One Floo Under #12: A series of unfortunate events

a series of unfortunate ideas which deal with Harry Potter which i have no intention of fleshing out into a fic.

* break *

A red bolt of magical energy from the stands shot directly in front of where a broomstick was attempting to fly. The rider of the broomstick hauled up abruptly to change course.

A claw slammed into him with enough force that boy and broomstick and glasses all went flying on slightly different trajectories.

The crowd went silent, except for a single fist-pump and "GOT HIM!" - which was followed by about twelve members of the audience drawing wands and firing ten stunners, one cutting curse, and a boils hex into the individual responsible.

Those still watching caught a glimpse of a tumbling body in mid-air before the dragon's mouth caught up and slammed shut on the body.

* break *

"I bloody told him he shouldn't have entered his name in the Tournament," began Ron Weasley.

Hermione looked up at him, the words taking a few seconds to register. "What? You didn't say anything of the sort!"

"Too dangerous, even for that amount of mone-" continued Ron.

There was the sudden sound of someone being hit in the jaw hard enough that teeth were loosened.

"Ow ow ow ow ow," said Hermione, cradling her hand.

"Hermione," said George Weasley kindly. "You shouldn't do that."

"Use this," said Fred, handing her the sort of short bat he used in quidditch.

"Wha?" asked Ron, feeling his jaw. Why did it look like some terrible shadow had fallen over Hermione? How was she looming over him? Why... why was he still sitting here when he could be running?

* break *

"Great. I'm dead."

"So you are."

"Don't suppose I get a 'do over'?"

"Not usually, no."

"So, what now?"

"You being dead pretty much affects things in a negative way for your friends. They end up fighting Voldemort. They die."

"Oh. Well, I have to say dying wasn't as painful as I thought it would be."

"Of course, the main effect is that Britain breaks the Statute Of Secrecy and war between muggle and wizard starts after Buckingham Palace is razed and the Queen's tortured body is hung from the gates."

"Wha-"

"Yeah, it pretty much starts a full-on war. Wizards apparating in and out of supposedly secure places. Voldemort claims it will break the spirits of the muggles and allow his followers to take control." The glowing outline of a person in the train station took a seat next to Harry as it spoke to him.

Harry Potter considered that for a moment. "That wouldn't bloody work at all, would it?"

"No, there's a lot of attempts from various other magical governments at damage control, but the muggles end up wiping out most of the wizarding world once they get their heads wrapped around the concepts. Then someone finally authorizes a total war footing." The outline shook his head. "People being people - they deny any of it as real and debunk it even when there's physical evidence. Years later, and even with magical engines coming out - there are Mage-Deniers on the internet."

"So I'm responsible for the end of the wizarding world?" asked Harry.

"No," said the outline. "Tom Riddle is responsible for that. You might not have stopped him, but that doesn't make what he did your fault."

"Oh, because it sounded like you were blaming me," said Harry.

"If you were responsible for that, then you'd also be responsible for what came after the Wizard Wars," said the outlined being. "Scientists having had to figure out how to fight magic once it had gotten up in their face. Without Obliviators running around to scramble memories and cover it all up, a new branch of science is developed to deal with magical forces."

Images appeared in mid-air. Flying vehicles, spaceships apparating across the void, teleport booths, a floating billboard advertising dragon-fire flamed burgers, a fish-and-chips vendor located in an alien space station, flying castles, and huge metal golems fighting on what looked to be the moon.

"Huh. So something good eventually comes of it," said Harry.

"Perhaps, or perhaps not," said the outline. "Everything in your world is ephemeral. Things exist as they are for only a brief span of time, and then are forgotten. Eventually the Wizard Wars and Voldemort are forgotten to the pages of dry history, of interest to a few. So too does humanity eventually fade into obscurity. Depending on the timeline, it could take a century or a half-billion years but it happens most of the time."

"Well, that's a bit depressing," said Harry. "Wish I could've stopped him, but I wasn't exactly prepared to go up against Voldemort. I thought I was prepared to deal with a dragon, but that didn't turn out so well."

"Do you?" asked a third voice.

Harry looked around, but all he could see was himself and the outlined man-figure in the station. Oh, and there was a cat sitting on the bench across from them.

"What are YOU doing here, Elder?" asked the outline.

"Making a deal," said the cat, managing to speak while licking a forepaw.

"Beware making deals with Elders, Harry Potter," said the outlined figure.

"I'm already dead," pointed out Harry.

"You could be even worse off," said the outlined figure.

"A deal for what?" asked Harry.

"Well, if I meddle, I get people saying I've overpowered something or someone, so... why not go with that instead of wasting time arguing about it?" asked the cat.

"You're not going to turn him Super-Saiyajin are you?" asked the outlined man.

"Well, that was one possibility," admitted the Elder cat. "Or Kryptonian. Or Apocalyptin. Or something similar. I'm pretty sure I could get Loki to go along with a god-descent sort of thing."

"How would that even work with his parents?" asked the outlined man.

