Harry's Grand Plan
Chapter 16 - Harry's Grand Plan
Previously: Harry finds himself alone at breakfast after a terrifying night facing Voldemort in his sleep. Desperate to find Fleur, he terrorizes a Beauxbatons girl before tearing off to Dumbledore’s office. There he realizes that somehow their bond had been severed-or at least blocked, and manages to reunite with Fleur and get her away from the interrogations of Madame Maxime and Dumbledore. Right after, Harry comes to a new acceptance of his dependence upon the bond, and finds his connection to Fleur more open than ever before.
It was All Hallow’s Eve. Also called Devil’s Night, Michief Night, and many other names besides. But most importantly to Harry, it was the night that the Goblet of Fire was revealed, and the TriWizard Tournament would begin.
He sat rigidly at the Gryffindor table, only half listening to Dumbledore introducing Ludo Bagman and Mr. Crouch from the Ministry. No, they didn’t matter. Every ounce of attention he had was focused on the “casket”, as Dumbledore called it. Within, he knew, lay the Goblet of Fire. The object which would determine the champions of the tournament. (Hermione had filled them all in on the details as they walked to the Great Hall)
Vaguely he heard Ron and Hermione talking, and felt Fleur’s hand around his-she was sitting next to him. Whereas he was filled with a kind of intensity, he could feel her worry as intensely as if it were his own. Worry over what they both knew was mostly likely coming-her entry into the tournament. Harry hated that Madame Maxime had manipulated Fleur into entering. He hadn’t fully understood why Madame Maxime would care so much if Fleur was in the tournament, or why she thought Fleur’s father would give extra funds to the school if she competed. Harry still didn’t think he grasped this whole blackmail business. Protecting her father made sense to Harry. After having met the French Minister once, he knew that Jefferoi was a force to be reckoned with, and he was certain that if Fleur did tell him what was going on-that he would handle it. But, Harry was also certain that Jefferoi would do this heedless of the consequences to himself, which he knew was Fleur’s greatest fear. She didn’t want to see him go to prison. Madame Maxime’s role, however, just didn’t make as much sense to him. What did she really get out of this? He had the sneaking suspicion that there was more to this whole plot than either of them knew. This was a conclusion he had come to three days ago-when his bond with Fleur had changed.
Harry shook his head. The why of it wasn’t important right now. What was important, was helping Fleur get through this and that was something Harry was determined to do. Currently he was shielding his true thoughts from Fleur. For Harry had a plan, and he knew that Fleur would try to stop him if she knew about it.
“Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night...”
Harry gave half an ear to Dumbledore, but stared at the now revealed cup. Wooden-a direct contrast to the jewels studding the casket, he thought, but filled with fire of the purest white and blue Harry had ever seen. It almost hurt to look at. It was, simply, beautiful.
So, he thought to himself, he would have twenty-four hours to enact his plan. After that, it would be up to the Goblet what happened.
Harry? Harry? He heard Fleur’s questing voice calling to his mind. His green eyes shifted from the current focus of the Great Hall--the Goblet--to his greatest focus--Fleur. Harry shifted in his seat a little so he could face her easier, resting an arm on the now empty table as he did so.
“Fleur?” He queried, his voice coming aloud rather than in his mind. Despite their bond upgrade the day before, Harry still liked hearing Fleur’s actual voice over communicating through his mind. And, he thought, it would be easier to conceal his plan if they spoke aloud.
Fleur’s worried blue gaze shifted from Harry’s face, to the Goblet for a moment, and came back. She tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear and released a breath. “Will you come with me...tonight? When I have to put my name in? I would feel better if you were there.”
Harry’s tense expression immediately softened and he curled his hands comfortingly around one of Fleur’s. He wanted to put his arms around her, but he knew he should not in front of so many eyes. Dumbledore had gotten them some leeway from Madame Maxime-how, he wasn’t exactly sure-but Harry didn’t want to push their luck. It was gift enough that Fleur could sit with him unafraid now that her headmistress would lock her in the carriage.
