Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Luna's Hubby

Here There be Monsters

by Meteoricshipyards 3 reviews

Harry faces the fact that he's in the Triwizard Tournament and faces the first task.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst,Drama - Characters: Harry,Luna - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2007-09-07 - Updated: 2007-09-07 - 9429 words - Complete

Disclaimer: Harry Potter, his friends, enemies, and world, are not mine, and I make no claim to them, make no money from them, gain no eternal fame and glory from them, and don't even have a shot at the 1000 Galleons.

Chapter 17

Here There be Monsters

The next day chaos ruled Hogwarts. Not only were there four champions, and the fourth had gotten around the age limit, but an escapee from Azkaban had been captured right there at Hogwarts masquerading as Mad-Eye Moody. The real one was recovering in the Hospital Wing, and it was all some plot of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Of course, for every rumor that contained a bit of truth, there were half a dozen that had only a passing association with it, or in some cases, reality. Things weren't helped by the huge numbers of Aurors that were around the school at various times during the day, interviewing groups of students about their defense classes. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic came by. He hadn't looked happy when he left; as a matter of fact, he had looked furious. That sparked a lot of rumors, too.

As it was Sunday, there were no classes. Harry didn't care at that point, though, and had it been a regular school day he would have skipped classes. He was up early after a night where he had trouble sleeping. Whenever he did fall asleep, he would awaken from some nightmare of fighting dragons or cockatrices or jackalopes. He made his way to the Great Hall very early to get something to eat. He was the only person in the Great Hall, which was as he wanted it. He was actually earlier than the six A.M. breakfast, so he had to wait a while before any food appeared. The wait didn't bother him, as he had brought a book to read. For Aunt Selene's "Classics" requirement he was currently reading the Odyssey. Six A. M. rolled around and he found that he wasn't that hungry. He just ate some toast and continued reading. After a few other students came in and started asking him questions, he left.

As he was passing through the Entrance Hall he met Mike Daily coming up the stairs from the Dungeons.

"You're up early," Mike greeted him.

"I feel like I'm up late. I don't think I got much sleep last night."

"So it's true? You're really one of the champions?"



"Not cool. Not at all cool! Would you be up to fighting a dragon?"

"Is that what you have to do?"

"I don't know. All they said was that the first task was in three weeks and it would be a test of bravery and skill."

"So why do you think it's going to be a dragon?"

"Just looking at the worst of the possibilities. I figure if I expect the worst, I can only be pleasantly surprised when I only have to wrestle a griffin. Uh, Mike? Where are we going?"

Mike hadn't gone to the Great Hall, but had continued up the stairs in the Entrance Hall. They had moved through the castle and had come to a statue of a gargoyle. Harry recognized it as the way to the stairs that led to the Headmaster's office.

"Are you in trouble?" Harry asked.

"No. I'm going home for the morning."

"You can do that?"

"I can. It was part of the agreement my Dad made with Dumbledore for me to come here. I get to go home each Sunday for about a half day."

"Why'd he insist on that?"

"Religious reasons -- so I can go to church with my family. And, I have to say, I like visiting with my family. I can't imagine being away from them for as long as some of the kids here are."

"I guess I'm sort of used to it."

"That's too bad. But you're welcome to join me. We either have breakfast, go to church around 10 and have lunch or go to Mass at 8 and have a brunch around 10 or 11."

"Uh, no thanks. Maybe some other time."

"No problem. Well, I've got to go. See you later."

"See you, Mike."

Mike gave the password, "M&M's" and disappeared up the spiral staircase. Harry wondered off into the castle. He wanted someplace where he wouldn't be found or bothered. He thought he knew just the place.

Luna looked for him for most of the morning, but gave up at lunchtime, and just went back to her dorm, the common room being too noisy with rumors and questions.

Professor Flitwick sent another student to get her in the early afternoon. He escorted her to the headmaster's office. Standing on the rotating stairs she thought about the other students -- even some seventh years -- who did not know where the Headmaster's office was. She wished she didn't need to know. But then, so much would be different. She reached the door and was about to knock, when she heard the headmaster call her name and tell her to come in.

She entered to find her mother and father also in the round office. Her mother got out of her chair and gave her a big hug. All the emotions that had been running through her since the previous evening came pouring out, and she started crying in her mothers arms. Selene sat and held her tightly while she cried out.

"No one has seen Mr. Lovegood today, Headmaster," Professor Flitwick said.

"Where's Harry?" Larry asked.

"He is somewhere in the castle, Mr. Lovegood, but beyond that, I couldn't tell you. I fear that the events of last night were a trifle overwhelming for him," Dumbledore answered.

"You think?" Selene asked, sarcastically. "Being forced to participate in a dangerous contest designed for students much older and more experienced than him when he had no intention of signing up? I think that would be a bit overwhelming. Add to that a Death Eater and a kidnapped professor, and this has all the ingredients of overwhelming that you could want." She then quietly asked her daughter, "Luna, do you know where Harry might be?"

She shook her head, not looking at anyone.

"The headmaster has told us some of what happened. What we don't understand is why you would put Harry's name in the Goblet?"

"After we got past the age line, I wanted to prove to myself that we had, so I wanted to put in a paper. I knew Harry would ask if I entered myself, so I didn't put my name on it. But I didn't put a legal school on it, either. I could see magical symbols for the three schools in the Goblet! I knew it couldn't pick him! And I hoped to tell him after the feast that I had put his name in it. Whether I told him the school or not would have depended on how he reacted. I thought it would be funny."

Flitwick asked, "You could see the magic for the different schools in the Goblet?"