"Oh, that's easy enough," said the cat. "James Potter always had a bit of a mouth-control problem. Combine that with Lily Evans' temper and you have a situation where she could be off in a snit getting drunk. All James would have to do is say the wrong thing at the wrong time."

"Something he was known to do anyway," said the outline. "This has the potential to escalate entirely out of control."

"So, you can do something so my friends don't die?" asked Harry.

"Well, yes," said the cat, briefly wearing a top hat. Then a bowler, fedora, trilby, and then all of them stacked together.

Harry blinked and then shrugged. "Well, can I be awesome?"

The cat grinned. The outlined figure groaned and stuck its head in its hands.

"That's it," said the outlined figure finally. "I'm out of here. Mister Potter, you'll have to live with the consequences of this."

* break - possibility one *

"Wait," said Lee Jordan, peering out at the dragon as the handlers tried to get it under control. "Something's happening."

The audience stopped weeping, Hermione stopped trying to brain Ron, Draco stopped gloating, and a disguised Death Eater finally lapsed into blessed unconsciousness after his wand had been taken away and jammed completely up his nose with Cho Chang's left shoe currently lodged in his rectum.

Slowly the dragon's mouth was forced open and Harry Potter was revealed, his feet on the tongue while his hands were pushing up the roof of the dragon's mouth.

"Harry Potter is alive! Alive and... how the heck is he doing that?!" asked Lee Jordan. "Not that he doesn't have a lot of motivation."

"ARGH!" yelled Harry as he leapt out of the dragon's mouth with a final heave.

"Harry's managed to get himself out, and... now the dragon's spit flame all over him. Yes, Harry Potter is dead again. No, wait, he's still alive - it's just that his clothes are burned off of him now... Good grief, Harry, put some pants on at least. Now Harry's running around, rather fast he is, trying to cover himself and would someone just conjure up some pants for the poor boy or would that be interference?"

"EEEP!" said Hermione and roughly half of the girls present watching. Not that they weren't continuing to watch, many of them making a show of covering their faces and then peeking between spread fingers.

"I believe it would be interference," said Professor McGonagall. "Though it would be a decent thing to do. Certainly more tasteful. Mister Potter, DO put some clothes on."

"Not so leetle after all," called out Fleur Delacour. "Eeet is about time zat guys suffered 'wardrobe malfunctions' too, no?"

"No!" answered a large number of the audience - mostly male.

"Yes!" countered another large group of the audience - mostly female and getting over the earlier embarassment.

"When did Harry get abs?" asked Hermione, as the least mortifying question going through her head at the moment.

Another burst of flame covered Harry as he crashed to the ground.

"Well, that'd kill off just about anyone, but after the last two times, I'm not calling it," said Lee Jordan.

A rock roughly the size of a piano came out of the fire and slammed into the dragon, staggering it.

As Harry strode out of the fire, lifting a second rock about the same size, Lee decided to go ahead and ask the question. "Uhm, did Harry Potter get taller and quite a bit more muscular? Or is it that he was always slouching? Anyone know how he's doing this?"

The various members of audience watched as Harry leapt up and backhanded the dragon hard enough that it flopped back away from the eggs. At which point Harry just grabbed the one egg, and stalked forward. He put the egg down on the table and didn't even pause on his way towards the medical tent. Also to find something to wear.

* break *

"Ah," said Poppy, the mediwitch shaking her head. "Actually I knew about this. Well, that it was a possibility at least. I was present at Mister Potter's birth after all."

"What was a possibility?" asked Minerva McGonagall.

"James Potter was not the father," said Poppy.

"WHAT?!" asked practically everyone present.

"I'm only mentioning this because otherwise you'll pester Mister Potter, and I swore to Lilly I'd do what I could if it turned out that James Potter was not Harry's father," said Poppy. "According to Lilly, James was being a right prat at one point in their relationship."

"Always," mumbled Severus Snape.

"In fact, what James had done was a spell that summoned forth an 'otherworldly lover'," said Poppy. "I think he'd come across it and thought it was a joke. Apparently not so much. However, instead of dismissing the woman he'd summoned - he actually had carnal relations. Lilly found out, and apparently decided that the old 'what is good for the goose' applied and had a bit of revenge against James. What the spell does though was create a sort-of copy of someone else that only lasts a day or two at most. Apparently Harry's real father was such a temporary stand-in for someone named... oh what was it? Oh yes - Kaliel."

Hermione had been sipping a glass of water and let forth a spew of water that rivaled a natural geyser. Flitwick absent-mindedly gave Gryffindor five points for a wandless Aquamenti spell. After she finished coughing, she had to ask the question. "Wait. Was the name 'Kal-El'?"

"Yes, that was it," said Poppy. "Sounds kind of Yiddish to me."

"Hermione, you just turned really really pale," said Ron. "Who is this guy anyway?"

"The glasses, the hair. Oh my god, Harry Potter is Clark Kent!" exclaimed Hermione.

"This is one of those times you don't make any sense to anyone else in the room," pointed out Ron. "Just saying."

"Kal-El is the Last Son of the Planet Krypton," said Hermione. "I never read that much about him, it was fictional after all, but he's also named 'Superman' and is from some publication over in the Americas."

