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Chapter 46

"So, how does it look?" Harry asked his grandfather Charlus.

"Legal and totally above board. You got away with the instructions, and so they are yours," Charlus said as he read from the letter he had just gotten from Gringotts.

Charlus had sent Harry's memories to the bank to establish if Harry could claim the spoils of his bet on the outcome of the duel without having to pay the ten thousand galleons Harry had staked. And it had come back clear, Voldemort duelling to kill and Harry to escape. Despite the fact that Harry had died for a moment, he didn't stay dead. That was important because there was legal precedent all over the place that if someone didn't stay dead it didn't count. For example, if you tried to kill someone, and their heart stopped but they were brought back by chest compressions, the charge is attempted murder. If someone dies for a short time while undergoing a medical procedure and the healers bring you back, you still own all your belongings and they don't execute your will. Legally dead only counts as dead if it's permanent.

"The next step is to get the spell verified. I wouldn't put it past Voldemort to have given you fake instructions that are actually a head exploding curse or something equally as sinister. I'll send the instructions to a qualified spell crafter. They can break it down and see what the spell really does before anyone tries it." Charlus said. Harry completely agreed with that plan, he could imagine the international backlash he would get if he accidentally blew up Victor Krum's head. There would be nowhere he could hide. "What's your plan for the fourth task?" Charlus continued.

"Well, it's a scavenger hunt. At first I thought I may summon my broom and fly everywhere faster than I could run, but we were told after by the organisers that brooms had been banned. Then I thought about using the Marauders' Map, but I decided against it. I'm in first place, and I know this castle better than most of the seventh year students. If I can't win this one on merit, I don't deserve to win." Harry had actually done a bit of soul searching on this. Up until now it was important for him to be impressive, to be seen as dangerous in the hope that Voldemort would make a mistake out of fear he had made the wrong choice. Now was different, this task was just what the Triwizard Tournament was supposed to be, a friendly competition between schools. Charlus gust gave Harry a smile that said he agreed with Harry.

Harry was just about to leave Charlus's office and go find Ron and Hermione when there was a knock at the door. When Grandfather Charlus called "come in," the door opened revealing Headmaster Greengrass. "Professor Potter, and Mr. Potter." He added nodding to Harry when he saw him. "I was just hoping to have a word with you Charlus?"

"Sure, what do you need?" asked Charlus.

Headmaster Greengrass smiled. "Directly to the point then. I want you to stay on as Potions professor permanently. And if I can't convince you to stay where you get regular contact with your grandson, I was hoping you do me a favour and stay at least one more year. I already have to get a new Defence professor for next year. Finding two professors is going to be tough."

Harry stood up. "Well it looks like you have a few things you're going to discuss, and I need to go find Ron and Hermione. Headmaster, grandfather." And he made his escape, but he knew he would love it if his grandfather continued to teach potions. For one, even if he wasn't Harry's grandfather, he was a brilliant teacher. Ever since he had taken over, the grades of three of the Houses had gone up. Slytherin's had actually fallen a little, but considering that, from what Harry had seen anyway, people like Crabbe and Goyle were actually producing better potions, so the disparity was only down to Snape's biassed marking.

Harry checked the Marauders' Map and found that Hermione was in the library and Ron was in the common room. Given that Hermione was sitting with a bunch of girls from her Arithmancy class, he guessed that she didn't actually want him dropping by right now, so he turned towards the common room. He was just about to close the map when some movement down the corridor caught his eye. He quickly checked to see who it was and found Crabbe, Goyle, Malfoy, Parkinson, and Nott were all clearly trying to set up an ambush in the corridor ahead.

Harry started to mentally berate himself for being stupid. He had told himself before that he would need to be careful, that certain students would potentially want to get revenge for what had happened. And now here he was walking the corridors of the castle alone. Harry wasn't exactly afraid of the group of baby Death Eaters, he knew he could take them all quickly if he needed to. The problem was more one of not hurting them too much. If he went all out, then there was a high chance he would kill them. But if he didn't, then the fight would drag out, and in that situation numbers would be a big advantage.

