The Greengrass Contract

By Nate Ronan

Adventure / Romance

Part One: Chapter Five

-△⃒⃘- The Greengrass Contract -△⃒⃘-by ncronan

WARNING: In this chapter, there is a detailed account of some gruesome child abuse in the middle of the chapter. You will be warned, and you can skip ahead if you'd like. I myself did not enjoy writing such a horrible, albeit fictional, account of abuse.

Chapter 5: Fear and Weakness

Although the trip to his common room was uneventful (all other students had retired to their dorms), Harry didn't enjoy it in the least. After he'd stormed out, he'd seen a blue beetle on the ground and had enjoyed his time taking a few stomps at it, but missed every time until it flew away.

Still smoldering, he had stormed out of the Great Hall and properly slammed through the doors. By this time, Harry was seriously considering bumping Dumbledore nearer to the top of his (what he now called) his nemesis list.

These thoughts kept him from realizing that he had reached the Fat Lady. Look up, he scowled at her, and she looked down at her with a raised eyebrow and a strange, almost sympathetic expression on her face. "I'd be careful, Potter. You're friends aren't too happy that you were picked, either."

Harry scowled up at her, his eyebrows lowering and coming together. "If they aren't happy, then they aren't my friends."

The Fat Lady looked at him for a moment, nodded, and opened up. The quiet murmuring on the inside ceased, and there was silence as Harry stepped in, and was immediately confronted by Angelina, who hugged him, talking fiercely and loud enough for everyone (it looked like the whole house was out of bed and in the common room) to hear.

"Harry I know you didn't put your name in -" but she was interrupted by Ron.

"Come off it! Of course he put his name in! He's been an arse all year!" To that, people had begun to nod, but stopped when Ron added the last phrase. 'Harry hasn't been a bad bloke, but who else would have put in his name?' were the thoughts of all others.

Harry glared at him before hugging Angelina. "Listen, Ann. I didn't put my name in, but I'm forced to compete. I read about the Goblet, and it doesn't matter if they're the ones who put their name in or not. Normally, an underage name wouldn't be picked, but the cup was most likely rigged -"

"Yeah. By you!." Ron scowled, reaching the front and nearing Angelina. "If you didn't do it, swear on your magic!"

There were intakes of breaths around the room, and Hermione hissed, "Ron! How could you ask that?"

Harry nudged Angelina over so that he could confront Ron, and he said, "I shouldn't have to. This may not be Hufflepuff, but I'd expect you would all be at least a little loyal, and maybe grateful. You all know that I've never bragged, but now I might as well. If it wasn't for me, you'd be dead. You'd be dead. You'd be dead."

And so Harry went on, pointing out all of the Muggleborns, and at the end, Ginny. "But, of course, you've all forgotten that none of you have thanked me or even somehow paid me back. Why? Because I've never asked for it."

Getting nose to nose with Ron, and Harry growled, "I shouldn't HAVE to swear on my magic. Even if I did, I could still lose my magic, because what if someone had Imperiused me into somehow hoodwinking the cup and entering my name?"

Ron snorted. "We just studied the Unforgivables in class, Potter. You'd remember if you were Imperiused."

Harry continued, "Not if I'd been obliviated. Actually, that's another goddamn stupid thing about this school." Gesturing to all the girls, he bellowed, "Every single one of the female students here is in danger of being molested or raped. After all, if you're any good at Obliviating, you can even insert false memories into their heads."

Harry whipped his head back at Ron. "But we're going off subject. If, somehow, you can snatch some Veritaserum from Snape's private stores, you can use it on me, if you wish."

Ron's eye sparkled with hate and an idea. "I think that's a good idea."

Harry stared him down for a moment more before turning and taking Angelina's hands. "Listen, Ann. I really like you, and I'm very proud of your beginning Quidditch career. But we're going to have to go separate ways."

Angelina smiled sadly and a tear formed in her eyes, and she cupped Harry's face. Harry sighed slowly through his nose. "I'm really sorry, but if we're together, then you'll become a target to other people who don't like how my name somehow came out. That, and there's also my little 'magic paper' problem, and I need to start working at it. It's time that I really faced it. But I hope we can stay friends after this."

Angelina laughed slightly at his code name for the Contract, but she nodded slowly. Bringing his head forward, they shared one last kiss before Harry pushed through the crowd and up to the boy's dormitories.

-ooOoOoOoo-

Friday was easily one the worst school days of Harry's life. Without the company of a girlfriend, Harry slowly lapsed into a sad state, although kept his cool. He was still great friends with Viktor, Neville, Luna, Angelina, Katie and Padma, as they decided that he hadn't put his name in; they were the ones running with him when he had supposedly entered himself.

However, they were missing Hermione and Padma's twin. For reasons unknown, the former gave up sitting near Harry and instead began to sit with Ron, which caused Harry to feel a little twinge in his heart. After all, Hermione was one of his first friends, and his first female one at that. She would be missed.

On the other hand, Parvarti decided to break ties with Harry because her best friend, Lavender Brown, had a huge crush on a certain git redhead. Thus, Parvarti decided to abandon her sister and running group to go off giggling with her friend again. This had not affected Harry much, but he was slightly saddened at the blow to his little group.

The classes had actually endured much change. Although it was strange, Professor McGonagall would often pursue her lips whenever Harry managed to cast the first (very good) spell. Harry suspected that she wanted to give him house points and compliment him, but decided against it at the last moment.

During these classes, Harry sat with Neville, and he discovered that although he was shy, Neville was pretty clever and was absolutely stunning at Herbology. When Neville failed to cast a Transfiguration spell, Harry immediately advised him to get a new wand.

"But – this was my father's, and my grandmother -" He had stammered.

"Forget it, Nev. You can use it as a secondary wand, and if you tell your grandmother that you could be getting EE's in every class if you got a new one, she'd be okay with it. In fact, over the Christmas break, I'm going to the Alley, and I'd be happy if you could come with."

Neville had immediately agreed, and decided that yes, his wand did seem to be holding him back.