Luna nodded. Her mother said, "Luna has one of the most advanced instances of Mage-sight we've encountered. She's worked with the Department of Mysteries, and I know they are planning to offer her a position after she finishes school. But that's neither here nor there. Now we must worry about Harry."

"Headmaster," Larry asked, "are you sure there is no way for Harry to avoid competing?"

"Unfortunately not. Due to the nature of the bond between Harry and Luna, he is legally, but more importantly, magically required to participate. Now about that bound. . . ."

"It is no one's business except the family's," Selene said, icily. "Luna?" she got her daughters attention. "You don't have to, and probably shouldn't answer anyone's questions about that, do you understand? And if anyone harasses you about it, get a hold of me right away. It's bad enough that so much has come out; we don't want any more."

"I'm afraid that the press will not leave this alone."

"We will deal with the press," Selene said. "We are not totally without resources there." She looked to her husband, who nodded.

"Very well," said the Headmaster, "Miss Lovegood, if anyone does bother you, please feel free to come to me or your head of house." Luna nodded.

"If you can't find Harry, then we'll be going. But we will see him before too long."

"Visit any time," the headmaster said.

The family got up and moved to the door.

"You're not going to use my floo?"

Selene answered, still coldly, "No, I think we'll take the opportunity to talk with Luna while she escorts us to the Entrance Hall. Good day, headmaster."

Albus looked at the Charms professor, and said, "I don't think I'm their favorite person at the moment."

"Do you blame them, Albus? I've never seen that much emotion from that girl. She's always calm. She can be facing the worst insults the higher grades can dish out, or the hardest test of the year, but she's always calm. Now this? No wonder her parents are mad."

"What more could I have done? I could have put a guard on the goblet, but I would have probably used Barty Crouch as one of the guards; and it may have dissuaded students from putting in their names. And what's with that family, anyway? Speaking Parseltongue? Breaking wards!" He stopped talking suddenly.

Filius looked up, concerned. "What?"

"I bet they were the ones who changed the wards on the sign about the Chamber of Secrets. All this time, I thought it was the Weasley twins!"

"They were playing with wards back in their first year?"

"It doesn't surprise me that the Department of Mysteries is interested in her. I would guess it's interested in both of them."

"But where is Harry?" Filius asked.

For a moment Dumbledore had a strange expression on his face then it disappeared. "I'm sure he's hiding in the castle some place. If he doesn't show up for dinner, I'll get the House Elves to look for him."

- - -

Harry didn't show up for dinner, but showed up in the kitchen around the same time. He was hungry. He didn't return to the Common room, either, until after curfew. Elizabeth Ragingstorm and the third year girls were waiting for him. She started.

"I could subtract points for you being out this late," she began.

"I'm not out. I'm in the common room."

"But you just came in."

"You didn't catch me out of our common room after hours."

"But if someone else had caught you. . . ."

"I don't care. Do you think after weeks of listening to how champions have died that I really care about house points? I just hope I live through the first task."

Elizabeth looked away.

"Harry. . . ." Luna began.

"Don't talk to me," was the reply, as he made his way towards his own dorm room.

- - -

The days that followed were among the worst that Luna could remember. Harry wouldn't talk to her. He wouldn't stay around her in the common room or during the nightly study sessions in the Great Hall; he wouldn't sit with her in class; if she sat near him, he would move. She felt awful.

They had had fights before, but nothing like this. The time Harry had challenged her on the existence of Commatoot Ponies she had been furious, and didn't speak with him for a day. But neither Harry nor her father could remember hearing about them, and she had eventually apologized. She hadn't liked being wrong, but she had disliked the breach between Harry and herself even more. But this was a lot worse.

- - -

Harry had spent Sunday in the Divination tower. The ladder was still keyed to him, and he had read the Odyssey for a while, moped until he couldn't stand it, then spent some time organizing Aunt Sibyll's clothes, which were still in the living area. He found a trunk and started folding them up and putting them away.

His appearance in the kitchen around dinner had stopped Dumbledore from sending a search party, but after getting some food he had retreated to the Divination tower again, and did some homework. When he finally went back to his dorm, he had the confrontation with Ragingstorm and snubbed Luna.

Overwhelmed was a good description of how Harry felt. He was overwhelmed by his own emotions. He was scared -- the research the Ravenclaws had done showed that almost half of the contestants died; he felt outclassed -- the other champions had looked so tall compared to him; he felt betrayed -- he didn't want to compete and was now being forced to; he felt embarrassed -- his bond with Luna was now public knowledge; he felt exposed -- hiding his real name was second nature, but (as Hermione proved) with research and logic people could discover his identity, and this might give people incentive to start digging; and that scared him even more now that they had proof, via Barty Crouch, Jr., that Voldemort was active. He felt that he would be unable to survive (let alone win) the Triwizard Tournament, never mind face the Dark Lord.

And while even he realized it was probably wrong, the focus of all these emotions was Luna. He couldn't seem to get past that. All these emotions just overwhelmed him.

Monday morning found him dodging questions in his dorm, in the bathroom, in the common room, in the Great Hall (which he quickly left and ate breakfast at a small table in a corner of the kitchen), and on the way to Potions class.

Outside of the classroom, he received a different reactions depending, for the most part, on the house. The Hufflepuffs actively ignored him. They turned their backs on him when they could, talked to friends on the other side of him as if he wasn't there, and gave him some dirty looks.

He partnered with Tom Towey, much to the disappointment of Luna, and ignored the Hufflepuffs glares as well as the Ravenclaws questions.