“Of course. I’ll be with you the whole way, I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Fleur looked so relieved, Harry immediately felt guilty. He knew he had been distant the last couple days. Partly out of shock from the sudden depth their Bond created, but mostly because of his plan.
He felt when Fleur sensed his guilt, and he caught her frown. Wanting to be as truthful as he could, he addressed it. “I’m sorry I’ve been pulling back. I just... Falling into your mind that way was..” Even now he had no words to describe it. “I just wanted some time to think it over without accidentally falling back in.” Harry felt bad about only sharing part of the truth, but he thought it was enough to appease Fleur for now. The hurt he felt coming from Fleur made him wince, but he could feel understanding too. He knew without words that she had only wanted him to be honest with her-that she wanted him to trust her. The feeling of guilt and regret grew within him, and Harry knew he never wanted to feel that way again. He was relieved that, after tonight, he could come clean. Their eyes met in mutual understanding and acceptance, and Harry wanted more than ever to pull her into his arms and feel the comfort of her arms winding around him in return.
Instead, he pulled his gaze from her just in time to hear Dumbledore’s cautionary words about an Age Line, and about the dangers of entering into the tournament. He got up with Fleur as Dumbledore dismissed them, and walked with her out into the corridor with the press of students out of the Great Hall and into the subsequent corridors. He felt his friends’ questioning eyes on them, but he knew that he could explain to them later. Right now he owed Fleur.
Walking with the flow of students, he kept his hand firmly around Fleur’s. Harry didn’t say anything as they moved, the sound of their shoes against the stone floor lost among the movements of hundreds of students. Green eyes shifted from wall to window and back again, looking for a place. Her mind silently questioned what they were doing, and he answered with a simple image before pulling her into a sheltered alcove away from prying eyes. The shadows cast upon them from the shape of the space would give them some much needed privacy. There he immediately drew her into his arms and sighed in relief when she put her arms around him in return. “I’m so sorry Fleur. I promise I will be better. I got scared. Please know that I am still here for you. I will always be with you.” There was no other option for him now, Harry knew. Still shielding his thoughts, he opened the connection between them wider, wanting to share his feelings.
Fleur rested her head against his shoulder, enjoying the feeling of peace she had been missing the past few days. She knew Harry was trying to hide something from her. That much was obvious. It hurt to think that he was lying to her. Well, she knew his words earlier had been truth-but one could still lie by omitting the whole truth. She had to remind herself that she trusted Harry. That he would never do anything to hurt her. The Bond wouldn’t allow it, but she also knew that that wasn’t the kind of person that Harry was.
She was resolved to be patient. At least for a little while longer, and hope that Harry would come clean about what was going on. She didn’t want to push him now-fearful that he might pull away again. Fleur had missed him terribly the past couple of days. They had been together constantly, but Harry had been so distant it was like she was still in France. Even with the lessened restrictions from her headmistress-it didn’t feel like they were spending any more time together. If anything, it felt like they were spending less.
“It’s okay Harry. Please, don’t pull away from me again. I don’t think I could handle it.” Fleur thought she would prefer physical pain over this kind of mental and emotional separation Harry had imposed upon them both. Ever since he had “fallen” into her mind-more like, one of the few remaining restraints between them had finally been removed-he had been keeping himself closed off. The sudden intimacy had startled both of them, but Fleur knew she didn’t mind welcoming Harry into all parts of herself. Someday, they would truly be as one. Harry, on the other hand, had been upset at what he viewed as invading her privacy. Fleur understood to an extent, but wished he could let go of that worry. She trusted him implicitly, and tried not to doubt that he trusted her the same way. The young witch decided to focus on enjoying this moment with Harry. The doubt could come later.
They had decided to meet back at the entrance to the Great Hall in a few hours for Fleur to enter her name. Better to wait until the crowd of students had receded somewhat, they both agreed. Neither of them particularly enjoyed being stared at.
