When would be the best point in time for an over-powered Harry to return to his past? Right before the First Task! In this chapter, Harry gets Luna and Ron dates, confronts Snape, and has an inte...
"A ball?" Ron demanded, appalled. He had been stopped by Harry and taken aside just as they were going to go into dinner. Ron was more easily upset on an empty stomach, but he was also more open to compromise when he knew he was going to eat immediately after.
Harry nodded. "That's why they said to bring dress robes," he added.
"Ugly thing's more like a dress," Ron muttered.
"Look, Ron, these seem to be your choices about the robe," Harry said. "One, decide to wear the thing, ignore how it looks, and maybe you can carry it off. Two, don't go. Three, whinge and annoy everyone. Four, let me buy you new ones in Hogsmeade."
Ron struggled with himself. Harry then suggested, "Look, if you want, we can start a tab. No interest, and you agree to pay me back by, say, by ten years after we leave."
Ron really thought about that, instead of just reacting. "How about you charge me a little intrest if I don't pay you back in five years?"
"Done. I have some Gringotts drafts, and you can start an account at the Post Office for up to what? Three hundred Galleons?"
"Okay," Ron said. He was immature for his age in many ways, but money was actually not one of them. He, and Harry, knew he would pay his friend back no matter what.
"So, you're going and you're going to look good," Harry said. "The next question is, who will you take?"
"Oh, Merlin help me," Ron whimpered.
"Who do you like?" Harry asked.
"I don't know! Who likes me well enough to go with me?" Ron whined.
"Ginny's nutcase friend?"
"She's cute, she's nearly as smart as Hermione, and she's odd because she has a strong Second Sight," Harry said firmly. "If that would embarrass you, don't ask her. If it wouldn't, ask her, because I'm sure she'll say yes because she likes you. At this point, you could ask any Fourth or Third year girl who isn't actually seeing anyone, and you have a fair chance of them saying yes just because they want to go. But as soon as it's announced, which should be tomorrow or Friday, they'll be snapped up."
"Good point," Ron conceded.
"So, who do you want to dance with?"
"Dance!" Ron's voice broke as he said that.
"Yes, dance. That's what people do at a Ball," Harry retorted. "The first two dances will be formal, a slow waltz and then a faster one. Then whatever band they have will play whatever they want to, and we won't have formal steps."
Ron's eyes were twitching in terror and he was pale and sweaty.
"I suggest you think of a Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw," Harry said.
"If it doesn't go well, you don't have to see them in the common room all the time, and if it does go well, it will give you a reason to sneak around, which you like doing anyway."
"True," Ron admitted. "Suggestions? Besides Loony, I mean."
"I don't really know the Third years, other than the Gryffindors and Luna," Harry said. "Let's see, Hufflepuff. Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott, Eloise Midgen, Sally-Ann Perks, and Megan Jones."
"Not Midgen," Ron said instantly. "Perks and Jones are alright I suppose, but I don't really know them, they're so quiet in class."
"Shy might be good for you," Harry suggested.
Ron shrugged. "Maybe. Aren't Bones and Abbott sort of seeing Macmillan and Hopkins?"
"Could be," Harry agreed. "Ravenclaw. Lisa Turpin, Padma Patil, Marietta Edgecomb, Mandy Brocklehurst, Su Li, and Morag McDougal."
"Turpin and Goldstein are dating," Ron said. "Brocklehurst and McDougal are sort of like Perks and Jones, and Ginny said that Li is hanging about one of the Durmstrangers."
"That leaves Patil and Edgecomb," Harry said.
"The Patils can go with anyone they want," Ron said morosely, entertaining Harry. Ron frowned. "I don't really know Marietta. How do I ask someone I don't really know?"
"I'll make certain she's interested first," Harry said. Harry wondered about his friend's taste, but he decided that wasn't his problem.
"Thanks, Harry," Ron said. "I don't deserve a friend like you."
"Actually, you do," Harry retorted.
After dinner, Harry ambled by the Hufflepuff table, said hello to Cedric, and asked Justin Finch-Fletchley if he might have a word. Many of the Hufflepuffs glared at Harry, but Cedric called them on it. "You all heard what Potter, I mean Harry here, said to Davies."
"I didn't hear he actually took any oath," Zach Smith muttered.
"I don't owe one to you, Smith," Harry snapped. He turned to Cedric. "I do owe it to you. I am just a Champion participating in the Tournament. You are the true Hogwarts Champion."
Cedric stopped Harry from pulling his wand and glared at his Housemates. "You could have been a Hufflepuff, Harry."
