Forced to compete in the Triwizard Tournament against his will, Harry faces things which no fourteen year old wizard should. A loss of innocence, coupled with betrayal, causes Harry to either give ...
I do not own, or make any claim to, Harry Potter. I am just happy to play in the wonderful world that JK Rowling created.
Summary: Starts during the Triwizard Tournament in Harry’s 4th year. Harry comes to the realization that Voldemort is not going to stop coming after him. With the school turning on him, Harry feels lost and betrayed. Deciding that he has to train for the future Harry throws himself into his schoolwork and tournament preparation.
Chapter 1: Burdens of a troubled soul.
It was a cool Saturday morning and there was a mist drifting across the great lake in the gentle breeze. Sunlight was beginning to stream out over the castle bathing the grounds in warm amber light.
Underneath a large tree next to the lake a lone figure sat on the otherwise deserted grounds. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he never noticed the young woman walking down from the castle heading straight for him. Without a word, the second figure sat down on the ground next to the young man and handed over a bacon sandwich wrapped in a napkin that she pulled out of her shoulder bag.
“Thanks, Hermione.” Harry croaked as he began to eat his sandwich. Side by side in silence, Harry and Hermione sat and watched the sunrise over the castle.
In a voice so low Hermione had to strain to hear it over the sounds of the awakening forest, Harry whispered, “I’m so scared…I don’t think I’m ready for this.”
Hermione could hear the fear in his voice and it shook her composure slightly. “Harry…” she began, only to be interrupted before she could continue speaking.
“Crouch Sr. says that my name coming out of the Goblet of Fire is a magically binding contract even though I didn’t enter myself.” Harry whispered while his eyes never strayed from the mist drifting across the Great Lake. Letting out a sigh, he continued, “They all thought that I had gone back to Gryffindor tower after they dismissed me but I stayed in the hallway to hear what was going on instead.
He paused momentarily to regain his composure before continuing in a venomous tone, “Snape suggested that they use me to draw out the person that put my name into the Goblet of Fire and Dumbledore agreed. They are using me for bait, Hermione.”
“Bait!” Harry hissed maliciously before standing up abruptly and walking over to the water’s edge, stuffing his hands into his robe pockets in frustration as he went. “They aren’t even going to give me any help, and I know that Madam Maxine and Headmaster Karkaroff are going to do everything that they can to help their champions win the tournament.”
Hermione got up and wrapped Harry in a hug from behind. He stiffened for a brief moment with the initial contact but did not move away, so she buried her cheek against his shoulder and whispered, “You can do this Harry. I’ll do everything I can to help you get through this.” Then she felt it, Harry’s breath caught in his chest and she knew that he was crying silently. Not knowing what else to do, she held him tighter until he was finished.
After a few moments, Harry gently tugged Hermione’s hands apart and turned into the embrace so that they were facing each other. Pulling her into his chest, he returned the hug and whispered in her ear, “Thanks. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“I’ll always be there to help you Harry, you’re my best friend.” Hermione stated while pulling back to look at his face. “Besides, think of all of the new spells we are going to learn while preparing you for the tournament. We should write to Sirius and let him know what is going on. Do you think that he would give us some ideas to help with the tasks?”
“That’s a good idea. Perhaps we can ask Professor Lupin to help too. He is the one that taught me the Patronus Charm last year and he was definitely our best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.” Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand and said, “Let’s go visit Hedwig and send a couple of letters out.” while tugging her back towards the castle.
Hermione was a bit surprised when Harry didn’t let go of her hand as they walked back up to the castle. She knew he rarely initiated contact with anyone. Then it hit her like a well-placed Impediment Jinx and she stopped in her tracks. ‘He isn’t used to physical contact!’ she realized.
Harry came to a quick stop because they were still holding hands. Confused, he turned to look at her and the expression that he saw on her face was murderous. Growing concerned, he quickly pulled out his wand and looked around at their surroundings. They were next to Greenhouse Seven but there was no one in sight. Softly, he asked, “What’s wrong, Hermione? Are you okay?”
Her only response was to grab his hand and began dragging him towards the greenhouse. In her anger the door to the greenhouse burst open before they got within five feet of it and she strode in without a second glance. Once Harry was inside, she turned and cast a locking charm on the door before sitting down on one of the benches and pulling Harry with her.
After taking a few calming breaths, Hermione slowly reached out and took Harry’s hands in hers while looking into his eyes before asking, “Harry, why did you stiffen first when I hugged you? When was the last time that you had a hug?”
This was not what Harry was expecting when Hermione dragged him into the greenhouse in a towering rage. As such, in his confusion he answered with complete honesty, “I’m not used to being touched at all, Hermione. The last hug that I had before today was the one from you at the end of last year when we got off the train. My aunt never touches me unless it’s to grab my arm for something that she thinks I did wrong.” Immediately after completing his sentence, Harry realized what he had said and his eyes went wide with fear before he hung his head down in shame.
“Harry, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Hermione whispered reassuringly. “That’s called child neglect and your aunt and uncle are guilty, not you. Have you ever told anyone about any of this before?”
