True Love Isn't Always Conventional

Blood of the Enemy

Chapter 17 - Blood of the Enemy

Previously: Harry risks everything to put his plan into motion: stop the Tournament by destroying the Goblet. Deciding for better or worse to keep Fleur out of the loop, Harry does succeed in destroying the Goblet with a basilisk fang-but not without a price. Fleur finds him in the Great Hall, back charred black from the explosion caused by the sudden release of magical energy.

Consciousness came back very slowly. The darkness would recede around his mind and Harry could discern fragments of conversations-disembodied voices. Before he could figure out what they were talking about though, the darkness would take him back again.

Finally, finally Harry felt himself lifted to wakefulness-his consciousness rising as though through water to the surface. Gradually he became aware of his body again. It felt so heavy. It was a monumental effort just to open his eyes. Blearily, his green eyes moved around, taking in that he was in the hospital wing. He was lying on his side, he registered, and his back hurt. It really hurt. His mind moved sluggishly. What had happened? Something important, thought his exhausted mind. Something he should remember.

Voices trickled into his tired brain, and Harry worked to focus harder so he could hear what they were saying.

“I just think, considering the events two nights ago, you would want someone capable of handling dark wizardry here!” The gruff, harsh tone could be long to none other than Mad-Eye Moody.

“The boy needs rest,” this voice was even more familiar. Madame Pomfrey. “Having a grizzled old Auror standing over him when he wakes will put undue stress on his body!” The witch sounded irritated and frazzled. Harry wondered how long this argument had gone on.

Moody grunted disdainfully. “I should think the boy’d be bloody grateful, that’s what I think.” He muttered a few choice curses Harry couldn’t make out. The voices fell silent for a moment, and Harry prodded his tired brain, thinking as hard as he could.

Dark wizardry? What could he be talking about? Harry wondered. Is he trying to be my guard? Or...” A flash of insight shot through him. ”Or my jailer...” Suddenly the events that had led him here flashed through his mind in rapid succession. Talking to Fleur, leaving her to implement his plan, putting the basilisk fang into the Goblet...the explosion. Fleur again, he thought. He cringed inwardly as he remembered that she had found him. Where was she? Harry’s eyes moved around, and he groped awkwardly for the Bond between them. It was faint. Their connection felt as it did when they were far apart. He couldn’t help a twinge of disappointment-why wasn’t Fleur there? Was she angry with him?

Concentrating as best he could, Harry tried to push the Bond open wider between them, feeding it his feelings and current emotions, trying to let Fleur know that he was awake. At first, he felt nothing in return and it was all he could do not to have a physical reaction and cause himself more pain. All at once the Bond opened wide between them and a flood of emotion overwhelmed him so much he gasped out loud. Dimly he registered Madame Pomfrey coming around the curtain excitedly, trying to talk to him. All Harry could focus on, however, were the intense feelings of relief, affection, worry, and something that ran even deeper-something he wasn’t sure he would give a name to just yet. He let the comfort of their connection swirl around him. Exhausted by his efforts and comforted by his connection to Fleur, Harry drifted away once more. This time, though, he slept. The dark state of unconsciousness was gone.

Harry woke more normally a few hours later. This time when he opened his eyes, he didn’t feel the same leaden weight in his body and brought a hand up to rub his face wearily. Now he just felt bone tired; even his back didn’t hurt nearly as bad as when he had first woken. Blinking a few times, Harry looked around and started slightly when he saw Mad-Eye dozing in a chair beside him. He slowly remembered the argument he had overheard between the professor and Madame Pomfrey. It looked like Mad-Eye had won out.

Frowning, Harry studied the ex-Auror intently, taking in his prosthetic leg, grizzled appearance, and the apparent reek of Firewhiskey. He hadn’t spoken to the Auror much outside of classes, and really only knew the little that Ron had told him about him. After witnessing the three Unforgivable Curses in class with Moody, Harry hadn’t felt very inclined to talk to him much. But now, he had a distinct feeling of unease while watching the sleeping professor. An unease that seeped through him and coiled low in his belly.

His disquiet was pushed aside as once again, all at once he was inundated with emotions from Fleur-she had felt him waken, he realized suddenly. A faint smile graced his lips. But where was she? Surely Dumbledore would let her come visit him? He wished they weren’t so far apart-the distance was making it impossible to communicate mind-to-mind as they had just begun to be able to do. As it was, the best he could mange was to send a silent, questioning feeling and hope she understood.

