On Afghanistan's Plains

This story was written for my own amusement and that of others. No financial remuneration has been, or will be, received. Harry Potter and the assorted characters and universe are the property of J. K. Rowling.

Harry rocketed to the surface of the Black Lake holding Gabrielle Delacour to his chest, dragging Ron Weasley with his other. He immediately let go of Ron, striking for the pier as rapidly as he could. Ron floundered along behind him.

When Viktor surfaced with Hermione, he summoned her to the pier and applied drying and warming charms to her, as he had done to Gabrielle moments before. Madame Pomfrey was already working on the tiny blonde.

"Dobby!"

Dobby appeared with a large pop. "Yes, Master Harry?"

"Cocoa, lots of it, and cups. Fast."

Moments later, Dobby re-appeared with a half-dozen Hogwarts kitchen elves, several pitchers of cocoa and warmed bathrobes. Ludo Bagman and Dumbledore were hot on the elves' heels.

Bagman cast sonorous and immediately began to babble. He stopped when Harry's wand was jammed underneath his chin.

"Who was responsible for the selection of hostages, Bagman?" Harry hissed.

"Du- Dumbledore. He picked them."

"You and the rest of this sorry lot went along with him, didn't you? None of you saw a damn thing wrong with dumping an eight-year old girl into a bloody freezing lake in mid-winter? To say nothing of my girlfriend and Cedric's?"

"The Headmaster …"

"The Headmaster is a senile moron. Did any of you lot get permission from the parents of the hostages?"

"The Head …"

"Is a moron. We've done that already. So, apparently, are the rest of you lot." Harry pulled the diving knife he'd carried with him into the lake and pressed the tip into Bagman's groin. "Say goodbye to your goolies, Bagman."

Harry's hand – or rather, knife – were stayed momentarily by the noise of a punch being thrown behind him, followed by the thud of a body hitting the pier's decking.

"Harry? Remember me? I'm Hermione's dad," came a low-pitched voice behind him.

"Yes sir." Harry pushed up with his wand, forcing Bagman onto his toes. "You're in luck, Bagman. I'm only going to cut off the left one, I'll leave the right one for Dr. Granger."

"Harry," said Dr. Granger, "I've got a much better idea than that. Remember your Kipling?" A hoarse screaming began, interspersed with cursing in French. An errant breeze brought the smell of burning flesh past them.

Harry lessened the pressure on Bagman's neck. "Yes sir. Afghanistan's plains?"

"Right in one, Harry. Emma really wants that knife of yours."

"No I don't, Daniel." Emma Granger's soft alto was cold with menace. "Hermione has just conjured me a lovely set of dental pliers."

OAP – OAP – OAP

Harry, Dr. Granger, Alphonse Delacour and Mr. Chang were seated in comfortable club chairs sipping tea. The Weasleys had left with Ron, Mrs. Weasley promising over a thoroughly burned Dumbledore a vengeance that would make Voldemort envious. Hermione, Mme. Chang and Emma were showering.

"I'd no idea," Harry said quietly as he shuddered. "I'm fourteen years old and I need something stronger than this."

Dobby popped into the room bearing a dusty bottle. "From headmaster's cellar, Master Harry."

Alphonse Delacour peered at the spidery writing on the label. "Mon Dieu, this was laid down in 1720." He poured a generous amount into the snifters Dobby brought.

"To the ladies," Daniel Granger said as he raised his snifter. "Never cross them, Harry."

"Yes sir."

fin

Author's Note: The title is from one of Rudyard Kipling's poems, "The Young British Soldier."