Charms went much the same way, but Potions was much more . . . unexpected.

Stepping into the class (first one in), Harry noticed that Snape was eyeing him with a carefully hidden, barely noticeable confused expression. Harry had looked up at him into his dark eyes and held the contact for several seconds, and immediately felt – something – against his mind. Realizing it was him, Harry pushed forward his memories of running, and then going into the Great Hall and being genuinely surprised at his name popping out of the Goblet. In several seconds, Snape had stored the information in his mind, and then nodded to the young student once.

Harry quickly sat down in the row to the far right, where he was isolated from where the Gryffindors would undoubtedly be sitting. Neville quickly followed, and soon the whole class had filed in.

"Today, we will be brewing Girding Potion. Who knows what it can be used for?"

Glancing around the room, Snape found that no one had raised their hand except a bushy-haired Gryffindor. He was then shocked to find that his nemesis's son was raising his hand calmly, and Snape studied him. There was a determined expression on the boy's face, as if he was saying, 'Come on, then. I'll show you what I've got now.'

Snape calmly thought before he spoke and said, "Mr. Potter?", being careful to not use just the boy's last name.

As the girl flashed an angry glare in the brat's direction, the boy said calmly, "Girding Potion can be used to increase one's endurance for several weeks at a time. However, the maximum dosage is two vials, for if you drink any more you can either enter into a coma or be particularly rowdy for almost a month."

Snape waited for a minute, and said quietly, "Acceptable definition. Five points to Gryffindor."

As everyone blinked in shock, Snape continued with the instructions, and then wrote the instructions on the board. After telling everyone to get to work, Snape went back into his chair and gazed off into the distance, his eyes glassing over slightly. Harry decided that he was reviewing the memories given to him.

Harry and Neville went through the steps, and the former found that Neville was quite decent at Potions when he didn't have a hook-nosed professor bending over him. They made little mistakes, and by the end, when it was supposed to turn a bright green, the boys found that their potion was, indeed, a slightly dark, but nevertheless close, green.

Snape abruptly got up and went through their Potions as the students waited nervously. Saving Neville and Harry for last, Snape went walked through the aisles, but was considerably quieter. There was only the occasional, "You ignorant boy. Never forget to add the doxy eggs." or something of the kind. When he reached Hermione's potion, Snape found a slightly more green turquoise mix. He only said, "Barely acceptable. I believe the Weasley heated up your potion only around five minutes too long while you had your nose stuck in a book. Five points from Gryffindor for not helping your classmate." To that, Hermione scowled at Ron, who shrugged, as if to say, 'He said it was your fault, so it's your fault.'

Upon reaching Harry, Snape said absolutely nothing. Instead, he just said quietly, "You stopped heating it around thirty seconds before the precise time. Nevertheless, this potion would grant the user around 5 days of extra endurance. I noticed you didn't blow anything up this time, Longbottom. Five points to Gryffindor."

After he had bottled each of the potions for further testing, he said, "You are all dismissed except for Mr. Potter. Please stay behind a moment."

Dumbfounded, Harry stayed whilst the other went on to Herbology. Snape gestured him towards his desk before saying, "I see that you didn't put your name in, Mr. Potter. But do you think that you could manage a favor from me?"

Harry blinked. "A favor?"

Snape rolled his eyes for a second. "Why do the young people of these generations invariably answer a question with a question?"

Harry had grinned a little and said, "I expect that it's because we're young and ignorant brats."

Snape's lip curled slightly, forming a cross between a smile and a grimace. "Indeed. I'd like you to gift me your memories of some of your previous Potions classes. I've realized -"

Snape grimaced a bit, and then continued, "- I've realized that I've been a bit harsh on you lot."

Harry looked him in the eye and said, "Sure, Professor, I'll do it. But I'm honestly glad that you've seen that I'm not my father." Leaning forward, Harry said quietly, "In fact, I think you also see that my mother's qualities are coming out as well."

Snape stared into the boy's green eyes and sighed. "I have seen. Here." He said, handing Harry a small bowl. "This is a pocket pensieve. Just think up a memory, tap your head, and then put it into the bowl. You can give it to me on Monday."

Harry nodded, taking the bowl and pocketing it. "Thank you, sir."

Snape nodded and waved him away. But before he left, Harry added, "Professor? I'd like to give you a warning. I think that Ronald is planning on stealing some things from your potions stores in the near future."

Snape's lip curled again. "Thank you for the warning, Mr. Potter. I'll be sure to add a few special wards to it tonight."

But before Harry had reached the door, he heard Snape call something out behind him.

"Mr. Potter?"

Harry turned around, and Snape said emotionlessly, "You have your mother's eyes, but you must know that the same things are not stored behind them."

Harry blinked and left, promising to remember that so he could think it over later.

-ooOoOoOoo-

However, instead of heading to Defense, Harry went the opposite direction, back into the castle, towards his Head of House's classroom. Upon reaching it, Harry knocked quietly to be answered by a voice saying, "Come in."

Stepping in, Harry found a large group of first years all just beginning to sit down. Ahead was a grey and tabby cat, sitting at her desk. Harry grinned and walked up to it, and said loudly, "Professor, can I speak to you for a moment?"

For a few seconds, the first years just stared at the Boy-Who-Lived thinking, 'Is he crazy?', until the cat pounced off the desk and morphed into the Gryffindor Head of House, who mock-glared at Harry.

"You ruined the surprise, Mr. Potter. What is it that you need? You're late for your next class." She asked, and Harry answered, "I'd like to talk with you about a class change."

After a pause, McGonagall nodded and said, "Well, first I'll give these first years a proper introduction. You can wait at my desk, yes?"

Harry nodded and did so, and McGonagall proceeded to instruct the first years on turing a matchstick into a needle. When she'd finished, she went and sat across Harry and asked, "A class change, you say? Which one, and why?"

Harry leaned forward and stated, "I'd like to drop Divination, Professor. I've found out that I've only been taking it for an easy 'O', and that the teacher is bonkers, and the class is rubbish."

