Chapter 14 : Filet de Dark Lord
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is copyrighted by JK Rowling. My Editor and I are just trying to pick up the pieces or her mess. No suing is necessary.
Author's Note: In this chapter, I skip ahead a couple of weeks after the Second Task. This is now around the time of Bagman taking the champions to the Quidditch Pitch and showing them the hedges that are growing. Of course, my version of that will be different... Warnings for violence and some bloodshed.
Chapter 14 Filet de Dark Lord
Harry was walking down to the Quidditch Pitch with Cedric, Fleur, and Krum. Ludo Bagman was going to tell them about the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament, which takes place in exactly one month. When they reached the Pitch, it was criss-crossed by bushes. Bagman asked, “Can anyone guess what's growing here?” Harry examined the hedgerows, noticed the right angles and long stretches, the shape of the bushes, and asked in response, “I assume this maze will be gone for the next Quidditch season?”
“Of course it will be! We wouldn't dream of ruining Quidditch!” the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports exclaimed.
Harry nodded and said, “That's good enough for me. What about you, Cedric?” he turned to his friend and fellow Quidditch player. Cedric shrugged and nodded.
“That's alright, then!” Bagman said jovially, bouncing from foot to foot like a child. “You can all head back up to the castle, then. The Third Task takes place on June 24th, starting at dusk. Your goal will be to find the Triwizard Cup, at the center of this maze. Hagrid will be providing obstacles.” Everyone nodded, and they walked away. On the way back to the castle, Cedric stopped. He turned to Harry and said, “I've noticed some odd things I think you need to be aware of.” He had spoken in a low voice, so as not to be overheard by Krum. They walk a short distance away to the edge of the forest and Harry asked, “What things?”
“Moody and Snape are planning something with Karkaroff. I saw them whispering together on my way out here, and I think Dumbledore may be in on it,” Cedric said conspiratorily.
Harry looked thoughtful. “I know those three are up to something, and I know that whatever it is, it can't be good. However, Dumbledore's actions are new to me. Unless, of course, it's simply a convoluted scheme to kill or maim me; in that case, it's old news.”
“Why does Dumbledore hate you so much?” Cedric asked.
Harry sighed and said, “I wasn't planning on telling anyone, but I think I can trust you. You have to promise to keep this a secret, though.” Cedric swore to never tell anyone. “Alright. At the end of my First Year, I was in the forest doing a detention. On my way back, I was attacked from behind. That night, I died in the Hospital Wing. Dumbledore knows this, but has forgotten to practice what he preaches. Because of that attack, I am now a vampire.” Harry looked like he was ready for Cedric to run away screaming, but the older boy didn't move.
“You're a vampire?” Cedric said instead. “That explains some things, like the wings during the First Task. What's important is what's inside, and I know you do have a heart and you wouldn't feed on a human for the sake of it. I know it must have been hard for you to tell me, and I'm sorry if I pushed you to tell me.”
“That's alright, I can't keep it a secret forever,” Harry answered.
“What's wrong with Dumbledore?! What's he playing at?! Is he trying to join the Death Eaters?” Cedric suddenly exploded, raising questions about a man many call a saint.
“I don't know, but he certainly is prejudiced. And you're not the only one to ask about Death Eater sympathies. Hermione, Ron, my godfather, and Professor Lupin have already asked him that question,” Harry grinned at the thought. Cedric laughed as they walked up to the castle. Before they were too far away, Harry stopped. He looked around, alert and watching for the slightest sign of movement. The trees rustled to the left of them, and Barty Crouch stumbled out.
“Must...see...Dumbledore...” he wheezed. Harry and Cedric leaped into action. Harry started barking orders, which Cedric obeyed instinctively. “I'll fly up to Dumbledore's office, and bring him down here. When I bring him, I'll need you to wave your wand like your transfiguring me back. I don't want him to know you know what I am.”