Harry shook his head, "I have all the qualities but patience." He looked at Cedric. "If you want to come along, you're welcome." A thought occurred to Harry. "Actually, please come along, just in case Smith still thinks I'm the Heir of Slytherin."
Cedric smiled. "I trust you. Let's go."
"A Ball!" Justin wailed.
"You know, that's just what Ron said," Harry said to Cedric.
Cedric grinned, but merely asked, "Why tell us?"
"If you want to ask who I think you want to ask, don't you think you should get in before the announcement tomorrow?" Harry asked. "Just ask her, and say it's just in case there's some reason they had us buy dress robes."
"Do you think she'd buy that?" Cedric asked.
"You don't think most of the Ravenclaw girls have this sussed out?" Harry retorted.
"Good point," Cedric had to agree.
"I don't know what you've heard," Justin told Harry, "but I'm not gay."
Harry blinked. "What? NO! Hermione and I are a couple."
"Oh, then why tell me about the Ball?" Justin asked.
"If you didn't have anyone special in mind to ask, I was going to ask a favor," Harry answered.
"It's not Weasley, is it? Like I said, I'm NOT gay," Justin said. 'Dean Thomas, maybe,' he thought, 'but not Weasley.'
"No, it not a Weasley," Harry answered, ignoring what his passive Legilimency had picked up. "Do you know Luna Lovegood, in Ravenclaw?"
"She's the cute blonde Third year who dresses so oddly," Cedric told Justin. "She acts and sounds . . . eccentric, but my father thinks she might be something of a Seer."
Harry nodded, "She is. And she saw her mother die. That sent her father into his work. . . ."
"He publishes The Quibbler," Cedric told Justin. "I know you lot read my copy."
Harry nodded. "So we have a scarily brilliant girl who's also has really strong Second Sight, somewhat abandoned emotionally by her father after the death of her mother. She lives in a fantasy world for over two years, and then comes to Hogwarts, where she is picked on for being odd. She becomes even more eccentric as a response. . . ."
"They pick on Luna?" Cedric demanded, angry. Seeing the odd look Justin was giving him, Cedric explained, "They don't live too far from us, and my mother and her mother were second cousins. I was a Third year when her mother died."
"I talked with Davies about it, and he's helping. Cho agreed that the hazing had been going too far, and between the two of them, they should sort things out."
Justin frowned. "So you asking me if I'll date. . . ."
"My cute but eccentric friend, yes," Harry said, "but just to the Ball. After that, it's up to the two of you. She is incredibly honest and straightforward, and she can say the most outrageous things, which are often truths people don't want to hear." Harry smiled. "Do you know the story of the emperor's new clothes?"
Justin knew it, but he and Harry had to explain the reference to Cedric. "So," Justin said, "you're saying she'd be the one to point out that the emperor was naked?"
"No, I'm saying she say'd something like, 'Unless those clothes are made of spun demiguise fur, he's naked, and look! His willie is the size of a new-born's'," Harry confessed.
Justin laughed. "She sounds like fun. Alright, as a favor to you, I'll ask her."
"Don't hurt her," Harry and Cedric warned in stereo.
Justin laughed again. "I won't." He blushed when Harry leaned close and whispered, "If you're good, I'll put in a good word for you with Dean afterwards if you want."
"I probably don't want to know what you said," Cedric admitted. "So, give me some time with Harry, would you?"
"Right," Justin said.
"Hey Justin, do you know how to do a waltz?" Harry asked as Justin turned to leave.
"I do, why?"
"That's the opening dance. Could you teach some of us, after the announcement is made?"
Justin shrugged, "Sure." He left the two champions.
"Thanks again for telling me about the dragons," Cedric said. "Now tell me why."
"Did you know Karkaroff is a convicted Death Eater?" Harry asked. Cedric's eyes went wide. Harry nodded, and said, "He got a drastically reduced sentence, by turning over the names of other Death Eaters. Do you think he wasn't skulking about, looking for information for Krum, even if Krum might be honest?"
"And the Beauxbatons folk?"
"You don't take Care, do you?" Harry asked.
"Runes and Muggle Studies, why?"
"Hagrid's a friend of mine. I was looking for him and overheard the Headmaster and Hagrid talking, that's how I knew to sneak a look. So, Hagrid knew, and you should know he's a great friend but he can't keep a secret."
"I've heard that," Cedric admitted.
"I take it you haven't seen Hagrid making eyes at Madame Maxime?" Harry asked. "And her eyes fluttering back?" He imitated both.
"No, and I don't think I'd want to," Cedric pointed out.
"Fair enough," Harry conceded. "The point is, since Hagrid knew, Madame Maxime would find out, and we needn't speculate on how."
