Harry confronts Snape before and after the First Task. Draco and the others face their dragons.
She-Who-Must-Be-Named and her minions own the Potterverse. I just rearrange parts of it for fun.
As Harry passed by Snape, he muttered, “You’re a dead man, Snivellus.” Snape, to Harry’s surprise, had managed to contain himself, both in class and out until now. He had hoped the greasy-git had learned his lesson.
Snape merely smirked and followed Harry to the meeting of the champions and their schools. “Why blame me?” Snape asked mildly to Harry as he caught up to him. He softly added, “Why, I am no more responsible for your name being entered than you are for Draco’s.” When Harry scowled, Snape merely offered, “Shall we call this a draw, with neither of us making further reference to any of this? I am sure your friend Shadow will help you get through this, if you need any assistance.” Harry swallowed his response, and merely nodded as they entered the room, with a confused Draco following.
“What are these leetle boys doing here?” Fleur demanded.
Harry ignored her and rounded on the three heads of the Schools and Bagman. “I don’t know about Malfoy, but I want no part in this farce.”
“Scared, Potter?” Draco sneered.
“No, but unlike you, I’m not stupid, either,” Harry retorted.
“Someone, or more likely two people or groups, took your legitimate signatures and added them to the Goblet,” Dumbledore said sadly. “It must have been Confounded in order for four names to come out. Alas, the Tournament must go on as scheduled.”
Both Krum and Fleur, as well as the heads of their schools, smiled. How much competition could these youngsters be?
Dumbledore was not nearly as happy. He would be the one who would have to explain to the massed international press what had happened. He hoped this would not be the straw that broke the back of his political career.
Harry’s oath that he had not willingly entered showed him in a good light. Harry also issued a simple statement to the international press gathered outside the gates which also garnered him a fair amount of sympathy. Since Harry had his statement out early, the champions from the other two schools wisely made statements which earned them some credit as well.
Draco Malfoy, however, was busy boasting – about the superiority of his ‘pure blood’ and his family, and that of Hogwarts (or at least Slytherin) over any other educational institution. “A fourth year Slytherin champion is worth at least as much as any seventh year from an inferior school,” was just one reported boast.
It tempted Harry to throw the tournament to Krum.
Instead, Harry used the fact that his oath had led nearly all the students in three of the Houses not to lay any blame on him, and they were willing to say so whenever they encountered members of the press or the others gathered around the area. (The press were not given open access to Hogwarts, nor the students allowed off the grounds, but there was some give-and-take at the ward boundaries.) Most students had been following his lead in the anti-Puree protests in any event. With just a little additional manipulation and subtle hints, the international press was soon following the ideas put across by most of the students – that Harry was the symbol of merit while Malfoy the symbol of flagrant favoritism (some leaked stories about Snape’s indulgence of Malfoy and his other favored Slytherins as opposed to his treatment of Harry, and the story of the broom ‘donation’ two years before, cemented reputations of Malfoy, Snape, and Slytherins in general to the outside world), with the other two champions the symbols of stagnant tradition to all but their national press corps.
Why Harry should be such a symbol, however, was never explained to the press, but they did not question the representation of ‘the-Boy-Who-Lived’. Some periodicals, such as ‘The Daily Prophet’ and similar media outlets, saw this idea of merit as a bad thing, but all quickly picked up on the general idea. Malfoy’s show of arrogance at the wand weighing, however, made even the traditionalist ‘Prophet’ withdraw its support for him, although it remained fairly hostile to Harry.
Without Crouch to give him the hint, Hagrid did not clue Harry in on the dragons. Harry verified their presence on his own. He also did a little scouting, and learned that only Dumbledore and Hagrid apparently knew of the dragons amongst the Hogwarts staff, at least through the morning the day before the First Task, when Madam Pomfrey was informed so she could prepare. Harry hoped that Draco would stay uninformed.
