Pains and Gains
Chapter Nine: Pains and Gains
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or affiliated characters, places, and things. They all belong to J.K. Rowling and affiliated companies. This particular plot is mine however. And to make it seem more cohesive to the original stories I am using some of the lines from them, but they are not my material. They came for the excellent mind of their owner.
A/N: I am looking for a new beta. If anyone is interested please pm me. About my constant abuse of the defiantly versus definitely it goes to the fact I have Cerebral Palsy and the way you talk is often the way you type. When I say 'definitely' there is a slight 'a' sound to it, and oft times you spell things the way you say them. Sorry about that though. Italics are people speaking in French or Parseltongue. Keep the reviews coming because they feed my imagination! Cheers!
Harry and company walked up to Basil as he and mister Weasley exchanged words and the group parted ways. The younger members of the group heading to Mr. Roberts' cottage kept making Harry and Daphne blush ever so slightly. Once again Mr. Weasley asked Harry to assist him with the money, and Alice paid close attention to what Harry said to Mr. Weasley. Once both tent sites were paid for Mr. Roberts began explaining the 'strange' people that had been showing up. The wizard who was stationed outside Mr. Roberts house was a tad bit younger, but still dressed in plus-fours.
Once out of ear shot of Mr. Roberts the wizard spoke, "Been having a lot of trouble with him. Need a Memory Charm ten times a day just to keep him happy." He shook his head a little bit at that point. "I feel bad about having to do it too."
"Why's that?" asked Alice. A pensive look plastered on her face.
"His eldest child is a witch. And Ludo Bagman's not helping my plight either. He walking around in his old Wasp uniform, and talking about Quaffles and Bludgers at the top of his lunges." The man gave a long exacerbated sigh. "But I'll be glad when this is all over. See you later, Arthur."
Harry began wondering if this change was his fault or whether it was a result of something else entirely. The butterfly effect as it were. Something that Hermione had been warning him about since she had become aware of the truth to Harry's current situation. At first he had put the idea off as happenstance, but now…
"Harry, are you alright?" asked Mr. Weasley.
"Yes sir, is something the wrong?" Harry asked looking around at the group. Once he saw the three signs one reading WEEZLY. He looked over at Daphne who had impatient look on her face. "What?"
"Do you mind helping us put up the tent? That is unless the Great Harry Potter has other plans?" Daphne asked with an evil grin on her face.
"No I don't mind. I was thinking about something." Harry said as blush crawled across his face.
"Or someone maybe." Susan chuckled.
"Whatever!" Harry said between laughs.
The tent went up faster this time, but Mr. Weasley was still just a touch overzealous with the mallet. Hermione looked over to him as if to ask 'Please tell me these are magical.' Harry just laughed and entered the tent. Nothing had changed. It was still like Ms. Fig's house, and instead of Ron it was Susan complaining about the oven. The girls' tent was the same as well. It was still small, and Neville was saying they should keep an eye on Susan and Tracey to make sure they behaved themselves. This earned him a couple of punches on his right arm.
Harry, Neville, Daphne, Hermione, and Susan were tasked with getting the water for the group. As they made their way to the tap Harry smiled as Kevin once again inflated a slug. A lot of the scenery didn't change: witches and wizards trying to act muggle and not succeeding that well at it. The little boy Kevin once again was inflating a slug with his father's wand. The two little witches were flying on toy brooms, and looking thoroughly happy. As they made their way into the sea of green they were intercepted by Seamus Finnigan. Dean Thomas was sitting there with Seamus and the sandy-haired woman Harry still thought was his mum.
"Harry, Nev, Susan, Hermione!" Seamus yelled.
"What am I chopped liver!" Daphne said. Her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Didn't see you there beautiful," Dean Thomas said with a smile, "and besides we were distracted." He winked over at Susan.
"I'm taken Thomas." Susan said and for the first time Harry heard her use a Scottish brogue.
"Are the decorations bothering you?" Seamus asked a mischievous grin crossing his face.
"Ah, why shouldn't we show our colors?" said Mrs. Finnigan. "You should see what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents. You'll be supporting Ireland of course?"
Again it took several confirmations to convince Mrs. Finnigan that they were indeed supporting Ireland before they could even leave. It was Tracey who mentioned that they wouldn't say anything else surrounded by the Irish.
"I wonder what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents?" said Hermione.
"Let's go and have a look." Harry said pointing over to the Bulgarian flag of white, green, and red.
"You already know so why don't you tell us?" said Susan.
"Because I don't want ruin the surprise." Harry said imitating her slight Scottish brogue.
"Stuff it Harry, I picked it up from Professor McGonagall." Susan said curtly.
"How you're not in Gryffindor." Neville said in stunned amazement.
"She's my godmother." Susan said leaving the rest of them slightly shell shocked. "Well are you coming, or am I going to have to levitate the lot of you?"
With that said the group made their way to the Bulgarian's tents. Once there Harry once again found himself staring at a sea of Viktor Krum's posters. The picture was, of course moving, but all it did was blink.
"Krum," said Harry quietly.
"What?" said Hermione.
"Krum!" said Harry. "Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker!"
"Did you say that last time?" Daphne asked.
"Hell no, Ronald did, and to be honest I just felt like saying it." Harry said in blasé manner.
"He looks really grumpy," said Hermione, looking around at the many Krums blinking at them. This of course caused the sense of déjà vu to tick up just another notch.
"I am not gonna parrot Ronald anymore than I have to." Harry proceeded to walk towards the tap again. "But he is bloody amazing." He stopped for a moment, "Krum not Ronald."