"A most ominous name," said Albus Dumbledore. "This will have to be researched."

* possibility two *

Harry shook his head, looking up at the dragon. He didn't need the Wisdom of Solomon to know that he couldn't face this head-on without saying the name of his magical patron and transforming into Captain Marvel. Which he couldn't do without revealing that little factor to a large audience.

That he certainly wasn't ready to do, as he might need that surprise later against Voldemort.

No, he'd have to meet this challenge as Harry Potter, but maybe... he could remember learning some of Shazam's magic and there were a couple of spells that he could use here maybe.

He had a mentor who was a powerful wizard, with access to spells from across Eternity. Of course he'd gotten curious because he was a wizard himself and every freaking year there was an attempt on his life. You didn't need the Wisdom of Solomon to see a need to prepare, did you?

Harry started with Dancing Lights cast into the air above and to the left of the dragon. Casting ON the dragon would likely fail due to that whole "magic resistance" thing, but drawing her attention away from the nest was a possibility.

Dragons, at least these varieties, were not sapient. Didn't mean they weren't clever. This one just flicked her eyes at the display then back to him.

"Not going to make it easy, eh?" Harry asked her. "Well, how about..."

"Protection From Fire! Accio Firebolt! Multiple Shadow Clone Technique!" cast Harry. "Haste! Protection Aura!"

"And there it is, wizards and witches," said Lee Jordan. "While Harry has been forbidden those nonstandard spells of his in class or on the quidditch pitch - nobody thought to put it in the rules for the Tournament did they?"

"We may have to do that in the Second and Third Task," said Albus Dumbledore from his position in the Judges' Box. "Otherwise it is quite unfair to the other contestants."

* third possibility *

Harry pried the dragon's mouth open, more impressive when one did it from the inside.

"And there we see it again," said Lee Jordan as the commentator for this First Task of the Triwizard. "As a dragon learns the hard way, if you try to kill Harry Potter you'll just make him stronger. Your thoughts, Professor?"

"His adopted father, James, was a fairly normal wizard, but his biologic father being a Saiyajin means that 'that which does not kill him will make him stronger' in a literal fashion," said Professor McGonagall.

"I've heard it put as 'that which does not kill Harry Potter might just piss him the hell off and is not recommended' but I suppose your version is a bit more audience-friendly," said Lee Jordan. "Oooh. He just punched the mama dragon in the face. That's got to hurt."

"Mister Potter should remember that this is a a Tri-WIZARD competition and that he should be using magic instead of just punching problems until they go away," said Professor McGonagall. "However effective that might have been in some of his previous adventures."

"Could be worse, Draco Malfoy is always trying to hex or insult him - and if he hit Malfoy the way he hit that dragon there'd be Draco-bits from here to Beauxbatons," said Lee.

"Thank you, Mister Jordan, for that image," said Professor McGonagall. "Just what I needed before afternoon tea."

"Well, he got the egg," said Lee. "Looks like the dragon is a bit reluctant to fight Harry for some reason."

"So I see," said Professor McGonagall.

"Even a dragon's got more sense than Draco, I suppose," said Lee.

* possibility 4 *

July 31, 1980 (set background music: "Bad To The Bone")

Pomfrey was just here as an assistant to the midwife, but as the birth process finished up, she couldn't help but blurt out a surprise. "Why does the child have two umbilical cords?"

The mid-wife stopped cleaning the baby for a moment to register what she was seeing, then continued. "That is not an umbilical cord."

"That... oh," said Medi-witch Pomfrey. "A bit..."

"He's going to be very popular in fifteen or sixteen years," said the mid-wife.

* break *

"How in the world did you get those to grow so well?" asked the neighbor, admiring the front garden.

Petunia Dursley fidgeted a bit. "Well, Vernon does do a bit of foreign travel with his company you know."

"And the hedges," gushed the neighbor. "Really, are you hiring someone to do them? All I've ever seen is that boy of yours working in the front."

"Well..." said Petunia Dursley, engaging in a bit of hedging herself.

"I can't even get plants like that to grow in my yard, much less do so well," continued the neighbor.

"Yes, well, it's... just luck," said Petunia Dursley.

* break *

"NO MORE FREAKISHNESS!" yelled Vernon Dursley.

The boy just looked up at him, those brilliant green eyes not showing a hint of remorse.

Vernon Dursley swallowed nervously, hating the way those eyes made him feel. The freak was only five years old, but the child had been able to look as if he were at least twice that age since he was three! The child had been thrown outside when he was two and the little freak had stared down Marge's dog Ripper!

Actually, Ripper was supposed to be afraid of nothing being a prized bulldog who regularly won when pitted against other dogs in that little fighting circuit Marge took part in. Yet Ripper had taken one good look and sniff at the freak and instantly wet himself.

Not that Vernon could over much blame the dog.

"Vernon, my rose bushes won a prize," said Petunia. "They're the talk of the neighborhood."

"That's... bad?" asked Vernon.

"No, that's good," said Petunia, whose confusion was obvious to anyone who knew her. "Except that they want to know how I managed to get Black Desert Roses growing here."