When he put too little of one ingredient in the potion and it only turned a light blue instead of a blue-green, Snape sneered and asked, "How do you expect to survive the tournament when you can't even make a simple stomach soother?"

Harry's answer put in concrete terms part of what he had been feeling, but hadn't admitted to himself.

"I don't. Sir."

Luna sucked in a breath. A few of the other students stared at him. Snape scowled and looked him in the eyes. Harry thought there was something strange in the look.

"Get back to work!" Snape snapped. Everyone who had been looking at Harry got back to work on their potions.

Defense was their next class, and was canceled. Moody hadn't yet recovered from his several months long captivity. Harry took the opportunity to disappear. He reappeared after lunch at Double Runes with the Slytherins. They practiced carving and worked on the theory of powering the runes. He kept his mouth closed unless the question directly related to class. Similarly in Arithmancy and in the classes the rest of the week. He didn't go to the evening study hall, nor did he go to any meals in the Great Hall.

The rest of the week was similar. He didn't eat in the Great Hall, and didn't study with anyone else. He did his work, but avoided everyone as much as possible. His roommates would try to speak with him when they saw him in the morning and at night. The first couple of nights Luna was waiting in the common room, but he wouldn't talk to her, either. She stopped trying after Wednesday. Her hair went back to it's former mess without Harry brushing it.

Harry received a letter from Selene and Larry, but after glancing at it, put it away and didn't read the whole thing. It was a plea from them to talk to Luna. He didn't read their reasons. He didn't want to talk to anybody.

- - -

"Thank you for coming on such short notice, my friends. I felt I needed to touch base with you on recent events. Just to update you, the Minister is still insisting that Voldemort is dead, the Lovegoods are after my head, my counterparts on the other schools are quite upset that we have two champions, and the International thinks this was a bad idea. What happy news do you have for me?"

Albus Dumbledore looked over the assembled Hogwarts teachers. The meeting was in the Teacher's Lounge rather than his office. With the impromptu nature of the meeting he thought having it on their ground would be more politic.

"My house is quite upset with the Lovegood boy. I can't say I blame them." Pomona Sprout said.

Flitwick said, "Lovegood is pretty upset about the whole thing himself. He's been unresponsive in class and this has caused quite the falling out between him and Miss, or should I say Mrs. Lovegood."

Pomfrey glared at the diminutive head of Ravenclaw, and said, "She's definitely 'Miss'."

"Leaving their love life out of this," Snape drawled, "the boy is quite frankly scared. He would never have made it in your house, Minerva."

"And you know this, how, Severus?" the Gryffindor head of house asked.

"He expressed his belief that he wasn't expecting to survive the tournament in my class. I am, as you are aware, a master Legilimens. He was telling the truth. He's plain terrified."

"Then we must watch him very carefully. A person who feels they have nothing to lose will do anything," Dumbledore warned.

The mediwitch stared at him in disbelief. "Watch him? Watch him! A thirteen year old who thinks he's going to die, and all you can say is watch him?"

"According to the rules of the tournament, we cannot give him any special help. So yes, that's all I can say."

"Oh, Filius," Dumbledore said, as he was leaving the Teachers' Lounge. "Are you still working at the Department of Mysteries?"

"Yes, but I'm almost finished. We figure one or two more sessions should complete the project."

"Maybe someday you can tell me about it?"

"Maybe, Headmaster, but I doubt it."

He had to let it go at that.

- - -

The weekend came again and again Harry hid. He finished packing all of Aunt Sibyll's stuff, shrunk it, and sent it off by owl to Larry. He had also sent a note saying that he was fine and looking forward to the contest. It made no mention of Luna.

Sunday night he returned to the Ravenclaw Tower just before curfew. He found the room empty except for a group of seventh years.

"Lovegood!" Ragingstorm exclaimed. "We want to talk to you."

"That's nice," Harry said, not looking at them, heading for the stairs to the boys' dorms.

"Petrificus Totalus!" she replied, pointing her wand. She missed. Harry had dodged the spell.

"Get him!" she yelled. The group whipped out their wands and started trying to petrify Harry. He pulled his wand out and started casting stunners in return. He had taken four of his attackers out before he was hit. His rigid body hit the floor while the seventh years woke their compatriots. They lifted Harry's stiff body up and leaned him against a chair, but didn't release him from the spell.

"OK, Lovegood," Ragingstorm began, "I'm going to lay this out for you. We don't care how screwed up this is with four students in a three way contest. We don't care if you don't like it, they're going to make you do it anyway. We don't care that you're just a third year.

"What we care about is that you're a Ravenclaw. And we care that you beat that Hufflepuff and those other gits. You're a Ravenclaw, and we're here to help you win as a Ravenclaw. And if you die, you can't win, so we want to help you avoid that little setback, too.

"But you have to work with us. What do you say?"

Harry, of course, still being petrified said nothing.

"Shouldn't you release him if you want an answer?" one of the other students asked.

"I guess. Finite Incantatem."

Harry's body relaxed, and he fell into the chair he was leaned against.

"You really think I can do this?"

"Yes, if you work at it. Your wand work against us gives me more hope. You didn't learn those moves here. But anyway, Bill, give him your briefing."

"Sure, Liz. We analyzed the first task and over eighty percent of them involved a magical creature. Of those, a plurality of them involved dragons. . . ."

"Why did it have to be dragons?" Harry aspirated.

"Uh, right," Bill continued. "We also have a list of thirteen other creatures that have shown up more than once on the first task. We'll be getting you briefings on all of them.