"No," Cedric agreed, "we don't. And if she knew, Fleur would find out."
"Exactly. Now," Harry said, "shall we go see Cho?"
"Why, are we triple dating or something?"
"Won't you want someone to distract Cho's shadow?" Harry asked.
"Edgecomb?" Cedric looked at Harry. "What are you up to?"
"Trying to get my friend Ron a date for the Ball," Harry confessed.
"'Harry's Dating Service'?" Cedric teased.
"I was going to call it 'Champion's Escort Service' actually," Harry replied archly.
"Harry, you're a very silly young man," Cedric said. "If my younger brother had lived, he would have been in your year, and I'd like to think he'd be a lot like you."
"Thanks," Harry said, vowing yet again to keep Cedric alive.
"Let's go get me and Ron a date."
Cho was thrilled to be asked to the Ball by Cedric. Marietta was less thrilled to be asked by proxy. Still, she was glad to have a date even before the announcement. She seemed a bit doubtful of Ron as a date, but perked up a bit at Harry's promise of dancing lessons for the first, formal dances. Harry decided that Marietta was cute enough when she was smiling and giggling with Cho, but otherwise was a rather dour girl. He also wondered if her reddish-gold hair would clash with Ron's more than Chudley Orange, but decided that he had been listening to Dean's theories on color too often.
Classes Thursday went well for Harry. The announcement had been made, and Ron had managed to stammer a request to Marietta after lunch, which she accepted. Justin had formally requested Luna to accompany him, in such a formal-yet-natural way that she had merely assented and extended her hand, which Justin had kissed and smiled over. With that out of the way, it was Friday, with Double Potions, that Harry was worried about, not for the usual reasons (putting up with Snape's abuse). Harry was worried about what he might have to do in order to stop that abuse.
Harry and Hermione came into Potions at the last minute, in order to prevent Draco from causing problems. Snape, as expected, was already setting up the lesson. "About time, Potter," he snarled. "Just because you think you're a celebrity, that does not give you the right to be late. That's a point from you and Granger."
Harry stopped and looked at Snape. As agreed, Hermione went on towards her seat. "Tempus," Harry said. The time clearly showed he was not late for class.
Snape glowered, and Harry felt a brush against his Occlumency shields. Harry sent the memory of writhing under the Cruciatus down the tendril Snape had sent. Even the memory of the Cruciatus was painful, and as it was unexpected, Snape winced in agony for several seconds.
"How dare you!" Snape declared when he had recovered. "I shall see you. . . ." Snape broke into a long scream of agony, as his Dark Mark flared. Harry had nearly the same power over it as the Dark Lord himself. Harry increased the pain until Snape passed out.
The rest of the class sat, stunned. Harry looked at them. "Oh dear," Harry said dispassionately, "the Professor seems to have passed out for no apparent reason. Perhaps one of you should go around to Madam Pomfrey."
After a moment's silence, Tracey Davis said, "Come on, Daphne." She and her friend left. Harry noticed they both slipped off the 'Potter Stinks' badges as they left.
Harry glared at the other Slytherins. Zabini and the other two semi-neutral girls quickly took off, and the remaining five (Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, and Bulstrode) left soon thereafter.
"Could I ask the rest of you to guard the door?" Harry asked mildly.
None of them took it as a suggestion, and they hustled out, even Ron and Hermione.
Harry went over and cast a spell on Snape to wake him up.
When Snape was finally aware of where he was, what had happened, and who was with him, he made the mistake of opening his mouth to threaten Harry. Harry wandlessly picked Snape up and bound him to the inner door of the potions lab.
"I'm going to tell you this once, Snape," Harry growled, his green eyes boring into Snape's mind, inspiring more fear than even the Dark Lord had usually produced. "My full powers have been unleashed. Your Master cannot win. Stand in my way, and I will kill you. Cut your loses now, and I might remove that Mark from your forearm before I kill your Master. Remember, stand in my way, and I will kill you. As for your little tantrums in class. . . ." Harry grabbed Snape's forearm so that his palm covered the Mark. Harry concentrated and pain again shot through Snape.
Harry opened his eyes. "Every time you insult me or Hermione, you will pass out in agony. Every time you misgrade us, each time you take a point or assign a detention, you will pass out in agony. If you try to expel either of us, you will die in agony. If you try to hurt either of us, you will die in greater agony. If you try and inform anyone of this, you will die almost instantly. Understand?"
"How. . . ?"
"How is none of your concern," Harry said. "The only thing you have to worry about now is understanding. Now, do you understand?"
