|SIYE Time:14:50 on 22nd January 2019|
Harry Potter And The Twists Of Fate
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Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fluff, Humor
Warnings: Extreme Language, Sexual Situations, Violence
Story is Complete
Summary: What if the fates let Harry's parents live that night he got his scar, plus gave him a younger sister and become friends with the Weasleys, especially Ron earlier. What would be different?
Hitcount: Story Total: 220749; Chapter Total: 6700
Here's the next chapter. Sorry for the delay, but I had little time to write in rhe pasr week. Unfortunately, that won't change as I'm now too busy to write more than a page or two a day, so updates may take longer now. Sorry for that. Just be patient. The action is just beginning.
Chapter 46: The First Task
Harry hated publicity, hated it all his life. Even more, he hated reporters. For as long as he remembered he had been hounded by reporters everywhere he went, reporters interested in the doings of the Boy-Who-Lived.
Harry had been in Potions when Colin Creevey had informed Professor Snape that Harry was wanted by Ludo Bagman for a publicity shoot, together with a testing of the champions’ wands. Harry was led by the younger boy to the room beside the Great Hall where he and the other champions had first gathered. Much to his disgust, Harry found out that a certain reporter he really hated was in the room now.
This particular reporter was a witch, who was presently dressed in magenta robes. She had blonde hair that was set in an elaborate coiffure and a heavily-jawed face upon which a set of bejeweled spectacles was set. Her hands had thick fingers with two-inch long nails that were painted scarlet. Her name was Rita Skeeter.
Harry really hated her. As far back as he could remember, she had written a lot of articles about him for the Daily Prophet, many uncomplimentary to him, much to his parents’ anger. Fortunately, James had somehow managed to convince the Prophet’s management to give her an overseas assignment five years ago. But now, it seemed she was back in England and very eager to write about Harry again.
Now, according to Ludo Bagman, Skeeter was at Hogwarts, assigned to write a publicity article about the Triwizard Tournament in the Daily Prophet for the Ministry. She also had a photographer with her.
As Skeeter looked at Harry like Christmas had come early, Harry would have much preferred being in class with Snape than here with HER.
Bloody hell! Harry thought, this woman is going to write another one of her nasty articles.
Just as Rita was asking Bagman to let her interview Harry, Dumbledore walked into the room, followed by Madame Maxime, Professor Propanov and Mr. Crouch. After them came an old wizard with large pale eyes. Harry was surprised to recognize Mr. Ollivander, who owned the Wand shop in Diagon Alley.
“Ah, Rita,” Dumbledore said, a benign smile on his face, “How good it is to see a former student who doesn’t seem to care who her articles scandalize.”
Rita sniffed and said, “I only write them as I see them, Dumbledore.”
“Oh, yes,” Dumbledore said, “no doubt with a Quick-Quotes Quill. Be that as it may, we must start the Weighing of the Wands.” With that he turned from her and looked at the three champions. Harry, Fleur and Krum were now seated side by side in front of a long table where the other three adults had taken seats.
Dumbledore introduced Mr. Ollivander, who then began checking the champions’ wands, starting with Fleur’s. After his examination ended in a successful conjuration of some lovely orchids, he examined Krum’s wand. Finally, he asked for Harry’s.
“Ah, yes,” Mr. Ollivander said, running his hand over the wand, “I remember your wand, Mr. Potter. Eleven inches, made of holly, with a phoenix feather at its core.”
Harry also remembered when he had gotten his wand. It had been the Saturday after his eleventh birthday, when he had gone with his parents and sister to get his school supplies in Diagon Alley.
While his father had gone to Florentine Florescue’s Ice Cream Parlor with Rose, Lily had gone with him to Ollivander’s to get his wand. Harry remembered his mother’s face going pale when Mr. Ollivander had told him that his wand was brother to the one that had given him his scar, since the same phoenix gave a feather for the core of each wand.
Harry often had wondered what that meant. It was even more important now, when it looked like he and Voldemort would eventually have to duel each other.
After Ollivander had checked his wand, Harry and the other champions sat while numerous pictures were taken. Through it all, Harry distracted himself talking with Ginny. As soon as the photographer told them that he was done, Skeeter latched on to Harry’s arm.
“Now, how about that interview, Harry?” she said, her smile showing off her gold teeth, “After all, the readers need to know all about the champions.”