McGonagall fought to keep a smirk off her face. "Many here share your sentiment, Mr. Potter. What would you like to replace it with?"

"Erm – Ancient Runes, ma'am. In the future, I'd like to be a professional Quidditch player for around half a decade, and then become either an Auror or something else like that, and then maybe become a Professor here. I've heard that there's a special branch of Aurorship that requires Ancient Runes."

McGonagall smiled at him. The young Potter's future indeed looked promising. "You are half-correct. There are several levels of Aurorship, starting with Trainee, then Novice, then Auror, then Solo Auror, and lastly Veteran. The Solo Auror can only be achieved if you get at least an 'EE' in Ancient Runes."

Harry nodded in understanding. "Okay. Can I switch?"

McGonagall nodded. "Absolutely. Even though you're a year behind, with your newfound determination in classes, I think you'll be able to get up onto their level. I'll give you your new schedule next week. Also, here's a pass for your next class, to get out of punishment."

Harry nodded his thanks, took the slip of paper being handed to him, and quickly left as the first years hopelessly stabbed their wands toward their matchsticks, muttering the incantation.

-ooOoOoOoo-

The last class of the morning was Defense Against the Dark Arts, a class that Harry had mix feelings about. The first class had been somewhat of a strange experience, what with Harry losing his temper. Harry tilted his head as he walked into to the class under the watchful eye of Moody. He'd have to make another list, along with his nemesis list. Something that would help him organize his biggest fears or weaknesses. For some reason, those two seemed to collide more often than not.

Harry plopped down alongside Neville as several Slytherins trickled in, one of which was to be a big part in Harry's life. As he caught the girl's eyes, they narrowed and looked away quickly. Harry blinked. They had been on talking turns earlier in the week; what had changed?

Moody began his teaching as the class settled in. "Alright, class, I think we've covered enough Unforgivables in our last class than we'll need all year."

He laughed quietly at the memory as a few heads turned to Harry, reminded of what had happened.

"Today, we'll be learning about boggarts. Yes, Granger?"

Hermione whipped her hand from the air and said tartly, "Professor, we learned about boggarts last y -"

"I am aware of that, Granger." Moody said. "We're reviewing them because I'd like to know what some of your biggest fears are." He cast his eyes around the room, and his magical one rested on Harry longer than he'd liked. "It'll be necessary with my . . . style of teaching."

Harry shivered slightly. What was his biggest fear? Was it still dementors? No; at the thought of the black-cloaked beasts, he no longer cringed. He had a defense against the monsters, and so his fear had dissipated.

As he pondered, Moody was saying, "Get up and clear the desks to the side of the room – yes, like that. Now, form a line. No pushing! I know how eager all of you are to face your deepest and darkest nightmares."

Moody kicked forward a large wooden chest with his metal foot that he favored. "Alright, who's first? Granger! You ready?"

"I think – EEK!" Hermione squealed as the form of Dumbledore stepped out of the chest, looking forlorn. He said in a low voice, "I'm sorry, Ms. Granger, but I'm afraid that we'll have to expel you, because you are not as smart as Mr. Potter here."

She shrieked, and tears began falling from her face, but she managed to squeal, "Riddikulus!" before sprinting into the back of the classroom. Dumbledore was now in a woman's dress, stumbling on high heels. 'So Granger was afraid of being bested by others?' Harry mused. 'Maybe that's why she's not a very good friend . . .'

Draco Malfoy sauntered up next, and Dumbledore's beard extended and created a cocoon; and out of the cocoon strolled a pale, red-eyed, snake faced Voldemort. As Malfoy's eyes widened, the image sneered and pulled out his wand, but Malfoy was able to squeak the incantation, causing the Voldemort to disappear in a puff of pink perfume.

Several more students walked up and dispelled their fear. With every step Harry took forward, the more anxious he got. What exactly would pop up?

Soon, he was in front of what was a massive snake with lipstick on and googley eyes. For a terrifying second, the lipstick disappeared and the snake stood frozen, seemingly contemplating Harry, who was drawing his wand. Suddenly, the snake reared back, and began swirling.

A blanket of fog hung itself around the whole room, and in front of Harry (for the whole class to watch) seemed to be something like a television screen. From that television screen appeared a little boy with messy black hair and green eyes, who was whimpering and holding his left arm that was bent almost in its opposite direction, in complete darkness. Several students retched behind him, and Harry was frozen in place. Not because he was scared, but because he remembered it. Suddenly, the television was filled with light, and a hand grabbed the boy's arm and wrenched him out of the dark space. Harry found himself watching his younger self in the hallway of Privet Drive, his Uncle Vernon over him.

"Think you could snitch to your teachers, boy?" Vernon spat. Harry's breath hitched in his throat, and behind him, the students were looking on in terror and disgust. "They don't give a damn, and NEITHER DO I!"

Younger Harry moaned and grabbed his arms as his Uncle tightened his grip on it. "Boy, no one will EVER KNOW!"

Younger Harry began screaming as the fat man brought his dominant hand down on his head, over and over again, until his lip was split and his nose was bleeding profusely. One of his ribs were broken from a carefully aimed kick, and several of his fingers were broken from failed attempts to shield himself. Vernon wrenched the boy's injured arm one more time and threw him into what Older Harry identified to be his cupboard.

The man's final word was, "Your parents abandoned you for us to take care of. They'd be ashamed of what a weakling you turned out to be."

The door slammed shut, but the screen was still filled with a seething Vernon, his knuckled coated with blood. Suddenly, Vernon's eyes snapped forward to Harry and the class. The man grabbed the sides of the television, wrenched it back, and climbed out. Soon, a life-sized Dursley was breathing heavily in front of Harry's face. Harry couldn't breath, and fumbled for his wand, although he knew the boggart couldn't touch him.

He was wrong.

Suddenly, Vernon reached out and grabbed Harry's throat, lifting him up off the ground. Harry, caught by surprise, gasped and reached up with both his hands, his wand falling helplessly to the floor. The thick hand tightened itself, and Harry saw spots.