Instantly he felt her regret and sorrow. So she wasn’t absent by choice, he mused. Harry clenched the bed sheet in his hand in disappointment.

“Ah, you’re awake.” Moody’s grizzled voice startled Harry and he jerked involuntarily in the bed, barely stifling a cry as pain rocketed through his back at the sudden movement. The Auror was now standing over him, looking down at him with intense eyes-one dark, and the other electric blue. Harry’s pained green eyes focused on the dark eye, a little too unnerved to look at the blue one that was in constant motion. Concern was coming at him rapid fire from Fleur, but he couldn’t muster the energy to respond with much more than a feeble tendril of reassurance. His focus returned to Moody.

“Didn’t mean to scare ya, lad.” Harry couldn’t tell how sincere the Auror was, considering his battered face and hard eyes, but he nodded anyway.

Moody rubbed his hands together, sudden anxiety evident in the movement. “Now, we’ve not much time.” Harry frowned, time for what? “I need to know, what happened? With the Goblet. What did ya do?”

Harry stared at him nervously and tried to shift back on the bed, but there was no way to move without pain. He cleared his throat and clenched his jaw, managing to move back just a few inches. Sweat beaded his forehead, but Harry counted it as a small victory. Should he tell Moody? Normally he wouldn’t hesitate-this was part of his plan too, after all, but something about the almost manic gleam in Moody’s eyes made him hesitate.

“Erm...would you mind if we waited for Professor Dumbledore? I’d rather not tell the story twice.” Harry’s voice felt rough from disuse. How long had he been out? Vaguely he remembered the conversation between Moody and Madame Pomfrey. Two days?

Moody’s eye twitched and he leaned in close, lowering his voice to a dangerous growl. His dark eye glittered with a strange malevolence that suddenly made it seem more threatening than the unnatural blue one.

“You’d do well, boy, to tell me now.”

Harry swallowed. Moody looked incredibly threatening as he leaned in even closer, close enough Harry could smell his sour breath. “I’m the only one on your side right now, Potter. The entire school thinks you’ve gone dark. But I know dark-and you boy, you ain’t it.” Moody shuffled himself closer and invited himself to sit on the end of Harry’s bed. The mattress shifted downward and threatened to roll Harry into the professor. Harry quickly grabbed a handful of the sheets and kept himself up.

But he was dumbfounded. The entire school thought he was dark? Well that wasn’t something he had planned for, not in the least.

He swallowed with difficulty, mouth suddenly dry. “I-I destroyed the Goblet.” The words sprung unbidden from his lips, and Harry resigned himself to being truthful. If Moody was right, and people were thinking he had gone dark, there was no telling what might happen. And Moody was a former Auror right? And his Professor? Having him on his side would really help the situation.

Moody growled and rolled his eyes. Well, eye. The blue eye just swirled crazily around in its socket, making Harry dizzy trying to follow its rapid movements. “I know that boy. How? Why?” He leaned in, dark eye piercing. Harry found himself unnerved by the intense, almost feverish gaze, and even more so when he saw a red tongue suddenly leap out and lick chapped lips.

When Harry didn’t answer right away, Moody grabbed his arm in a vice grip. “Spit it out boy, before it’s too late.” Harry stared at him, his heart suddenly pounding wildly.

Something wasn’t right here-this wasn’t right. Moody’s face suddenly had a very sinister cast to it as he leaned forward, mashed up face and wild hair blocking out the light. “I-” Harry stuttered, desperately trying to lean away, despite the pain in his back.

“Last chance Potter.” The red tongued flicked out again, and something between a sneer and a snarl curled the edge of Moody’s mouth up on one side.

Harry fisted a hand in the sheets beside him, and desperately sent out a distress call to Fleur. Alarm, worry, danger, fear. He tried to make it clear to her, even at this distance, that he needed help. It was a long shot that she could do anything, he didn’t know where she was or why after all, but maybe.

“Professor, I-” Harry paused, unsure if he should try to stall him, feed him a lie, or stop talking. An overwhelming feeling told him to not, under any circumstances, tell him the truth. The hand around his arm tightened and Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to get away. Not in his current state, and definitely not without his wand. His mind made a rapid decision. “I wanted to stop the Tournament.” A partial truth, he thought. Hadn’t Sirius told him once that the best lie was concealed in truth?