Fleur waited in an alcove off the Great Hall, sitting in a recessed seat that thankfully was away from the prying eyes of onlookers. She knew she had come early, that Harry wouldn’t be here yet, but she had figured this was as good a place as any to sit and think. She was worried about Harry. Not just because he had been distant of late, but because she knew he was hiding something from her. And she was sure it was something she wouldn’t like. Fleur ran a hand through her silvery hair and leaned further back into the shadows as a group of Slytherin sixth years walked by. She released a breath once they were passed, and pressed her hands onto the cold stone seat to either side of her, allowing the sensation to ground her.
She worried too, because Harry was still only 14. A fact she had to remind herself of every so often. For all that he now looked older, and was extremely mature and capable for his age, he was still 14. Fleur had recently turned 17. She had been to school longer, been alive longer, and had more experience than Harry. Realistically, Fleur knew her own strength. She was a powerful witch, as were most Veela offspring, and it was not arrogant for her to acknowledge the fact that she really was one of the more powerful students at Beauxbatons. From that standpoint, it made sense for her to enter. Maybe under different circumstances, she would have. But Madame Maxime had been pushing this on her from the start, threatening her father and...other things...and Fleur did not like being backed into a corner. Despite her sometimes temperamental nature and her own competitive streak, Fleur was not stupid. The TriWizard tournament was incredibly dangerous, it was foolish, she believed, to risk your life for something so pointless. Eternal glory? Fame? Fortune? These were things she pretty much already had, apart from the “glory”, and they weren’t so great. She didn’t want any more attention.
Fleur made a fist of her hand and slammed it against the gargoyle statue beside her, huffing in frustration. There was no way out of this, she knew. At least Harry would be with her. Her blue eyes lifted and searched the faces of students coming into and out of the Hall. She didn’t need to look to know he wasn’t here yet, but it gave her something to do.
A sudden feeling flickered through her. So quick she almost missed it, but the feeling was unmistakably from Harry. Fleur got to her feet with a frown. Something wasn’t right. “Harry?” She spoke tentatively as if he could hear, and took a step towards the hall.
An explosion rumbled through Hogwarts, and Fleur found herself knocked from her feet from the tremors. Her eyes widened in horror as she saw magical fire blast from the open doors of the Great Hall, a mixture of blue, white, and purple before suddenly disappearing with a vast sucking sound that echoed down the hallway, this followed by a loud bang. Fleur got to her feet unsteadily, heart pounding. “Harry?” She called, legs carrying her towards the Great Hall even as students streamed out of it, screaming as they went, beating at small flames in their robes here and there, or in their hair. “Harry!” She knew, without a doubt, that Harry was in there.
Harry hated deceiving Fleur. It made him sick. Literally, his insides twisted and he was sweating like he had a fever-his hands trembled with anxiety that had nothing to do with what he was about to do, and everything to do with keeping it from the girl who had become the most important person in his life. But it was a discomfort he was willing to put up with. Harry was determined to protect Fleur, any way he could-and he was going to get her out of this dangerous tournament and the even more dangerous public attention. He swallowed hard as he passed the alcove in which he’d promised to meet Fleur. He was sure she was waiting there for him, and it took all of his willpower not to turn around and go to her. Harry drew his father’s cloak around him a little tighter, gripped the object in his hand, and kept moving.
A few hours previous...
For his plan, Harry had consulted Hermione. She of course hadn’t known what he’d really been referring to when he’d talked to her, but the pretense of wanting to help Fleur in the tournament had quelled her curiosity. Another lie. Harry promised himself that if his plan worked, this would be his last.
“Hermione,” Harry had asked, doing his best to make his tone sound distracted, like he was working on something else and this thought had just occurred to him. He and his bushy-haired friend had been sitting in the common room working. Well, Harry had been pretending, working up the nerve to ask this question. “Hermione, what exactly are the properties of basilisk venom? I mean, I know it’s extremely deadly, but beyond that I haven’t got a clue.”
