Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the other characters from the books or any other connected media, they belong to J.K.Rowling and whoever else owns the rights.
Notes: This is an AU book 4 with many differences, especially where the tournament is concerned. I always found it funny that it only had 3 tasks and they were not harder and more dangerous. The idea to lengthen the tournament is inspired by JBern's The Lie I Lived and I fully admit that, characters may be a little different than in canon, but not to much bar certain cases.
Summary: Alone, bar two new allies, and he is in deep trouble. Harry must survive the Tri-Wizard tournament and whoever has put his name in the cup.
(Hogwarts, Great Lake)
Harry Potter leaned against the tree in his now favourite spot near the great lake and he watched as the giant squid played around with some mere people. The scene was calming and if it was something he needed right now, it was something to help calm him. He had thought this year was going to be so much better than his previous three years. For once he had believed he would not end up the centre of attention. That he could fade into the background and watch someone else risk his life by choice. Back then the Tri-Wizard tournament had sounded like such a great idea, but he should have known better, his life never was never easy.
The naming of the Champions ceremony, everything from that point on had gone badly for him. His name had somehow come out of the Goblet of Fire, the magical instrument that chose the Champions. He had been shocked by this event, that shock had then turned to anger as people started calling him a cheater as he numbly walked up to Dumbledore who looked at him as if he had kicked him in the head. The night had gone from bad to worse as Snape vented his hatred for him yet again, doing all he could to turn everyone against him. It seemed to have worked quite well. The looks he had gotten from Krum, Fleur and Cedric, the three original Champions had not been pleasant. The ones from the teachers of all three schools had been worse, he had tried to tell them he had not put his name in the Goblet, but they had not listened. The final nail in the coffin that night had been Barty Crouch Senior saying that he had to compete, that there was no way out.
Once he headed back to the dormitory he'd had to deal with the angry shouts of cheat and glory hound from his dorm mates, which would not have been too bad to deal with. He'd dealt with it during second year when everyone turned on him believing him to Slytherins heir, but it had been bearable because he still had Hermione and Ron supporting him. His two best friends had stood by him, sadly he could not say the same this time which made him feel all the worse. Ron's actions he could understand as he'd always been jealous of his fame and wealth, they had discussed being in the tournament and winning. Ron thought it would be a glorious adventure, while Harry had tried to tell him it would be dangerous and could end up with him dead. Ron had dismissed it as worth it for wealth and glory, so him turning his back on him was understandable as in his mind once again Harry Potter got everything he wanted. Hermione turning on him or at least been very unsure where to stand on the issue had hurt badly, she was conflicted on what to believe. He did not know how she could think he would want to put his life at risk after all they had been through. A part of it he thought was because she didn't want to anger Ron by supporting him. He had long suspected Hermione and Ron fancied each other, but he had never suspected her to do something like this because of it.
He picked up a stone and threw it into the lake and watched as the giant squid actually batted it back with one of its tentacles, this caused him to smile. The giant squid was clearly in a playful mood, he wondered if the magical creature was sentient. A sudden noise from behind him made him jump to his feet and turn around. With his wand out he found himself standing in front of someone he did not immediately recognise. Daphne Greengrass had changed quite a bit since the last time he had seen her, which was back during second year. She had been one of the few who had not attacked him verbally, but had stayed in the background and stood apart in the house rivalries. Her lovely straight black hair was longer than the last time he had seen her, she had grown up quite a bit and it was obvious to him that she had entered puberty. He managed to keep his eyes from wandering and he wondered why she had sought him out. He lowered his wand but kept it in his hand, these days it paid to be on guard he thought.
Daphne watched him for a few moments and was relieved when he lowered his wand, she could understand him being jumpy after the last couple of days. She had watched events from a distance as every year Harry Potter had gotten into life threatening events, it never seemed to fail. Only this time she feared he might actually lose his life and she couldn't stand that. After all one of her biggest secrets was that she fancied Harry Potter. It was not hard to see what so many other females at Hogwarts saw in him. He was brave and good looking and had a noble streak in him. She had seen him stand up to Draco Malfoy and his band of sycophants multiple times, he had beaten back the Dark Lord's attempts to regain his body if the stories were true and she believed that they were. She had never had the guts to talk to him except once before during second year. It had been a brief talk, but it had left her with the impression Harry was strong willed.
As Harry continued to look at her she was trying to think how to start their talk before deciding to stick to a simple greeting. She was nervous, as she knew that once she told him what she wanted to tell him that she would end up as outcast just as he was. Not that she minded too much as part from Tracy Davis she had few friends here. She and Tracy had explored their sexuality with each other during sleepovers, they were that close. Tracy shared her fancy of Harry, the only other Slytherin who actually liked him. Their families had a lot in common including staying neutral during the war. Somehow she doubted that if the Dark Lord came back that anyone would be able to be neutral. They would have to pick a side and she refused to imagine the kind of horrors the Dark Lord would put his own people through. Sharing Harry was something she and Tracy had discussed many times, neither had a problem with the idea due to their close bond with each other.