"As for the task itself, there's a pattern there, too. Early contests usually involved slaying the monster. Then it evolved to overcoming or capturing them. Still later having the monster guard something became very popular. The first time they tried that was a bust, though. The first champion summoned the object, and never got near the manticore. The other champions followed suit. Since then the object has been charmed against the Accio spell. The last two contests involved dragons, so we're guessing that it won't be dragons. So we're going to go over the other possibilities, first. Laura?"

"Right! Listen up, Lovegood! The Cockatrice is nasty. It's got nasty teeth, and nasty claws, and. . . ."

And Harry started getting a crash course in how to overcome some of the most powerful beasts of the magical world. Each night was a different set of animals and spells useful in the situation. After the first night he insisted that they meet somewhere besides the common room. They took control of the "Ravenclaw's unused classroom" one floor down from the tower entrance.

About the same time that Harry was being confronted by the seventh years, in the third year's girls' dorm Luna found herself surrounded by third and fourth year Ravenclaws.

"Luna Lovegood! This has to stop," Liz Ericson, the spokesperson for the group said.

"Leave me alone, please," she answered in a quiet voice.

"No! Just because Harry's being a prat, doesn't mean that you have to do this to yourself. You haven't taken a shower in three days. . ."

One of the fourth years said, "Ewwww!"

". . . and your hair is a mess. If the elves didn't clean your clothes, they would be a mess, too, as you have worn the same thing for several days. This is unacceptable. First, you march right into that bathroom and take a shower!"

"I'd rather not."

"This isn't a request. Some of us have to live here with you. Now move!"

With some helpful hands, Luna found herself in the shower. A new set of her pajamas were laid out for when she was done, and her friends helped untangle her hair, and get it dried and brushed.

"Now, you are going to stop moping around, wear nice clothes, go to the study group, go to Charms Club, and if Harry's too stupid to realize that you're not waiting for him, too bad for him."

"But he hates me!"

"Boys are stupid," Kate Bender, the fifth year prefect who had organized the intervention declared.

"Not Harry," Luna protested.

"All boys are stupid. They can't help it. Either they think that they are the center of the world, strutting about because they play ball or some other sport, or they get good grades, or they can beat someone up, or they come from a family with money, or they're deluded thinking that just because they find themselves interesting, the girl they fixate on should, too. All boys!" Her face booked no arguments.

- - -

On Friday, Harry made his way from the kitchen to his first class (double Charms with the Hufflepuffs) and noticed a number of them had buttons on reading "Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts Champion." Larry Pohlen and Tom Towey were arguing with Bill Donohue about them when Harry arrived. They stopped when Harry got between them.

He looked at Donohue and asked, "Where did these come from?"

"Some of the seventh years made them."

Harry nodded. "Can I get one?"


"I support Cedric, too. I'm not supposed to be in this thing, and I have almost no chance. But I still support our school and its real champion."

"Oh. Well, I guess you can have this one. I'll get another."

"Thanks." Harry put the button on his robe.

"You really don't want to be in the tournament?" Donohue asked.

"I tried to get out of it, but I can't."

"But what about the fame and glory?"

"Can you tell me one of the previous Triwizard Tournament winners?"

"Uh, no."

"Had you even heard about it before the headmaster announced it?"


"There's your 'eternal fame and glory.' Sure you can look it up in a book, but that doesn't seem like fame to me."

"What about the Galleons?" Mary Shrake, another Hufflepuff, asked.

"Money can't buy happiness," Harry quoted.

"But it can rent it," Larry Pohlen replied, which caused Harry to laugh. It felt good to laugh. He realized he hadn't had a laugh since his name came out of the goblet. He missed this banter with his friends. He missed . . . .

He glanced over at Luna. She looked better than she had recently. Her hair was fixed in a ponytail. She almost never wore it like that. It was clean and brushed. He felt a pang of guilt. He looked away quickly. It was time to go into class anyway.

During class Kate Bender, the fifth year prefect, interrupted Professor Flitwick to take Harry away, per the headmaster's request. He was brought to a classroom with the other three champions. There was also a photographer and a reporter that Harry recognized. She had accosted their family after the incident with the book.

"Ah, Harry! How lovely to see you. I'm Rita Skeeter, and I was wondering if I could have a few words with you. My readers are dying to know how you got into this contest? What sneaky methods got us a fourth and underage contestant?"

She had grabbed his arm, and was trying to get him out of the room. He twisted out of her grasp, and started walking over to the other champions. She grabbed his shoulder and tried to pull him again. He reached up with the hand opposite the shoulder she held, took one finger in a tight hold, and bent it back. Skeeter yelped, and let go.

"I happen to know what a reporter can and cannot do. Touch me again, and I'll call an Auror and have you arrested."

"Well, really! You think I was trying to mug you!"

"I've read your work, and that's exactly what you do in your column."

"You'll be sorry," she said, softly, in a sing song voice.

He ignored her, and joined the other champions.

"Are you sure that was wise, Harry?" Cedric asked.

"Did she interview any of you?"


"Then she isn't interested in a story about the Tournament. She's looking for gossip. Which is mostly what she is, just a glorified gossip columnist. And I don't need to play her game. I have my own media outlet to get the real story out."

"What do you mean?"

"My uncle is editor of the Quibbler."

At that point they were interrupted by the judges coming in. They brought someone else with them. Harry smiled and received one back from his Uncle Ollie.

It was some sort of ceremony where they checked the wands. Harry found out that Fleur, the Beauxbatons champion, was part Veela. She was also very poised and beautiful. Victor Krum was as quiet and awkward as when Harry had met him right after being chosen. Cedric was his normal self assured self, looking very much like a champion. Harry wondered how he came across.

