve was brought. Harry pulled several memories, and showed them one by one. The first was his memory of the end of the Tournament and Cedric's final words. He showed them all the way through to his return and 'Moody's' unmasking. When they pulled out, Cho was crying and holding Cedric tightly. "You have my word that I will do everything I can to keep that from happening to you, Cedric."

"You'll need someone with you!" he said. "To hell with you trying to save my life; what about yours?"

"I made it to my thirties, Cedric. Tom can't kill me when he's so weak from his rebirth."

"He didn't look weak to me!" Hermione shot back.

"Compared to his power later, this will be a picnic. After all, he'll not be facing a fourteen-year-old with a fourteen-year-old's power. I'm in my thirties in a number of ways, although I was obviously woogied a bit to make sure that I could find girls my body age attractive again You saw what I did to Skeeter out there. Could I have done that yesterday, from your point of view?"

"No. I don't want you to die though," Hermione finished in a small voice.

"I don't either, Hermione, but it my be the price for coming back to save you guys. I was an idiot the first time around, and you twelve died because of it. I will literally die before I allow that to happen in this stream."

He showed the memories of Snape's treatment of the Gryffindors, and then moved to Dumbledore's murder. Finally, he showed himself breaking in to the ritual that Voldemort had been performing, and waking up after it had gone so terribly wrong. They watched him caress the cheeks of each girl, even going so far as to kiss Hermione and Daphne's foreheads. "I'll be with you soon," he said in the memory just before it faded out.

"Three drownings, one Reducto to the face, an ice-pick to the brain through the eye, and a few other attempts later, I realised that the one person who didn't deserve to even live now had exactly the type of immortality that Tom had been after." He turned to Hermione. "Let me put it to you this way, Hermione. If it prevents the group of you from dying, I will willingly accept the punishments of both Loki and Prometheus together, for eternity."

"And I won't let it happen," she replied. "You have risked your life for us, and whatever you came from in the future. You love us, and we all love you in one way or another. Can you see the Headmaster allowing you to experience eternal damnation?"

"Can't you see that it's worth it to me, though, to know that the group of you survived this time around? My death may well be a requirement this time. I accept that. One life in return for twelve or thirteen? That's a bargain beyond belief! Especially given where I'm heading when I do die."

"Where, pray tell do you think you're going?" Remus asked, his voice cold in his anger.

"Where I belong, of course. I already told the one you sent me back — God, if you will — that I will make such a racket that she'll have to send me to Hell. I will accept nothing else, for my crimes."

"Which didn't happen," Cho said simply.

"It did, or I wouldn't have the memories of it," he replied. "Metaphysics is a bitch, isn't it? It has to have happened for me to remember it. Therefore, even if I'm changing it, I have earned my place in Hell."

Cho stood and walked over to him. "Forgive me Hermione and Cedric, but he needs this." He kissed him gently. It was a pleasant thing, that seemed to say nothing but 'Thank you' to him. "You have so much pain, and it ... I'd like to think that we can still be friends in this time-line."

"Well, if you don't have to get over Cedric's death, it should be easier."

"I don't want you to go to Hell," she said softly. "Knowing that you went there to keep me alive would tear me apart, and I'm betting that the rest of your friends would feel the same way."

"She's right," Cedric said. "If the cost of me living is you in a state of eternal damnation, then I'll fight you every step of the way."

"Don't you see that it's worth it to see you survive? You're all worth it. I'm not. I proved that the first time through."

There were multiple sharp inhalations around the table. "Harry James Potter," Hermione said softly, "Do you truly think that I would fall in love with a man as worthless as the one you seem to be describing? Do you think that I think so little of myself?"

"No, but you don't know the me that's lived these past years without you guys."

"The one who swept me off my feet with words earlier today? The one who loves so deeply that the loss of his friends scarred him horribly? I think I know him. He really is just an older version of the man I fell in love with."

He shook his head. How can I make them understand?

"You don't," Hannah said. "I could read it in your face. You're trying to figure out how to prove that you're the scum that you think you are. You can't, because you aren't." She stood. "Hermione, you're either going to have to be willing to be the first girl in a harem, or live with the fact that there are several girls here who would like to kiss him in thanks."

"Go ahead," was Hermione's response. Harry could hear the mischievous tone as she said, "I'll figure out the sign-up sheet for the harem later on."

Daphne laughed loudly, and then sobered. "May I have permission to stay in one of the other dormitories for the night, Headmaster? I do not believe that my Head of House will take my defiance terribly well."

"Hmm, yes. I shall need to talk to him, and see if I can get him to mend his ways. If he does not, he will be gone." At Harry's look of disgust, Albus added, "And it will be measured in weeks, not years."

"Is there anything else that we need to cover?" Harry asked finally. "If not, I think we should get something to eat and head back to our respective dormitories." Moments later a rather sumptuous feast was on the table before them.

  • Previous
  • Next