His friend had looked up at him curiously and raised an eyebrow, and Harry had quickly answered the unspoken question there that it was his desire to help Fleur. Hermione had sat back in her seat and regarded him silently for a moment as if ordering her thoughts before answering. “Well, basilisk venom also has plenty of magical properties as you yourself observed. It destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary, after all, and that was a magical item of unknown power. I would wager it’s as deadly then to magical objects as it is to people, and of course then there are the medicinal and potions uses, such as...” Harry had tuned her out after that, nodding from time to time as he internally put together his plan. He hoped it worked, because if it did not Harry wasn’t sure how he was going to be of any help to Fleur.
Harry stood now before the Goblet of Fire, letting himself be mesmerized by the brilliant flames one last time. His father’s cloak still hid him, but he couldn’t wear it while he performed the act if his full plan was to realize fruition. He just hoped getting killed wasn’t in the cards for him tonight. Taking a deep breath, Harry slid the cloak from his head and shoulders and stuffed it in the pocket of his robe, ignoring the gasps of students around him as they saw him standing, somehow, past the Age Line. Part of their reaction was probably because he appeared out of thin air, a distracted part of his mind added. Harry quashed that thought-he was running out of time. He had been right in his assumption that he would be able to cross the Age Line now, thanks to the efforts of the Bond in aging him. He was, for all intents and purposes, 17 now in the eyes of magic.
One hour previous...
Getting back to the Chamber of Secrets had been no easy feat, considering all he had to do was get into the girl’s bathroom. He and his friends hadn’t had a problem using it in the past, for polyjuice potion and the like. Getting to the bathroom itself wasn’t hard-but getting in. All of a sudden there seemed to be a much stronger staff presence in the area, and Harry couldn’t help but think that perhaps Dumbledore had foreseen his plan.
“And what are you up to around here alone, Mr. Potter? I’m surprised you’re not with Miss Delacour.” A skeptical Professor McGonagall had peered down her nose at him shrewdly. The professor had been on her way somewhere, and Harry inwardly cursed his luck to run into her here, not a stone’s throw from the entrance to the girl’s bathroom. He scrambled to think of an answer.
“I’m meeting her later Professor. Fleur...had to go back to the Beauxbatons carriage for a little while.” The Transfiguration professor had lifted one haughty eyebrow and studied him closely. Harry did his best to look innocent and truthful. He really didn’t have time, nor a desire, to come up with a more elaborate subterfuge.
“Very well, Mr. Potter. See you keep moving along then.” McGonagall’s voice was still suspicious, but her eyes were now tracking over his head to look at something else. Harry breathed a mental sigh of relief.
With a nod of his head, he responded “Of course Professor.” And walked past her. Harry kept moving and went right by his true destination, the girl’s restroom, and only turned back once he as sure McGonagall was gone. He muttered a curse under his breath. He should have brought his father’s cloak.
Double-checking the hallway one last time, Harry quickly slipped into the girl’s bathroom. He promptly came face to face with Myrtle herself. Harry drew up short and stifled a gasp of surprise. The ghost was floating a hairsbreadth from his face, studying him intensely. “Em, hello Myrtle.” He said awkwardly, trying to take a slight step back and not offer offense at the same time. “Good to see you.”
Evidently this was the right thing to say, because Myrtle’s face broke into a beaming smile, her pale cheeks flushing as if with life. “Good to see you too Harry.” She floated backwards and out of his way. She wiggled her eyebrows at him suggestively. “Did you come by to see me? Because you know, if you want to see me...all you have to do is ask...” Myrtle’s robes half slipped from one shoulder, and Harry’s face immediately went bright red.
“N-no!” He slapped a hand over his eyes, nearly breaking his glasses, and hurriedly turned around. “I didn’t see anything-I didn’t want to see anything!” Thank goodness Fleur was too far away to have any idea what was happening, he thought. He would be mortified. There was a squeal of indignation behind him.
“Stupid boys! You’re all the same!” Myrtle’s voice rose in pitch until she was wailing and Harry couldn’t understand what she as saying anymore. Something like “Eyes, Tom...damn you!...why not?” Harry risked peeking back at her and was relieved that she was fully clothed, but she wasn’t paying attention to him anymore. Myrtle swirled listlessly around the ceiling wailing and cursing and at last gave Harry one last dirty, mournful look and with a shriek flew into her toilet. Harry winced.
