For Fun and Profit

"And the champion for Durmstrang is..." Dumbledore announced with all the skill of a natural-born orator "Viktor Krum!"

The school erupted in a combination of cheers and shrugs. Everyone saw that one coming, thus, nobody was surprised. Harry didn't partake in either applauding nor I-Told-You-So-ing, too focused was he on controlling his breathing.

"Hey Harry, you feeling alright over there?" Dean Thomas, ever the observant one, called from across the table.

It wasn't loud enough for the entire hall to hear, but everyone who mattered did.

"Hey yeah! What's up with you mate?" Ron asked concernedly.

Harry shrugged, wanting to avoid answering but knowing he had to.

"It's Halloween." He explained, as if that was explanation enough.

For Ron and Hermione, it was, but to the others it required a bit more explaining. For some reason, Neville saw fit to do said explaining.

"Oh, because it's the anniversary of... you know. Your parents."

Oh yeah! That had happened on Halloween too, hadn't it? Just adds to his actual reasoning.

"Well, there's that, but also every Halloween some higher power sees fit to force-feed me a shit sandwich and I'm worried about what it has in plan for me this year." Harry told them.

Recognition dawned on his year-mates with all the effectiveness of a troll attack, a petrified cat near a blood-stained message on a wall, or a mass murderer sneaking into your room.

"To be fair, last year had all of us taking a bite from that sandwich." Ron correctly recounted the entire school being forced to sleep in the great hall. "And I took an extra-large mouthful."

Harry didn't disagree, but he still didn't feel any better.

"Representing Beauxbatons..." Dumbledore exclaimed as a second piece of parchment erupted from the goblet. "Is Fleur Delacour!"

The possibly part-Veela, and certainly entitled princess, stood up from the Ravenclaw table and approached the most-aged of the headmasters. Oddly, some of her classmates were in tears at her victory, and they didn't seem to be tears of joy. Maybe Beauxbatons had a house system like Hogwarts with similarly vicious rivalries within them? Draco would throw a tantrum if Harry or Ron were chosen, which would almost make what he currently feared worth experiencing.

"All it takes." Harry explained. "Is one older student deciding to enter me as the Hogwarts champion and this year will be a living hell."

Hermione kicked him underneath the table, as she usually did when he used foul language. Usually "shit" ranked as kick worthy as well, and yet she hadn't bruised his shin over that one. Clearly, she was angry about something else here.

"Stop being so superstitious." She snarled. "Besides, if any of Trelawney's malarkey on fates or karma holds any weight, then surely it's time your luck swung back around and blessed you with a peaceable year for..."

She cut off before finishing that sentence, but it didn't stop the words "for a change" from ringing through Harry's ears like a gong.

"And the Champion for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is..."

Harry and company leaned in as if the reduced distance would allow them to read the parchment from thirty meters away.

"Cedric Diggory!"

The Hufflepuff table showed that they could, in fact, be noisy and boisterous when the time called for it and these times certainly did. Their cheers drowned out the moans of Angelina and their fellow Gryffindors complaining that it couldn't be one of them. Harry was genuinely happy for the house of Badgers, and not merely because it took a load off of his shoulders.

He felt himself sink into his seat as he relaxed and let the stress seep out of his bones.

"There. See?" Hermione spoke over the throngs of well-wishers. "Just because it's the anniversary doesn't mean you'll come to harm. It looks like you'll be having that peaceful, non-life-threatening year after all."

"Hey yeah, happy, er, Anniversary." Seamus commented cheekily.

Harry saved him from getting a kick by Hermione as well by laughing at the tasteless joke before their year-mates could dogpile him over the transgression. It also served to invite them all to laugh along. That was until, of course, the goblet decided to start spewing tall, billowing blue embers. And like that the stress that recently fled him re-invaded his body.

A fourth piece of parchment flew into Dumbledore's grasp from the ancient dinner utensil and Ron wasted no time in turning to Harry, grasping him by the shoulder, looking him straight in the eye and - without skipping a beat - saying:

"Well Harry. As Seamus so eloquently put it, happy fucking anniversary."

And he couldn't help slamming his head onto the table with a choked sob as Dumbledore called his name.

The trophy room was nice. He'd never had the chance to really appreciate the accomplishments of past generations of students outside of cleaning the physical evidence for said achievements. Company could be better, though.

"What eez eet! Why are you here!?" Fleur Delacour insisted for the third time.

