Part One of Taking Out the Competition: A Triwizard Mini-Series
What Would Slytherin Harry Do: Victimizing Viktor
Disclaimer: Not Mine. No Profit. No Shit.
by Big D
Part One of Taking Out the Competition: A Triwizard Mini-Series
(Before the First Task)
"Go avay, Potter," Krum muttered in his deep Slavic accent.
"What'cha doin'," Harry asked brightly, ignoring him.
"Reading," he grunted.
"What kind of book?"
Krum closed his eyes and sighed.
"How 'bout this," Harry said quickly, "If you can tell me the title of the book in your hands without opening your eyes and looking down at it, I'll leave you alone for as long as you want."
Krum squinched his eyes shut and tilted his head, clearly trying to remember. He looked a little constipated. Harry grinned and sat down across from him at the table, leaning in conspiratorially.
"It's Granger, isn't it?" he whispered.
There was a loud thump as Viktor fumbled the book in surprise and it landed hard on the table.
"Vhat! No! Vhat do you mean?" he squeaked. His voice wasn't made for squeaking. It sounded like metal creaking under pressure.
"SHHHHH!" The overly loud noise came from Madame Pince behind the counter. Horrid old bitch. Harry was certain that she waited until everyone was asleep and writhed around naked on great big piles of books. Merlin only knew what kind of paper cuts she was hiding under those robes. He kept nipping into the library late at night with his invisibility cloak, trying to catch her in the act and take pictures, but no such luck yet.
Probably for the best. He'd love to catch her, but hate to have gouge out his own eyes.
"So... Granger, huh?" He glanced over his shoulder to where she had set up camp. The Gryffindor girl was surrounded by a wall of thick, heavy books, but the table he and Krum were sitting at was at just the right angle to let them peer through a crack in the wall and see her face twisted in concentration as she revised what Harry guessed to be an Arithmancy assignment. There were light ink smudges on her left cheek and he fought down a leering grin as she stuck a quill into her mouth in an unconsciously, undeniably sexy manner.
He had to admit that Krum had taste. "She's the reason you've been playing Phantom of the Library?" he asked.
Krum glowered. "I don't know vhat you are talking about. I am just reading. Preparing for the Tournament, as you should be. Now go avay!"
"She comes here to work, not be stalked."
"I am not stulking her," Krum snapped quietly.
Harry rolled his eyes. "No, you're just making sure to be wherever she is and watching her obsessively without her knowing you're there. That's not stalking her at all."
He slumped in his chair slightly. "Vhy are you bothering me, Potter? To varn me avay? Is that it? Do you vant her for yourself?"
"Nah, I'm seeing someone," Harry waved him off. "Or two. Or three. I lose track sometimes. No, Viktor, you're misunderstanding me completely. I'm not here to stop you, I'm here to help you."
Krum regarded him warily. "Help me? How?"
Harry leaned in a little closer. "Listen... Granger's a friend, but Zeus knows she needs to let that big bundle of hair down every once in a while. I figure a boyfriend would be good for her, and you seem like a decent enough bloke, so I'm thinking: why not give you a little push in the right direction, seeing as you're having so much trouble getting there yourself." He frowned and tilted his head to the side. "What's up with that, anyway? I mean, you're Viktor Krum. Famous International Quidditch Star and all that rot. Surely you can't have any problem getting girls. The evidence speaks for itself." He jerked a thumb at a cluster of seventh year females who had been drifting closer while he and Krum were chatting. They squeaked at being noticed and scattered like roaches.
Krum sneered at fleeing girls. "Those girls are... boring, empty, useless. She is different."
She was also fourteen, and he was seventeen. There were countries where that was against the law. Britain was one of them, but who's counting?
"So why don't you go over there and ask her out?" Harry said. "I'll introduce you."
He paled and gulped. "I could not."
"Vhat if she said no?"
"Then you knock her over the head and have your way with her while she's unconscious."
Krum's eyes widened.
"That was a joke."