Harry was about to give an angry retort when Dumbledore again came to his rescue.
“Ah, Harry,” Dumbledore said, “There something we must discuss about the Triwizard tournament, some little details. So, if you’ll excuse us, Rita.” With that Dumbledore took hold of Harry’s arm and steered him away from the reporter who looked very annoyed.
Harry and Dumbledore didn’t speak as they walked out of the deserted Great Hall, into the Entrance Hall and up the main staircase. There was still a half-hour before dinner. Harry let Dumbledore lead him to the Portrait guarding Gryffindor Tower.
Before leaving him at the Portrait, Dumbledore said, “I decided you needed time to relax after that ordeal, Harry. I know how tiring it is to sit for a photograph.” A twinkle appeared in his eye as he added, “They’re a real pain, aren’t they? Thank Merlin I haven’t had to do that in over fifty years. The one consolation for someone my age is that I don’t look good in a publicity picture anymore. Get some rest, Harry. I know someone will be coming soon to help you do that."
“Thank you, sir,” Harry said, smiling, “Thanks for the rescue.”
He said the password to the Fat Lady and entered the empty common room. He moved to his usual chair before the cold fireplace. As soon as he had flopped down into it, he felt the tension from being with Rita and the shoot itself bled out of him. Slowly, his eyelids drooped and he fell asleep.
The next thing he knew, he was being awakened by soft lips pressing against his. He opened his eyes and saw a cascade of red filling his vision. He pulled back a little and gazed at Ginny, who was smiling.
“How are you doing, love?” she asked softly, “Did you get a good rest?”
“Yes,” he answered, a smile forming on his face, “It’s a bit uncanny how Professor Dumbledore sometimes knows what you need, especially after that.”
Ginny frowned for a moment, “Well, I’m glad that’s over. I could feel your tension and anger at that woman. I can’t believe the Headmaster let her into Hogwarts. He knows how horrible her articles were for you over the years.”
Harry shrugged, “Maybe the editor at the Prophet or Bagman didn’t tell him who was coming to do the article. Anyway, I’m hungry after that nap. I didn’t miss dinner, did I?”
Ginny giggled, “No, Harry. I just got back from class. We can just make it to the table before Ron finishes all the food.”
Harry chuckled and allowed Ginny to pull him off the armchair and out the Common Room.
As the days passed, Harry found the rest of Hogwarts slowly coming to terms with him as their champion. He got less furtive looks and fewer people were whispering behind his back.
Of course, the Slytherins were still throwing glares at him, except, strangely enough, for Draco, who always had a neutral look on his face whenever he and Harry faced each other.
Snape, on the other hand, often threw insulting comments at Harry centered on his entry into the tournament while Harry hunched over his cauldron. If it wasn’t for Ginny sending calming thoughts through their bond, Harry would have hexed the git.
A week before the first task, Harry was in Care of Magical Creatures, taking care of the Blast-ended Skrewt they were assigned to raise when Hagrid came up to him.
Hagrid leaned down, looking at the Skrewt as he whispered to Harry, “’arry, about the first task, I sugges’ yeh meet me ‘ere tonight. Oh, an’ bring yer Dad’s cloak.” Hagrid straightened up and said, “That’s good, ‘arry. It seems teh be growin’ well.” He then strode off without a backward glance, leaving a puzzled Harry.
Later that evening, as they were sitting down for dinner, Ron took a seat beside Harry.
“Harry,” Ron whispered, “I just saw Charlie, coming in at the Entrance Hall.”
Harry turned to him, puzzled, “Charlie’s here? What could he be doing here?”
“Harry,” Ginny said in his mind, “Remember what Charlie said as we were saying goodbye at the Platform? He said he may see us soon, way before Christmas.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, “You think this has something to do with the Triwizard, Gin?”
“I think so, Harry,” Ginny said, “I doubt he’s here for a social visit, especially considering how hard it is for him to get time off his work. I think he’s already used up any vacation time he had during the summer visiting for our birthdays and the World Cup.”
“His work!” Harry said in his mind, “Ginny, what if he’s here because of his work?”
“You don’t think….?” Ginny asked him, “No, they’d be crazy to do that.”
“Crazy or brilliant,” Harry said, “Now I have a feeling what Hagrid wants to show me.”