Harry turned his dour glare from the fireplace - no doubt set alight by Viktor Krum's much more devastating glaring match with the wooden logs - to the French princess.

"Please remain silent." He growled at the woman.

Surprisingly enough, she shut her trap just long enough for the faculty outside to come in. The riot in the Great Hall was still in full swing by the sounds of things, but at least half the faculty decided to leave that mess to the other half so that they could come into the trophy room to piss him off. Such considerate coworkers, eh?

"Is this the part where the camera crew comes out from behind the curtains and you explain to me that I'm being pranked?" Harry asked acerbically before the obese former Quidditch player could utter a single syllable.

"Er, what?" Bagman sputtered as the headmasters, and three heads of houses, arrived.

Harry had to do a double take at this. Cedric was a Hufflepuff, so it made sense for Professor Sprout to be there. Same for McGonagall seeing as Harry was one of her cubs. But why the hell was Snape there? Was Draco a fifth champion? Was he going to march in through that door next?

Somehow, Harry doubted it.

"Headmaster Karkaroff." Krum spoke for the first time. "What is going on? You all look more on edge than me, and that is concerning."

There was an extended moment of silence before they all realized he had made a joke, though Cedric was the only one brave enough to chuckle at it. Still, if a thing is asked in jest it does make the question any less sincere.

"Mister Potter's name came out of the goblet, making him the fourth champion." Karkaroff explained. "And I must confess, I feel somevhat slighted. I was under the impression that the tri-vizard tournament vould have three champions, one to each school. I failed to notice any provisions for homefield advantages, beyond the obvious."

"Oui, I agree wiz him on zis Dumbly-door." Madame Maxime added. "I cannot believe you would cheat us like this!"

Harry had to admit, it was impressive how Dumbledore kept such a calm demeanor in the face of this rising storm. Then again, this probably paled in comparison to the legal finagling, insurance issues, political maneuvering and mountains of paperwork that must have come with the aftermath of Quirrell's untimely sacking, not to mention the revelations regarding the Chamber of Secret. Those things put together probably made this situation seem like a calm year for the wizened wizard. But now that he looked closely at the elderly man, he did seem a bit zoned out, staring into empty space.

Maybe he'd just now snapped and had a stroke? The left side of his face did appear slightly saggier than the right side.

"Albus, you did not make a mistake!" His head of house chastised the headmaster.

He'd apparently missed out on some part of the conversation. Oh, Dumbledore was addressing him now. Marvelous.

"Did you discover a way to circumvent my age line?" Dumbledore asked.

"No. If I had it wouldn't have been my name coming out of the goblet." Harry answered honestly, giving Snape a pointed look.

"Did you ask an older student to submit your name?" Dumbledore asked further.

"No, I was looking forward to sitting safely in the stands and watching these morons - " He indicated the three real champions " get torn to shreds... Wait. Would that have worked?"

Dumbledore returned to having a staring contest with the ether at that one.

"Would any older student, or adult, have been able to enter me against my will? Like someone clearly did." Harry pressed for answers.

Man, that was one intense staring contest his headmaster was having with nothing at all.

"Technically, yes, but the goblet would have declared you the champion for one of the three schools, not an unnamed fourth." Barty Crouch answered thoughtfully. "Which brings up the question, how did his name get placed under a fourth school?"

Harry was still caught up on the part where his name was put inside of it at all. If anybody could put anybody else's name in the goblet, then what was stopping someone from putting their name in for a competing school? There were more than a few Slytherins who would apply as the Durmstrang or Beauxbaton champion only to then, if selected, throw the competition to guarantee a Hogwarts victory. Hang on, could somebody put their name in three times and potentially be selected as the champion for each school? Would they have to complete the tasks three times each if selected?

"How it happened doesn't matter, the rules are iron-clad." Bagman protested. "He must compete, or face the consequences of breaking a magically binding contract."

"And what are those consequences?" Harry re-inserted himself into the conversation.

"Er, well, it's magically binding." Bagman said, as if that explained things.

"Yes. And? What does that mean for somebody intending to break such a contract?" Hary asked. "As I fully itnend to do."

Bagman was now looking at Harry as if he were a complete ignoramus. Perhaps one of these days an adult or peer will recognize his lack of common wizarding knowledge and correct his ignorance? Best not to hold his breath on that happening any time soon.