As he spoke, giving Moody as little as possible, his mind raced. “Destroying the Goblet seemed the only way to stop the Tournament from happening, so that was what I decided to do-no matter the consequences. The Age Line didn’t affect me because in the eyes of magic, I’m now as good as 17-like my bondmate.” That was the first time he’d ever said “bondmate”, but Harry didn’t have time to think about that, nor to think about how easily that term had come unbidden to his lips. Instead, he continued to talk, feeding Moody innocuous information and little details that didn’t really answer the big questions of why he had wanted to stop the Tournament, and why he had decided that destroying the Goblet was the best method. Moody’s dark eye remained focused intently on him, but Harry could see his tongue flickering out more and more and...something...changing about him. If he lunged forward, and Moody didn’t anticipate it, he thought he might be able to smash his head into Moody’s face. Which, with any luck, would get him to loosen his grip on Harry’s arm long enough for Harry to escape.

That was all with the hope that his back didn’t seize up on him part way through. Even as Harry focused on Moody’s face though, trying to prepare to risk this attack while distracting the man with innocuous details, he saw a disturbing change begin to come over Moody. First it was his nose. Harry watched in slack-jawed disbelief as the crooked nose straightened out, and the chunk missing filled in with new, perfect flesh. Next were his eyes. The dark one didn’t really change color, but it did get bigger and more sunken into a suddenly more sallow-colored face as his head began to shrink somewhat and smooth out, perfect dark hair sprouting to replace the grizzled, scarred mane there had been before. A sudden pop made Harry jump, and he realized the electric blue eye had shot out of its socket and whizzed across the room.

Seeing Harry’s expression, and no doubt feeling the effects himself, the man released his arm, got up from the bed and stumbled a few steps away as the transformation continued, turning his head from Harry to deal with his rapidly elongating limbs-including the leg that was regrowing and sprouting a foot. Choice curses escaped his lips as that no doubt painful process began.

Harry stared in incomprehension for a few moments more, before it dawned on him that this was polyjuice potion at work. He hadn’t seen its effects since his second year, when he, Ron, and Hermione had consumed that foul concoction to get to the bottom of Slytherin’s Heir and the Chamber of Secrets. The hairs at the back of his neck stood on end, belatedly warning him of the danger. Who was this man? Had he been posing as Professor Moody all this time? What did it mean?

He managed a swallow, and as what appeared to be the last of the effects of the potion wore off, he spoke. “Who-who are you?” His voice came out as more of a croak than he would have liked, but the combination of injury and shock were not easily overcome. Even as he asked, he thought he recognized the face forming from somewhere...he felt he knew this man. His growing anxiety and racing thoughts weren’t helping him place the impostor though, and instead his heart raced as adrenaline began to flood his system. As much as it helped dull the pain in his back though, he was fully aware of his current physical limitations.

Harry’s mind screamed at him to get away from the impostor before the other man had regained his bearings, his instincts thrumming on high alert. Without any doubt, he knew this man was dangerous. It didn’t matter why right now, he thought, all that mattered was getting away.

The impostor was bent double, breathing heavily. Harry wasn’t even sure if the man had heard his question, or if he was paying any attention to Harry at all. Trying to keep his breathing calm and move silently, he carefully scooted back across the bed on his side and moved the covers so that his legs could slide to the floor. It was a struggle to keep his back straight, as any twinge caused pain to radiate from it and made him want to gasp. His teeth dug into his lip as he moved and at last he stood with feet planted on the floor. Sweat beaded his forehead, and feverish green eyes remained fastened on the impostor. Maybe he could make it to the door.

“Where do you think you’re going, Potter?” Came the impostor’s soft voice. Gone was the grizzled, deep voice of Moody replaced with a light tenor that had a strange speech cadence and spoke words with an almost sibilant hiss. This was a voice touched by madness.

Harry watched as the owner of that voice straightened and turned to meet his gaze with one, glittering black eye. The other was covered by a fall of black hair. The man’s lips twisted up in something that was half a grimace and half a smile. “You still haven’t answered my question.”

“I don’t think I want to answer your question.” Harry managed through pain-gritted teeth. With serious effort he slid a step back. “In fact, I think I should go now.” The strangely familiar man laughed-a sound also touched by madness. “Madame Pomfrey!” He called in as loud a voice as he could manage. He somehow didn’t think she was going to respond, but thought it was worth a shot anyway.

A tsk escape the other man’s lips. “Now now, let the good madame sleep.” Harry dearly hoped that only meant she had been knocked out. One dark eye flicked to the side as if it could see Madame Pomfrey through the hospital curtains, and the young wizard tried to use the distraction to slide another step back unnoticed. Unsurprisingly, the eye snapped back before he had finished moving.