"I would be careful if I were you Daphne, looks like Harry is crushing on another man." Susan had an ear to ear grin on her face.
Daphne swatted her over the shoulder. "Quiet you," she looked over at Harry, "and that better not be the case mister."
"It isn't, come on." Harry said shaking his head.
"Then why did you say that?" Susan asked.
Harry responded in a whisper. "Cause the last time though this place a former friend of mine said that…"
"And you thought it needed to be said?" Hermione said curtly.
"Yes," said Harry.
There was already a small queue for the tap in corner of the field. The group of friends joined it right behind the Ministry Wizard and old Archie. The argument seemed a little more heated than Harry remembered, but then again it could be that his outlook had change is all. Archie was dressed in a nightgown made of what looked to made of pure silk. It was still bedecked in flowers. He was still stubborn about it though.
"Just put it on, Archie, there's a good chap. You can't walk around like that, the Muggle at the gate is already getting suspicious-"
"I bought this in a Muggle shop," said Archie stubbornly. "Muggles wear them."
"Muggle women wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear these," said the MinistryWizard thrusting a pair of pinstriped trousers.
"I'm not putting those on," said old Archie in indignation. Harry was biting back laughter at this point. "I like a healthy breeze 'round my privates, thanks."
The girls started giggling at this point. Even though Tracey was trying to act very stoic she like the other girls walked away leaving Neville and Harry to hold their place in the queue. Once Archie had left off with his water the girls returned.
Walking more slowly now, due to the weight of the water, they made their way back to their campsites. Here and there they saw more familiar face: other Hogwarts students and their families. Oliver Wood, the old Captain of Harry's House Quidditch team, who had just left Hogwarts, dragged Harry to his parents' tent to introduce him, and told him excitedly that he had just been signed to the Puddlemere United reserve team. Next they were hailed by Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff fourth year, and a little further on they saw Cho Chang. Once again Harry spilled water down his front as he waved back to Cho.
Once again Harry pointed out the other group of teenagers to stop the others from laughing. Well most of the others were laughing; Daphne was throwing daggers at Cho with her eyes.
"Daphne I was just saying 'hi', and besides if things hold true, she will be dating Cedric this year." Harry said in a soothing manor.
"And what about next year?" seethed Daphne.
"They will still be dating if I have anything to do with it." Harry whispered in her ear. "If he doesn't die things should be good for the two of them. I am in love with you, I am dating you, and I am soul bound to you. All of the things, in that order, mean I am and will always be loyal to you."
Harry leaned in and kissed Daphne.
"Okay I have a couple of cavities now can we get moving?" Neville said with an ear to ear grin on his face. Daphne and the girls started hitting him about the shoulders.
Harry laughed but didn't say anything less he turn the girls' ire on himself. In all the years he had known Neville it was the past few months that showed him how funny he could be. His timidness was dying down too. Last time it had taken a total of six years to make him stand up for prolonged periods of time. Harry enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed Ron's the last time through. One thing was certain at least this time his group of friends would all be standing beside him this year, and not breakaway because of shite he didn't do.
"God it took you guys FOREVER." Tori whined. "What kept you?"
"Met a few people," Susan said, setting the water down. "Mr. Weasley still hasn't got that fire started?"
"Dad's having fun with the matches," said Fred.
Once again Mr. Weasley had dropped a match when it caught fire. Hermione and Susan went to help him. Susan put out the small fire that started while Hermione showed Mr. Weasley how to light the match. They waited an hour before they started cooking, but what surprised Harry was who was doing the cooking. Mrs. Greengrass it turned out did all the cooking at the house even though they had a few house-elves to help them out. This was something that she apparently loved doing, and had done so since she was Daphne's age.
It had taken an hour and a half before the fire was hot enough to cook on. Again Harry sat back and watched the passersby on the small thoroughfare while they waited. Mr. Weasley once again informed him and Hermione of the people that were walking by. Some Harry remembered, and others were new to him. Mr. Wimple hand a set of antlers instead of horns though.
"How long has he had them?" Tori asked.
"Oh about six months now; they fall off every three weeks and grow back in a couple of days." Mr. Weasley explained.
This small conversation made Harry worried as by the end of it Tori had a vicious smile. This only meant doom to any that was on the receiving end of one of her pranks. He looked over to Daphne who had an equally dreaded expression on her face. Tracey and the twins on the other hand were grinning as if this was a good thing. Harry was glad for one single thing: Sirius wasn't here. He and Tori would be designing a prank spell that did this exact same thing… or worse.
Finally the fire was ready to cook on. Once they started cooking sausages and eggs the rest of the group showed up. Sirius thumped Percy up side the back of his head when he mentioned apparition. When Percy glared back at him Sirius said "Anti-muggle security."
"Sirius as I remember it you were a bit of a braggart as well." Janet said with a smile.
"Yes, but I wasn't this bad." Sirius said as he kissed her.
"No, you were worse." Kyle said as he passed the kissing couple. "How have things been Arthur?"
"Not too bad Lord Greengrass and yourself?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"None of this 'lord' business Arthur and I've been fine, just having to endure Alice and your wife going over wedding plans." Mr. Greengrass said calmly. Mrs. Greengrass just glared at her husband.
"Wedding plans, but that's not supposed to happen for another two years," Daphne whined, "and it's MY WEDDING!"
"Back to the food," Harry said pointing to the freshly cooked sausages. He didn't mind the topic he just didn't want to think about his impending nuptials.
"Terrified Harry?" asked Sirius somewhat between gritted teeth as Janet was giving him a rather stern look.