Then, Vernon was blown back with a, "Stupefy!" from a woman in the crowd. Harry crumpled to the floor, still scrabbling at his neck and dry heaving. Said woman marched past Harry and pointed her wand at the man, who was eyeing Harry greedily. Upon noticing the woman, Vernon scrambled for the box, but the woman ordered, "Riddikulus!" and the boggart was thrown back again, head over heels, morphing into a swirl of different things. The woman swept her wand towards the chest, and the boggart was thrown into it, the lid snapping tight upon it.

The woman (identified to be Professor McGonagall) immediately swept towards a still heaving Harry. Moody limped after her.

"What is the meaning of this?" McGonagall almost screeched. Moody's face was that of helpless and confused.

"I don't know, Minerva!" Moody said quickly. "The boggart shouldn't have been able to touch Potter!"

McGonagall tapped Harry's throat and he was suddenly able to breathe, his throat opening up again. Harry took in several rattling gasps as he regained the air he'd lost from his lungs.

"What was that?" McGonagall hissed. Hermione was the one that spoke up.

"That man was his Uncle, I saw him at King's Cross -"

"Not him." McGonagall said. "What were the images before him? Were they just thoughts, or did they actually happen?"

Harry said nothing, but he did sit up, rubbing a spot on his lower left bicep, his eyes red. McGonagall waited for an answer, but Harry said nothing. Instead, the boy stood up and limped back through the crowd of terrified students, side-stepping puddles of vomit and rasped, "I'm done."

-ooOoOoOoo-

For the next class, Harry was not present, and no one could locate him. Word didn't spread around in the wildfire that many expected; it stayed within the fourth year level, but by the next day almost the whole school would hear of it.

Neville noticed Harry's absence first and, after excusing himself from Herbology by pretending the need for the loo, he went and found Viktor out on the Quidditch Pitch. Neville waved him down and informed him of what happened, and the professional Quidditch player immediately set out looking for his friend.

It took them nearly half an hour, but the two did manage to locate him near the lake, next to a large oak tree. However, Harry was sitting up against the tree or anything of the like; he was smashing his fists against it with all the strength he could muster.

Viktor quickly ran forward and restrained Harry's arms, backing him away from the tree, who had a small spot on its trunk where there was no bark. Harry's knuckles were skinned and dripping with blood, and the fresh yellow wood on the tree was smudged with red.

"Harry! Stop! It's okay!" Viktor assured him. Harry still didn't let up, and was hissing with a snake-like lisp, "Ssstupid relatives! Fuck Dumbledore – fuck this bloody ssschool – damn Moody to hell!"

Viktor held on until Harry stopped thrashing, and the greenish light left his eyes, and the ugly snarl set on the boy's face disappeared. Breathing heavily, Harry pushed Viktor away and sat down, hard.

"Harry. What are you doing?" Viktor asked seriously, plopping down next to him. Neville did the same.

"I'm not talking about what happened in DADA, if that's what you're here for." Harry hissed, but then calmed down quickly as Viktor assured him that he wasn't.

Harry heaved out a long breath. "After the thing in Defense, I was angry – so angry. I figured that I have to let it out on something, or it'll just get bottled up inside me. That's two of my weaknesses that I've discovered. Not letting out my emotions and letting my anger make me do things I shouldn't. I figured that if I let my anger out on something but also get myself to regret it later, then I'll stop doing it."

Viktor looked down at Harry's skinned hands. "Should I . . .?"

Harry shook his sweaty hair quickly. "No, no. Don't heal them. I need to learn to regret letting my anger out."

Neville shook his head. "That's a bad idea, Harry. You could get an infection -"

"I'll heal them tomorrow morning, alright?" Harry said shortly. Having freshly punched a tree, he didn't have any anger left to get mad at his two friends.

"Let's head to the castle, alright? Hopefully, I'll have a few hours before the whole bloody school knows that I'm a pussy."

-ooOoOoOoo-

The rest of the day went smoothly, with no one confronting Harry beyond a confused or a scared look even a glimmer of sympathy. When Harry was in the halls, the fourth years before him parted ways, still trying to decipher what the fiasco in DADA had meant. While he did this, Harry also tried to avoid all teacher he could, especially McGonagall. He wasn't ready to be interrogated.

Throughout the classes, the Weasley twins let Harry know that they were on his side, saying, "That's not your style, mate." However, Hermione never once went to him; in fact, she seemed trying hard not to glance his way.

When it came time for supper, Harry (being there before his friends), went and approached a certain beautiful Veela, who had begun to eat her lunch at the Ravenclaw table.

Harry gently bent forward next to her. "I'm not taking anyone's spot, am I?"

Fleur turned and looked him up and down, assessing him. When she came up to his eyes, Harry locked their gazes together, proving without a doubt that he was, indeed, immune to her pull. She then shook her head, her soft hair waving.

"Non. Eet iz not taken." Her tone was of indifference. She was obviously keeping out emotions from her voice until she learned more about the spontaneous fourth champion.

Harry nodded gratefully and sat down, picking out all of the greens and a few meats from the table's selection. Fleur watched him carefully.

"Why are you not seeting wiz your friends?" She asked first. Harry shook his head after looking at the occupants of said table. There was Ronald, Hermione, Lavender Brown, and several first and seventh years.

"I have no friends over there." Harry said. Fleur seemed a little shocked, and then her eyebrows knit.

"You are deeferent from ze uzzers." She said, sounding almost confused. Harry rose an eyebrow.

"How so?" Harry asked, grabbing his fork and spearing a few leaves. She waited before saying, "You aren't affected by my allure."

Harry shrugged. "It's okay, I have no idea why either. Can you think up anything else?"

Fleur looked down at her companion's plate, only once glancing at his pink knuckles, skinned to the muscle. "You haave nice manners. Some of ze uzzers, like zat red haired one by you table, just grab and stuff in their mouths. Eet would never be accepted at Beauxbatons!"

Harry nodded slowly. "Anything else?"