"That's good?" asked Vernon.

"No, that's bad," said Petunia. "I didn't plant Black Desert Roses. They're rare and expensive."

"So that's bad," said Vernon with a nod.

"No, that's good," corrected Petunia. "Because of that, Peter from down the street took some photos for the local Lawn & Garden contest."

"Are we still on good or is this back to bad?" asked Vernon.

Petunia shrugged slightly. "Bit of both, actually."

* break *

"IT'S HERE! IT'S FINALLY HERE!" proclaimed Vernon Dursley.

"Seriously?! About time!" seconded Petunia Dursley.

"Harry! Your Hogwarts letter!" declared Vernon Dursley. Finally! Months at the very least without THAT BOY here! With any luck the brat would get himself killed and not bother them at all.

* break *

"So. That's it," said Harry Potter, looking into the flame.

"That it is," said the voice only he could hear.

"So magic in humans traces back to such things?" asked Harry.

"Where else?" asked the fire. "Those Greeks did it first, I think. Though it might have been the Egyptians, I'll grant them that. After a generation or three it usually settles down into the ability to wield magic being the inheritance you get out of it."

"Well then, there's a precedence." Harry nodded.

* break *

"Harry Potter is going to be on that train. It would be a shame if something happened to it."

"I will take care of it. One little demi who doesn't get to grow up will be no problem."

* break *

The Engineer looked out the window, frowned, rubbed his eyes, then looked again. "Chauncey? Can ye take a look and tell me if you see what I see?"

The firetender did that, stared a few seconds, then answered. "Kobolds on motorcycles waving swords and axes as they's approachin'? Yeah, I be seeing that meself but kobolds ain't exactly native ye know."

"Kobolds. Biker kobolds by the dress code and mounts. In Wales." The Engineer was silent for a moment. "If this was Austria, I could see it happenin'."

"Aye, they're a bit nuts over there. Except for that cake thingie they got there. That rocks," agreed the firetender.

"Sachertorte? Too rich for my digestion by half," said the Engineer. "Want to alert the prefects and upper years we got a situation?"

"Suppose so, they ought to be enough to run thems off," answered the firetender. "I be tellin' the Conductor."

* break *

"Kobolds?" asked the Slytherin Prefect. "What the hell are 'kobolds'?"

"Kobolds are a class XXX Beast. Humanoid, similar to goblins in some respects," said the other Slytherin Prefect. "Mainly found in Austria and Romania. Underground dwellers, tool users, able to use some earth-based magic. Known as trackers of magical beasts and very territorial."

"Whatever, let's just-"

A metal ball rolled out between them and exploded, covering the area in some sticky purple substance that hardened after a second.

"Okay," said the first Prefect. "Didn't expect this."

* break *

"YAAAAAAAAAAA!" yelled one of the kobolds, raising some bladed weapon that was either an oversized dagger or undersized sword and rushing forward.

Harry drew a revolver, shot the kobold between the eyes, and waited there for a moment.

"YAAAAAA!" yelled another kobold as it leapt over its fellow.

Another shot. Another thud.

"THIS IS ENGLAND! YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE GUNS!" yelled a bushy-haired girl hiding behind him.

"Fine," said Harry, holstering the gun and drawing his wand.

"YAAAA!" yelled a third kobold, apparently emboldened by the lack of a firearm.

"Fireball!"

The kobold blew up with a part of the corridor beyond starting to burn.

"That was NOT in the Standard Book Of Spells!" protested the bushy-haired girl.

"Fine. You take the next one!" responded Harry.

"ME?!" asked the bushy-haired girl.

"You want to criticize, YOU take over," said Harry, gesturing down the hallway.

The door to the compartment abruptly slammed shut as the bushy-haired girl apparently decided to retreat instead.

Harry shook his head and glanced at the toad nearby. "Girls."

*possibility 5 - break *

The basilisk slithered out of the statue, yellow eyes considering the morsel before it. Then it abruptly stopped and sniffed. "Speaker? I'd really rather not kill this one."

"OBEY ME!" shouted the shade of Tom Riddle.

"But this one is of the line of -," began the basilisk.

"JUST KILL HIM ALREADY!" yelled the ghost.

"Oh bother," said the basilisk.

* break *

Not much had changed in the field until Harry stepped out of the tent and began approaching the dragon.

The Hungarian Horntail snarled and then did much as the basilisk had. It sniffed, paused, then sniffed again.

Then to the utter confusion of everyone present, the dragon BOWED to Harry Potter.

Harry decided to try something. "Uhm. One of those isn't really your egg. If I could just have that one?"

The dragon didn't understand the words but understood the pointing. It sniffed its eggs, trying to determine what that wizard wanted - determined one of these was NOT like the others, and nudged that stand-out towards the wizard in question.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" asked Lee Jordan in the Announcer's booth, speaking for everyone.

* break *

Nobody, including Harry, had been quite sure of what to make of the events of the First Task.

Except Hermione, who'd gotten a thoughtful look and went over Harry's recounting of the basilisk encounter several times. All she would say was that twice could just be a coincidence.