Ollivander looked over Harry's wand, and frowned at him. He pronounced it in good working order, but said, "You're not using that wand cleaning kit I gave you, are you?"

"Sorry, Uncle Ollie."

"Take care of your wand, and it will take care of you. Good luck with the tournament."

"Yes, Uncle Ollie. Thank you."

While they were getting their picture taken (Harry refused to let them take one of him alone), Cedric asked, "You're related to Ollivander?"

"Yes," he said, rather than try to explain the relationship.

"I remember when I got my wand. He was kind of creepy."

"I think he does that for fun, scaring the children. He was nice to me."

- - -

The next day was almost non-stop tutoring from the seventh years. Not only were they briefing him on various monsters, but they were drilling him on spells that might be useful. He surprised them with the number of combat spells he knew and the accuracy with which he targeted them.

"Accuracy is very important. A lot of these creatures just aren't affected by most spells for one reason or another. A sphinx' mane is almost impossible to cast through; a manticore's tail is too armored for spells. You have to hit the sphynx right in the face, or the manticore right on the sting. Trolls -- go for the face, but mostly the eyes, ears, mouth, nose -- virtually any opening in it's skull. Nundu -- well, if you face a nundu, just resign. No one will think the worse for you."

By the end of the day, he felt his brain was full. The spells and strengths and weaknesses of the creatures were starting to get confused. They called it a day, and Harry went to bed only to awaken with dreams of the various monsters attacking and him unable to move. He waited until six -- the earliest that breakfast was served, and got up. He took a shower, and headed down towards the Great Hall. He met Mike Daly in the entrance hall.

"Good morning, Harry."

"Morning, Mike."

"You look upset."

"Less than a week until I face whatever it is they're going to have try to kill me for their amusement."

"Harsh. Want a break?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come with me."


"I'm floo-ing to my home. We'll have breakfast, go to church, relax. We'll come back around noon. What do you say?"

Harry, who didn't want to see or talk to anyone at school at the moment agreed. They headed to the headmasters office. Mike had the password ("Cotton candy") to get past the gargoyle and used the same password on the door when no one answered his knock.

"Dumbledore doesn't always get up this early, or want to. So I have permission to use his floo. The paintings will tell him if I touch any of his stuff or do anything I'm not supposed to," Mike explained to his friend.

He showed Harry the pot of floo powder, and ignited a fire, when one of the paintings on the wall interrupted.

"What's he doing here? Only you have permission to go home now."

Mike didn't bat an eye as he answered, "He's coming with me. It's all been arranged."

He threw some floo powder into the fire and said, "Daley House," and spun away in the green flames. Harry quickly followed.

He found himself in a living room. It was comfortable, but a little unusual to Harry's eyes. The electric lamps on the end tables and the telephone looked out of place. The most unusual thing about it was the baby grand piano. Harry found out that Mike played some but his brother, a year younger than him, played well. Mike proudly showed Harry the picture of his brother Mark on the wall, next to a picture of Mike and of a little girl he said was his sister. She was a few years younger than Mark who was a year younger than Mike. Mark was a squib, but there had been a few incidents of accidental magic with Mary, so they expected her to receive a Hogwarts letter in two summers.

Mike took Harry to the kitchen where Mrs. Daley was enjoying a cup of coffee. She remembered Harry from the times they had visited each others houses. Harry's offer to make breakfast was declined and Mrs. Daley did it, although the boys set the table. Soon the rest of the family was up and eating, and Mike picked up all the latest news. Mark had been in a track meet the day before and had placed second and Mary had aced a spelling test. Mike filled them in on what was happening at Hogwarts. He talked about his classes and the foreign students, but didn't mention Harry's part in what was going on. Harry was grateful, and didn't say anything about that when he was included in the conversation. He kept his answers to "how was your week?" focused on classes.

After breakfast it was time to get ready for church. Mike and Harry got rid of the robes, and Mike lent Harry a "more appropriate" shirt than the Hobgoblins t-shirt he was wearing. Mr. Daley took Harry aside to give him some instructions about behavior in church.

"Basically, stand when we stand, sit or kneel with everyone else. You don't have to say any of the prayers. Sing if you want to. And when we go up for Communion, please wait in the pew with Mike's mother. Other than that, be respectful. Any questions, I'll be glad to answer at the end. Oh, yes, there's a sign of peace, which in your case is a handshake. I think that's it."

"What other signs of peace are there?"

"Kissing. But that's usually just in families," he answered with a smile.

Harry followed Mr. Daley's instructions. The Church, named after St. John Bosco, didn't have a choir loft, but did have an area with a piano, electric organ, and room for the choir towards the front. A group of teenagers with guitars supplied the music. Mr. Daley sang loudly and mostly on key; Mrs. Daley sang enthusiastically, but more off key. Mike had a fairly good signing voice.

There were several spots where the people sat and a man read from the Bible, with singing between the different readings. Then the people stood while the priest, who wore robes, Harry noticed with a smile, read a story that Harry recognized. It was a story he had originally read in Late Latin from the Vulgate. Here, it was read in English. The story told about a woman who was caught committing adultery. Taken to Jesus to see his reaction, he didn't react, and eventually everyone left, while Jesus wrote in the sand. Harry had not understood the story. It was only afterward, as the priest explained the traditional belief that Jesus was writing the sins of the crowd in the sand that Harry finally got it. The priest also said that if you put yourself into the story, you'll usually be in one of two roles -- either the person caught in sin, or part of the crowd.