She had heard many tales by listening to Draco and the other Slytherin's discuss things they had heard from their parents. A lot of who had been followers of the Dark Lord. Tracy also shared her dislike of many of their dorm mates, especially Pansy Parkinson. Dismissing her wandering thoughts she refocused on Harry who was still watching and waiting for her to speak.
"Hello Harry," she finally spoke and hoped this would go as well as she had imagined. "Are you okay?" she asked.
Harry grunted in reply before turning and throwing another stone into the lake which the giant squid again shot back at him. "I'm fine Daphne, I'm used to being alone," he finally answered her, somewhat bitterly.
"No one is used to being alone all the time," Daphne argued, a little of balance by the bitterness she detected in Harry's voice. "You have Granger and Weasley," she pointed out.
"Not this time," Harry shot back, kicking the ground in a combination of frustration and anger at his friend's actions "They turned on me too. One out of jealousy and the other probably because she fancies Ron and doesn't want to annoy him," he explained at her surprised look. "No, I'm alone now," he stated.
Daphne didn't know what to say in response. She had never expected Granger to turn on him, even if she had not exactly turned. But by not supporting him, just to keep that idiot Weasley happy, she had damaged the friendship she had shared with Harry. She shook her head at the other girl's foolish choice. No boy was worth throwing away the kind of strong bond she had seen between the two.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Daphne finally said. "They'll regret it when the truth comes out," she told him confidently.
At that Harry turned back to face her again and noted she was serious, that surprised him and he began to wonder why she was talking to him. "You actually believe that I did not put my name in the goblet?" he inquired.
Daphne couldn't help but smile before she answered. "I know you Harry. I might not have talked to you much in our time here, but I've seen how much you shy away from being in the spotlight," she explained. "Weasley craves attention and tries to push you forward so he can bask in your shadow. Granger likes to gain attention as well, although it usually works against her thanks to Draco and his hanger-on's," she went on with another shake of her head. "You wouldn't have put your name in the goblet. I would think you would have enjoyed being in the background for once," she stated, to which Harry nodded his head in agreement. "Do you know who did put your name in it?" she asked.
"Not a clue, but I have a few suspicions," Harry answered as he went and leaned against the tree with his arms folded over his chest. "I have plenty of enemies who want me dead for one reason or another," he reminded her with a grim smirk. "This just looks like one more attempt at making sure the so called boy who lived finally expires," he concluded with a tired shake of his head. ‘Why can't my life be peaceful for once?' he thought darkly.
"What about the headmaster? Can't he get you out of this?" Daphne asked. "Everyone knows you two talk to each other a lot, far more than any other student probably before or after you," she pointed out.
"According to the rules of the tournament Daphne, I can't pull out," Harry answered, frowning as he again recalled that event. "I have to compete," he stated.
"You'll need help," Daphne told him, moving a little closer to him.
"Are you offering to help me, Daphne?" Harry shot back, glancing at her "Because I assure you, if you are then you better be ready to become one of the most hated people in the school," he warned her seriously. "They will not like it," he stated.
"You think I don't know that Harry?" Daphne shot back, knowing he was right. "They'll just have to learn to like it and I'm not the only one who will help you," she told him, wanting to put a reassuring hand on his arm but was too nervous to attempt it.
"Who else would want to help me?" Harry asked, wondering if she was trying to play him, but she looked very serious.
"You'll see Harry," Daphne said with a smirk before she turned and began to walk away. "I'll see you later Harry. I have some work to do," she continued. "I suggest you start training," she added one last parting shot before she vanished.
Harry watched her go and was still trying to work out whether to trust what she had told him or not. He looked back out onto the lake and noted the giant squid had vanished. Putting his hands into his pockets he let out a sign and began to head back inside himself. He did his best to ignore the looks and calls sent his way as he passed.
Albus Dumbledore rubbed his forehead as he fought of a growing headache as Severus Snape continued to rant and rave. He sometimes wished he did not need Snape as much as he did. The man was a master potion brewer, an accomplished dueller and he could be very clever, yet that all seemed to go out the window where Harry Potter was concerned. Every year his hatred of the boy grew worse, it was far more extreme than he had expected to see. He glanced at the man who continued to stalk up and down yelling. Why couldn't he see that Harry wasn't his father James he had no clue.
"Enough Severus," Dumbledore finally exploded, causing the other man to instantly shut up. "How many times must I tell you that Harry is nothing like what you portray him as," he continued with a glare over his glasses. "I believe him when he stated he didn't put his name in the goblet. There is no way he could have got past my age line," he reminded the man who slumped into a chair.
"I still say the stupid brat could have gotten someone to put his name in for him," Snape argued. "You can ignore it as much as you want headmaster, but Potter is just like his father," he ranted with a snarl which was brought about just by thinking over his hated foe. "He is a glory hound who will get someone killed if we don't curtail his rule breaking," he added.
