Harry was not prepared for what happened. Really, he was completely caught off guard because it honestly hadn’t occurred to him.
Being selected as a Champion, that he had suspected. Being selected as a fourth champion was what had caught him off guard. The magic of the Goblet should have prevented that from happening as it was spelled to only ever choose three champions. To circumvent that, after centuries had passed from the original casting, would have taken a lot of advanced magic on the runes and spells from that time period.
That wasn’t something that the average wizard could do and definitely not something that would be easy to keep unnoticed. Whoever had done this was good, insanely so and they definitely wanted Harry in this Tournament enough not to leave anything to chance. They had even used a piece of parchment with his signature on it which was really impressive. How had they even gotten that?
′I told you our luck wasn’t good enough to keep us out of this,′ Gabriel grumbled in their mind.
‘Shut up,’ Harry grumbled back as he slowly made his way to the room where the others were. Dumbledore followed behind him, seemingly just as stunned as the rest of the hall.
Cedric was the first to notice them enter, blinking at Harry in concern. “Do they need us back in the Great Hall?”
“I wish,” Harry muttered. He didn’t bother to lower his voice enough that the others couldn’t hear. “The bloody Goblet is defective.”
Fleur Delacour and Victor Krum gave him confused looks, mirrored on the faces of their school heads. Harry was only mildly surprised to know that a half-giant like Madame Maxime was the Headmistress of a rival school. It really wasn’t all that important at the moment.
Cedric, however, easily put the pieces together from his past knowledge of Harry’s previous years of Hogwarts. It was common knowledge that if anything unusual happened in the school, Harry was usually in the thick of it. “Just what happened?” the Hufflepuff asked cautiously.
Harry gave him a dry look. He was about to reply when Dumbledore answered.
“Mr. Potter has become an unprecedented fourth champion.” Even the Headmaster looked resigned at this point. Likely because he was going to have to explain this to Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Molly Weasley. Harry didn’t envy him.
“Vhat?!” Fleur spoke up, indignant. “Zis leettle boy is a Champion?!”
Her Headmistress looked just as indignant. “How ’ould zis ’appen? Surely thee boy cannot compete! ’E is to ’oung!”
′Hah,′ Gabriel snorted. ‘We’re literally older than dirt! If anything, you’re the young one!’
Harry ignored the comment in favor of giving Cedric a long suffering look. The other teen winced as the argument began to rise in volume. Thankfully, Dumbledore managed to interrupt them all before it could dissolve into blows. ‘The Durmstrang Headmaster was practically foaming at the mouth by this point’ Harry grumbled internally.
“It does not matter how it happened. The fact of the matter is that Harry is now magically obligated to compete!” Dumbledore shouted. “All the same, it would be impossible for him to have done this. Unless you think that a mere fourth year student could tamper with the centuries old magic that enchants the Goblet with no one the wiser?”
There was silence. Harry carefully kept the fact that he could, in fact, tamper with the Goblet and keep from getting caught given enough will power and time to study the spells enchanting it. The teen didn’t think that would help his case any even if he added in the fact that it would take him more than a week to do. There were a lot of potential spells in his memories that could have been used and he wasn’t familiar enough with all the different ways that runes could be manipulated in this world.
′Best keep that to ourselves,′ Gabriel agreed.
After a few more minutes of arguing, Harry and the other champions were dismissed. While Fleur and Krum ignored him as they exited the room, Cedric sidled up next to him. “You really can’t catch a break can you?” the Hufflepuff asked.
Harry just looked at him. “You have no idea.”
Ron was waiting for him when Harry entered the dorm.
“You didn’t enter your name, did you?” his best friend asked quietly. “I know you weren’t interested in competing and you’ve been practically running away from any mention of the Tournament…”
Harry grimaced. “No, I didn’t. I was kinda hoping for a year without death threats. There’s becoming a consistent pattern to this and I don’t like it. Maybe we should just ban Halloween altogether.”
Ron cracked a small grin at him. “I don’t think Halloween is your problem mate. The Dementor attack wasn’t on Halloween.”
Harry shrugged. “I’m going to just blame Halloween.”
Ron laughed before becoming serious. “Seriously mate, what are you going to do? Can’t you just refuse to compete?”