“Sure,” Cedric replied. He stood over Crouch with his wand out as Harry sprouted his wings.
Harry flew up above the castle, then looked down for the tower he knows Dumbledore's office is in. When he saw it, he swooped down and rapped on the window sharply. Dumbledore looked up and scowled. He opened the window to tell Harry to go away, but Harry spoke first. “Barty Crouch is in the forest, begging to see you. I suggest you get down there right away,” Harry said coolly. Then he flew back to the forest. When he got there, Cedric was still standing guard, and Crouch was talking to a tree, calling it 'Weatherby'. Dumbledore was close behind Harry, and Cedric waved his wand like Harry had wanted.
“You've really got to practice that more, Harry,” Cedric teased him. “If you're trying to turn into a Thestral, you've got the wings down pat, but it has a body, too. You keep forgetting that.” Dumbledore hid a sneer, thinking Cedric was stupid and still hadn't figured it out. He fully expected the Hufflepuff to denounce Harry the moment he found out what he was.
“Mr. Crouch, I've brought Dumbledore. You said you needed to see him,” Harry said loudly. Crouch immediately fell to his knees and repeated, “Must...see...Dumbledore... done...terrible...thing...Dark Lord...”
Dumbledore walked up to him and questioned him. After several tries, he finally got the full story. Crouch's son, Barty Jr. was back in the service of Lord Voldemort, who is trying to return. A Death Eater called 'Wormtail' is helping him, and they'd rigged the Triwizard Tournament, trying to use Harry Potter to help Voldemort return. Crouch Sr. also reported how he had helped his son escape Azkaban by replacing him with his dying wife. Dumbledore glared at Harry and growled, “You cover your tracks well, but I've got my eye on you. I know you're helping him, too.” Harry took a step back, the light seeming to leave his eyes,and said, “You're entitled to your beliefs, though they are wrong.” Cedric glared so hard at Dumbledore's back that he turned to look at him.
“You have a problem with that, Diggory?”
“Yes, I do,” Cedric replied, and punched Dumbledore so hard he saw stars. “My friend is not a Death Eater. You are.”
Dumbledore was sitting in his office that night, his head in his hands, as he contemplated the situation. Voldemort already knew about the tournament, and was using it to his advantage. He had several Death Eaters who had already rejoined his service, and his Heir Apparent working for him, and Dumbledore couldn't figure out what to do to salvage this situation. He then heard a noise, and looked up. Severus Snape was standing in the shadows of his dimly-lit office.
“Is there a problem, Headmaster?” Snape asked silkily.
“I just don't know where I went wrong, is all,” Dumbledore moaned. “I mean, I gave him to his family after his parents died. I had him brought here when he turned eleven, and I treated him like a grandson. But by the end of the year, he had turned to Voldemort.”
Snape listened quietly, then voiced his opinion. “Perhaps he felt betrayed. When he was turned, you did seem to give up on him awfully fast. His kind can sense fear with absurd ease, but I have reason he can sense it more deeply even than others of his kind. I hate to say this, but he is extremely powerful.”
“I know. He did mature very quickly, and he was powerful before. But with his family around him, he should be kinder, no matter what Heinrich Weisen said two years ago,” Dumbledore sighed regretfully. Snape, however, winced at the name.
Over the next few weeks, Harry practiced spells. Hermione, and sometimes Ron, were helping him prepare for the Third Task. The spells he practiced included Stunning Spells, the Impediment Jinx, Jelly-Legs Jinx, the Four-Point Charm, and the Blasting Hex. He did very well, and even impressed Hermione. Ron hid his scowls and jealousy. A few days before the Third Task, Harry had another vision. He saw Wormtail talking to Voldemort, then another man came into the room. This other man was Voldemort's recently-returned servant. Harry knew him to be Moody, or rather, the imposter everyone calls Mad-Eye Moody.