Harry still had not looked up but when he spoke the tears, pain, and bitterness in his voice was plainly audible, “Dumbledore knows. The address on my first letter from Hogwarts was to the cupboard under the stairs. I never brought it up before because I didn’t think that he would do anything to help me with the Dursleys.” With those simple words, the floodgates opened and Harry began telling Hermione everything that had ever happened to him in his time at his relatives. He held nothing back when he told her about starving, the mental and physical abuse, a lack of clothes that fit properly, being the Dursley’s house-elf, and how he only got his own bedroom after coming to Hogwarts. When Harry was finished it was like a great weight had been lifted that he was not aware he had been carrying around.
Hermione was crying openly while holding his hands and doing nothing to hide her tears. Drying her tears, she said sincerely, “Harry, I think that we should talk to my parents and maybe a solicitor too. I know you don’t want to, but I think it would really help.”
“You’re right, Hermione. I just don’t like talking about any of that stuff. No one has ever helped me with any of this before. I don’t want to live with the Dursleys anymore but I don’t want to go to the Weasleys or an orphanage either.” In a tiny voice, he asked, ”What am I going to do?” while wringing his hands nervously.
“We,” Hermione emphasized clearly, “are going to figure this out together. I’ll write to my parents about the situation with your relatives to see if they have some ideas that could help you out. However, the tournament is going to be a priority right now.”
After taking a few minutes to compose themselves, Hermione opened her bag and began pulling out quills and parchment so they could write letters to Sirius, Remus, and her parents. Harry put everything he could remember about Dumbledore and Snape's conversation about the tournament and how only Hermione seemed to believe that he didn’t put his name in the Goblet of Fire. He finished his letter by asking Sirius and Remus if they knew of a quicker way to communicate with each other because owl post took too long. Hermione had also completed her letter, sealed it, and handed it to Harry to mail.
When they reached the tower, Harry called down Hedwig and told her to wait with Hermione’s parents for a reply. After watching his snowy owl disappear over the horizon, Harry sighed and looked over at Hermione and said, “I guess we should head back to the tower so I can get my stuff and face the music.”
“Okay. Do you want to go to the library afterwards or should we look for a place to practice spells?” Hermione said understandingly.
“I think that I’d rather look around the castle and try to find a place to practice. My mind is too cluttered to study right now.”
As Hermione started to move towards the door of the Owlry, Harry reached out a hand, tentatively touched her shoulder, and gently turned her to face him while saying warmly, “Thank you.”
No more words were necessary, Hermione could see the depth of thanks in Harry’s emerald eyes. “You’re welcome.” she replied with a smile before heading towards the door.
Harry pulled the door open for her and they headed towards Gryffindor Tower, each of them thinking of the things that they needed to do to make sure he survived the tournament.
Stepping through the portrait into the common room, Harry was unprepared for the sight that greeted him. Neville was red in the face with his fists clenched by his side standing over the crumpled form of Ron Weasley. “Don’t you ever say that about Harry again, Ron! You know he hates the attention. He said that he didn’t put his name in that stupid goblet and I believe him.” he half shouted at the red headed boy on the floor.
“Thanks, Neville.” Harry said while stepping fully into the common room. Neither of them had noticed Harry and Hermione enter through the portrait. “It means a lot to me that you believe I didn’t enter the tournament.”
“You’re welcome, Harry. Hello, Hermione.” Neville said as he turned to face them with a sheepish grin on his face.
“Is there something that you want to say to me?” Harry asked Ron.
Without saying a word, Ron got up and walked past them out of the portrait hole.
“I take it that he is upset that my name came out of the Goblet and he still thinks that I entered the tournament on my own?” Harry asked Neville.
Neville paused for a moment in thought and then answered, “Yeah, that about sums it up. He isn’t the only one that thinks that you entered on your own but he is the only one in Gryffindor that’s mad at you for being a champion.”
“What a load of rubbish! If he could get past his own jealousy maybe he would see that someone put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire for a reason.” Hermione fumed as she flopped down into her favorite seat by the fire. Turning to Harry, she said softly, “Don’t worry Harry, he’ll come around eventually when he realizes that he was wrong and things will go back to the way that they were before.” As she said the last part, she hung her head in sorrow.
Harry was watching Hermione from the corner of his eye and noticed that she had slumped down after she finished speaking. Realizing that he hadn’t been a good friend to Hermione at all when it came to the relationship between her and Ron, he said softly, “Hey,” while reaching over to touch Hermione’s arm, “I’m sorry. I should have stood up to him before for how he treats you. Things won’t be going back to the way they were, ever. I told you that you are my best friend and it’s about time I started acting that way.”
“Oh, Harry!” Hermione sobbed as she threw herself into his arms.
Neville silently waved goodbye to Harry and headed up to their room to give them some privacy.
Chuckling a little, Harry said, “It’s really been an emotional day hasn’t it?” He broke out into a full laugh as Hermione started giggling into his chest. Once their laughter had died down, Harry said, “You know, I think I feel better about all of this now that you know everything I have gone through. It doesn’t seem like such a burden anymore.”
“I’m glad I could help.” She replied before stating, “Talking about things makes you put them into perspective and allows you to move on.” Hermione stood up from the sofa and pulled Harry to his feet while saying, “Now hurry up and get your stuff so we can find a place to practice.”
Grinning, Harry walked up the steps to his dorm room and retrieved the Marauders Map and his Invisibility Cloak to aid them in their search.