Fleur leaned in towards him. "There are some rumors goeeng around. Sometheeng een one of your classes." After a pause, she asked, "Eez eet true, what you said in ze Trophy Room?"

Harry froze mid-chew, and slowly turned to face her. Once he'd swallowed, he stared into her eyes for a long moment. Fleur blinked rapidly.

"What eez eet you are doing?" She asked. Harry shrugged and turned back to his plate. By this time, a few other Ravenclaws were beginning to take their seats, although they turned suspicious eyes towards the Gryffindor.

"Evaluating whether or not I should trust you." Harry said, taking another bite. At this time, Viktor and Angelina and Katie had stepped into the Hall, and were looking around, searching for their black-haired friend. Once they'd spotted him at the Ravenclaw's table, they'd looked at each other, shrugged, and begun to make their way over.

Fleur blinked. This boy was continuing to surprise her. "And did I pass ze test?"

Harry nodded mutely as his friends sat next to him. "Yes, but I'm the one that's not ready."

"Harry. Are you okay?" Viktor asked seriously as he plopped down next to him. Harry turned and rose and one of his eyebrows raised.

"Why would I not be?" Harry asked, taking a long look at Angelina. She blushed as Viktor said, "Your girlfriend told Katie about what happened in the Trophy Room, and I was there, after all. And there was the Defense . . . thing."

Harry sighed. "Unfortunately, Angelina and I are no longer a set any more, for reasons I'd rather not repeat. The first time I said it, I was very sad and angry, and I'd not like to relive those feelings again. And the other thing? I've started to forget it."

Fleur looked at Angelina, who nodded sadly, and she was surprised. It was not often that a recently broken couple would be able to sit next to one another and exchange words.

Fleur blinked and finally adressed Harry's knuckles. "'Arry? What eez wrong wiz your 'ands?"

Harry flexed his fingers. "Nothing of your concern, yet."

After a moment of silence as the three newcomers got their food, Fleur asked, "I do not believe we were properly introduced. I am Fleur Delacour."

She shook each of their hands and sat back down, another silence pouring over them.

"Listen, Harry." Katie said suddenly and fiercely. "The five of us have heard what was said in the Trophy Room, and both Krum and Fleur are wondering if it's true. Hell, I'm wondering if it's true. I mean, not much information was really given on any of the subjects . . ."

Harry sighed through his nose and put down his fork. Looking out at them all, he said, "Alright. All of it was true, down to the last drop."

Viktor sighed and clapped Harry one the shoulder softly. "I am sorry, my friend. Marriage contracts are by far the worst things someone can deal with."

Harry shrugged his hand off. "Well, at least it isn't with someone I hate."

Before Viktor could open his mouth for the question, Harry had said shortly, "No, I'm not telling you who it is yet."

Viktor sighed and knit his eyebrows together. "Can I start guessing?"

Harry shrugged.

Viktor smirked. "Is he cute?"

Harry snorted in amusement at the light banter, finished his dinner, and left. Where to, his friends could only guess.

Fleur glanced at the other non-Ravenclaws at her table. "Eez he seengle?"

Said non-Ravenclaws stared at the Frenchwoman in disbelief. "I'm kidding. I'm guessing zat he eez going to spend more time wiz his betrothed."

The others looked at each other, nodded in agreement, and turned their attention back to their respective plates.

-ooOoOoOoo-

Harry quickly reached his common room to grab a necessity: the Marauder's Map. After setting his trunk up on his bed (thankful that there were no others around) he opened it and took out the piece of parchment.

Once he'd grabbed it, he murmured to it, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

The map burst alive with ink, mapping out the castle and the many names within it. Harry quickly located his target and set out for the lake.

Unfortunately, a peaceful walk to find his betrothed was not in the near future. When he passed the library, a certain bushy-haired Gryffindor burst out and cornered him.

"Harry, I can't believe that you broke up with Angelina! And what was that all about in DADA? You should have told us!" She cried. Her arms were full of books, and Harry quickly grew angry.

"I think you mean 'Potter'. After all, you seem to have gravitated immediately towards the red git." Harry growled. Hermione's eyebrows knit together into a glare.

"Whatever! I can't believe you broke up with her just because of the Tournament! You broke her heart! What was the thing in DADA?" She sniffed, and Harry stepped forward.

"Listen right now, Hermione. Both Angelina and I agree that what we did was for the best."

"For the best of both of you, or just you?" Hermione sneered. Harry got in her face.

"Shut up! It's not just about me and Ann! There is one more person you've left out of your important equation!"

Hermione immediately perked, her thirst for knowledge now strong. "Who? What did you mean about your paper problem?"

Harry hissed back fiercely, "It's none of your business! Hermione, it's not just Ron I've been tolerating for the last three years. You have been told this many times, but you are a know-it-all. In good ways and bad. You've helped me out of some tight spots, and I appreciate that. But you DON'T realize that you were not the leader! You constantly criticized me and my schoolwork, when you should've just accepted that that's the way I was! Sure, I probably deserved it, but you must open your eyes and see that the git and I were doing you a favor, too. If it weren't for us, you'd just be the know-it-all, who sat in the back of the room, raising her hand at every question. So no, I won't tell you what it is, because it's none of your concern. Now you can go back to Ronald, who only has you as a friend for your notes and homework answers."

Hermione let out a strangled gasp and her eyes filled with tears, and she quickly scattered away. Harry mentally slapped himself. What was wrong with him? Hadn't he let out enough anger already?

Her breathed out slowly, turning away. He'd have to do some serious research on how to control his emotions and, more importantly, his mind.

-ooOoOoOoo-

The next morning, Harry got ready for his run, went downstairs and found that all original members of the group were attending, even Parvarti.

The actual run went without much interruptions and without words until near the end. They'd just finished their run and were heading towards the castle when they were met by McGonagall, who was coming from Hagrid's cabin.

The group all greeted her, and she raised an eyebrow at them. "May I ask as to what you six are doing?"

Harry responded, "We've just finished our morning run, ma'am. We've been doing this to keep in shape."