"No." Harry tried to hide the falsehood behind his answer, but given the look on everyone's face he was failing.
As Harry finished his lunch Ludo Bagman showed his boyish face once more in Harry's life… scratch that lives. Harry tried to ignore the man, but when Percy, oh so blissfully ignorant Percy, stood to shake Bagman's hand this began the introductions once again. First were the adults who Bagman knew from the Ministry mostly due to parties and what not, and then it was the kids turn. First Mr. Weasley introduced his own children, then Tracey and Susan (who were introduced as couple); Neville was next, followed by Astoria, and then Daphne and Harry. Harry wanted to vomit when Bagman's eyes did the familiar flick upwards to look at his scar for the briefest of moments.
"Everyone," Mr. Weasley continued, "this is Ludo Bagman you know who he is, it's thanks to him that we've got such good tickets-"
Bagman beamed and waved his hand as if to say it had been nothing.
Once again bets were made. The twins looked at Harry as if pleading him to confirm their suspicions. Harry just threw up his arms and shrugged his shoulders in an attempt to keep the winner secret. This however made the twins throw in two additional fake wands bumping up their price from last time. Harry just shook his head at this. He was trying not to give them encouragement, and it seemed to have failed. Bagman didn't lower the price of the wands, so if things worked out like they did last time this would be interesting to see the sordid fool payout what he owed the twins if they did in fact when their bet.
"Couldn't do me a brew, I suppose? I'm keeping an eye out for Barty Crouch. My Bulgarian opposite number's making difficulties, and I can't understand a word he's saying. Barty'll be able to sort it all out. He speaks about a hundred and fifty languages." Bagman said in usually chipper voice.
"Mr. Crouch?" Harry rolled his eyes behind Percy's back, but thankfully he was cut short by Lord Greengrass.
"It astounds me that that man still works in the Ministry given what he's done." Kyle said with sour look on his face.
"Oh he's caught a lot of flak for what he's done that's for sure," said Bagman, "but it's hard to believe he's guilty of letting evidence slip through his fingers."
"It's also hard to believe that they still let him work in the Ministry." Sirius said bitterly.
"Oh- talk of the Devil." Bagman said a little bit too cheerful for the situation.
With a resounding pop Bartemius Crouch Sr. showed his face. His hair still combed with laser like precision, his mustache still cut with a slide rule, and his suit still pinstriped. The look on his face showed his utter annoyance with Bagman. Things that he didn't notice before now shone brightly like a signal fire in the dead of night. One look back at Bagman showed him that the man had slight look of dread on his face. Harry was uncertain if this was due to Bertha's disappearance, or Bagman's complete disregard for the Anti-Muggle security ruling.
Harry felt a weight press into his lap. One glance to his left found him staring into Daphne's beautiful blue green eyes. "What?"
"You seem bothered by something. What is it?" Daphne asked in soft low voice.
"Bagman's a crook and the only time the twins will get any money from him is tonight- maybe." Harry said the last part reluctantly.
"Look Harry Ireland is going to knock the knickers off Bulgaria, and their right Krum very well may catch the snitch, but I don't think they'll get anything out of Bagman." She lowered her voice at this point. "He doesn't seem the most trustworthy of people."
Harry leaned in to kiss his girlfriend, "He's not." As his lips got closer to her's he asked "Should we be doing this?"
"I don't know, and to be frank I don't care." When their lips met harry heard some noise being made behind him and off to his right, but at that moment he didn't really care what his dogfather was saying, or the commentary coming from Tori he was in blissful 'seclusion' at the moment.
"Oi, what is this, a snog-fest?" Fred screamed rather loudly.
Harry looked around to find that he wasn't the only one looking lips with his significant other. Janet was currently occupying Sirius' time since Crouch was still her. Mr. and Mrs. Greengrass were- distracted would be the nicest way of putting it. Susan and Tracey were being the overly hormonal teenagers they were despite Hermione's attempts at getting them to cool down just a little. Tori was fishing around in her bag for something, and Harry just hoped it wasn't a camera as there would be plenty of blackmail material from all of this.
Ron was lounging in a plush bed reading some of the older laws of the Wizengamot. It seemed so simple now to abuse these laws. His blood status made it damn near impossible for him to be arrested for Underage Wizardry violations. It was solely up to ones parents to oversee this sort of thing in a pureblood household, and while the Weasleys cared about such nonsense his new family did not. It was perfect really when Ron thought about it. Lesser creatures such as Granger would be kept at a disadvantage compared to people like himself. Potter was another matter. As a half-blood he had the same rights as a pureblood, and that didn't sit well with him. Potter should be thrown to the curb like the trash he was. In Ron's opinion he was garbage just like that tramp Granger, and it was shame that a beauty like Greengrass was soul bound to Potter.
A knock on his door stole his attention. "Who is it?"
"It's me Weasley." Draco said casually.
"I'm decent." Ron said calmly. It had been a long time since Draco had used that name in a scornful way. It had taken Lucius an hour to find an 'inheritance' that he held 'rights' to. Since then Ron knew what it was like to live the good life.
"So reading the laws again are you Ronald?" Draco said with smirk on his face.
"Yes, and I am just debating if this one will work on Granger. 'No Muggle-born shall take an action against the Head of House of a Noble family that endangers the bloodline'. I think it will put Granger in her place." Ron's smirk mirrored Draco's.
"Careful though Ronald. More than likely she is the last heir of Dagworth-Granger and if this is discovered you will be in even more trouble than she could be. When is the law from anyway?"
"Fifteen o' four," Ron said calmly. "Is Granger the heir to it though?"