Now they'd gathered at the Black Lake for the Second Task, and Harry had almost expected SOMETHING to happen.

And here it was - the lake was bulging, then fountaining up, and the geyser finally formed into the image of a woman a good ten meters in height.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" asked Minerva McGonagall.

"Professor, language," chided Lee Jordan, glad of the chance to reverse their roles though he couldn't blame the teacher a bit.

"At last the Heir has come," said the water-woman, and it would be some time after before everyone realized they'd heard it in their native language.

"Who? Me?" squeaked Harry, confronted with a naked (if anatomically blurred) ten-meter tall woman.

"I was awakened when you crossed the Lake to the Castle, but you have not been back since," said the woman. "Now it is time for you to claim your destiny. The time isn't ready for you to wield it, but you will need to learn its use before then."

"Why is the water-woman offering the boy a sword?" asked Lee Jordan. "And why do I have the feeling I know this scene?"

"ACK!" said Minerva McGonagall, who followed that up with several statements in a brogue so thick you could practically walk across it. Understand it - not so much unless you were a Scot yourself.

"Oh bloody hell," said Hermione. "It's Excalibur."

"WHAT?!" reacted most of the crowd.

"STOP!" demanded Albus Dumbledore. "Harry, you mustn't -"

Then Harry's hand met the hilt of the sword and a column of light appeared.

* break *

Harry sighed. He just wanted to fit in. To have a NORMAL school year - was that really so much to ask for?

Now he had witches curtseying before him and calling him "my lord" among other things. He had wizards wanting him to KNIGHT them and ask for permission to be in his administration. He had Fudge trying to get someone to impound the sword (except that when it was taken from him - the sword would reappear in his possessions within an hour at the latest) or discredit him in the press.

RON was pissed at him for not saying anything earlier, and even the muggle government was wanting reassurances.

"All I'm saying is that because some watery tart tossed a sword at you and proclaimed you king doesn't give you the right to govern," said Hermione. "So you don't HAVE to be King Of All England."

"True," said Harry. "Though I think you have the quote wrong."

"You can delegate," continued Hermione. "Even more than that. You can..."

"Here, Hermione," said Harry, handing off a sword to her. It wasn't Excalibur of course. He'd gotten some wooden swords transfigured to be the same size as Excalibur. "I need to practice."

"I'm more of a researcher," protested Hermione. "Let me get Ron instead. You can whack at him."

* break *

Albus Dumbledore was a bit conflicted. His understanding of events was that Harry had to die in order for Voldemort to be defeated once and for all. Therefore Harry Potter had to be raised to be a sacrifice.

The Order of the Phoenix was set up to be a group of people loyal to him. Tools he could use to serve the Greater Good.

Instead he had the New Knights Of The Round.

"How could YOU betray me?" Dumbledore asked.

Fawkes merely preened.

"I don't really think 'Sir Fawkes, the Phoenix Knight' sounds that impressive," lied Dumbledore.

Fawkes disagreed.

* break *

"Harry," protested Hermione. "I am NOT a knight. I am a serious witch!"

"You're the one who encouraged me to start," protested Harry.

"I am NOT kneeling, I am NOT getting a sword now that you've figured out how to pull weapons out of some otherworldly armory, and I am NOT going to be 'Sir Hermione' with some made-up title," said Hermione.

"I raised Camelot," pointed out Harry. He was rather happy about that feat himself, the castle being locked away in a magical stasis and unlocked by Excalibur. "I have your parents tending to the soldiers there."

Some people in the wizarding world were rather put off by the presence of muggles in Camelot. Harry didn't care. Having regular soldiers guarding his magical castle was perfectly okay with him and let the regular British government get their information network in place. All very top secret and such, but if they knew he wasn't doing much of anything then they'd worry a lot less with all the things they could imagine happening - at least that was his reasoning.

"Thank you, it's nice to be able to see my parents more often," admitted Hermione. "That's not going to get me to change my mind."

"You'd be 'Lady Hermione, Knight of the Library'," tried Harry.

"No," said Hermione.

"You don't want to be the Badass Bookworm on the team?" asked Harry.

"Language," chided Hermione.

"Well," spoke up Daphne Greengrass from where she'd been listening in. "If Granger here doesn't want a position under you..."

"What?" asked Hermione.

* break *

"We have to do something, Ron," said Hermione.

"That's 'Sir Ronald Weasley' y'know," said Ron.

"Don't be a prat," said Hermione.

"You have any idea how nice it is to say that to Malfoy?" asked Ron. "Cause it totally is."

"And you don't have a sword anyway," said Hermione.

"No, I got a cudgel," said Ron. "Nicer than a sword it is. Enchanted cudgel named 'Headbasher' - nobody in my family's been knighted or carried an enchanted cudgel before."

"Isn't that cursed?" asked Hermione.

"Naw, that's another club with the same name," said Sir Weasley, the Clubbing Knight. "My club casts a sleep spell on impact. Do you want to see?"

"Well, I am curious about the charmwork," admitted Hermione, putting her hand out.