“Sorry Myrtle.” He murmured quietly. Perhaps he could have been more tactful. He took a deep breath, and remembered what he had come for.
Now Harry faced the true test. Could he get the Chamber back open? He hadn’t exactly been practicing his Parseltongue. Green eyes stared intensely down at the tiny snake symbol on one of the faucets. “Open.” He whispered. He knew before he’d finished the word that his attempt would be fruitless. He had spoken in English. Harry tried again and again, and even bobbed his head up and down as he had done before to try and make the snake look more real. After several minutes of failure, Harry finally threw up his hands in disgust and glared at the offending faucet. Harry didn’t have time for this, and with frustration born of desperation he shouted ”Just OPEN dammit!” A sudden rumbling filled the small bathroom, and Harry watched with wide eyes as the tunnel into the Chamber of Secrets was revealed. He swallowed. Well then.
Gazing at the impartial judge that would make or break this competition, Harry focused on the cool weight of the fang in his hand, gathering a strange, centering strength from it. “Here goes everything.” He muttered to himself, hefting the basilisk fang in his right hand. This is for you Fleur. A strange emotion moved through him, but Harry’s mind was set. He lifted the basilisk fang, still imbued with venom even after two years, and dropped it into the bright flames of the cup. For a moment, nothing happened. Then all at once the flames shot straight into the air, turning a violent purple and blasting heat that Harry could feel blistering his face even as he scrambled to get away from the Goblet. Even as Harry hurried to put distance between himself and the Goblet, he saw the flames sucked back into the Goblet with terrifying force. Somehow, in his gut, he knew what was about to happen. BOOM.
Harry was too close. That was the only coherent thought that ran through his head as Harry found himself flying through the air, landing with a painful grunt and rolling to try and avoid the extreme heat coming from the blast. He felt, not saw, the heat get sucked in once again and knew without looking that the Goblet was gone. He flinched at the loud bang that followed the cup’s exit from their world and lay in painful stillness, assessing the damage even as he heard the other students around him start screaming. They had been far enough back for the most part, luckily. There were a few singed heads here and there, and a pair of sisters who had unluckily found their robes on fire, but otherwise everyone but Harry was unhurt. “Lucky..” His breath escaped him painfully.
“Harry!” He heard her voice and tried to get up, but found himself unable to do much more than roll over onto his back. Which ended up being a very bad idea. Harry shot upright at the searing pain from his back and gasped at a sharp pain that protested from his side. Then Fleur was there, cool hands on his face, soothing the blisters he knew were there. He looked into her frantic sapphire eyes, and he couldn’t help but smile. She was so beautiful. He could see her lips moving, but the ringing in his ears made it hard to hear her.
“M’okay.” He managed, before letting himself slump forward into her arms, head resting on her shoulder. Harry closed his eyes and focused on the clean scent of her, and opened himself wide to the Bond, letting Fleur in all the way as he hadn’t done in days. He revealed his plan in all its glory, and felt more than heard the sudden stream of French expletives that left Fleur’s mouth.
Harry, that was an awful idea. You could have been killed! Her words filled his mind, and he sighed, sensing the worry and pain behind her words. He was sorry he had caused her such pain. Her distress was so acute Harry knew that normally he would feel it like a physical pain. Right now though he himself was in so much pain he couldn’t do much more than say “sorry”. Fleur acknowledged his apology but didn’t respond directly to it. She had discovered the charred mess that was Harry’s back. Her dismay and worry touched him even through the pain. You’re in no shape to discuss things now. I’ve got to get you to your Hospital Wing. We’ll talk about this later.
Harry managed to stand with Fleur’s help, but found he couldn’t walk without leaning heavily on her. The French witch cast a temporary strength charm for herself, and a temporary pain relief charm for Harry. They made it about two steps before Harry passed out.