"Maybe, the last Dagworth just died, and the first thing the Ministry will do, if permitted, is test the seals magic, and if it comes up with a name, which it will, then it is that person who gets the seal and the vote. It is also contestable by the Black family, yet another reason why we don't have it yet." Draco said this with some marked resentment.
"Well she can't get it anyway." Ron said with a twisted smile.
"Why not?" asked Draco.
"She's not a Parseltongue, and if rumors are true Dagworth was." Ron cackled at this point. "To think something so simple could ruin her life forever." Ron got out of bed. "So do your parents need anything?"
"It's almost time to go, and the way I hear it your old family is somewhere in this mass of people. Let's hope they get caught in the 'fun' tonight."
Harry was wondering around with his friends amongst all the merchants that showed up near their tents. There was something now humdrum about all of this. He just about felt like a person watching a movie at this point after seeing 'repeats' of things that had 'already passed'. It was getting harder not to let things slip that he should. A comment by Tori nearly caused him to say that Bagman was about as trustworthy as a fox in the hen house.
"What's on your mind Talons?" Neville asked.
"Just how easy it would be for me to screw everything up at any one given point." Harry returned in a near whisper. "Earlier today with Webs I nearly let slip that Bagman's reliability is as bad as a broken broom."
"Seriously, I thought he was alright." Neville said with a look of stunned disapproval.
"Yes, he bets with money he doesn't have any more, and in a few months will be make bets his body can't cash." Harry said with a grin on his face.
"Bad movie pun Harry." Tracey said as she threw her arms over his and Neville's shoulders. "So Tal what can we be expecting this year: Massive snogging and general shenanigans?"
Harry let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. "Only you Spots, only you," he looked her in the eyes at this point, "and to be honest a bunch of mayhem and discord."
"WHAT?" Neville and Tracey said as one.
Harry looked around for any ease droppers and 'bugs'. Once he was certain the coast was clear he started his tail. "The Triwizard Tournament is returning and my name will be add under a fourth school, and if I don't let this happen someone else will be used to revive Snakeface, and that person will lose their life." The colour seemed to drain from Neville's face, and Tracey looked horrified. "I know it sounds crazy, but I must let this happen I have more than one thing going for me."
"What can we do to help?" Tracey asked.
"Start working Slytherin house get them away from the Death Nibblers, and their progeny so we don't have to worry about them next year."
"What happens next year Talons?" Neville asked.
"A toad gains the Defense against the Dark Arts job, and no I'm not kidding." Harry said with a smirk on his face.
"How can a bloody toad teach at the Hogwarts?" Tracey demanded.
"Her name is Dolores Umbridge." When he said this name both of his friends recoiled at the thought. "I'll explain more when we're alone." He gestured to the massive crowed around them. None of them paying the teens any attention, but Harry thought he recognized a few familiar faces in the crowed.
"What's wrong Harry?" Tracey asked a look of concern plastered on her face.
"I think I see Malfoy over there," Harry pointed to a pair of very familiar blondes, "but I don't know the kid next to him." Harry pointed to a strawberry blonde teen standing next to Lucius Malfoy. "I have a bad feeling about this. Let's get back to the tents."
The other two teens nodded, and turned back to the four tents. Harry cast glances over his shoulder at the unknown teen. Harry couldn't shake the feeling that he knew him, but he couldn't place where he knew him from. It was too far away for him to say it was Ronald, but that was a distinct possibility.
Once back at the tents they were quizzed repeatedly about why they looked so worried. They brushed it off to feeling a bit 'spooked' at seeing Draco in a leotard. When he explained what a leotard was to the magical raised a few of them shuddered. Sirius was looking at him as if he had just uttered words that would get them both in trouble and by the look on Janet's face he was probably right.
Thankfully he was saved from a lecture by the sounding of the gong. The assembled group joined the throng and made their way to the stadium. Once again Harry felt a sense of awe looking at the stadium. Sirius explained how they had constructed it this time around, and with misty eyes said "It's a pity I never went professional."
"Cry baby." Kyle said with a crocked grin on his face.
Mr. Weasley laughed as he handed the Ministry witch their tickets. "Prime seats!" she snickered as she checked their tickets. "Top box! Straight upstairs, Arthur, and as high as you can go!"
The stairs were still carpeted in rich purple that it had been all those years ago. People still exited the stairs at different points, and when Harry got to the top box his jaw dropped. There were more chairs there than he remembered, and this was probably all due to the choices he and other people (if you could call Ron a person) had made. Just like last time there was an elf (Winky hopefully) sitting in the second row near the edge. Taking a seat in front of the elf Harry began a conversation with Daphne about nothing in particular and at the most opportune time he dropped Dobby's name.
"Harry why are we even talking about Dobby, I love him about as much as one can love him, but why now?" Daphne asked this almost as if the world would stop spinning if she didn't.
"Well for a minute I thought he was sitting behind us." He pointed his thumb over to the elf behind him. "But I don't think he's interested in quidditch that much."
"Did sir just call me Dobby?" the elf asked, and when Harry turned to look at her he recognized her right away.
"Yes, and sorry that I confused the two of you," Harry said politely. "I shouldn't judge on your appearance alone."
"But I's knows Dobby sir, and yous certainly is Harry Potter. Dobby speaks of you often." She looked up to his scar for confirmation of this fact. "My name is Winky sir."
They spoke with Winky for few more minutes before other people started filing into the top box. Once again Percy was jumping up and down like he was attempting to sit on a hedgehog. Once again when the Minister greeted Harry as if they were old friends Percy gave Harry a death glare this time however Harry just smiled back at him. Once more Fudge ambled on introducing Harry to the Bulgarian Minister for Magic. Bulgarian representatives finally caught on to who the Minister was talking about the usual gawking at his scar.