Ron tapped Hermione lightly on the head. Hermione abruptly fell asleep.

"See, you don't even need to hit hard," said Ron, before he understood properly what had just happened. "Oh. I better not be here when she wakes up, had I? Uhm, Neville."

"Don't look at me," said Neville, who'd been mostly amused at the exchange until the tap out.

"Boys," grumped Parvati. "Padma, give me a hand. We'll get her to a room."

"Fine," said Padma, rolling her eyes.

"Oooh, I have an idea," said Lavender, a look of mischief on her features.

"I think you ought to hide," Neville said to Ron. "This does not bode well."

"I got a bad feeling about this," agreed Ron. "Maybe this is a good time to check the quest board."

* break *

Queen Elizabeth II didn't bow or curtsy, but she did incline her head towards the young man. "King Potter."

"Your Majesty," said Harry, trying to keep from bowing or panicking or a number of other reactions. This was, after all, the Queen.

"Things seem to be going well," said the Queen. "I've heard from Sergeant Carruthers that he rather fancies riding dragonback."

"It's kind of strange that the dragons seem to like him too, considering he's not magical," replied Harry.

"I understand that some of the soldiers have been trying to get ahold of wands and such, 'just in case'," said the Queen.

"True," agreed Harry.

* possibility 6 - break *

Time paused, ran sideways a bit, and then restarted.

There were magicals present. Most of these couldn't understand the concept of subtle. Four immediately knew SOMETHING had happened. Two had a pretty good idea what.

Albus Dumbledore had a few problems with being able to fit events into preconceptions, but when confronted with something entirely unexpected could overcome that long enough to work out the details. He'd have to wait until the judging was done, but he had a few instruments to check that might reveal a few things.

Luna Lovegood had a serious look on her face that would've startled anyone who thought they knew her.

Not even close to being nearby, in the Department of Mysteries, several very specialized instruments gave very odd results - which resulted in a lock-down of the Department and an all-nighter to figure those results out.

The dragon suddenly began choking and then threw up.

"Well, THAT could have gone better," said Harry Potter as he got up out of the steaming pile of vomit and grabbed an egg since he was right there.

* break *

"Harry, you should never have entered your name in the Tournament. You were one swallow away from dead," exclaimed Ronald Weasley.

"I DIDN'T enter the Tournament, and I... what the hell happened to you?" asked Harry, noting the amount of bruising showing.

"Hermione, George, Fred, and -" began Ronald.

"Ahem," said Hermione.

"I mean 'I fell.' Down some stairs I mean," said Ron.

"I see," said Harry after a moment. His tone indicated he wasn't entirely sure about this.

"Anyway, Harry, we thought you were dead. How did you manage to get the dragon to throw you up?" asked Hermione. "I wasn't aware dragons could actually do that."

"Projectile vomiting spell," said Harry.

"Oh, but dragons are magically resistant," pointed out Hermione. "So you basically got lucky."

"That acid was enough to melt yer clothes, good thing it didn't do that to yer skin," said Ron, his words a little slurred due to some of the bruises and contusions being located where they interfered a bit with speech.

"Oh, I cast fire resistance and acid resistance on myself," said Harry. "It's supposed to work on my equipment but didn't for some reason."

"I blame the Elder," said Luna from her position off to the side, looking at him through an odd pair of glasses.

"Yeah, so do I actually," agreed Harry.

"'Elder'?" asked Hermione.

"It wasn't Dagon or Hastur, was it?" asked Luna.

Harry paused for a moment, looking at the various confused expressions around him, then at Luna before answering. "Toltiir."

"The Jester, the Many-Angled Mischief, the Meddler Of Space-Time," said Luna. "The Cat of Chaos, the Fickle Finger Of Fate, and so on."

"That's the one," agreed Harry. "Surprised you've heard of it."

"I have often suspected that Being's involvement," said Luna. "That's why no one outside my family believes in wrackspurts or the Crystal Chimes of Nalak Thuur."

"Don't tell me you're going as looney as Looney," said Ron.

"Hermione, may I borrow your mallet?" asked Luna.

"How do you even know about 'The Cat Who Laughs'?" asked Harry.

"It's an n-dimensional being that exists in the branespace beyond normal space-time," said Luna, giving Hermione's mallet a couple of trial swings. "Things existing outside normal space-time is somewhat of a specialty in my family."

Ron chose not to reply, mainly as he was busy edging towards the doorway.

Hermione stared at the blonde as if she'd never seen her before for a moment. "You know - that explains so much."

"So, what was the bargain?" asked Luna, her gaze drifting back to normal somewhat.

"'Bargain'?" asked Hermione.

"Oh, just the usual," said Harry. "Involves putting a shrine up. I think I'll put it in the Shrieking Shack. Should keep most people away from it."

"What exactly is this-" began George.

"'elder' thing you're talking about?" finished Fred.

"The god of pranks," said Luna.

"Was that ominous thunder?" asked Hermione, looking out a window. "It wasn't, was it?"

"How interesting," said George.

"Unfortunately we have to get on to class," added Fred.

*break*

Albus Dumbledore slowly returned to consciousness.