"It vos not a funny one."
"Neither is you sitting here pretending to read /Male-to-Female Self-Transfiguration in Three Easy Steps/."
The Bulgarian Seeker jumped and looked down at his book. An Advanced Guide to Defensive Magic stared back up at him. He glared at Harry, who only rolled his eyes.
"Listen, if you're really that worried about getting shot down, then how about doing something to tweak the odds in your favor a little bit before you try?"
"Vhat do you mean?" he asked suspiciously.
Harry smiled widely at him. "Well... you see, we just happen to be sitting in one of the most comprehensive magical libraries in the entire world, and not very far beneath our feet is a world-class Potions Lab. Put the two together and it equals you and Granger, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G."
He looked appalled. "I vill not give her a love potion!" he hissed.
Harry chuckled at him. "That's good to know, and I'm proud of you, but it wasn't what I was getting at."
"Have you ever heard of Felix Felicis?"
Krum took in a short breath. "The luck potion?" he asked, half speaking to himself.
Harry could tell that he wouldn't even have to sell him on it. He could practically see the gears turning in Krum's head. Felix would assure that Krum's chances of getting Hermione to say yes were as good as they could possibly get, and likely wouldn't even let him ask the question if the answer was going to be no.
He reached over and patted the boy on the shoulder. "I gotta go, Viktor. My work here is obviously done. I'll see you later." Krum waved absently at him, muttering to himself. Harry nodded at Pince on his way out of the library. She gave him a dirty look in return, like she knew exactly what he was thinking. Maybe he could convince Myrtle to stake out the Library for him, just to keep an eye on things. He could very well be wrong, and the Hogwarts Librarian wasn't sexually attracted to the smell of musty parchment and old leather after all, but nothing healthy could come out of an obsession as intense as what she felt for those damn books. It was practically his civic duty to find out what the hell she was up to.
Time to pay a visit to the girl's lavatory.
Several days later, with the First Task rapidly approaching, Harry was summoned to the Hospital Wing. He peeked his head through the door and saw Dumbledore and Karkaroff standing near a curtained-off bed. Dumbledore spotted him and beckoned him closer. The normal twinkle was nowhere in sight and he did not look amused.
"Good afternoon, Professor Dumbledore," Harry greeted, coming around the curtain. "Someone said you-CIRCE'S SLIT!!! Viktor, what happened to you?!"
Krum laid eyes on him and began cursing in a language that Harry didn't recognize. He assumed it was Bulgarian. Whatever it was, it was damned loud. He tried to stand up, but couldn't quite make it. Karkaroff was there and all but dove under his prized pupil, keeping him from falling and easing him back onto his cot.
The Durmstrang Champion was very much worse for wear. His bare chest was heavily bandaged and he appeared to have splints on all four limbs. Much of the skin that Harry could see was blistered and burned, and all the hair on the left side of his head had been singed off. Madame Pomfrey had clearly been working on him, but Harry could still see evidence of multiple hexes on different parts of his body, and every once in a while his whole frame would suddenly twitch violently.
It was probably the funniest thing he'd ever seen in his life.
Of course, he wasn't about to let them know that. He approached Viktor with a comforting hand raised, but backed off slightly when the boy glared at him angrily. Harry hadn't noticed before, but one of his eyes seemed to be drifting off on its own accord every time he blinked. He held his hands up in a placating gesture.
"What happened?" he asked again.
Dumbledore opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by Snape, who swept into the room, robes billowing around him like some cheesy caricature of a vampire from one of those Late-Night-Monster-Movie-Double-Feature shows that Dudley loved to stay up and watch on the telly. Harry choked back a mouthful of bile at the sight of his Head of House.
"I'll tell you what happened," the man said contemptuously, "You poisoned him."
Harry blinked at him in disbelief. "I'm sorry?"
"Somehow I doubt it."
"Harry," Dumbledore said, giving his Potions Professor a scolding look. "There seems to have been an unfortunate accident involving Mister Krum here, and he has told us that he believes you may have been involved somehow."