Sure enough, later that night, Harry found himself staring at three huge male dragons of different species as he huddled under his invisibility cloak. More than twenty wizards, including Charlie were busy tying them down within some form of enclosure at the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
Harry could feel Ginny’s horror and fear as she watched the scene through him. Not even the presence of Madame Maxime, who seemed to be on some sort of date with Hagrid, judging from the flowers he had given here, could tear Harry from watching the dragons as they struggled against the keepers.
When he got back to the Common Room, Harry found it empty except for the New Marauders. He knew that Ginny had told them what he had seen. They now looked at him with looks that showed the same dread and fear he felt.
Harry flopped down in his favorite armchair and placed his head in his hands.
Merlin, how am I going to handle a full-grown dragon? What are they going to make us do?
The Chinese Fireball, Welsh Green and Hungarian Horntail all looked formidable, especially the Horntail.
Ginny sat down on his lap and wrapped her arms around him, causing his tension to ease.
“Harry?” Hermione asked, “Is it really true? They have dragons here at Hogwarts?”
Harry sighed, “Yes, Hermione, three of them, one for each of us.”
Neville let out a low whistle, “Blimey. What are they on about? How can they think you can face a dragon?”
“Well,” Hermione said, “Maybe they don’t have to fight them as such. Maybe they’re just an obstacle you have to get pass. After all, you’d have to be a professional like Charlie to really handle a dragon.”
Harry thought about it for a moment, “Maybe you’re right, Hermione. Maybe all I have to do is get pass it. So, if that’s true, how do I do that?”
No one had the answer to that question. Hermione and Rose volunteered to do research on that. Harry hoped he could get an answer from Dumbledore but doubted it due to the contest’s rules. Of course, that should have prevented Hagrid from showing him the dragons in the first place.
Therefore, it was surprising when, on Sunday night with the day of the First Task only three days away, Moody asked to speak to him after dinner. When he got to the Defense Classroom, he found the ex-Auror removing his wooden leg.
“Ah, Potter,” the man said gruffly, “Come in. I just wanted to commend you on your spellwork lately. Close the door.” As soon as Harry had closed the door, Moody cast a silencing charm and an imperturbable charm on the door and room.
“I also wanted to ask how you intend to get past your dragon. Yes, I know you know. Never mind that. It’s sort of a tradition to cheat at the tournament.”
Harry started getting nervous as Moody’s magical eye gazed at him. “Well, sir, I haven’t come up with anything yet. I’ve gone over a lot of spells. But, as you know, most spells just bounce off its hide.”
“Yes, Potter,” he said, “I know that. I have one piece of advice. I hear you’re a pretty good flyer. I suggest you use that skill.”
“How do I do that, sir?” Harry asked, “Mr. Crouch mentioned that we’d only have our wands for the first task. We won’t be allowed to have our brooms.”
“Ah, that’s the rub, Potter. You’re only allowed to bring your wand with you to the task. What you do with it is another matter.” He then lifted the charms, “Now, go on with you. Think about what I said.”
Harry went up to Gryffindor Tower wondering about that.
“Harry,” Ginny’s voice broke into his mind, “Do you remember one of the spells Remus taught us this summer, the one we had a little trouble concentrating on?”
Harry’s eyebrows drew together as he struggled to remember. Then his eyes widened as he remembered the spell Ginny was hinting at. One of the spells Remus had taught them just before the World Cup was the basic summoning charm, with pillows as objects for the spell.
“Of course! I can summon my broom!”
Of course, they’d only managed to move the pillows a maximum of twenty feet when they were practicing in Potter Manor.
“Ginny, go and get my invisibility cloak and the Map from my trunk and meet me outside the Portrait.”
“What for, Harry? Isn’t it late to wander around looking for an empty broom closet?”
Harry could feel the teasing tone in her mental voice.
“Oh, you naughty girl! We’ll have to do that another time. But right now, I’ll need your help practicing the charm.”
For the next two nights, Ginny helped Harry practice the summoning charm in an empty classroom until midnight. By Monday night, anything he summoned to him moved immediately and quickly, no matter how far. He even managed to summon a book from the other end of the corridor on their way back to Gryffindor Tower.
Then, it was the morning of the first task. Harry woke up before dawn feeling tense and frightened, more than during any Quidditch match he had played in for the past three years. He reached out to Ginny’s mind and discovered that she was still asleep.