"It's magically binding. Literally. Ergo, it will bind your magic." Crouch explained helpfully. "You'll be left as little more than a Squib. Never able to do magic again, including passive abilities like your parseltongue."

"Oh." Harry said succinctly. "So it's that or possibly dying for some sicko's amusement? Hmmm. That's a toughie."

"Excuze moi." Fleur interjected. "Would zat include taking away abilities tied to Veela ancestry?"

"Indeed." Crouch answered. "You would be akin to a normal woman in regards to men's reactions to you."

"Intéressante!" Fleur exclaimed before seeming to delve into deep thought herself.

It looked like Harry wasn't the only one who might be ducking out of this tournament altogether. Still though. Risk death, or go back to the Dursleys? Choices.

From there the "adults" devolved into a shouting match of demands for reparations to the cheated schools, along with empty threats to withdraw their own schools from the tournament. Empty, because if Karkaroff did so Krum would likewise lose all magic, thus ending his Quidditch career.

Oh! Flying! That one definitely goes into the "totally worth dying for" category of pros and cons for competing in the tournament.

"Then I demand ve be allowed to nominate a second champion for our schools!" Karkaroff exclaimed.

"Well then we'd have to get a third Hogwarts student to be their second champion and find a second champion form my mystery school. And that sounds like a lot of work." Harry responded without thinking.

The adults could only reply with silence to that one.

"Say, isn't the headmaster or headmistress of my school supposed to be here too? You know, to judge the tasks?"

More silence.

"Speaking of tasks, don't we need a fourth one now that we have four schools competing? I'm sure the rules specify there be one task for each participating school right? And the semantics of a magical contract matters, doesn't it?" Harry continued his line of reasoning.

It was starting to feel like a wake in here.

"This is going to be a fun year! If you'll excuse me I have to go pack my things." Harry excused himself.

But his transfiguration professor wouldn't allow that.

"Whatever do you mean, Mister Potter?"

"Well seeing as I've been forcibly entered into this tournament under a school that is not Hogwarts, I should no doubt be sleeping in the quarters used for them by the hosting school." Harry explained. "The hosting school is contractually bound to provide such accommodations, correct?"

"That is indeed correct." Dumbledore answered.

Sometime during Harry's recent rants the headmaster had returned from outer space, as had the permanent twinkle of amusement in his eyes

"And does the piece of parchment state what my school is?" Harry pressed.

"It does not." Dumbledore answered, handing Harry the singed piece of parchment

"In that case I should probably send applications to any other school that will accept me. By which point I presume you will be contractually obliged to invite their contingency over to cheer and observe?" Harry asked rhetorically.

Bagman nodded in the affirmative to this.

"Great! I'll need a list of all magical institutions in the world so I can pick which one to invite. And I'll need my private quarters ready by the time I'm finished packing. Somewhere outside of the castle proper, as is custom." Harry went on, at this point just saying whatever assumptions came to mind as they arrived.

"I'm sure Rubeus would be delighted to shelter you until your school's contingent arrives." Dumbledore assured him.

Bunking with Hagrid? That actually sounded delightful.

"Great. Tell me as soon as you setup those arrangements. I'll also need a copy of all legal documents regarding this tournament so I know what I'm being forced to agree to. Maybe the name of a solicitor too. Oh, and Professor Snape." Harry went on, turning towards his least liked teacher.

"You will not be seeing me in any future classes. The same goes for all classes." He finished.

"You can expect a detention for every minute of class you fail to show up at." Snape countered with an odd expression that seemed like a cross between eating a lemon and holding his breath.

He got the distinct impression that the potions master was trying his hardest not to laugh at these proceedings.

"I also will not be attending any detentions." Harry countered back before McGonagall could say what angry retort that seemed to be on the top of her tongue. "After all, what are you going to do? Expel me?"

He waved the piece of parchment in front of their noses.

"I don't go to school here anymore, apparently. Or did you already forget?" He asked rhetorically.

Yup. Snape and Dumbledore were definitely trying their hardest not to laugh. One would expect them to be furious at this turn of events. Mystery for later.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I really must be going " Harry excused himself.

And with that the adults ceased to block his always.

Oh yes. This was indeed going to be an interesting and unpredictable year. But there was one thing Harry knew for certain.

Whether due to his transferring to another school, dying in the tournament, losing his magic or being expelled; one way or another he would not be attending Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a fifth year.

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