Harry decided that now was the time for the better part of valour and turned right back around the way he had come. There was more than one set of stairs to get up to the Gryffindor common room, and there was no need for him to get in trouble for teaching baby Death Eaters that fighting him was a bad idea. Harry swung around to a different set of stairs and went to get Ron, and the two of them together had to go get Hermione from the library. There was no way he was going to risk letting her walk back to the common room alone if this stuff had already started.

-ϟϟϟ-

Charlus got word back from the spell expert; Voldemort had indeed trapped the spell by modifying it a little. If Harry had tried to use it to fix Krum's arm using the instructions Voldemort supplied like he intended, then Harry would have ended up casting the spell on his own arm. This would have painfully destroyed Harry's healthy arm and replaced it with a silver one. However, that wasn't the worst part. The spell made anyone with a silver limb bound to Voldemort's service, or at least the limb itself was bound to Voldemort's will. If Voldemort wanted the hand to work for you it did, if Voldemort wanted the hand to do nothing it would become limp and unresponsive, or if Voldemort wanted the hand to try and kill you it would do that as well.

It wasn't all bad news, however. The spellcrafter was able to fix the targeted sabotage and could rework the spell so that Harry was the one who was owed allegiance. Strangely enough, it could only be Harry. To fix the spell to a controller needed a symbol that signified them, a symbol recognised by a significant number of magical people. For Voldemort this was the Dark Mark, a symbol he created to mean him, his people, and his cause. For Harry, it was his lightning bolt scar, thanks to the Harry Potter Adventures books that Harry had so much trouble with until Charlus had set the firm of Gripsack - Anne Twist on the publishers. So Harry was the only other person in magical Britain with a ready-to-go symbol that could be linked into the rune work inside the new limb that the spell created.

It wasn't going to be an easy spell to learn, Harry guessed that it would be about as hard to learn as the Patronus charm. He also wasn't happy about the idea that anyone who he used this spell on would owe Harry some form of allegiance for life. Luckily, Hermione had pointed out that anyone who helped her have a new limb if she needed one would probably get enough gratitude from her that she would be willing to help them a lot anyway. Plus Harry wasn't forcing it on them, they had a choice. That made Harry feel a lot less uncomfortable by the idea. Ron had more practical advice of signing a magical contract that the 'allegiance,' like the lords of old, was just a tax, one Harry set to one Galleon a year, and a pledge to never join Voldemort.

That made Harry far more happy about everything, and with a clear limit on what was expected of everyone he was ready to begin learning the spell. There was only one important question left now, did he approach Krum right away or wait until after the last task? If Harry approached him before the task it could raise the boy's spirits sooner, or it could make Krum believe that Harry's help was conditional on Krum throwing the last task. If Harry approached him after the task it would prevent any misunderstanding but it would mean that Krum had to live with the idea his Quidditch career was over for longer.

-ϟϟϟ-

It was time for the actual final task, and Harry lined up with the other champions at the foot of the stairs that lead up to the main doors of the castle. He had decided to wait until after the last task to talk to Krum. If Harry could have done the spell before the task it would have been different, but it was probably going to take him months to master the spell.

Bagman was with all the other judges, Fudge filling in for Crouch, and Karkaroff was sharing his expression with a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Bagman was once more explaining the rules, this time more for the students who had come to watch. "The champions will have the same time leads as they had for the previous task. This is to preserve the value of the points the champions earned in the first two tasks. There are seven flags each champion has to retrieve, all hidden around the school in different locations. When a champion begins the task, they will choose one of the envelopes on this table here and receive their first clue. No one is to interfere with a champion as they complete the task, and to ensure that no-one helps or hinders them, each champion will be followed by a member of the ministry." Harry actually recognised the Ministry members who would be following them. Each one was actually an Auror who had done at least one shift as one of his bodyguards. They didn't want to draw attention to it, but the Ministry was definitely keeping an eye on this task now. There had just been too many screwups.

They were all lined up as Bagman tried to hype up the students who had come to watch. He wasn't particularly successful, partly because the crowd weren't into it. They remembered too well what happened at the last tasks. First dragons, then a Ministry official trying to murder champions, then how Voldemort was now some type of self-aware autonomous Inferius who could use magic. If the trend continued, there wasn't going to be anything to be happy about for a long time. The other reason Bagman wasn't successful was because his heart wasn't in it. The entire Ministry was on edge with Voldemort's return and the capture of so many Death Eaters, and too many of them were reminded of the war and were afraid of what was coming.