That caused him to think. He wasn't perfect, and yet he had, in essence, condemned Luna. Yet he wasn't even innocent of helping get his own name into the goblet. And when he had asked Selene about adultery, she had pointed out that it takes two people, and it looked like only one was being punished. Where was the man?

He knew. He was the man. He was almost as guilty as Luna, but he was part of the crowd. He needed to talk with Luna.

He didn't pay a lot of attention to the rest of the ritual. He shook hands with people around him at the sign of peace (and did notice Mr. and Mrs. Daley exchanged a kiss at that point. He remained in the pew with Mrs. Daley while the others went up to the altar. The final song was sung and they went back to Mike's house. They visited for a while, played a game of cards, and finally it was time to return to Hogwarts. Harry received an open invitation to join them anytime, and they floo-ed back to the headmaster's office.

Unfortunately, the headmaster was there at the time. Despite Mike's insistence that Harry was invited, they still ended up with detention. Harry didn't care, he had to see Luna. Once they were out of Dumbledore's office, Harry thanked Mike, and headed off to find his betrothed.

- - -

Unable to find her, he had asked Liz Ericson to give Luna a note: Please meet me in the room where we found the vase.

He was now nervously pacing while waiting in the Divination Tower. Finally the ladder dropped to the floor below and Luna appeared.

"Yes?" she said, guardedly.

"I'm sorry," Harry started. He hated reading about politicians and other public figures that said "I want to apologize" but never actually did, so he got it out right away.

"I was wrong to be so mad at you, and you didn't deserve that for what would have been a funny joke if everything had worked out as planned. I was scared and mad at having to be in the contest, and I took that out on you, too, even though I helped get myself into this situation. Please forgive me."

She stared at him with her big, silvery eyes for a moment. He got even more nervous. Aunt Selene's words about what might happen if the bond broke were echoing in his brain. Finally she answered.

"Yes. To all of it."

"Huh?" Harry said, confused.

"Yes, you were wrong. Yes, you helped. Yes, you shouldn't have taken it out on me. And yes, I'll forgive you. But you hurt me Harry."

"I know. I'm sorry." He went to Luna and gave her a hug. But when when he tried to kiss her, she turned her head.

"You don't forgive me?" he said, trying to to break the hug, but her arms held him.

"I forgive you, but it's going to take some time to get over the hurt. Give me time, please?"

He actively hugged her again and said, "I will. I hope it doesn't take too long. I have to fight a monster in less than a week."

"Yes, and Ragingstorm is upset that you're not around to hear all about what they learned about basilisks."

"The information is OK, but what's really helping is the spells they've been teaching me."

"My scholar," she sighed, enjoying the hug. "Shall we go and keep Ragingstorm happy?"

"Might as well."

“And Harry? I'm sorry, too. I'm sorry I got you into this contest.”

“Thanks, Luna. And I know you didn't mean for it to happen.”

"Next time, 'Do not let the sun go down on your anger,'" Luna said.

They headed down the ladder.

"Hey, it was already after sunset!"

"Yes, but there was another sunset the next day."

- - -

Word of their reconciliation spread through the school, proving once again that rumor is the only thing that can go faster than the speed of light. People started talking with them again, as their emotional states hadn't been conducive to conversation for the last few weeks.

Ginny was able to get Luna alone after Double Transfigurations on Tuesday afternoon. She directed the blond to an empty classroom, and confronted her.

"All these years I thought we were friends! But now I find out that your married! And you never told me?"

"We never told anyone, Ginny. Even my Mum didn't know for weeks."

"So this wasn't an arranged marriage?"

"Yes, I arranged it. It was a childish thing to do, but I did it and Harry went along. Although, now that I think about it, we told a number of people when we first got together." She laughed a little. "It wasn't our fault that no one believed us, and Mum kept telling us to cut it out."

"But you never told me."

"I think I did. I remember once you saying you were going to marry Harry Potter, and I said I was going to marry my Harry."

"But that wasn't true. You married him already."

"Technically, we're magically bonded. We intend to have a wedding after Hogwarts."

"So how did it happen?"

"We said the marriage vows to each other, and meant it. You should know how that works."

"Yeah, and how dangerous that is. How did you get Harry to agree? Were you in love?"

"We were seven. . ."

"That long ago?"

Luna nodded and continued, "And I just asked him."

"I wonder what would have happened if I met Harry Potter when he was seven?"

"Oh, Ginny, give it up. I'm sure Harry Potter has his own life now. You have to grow up."

Ginny sighed. "I know, but it's fun dreaming, isn't it? I mean, you're stuck now. If someone nicer, or more handsome, or rich comes along, you can't even think about it, can you?"

"I doubt there's someone nicer. Harry's handsome enough for me. And we've never been rich, but we're not poor, but money can't buy happiness. And I'm happy with Harry."

"But if Harry Potter came along?" Ginny persisted.

"He couldn't make me happier than my Harry. Maybe the same amount. . . ." Luna said with a smile.

"AH HA!"

"Just joking. Let's go get dinner," Luna replied, heading for the door.

"You say you're joking, but I saw that smile, Luna Lovegood!"

"I smiled because it was a joke, Ginevra Weasley."

- - -

Two days before the first task Luna stopped him while they were on their way to dinner. She pulled him into an empty classroom and looked at him intently.

"Getting one last look?" he asked, half joking.

"No, just double checking. You're going to get a letter from Mum tomorrow, by the way."

"About what?"

"They destroyed the ring. The link is gone. All that's left is the line to Voldemort."