Finally, the day of the Third Task arrived. Harry was as prepared as he could be, and he even had his vampire abilities. Between practice sessions, he had gone jogging and had practiced Shadow-Travel and Flying. He just knew that the Third Task was going to be the focal-point of everything. He knew that Voldemort was coming back tonight, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. When he came back from his morning run, he saw Molly Weasley with her son, Bill. They were walking up to the castle.
“Mrs. Weasley! Bill!” Harry called out as he came up to them. They turned around, and Molly smiled when she saw him. “Harry! We came to see you during the Third Task. We're very proud of you for doing so well,” Molly said, still smiling. Harry noticed that her smile seemed rather forced. He extended his empath abilities and sensed that she was disappointed that he had not started dating Ginny. They walked in together, and saw Ron and Hermione talking together. Molly beamed, until Ron and Hermione started arguing again. They broke off bickering when they saw Harry, Molly, and Bill coming.
While Ron was talking to his mother and brother, Harry took Hermione aside. “Don't worry; I'll be fine during the Task. You know I can take care of myself, and I'll just eat something if I need to,” Harry told her, his arm gently around her shoulder. She nodded, sniffling, and said, “But I still worry.” Harry smiled softly and said, “I know, and I love you for it,” as he squeezed her shoulder for a second. Bill saw, and winked.
Hermione firmly believed that Harry said he loves her for worrying was just him being nice. She had looked up vampires again just a few weeks ago, and had found nothing to indicate that vampires could have real feelings like that. At that point, she started working to fight her crush on Harry. She decided to settle for Ron, believing him to be the next best thing to Harry. Though how we can have a relationship, I don't know. We fight way too much, and I know that's not healthy.
That night, Harry, Cedric, and Fleur met outside the maze. Bagman announced that the three of them would be going in first, as they had done the best in the previous Task, and then Krum would enter forty minutes later. They nod to each other and enter the maze, their wands drawn. When the path split, Cedric and Fleur took the left fork while Harry took the right. Harry continued cautiously, looking around corners before advancing, his wand held straight up in front of his face. When he encountered a wall of gold mist, he examined it carefully. The mist looked innocent enough, but Harry was still wary. He extended his empathy to try to tell if the mist was malevolent, but he couldn't be sure. He finally decided to walk through it.
When his world turned upside down, Harry figured out quickly that it was anti-gravity mist. He closed his eyes and kept walking, even though he was walking upside down. When he passed through the mist, he flipped back over and landed easily on one knee. He stood back up and dusted himself off, and continued on his way. One obstacle passed, I don't know how many more to go.
Forty minutes later, Krum entered the maze. Harry could sense him the moment he entered, and knew that the Bulgarian was going to be a problem. It was ten minutes later that a scream rent the air, causing the hair to prickle all along Harry's arms. The fear was so palpable that Harry's eyes dilated and he immediately started sniffing the air. His eyes closed as he let his instincts guide him. He turned toward the hedge across from him and ran to it. He kicked through the bushes, forcing his way through. He strode through and saw Krum torturing Fleur. She had stopped screaming because she had fallen unconscious.
Harry leveled his wand at Krum and fired a Stunner. Krum fell back, Stunned, and Harry knelt beside Fleur. He knew she was going to be fine, if she got help. He raised his wand and fired red sparks into the air, then waited until help arrived. McGonagall came and said, “Harry, are you alright?”
“I'm fine, but Krum used the Cruciatus Curse on Fleur. She's unconscious,” Harry replied, and then walked away. It was now just he and Cedric going after the Cup, which meant that whatever happened, the victory would go to Hogwarts. A little later, he found Cedric.
“Harry! Do you know who screamed? I tried, but I couldn't find a way through!” Cedric called out when he saw his friend.
“It was Fleur. Krum attacked her. I sent up red sparks and stayed with her until McGonagall arrived,” Harry replied.