He was, by the smell, in the Infirmary.

He had been telling Harry Potter to divulge the details of this 'bargain' he'd made, and had performed a quick attempt at reading Harry's mind, and then he'd been on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. There had been a girl on the shore, Asian from the look of her, except her eyes had been red with an odd pinwheel design.

There had been rocking horse people eating marshmallow pies. Then it had gotten most thoroughly weird.

He still tasted a bit of the color chartreuse on his tongue.

"You're awake?" came the voice of Severus Snape.

Reluctantly, Albus Dumbledore opened his eyes and felt the world slowly settle into something approximating the correct place. "That was unpleasant."

"Legilimancy against Potter appears ill-advised," said Snape.

"Apparently so," said Dumbledore.

"He told his friends, Mister Weasley is an open book so long as you're willing to go past all the thoughts about food and quidditch," said Professor Snape. "However, the exact details were not disclosed even to Potter's bookends."

* break *

A/N: i could see any of these escalating quickly. Voldemort isn't stupid, crazy being something else altogether, and in something other than a children's series with the appropriate tropes - he would be scrambling for anything to narrow or match the gap between his own power and whatever he perceives Harry's abilities to be.

In the case of the Return Of The King - that'd be bolstering his own ranks with whatever dark creatures he could find. Of course, the problem with that being that the more powerful creatures are not very easy to control or direct. Having Lucius Malfoy eaten by a grue would probably fit in there very quickly.

In the Kryptonian possibility, he possesses the vulnerability to magic but going with something rare in comics - it would be CONSISTENT. The official stance being that a cutting curse would still cut him because it is a direct magical effect that cuts nearly everything. Whereas conjuring up flames, of any temperature less than solar, isn't going to do much more than redden his skin. So he'd have to dodge most curses/hexes/jinxes but banishing a rock at him isn't terribly effective. That would pretty much be the case for the Saiyajin (Saiyan in English?) and Captain Marvel possibilities too - but having access to the Rock and Library of Eternity would mean the possibility of adding spells from other sources. And having half of Ravenclaw trying to befriend him.

Just picturing the scene where Harry exits some version of the Infinite Library in front of Hermione or someone from Ravenclaw and explains the concept. The reactions could be amusing.

Child of Loki - running plotline where he's targeted by various individuals/beings/creatures for being a godspawn. Amusing part would be Death Eaters attacking, hitting the wrong target, and then abruptly being hunted by those other forces - some of whom would find Voldemort to be tasty and good with catsup.

As for the "unhidden approach" - i left the deal and details unwritten as there are a number of ways it could go. i was originally thinking Libromancy, where he could reach into a book and pull forth a conjuration of an item described in the text. An example being reaching into "Splinter Of The Mind's Eye" by Alan Dean Foster and pulling out a light saber to hand off to Fred. Creating a magical duplicate of an item that lasts an hour or two (or until the last stroke of midnight or some similar condition) and that has some similar mass/property limitations (a blaster would be possible, the Falcon being too big) has possibilities. Besides, the idea of Harry pulling a large handgun out of a book and shooting Voldemort in the face has a certain appeal. Fred and George researching a Wand Of Wonder from D&D also could have some amusement value.

As always, i blame that i've got a bit over an hour's travel time to and from work every day. Sufficiently long that the mind wanders and can end up in unfamiliar territory. If there IS a fic with this idea down, be sure to list the title in comments so i can take a gander and see where someone else's muse ended up. Likewise - if someone wants to take an idea and run with it, or twist it to their own ends - just post a title or something in a comment and go with it.

And then there's this:

"-unless of course, Mister Potter will actually tell someone how he managed to survive-" continued Albus Dumbledore at the head table, speaking of all the reasons for restricting the students to dormitories and classrooms.

"Enough," said Harry, standing up.

"Ah, well, then we'll just have this discussion in my office," said Dumbledore, glad that he'd finally won.

"I don't think so," said Harry. "You want to keep your own secrets, but learn and use everyone else's. So this is going out in the Great Hall. Especially with all the rumors going round. There are Beings that existed before our own universe formed. Some of these are very very bad as far as humans are concerned. Most of them are completely unconcerned with what we call reality, it's really beneath their notice. A guy named HP Lovecraft had visions of the lesser of these things and called them Great Old Ones. Beyond those are the Outer Gods, the Many-Angled Ones, The Deeper Dwellings, and such. Summoning or trying to control these either fails or results in the people doing it going insane or being eaten by a million invisible mouths or similar things."

"Just to put it out there," interrupted Filius Flitwick, "attempting to summon a Great Old One is cause for immediate expulsion and your magic to be sealed. Please continue, Mister Potter."

"I hardly think this is appropriate, Filius," said Albus Dumbledore.

"Beyond them are the Things Between The Spaces Above," said Harry, continuing. "We live in a three-dimensional world with a fourth dimensional medium. The very small spaces, which are only small from our perspective as they are segments of the universe itself and connected, bring the total number of right-angles you can have to twelve and a half."

"I always knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe," said an obvious muggle-born at the Ravenclaw table.