"Not /involved somehow/, Dumbledore," Karkaroff snapped. "Directly and totally responsible."
Harry summoned up an indignant expression. All he had to do was think about his most recent Potions grade. "Hold on a second," he spat, "Before we break out the pitchforks and torches, could someone tell me just what I'm supposed to be responsible for?"
"Gladly," Snape said. "Are you aware, Potter, that Krum here recently attempted to brew a dose of Felix Felicis?"
Harry frowned. "Of course I am, I suggested it."
Snape nodded him mockingly, as if he were impressed that Harry had actually told the truth. "Tell me, what do you know of that particular potion?" he asked.
I know there's a small vial of it hidden in my robes for emergencies. "Not much. It's a luck potion, but we're not even supposed to attempt it before seventh year."
"So you know nothing of how it's made?"
Only as much as anyone who brewed it as a third year could know. "I'm afraid not, sir."
"Then you'd have no idea what would happen if you replaced diced springwort with diced moonwort in the recipe?"
As a matter of fact... "No, sir, I don't."
"It turns good luck potion into bad luck potion."
Yep, that's the one. Harry looked at Viktor, seemingly dismayed but inwardly cheering like Holyhead had just trounced Chudley, a thousand to nil. "Is that what happened?"
"Oh, just stop," Snape groaned. "No one's buying it this time, Potter."
"Well that works out nicely, sir, because I'm not selling it. I didn't have anything to do with this. I was just trying to help Viktor out. Are you sure he couldn't have just made a mistake?"
Karkaroff butted in angrily. "There was no mistake. The labels on the ingredients were switched." He stepped closer and glared down at Harry. "Don't you think it's rather /odd /that you suggested to Viktor that he should brew this very difficult potion, and then the recipe was altered in such a specific and disastrous manner?"
The man's breath was like a sewer. What was it with Dark Wizards and poor personal hygiene? "Yes, sir, that is very odd, but it doesn't mean that I was responsible. In fact, I think it's much more likely that the ingredients were simply mislabeled. As Professor Dumbledore said: an unfortunate accident, nothing more."
Snape's eyes bulged. "None of my potions supplies are mislabeled," he snarled. "You did it, you arrogant little sneak, and you're not going to get away with it!"
"And you have proof, of course?" Not bloody likely.
Harry got a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach when Snape's mouth widened into a sinister smile. It was the kind of look that a cat got just before it pounced on an unsuspecting bird. He held up a stoppered vial about the size of Harry's little finger. "Do you know what this is, Potter?" he asked silkily.
/A scale model of your penis? /"No sir, it doesn't look familiar," he replied.
"This," he said, seeming to take relish in simply holding the vial, "Is Veritaserum. It is odorless, tasteless, colorless, and is the most powerful truth potion in the world." He was staring at Harry intently, searching for a reaction. "Three drops, and you would gladly tell me anything I wished to know, anything at all."
Oh. Oh. Oh. Ask me if I want you to drop dead of a painful brain hemorrhage! The answer: "Yes, I see. Where are we going with this? As I understand it, the use of Veritaserum is strictly controlled by the Ministry."
The cruel smile got a little bigger. It made Harry vaguely nauseous. The man apparently didn't take any better care of his teeth than he did his hair. It gave him a sudden appreciation for Lucius Malfoy. He may have been a pompous, murdering bastard, but at least he was clean. "Oh, it is," he said with visible anticipation. "However, there is a precedent for it's use in the Triwizard Tournament in cases of suspected cheating or sabotage."
Harry mind reeled as he furiously tried to recall everything he could about the Triwizard rules. He had gone over them thoroughly once he'd been entered into the Tournament, trying to find an angle to get him out of it, but no such luck. Desperate to buy time and fighting not to let his sudden nervousness show, he asked...
"What kind of precedent?"