Dumbledore let out a sigh at the man's obviously blindness on this subject. He folded his hands and stared at Snape who glared back at him. He knew they would never agree on this subject, but he wished Severus would be more objective where Harry was concerned.
"Now onto other matters," he stated clearly ensuring that Severus knew he would not discuss Harry with him anymore. "I want you to keep an eye on Karkaroff as well as make some inquiries with Lucius and the other pardoned Death Eaters. See if any of them will let anything slip," he ordered. "I'm certain they have connections to Harry's name coming out of the cup," he stated.
"As you wish headmaster," Snape replied with a slight sneer, which he quickly changed as it would not do for the headmaster to know of his growing anger towards him.
"I suspect the tournament is not going to go as everyone planned," Dumbledore stated as he stood and moved to the window and looked out over the grounds. "I fear we are fast approaching a crossroad," he admitted.
Severus wanted to roll his eyes, but he kept himself immobile and just stared at the headmaster's back. One thing he had always hated was the old fool's constant speeches about the coming darkness. He was tired of listening to it. He wanted to be rid of the old fool, of Potter and every other annoying child he had to deal with here. But he had his orders, orders from the Dark Lord that had kept him at the school all these years. He had always known the Dark Lord would return. Someone so powerful couldn't possibly be killed, especially not by a baby. No, he would be back and when this was all over he would finally gain his reward. This brought a short smile to his face, which quickly vanished as Dumbledore turned back to him.
"Keep a close eye on Harry where you can. I fear this year will be very difficult for him," he requested before dismissing him.
Snape sneered at the thought of helping Potter in anyway. He would rather see the annoying whelp get himself splattered during the tournament. Still to maintain his cover he might have to help the boy, the thought itself made his anger boil.
Daphne found Tracy sitting on her bed reading one of her fantasy novels. Tracy loved them and had a large collection of books. She usually brought a few with her each year. She herself had borrowed one or two and found them to be fascinating. Tracy kept reading fully engrossed in her book until Daphne flung one of her pillows at her, which struck her friend on the head and made her drop the book.
"What did you do that for?" Tracy demanded to know. "You know I hate being interrupted when I'm reading," she added as he picked up the book again and marked her page.
"I know, but I also know that sometimes it takes forever to gain your attention when you're reading," Daphne pointed out with a teasing grin. "And I have something to tell you," she explained.
"What is it?" Tracy inquired with a raised eyebrow at her friend.
Daphne looked around before she pulled her wand and dropped some anti-listening charms around the bed they were on. It wouldn't do if Draco or any of his minions found out what they were discussing. Noting her friend's questioning look at her actions, she turned and began to relay the discussion she had just with Harry. Tracy was surprised that Daphne had actually gone through with her plan to actually talk to the boy they both fancied, she was angered to hear his only two real friends had basically deserted him. That was not good news and meant Harry was in even more danger now. The only reason why the world had known fourteen years of peace had been because of Harry.
Her parents had told her often that had the Dark Lord hadn't been killed when he had attacked Harry and they doubted they could have stayed neutral much longer if he hadn't vanished. They would have to pick a side and once that happened they would probably been killed. They had told her they never contemplated joining the Dark Lord's forces as they knew he would kill them on a whim if it suited him. It had happened to a friend of her father's who had joined the Death Eaters. He had been killed for no reason other than the Dark Lord had been angered by the third escape from death at his hand by Lily and James Potter.
"So you offered our help in training him?" Tracy finally asked.
"I did," Daphne responded. "This is the only way we are going to get close to him Tracy," she pointed out to her. "And with Granger and Weasley not at his side constantly he should listen to whatever we have to say. It's the perfect chance to catch him and make him ours," she added.
Tracy couldn't fault her friend's logic. One of the things that had kept them from trying to get close to Harry the previous years had been the annoying presence of his friends. They seemed to always be by his side, like they were guarding him and they ensured no one out side the three of them got close to Harry.
"This is going to cause us a lot of trouble in our house, but you have a point," Tracy mused. "But the rewards would be great, ok I'm in," she agreed with a nod of her head. Daphne grinned and relaxed against her. They began to discuss how to help Harry through the tournament.
Harry sat on his bed with his eyes closed still thinking over his talk with Daphne. If she could help him he decided he would accept whatever help she offered. He would need it if he was to have any hope of surviving this damn tournament, turning on his side he took the Marauder's Map out of his nearby trunk and quickly located Daphne's dot. It was next to Tracy Davis in their dorms and he wondered if Tracy was the other person Daphne had suggested would help him. Shrugging his shoulders knowing the mystery would be solved soon he looked for Ron and Hermione. He noted Ron was on the Quidditch pitch whilst Hermione was in the library. He wondered why they were not together, but of course the answer came quickly. They had probably gotten into another fight. He shook his head and put the map away before curling up on the bed hoping for a nice rest