Knowing he wouldn’t get any more sleep, he changed quickly and went down to the common room. He sat down in his favorite chair by the fire and looked deep into the embers of the dying fire.
Then, feeling a bit of anxiety, he stroked the fire back to life. When it was nice and warm again, he went back up to his room and grabbed a pouch from inside his trunk. When he reached the fire, he took some powder from the pouch and threw it in the fire which turned the familiar green. He poked his face into the green flames then said “Potter Manor living room”.
He looked around the familiar room, which was starting to lighten up from the rising sun shining through the windows. He saw a lumpy shape on one of the couches. It resolved in the light to that of a sleeping man covered in a woolen blanket.
“Dad,” Harry whispered then, after a few seconds, said louder, “DAD!”
James jumped up and spun around, his wand out. Unfortunately, his feet caught in the blanket and he toppled to the floor.
Harry grimaced and then said, “Dad, it’s me, Harry, by the fire.”
James put on his glasses and peered at the fire, “Harry, what are you doing, making a floo-call this early in the morning?”
“Well,” Harry began, not quite knowing how to put his feelings into words, “er, it’s the day of the first task. I, I, I just wanted to know if you knew.”
James knelt beside the fire and saw the anxious look of his eldest looking back at him.
“I’ll be there, son.” James said, himself feeling worried now, “I’ll be there officially to help guard the school, just in case. Unfortunately, your mum isn’t allowed to watch until the third task. She was a bit upset over that, which is another reason I’m sleeping here since I didn’t try to get permission to let her come. The other parents aren’t being allowed, so we couldn’t make an exception for Lily. Now, don’t worry about the task. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll do fine. After all, you know more spells than most fourteen year olds. I’ll bet a few of them are unknown to Krum and that Delacour girl. Just make sure you move around a lot.”
Harry eyed his father critically, “You know, don’t you? You know what we’re facing today.”
James sighed, “Yes, son. I know all the tasks and all about this tournament. That’s why I didn’t want you to enter. But now that you’re in it, I want you to be careful. Winning isn’t important. I don’t care if you’re last place. Just be careful and come out of this alive. Otherwise, I think your Mum and Ginny will kill you, not to mention me, Barty, Bagman and Albus.”
“You can’t tell me what we’re doing against those dragons, can you?” Harry asked.
James gulped, “You know about the dragons?”
“Yes, Dad,” Harry said, “We saw Charlie.There’s no other reason for him to be at Hogwarts.”
James sighed, “All right, I guess I can tell you a bit. You’ll each be facing one dragon. You have to rescue someone from the dragon. Someone will explain the exact nature of the task to the three of you just before the task.”
“Rescue someone? From a dragon?” Harry asked, incredulous, “Are they daft? How are you supposed to do that? Who are we going to rescue?”
James gave a wan smile, “I’m afraid the details escape me, son. Just be careful, okay? I have to go change. I’ll see you after the task, but be aware that I’ll be there watching you.”
“Okay, Dad,” Harry said, “I guess that’s all I can ask you. I’ll be seeing you.” Harry then stepped away from the fire, his mind now wondering who he would be rescuing from a dragon.
A half hour later, he felt Ginny stirring from her sleep.
“Harry, why are you awake already?” Ginny asked in his mind, her voice still a little wooly, “Are you still worried?”
“Just a bit, Ginny,” he answered her.
“Wait a minute,” Ginny said, “You found out something about the task. It’s causing you a lot of anxiety. What is it?”
Harry sighed and told Ginny about his Dad’s information. Ginny was a bit shocked about it. She then changed and hurried down to Harry. She helped calm him down and come up with a strategy to get past the dragon using his Firebolt.
The first task was to take place after lunch. Harry spent the morning drifting through his classes. During lunch, Harry could only eat with gentle coaxing from Ginny. He was only vaguely aware when Colin told them that Rose had been called by Flitwick to remain after their Charms class.
Finally, McGonagall came by the Gryffindor Table, asking him to follow her. Ginny gave his a fierce hug and a brief kiss on the lips as she wished him luck mentally. The other New Marauders added their own words of encouragement. As he walked through the Great Hall, more words of support came from the other tables. To Harry’s surprise, even Draco gave him a nod, ignoring the glares the other Slytherins were giving the Hogwarts champion.