"Knew we'd get there in the end," Fudge said warily to Harry. "I'm no great shakes at languages; I need Barty Crouch for this sort of thing. Ah I see his house-elf's saving him a seat. Good thing too these Bulgarian blighters have been trying to cadge all the best places… ah, and here's Lucius."
The group of friends turned to see the Malfoy pride edging along the second row. Behind Draco was a strawberry blonde kid that at first glance looked like the bastard child of Lucius Malfoy and Molly Weasley. Harry had no idea what was going on, but he knew beyond a doubt that this young man was Ronald Weasley. Ron was introduced as Lucius' distant cousin, and the little ponce only smiled at his family, but what he said next made Harry's blood boil.
"And I do believe Arthur he is also you distant nephew. Odd how things work isn't it." Mr. Malfoy said in such a sickening tone Harry wanted to vomit.
"Yes Mr. Weasley and it is odd that you would keep such company." Ron was looking right at Hermione as he said this.
Before Harry or any of his friends could say anything Sirius spoke ending both the glares from the Malfoys, and killing the smirk on Ron's face. "Minister Fudge let me introduce Hermione Granger. I know this is a bad time to bring such things up, but I believe she is the last heir of the Dagworth-Granger family, and I would like to the Ministry to look into this as soon as possible."
"Is this true Ms. Granger?" Fudge looked bewildered at this proclamation by Sirius. Harry knew form his previous sixth year that Hermione MIGHT be related to a man called Hector Dagworth-Granger, but he had no idea it was so damn important.
"I'm not certain sir." Hermione said truthfully.
"She is a Muggle-born Minister the likelihood of her having rights to the Dagworth-Granger voting block-"
Lucius was stopped short by Kyle Greengrass. "It is quite high given her last name, and I am willing to back this challenge to Lucius' claim."
"We will discuss this in depth on the marrow then." The Minister said with a smile. "It is an honour to meet you in either case Lady Granger."
The group of friends turned their attention to the smirking Padfoot, and as if they had a mental link said as one "You will explain this later." This caused some of the adults to give them indignant looks (Malfoys) while others laughed at a full grown wizard being cowed by six teenagers. The laughter died down as Ludo Bagman entered the box. He asked if the Minister was ready, and after the confirmation cast Sonorus on himself the show got under way.
"Ladies and Gentleman… welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!" Harry wanted to make a gagging noise at the overly cheerful prick, but given the setting he thought better of it. "And now without any further ado, allow me to introduce… the Bulgarian National Team Mascots!"
Harry prepped himself for what was to come by closing his eyes and grabbing hold of Daphne's hand. When Mr. Weasley said Veela Daphne jumped into Harry's lap causing his laugh just a little as his girlfriend something but she said it so low Harry couldn't quite make it out, however he was certain it was along the lines of 'he's mine'.
"Cover your ears Harry!" he heard Daphne say.
Harry kept his eyes closed but as he covered his ears he said "But why?" with a coy smile on his face.
Daphne hit him on the shoulder "Prat."
Harry could feel Daphne warp her arms around him, and when he heard booing he knew the Veela had stopped dancing. Opening his eyes he saw Daphne glaring at him for his previous comment, but he kissed her lightly on the lips. When he broke the kiss he noticed she was blushing profusely.
Once Daphne was back in her seat the Leprechauns were making their way onto the field. Harry didn't even try to get the gold knowing full well that it would be gone in an hour. Harry half wanted to laugh at the twins who were picking up gold coins like they were candy. As they introduced the players Harry was once again in awe of at the speed of the players. Victor still received the biggest greeting out of all the players.
The game progressed as he remembered it had gone with just a few differences. Bulgaria scored a few more goals (twenty-nine) than last time, but they were still woefully outmatched by Ireland. The total was Ireland: 460 and Bulgaria: 450. Harry watched as the teams made their way into the Top Box. Ignoring the irate look on Fudge's face Harry noticed that a beaten and battered Bulgarian Qudditch player was staring at a bushy haired friend of his. Harry fought with every fiber of his being not to smile at this moment. This was one in a latest of things that made Harry wonder how much he'd actually missed because of his inattentiveness. Moody would be absolutely lived at that thought. Constant vigilance still rang throughout his mind even now some two years after his death in the previous time line.
Shaking his head when Daphne tapped him on the shoulder Harry stood up, and followed his friends back to the tents. He knew what was going to happen, and he would be damned if he let any of them get hurt.
Hermione was jostled awake at what she initially thought was the morning after a very good qudditch match, but she could smell smoke in the air, and the look on Mrs. Greengrass' face was one of abject terror.
"Get up girls, and get dressed in hurry, we need to leave the campsite." Mrs. Greengrass voice was hurried, and she was still in her nightclothes.
"What's wrong mum?" Tori asked as she threw on a robe.
"It's a bunch of idiots running amuck making trouble is all. Just get dressed and meet the boys, head to the forest."
Mrs. Greengrass left the tent before they could ask anymore question. Hermione grabbed her robe and started towards the door. When she got out side she noticed Mr. Roberts and his family were being used as some form of sick entertainment by peopled dressed in dark robes and wearing funny masked. The little girl seemed to be having a massive accidental magic fit sending some of the people flying through the air. Percy, Bill, and Charlie were emerging from the boys' tent, fully dressed, with their sleeves rolled up and their wands drawn.