Luckily the first whistle gave Harry the excuse to get away. He jogged up to the table and took the envelope on the middle right and opened it and read it.

Where the silence is broken, by a barking mutt

You'll find your next clue at ._._._._._._.'_ - _._._

It took Harry a few seconds to put it together. Mutt was another word for a dog and there weren't exactly a lot of dogs at Hogwarts, that meant the next clue was at Hagrid's Hut. Harry took off at a jog, making his way down the familiar path with the Auror Hestia Jones watching him, easily keeping pace with his speed.

Unfortunately for Harry, the flag and the next clue wasn't simply nailed to the front door of Hagrid's, he had to search for it. He knew it wasn't inside Hagrid's; they had been told that they wouldn't be inside private or restricted places. They didn't want the champions ripping apart a professor's office looking for a clue. Classrooms were fair game, but if you needed to knock, speak a password, or be a certain gender, then the flags and clues weren't hidden there.

Harry found the flag and the envelope with the next clue after a bit of looking around. Unfortunately, it was on top of Hagrid's hut and he had to figure out either how to get up there or how to get it down. He tried to summon them and levitate them, but they didn't budge. Harry would just have to climb up there somehow. He ran around the outside of the hut and found a ladder. Hagrid was tall, but as the groundskeeper even he sometimes had to get to things he couldn't reach. Being a ladder made for Hagrid, it was too heavy for Harry to lift by hand, but a combined Feather-Light Charm and Wingardum Leviosa had the ladder up in seconds. He climbed up to the flag and envelope and quickly discovered why he hadn't been able to move them; they were stuck to the roofing with a Sticking Charm. If he had cast a simple Finite at them, then they would have easily been summonable. Harry just hoped the other champions made similar mistakes. He tucked the flag into his pocket and read the next clue.

If you wish to be first to feel a natural shower

Look to stand atop the _._._._._._._ - _._._._._

"Natural shower, that's rain. Feel it first would be… high places. Tallest tower!" He climbed back down to where Auror Jones was waiting and watching. "The next point is at the top of the tallest tower. I hope you can keep up!" He joked with the auror, knowing they had some of the highest fitness standards in Magical Britain. Harry shot off towards the castle at the fastest run he thought he could maintain, and he took advantage of every single shortcut he knew to get there as fast as he could..

The inside of the tower being a classroom meant there were plenty of places to hide the flag and the next clue. It took Harry almost ten minutes to find it inside a cupboard that held some of the specialised telescopes the school had. This time it wasn't a simple Finite charm to release the flag and the clue. Harry had to answer three questions on magical theory. It was here that Harry was really at a disadvantage compared to the other champions, they had all already sat their O.W.L.s or equivalent and had started their N.E.W.T.s. It took Harry a long time to work out two of them and the third he had to resort to guesswork. But finally Harry got the flag and read the next clue.

Out with the old and in with the new

Where would you go when looking to brew?

That was easy for Harry. It was Grandfather Charlus's classroom.

-ϟϟϟ-

Harry was sprinting down the stairs taking them three or four at a time. The last clue had been 'We close where this all began.' That was most likely the Great Hall, where the Goblet of Fire had chosen the champions. As he was running down the grand stairway, he saw Fleur come out of a corridor and start running down a different set of stairs, obviously heading in the same direction he was. There were many flags in her hand that at a glance looked like it could be seven.

Harry pushed himself harder and started practically jumping down the stairs, one hand on the rail to keep himself somewhat steady as he took each staircase in two jumps. If he missed his footing even once he would have ended up in the hospital wing, but the adrenaline was pumping and he wasn't concerned about that. Fleur wasn't giving up though, she had seen Harry and was putting everything into what had become a race. The two stairways came together, merging for the last flight down to the entrance hall, and they were neck and neck. Fleur had longer legs, making her a little faster but Harry had a better understanding of the stairs. He instinctively jumped over the trick step, and while Fleur wasn't caught in it, skipping it wasn't second nature to the witch.