“So that means that it's just you and me for the Cup. Alright, a Hogwarts victory is a Hogwarts victory,” Cedric sighed. They decided to team up after that, since two were stronger than one, and they were both from Hogwarts. When they reached the Sphinx, she sat down and gave them their choices: they either try to answer the riddle she'd give, or back off without trying. They chose the riddle.
She stared at them for a second, before saying in a clear, musical voice,
First think of the person who lives in disguise,
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.
Next, tell me what's always the last thing to mend,
The middle of middle and end of the end?
And finally give me the sound often heard
During the search for a hard-to-find word.
Now string them together, and answer me this,
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?
The two boys repeated the lines, trying to figure out the clues. The Sphinx watched patiently, without saying or doing anything more threatening than lick her paw. “My first guess for the first two lines would be Snape,” Harry joked. Cedric laughed suddenly, and then slowly stopped. He repeated the lines again. “Think of the person who lives in disguise, who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies. Snape is a spy.” Harry thought about it for a moment, and then said, “You're right. The first part is spy, and Snape definitely is one.”
“'The last thing to mend, the middle of middle and end of the end',” Harry paraphrased next. “I think this one is letters. The last letter in mend is ‘d’, which is also the middle of middle, and the end of the end.”
“So 'd' it is, then,” Cedric said brightly. “Now, the sound often heard during the search for a hard-to-find word.”
“Er...I don't know,” Harry said.
“That's it! You're a genius! It's 'er'; spy-d-er...spider,” Cedric finished enthusiastically. Harry gave him a high-five, and then turned to the Sphinx. “A creature we wouldn't want to kiss is a spider,” Harry announced proudly. The Sphinx replied, “Correct,” then stood up and moved aside. The boys advanced, grinning. “Though, I wouldn't want to kiss Snape or a Dementor,” Harry joked. Cedric shuddered, and then saw something massive looming above the hedge. “Ohhh... that's not good...” Cedric trailed off. Harry had already seen it, and swore quite colorfully.
“An Acromantula! Hagrid got one of his pets from the forest!” Cedric looked stunned as Harry said that.
“Those things are supposed to be vicious and man-eating! What the hell is Hagrid doing with one?!”
“One?” Harry retorted. “More like one thousand!” Cedric paled. They turned the corner and looked up. The beast was huge, at least twelve feet tall, and its fangs dripped venom. They started firing spells up at its belly, but that caused it to scuttle around frantically. Harry called out, “Cedric! I'm going to try something! Don't be alarmed!” He took his ring off and extended his claws, then leaped up and came down on top of the giant spider, and started slashing at its neck. He drew blood, and the spider started thrashing around until it threw Harry off. Cedric pulled Harry aside just in time, before the spider collapsed on top of him.
“Harry! Are you alright?” Cedric asked worriedly. Harry stood up, put his ring back on, and said, “I'm fine. It'll take a lot more than that to kill me...again.” They stunned the spider once it was down, to make sure it stayed that way. They walked toward the Cup, but when they got close enough, Harry stopped.
“That's odd. Don't take the Cup, it's enchanted,” Harry ordered. Instead, he walked forward slowly, and circled the Cup. After one trip around it, he was sure it was a portkey. “It's a portkey, set to take the first person to touch it to Little Hangleton.”
“What should we do?” Cedric asked once the enormity of the Cup being a portkey had sunk in.
“I'll send Dumbledore a note, telling him. With luck, he can do something from there,” Harry replied confidently. He conjured parchment and a quill, and settled down to write a quick note.
The Cup is a portkey, set to take the first person to touch it to Little Hangleton. What should we do?
Harry used a quick Charm to turn the note into a paper airplane and set it to fly to Dumbledore. Then they waited. Several minutes later, Dumbledore showed in the center of the maze. He looked angry and muttered, “Stupid boy. The Cup can't be a portkey.” As Harry and Cedric looked on in horror, Dumbledore grabbed the Cup, looking smug. His smugness turned to horror a split second before he disappeared in a flash of rainbow sparkles. Harry had tried to grab him to stop him, but even with his vampire speed, he was too late. “That fool! I told him the damn thing was a portkey, and where it would take him, but he didn't listen!” Harry ranted.