“No. It’s magically binding.” Harry groaned and plopped down onto his own bed. He regretted ever getting up this morning. He could have had an extra day ignoring the Tournament completely if he had. This was becoming ridiculous. School wasn’t supposed to be this dangerous and stressful. He should know, he’d gone to Hogwarts before. What was it that had painted a giant target on his back, anyways?
“Mum’s going to be furious.” Ron shuddered.
“So are Sirius and Remus,” Harry added. “I can’t decide if I want to see that unholy alliance or not.”
Ron shuddered again. “I don’t want to be Dumbledore or the Ministry right now. Mum’s scary enough of her own.”
In the end, Harry didn’t get to see Molly, Sirius, and Remus tear both the Ministry and Dumbledore a new one. Those that did, however, were more than willing to relay the spectacle to him after the fact.
They were definitely not happy and were even less so when it became apparent that everyone was trying to pin the blame on Harry. While they couldn’t do anything about the student body, the three easily frightened the newspapers enough that they didn’t dare try to point their finger at Harry as the culprit.
That didn’t bother Harry all that much, if he was being honest. The press in the Wizarding World had never been reliable, in any life. So Harry contented himself with being labeled as the ‘unfortunate fourth champion forced to compete’ and having it be left at that. He didn’t want to consider the spectacle that would have occurred if he hadn’t had Sirius and Molly on his side.
The rest of the school didn’t buy it.
It was actually shocking, how quickly the school had banded together in their contempt for Harry. The Hufflepuffs were upset at having the spot light taken from Cedric, who actually did believe that Harry hadn’t put his own name in or that he could have messed with a magical artifact enough to be chosen no matter what. The Slytherins didn’t really need a reason to hate a Gryffindor. Harry didn’t even know what the Ravenclaws were upset over but they were just as upset as the rest of the school.
Only Gryffindor seemed to be on his side, though some of his house clearly thought that he had done it though they kept quiet on their beliefs. Most of his house wasn’t so deluded.
Fred and George had made it their personal mission to protect him from anything that the other houses sent his way. The rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team ran interference whenever the other houses tried to corner the raven haired teen in the corridors. Ron and Hermione were almost always by his side now, keeping an eye out of any potential dangers. Ginny was working with Colin and some others in a rather futile attempt to convince people to see reason.
Harry appreciated the thought, he really did. It was touching that everyone was going through so much trouble to help him out. At the same time, they were driving Harry crazy.
The only person in the school that didn’t seem to care one way or another about the Tournament or Harry’s involvement (whether to scorn him or defend him) was Luna and Harry found himself seeking the girl out just to get away from the crazy that was infecting the rest of the school.
′We’re not even three days in and this is already getting way out of control,′ Gabriel observed.
‘And we’ve got less than a month to figure out what to do for the first task,’ Harry added, groaning. The first task, according to what Harry had been told that first night, would be held on the 24th of November. Twenty-one days from now and Harry only had a vague idea of what he would be doing. Or more accurately, what would be involved: Dragons.
The second day, when it became common knowledge that he’d been chosen as a fourth champion, Charlie had sent him a frantic letter.
I don’t know how or why you’re in this but be careful. I haven’t been told much of the first task just that they needed a few nesting mother’s for it.
Whatever you do, be careful around them. Nesting mother’s are some of the most dangerous dragons there are, no matter the breed. Use those books I got you. I’m not really supposed to be telling you this much, so I can’t help you any from here on.
The people at the Ministry were trying to kill them, he had decided. It took at least five fully trained dragon handlers to subdue a regular dragon, let alone a nesting mother! If Harry had been going into this with only the knowledge of a regular fourth year student, he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in there, not by himself.
Which was likely the point, he thought angrily. Whoever had orchestrated this wanted Harry dead or was testing him and it didn’t take much to figure out who was behind it.
How Voldemort had gotten into the school to do this, Harry wasn’t sure. At the same time, Voldemort was the only wizard out there who benefitted from this. If Harry died, well that wouldn’t upset the wraith all that much and Harry would almost have preferred if this was only about his death.
Yet if Voldemort was really serious about trying to kill him, he could have used a much different method that would have required less effort than entering him into this Tournament. No, Voldemort wanted something from him, something that he could get by having Harry competing in this Tournament.
The worst part of it all was that Harry didn’t know what the wraith could gain from this. What was so important about the Tournament that he needed Harry to compete?
