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For the next week, Harry spent his time convincing people he did not have anything to do with his name coming out of the Goblet of Fire. It seemed the only people he had convinced were the Gryffindor and Hagrid. The Hufflepuffs were unsupportive because of Cedric. The Slytherins hated Harry to begin with. The Ravenclaws were too suspicious about Harry. Talk of Harry being a Dark wizard rose once again, something Harry resented.

“Why is it so hard to believe I had nothing to do with it? They know those tasks are dangerous” Harry said at dinner one night when a group of Hufflepuffs gave him a wide berth while passing him. Ron shrugged, wolfing down his food at top speed. Hermione looked at him in disgust, then said to Harry

“Seamus was right Harry. You do have a…thing for publicity. It’s not a bad thing” she said when Harry shot her a dirty look “But...you always tend to make sure you’re the center of attention”

“I'm just sick” Harry started as a several young Ravenclaws pointed and gawked at him. He raised his voice so they could hear “of other people treating me like I’m a freak!”

BANG. A loud noise and voices carried into the Great Hall. Students rushed out into the Entrance Hall to see what had caused the noise. Harry saw the Ministry officials in charge of the tournament trying to calm down a deranged looking man with his wand drawn and untidy black hair. James Potter had returned to Hogwarts.

“….know damn well what the tournament rules are seeing as you’ve explained them to me a million times, and frankly I don’t care I will not allow my son to compete in such a dangerous tournament!” He was shrieking at a portly, frightened-looking wizard in a pinstripe suit. His counterpart, just as fat but with wizards robes in shock purple on, drew himself to full height and calmly said,

“We have already adjusted the tournament so that your son can compete, Mr. Potter. Our word is final” At this remark James sent two jets of light at each of the men. One of them grew a toucan beak the size of a young elephant’s trunk and the other covered his eyes, apparently blinded. More wizards rushed onto the scene. James saw he was outnumbered, gave the onlookers a famous Potter grin, and went quietly with the wizards. Sirius, who had been watching with Dumbledore at the entrance to his office, preformed the countercurse on both men.

“Sorry, sorry. He’s not well in the head, thinks with his wand, not his brain. Ta ta” he turned into a black dog and vanished out the front door, following James. Professors McGonagall and Sprout shooed the students off to their dormitories. Harry heard whispers as he walked.

“He just snapped”

“I thought it was cool…”

“It was Potter’s father, he’s barking mad”

“Runs in the family I suppose...”

Harry sighed heavily, feeling that his father’s show was not going to help his reputation. He was right. People now avoided him because they were afraid Harry would either hex them or spit venom at them. It did not help that the first task of the Triwizard Tournament was quickly approaching and Harry didn’t have a clue what it was all about. Snape, Harry’s least favorite teacher, sensed Harry’s weakness and bullied him even more than usual. Even Ron hung out with Harry less. Hermione tried to make him feel better, but her efforts, though appreciated, seemed pointless. Nothing could make Harry feel better. He received a letter one morning from his father.

Dear Harry,

I apologize for my behavior last Thursday. I didn’t exactly do much for the Potter name did I? I was just so outraged when they announced you would be allowed to compete. The more important thing is about the next task. Sirius spotted it on the way out of the castle. It’s dragons. You’ll have to get past them or something I don’t know. I just thought you’d like the help after the trouble I caused you.

James

PS: Play to your strengths.

Harry read it over several times. Play to his strengths? His greatest strength was flying. But he wasn’t allowed a broomstick, only his wand. He needed a way to get his Firebolt down to the grounds. He was stumped up until he saw Fred Weasley, Ron’s brother, pickpocket a Slytherin boy using a Summoning Charm. A Summoning Charm…

“Hermione!” Harry said loudly. Ron jumped, spilling sausages all over his lap.

“She just left to-” he started, but Harry was already out the door. He looked around wildly, and saw Hermione going into a room; he ran after her, pushed the door open, and found himself in the middle of a bathroom. The girl’s bathroom. A girl shrieked, startling Harry, he slipped on something, felt his head crack against the floor, and then black.

Harry’s eyes fluttered open about 15 minutes later. His head was throbbing. Ron and several other Gryffindors surrounded him, looks of exasperation. His eyes sought Hermione. She was pink. He smiled at her. Ron patted him. After a quick conversation with everyone, they all filed out. Hermione stayed behind.

“Why is it always you in the hospital bed, Harry?” she said exasperated. He shrugged, and she giggled. “Ron said you said my name before you hit your head. Were you looking for me?” Harry racked his brains trying to remember why he had gone looking for Hermione in the first place. Then he remembered.

“Hermione, can you teach me a Summoning Charm?”

“You already know a Summoning Charm. Accio. Of course, it isn’t very good, but-”

“It needs to be perfect. Can you help me?”

“Yeah, but, why?”

“It’s for the first task. I’ll explain everything tomorrow”

“Sure” She squeezed his arm, and then left.

The next day was Saturday. Harry and Hermione spent the entire day in an empty Transfiguration classroom, practicing. Harry’s brain hurt from all the concentrating. He slumped down into his favorite armchair, exhausted. Ron returned from dinner shortly after.

“Where were you two? You missed lunch, and dinner. Oliver Hornburn back talked Lupin and got his spoon shoved up his-”

“We were practicing Ron” Hermione answered, looking disgusted at Ron. Ron’s eyes widened.

“For the first task?” Harry nodded. “So you reckon you got a plan, then?”

“Yeah, why?” Ron grinned and turned red

“I-uh-I bet George my life-savings you’d get through it alright” Harry laughed, while Hermione began berating Ron, telling about the dangers of betting. Unable to stand the bickering, Harry slowly climbed the stairs to his dorm. Tomorrow he would have to battle a dragon. Harry thought about what Dumbledore had said to the students at the start of term. Champions had died in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry prayed he was not going to join them.

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