Draco was putting on a good act. In reality, he was a little worried about what the First Task might be. The fact that much of his own House only supported him in public was also worrisome. Within the confines of Slytherin, most were threatening him bodily harm, or worse, if he embarrassed himself, and therefore them.
The idea that they should help Draco Malfoy in the First Task no more entered their minds than the idea that Draco should ask for help entered his. Draco had quickly decided that if there was a task he could not easily handle, Snape or some family retainer would alert him. What Draco had not reckoned with was the fact that most of his father’s ‘followers’ were busy covering themselves from any association with the Malfoy family, as Lucius had, after all, been killed while causing mayhem and wearing the robes and mask of a Death Eater.
Malfoy had finally broken down and asked Snape for help a few evenings before the First Task. Snape had been forced to confess that he did not know what the Task was – that Dumbledore had kept the information from him. (Snape did not know Dumbledore had done so only because of a visit from ‘Shadow’. In reality, when Snape found out shortly after Draco had asked for help, he would decide that at this late point giving Draco the information would only lead to his panicking.)
It was therefore a somewhat troubled Draco Malfoy who followed Harry out to the tent that had been set up for the champions. Fleur looked at the two Hogwarts contestants and leaned over towards Viktor. "One little boy is ready, and one has no idea," she commented in French.
"Well, of course none of us really do," Viktor teased in the same language. He glanced at Draco and Harry. "But you are right. Blond braggart is idiot."
"You two look ready," Harry told the foreign pair.
"Of course . . . well, as ready as we can be," Fleur responded.
"How bad can it be?" Draco asked, trying to be confident.
"Do you think Norbert got you ready for this?" Harry asked, pretending to be surprised.
"Norbert?"It took Draco a second to remember that was what that oaf Hagrid had called the stupid little dragon back in their first year. "What does that bloody animal have to do with this?"
"Didn't Snape tell you?" Harry asked, a little more surprised that in fact the Potions Master had either actually not found out, or had refrained from telling Malfoy, despite his warning to the Headmaster.
"What?" Draco asked in return.
"Norbert?" Fleur asked.
"Norbert was a baby I dealt with a few years ago. I know Malfoy saw him, at least."
Draco paled and his eyes went wide as this information tried to sink into his brain.
The International Sports Commissioner, from Thailand, came into the tent. The International had taken over after Crouch’s disgrace. "Gather around," she ordered. "The task, as you are not supposed to know, is to gather a golden egg from a clutching dragon. Who wishes to pick one first? First the dragon from this bag, and then the turn from this one."
Harry gestured to Fleur, and Krum shrugged his shoulders. She reached in and came out with the Swedish Short-Snout, and she would be going third. Harry gestured to Krum, who came up with the Chinese Fireball, and would go second. Since Draco was still too stunned to move, Harry shrugged and went next, choosing the Welsh Green and fourth.
The judge reached into the first bag and handed Draco the model of the Hungarian Horntail. "You will go first, Mister Malfoy. Come along." She had to grab Draco's elbow and pull. "A referee will come for each of you when it's your turn." She dragging the stumbling Draco from the tent.
"They won't let the dragon eat him, will they?" Fleur asked, merely curious.
"Eat? Probably not," Krum answered, unconcerned. "Roast? Yes." Harry hid his smile well.
Draco Malfoy stood up straight and walked towards the dragon, his mind a complete blank. He didn't know what he was doing, or even exactly where he was going. Suddenly, the huge Hungarian Horntail rose on her hind legs, and let out a roar mixed with fire that reminded those who knew the Muggle reference of Godzilla.
Malfoy stopped, very clearly shit his shorts, and passed out. After he didn't move for nearly three minutes, the International Sports Commissioner signaled and the handlers started to exchange the dragons while Malfoy was taken to be cleaned up.
To the surprise of everyone, Karkaroff started off the voting by giving Draco a 2.
"Two?" Madam Maxime asked. “I grant you one, as he at least did not hesitate at first.”
Karkaroff shrugged and said, "True. But look around you. They are here for entertainment. I, at least, was entertained."