Neither Gabriel nor Harry knew nor did Sirius when Harry had used the mirror to fill in his godfather on their theory.
“Whatever it is that monster wants, we need to keep it from happening,” the man snarled once Harry had finished explaining.
“I agree.” Harry narrowed his eyes before rubbing his temples. “I doubt that he’s caught on to our knowledge of his Horcruxes. Whatever it is that he’s doing, it has nothing to do with our hunt. He’s got something up his sleeve and that rat is likely helping him.”
Sirius narrowed his eyes. “Are you sure? Peter isn’t all that bright or magically powerful, not like he’d need to be in order to mess with the Goblet like he did.”
Harry just shook his head. “I know. Someone else did that but whoever it is would have needed that rat’s knowledge of how to get inside to do it. That’s the only theory I can come up with that makes sense.”
Sirius sighed and rubbed his temples. “Pup, you’ve really stepped into it this time. Alright, you just worry about the tasks, Remus and I will start digging into the people who had access to the Goblet. In the meantime, keep an eye out for anyone who stands out. Don’t go anywhere alone. Archangel or not, keep your head down. You’re going to want every advantage you can get so try not to reveal all your cards in the first task.”
Harry grimaced but conceded that his godfather might have a point. They didn’t need Voldemort to know that Harry wasn’t exactly what he seemed to be and it was more than likely that someone in the castle was spying on him. “Alright, you know, I was kind of hoping that this would be a death threat free year.”
“With your luck?” Sirius snorted. “I would be surprised if this was the only thing you’ve got to deal with this year.”
Harry groaned. “Thanks Sirius.”
His godfather laughed. “Anytime, pup.”
Remus Lupin watched Sirius and Harry talk from a distance, his eyes glowing a dangerous amber.
When they had first found out that Harry had been chosen as a fourth champion, Sirius had blown a gasket. Remus had never seen his friend so angry before and the werewolf could honestly say that he wasn’t in any better of a state.
It didn’t matter that Harry was a powerful Archangel and likely knew more about the Wizarding World than even Dumbledore. He was still that little baby they had held and played with. That didn’t change when Harry had touched that tree in his first year nor had it changed when Remus had first started suspecting that something was off with him the year before. It definitely hadn’t changed when he had learned what Harry actually was.
Through it all, he was still Harry. And someone was trying to harm Harry.
That just didn’t sit well with him.
Everything in him screamed that his cub was in danger and to go remove the threat immediately. If not for the fact that Remus knew it wouldn’t do any good, he likely would have listened. It would do to remind the wizards just how bad an idea it was to mess with a werewolf’s cub. His lip curled up into a snarl just thinking about it.
He supposed he would just have to be content with the knowledge that he had reminded the Hogwarts staff of this fact.
Dumbledore had been smart in making sure that he wasn’t alone when he had called them to the school Halloween night. He probably should have made sure that they knew not to bring anyone along with them, though. Molly Weasley was a formidable woman to have on your side and not someone you wanted against you.
Combined with Sirius, Remus hadn’t even needed to say anything after the two were done yelling at the Headmaster and staff of Hogwarts. Instead, he took to watching the visiting staff from the other schools. Madame Maxime looked almost amused by Dumbledore’s plight, as well as approving. The French had always been strict about child safety.
Karkaroff, however, was sneering and disdainful and had made the mistake of trying to blame Harry for what had happened. That was what had really set the werewolf off.
Remus had made it very clear that if any of them even so much as thought about blaming a fourteen year old boy for what was clearly the work of a skilled, fully trained wizard, there wouldn’t be enough pieces of them left to find, let alone identify a body with. It had been satisfying to see how quickly everyone had paled.
Sirius had later informed him that Remus had nearly gone full on werewolf at them all, complete with sharp teeth, glowing eyes, and claws. He hadn’t been all that surprised, honestly. It was rare that he and Mooney really agreed on anything enough to do that but they certainly agreed on the matter that was their cub.
Sirius turned to him after finishing the conversation with Harry. “Looks like we’ve got some hunting to do,” the man grinned. It wasn’t a nice grin, either. “What do you say we hunt down some scum and teach them the…error of their ways?”
Remus flashed his friend a fanged grin, his eyes still a bright amber that spoke of the danger lying just beneath his skin. “What are we waiting for?”
Oh yes, whoever this tosser was had made one hell of a mistake.