"How about after this stupid tournament we start working on getting rid of him, too."

"Sounds good," she said, and gave him a kiss. He hugged her back, and would have given her a deep kiss, except she stopped him.

"I agree it's a special occasion, but I want to wait until after the first task."


"I want you to look forward to something positive."

"As opposed to just being done with it?"

"That's not positive enough. So if you want it, you have to do well Saturday."

"That's blackmail," he said, with a grin.

"Blackmail's such an ugly word," she said, grinning back, and taking his arm as she directed him out of the classroom. "However, it does seem to fit the situation, doesn't it."

They laughed as they went to dinner.

- - -

"Mr. Lovegood, it is time."

Harry got up from the couch in the Ravenclaw common room where he and Luna were waiting. It was the Saturday of the First task, and Harry had been told to hang around the common room after lunch. He had hardly eaten anything and the little he'd had was only because Luna and Hermione insisted. Now Professor Flitwick, his head of house, had come to take him to the first task.

Luna hugged him and said, "Good luck, Harry. And remember, it's not whether you win or lose, it's if you survive!"

Harry snorted. Luna had been using variations on the phrase all week long to lift his spirits. Admittedly, this one wasn't as good as some. It had started out sounding normal:

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

but had quickly degenerated:

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's if you look good."

"It's not whether you win or lose, unless you lose."

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's the point spread."

"It's not whether you win or lose, as long as you win."

and his favorite:

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's the beer."

So, with a smile, he followed Flitwick out of the castle and to a tent set up at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. He was ushered inside and found the other three champions already there. Victor Krum was standing, staring at his shoes. Fleur Delacour was pacing nervously. Cedric Diggory was sitting on a chair, fidgeting.

"Hey, Lovegood," he said.

"Hey, Diggory," Harry replied. He heard the sound of people passing the tent. "Our fans."

Diggory made a sound that could have meant derision, agreement, acknowledgment, or just indifference.

"I hate this waiting. Any idea what the task will be?" the Hufflepuff asked.

Harry shook his head. "Most popular bet in Ravenclaw is something to do a manticore," he answered.

"It eez not a manteecore," Delacour said. Her eyes widened and her mouth closed suddenly.

"What?" Diggory demanded. "What do you know?"

"I know nothing," she said.

"You know it's not a manticore," Harry replied.

"No," said a new voice, "it's not a manticore." The champions turned to see Ludo Bagman enter the tent. "What you are going to face and what order is right here in this little bag. Reach in and take your pick. Ladies with extra knowledge first."

Fleur went a little pale, but Bagman assured her he wouldn't say anything. She reached in the bag and pulled out a small, magically animated, green dragon. She didn't seem surprised.

Harry, however, was.

"Dragons!" he mumbled. "I hate dragons."

"Where were dragons on the betting," Diggory asked, as Krum pulled out a red one with the number two on it.

"Second to least likely. Even 'some unlisted creature' beat dragons." Cedric put his hand in the bag and pulled out a blue gray dragon numbered "one".

"What was less likely than dragons?" He asked, as Harry reached into the bag.

"Something unrelated to creatures," Harry answered as he pulled out the last dragon: a bronze colored one that seemed to have a lot of spikes sticking out of it.

"The Hungarian Horntail. Very dangerous," Bagman commented, unhelpfully. "Right, then. When you're called head down the path and good luck!" Bagman turned and headed towards the back exit from the tent.

"Wait a minute!" Harry said. "We're supposed to slay a dragon?"

"Slay? What ever gave you that idea? You're supposed to get the golden egg away from her. Any more questions?" There weren't any and he left.

Cedric was soon called and they listened to Bagman's commentary. It was full of descriptive statements like, "That's clever." "Look out!" "That was close." Harry wished that Lee Jordan was doing the commentary. At least his bantering with McGonagall was funny. The crowd cheered, and there was silence for about five minutes. Then Krum was called.

Fleur stopped her pacing and looked at Harry.

"That girl, she eez really your wife? I did not know that arranged marriages were still done in England."

"It wasn't arranged. It was us, as children, deciding to get married."

"Did no one tell you how dangerous that eez?"

"No. No one told me. Luna had been warned, but she decided to marry me anyway, because she liked the way her parents were."

"I do not understand."

"She saw how much her parents loved each other, and wanted to be married, just like them. She was seven at the time.

"And you wanted to be married too? Mais oui, of course you would have to want it, because otherwise it would not have been magically binding. Why did you want to be married?"

Later, Harry would think that it was fact that the conversation was keeping his mind from what they were about to do that made him answer so honestly. "I'm an orphan, and the people I was living with didn't want me, and made it perfectly clear. When I went to live with the Lovegoods they wanted me, and I wanted to make sure I was part of the family. It seemed like a good way to become part of it -- at least when I was seven.

"Tell me about your family," Harry said, to change the subject.

Fleur told Harry about her family, her Veela grandmother, her mother and sister who also had the Veela powers.

"Can your Veela powers help you against a dragon?"

"I do not know. I will try to charm him, but we don't know if it will work."

At that point the crowd cheered, and it was quiet.

"They weel call for me soon. Good luck, 'Arry Lovegood."

"Bon chance, Fleur Delacour. The goblet chose you for a reason; you'll do well."

"Merci, 'Arry."

Fleur was called at that point, and walked out with a resolute gait.

Harry paid attention to the commentary this time.