Maxime and the Thai judge each gave Draco a point for at least trying to stand up to a fully grown, angry dragon, while Dumbledore gave him a 2 as well.
When Harry finally came out, the crowd was restless. Krum had fumbled, and his dragon had crushed some of her eggs. Fleur had transfigured numerous objects into animate ones to distract her dragon, while also trying to charm it. However, while she had gotten the egg, she had just missed the time limit.
Harry simply walked out and towards the dragon. Just as she had started to rear up, Harry hit her with a charm from the Elder Wand that cast a blue light. The dragon blinked, and then just laid down and shut its eyes. Harry cancelled the beam as he walked over, using a bit of slight-of-hand to change wands to his official one. He picked up the egg and walked away, all in under three minutes. Harry earned 39 points, Viktor 25, Fleur 18, and Draco, of course, 6.
Harry refused to say what the charm was, but whatever it was, it kept the dragon asleep for nearly two hours.
Dumbledore wondered for a moment if it had been Harry who had taken the Elder Wand, but then dismissed the idea. He could believe an unknown ‘Shadow’ might best him once, but not a schoolboy he had kept ignorant.
Harry was a bit disappointed in the results of the First Task. He had been about to cast a series of spells which would have both made Draco very attractive to the dragon (it would have put the dragon in heat as well as making Malfoy give off the pheromones to drive the dragon wild) as well as set the dragon free. However, Harry had decided he really wanted to beat Malofy out in the open. That, he felt, would have been an appropriate way to deal with Draco Malfoy, although he still longed to kill the annoying Ferret. However, when Draco had collapsed (he was claiming to have been knocked out by ‘dragon’s breath’), Harry tried to argue to himself that that was satisfaction enough.
The part of Harry from the other dimension was unhappy over ‘going soft.’ Overall, however, Harry was content with Malfoy’s humiliation. Plus, of course, there were two more tasks to go.
Harry was surprised that the merpeople’s song was slightly different this time. It appeared as if going into the lake was only a part of the next task, and that he would have to recover a clue there to complete that task. Still, he reasoned, at least it seemed as if Hermione should be safe.
Draco, of course, was highly embarrassed. Few believed his claim that the dragon's breath had knocked him out, although a few were willing to concede the possibility. He had been told that the egg had a clue to their next task. Since he had failed to secure his egg, the clue would be revealed to him two weeks before the next task, which would be in late February. Dumbledore also felt it necessary to warn Draco that attempting to get at another champion’s egg would have dire consequences, including permanent erectile dysfunction.
Once Dumbledore had explained the term, Draco vowed not to attempt to get any of the eggs.
Severus Snape was suddenly awake.
It took the Potions Master only a few seconds to realize that, although awake, he was helpless, certainly under a hex rather than a potion.
A few worried seconds later, Snape felt himself being sat up and his eyes opened. In the shadows was a figure, while Potter was glaring at him from a few inches away.
Snape then felt his head, throat, and chest released. “I’m surprised it’s taken you so long to visit,” he managed to say.
“I was curious if you would have the sense to not help Malfoy,” Harry retorted. “I was pleasantly surprised that you did not.”
“No,” Snape confessed, “I did not help Draco, but only because I became aware of the nature of the First Task Saturday night.”
“Yes,” Snape admitted, which made him realize he must have been dosed with some sort of truth potion. “He was excited about the dragons that night in the staff room. But since I didn’t have a good strategy for Draco, I decided to let him go to the Task unaware, hoping he would react as he did, and so survive.”
“I see,” Harry mused. “Why do you hold his life so dear?”
“I care for all the students. . . .”
Harry snorted, and said, “I would have a difficult time believing that, even if you ended the sentence by adding, ‘all the students in Slytherin’.”
“Well, I care enough not to want them, or even you, dead,” Snape retorted, “and yes, that is especially true of my Slytherins. As for Draco, well, his mother was special to me when we were in school, and she appealed to me for help. Now tell me,” Snape went on, “why put Draco’s name in the Cup?”