"We're going to help the Ministry!" Mr. Weasley shouted over all the noise, rolling up his own sleeves. "You lot- get into the woods, and stick together."
"I'll be with them Arthur!" Mrs. Greengrass called back to him. "Calm on kids."
"We're not kids!" the twins protested in stereo.
"You're acting like. Now come on." Mrs. Greengrass started leading the way into the forest.
George grabbed hold of Ginny's hand and started following Mrs. Greengrass into the forest. Hermione was following just behind Harry and Daphne. She looked around for Mr. Greengrass, but she couldn't see him. She looked over to her friend and noticed a look of worry on her face. Tracey who was standing next to her was muttering something about 'drunken idiots'. Hermione wondered if this was a reference to the men in weird masks or her father.
"OH!" She heard Neville yell as he tripped over a tree root.
"What happened?" she asked in a panicked voice, she stopped so abruptly that Tracey walked into her. She looked around but couldn't really see anything because of it being who knows what time at night. "Neville, where are you? Oh this is stupid- lumos!"
Neville looked both annoyed and slightly amused as he picked himself up of the ground.
"Tripped over a tree root," Neville said with a mass blush crawling across his face.
"Well, as accident prone as you are that's not surprising Longbottom," said a drawling voice from behind them.
They all turned sharply. Draco Malfoy was standing there with Ronald Weasley; both of them were leaning against a tree. For once the two trolls were nowhere to be seen. They both looked utterly relaxed give what was going on. It was almost as if they were expecting this to happen.
Neville in a moment of lapsed judgement told Malfoy to go do something that he would probably not have done if his gran were here. However Mrs. Greengrass was still her.
"Mr. Longbottom watch your language, and the two of you best go somewhere else." Mrs. Greengrass said sternly.
"Just standing her." Ronald replied "Hadn't you better be hurrying along, now? You wouldn't like her spotted, would you?"
Ron was pointing right at Hermione, and at the same moment, a blast like a bomb sounded from the campsite, and a flash of green light momentarily lit the trees around them.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hermione said defiantly.
"Granger their after Muggles," said Malfoy. "Do you want to be showing off your knickers in mid air? Because if you do, hang around… their moving this way, and it would give us all a laugh."
"Hermione's a witch!" Harry snarled back.
"Have it your way, Potter," said Ronald, grinning maliciously. "If you think they can't spot a Mudblood stay where you are."
"How dare you!" screamed Hermione's friends as a whole.
A sudden banging noise coming from behind them reminded them that Mrs. Greengrass was still here.
"Mr. Malfoy I don't care who your father is, but Miss Granger is both equal to you in station and damn near equal to you in wealth." Mrs. Greengrass was glaring at Malfoy and Ronald at this moment. "And Mr. Weasley I am shocked to see you standing where are."
"You shouldn't be, after all Potter and your daughter caused all of this." He gestured to what was going on around them.
"Let's just go." Hermione said in a frightful tone. The sounds coming from the campsite were frightening.
A few more words were exchanged with Ron, but Hermione let Mrs. Greengrass and Daphne deal with Harry's foul mouth. She had to say that Daphne did a much better job taking care of Harry's laps of social etiquette than she did. Harry took the lead at some point, and Hermione wondered whether he was doing this out of some perverse need to explore, or he was trying to match as best as possible what he had done in his past iteration of this event.
As they made their way through the forest they came across some students from another school, but being as they spoke French Hermione understood just enough to know the kids were looking for someone by the name of Maxime. When Mrs. Greengrass said "Hogwarts" a look of understanding crossed their faces. They bid Mrs. Greengrass goodbye, and the group continued on their way.
After a little while Harry made a groaning sound. "Damn, my wands gone."
"Harry language!" chided Hermione, Daphne, and Mrs. Greengrass.
"Are you sure you didn't drop it?" asked Sue shining her light on the ground.
"Positive. I had it when we went to the World Cup, and now it's gone." Harry said in an exasperated tone of voice.
The rest of them held the wands up to spread the light given off by their wands enough to light the ground around them. Unfortunately Harry's wand was nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Greengrass was about to cast a spell when a commotion off to their right drew her attention.
They spun around to find Winky the house-elf was fighting against some unseen force. Hermione couldn't really figure it all out, but she thought it might have something to do with her owner Mr. Crouch. Why that man would bind his elf in such away was beyond her understanding.
"There is bad wizards about!" she squeaked distractedly as she leaned forward and laboured to keep running. "People high- high in the air! Winky is getting out of the way!"
Hermione watched as Winky struggled to get away from the campsite. Was this because Mr. Crouch didn't give her permission to leave his ten? If that was the case then Hermione had an even less favourable opinion of Percy's boss with every passing interaction with his house-elf. What kind of person would treat their servants so horribly? She wondered if all his touting about his family always following the rules was a way of compensating for some kind of shortcoming within his own personal life.
"You coming Hermione?" asked Harry.
Hermione followed them into the forest barely paying attention to the conversation that was going on between Mrs. Greengrass and Harry about Mr. Crouch. Hermione took this moment to ask about house-elves something that she had been neglecting to do since Harry brought this to her attention during their first Hogsmeade visit of last school year.
"Mrs. Greengrass, why doesn't anyone try and free the house-elves?" asked Hermione.