Five minutes later, Dumbledore still hadn't come back. Harry knew the portkey was enchanted to allow a round-trip and that it would arrive outside the maze. With his Empath abilities fully extended, he would detect Dumbledore coming nearly a mile away. Finally, he'd had enough. He could feel his blood start to heat up, and he wanted action. “Cedric, send up red sparks after I leave. I'm going to go fetch Dumbledore,” Harry ordered. Cedric nodded and drew his wand. Harry raised the hood on his cloak and took his ring off. When Cedric lit his wand, he watched as Harry closed his eyes.
Cedric felt smoke move the hem of his cloak, and looked down. When he looked back up, Harry was engulfed in a pillar of thick, black smoke. By the time the smoke cleared a second later, Harry was gone. “That was cool...” he muttered as he cast the red sparks.
Harry appeared in a column of smoke in the middle of a graveyard. He looked around and advanced cautiously. After a few minutes, he came upon a small gathering. He saw Dumbledore, facing him, tied to a headstone. He saw one other person, who he immediately identified as Wormtail. Harry grinned wickedly, his fangs bared. This was going to be fun...
The cauldron sitting in front of the headstone started smoking, a thick curtain rising around it. A tall, dark figure rose out of it and spoke in a ringing voice, “Robe me.” The voice was cold and cruel, and Harry knew instantly who it was. Lord Voldemort had returned. Harry watched, crouching behind another headstone, as Voldemort circled Dumbledore, taunting him.
“You thought you were safe. You thought wrong,” Voldemort sneered. “Now I have used your blood to restore my body. I am now more powerful than you could ever hope to be!”
“You are wrong... I know who your servants are...and once I get out of here...I'll have the Aurors pick them up...every last one of them...” Dumbledore wheezed. Harry had to smother a laugh; Dumbledore looked so comical like that. Voldemort turned to Wormtail and commanded, “Your arm.” Wormtail held up the bleeding stump of his right arm, moaning piteously, but Voldemort sneered. “Your other arm.”
Wormtail moaned again, nearly sobbing, as he held up his left arm. Voldemort pressed a forefinger to the Dark Mark emblazoned on his servant's forearm, and it turned black. Wormtail screamed in pain as it burned. “Now my loyal servants are coming...” the Dark Lord trailed off as black-robed and masked figures started appearing among the graves. Harry knew it would be time to act soon. Voldemort surrounded by loyal Death Eaters, started taunting Dumbledore some more. When he raised his wand for the killing blow, Harry struck.
Harry jumped up high into the air and came down, robes billowing behind him, on top of Voldemort. He started clawing, and Voldemort screamed in pain. He tried to get his attacker off his back, but couldn't. Harry clawed and clawed, and the Death Eaters closed in, their wands drawn. Then Harry leaped. He landed behind Dumbledore's headstone and, with one swipe of his two-inch-long claws, cut the rope holding Dumbledore. Voldemort had already fled, seeing his greatest foe freed by an unknown creature. Wormtail had fled long before.
Harry handed Dumbledore the portkey and snapped, “You thrice-damned old fool! Take this! It'll get you back to Hogwarts,” before disappearing in a column of black smoke.
Dumbledore returned to Hogwarts and announced that Harry and Cedric had tied for the win. They split the prize-money, with Harry giving his to the Weasley twins. Hermione always beamed when she saw Harry, knowing he had rescued Dumbledore from Voldemort. It made it harder for her to give up her crush on him, but there was no way he could love her back...
* * * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, yes, I know. Hermione doesn’t think Harry can love her back. AAHHH! A mob of angry reviewers! *Jumps in AH-64 Apache helicopter and flies for safety*
But it will get better soon. I promise.
P.S. Blame the author :)
Thanks for reading, please review.
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