A voice came from the shadows, “I would have preferred he had joined Parkinson’s little performance, but Harry talked me out of it.”
“Shadow, I believe?” Snape hazarded.
“Crouch would have entered me,” Harry responded, “and you know perfectly well the Head Manipulator wouldn’t have lifted a finger to keep me away from confronting Voldemort yet again.”
“I don’t know that for certain,” Snape retorted, “but given his past record I can see why you would believe so.”
“And since Draco claims he is far and away the best of our class, if I could be expected to face these tasks, why shouldn’t he?”
“Draco is a very competent student for his age, but he isn’t special, nor does he have your luck,” Snape replied.
“But does he know that?” Harry demanded.
“No,” Snape admitted, “he does not. Thank you for not causing him any direct harm, but what can I do to prevent you from getting him injured in the other two contests?”
“I would consider that only if I knew for certain he wouldn’t get help from anyone else,” Harry replied.
“I’ll think about how to word an oath to that effect,” Snape answered, to Harry’s surprise. “Care to tell me where the Dark Lord is, if he is still alive?” When Harry said nothing, Snape added, “My guess is he is in suspended animation, under my Draught of the Living Death, in the Chamber of Secrets.”
“I was surprised it actually worked on that form of his,” Harry confessed.
“I did have to add an extra eighth of a drop of basilisk venom to the solution to make it actually work,” said the voice from the shadows.
That variation made Snape swallow nervously. It would have killed anyone else. “Why is he still alive?”
“You know about his Horcruxes?” Harry asked.
“The Headmaster told me about them in general,” Snape said. “I take it they aren’t all destroyed yet?”
“One remains,” the voice said. “I made the mistake of relying on Dumbledore to take care of it. He has failed. Tell him he has until the spring equinox to succeed.”
“Rest well, Professor,” Harry added, as Snape was lowered back onto the bed, falling asleep as he did so. He then cancelled the spells which created ‘Shadow’, as well as the ventriloquist spell which allowed Harry to speak as his alter ego.
Snape was very pleased that he actually woke up the next morning.
He worked very hard on an oath, and called Potter to his office that evening. Harry was pleasantly surprised by the thoroughness of the oath offered, which he accepted.
“Other than helping Malfoy, why?” Harry asked before leaving.
“Your father, at least through the end of his sixth year, would have been trying to force me into situations where my Legilimency was engaged,” Snape replied. “You have not, even once, made even the slightest move to do so. However much you look like your father, I must admit if anything you act a bit more like your mother.”
“I have no idea how much I act like either, since Voldemort, the Headmaster, Pettigrew, and you robbed me of the chance to know them, and yes, I know it was you who overheard part of the Prophecy and gave it to Voldemort.”
Snape swallowed nervously.
“I also know you begged your Dark Lord for my mother, so you could enslave her. . . .”
“I wanted to save her!”
“You would still have had to enslave her, and she would have had to endure not only that, but knowing she lived not only because of her husband’s death, but because she had willingly given up her child to be killed. Now, since you claim to know my mother, could she have mentally and emotionally survived having done that?”
“No,” Snape whispered. “No, she might have physically survived, but she, the Lily I knew and cared for, would probably not have survived as a person.”
“Look me in the eye, Snape!”
Surprised, Snape did just that, and then howled at the instant of severe pain.
“There, I have changed Odin’s Revenge. Use active mind magic on me, and you’ll still pay the price. Truly passive Legilimency will now only give you a headache worse than what you’re suffering now.”
Snape could only hold his head as he nodded his understanding, and say, “Ow!”
Snape was so pleased, once his headache was gone, that he never noticed that while the oath exchanged protected Draco during the performance of a Task, other than the part of the Oath where Harry promised not to kill Draco unless Draco attacked him during a Task or after the Tournament, it did not do so at any other time.
Nor did Snape notice that nothing in the oath exchange in any way protected Snape himself.