"Well being a Muggle-born I'm sure you've heard the story of the Elves and the Cobbler?" Hermione nodded in the affirmative. "Well these are those elves, and as I'm sure you've noticed they are incredibly loyal to their owner." Hermione looked indignantly at Mrs. Greengrass. "Look Hermione the story of the Elves and the Cobbler is real, and the Cobbler was a wizard by the name of Wilhelm Acker. He and his wife were left poor broke and destitute in the German countryside by zealous lord wanting Mrs. Acker for his own. He ceased control of Wilhelm's wand and had it snapped, and then took away any other means for him to make his shoes." Hermione's jaw hit the floor (so to speak), and one look over at Harry told her this was news to him as well. "The following winter he fell ill and could not afford the rent, and as the story goes he gave away his last pair of shoes, and had only enough leather to make two more pairs of shoes. That night low-elves (or serving-elves) came to his aid, and just like in the muggle story he sells one pair, and gives away the last. By the end of week of the week Acker had the money to pay both his rent, and replace his wand. He and his wife stayed up that night to see who had been making the shoes, and I don't think I need to tell you were this story goes."
"Mr. and Mrs. Acker made them clothes thus freeing them from their obligations, but then how did wizards and witches as a whole get the house-elves to serve them?" Hermione asked.
"No one knows that Hermione. The best answer I can give you is that some witch and/or wizard found out about this type of elf through Acker, and went looking for them, and things just snowballed from there."
"What happened to the Lord that had Acker's wand snapped?" Harry asked.
"He tried to force himself on a young woman who turned out to be the illegitimate daughter of another Lord, and was hanged for it." Mrs. Greengrass said as they walked past a group of young men trying to impress the Veela. "Honestly some men could do with learning this story."
They walked on ward trying to put as much distance between them and chaos at the campsite as possible. When they came to clearing in the woods Mrs. Greengrass suggested they stop right here as they would see anyone coming. It was then that they saw Mr. Bagman once more. He had defiantly changed in the short amount of time that had gone by. He was no longer buoyant and rosy-faced; there was no more spring in his step. He looked very white and strained.
"Who's that?" he said blinking down at them. "Mrs. Greengrass what are you doing here?"
"A group of either want-to-be or actual Death Eaters causing an uproar down at the campsite Ludo," Mrs. Greengrass said calmly.
Bagman stood their plinking.
"What?" he asked a pit perplexed.
"You heard me Ludo the Death Eaters are at the campsite making a mess of things." Mrs. Greengrass said sternly.
Bagman swore loudly.
"Damn them!" he said, looking quiet distracted, and without another word, he Disapparated with a small pop!
"Not exactly on top of things, Mr. Bagman, is he?" said Hermione, frowning.
"Nope," said Harry with a dejected look on his face.
"What's wrong Harry?" asked Mrs. Greengrass.
"Nothing I've just got a bad feeling about all of this." Harry said as calmly as possible.
"I don't blame you." Said Neville, "I mean first you lose your wand, and then all of this happens. What are the odds of that happening eh?"
"Given what's happened to me over the years Neville that is actually quite high actually." Harry said with a grin on his face.
"Harry dear that isn't something to proud of," Mrs. Greengrass had a disparaging look on her face.
"I know." Harry's coy smile did not waver. "Yet when you think about it is kind of funny."
"Honestly Harry," Hermione and Daphne chided.
Hermione looked over at Daphne and smiled at the girl. It was a good thing she was no longer the one trying to keep Harry from doing the dumbest thing he could come up with anymore. She looked back to Mrs. Greengrass, "Mrs. Greengrass if you know so much about Wizarding History why aren't you teaching History of Magic instead of Binns?"
"I wanted to raise my children Hermione, and besides suffering through the pains of Professor Binns classes is almost a rite of passage at this point," Mrs. Greengrass had a devious smile on her face at the moment, "but after seeing who," see looked over at Harry and the twins, "my daughters are friends with I have considered it."
"Mum!" Daphne wailed in protest.
"No, I'm serious Daphne; I have put in my application. I just haven't heard back from Professor McGonagall yet is all." The smile on Mrs. Greengrass' face was nearly infectious.
Mrs. Greengrass looked as she wanted to say more, but she fell silent and was looking around. It didn't take long for Hermione to figure out why as a twig off behind her snapped abruptly. It sounded as if someone was staggering towards their clearing. Hermione gripped her wand tighter as if she was expecting someone to jump out from behind the trees and attack the group. It was too dark to see anything really clearly, and it looked as if Harry was more than annoyed by the situation.
"Who's there?" Harry said.
But whoever it was said nothing. Hermione looked back to Mrs. Greengrass, and she looked as if she wanted to stand up and march into the forest to find out who it was. And then without warning, the silence was rent by a voice unlike any other they had heard in the wood; and it uttered not a panicked shout, but what sounded like a spell.
And something vast, green, and glittering erupted from the patch of darkness Hermione's eyes had been struggling to penetrate, it flew up over the tree tops and into the sky.
Mrs. Greengrass gasped sharply. "Come on children let's get out of here."
Hermione took one look skyward and realized why she wanted to leave. Standing there above them was the Dark Mark: A skull comprised of emerald stars with a stack protruding from its moth in place of its tongue.
Hermione tried to get to her feet, but before she could several popping sound erupted from the forest around them. Then a before she realized what was happening Mrs. Greengrass was yelling for them to get down, and at the same time several other voice shouted "Stupefy!" When the beams of light were done bouncing off the trees Hermione picked her head up off the ground. A group of witches and wizards were looks of sheer brutal determination etched on their faces. Hermione looked over to Mrs. Greengrass who had her hands held in the air. One look back into the crowed explained why she looked so angry. Mr. Crouch was walking towards her as if she had committed a heinous offence.
"It wasn't any of us that cast the mark Barty, and if you even say a word of the sort I swear I will knock some sense into that head of yours."
"Making threat against the ministry are you?" Mr. Crouch said sternly.