A flicker of a frown crossed Snape's face. Dumbledore answered for him. "The particular instance that Severus is referring to occurred during a Tournament in the sixteenth century. The individual in question was suspected in the accidental incapacitation of one of his fellow competitors, and chose to have it administered to him in order to prove his innocence."
A-ha, you sorry son of a bitch. Didn't want to mention that part, did you? "So what you're saying is that there is a precedent for voluntary use, not enforced use?" he asked, looking pointedly at Snape.
The man sneered. "If you are, as you say, without blame in this affair, then surely you don't mind taking the potion to prove it?"
Like there's a chance in hell I'd drink anything that came from your hands, you greasy jizzbucket. "I don't have any problem with taking truth potion," Harry lied smoothly. "I just don't think this the right environment for it."
Snape raised a thin eyebrow. "Meaning?"
"Meaning that, with all due respect, Professor, I'm not sure that you would content yourself with just asking me about the matter at hand, and I don't fancy spending the next few hours being interrogated by someone who already assumes that I'm guilty and is quite capable of manipulating any answer I give into proof of such." He nodded at Karkaroff. "And what if the good Headmaster here "accidentally" asks me about my strategy for the Tournament? That would be quite unfortunate."
Indeed it would. Particularly since the answer was: eliminate the competition.
Karkaroff bristled. "I am not the one under suspicion here," he growled.
Harry fixed him with a hard stare. "And I'm not the one with Voldemort's mark on my arm. Trust me, Karkaroff, you are very much under suspicion."
The Durmstrang Headmaster flinched badly at the sound of the Dark Lord's name, then drew himself to his full height. "How dare you..."
Dumbledore quickly moved to cut him off, flashing Harry a warning glance as he did. "Perhaps a compromise, then," he interjected. "We will limit the questioning only to whether or not Mister Potter tampered with the labels, and if did not, is he aware of who did."
Karkaroff stared at Harry intently, then nodded gruffly. Snape's lips twisted in anger, as if he were being denied something he desired more than his next breath. Dumbledore looked at Harry questioningly.
He fought the urge to gulp. Oh dear, this could be trouble. Big trouble. He could feel his pulse thump in his throat just slightly and his guts twisted of their own accord, but there was nothing for it but to nod confidently. "Fine, then."
His skin crawled as Snape approached him with the vial. Closing his eyes, he tried to picture anything else instead of the foul, disgusting man's face as he opened his mouth and allowed him to place one, two, three drops on his tongue. Ugh! He needed a shower.
He had expected the same kind of pleasant, floaty sensation that came along with the Imperious Curse, or at least to go into some kind of noticeable trance, but he really didn't feel that much different at all. Maybe it hadn't worked?
Dumbledore peered into his eyes and asked in a soft, gentle voice... "Mister Potter... did you tamper with the ingredients or labels in the Potions Laboratory?"
He heard the sound of his own voice, thick, flat, and monotonous. "No, I did not."
Snape twitched. Dumbledore nodded. "Do you know who did?"
"No, I do not," Harry replied, somewhat surprised by the answer himself.
So was Snape. He took in a sharp, angry breath, his mind working behind hard black eyes. "Are you-" he started.
"SEVERUS!!!" Dumbledore thundered, eyes flashing. "You will contain yourself! Mister Potter has answered the questions we that all agreed upon, and as far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed. You are here in your capacity as the Head of Slytherin House to represent his interests, and you have done so. Do not make me regret asking you to be a part of this."
Snape puffed up, looking between Harry and Dumbledore angrily. "Yes, Headmaster," he eventually said. "My apologies."
"Very well," Dumbledore nodded, "If you would be so kind as to administer the antidote?"
Snape clearly didn't want to do any such thing. He stepped closer and put his body between Harry and Dumbledore, speaking softly as he opened a second vial. "This isn't over, Potter," he muttered under his breath. "You had best watch your step, lest my hand "slip" over your evening pumpkin juice. Then we will find out the real truth behind all of this."
/Nice threat, grease for brains. Might be scarier if you hadn't already tried it. /"I think we all know the real truth," Harry replied calmly once the antidote had been given. "Please don't try to blame me for your own mistakes, Professor."