"You get beyond that and you get into the realm of Higher-Energy Universes and the Branespace and such," said Harry. "And that's where you find the Being known as Toltiir - the self-styled 'god of pranks and pratfalls' and the one that contacted me."
"Now, Harry, we really should be having this conversation privately," said Dumbledore.

"Have you ever wondered how magic can know something?" asked Harry. "How magic keeps track of oaths and promises and treaties? How you can turn a table into a turtle when you consider all the 'fiddly bits' in the individual cells and how they store energy and funcstion? If you're an animagus - how can you continue to think as a human with a brain that's a lot less complicated or function at all? If you turn Malfoy into a ferret, how do you turn him back without a blueprint of everything that sums up Draco Malfoy and avoid having him sire little ferret babies in the future because the DNA isn't quite right anymore?"

"WHAT?!" squeaked Draco.

"It's because of this," said Harry, making a gesture. Suddenly it was as if he was somewhere else that everyone could see but still standing there at the Gryffindor table. Instead he was standing in a vast library. "This is the Akashic Library of Earth. Everything that has been written or learned on our world is here. How everything works. Every deal or bargain or oath is recorded here. Every True Prophesy and every scrap of research. Every alternate form of magic is detailed somewhere in these stacks. The deal was that I am now the Custodian of this place."

"Urkle," said Hermione, staring into that not-space as the sheer impact of that place with books that were switching their position from one set of shelves to the other hit her. Shelves of books and scrolls and clay tablets that were stretching out in literally every direction.

"It's literally more than a human mind can handle," said Harry. "Just a partial overview of the indexes give me a headache. So, I'm... Hermione? You're drooling. Just saying."

Hermione twitched and delicately wiped the drool away but otherwise did not reply.

"Anyway," said Harry. "There you go. That's the terrible deal I made. I now have access to more information than you, Headmaster. I took the liberty of looking up about Voldemort. You know he sucks at potions? Also the 'care of magical creatures' and Astronomy. Did you know that, just in this hall right now, there's twelve people making better grades than he did? Oh, and each and every one of those procedures he did to give himself more magical power has a major drawback that can come around to bite you on your arse if someone knows about it? I didn't know that. Apparently one of those fundamental laws of the universe is that there's always a cost. You can't just coast by in your studies to become a major wizard - you have to put in time studying and so on. I think a muggle named Heinlein called it the 'There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch' rule. Interesting, eh? If even muggles, which most of you look down on, have figured that out - you'd think more wizards would get it."

"Harry," tried Dumbledore again.

"So, anyway, there you go," said Harry as the area around him seemed to snap back to normal, drawing a disappointed noise from the Ravenclaw table. "All it means is that I have access to an extradimensional library of magic and knowledge that kind of includes, well, basically everything. No big deal. Oh, and there was one stipulation. Don't know why that cat wanted it in place though."

"A 'stipulation'?" asked Minerva from her seat at the Head Table.

"Yeah, I can only upgrade minions or followers to include access," said Harry with a shrug. "That's how the thing's written anyway. As I don't have any minions, that's not a concern."

*BREAK - A scene that i rejected initially from "Floo Death" that KrisB nonetheless picked up on. The idea fleshed out a bit here.

"SQUIBS WERE NON-MAGICAL IN THE ABILITY TO USE MAGIC, YET CONTAINED ENOUGH MAGIC TO NOT BE CONSIDERED PART OF THE NON-MAGICAL HUMAN MAJORITY," said Life. "THAT IS NOW CHANGED. A BREAKTHROUGH OR TRIGGER ALLOWS THEM TO DEVELOP A SINGLE CHANNEL FOR THEIR MAGICAL ENERGY."

"WILD TALENTS THEN?" asked Death.

"LESS 'XANTH' AND MORE 'X-MEN' AS IT ALLOWS FOR PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATIONS," answered Life.

"Wait," said Dudley, sticking his head around a corner from where he'd been listening. "I get a magic power out of it?"

[NAME: Dudley Dursley]
[ALIAS: Hardrock]
[Mutant Power: Able to transform his body at will to a granite golem-form - with durability and strength increased to reflect the material. Unfortunately, he gets a great dealer slower in that form.]

"THAT'S BRILLIANT!" declared Dudley, who had an appreciation for being able to take a hit.

"What?" asked Petunia Dursley, not having expected that.

[NAME: Petunia Dursley]
[ALIAS: Hedge Witch]
[Mutant Power: Able to speed growth of plant life to 6x normal speed.]

"I am NOT a witch," stated Petunia Dursley, her face becoming extremely pinched in the process.

"That's also kind of a lame superpower," stated Dudley.

[NAME: Petunia Dursley]
[ALIAS: Null]
[Mutant Power: Magic nullifier]

"Wait," said Petunia Dursley as she read that floating icon. "You mean I would have a freak power, but that freak power is able to shut down other freak powers?"

"UP TO YOUR POWER LEVEL, YES," said Life.

"Well," said Vernon philosophically. "If you have to have some sort of freakishness, then negating freakishness isn't a bad thing now is it?"