McGonagall nodded slowly. "Can you come and see me in my office after breakfast, Mr. Potter? I'd like to speak to you about making your morning runs into a formal club."

Harry quickly accepted, and they group continued on to the Great Hall. There, Parvarti branched off from them to join Lavender, and Harry went to Fleur again.

"Hello again, Ms. Delacour." Harry said. "Can I sit here?"

Fleur nodded absently; she was busy studying the group of five's attire. "Vat eez eet you are wearing?"

Harry glanced down at his running clothes as he and his friends sat down. "Er – my friends and I go running every morning, to keep in shape. This is what we wear."

Fleur grinned. "I am an athlete, back at Beauxbatons. We 'ave track and field. May I join you tomorrow?"

Harry frowned. "Unfortunately, I will not be here tomorrow, as I'll be at a Quidditch game."

Fleur blinked. "Which one are you going to watch?"

Harry grinned. "Who said anything about watching the game?"

Fleur frowned, and then grinned. "Ah! Good luck! Eez eet your first professional game?"

Harry nodded. "Also, regarding your wanting to join our runs, McGonagall is going to speak with me about making it into a club. I'll get back to you later in the day, maybe at lunch, okay?"

Fleur agreed, and the group spent the rest of their breakfast chatting about nothing.

When he'd finished, Harry went and changed into his jeans and t-shirt (it was Saturday, so no classes were in session), and proceeded to go to McGonagall's office.

When he'd reached the door, he knocked. A voice came from the inside: "Come in, Mr. Potter."

Harry pushed open the door to find several first years huddled around a desk, getting extra help on changing matchsticks into needles. They were in deep concentration, and Harry grinned at their enthusiasm.

McGonagall got his attention from her desk. "Mr. Potter, please, sit."

Harry did, and she began. "If you want, I can ask Madam Hootch to become the patron for a running club that you would run. Do you have any idea of the schedule?"

Harry thought about it. "I'd try and hold it every day, and if I can't, Viktor can take my place. Once he goes back to Durmstrang, Angelina and Katie can run it."

McGonagall nodded, scribbling things down on a parchment. "Yes . . . yes . . . alright! I'll get back to you for the arrangements before lunch today. I'll see you in the Great Hall."

Harry grinned and nodded. "Thanks, Professor."

The rest of the day went by in a flash. McGonagall got back to him and told him that Madam Hootch had accepted, and that the club would start tomorrow, and that they should start spreading the word and hanging up posters. So that's what they did; they went about the school, putting sticking charms on the backs of copied pieces of parchments that explained what the club was. The parchments also updated themselves, so they would change and say when the next practice was, or if anyone couldn't go or not. They only took a break from the poster hanging to eat lunch, where Fleur decided to join them.

After dinner, Harry was just getting up to leave dinner when a large tawny owl flew in from the windows, and dropped a letter on his lap. Harry cut it open and looked through it.

Dear Harry,

The international match vs the Netherlands will start at 1:30 PM tomorrow and go on for an estimated time of around 3 hours. Enclosed within this letter is a feather. That is the portkey to get to the training stadium, which is where the International Quidditch Board have decided tha game to be held. We will expect you to be at the fields by 9:30 to get warmed up with the squad.

Please be punctual,

Joe Jaffney, Captain of the U17 ENQT squad

Harry felt a pit of excitement and nervousness build up in his chest as he passed the letter to Viktor, who passed it to Angelina, and so on and so on.

Harry groaned. "Ugh. I'm so nervous."

"Don't be, Harry!" Katie exclaimed. "You're brilliant! While you're out there, we'll see of we can get ahold of a radio from Professor McGonagall so we can listen.

Harry shifted nervously before heading out of the Great Hall and up to his dormitory, eager to get a good night's sleep, but finding it hard from the adrenaline already pumping through his veins.

-ooOoOoOoo-

Harry was at the fields almost half an hour before he was due. He ended up at the same spot where he had first keyed, but instead of the brilliant sunshine at his last visit, it was a dreadfully gloomy day, although no rain was falling. However, Harry loved it; the coolness of the air made his bones shake with excitement.

He made his way towards the men's locker rooms, and found that no one was there yet. So he changed into his training robes, grabbed one of the Firebolts from a rack, and zoomed out to get a few warm up shots in.

After fifteen minutes, several players began snapping into appearance below him. Harry continued to practice, and after another fifteen minutes, a few other Chasers (one of which was Vang) went up and played a mock-match with him. Vang was grinning the whole time – apparently, she had taken a liking to him, in a mutual respect kind of way.

After five more minutes, Joe called them all down. They all flew down, and Joe told them to shut up.

"Alright, guys, first international match of the season! The problem is, it's undoubtedly going to rain today -" (he glared up at the sky) "- but other than that, there haven't been any problems. Now, here's the squad lineup -"

He handed out a piece of parchment to everyone, and Harry skimmed it over.

U17 ENQT Squad Line-Up

1st Team

Chasers: T. Karney | J. Jaffney | E. Vang

Beaters: P. Redmund | H. Betterson

Keeper: K. Rodney

Seeker: F. Paige

Substitutes

Chasers: H. J. Potter | L. Kaine

Beaters: J. Redmund | E. Yankov

Keepers: J. Ollivander | O. Walson

Seekers: W. Malgen | I. Bellon

Harry finished it, and Joe called (after grabbing their parchents), "Alright, you lot, in the air, we'll be doing the same thing we did earlier this week! Beaters, on the sides! Potter, stay here for a second."

Everyone mounted up and flew off, but Joe and Harry stayed behind. Joe took the parchment from Harry's hand and disposed of it, and then said, "Potter, if one of us Chasers get hurt in the game, you'll be coming on right away, understand?"

Harry nodded and Joe grinned. "Then let's get to it."

That day's practice was not nearly as tiring as the one earlier in the week. Obviously, Joe held back on making them work, just enough so that they were warmed up, but not too much so that they were drop-dead tired.