Snape trembled furiously.
"Igor, if you and Severus are agreeable, perhaps could you both join me in my office?" Snape sent one more withering glare at Harry, then swished his robes and stalked out of the room. Karkaroff whispered a few words to Krum and followed him. Dumbledore held Harry's eye with an unreadable expression for several seconds. Harry returned the look passively and without the slightest twinge of guilt.
"Good day, Harry," Dumbledore nodded and left him alone with Krum.
Viktor lay on the bed with his right arm crossed over his face. Harry sat on the cot opposite from him. "How are you feeling?" he asked sympathetically.
Krum groaned tiredly and tried to sit up. Harry leaned forward and helped him right himself. The Durmstrang Champion studied him for a moment while Harry tried desperately to ignore that damn wandering eye. "I apologize for suspecting you," he eventually said quietly. "It vos rash of me. You vere probably correct, the ingredients vere mislabeled."
Harry shrugged. "It's alright. Hell, I'd almost believe it myself if I didn't know any better."
Krum frowned. "The tall man... Snape? He seemed very sure that you vere up to something."
Harry thought it was time for just a dash of truth. Of the half variety, of course. "Well... just between the two of us, he and my father went to school together, years ago. They loathed each other. I'm talking pure, hex-him-as-soon-as-look-at-him, irrational hate. And Snape started hating him that much more once my father saved his life." He shrugged. "Let's just say that Snape's contempt is one inheritance I'd like to give back." He wouldn't mind not having the rest of it, either, but that was neither here nor there. "My dad was also a pretty notorious prankster in his day, so whenever something goes arse-over-teakettle, Snape comes looking for "that dammed Potter".
Krum nodded as if it made perfect sense, which it did.
It was kinda like that commercial. Half-Truths: The Other White Lie.
Harry was dying to ask the question. "Viktor..." he said carefully, "Exactly what happened when you drank the potion?"
Krum grimaced. Then twitched again. His narrow shoulders slumped and he shook his head morosely. "She vos in the courtyard," he began, "Hermy-own-ninny." Harry barely managed not to chuckle at the way he mangled Granger's name. "I took the potion and approached her. I did not notice at the time, but some boys vere practicing with Bluugers not far avay. One of them got free somehow."
Harry didn't have to fake his sympathetic wince. He'd had his own trouble with a rogue Bludger, once upon a time.
"I tried to get avay, but I am not so fast on the ground as I am in the air," he continued. "And the Bluuger, it vos bouncing off of things and coming back to me. It hit me many times. And then the girls, you know, the ones that vill not leave me alone? They tried to hex it. Let us say that their aim was poor." He reached up and touched his burned scalp. "At some point... my robes, they caught on fire"
Harry's mouth gaped, but he managed to hold in his laughter. "What happened with Hermione?"
Krum's face collapsed in utter anguish. "The Bluuger struck me in the face and I vos knocked unconscious. Vhen I avoke, she vos holding my head in her lap." He looked up at the ceiling. "She looked down at me with such... kindness. It vos she who had finally stopped the Bluuger and put out the flames."
Harry grinned at him. "Well, see there! All's well that ends well. Girls love nursing a man back to health, it makes them feel all squishy. Even the progressive ones. You know, maternal instinct and the rest. So is that when you asked her out?"
"What did you do?"
"I vomited on her."
Harry couldn't help himself. He snorted a loud laugh.
"It is not funny!" Krum snapped.
Harry just snickered louder. After a few seconds, Krum's irritated look faded and he started to chuckle as well.
"Vell... maybe it vos a little funny," he admitted. He hung his head again. "Oh... vhat am I going to do?" he sighed. "She must hate me now."
Harry stood up and clapped the other boy on the shoulder. He flinched in pain. "Ah, don't worry about it, Viktor. You get some rest. I'll talk to her and explain everything. See if I can't sort it all out."
He looked up at Harry hopefully. "You think you can?"