When they got to the bottom of the stairs, Cedric came running up the steps that came from the main doors. It was now a three-way race as they all ran towards the Great Hall. It looked like it was going to be a photo finish, as there was barely an inch between them as the trio turned through the large open doors of the Great Hall. However, they skidded to a halt when they saw Krum holding the Triwizard Cup in the air, a beaming smile on his face. For a few minutes, the only thing the other three competitors cared about was getting their breath back and holding each other up.

It was over, the Triwizard Tournament was done. Harry couldn't help but feel a little disappointed in not winning, but for the most part he was just happy it was over. Hermione came running over from the small crowd of spectators and hugged him, offering both her emotional and physical support. Given how his legs were starting to feel like jelly, the physical support was both welcome and necessary. Ron came over a few moments later and offered Harry his commiserations over not winning. His friends both dragged Harry over to the Gryffindor table and sat him down before sitting on either side of him. Harry had really put his all into that final sprint, and it was going to take a few minutes before he felt like his legs could support him again.

Headmaster Greengrass started giving a speech congratulating Krum and going on for a few minutes about how the tournament, despite how badly everything had gone, had been a wonderful success of international friendship among the students, and how the ministry and many adults would do well to stop and take a look at the students and learn from them. Harry was only half listening. This wasn't the big closing speech that would come when the prize was handed out and Durmstrang was officially presented with the Triwizard Cup, so Harry felt no guilt over the fact that he was more concerned with cuddling with his girlfriend.

-ϟϟϟ-

It was two days later that Harry was finally able to get a message to Krum. Harry had to ask his teammate Alicia, who was still spending time with the Bulgarian, to pass a message asking him if he would meet with Harry and Charlus. Krum had agreed, but had quite understandably insisted that his headmaster also be allowed to attend. So the four of them had ended up sitting in Charlus's classroom, a serving tray filled with tea and cakes between them.

"So you wanted this meeting, what is it about?" Krum asked in a curious tone.

Charlus nodded to Harry go ahead. Harry took in and let out a deep breath to give himself a few seconds before he said, "Firstly, I want to convey my congratulations on your victory. I will admit to being a little disappointed, but you deserved the win."

"Thank you, but I feel I not deserve it. Like in Quidditch, sometimes the worse team gets lucky. You were the one who slew dragon and saved hostages. You were the closest to winning in maze. I got lucky that physical conditioning was a big factor for the hunt. But I thinks this is not the responsibility for our talking, yes?"

"Yes. Now take this with a grain of salt…uh, don't get too excited about what I'm about to say until you hear it all." Harry added at the blank look on the Bulgarian's face at Harry's use of an expression. "With the understanding that there are some downsides that need to be handled, I believe I have a way to give you a new fully functional hand," he explained.

Silence hung in the air for almost a minute before Karkaroff broke it. "And you had this the whole time and let my star student suffer this long? What, to better your chances at the tournament?" He was definitely angry.

Charlus almost stepped in, but Harry held up his hand. "No, we didn't know this the whole time. I got a bad copy of the spell after the third task. We didn't have a full set of instructions until two days before the final task. As to why I didn't tell you then, the spell is going to take me about two months to learn, and yes it has to be me. I didn't want to be accused of pressing you to take a fall, or distracting you." Harry explained, and Krum nodded so he continued.

"The downsides of this spell are numerous, but we think we have come up with a way to minimise them. Let's start with the worst, the person receiving the spell is bound to offer me fealty…" Harry went on to explain everything, both the problems and their proposed solutions. Karkaroff tried to push Krum into accepting, he wanted the prestige that came from having an international Quidditch star and a Triwizard champion at the same time. However, Harry told Krum he wouldn't accept any deal until Krum had plenty of time to think about it. After all, he couldn't cast the spell yet so he needed the time to practise anyway. Grandfather Charlus had been more practical and had pretty much told Krum he needed to have his own law wizard look everything over, especially the contracts as they would be magically binding.

Krum left with a small pile of parchment that was filled with detailed proposed solutions and said he would give it some serious thought. Harry was sure the Bulgarian was going to accept, though. Krum was made to fly, he wasn't helpless and in time he could adapt, yet for now at least Krum's spirit was like that of a bird with a broken wing.

A/N

A little short this week, but it was the best place to break it up.