Harry plodded along behind McGonagall as they walked down the grounds to the area at the edge of the forest where Hagrid had shown him the dragons. To his surprise, he saw that a tent had been erected about fifty feet in front of the enclosure. McGonagall led him inside the tent where Bagman was already talking to Krum and Fleur Delacour. They were both sitting down and looking as nervous as he felt.
“Ah, good, Mr. Potter,” Bagman said, “the third of our champions. Good. Now, about your task, in this bag,” he showed them a purple silk sack, “are models of what you will face. Please pull one out.” He offered the bag to Fleur, “Ladies, first.”
Fleur placed her hand in the bag and pulled out a model of the Welsh Green, with a number ‘one’ attached to it. Fleur’s hand trembled as she held it.
“Ah,” Bagman said, “the first one. Mr. Krum, you are next.” He held the bag in front of Krum, who pulled out the model of the Chinese Fireball with a number ‘two’ around its neck.
“Hmm,” Bagman said, “Well, that leaves you, Mr. Potter, with the last one.”
Harry pulled out the model of the Hungarian Horntail, with a number ‘three’ around its neck. He gulped as the model moved on his hand and twitched its nasty looking tail.
“Right,” Bagman said, “The task is a version of one of those muggle fairy tales with the dragon and the princess. Each of the dragons you will face will be guarding someone you care about, some relative who has ‘volunteered’ to play the part of the princess.”
He grinned at the alarmed look on each of the champions’ faces. “Now, don’t worry. There’s a shield and repelling charms around each, er, victim who will be tied to a pole. None of the dragons will be able to get within twenty feet of the ‘princess’. The shield will even repel its breath. What you must do is get past your dragon and up to your ‘princess’. You’ll be safe while you’re beside her. But you have to get her away from the dragon and back the way you came. The moment you and your ‘princess’ get past the dragon again, the handlers will take charge and subdue the beast.”
The tent was silent as the three champions assimilated the information Bagman had given them. Harry wondered again who his ‘princess’ would be. He knew it wasn’t Ginny. He had a sinking feeling who it would be and Ginny seemed to agree with him.
Outside, they could hear the noise of hundreds and hundreds of feet walking past the tent as the rest of the students headed for whatever area they would be viewing the task from, all the while talking, laughing and joking. Through Ginny’s eyes, Harry could see them climbing up a set of stairs into wooden stands that had been erected around the enclosure.
After a few seconds, Bagman said, “Now, the number around the neck of each model refers to the order in which you are to take on the dragons. I have to go now as I’ll be commenting. Ms. Delacour, you will be first. Just go out into the enclosure when you hear the whistle, all right? Good.” With that, he left the tent.
Another couple of seconds passed then they heard a whistle. Fleur gulped and slowly stepped out of the tent, her hand tightly grasping her wand. A few more seconds and there was a great roar from the crowd, signaling that Fleur had entered the enclosure and was now facing a real Welsh Green.
Harry sat down heavily in a stool as he started to see what was happening through Ginny’s eyes. While doing so, he tuned out Bagman’s commentary.
Ginny was seated high in the stands, almost in the exact middle. Below her, there was a pole stuck into the ground and a small figure probably a little girl, was tied to the pole. Fleur was at the opposite end of the enclosure, coming in through a gap in the fence. Between the tied-up girl and Fleur was the Welsh Green, sitting on its haunches and facing the Beauxbatons champion.
Fleur seemed to spend an inordinate time staring at the figure tied to the pole. She then started moving at a run, first toward the dragon, then weaving to its right.
All the while, the dragon watched her. Suddenly, it opened its mouth and spewed a jet of fire at her. Fleur barely managed to jump aside, avoiding the flames, then rolled to stand up again.
She cast a spell and a red light hit the dragon. The dragon roared a bit and started shaking its head. Then, its head started to droop. Fleur seemed to cast the same spell again. The dragon’s head seemed to hold still, as if it was just staring straight ahead.
Fleur then started to wave her wand in some sort of complicated pattern. The dragon just stood there watching the wand movements. Finally, its head hit the ground, followed by its body. It seemed it was asleep.
Fleur moved cautiously past the beast and up to the pole. She cast a spell to untie the ropes then carefully hugged the little girl. Slowly, the two walked past the sleeping dragon.