"Not the Ministry Barty, against you. You've nearly sent me to Azkaban illegitimate once before, you've illegally held Sirius in jail for thirteen years without a trial, and you sent you own son to his death with not so much as a second glance." The ice in Mrs. Greengrass' voice was undeniable, and the thought that Mr. Crouch had almost sent one of the nicest people she had ever known to Azkaban scared her even more than the thought of the same man sending his own son to Azkaban.
"There also children Barty." The sound Mr. Weasley's voice took the night air.
"And I will waste all the money in my vault to keep your filthy hands off my wife." The visceral sound of Mr. Greengrass' left nothing to the imagination as to how he truly felt towards Mr. Crouch.
There was a moment of uneasy silence before someone spoke again.
"If you didn't cast the Mark then who did?" said Mr. Crouch.
"I don't know, but it wasn't one of us," said Mrs. Greengrass with as much hatred and loathing as she could put into her voice.
Someone went into the forest, and a short time later came back with Mr. Crouch's house-elf Winky. Hermione took this small pause in the action to look over at Mrs. Greengrass, she saw Mr. Greengrass rubbing her left arm in a soothing manner. They were whispering to one another, and Hermione wondered if it had anything to do with Voldemort. That was his sign floating in the sky right now, and Hermione would lay a bet on You-know-who doing something to the Greengrass family to try and get one or both of them on his side.
She was ripped out of her thoughts by the sound of Mr. Diggory's voice. "So tell us elf: Where did you get this wand?" He did not sound like the jovial person she had met the day before. No on the contrary he sounded quite aggressive.
"I's is finding on the ground sir." Winky said her voice more than a touch shaky.
"Sir that looks like my wand, and I've been missing it for some time now," Harry said calmly, but Hermione could tell by the look on his face he didn't like what he was saying.
"So you tossed your wand off into the forest after casting the Dark Mark did you?" Mr. Diggory snapped.
"Amos think about who you are talking to," said Mr. Weasley in a strained voice. "Besides he's too young to know the curse anyway."
"Oh, sorry Mr. Potter," he turned back to Winky. "Did you know elf that there is a simple spell to see what spells a wand has cast last?"
"I's not using a wand sir," wailed Winky, "I's a good elf!" She looked to be on the verge of tears at this point.
Mr. Diggory cast a spell, and a smaller image of the Dark Mark floated off the tip of Harry's wand. "So it seems you did cast the Dark Mark elf."
"It wasn't her Amos it was a man's voice that said an incantation before the mark appeared in the sky." Protested Mrs. Greengrass, and all of the others that were present in the clearing backed her up.
"Well then if it wasn't the elf who was it?" asked Mr. Crouch.
"I is still loyal to you master." Winky wailed tears rolling down her face.
"Again I ask if it wasn't the elf who was it?"
"Mr. Crouch if I may?" asked Harry.
"Yes Mr. Potter?" snapped Mr. Crouch.
"I am acting as head of house Potter at the moment Mr. Crouch so Lord would be better." Hermione saw a scowl cross Mr. Crouch's face. "If you no longer want your house-elf I have a friend who will be more than willing to take her on as a servant."
"Now see here Lord Potter-" Crouch was cut off by Harry.
"No Mr. Crouch you listen. I've seen you send Winky up into the top box knowing full well she is acrophobic. I'm certain that you can find another elf in due time, and given the way you've been addressing her I don't think Winky is going to be in your service much longer." Harry said this calmly and with such a calculating precision that she was certain that he and Draco must be distant relative s of some sort, or perhaps Daphne was just rubbing off on him.
Mr. Crouch looked around, and judging by the looks he was getting from some of the people in the crowd he was not on good standing with them at the moment.
"Fine then, who would you have me give her to Lord Potter?" Mr. Crouch said rather hotly.
"Hermione Jean Granger," Harry said calmly while point directly at her.
"Fine then Winky you know under the ownership of Ms. Hermione Jean Granger."
It was over so fast Hermione didn't have time to protest. When Mr. Crouch finished what he was saying Hermione felt a wave of magic wash over her body. What perturbed her more than now being part of a broken system that enslaved an entire race was that Harry somehow knew her full name. She just glared at him, and he mouthed to her the words "We'll talk later," and went back to talking to Mr. Crouch and Mr. Greengrass.
"Well Hermione it seems Harry has some explaining to do." Daphne said calmly. "I wonder why he did it though?"
"I wonder that myself," said Mrs. Greengrass. "You know he could have just done a horrible smear campaign on Crouch, but this is so much better."
"You hate Mr. Crouch?" asked Hermione.
"With a passion, I was visiting my parents the day the Death Eaters decided to kill them. The Death Eaters didn't know I was in the house, and when I tried to stop them I took a horrific injury to my wand arm. I saved myself by jumping out the third floor window." Hermione breathed in sharply at this bit of news. "When the Aurors finally showed up Crouch tried to pin the whole thing on me even given all my injuries. I swore that I would tell him everything that happened and give him the names of some of the Death Eaters I could identify under Veritaserum, but even that wasn't enough for the zealous prat. It was only when he found out I was pregnant that he let me testify." She glared at Mr. Crouch at that moment. "I never trusted him again after that."
"Is there anything mistress needs Winky to do?" Winky asked all of a sudden.
"Not right now. You can head back to our tent though." Hermione said this calmly, and watched as Winky Apparated away with a pop! Harry had a lot of explaining to do, but she also wondered how many innocent people Crouch had thrown into Azkaban aside from Sirius. Hermione looked back at Crouch once more as she followed Mrs. Greengrass back to their tent.