He shrugged. "Sure. She'll probably think it was really sweet that you were willing to go to so much trouble just to ask for a date. Can't hurt, either way."
Krum sighed and nodded gratefully. "Thank you, Harry. You are a good friend."
"No problem. Just keep it in mind when the European Championships come around, okay? Listen, you need anything before I go?" Krum shook his head. "All right, I'll see you later."
Harry stepped out of the Hospital Wing, stopped, took a deep cleansing breath, then peered carefully each way down the hall to make sure no one was looking before indulging in a well-deserved Happy Dance. That done, he went off in search of a friend.
Far too many Slytherins underestimated the value of proper friends, thinking only in terms of enemies, allies, and minions. Most of them couldn't look past the risk of betrayal long enough to realize that, without risk, there was no reward. Blaise Zabini was a perfect example of that.
Blaise had been the first friend that Harry had made upon coming to Hogwarts, and they had been thick as thieves ever since. Literally.
As a friend, Blaise had two phenomenally useful talents. The first was his natural business acumen, inherited from his deceased father. Once Stephen Hollings had graduated at the end of their second year, the two of them had quickly moved to take his place as Slytherin's resident distributors of all things contraband and shady. It hadn't been simple or easy, but between Harry's bank account and Blaise's head for numbers and deals, they had managed to clear out the rest of the competition, and a year-and-a-half later, had expanded the operation into all four Houses. It was a great partnership. Blaise handled the business end, and Harry made sure that anyone who tried to horn in on the action was swiftly discouraged. Or if they showed real talent, recruited.
For example, Gryffindor had been the first and easiest to fall. There, it had been the Weasley twins who ran the black market in order to fund their experiments, and all it had taken was a short chat and the promise of putting them on the payroll. They found the idea of Gryffindors buying contraband indirectly from Slytherins, only to turn around and use those items against other Slytherins to be hilarious. It also didn't hurt that Harry had once saved their sister's life.
Hufflepuff, and especially Ravenclaw had been far more difficult nuts to crack, but nothing was impossible to those willing to go the extra mile, provided that they always had a strong alibi.
Speaking of which...
"So, how did it go?" Blaise asked him once Harry had tracked him down near the lake.
"Success, apart from a near miss. Good news, though. It turns out that plausible deniability can beat Veritaserum."
Blaise's face lit up. "Cool," he grinned, pumping his fist slightly. "That'll come in handy."
"Yeah. Remind me to whip up some and run a few tests when we have a chance, okay?"
"Can do," Blaise nodded. "They suspect anything?"
"Snape does, but he'd suspect me even if I was innocent."
"Lucky that's not a state you have much experience with."
"Speaking of which, who did you get to swap out those labels?"
He shrugged. "Does it matter?"
That was Blaise's other great attribute. His ability to keep other people's secrets. As the chief procurer of less-than-reputable things at Hogwarts, he was privy to everyone else's dirty laundry. Being able to keep his trap shut, even with Harry, was good for business. It also meant that when Blaise Zabini came around asking for a favor, most people paid very careful attention.
Harry would have respected him far less had he actually said who'd done it.
"I suppose not. Any chance they might talk?"
He smirked. "Not even a little one."
"Great. One down, two to go. Time to move on to the next target."
"The 'Puff or the bird?" Blaise asked.
"The 'Puff, I think. Wanna save the bird for last."
"I bet. That one's worth the wait. You gonna need me for this one?"
"Nah, don't think so. Seen Greengrass lately?"
"You gonna have him killed?"
Harry grinned viciously. "Not quite... just make him wish he had been."
AN: A few people have been asking me to redo the Triwizard Tasks with Slytherin Harry, but I didn't see much point. Canon Harry did pretty much what Slytherin Harry would have done, SH would have just figured it out quicker and been free to focus on what was really important... making sure that the other competitors were in no condition to put up much of a fight. Part Two: "Challenging Cedric" will be coming soon, but may or may not be the next installment of the story.