“You can’t even walk.” The man flicked his wrist lazily, and a wand appeared in it. This he pointed at Harry. “Boy, you’ve no idea who I am do you? Or what I’m capable of.” The black eye narrowed as fanaticism swept over him. “Or whom I serve.” He cackled and stepped around the bed. Harry hastily took a step back to keep some distance between them and gasped as pain cramped his muscles and froze him in place. It was either stand still, or fall. “Foolish child. If my lord did not want you for himself, I would kill you now. It would be a mercy.” The man walked over to Harry, holding his gaze and stopping when he was right in front of him. “I’ll take what I came for now.” A silver knife flashed in his hand, replacing the wand that had been there. A hand with a vice grip snatched Harry’s arm and hauled it between them, Harry struggled weakly, but it was all he could do to stay on his feet. Then pain. More pain as a line of fire opened across his arm. He couldn’t manage anymore, and his legs gave out. The man cackled again and brought the knife to his lips, as if to taste, pulling it away at the last second. “Ah..not for me. Not this time.” He looked down at Harry, “Now Potter, about that Goblet-”

The great doors to the Hospital Wing flew open with a crash, and all at once Harry felt flooded with strength as the pain in his back receded and energy flooded his limbs. “Harry!” Cried a familiar voice, followed by running feet. Harry came to his feet before the impostor as the man flinched back from the sudden intrusion.

“What is the meaning of this?” Came another familiar voice, this one deeper and older than the first. A bright red spell shot past Harry’s head even as a slim hand slipped into his. The other man dodged away just in time.

“This isn’t the end Potter!” The man screamed manically as he turned to run away, opposite of Professor McGonagall. “It is only the beginning!” The man threw himself at the stained glass window at the other end of the hall, shattering the glass and disappearing into the night. Harry was sure they wouldn’t find a body on the grounds. McGonagall flew past both students in her pursuit of the man, sending a patronus to Dumbledore as she went.

Once he as sure the man was gone, Harry turned to look at Fleur standing beside him and his eyes widened at the glorious sight before him. Her shimmering silver hair was unbound and wound almost wildly around her face, and her blue eyes shone in anger and vengeance, her face set in determined lines, lips pressed tight. She looked like an avenging Valkyrie, he thought dimly as her radiance washed over him. His green eyes trailed down her face and halted abruptly at her tensed neck and trembling shoulders.

Realization washed over him. “Fleur, Fleur!” He immediately slipped an arm around her waist and drew her over to sit on the bed, settling beside her. His suspicion was confirmed when she didn’t say anything, but let him guide her. “Let go. Let it go--give it back.” He said firmly. When nothing happened, he grasped her face firmly in his hands and turned her to look at him. When her sapphire eyes met his, he spoke again. “I’m alright now Fleur. Now let it go.” She closed her eyes and rested her head on his shoulder. The strength and energy he had felt left him immediately to be replaced by pain and fatigue. Now Harry slumped forward.

“Ahh..” He groaned. He took in a breath and eased it out, getting used to the pain again.

“I was scared.” Came Fleur’s soft voice. She spoke so quietly her words barely reached his ears. “I knew you needed me, and I couldn’t get here. I came as fast as I could Harry, please believe me.” She buried her face in the crook of his neck, hiding the prick of tears she felt in her eyes. “Please believe me.” A different kind of pain blossomed in Harry’s chest as he slipped his arms around Fleur, ignoring the protest of his body as he drew her close to him. He could feel how badly she wanted to put her arms around him in return, and knew she refrained because she knew-first hand now-what his back was like.

“I know Fleur, I know. You got here. You made it, and I’m alright. Thank you.” A shuddering breath went through her and she balled her hands in Harry’s shirt, lifting her head back to look into his eyes, as if checking for the sincerity of his words. Harry sent more soothing, private messages through their mind link as he saw Professor McGonagall coming back to them. “Thank you Fleur. Thank you for coming.”

The professor cleared her throat and looked hard at Harry. “It would seem, Mr. Potter, that we have a problem.”

Deep within an old graveyard, Barty Crouch Jr. appeared, bloody knife still in hand. “Master...I have what you need.” He called through the fog wreathing the headstones, tongue flicking out over chapped lips.

“I knew you would not fail me, my loyal servant.” A bone-chilling hiss responded through the mist. The only shiver to go through Barty Crouch Jr., though, was of delight.

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