After almost two hours, Joe called them back and ordered them all into the side of the stadium, where they all ate an extremely light lunch, consisting of light sandwhiches. Joe also ordered them all to eat up, as they'd need their strength.

When they'd finished, Joe checked his watch (it was 12:45) and they went for a few laps around the field, and that's when the crowd began to trickle in. For the next fifteen minutes, almost 50,000 witches and wizards found their seats, taking bets and getting their Omnioculars ready. With every person, Harry's nervousness grew.

When the clock struck 1:15, Joe ordered them all into the side of the stadium. They ended up in a large chamber, split into two halves by a line. On the other side, Harry got the first glimpse of the Netherland squad. They were all obviously sixteen year olds, and very tall. Only one of them was a girl, and she had thick eyebrows that seemed to be set low one her face. In his own line, Harry was last.

They waited in there for fifteen minutes, until Harry heard a roar from outside the large double doors that led into the stadium. Harry shivered with nerves, and then he heard an announcer say in a muffled voice, "Welcome, English and Dutch witches and wizards, to the first under 17 international Quidditch game of the season!"

Right after, another man spoke in Dutch, evidently saying the same thing, like a strange distorted echo. Roars were met with the announcer's statement, and then he heard, "Please welcome the Dutch National team!"

The right side of the double doors burst open, and the opposing team mounted their brooms and flew out in a straight line, to the cheers of the crowd. The announcer called out all of their names with excitement laced in his voice.

After the crowd had calmed down, the announcer said, "And now please welcome the English National Squad – Paige! Rodney! Betterson! Redmund! Vang! Jaffney! Karney! Bellon! Malgen! Walson! Ollivander! Yankov! Redmund! Kaine! And, fourteen-year old, HARRY POTTER!"

As Harry flew out, the crowd cheered even louder. As soon as he passed the doors, rain streamed into his face, and he opened his mouth in a loud laugh of happiness. Looking out into the crowd as he soared into the line of his teammates, he noticed bright flashes of different newspaper companies blinking at him, and he could feel the Omnioculars zooming in on him.

"As the captains get organized, please welcome the International Quidditch Board!"

Harry flew after his teammates, into the side of the stadium, where a type of dugout awaited him. Harry sat on a long bench with the others as Joe said, "Alright, team, let's do our best! Just remember – no won game is worth an injury. It's rainy out there, but we'll have to deal with it. If you want off, we can sub you out just give me the signal. Alright? Alright! 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . ENGLAND!"

Harry and the substitutes stayed on the bench with several of his teammates as the others went out and onto the field.

-ooOoOoOoo-

Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts, the Great Hall was listening in on an amplified radio at the head table. The voice coming out of the radio was the same as the announcers at the game.

"The referee is ready – the captains shake hands – the Quaffle is released and the game begins! Joe Jaffney steals the Quaffle out from Ofan's hands, streaks up the field – passes out to Elizabeth Vang – she scores! 10 – 0, England!"

Cheers throughout the Great Hall, and at 20 seconds in Viktor cried out, "They should put Harry on! It could be 30 – 0 by now with him!"

-ooOoOoOoo-

The match was as close as one could get. After nearly an hour, the score was 90 – 110, to England. The Dutch proved an extremely tough opponent, their beaters superior to the English, whilst the English chasers easily streaked past the Dutch's. After another hour, the score was 230 – 210, the Netherlands beating them by a hair. The two seekers were totally blind in the rain. That's when it happened.

"Oh! England beats the bludger towards the star Dutch Chaser, Ofan – no! He deflects it easily, but drops the Quaffle in the process – Karney catches it, streaks up the field, and – OH!"

With terrifying acceleration, the bludger, looking like a blur, streaked up from beneath and collided into the Chaser's leg with devastating force. The Chaser cries out in pain, drops the Quaffle, and plunges to the ground, where the wards catch him and lower him gently.

"It looks like the referee has called a time-out, see how bad the damage is. Let's see his verdict -"

Harry waited with sweaty palms as the announcer fell silent, as did the crowd. Suddenly - "Word from the mediwizard says . . . a broken leg! Karney is out for the match! England has to rotate a sub on!"

Harry's heart froze with excitement and fear for his teammate. With bated breath, he waited as Jaffney flew up and spoke to the ref. After a few minutes, the ref flew to the announcer and told him something, and the announcer called out, "Karney is off, and Harry Potter is on!"

Harry freezes while Joe gestures for him. Shakily, Harry mounts his broom and flies off onto the field, the crowd going wild. Joe flies to him, soaked with rain and sweat.

"Harry, we're in a bad shape." Jaffney said. "I jarred my shooting wrist when I stole the ball from their chaser in the beginning of the game. I'll be relying on you to curve 'em in, alright?"

Harry nodded, and flew to his position , the crowd still cheering. Taking deep breaths, the sound around him turned into a quiet muffle. The only thing he could hear and feel was his own heartbeat as the Quaffle was thrown into play.

Vang immediately stole the ball and flew up the field. Harry desperately flew up his side, keeping level with her. She turned and looked, and chucked it across the hoops. The keeper was too low to intercept it, and Harry snatched the wet ball out of the air and positioned his fingers on it so that he could get the curve. Sensing something just behind him, Harry pulled up and flew in a backwards roll, a bludger flying against his air. As he came out of the roll, Harry accelerated and threw an under-handed curve to the far post.

-ooOoOoOoo-

"My God, Potter maneuvers up and over the bludger – throws the ball – it the keeper misses it – it curves and – POTTER SCORES, BOUNCING IN OFF THE METAL! What an amazing shot by the fourteen year old! His first professional goal is a stunner!"

Those in the Great Hall (mostly Gryffindors, who cared the most about Quidditch), cheered loud enough to break the windows.

-ooOoOoOoo-

That night, Harry's situation was forgotten. In the Gryffindor Common Room, all of his same house classmates were preparing the party of the century, as they were calling it. The Weasley twins quickly embraced this idea grabbing food from the kitchens and smuggling in as many sweets and entertaining pranking materials they could in from Hogsmeade.