Suddenly, the dragon gave a snort and another burst of flame erupted from its nostrils and hit the edge of Fleur’s robes. The crowd gasped as one, but Fleur cast a spell that sent a jet of water onto the flames, putting them out. She and the little girl then ran up to the gap in the fence. Once they had reached it, about a dozen wizards moved forward and attached chains to the sleeping dragon. They then levitated it out to a cage set at the side of the enclosure.
Harry closed his eyes and put up the mental wall he habitually used to prevent seeing things through his soulmate’s eyes. He didn’t want to see anymore. He just listened to Bagman’s commentary as the scores of Fleur were tallied by the judges.
After a few minutes, the whistle again sounded and Krum slowly walked out. Harry kept his eyes tightly shut as he concentrated on remembering his plan to get past the dragon. All the while, he could hear Bagman’s comments on Viktor’s efforts.
Harry’s heart began to pump faster and he felt the fear tingling down to his fingertips. He nearly jumped up from the stool when he heard the Chinese Fireball emit a horrible shriek.
Finally, Harry heard Bagman announce that Krum had gotten his ‘princess’ past the dragon.
Then he heard the whistle. Taking a deep breath and painfully aware of his hammering heart, Harry walked out of the tent and up to the gap in the enclosure’s fence.
As he stepped into the enclosure, Harry looked up to the stands, filled to capacity with the students. The faculty, Bagman, Propanov, Madame Maxime and Mr. Crouch all sat together in the middle. Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindors were near them, on Harry’s right.
Harry turned his gaze to the floor of the enclosure. His heart sank as he saw the small figure tied to the pole, just beyond the imposing blackish bulk of the Hungarian Horntail. It was Rose.
She was dressed in a light blue shirt and blue denim pants. She also appeared to be asleep. Harry could barely see the silver shimmer of the domelike shield around her.
The Horntail flicked its tail, this way and that as it eyed Harry with its yellowish eyes.
Harry yelled, “Accio Firebolt!”
He waited for what seemed like ages before the familiar sight of his broom came through the gap in the enclosure and stopped beside him. Mounting quickly, Harry kicked of from the ground and felt the fear leave him as he soared upward.
“Go, Harry! Go save Rose!” he heard Ginny tell him in his mind.
Harry flew directly at the Horntail, drawing gasps from the crowd. Then he suddenly banked hard to the right, just as the dragon unleashed a jet of flame which barely missed him. Harry climbed upward and circled above the dragon.
The dragon roared and followed his movements with its yellow, beady eyes, furling and unfurling its wings as it stood about thirty feet in front of Rose.
Harry started to rise higher slowly, inch by inch, enticing the dragon to follow him. Finally, the dragon extended its wings fully and pushed off the ground. Harry immediately dove and slipped right below the beast, avoiding its jaws by mere inches.
He felt himself pass through the shield and landed right beside Rose. She still seemed to be asleep. There also seemed to be a golden locket shaped like a seashell on a gold necklace around her neck. Harry decided to leave this for later.
“Rose,” Harry said as he came up to her, “Come on, sis. Wake up.” Harry pointed his wand at her, “Enervate!”
Rose woke up with a start and looked around, confusion evident on her face. She calmed down a little when she saw him.
“Harry, where am I? What happened? Why am I tied up to a pole?”
“Just relax, Rose,” Harry said, “It seems our dear Headmaster and the organizers of this tournament thought it interesting to have a version of the prince, the dragon and the princess. It seems you’re the princess I’m rescuing.”
“What!” Rose said, her face showing outrage, “What dolts thought that up? Come on. Get me out of these ropes.” She started struggling against her bonds.
“Take it easy,” Harry said, “Just give me a few seconds to get this right. Diffindo!”
Harry used a well-placed cutting curse to sever Rose’s ropes.
“Harry! Watch out for the dragon!” Ginny suddenly screamed in his mind.
Harry whirled around to see that the Horntail had landed just a few feet from them, closer than it should be able to. It raised its clawed arms and took at swipe at them. Harry grabbed Rose and dropped to the ground.
The dragon’s arm hit the shield. The shield collapsed in a shower of sparks and the dragon’s hand passed through the air just above their heads. Its claws barely struck the pole, leaving a groove of claw marks a half inch deep on the wood.
Harry grabbed Rose and they mounted the Firebolt, Rose wrapping her arms around Harry’s waist. Harry kicked off the ground just as the dragon took another swipe at them. This time, it connected with the pole, tearing it out of the ground.
Harry made the broom climb upward, zooming above the stands.