Snape opened his mouth, but winced as the Mark twinged at this thoughts. He shut it again.
"I asked, do you understand?" Harry demanded in a snarl.
"Yes," Snape hissed.
Harry released the Potions Professor, who stayed collapsed on the floor, terrified, until Madam Pomfrey could arrive and give him a stimulant.
Harry had been avoiding any one-on-one conversations with 'Professor Moody', but he caught up with Harry and his friends soon after they had left the potions lab, and he had sent the other Gryffindors away. "Should I even ask what you did to old Snape?" Moody demanded.
"Probably not," Harry said. He had hoped to delay this a bit longer, because the more anxious Barty Crouch Junior was, the more likely he was to believe the story Harry was about to spin for him. Still, Harry decided he could go with his plan.
Moody looked at him, confused. This was not the naive teen of two weeks before.
"I've changed, haven't I?" Harry asked.
"You have," Moody agreed.
"Do you have about three hours?"
Moody's real eye blinked in surprise. "Come to my office at Two."
"Harry, may I have another word with you?"
"If it is quick, Headmaster," Harry answered.
Seeing they were alone, Dumbledore said, "Thank you for not killing Severus. He won't tell me what you said, or allow me to see it, but it does seem to be making him reconsider his priorities."
"His salvation is totally in his hands," Harry said. "I hope I don't need to tell you not to share any information I have with anyone, not even Professors McGonagall or Moody, let alone Professor Snape."
"I thought you rather liked and trusted both of them," Dumbledore said, disappointed.
"I like and trust Professor McGonagall, but she can't help with this. And I did trust Professor Moody, but trust me when I say he has his own agenda. I will tell him a few things, but not what I told you and Remus. It's important that we do not contaminate the timelines more than I already have."
"Very well, Harry."
"Now, lad, what do you want to tell me?" Moody asked, taking a swing from his flask.
Harry smiled grimly, and related much of the story of Tom Marvolo Riddle, leaving out the entire idea of Horcruxes. Then Harry laid out his childhood, even exaggerating the abuse, while trying not to whine or complain about it. Then Harry laid out the events of the previous three years, making the Headmaster look even more manipulating than he probably could have been.
"Now," Harry concluded well over an hour later, "can you tell me why I would ever trust Dumbledore, even if he's not as bad as Riddle?"
"No, no I can see why you wouldn't," Moody agreed. "Still, why tell me? I grant you, I didn't know much of this -- Riddle and I didn't overlap at Hogwarts."
"Do you think there could be a third Death Eater at Hogwarts?" Harry asked bluntly.
"Third?" Moody prevaricated.
"You know perfectly well that Karkaroff is a convicted Death Eater, and the Headmaster got Snape off," Harry retorted.
"I didn't know you knew," Moody admitted.
"So, who put my name in the Goblet?" Harry asked. "Skeeter hinted that Bagman was suspected of being a Death Eater, but I don't see that being likely. And if he was, would he have had the talent to hex the Goblet of Fire?" He didn't say when Skeeter had told him this.
"To tell the truth, I don't think he was a Death Eater, and I agree he wouldn't have had the power to hex the Goblet," Moody agreed.
"And would he have been alone with it long enough to have done it?"
"Probably not, but maybe," Moody hedged.
"So, if it was a Death Eater, it was Snape, Karkaroff, or someone I don't know about . . . or Dumbledore."
"Oh, I don't mean Dumbledore is a Death Eater, or even all that Dark, but wasn't it obvious from the way I explained things that he set me up to stop Voldemort from getting the Sorcerer's Stone? That he knew I would try and stop the memory of Tom Riddle and the bloody basilisk? He was training me by throwing me in to deep water and seeing if I could swim. Last year must have been a terrible disappointment."
"He hasn't told me the full story about what happened with Black," Moody hinted. Harry obliged and told him. "Well, at least I understand why Dumbledore told me not to hex Black if I saw him," Moody said at the end. "Would have been nice if he had given me the details."
"Does he ever?" Harry asked bitterly.
"No, no I suppose not," Moody agreed. "I congratulate you, Potter. You've made me suspicious of Albus Dumbledore, and I wouldn't have thought it possible. I can say, there are no known Death Eaters here, other than the two you've mentioned. I'm a suspicious man, and I have a difficult time believing Bagman was anything but an unwitting stooge."
"So if there is one, he or she's in disguise," Harry said. "Possible, but not likely."
"Is there something else, lad?" Moody asked, glad to get away from the idea of a third Death Eater in disguise. "If it's not about Miss Granger, I might be able to help."
"There is, and it's not about Hermione," Harry said, now ready to launch his tall tale.