"I don't know what she's doing, but it seems to be working. That sounded like a variation of a snake charm spell; interesting effect. It seems to be working. The big lizard is taking a snooze. Normally a Welsh Green would take at least three dragon handlers stunning it to put it out, but this little lady seems to have done it somehow. Oh, look out! That's got to have hurt. She's got it! She's away! Our third champion has done it!"

Harry hadn't paid much attention to Krum's attempt, but if he had to guess, Bagman was rooting for Fleur. That didn't seem right, considering that he was one of the judges. But some things he said got Harry thinking.

The minutes dragged on. Harry was sure it was taking longer for them to set up his dragon than it took for the others. Finally, his name was called. He left the tent and made his way to an arena. Sitting at one end was a life size version of the Hungarian Horntail that he had in his pocket. Stands surrounded the rocky pit he found himself in. He approached the dragon.

This was his first time seeing it up close. He compared it to what he remembered about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs didn't have wings. Actually, he knew of no mundane creature that had four legs and wings. The tail wasn't stiff, as they thought dinosaur tails were. A kentrosaurus might have a few spikes pointing out of its body, but nothing like this. And those claws -- some dinos might have claws like that. A fifty foot long eagle or owl might, too. Legs were set to the sides, more like a lizard's and unlike a dinosaur's. That might be a good thing.

The head was very triangular; much wider than a meat eating dino, Harry though; more like a viper. He nodded to himself. He had nothing to lose. If it didn't work, he still had "manticore plan A."

He cast the sonorus spell. Then he cast the spell that Willow had taught him.

- - -

Up in the judges box, Dumbledore heard the spell, and realized that he had forgotten the sibilant inflections needed to cast it himself.

"Filius! Quick! Do you remember the Parseltongue spell?"

"Yes, Albus. . . ."

"Quick, cast it and translate for us."

"Zee boy is a Parselmouth?" Madam Maxime asked.

"No, he learned a spell to talk to reptiles from a dryad. What's he saying Filius?"

"He's explaining the contest to the dragon. . . ."

- - -

"Greetings, oh great and beautiful one!" Harry began.

"It's speaks! It speaks to us! How can this be?"

"A dryad taught me, wondrous winged one."

"If you were a snake, I'd say you speak with a forked tongue. Why have I been taken from my nest and brought here, little speaker?"

"These," he indicated the judges, "are using you as a test. You are to guard your eggs, which include a fake egg. I am supposed to get the fake egg away from you."

"So they have brought me here to be a plaything?"

Harry always wondered after this if things would have been easier if he had agreed. But he had decided upon flattery, thinking that "flattery will get you anywhere".

"No, they have you as a challenge; a nearly insurmountable obstacle. I am supposed to defeat you and take the fake egg. But we do not have to play their game. If you just let me take it, neither of us will have to get hurt."

"You fear me." It wasn't a question, but Harry answered it anyway.

"Yes, very much so."

"As it should be."

"Will you let me have the false egg, please?"

"No. If I am to guard it like one of my own, it would hurt my pride if I did not do all that was in my power to protect it. The challenge remains. Face me, or run away. This," she indicated the heavy chain around her back leg, "gives you the chance to run away."

Harry took a deep breath. "Very well then. Avis! Avis! Avis! Avis! Avis!"

Harry kept casting the spell as the air around him filled with birds. He concentrated on them, and they started flying around the dragon. Every now and then some would swoop down and seemingly attack the huge creature. Many would disappear in flame as the dragon breathed on them, trying to get rid of the annoying creatures.

Harry meanwhile was still casting. Every time he couldn't think of something else, he cast more Avis spells, creating another half dozen birds. The ones attacking the dragon would be burned to a crisp if they got too close. Harry's summoning spell didn't gain him the egg. He hoped it wasn't physically held in place, too. He sent several snakes conjured by the Serpensortia spell towards the eggs with the instructions to move the gold one out of the nest. He annoyed the dragon by hitting her with jets of water -- his range was longer than her flaming breath. He also tried tripping hexes, itching hexes, and other minor annoyances, but they proved ineffective against the dragon. As she stopped trying to incinerate the birds, and tried to get him instead, Harry had the birds land on the back of her head and start pecking. That really annoyed the dragon, as she writhed trying to dislodge the pests.

Harry's snakes, meanwhile, had pushed the wrong egg out of the nest. To be fair to the snakes, it might have been in the way. Harry summoned that egg, and it came to him, and burnt his hands as he tried to catch it. He levitated the egg, and surrounded it with birds. He used the wingardium spell to float it to the other side of the dragon. When it was in place, the birds attacked from that side. The dragon made short work of the flying critters, and saw it's egg sitting away from the others. The dragon went to retrieve it, and Harry made a dash towards the nest. His snake friends succeeded in pushing the gold one out as he got close.

The dragon turned it's head as he was grabbing the egg. He was ready, and hit her in the face with another jet of water. The fact that she closed her eyes at the crucial point was probably the only thing that saved Harry from being impaled as the tail came swinging at him. But he leaped over the spiked appendage and made a dash away from the dragon. The crowd's cheer registered with Harry, and he realized that he had completed the first task. He held the egg aloft, and went toward the people, including Luna, who were waving him over.

He stopped, though, and turned back to the dragon. He bowed, and waved. The dragon bowed it's head, and waved it's tail back. Then Harry left the field.

- - - - - -

Author Note: Yes, I know the first task took place in the book on a Tuesday. I have no idea why. The only people I see who would want it on a weekday would be some Ministry flunkies who might object to working on a weekend. Otherwise, why disrupt classes?

Thanks to my betas Swordchucks , Wombat, and Evan Mayerle. Take that whack! poor sentence construction!
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