“Hang on, Rose,” Harry yelled to his sister. Rose tightened her hold around Harry’s waist.
Harry flew out over the Forest. Looking back, he saw that the dragon was following them, its wings occasionally flapping to give it bursts of speed.
After about few minutes, Harry heard Ginny’s voice in his mind, “Harry! Don’t go too far over the forest. Head back to the enclosure. The handlers are gathering to decide what to do.”
Harry made a wide turn and headed back toward the enclosure. The dragon made a tighter turn and closed the distance to them to only twenty feet.
Harry suddenly banked right, just in time as a stream of fire passed by them. Harry dove down into the trees. Once they were among the trees, Harry slowed down. He weaved in and out of the trees, trying to head for Hogwarts. Harry stopped a moment and used his wand, “Point me!” He knew that Hogwarts lay west of the Forest.
Finally, they saw the stands and Harry guided the broom over the stands. Cheers erupted as the crowd saw them. The cheers turned to screams and gasps as a shadow feel over him and Rose. Harry leaned forward and pushed the broom forward to move faster.
Then he heard the dragon roar.
“Harry!” Rose said, “Someone firing spells at the dragon from the stands.”
Harry turned around and saw that the dragon had stopped and turned around to face the stands.
Harry’s heart clenched when he saw Ti standing at the top of the stands, his wand out and pointed at the dragon. Behind Harry, Rose gasped.
The dragon hovered for a moment then flapped its wings once and dove toward Harry’s friend.
“Harry! Do something,” Ginny’s voice bordered into panic.
Harry guided the broom to dive back towards the dragon. He aimed his wand and concentrated, “Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!” he cried in rapid succession.
The red jets of light struck the dragon’s back hard, one after another. The dragon slowed and shuddered. It started to loose altitude slowly. Then, several of the handlers came up and cast their own stunners at it. It finally landed on the ground with a loud thud and lay still.
Harry guided his broom back to the entrance of the enclosure. Professors McGonagall, Moody and Hagrid met them there. They helped Harry and Rose dismount from the
Harry wrapped his arms around Rose, who he noted was starting to tremble.
“Shh,” Harry said as he embraced his sister, “It’s all over, Rose. The dragon’s been subdued. Ti’s all right. You’re all right. I’m all right.” He felt her stop trembling.
“How is she, Potter?” McGonagall asked.
“I think she’ll be fine, Professor,” Harry said, “She just needs a few minutes to collect herself.”
“That’s good,” McGonagall said then she frowned, “What were they thinking, putting her in danger like that. I can’t believe the Horntail got up so close to the two of you and the shield collapsed so fast.”
“She’s right, ‘arry,” Hagrid said, “Krum’s dragon couldn’ get within ten feet of ‘im and ‘is mother.”
Harry frowned, “Is that so, Hagrid? That’s very suspicious.”
“I should say so,” Moody said gruffly, “There should have been no way for any of that to happen. Even the stands had repelling charms around them to keep the dragons away from the crowd.”
Harry’s frown deepened. It was becoming obvious that someone had tampered with either the shield or the dragon.
“Come on, Potter,” McGonagall said, a bit gentler than usual, “We should have Madame Pomfrey look at you and your sister. Then I have to go deal with Mr. Malfoy, I mean, Mr. Black. What was that boy thinking, trying to cast spells at a dragon?”
“Don’t be too harsh on him, Professor,” Rose said, unexpectedly, “He may have saved our lives. He distracted the dragon just when it was closing in on us.”
“Well, he should have left it to the handlers,” McGonagall said gruffly, “Still, I see your point, Miss Potter. I will take it into consideration when I talk with Mr. Black.”
McGonagall and Hagrid led them into the first-aid tent, which was now divided into several cubicles that were separated with curtains. Harry could see Fleur sitting down on a stool in one of the cubicles with the young girl beside her.
Madame Pomfrey ushered Harry and Rose into one of the cubicles and fussed over them as she ranted about the dragons. Just as Madame Pomfrey finished her examination, the curtains were thrust aside and James Potter peered into the room. Seeing his children inside, he rushed in and drew them both into a hug.
After a few seconds, he looked at Madame Pomfrey, “How are they, Poppy?”
“They’re fine, James,” Madame Pomfrey said, “Nothing a good Dreamless Sleep Potion can’t cure. They probably should take one tonight. Really! Dragons! Tying a child to a pole! What were they thinking?” Shaking her head, the school nurse let James lead his children out of the cubicle, one arm around each.