Harry was, however, too exhausted to do anything. And although his international debut was the best he could ask for (a 530 – 325 win, Harry being the man of the match), the fact that he was most likely going to be forced to stay awake for the rest of the night lowered his mood considerably.

Before he'd even reached the Fat Lady, Angelina and Katie were already embracing him, talking excitedly about his performance. Harry just smiled weakly at them as Krum slapped him on the back.

Harry acknowledged their praise as humbly as he could, but could only get a few mumbled words out. Viktor immediately took this into his stride, putting his arm around his friend's shoulders and holding him up with a firm grip. Then, they entered into the common room.

He was met with cheers, but this inexplicably made his insides burn with a warm anger. Harry shrugged off Viktor's arm and gently tried to push his way through the crowd. The crowd immediately surrounded him and began to lift him up, onto their shoulders. Harry squirmed tiredly, and Viktor thankfully spoke out and took Harry off of them and set him down.

"Listen guys, Harry's really tired. He should probably get to bed." Viktor said, his announcement met with quiet. After this pause, a few people yelled out, "Come on, Harry, let's celebrate! You won the match for England!"

Harry grew very angry. "Why should you guys care? This morning, you all hated me for something I didn't do!"

There was silence. Angrily, Harry shoved his way to the stairs, turned, and spat out, "You guys can celebrate for the victory for England. But not for me."

-ooOoOoOoo-

Harry woke up that morning feeling very refreshed at letting out his anger. Although he knew it was most likely unhealthy, and he still wanted to find the solution to his anger problems, it did provide him with some relief. He was happy.

So happy, in fact, that when he bumped into a group of Slytherins on his way to lunch, he grinned at them. "Hey! Have any of you seen Daphne anywhere?"

They were too shocked to show scorn, and one of the first years said, "She's already in the Great Hall."

"Thanks, kid!" Harry said, and walked jauntily towards the Hall after giving him an ecstatic pat on the back.

The group of snakes glanced at each other. "What the bloody hell is wrong with Potter?" "I don't know, but it looks like he wants to see Daphne." "If he's going to see the Ice Queen, he won't stay happy for long."

Inside the Great Hall, Harry plopped himself down on the bench at the Slytherin table, right next to Daphne.

"What the bloody hell are you doing, Potter?" Daphne hissed at him. "Are you deranged?"

"Slightly! I really don't know what the hell is wrong with me though."

Tracey sat down across from Daphne. "Hey Daph. Wait!" She stood up roughly, banning her knees against the table. Harry dropped his spoon.

"Damnit, you made me drop my spoon." Harry grumbled cheerfully, picking it back up. As this happened, a house elf appeared and handed Harry his breakfast tray, which he set down and promptly began to eat.

"What the bloody hell are you doing, Potter?" Tracey hissed. "Are you deranged?"

Harry was slightly hurt. "You should get with Daphne and join the 'Let's Hate on Harry' club. Wait, no, that's been done before . . ."

"Potter, look this way." Tracey ordered as she leaned forward. Harry's head snapped up and he looked her in the eyes. Tracey narrowed her eyes, and then mumbled, "Yep. His eyes are glazed over. He's either drunk -"

"That was a one-time thing!" Harry said, offended for a split-second. "But I forgive you!"

"- or under the influence of some kind of potion."

Daphne raised an eyebrow and glanced at Harry's face. "You reckon Pepper-Up potion?"

"Nah, something stronger."

"Hey! Potter! What do you think you're doing?" Came the nasal voice of Draco Malfoy as he stormed down the Great Hall.

Harry waved back at him cheerfully, too happy to care about the attention he was receiving from every spectator. "Hey, Draco! And I swear I didn't do anything! I'm just talking to Tracey and my fiancé!"

Suddenly, Harry covered his mouth. "Whoops! That just happened."

Daphne's jaw was hanging open as she stared at Harry. "Oh my bloody hell, did you just say that out loud?"

Tracey burst out laughing as Daphne grabbed Harry and roughly dragged him out of the Great Hall, shoving past Viktor and Fleur. Harry waved at the two. "Hey guys!" He said.

As they left, Fleur and Viktor entered the Great Hall to a bustle of conversation. They went to the Ravenclaw table and Viktor asked, "Guys, what's going on?"

Angelina answered, "Something's wrong with Harry. He just sat at the Slytherin table, said Daphne was his fiancé, and then got dragged out by the girl."

Noise came from the Gryffindor table. Ron spoke up, "Serves the twat right!"

Listening in, Harry's friends heard Seamus say, "Wait, you did that?"

Ron nodded proudly. "Hit him with an overpowered Cheering Charm and then sprinkled him with Giddy Powder. He'll be like that for a while."

Viktor turned back to the Ravenclaw table. "Well, now we know who's going to get the shit kicked out of him when Harry snaps out of it."

-ooOoOoOoo-

In the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey promptly recognized the symptoms and said a quick 'finite incantatem' and fed him a couple potions to get rid of the Giddy Powder. Daphne sighed, resting her head in her hands. "Damn Potter."

Pomfrey sighed. "What did she do while he was under, dearest?"

Daphne was very close to the nurse, as she was interested in entering the medical field when she'd grow up. "He announced to the world about our forced engagement."

Pomfrey sighed, patting the dazed Harry on the head. Slowly, Harry's eyes were becoming clearer. After a shake of his head, Harry said, "Ah. How did I get here?"

"Someone hit you with a Cheering Charm and Giddy Powder while your were sleeping. When I find out who -"

At this time, Harry's group of friends all entered the Hospital Wing. There was silence as they all crowded the bed that Harry was sitting up in. After a few moments, Harry rubbed his eyes. "Who -?"

"Ron."

-ooOoOoOoo-

Harry stormed back into the Great Hall (breakfast was just ending), and put all of his power into a right hook into the side of Ron's face.

Ron was thrown off of the bench. Harry then stood up straight, stepped on Ron's hand, and continued walking until he reached the staff's table.

"I'll be serving my detention at 8:00, Professor McGonagall. I trust he'll serve his then, too."

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