Just as they were exiting the tent, Ginny came running up to them. She grabbed hold of both Harry and Rose and gave them very tight hugs, reminiscent of her mother’s.
“Hey, love,” Harry said, hugging her back, “It’s all right. We’re both fine.”
“Yes, Ginny,” Rose said, patting her friend on the back, “We’re not hurt, just tired.”
Ginny didn’t answer, only tightening her arms around both of them, paying no attention at all to James.
James smiled, “Well, I see you two are in good hands. I’ll just check on those dragons. I’ll see you guys before I go home. I dread to face your mother after this. I bet she’ll send another howler to Dumbledore, and maybe one to Crouch and Bagman.” He shuddered, “Ah well, looks like another week on the couch for me, at least.” He strode off then.
As soon as James had gone, Ron, Hermione and Neville came up to the three.
“Harry, Rose,” Hermione asked, “Are you guys all right?”
“Of course they are, Hermione,” Ron said, “You think Madame Pomfrey would let them out of her sight if they weren’t?”
Hermione huffed at him, “It’s only proper to ask them, Ronald.”
“Hey, easy there, Hermione,” Neville said, “You can see they look okay. We were all worried about them.”
“All right, Neville,” Hermione said, “I’m sorry, Ron. I just needed their reassurance.”
Ron shrugged, “Well, that’s okay, Hermione. Now that we know they’re fine, we can tell Harry his scores. You guys took so long in the First-aid tent that they decided to give them without you there.”
“So what did I get?” Harry asked.
“Well,” Neville said, “The scores are out of ten. They used their wands to show your score. Madame Maxime gave you an eight, Crouch and Dumbledore each gave you a nine and Bagman gave you a ten. However, Propanov gave you a five.”
“That scumbag,” Ron said darkly, “He said it was because you left the area. He gave Krum a ten and Krum’s mother was almost squashed by his dragon as they ran away from it.”
“How did that happen?” Harry asked, “I decided not to watch that part after seeing what Fleur went through.”
“He cast a spell right in the dragon’s eye,” Ron explained, “It made the thing go berserk, stomping all over the place. At first, the dragon couldn’t get near the place where Krum’s mother was tied up. But when they tried to get past it, the beast stomped a little too close. Krum fired another spell at the bottom of its feet just as it was about to step on his mum. Anyway, Harry, with your combined scores, you managed to tie for first place with Krum. Isn’t that great?”
Harry grinned, “Yeah, that’s fantastic!”
Then, Bagman came in the tent, “Ah good, you’re up and about, Harry. I just need a word with you and the other champions about the next task, all right. Come on back inside the tent. Oh, bring your ‘princess’ with you.”
Harry almost laughed out loud as he saw the sour look on Rose’s face over Bagman’s referral to her as ‘his princess’.
“All right, guys,” Harry said, “I’ll see you in the common room.” He gave Ginny a kiss on the cheek while mentally asking her to wait for him and Rose. He then followed Bagman back inside the tent, one hand pulling Rose along.
They found Fleur and Krum waiting for them inside, their own ‘princesses’ with them. Harry thought that the young girl with Fleur must be her sister since they bore a striking resemblance to each other. Krum’s mother, on the other hand, looked less blocky and severe than her son.
“Well,” Bagman said, a beaming smile on his face, “Congratulations are in order to all of you for completing the first task. Now, you’ve got a nice, long break before the second task which will take place at half past nine in the morning of February the twenty-fourth. However, if you all notice, the ‘princesses’ each have a locket around their necks. In that locket is a clue to the next task, so you can prepare for them. Opening the locket is a bit tricky, which is part of the fun. All clear? Good. Now, off with you then.”
Harry and Rose exited the tent and found Ginny waiting for them. As they were walking back to the castle, they ran into Rita Skeeter, who was wearing acid-green robes today.
“Oh, how lovely,” Skeeter said, “Congratulations, Harry. How about a quick word? How did you feel facing that dragon to rescue your sister? Did you think the scoring was fair for you?”
Harry glared at Rita. He knew his sister and Ginny were also glaring at her.
“You want a word?” Harry said, “Well, here’s four: No comment and Goodbye!”
He then walked rapidly away, his two favorite redhead girls on his arms.
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