Harry Crow

What will happen when a goblin-raised Harry arrives at Hogwarts. A Harry who has received training, already knows the prophecy and has no scar. With the backing of the goblin nation and Hogwarts herself. Complete.



98. Filling in the Blanks

Augustus watched Bella playing with Marvolo as he prepared their Christmas dinner. They may be having rabbit again but this was easily the best Christmas he could remember. What really sealed it for Augustus was the prospect of many more Christmases to come, and that brought with it the possibility of seeing his little Marvolo grow. Augustus was still working tirelessly alongside their master to try and achieve this aim, their steady progress was making Augustus more and more optimistic of their chances.

Their master's decision to leave Britain after he killed Potter was what really spurred his optimism on though. With Potter gone, it wouldn't take long for the whole Giningotts / Ministry alliance to crumble - especially with Umbridge stirring up trouble within the ministry whenever she could. In just a few years, Britain would be ready for his master's return, and their master wouldn't be returning alone.

There were still countries in Europe who would support their cause, so their master had decided to embark on a recruiting mission after springing their trap. Potter's death would give their cause the victory they needed to be able to strategically withdraw from Britain with some credibility, and should also provide the springboard to have like-minded witches and wizards once more flocking to the dark lord's banner.

"Oh, Augustus baby, I think our little wizard just tried to say his first word."

He thought their son might be a tad young to be speaking just yet, there was no way though Augustus was going to say that to his mate. "And what word would that be, love."

"I'm trying to teach our little genius to say 'master', I'm positive our little Marvolo just managed the first bit. He's saying ma…"


Goldskin was escorted into The Director's office, seeing Barchoke and Master Sharpshard were present too just increased his concern.

""I left Sapphire less than half an hour ago, she's fine and had a wonderful time at last night's ball. There was an incident however, and we're just about to watch some memories of it, The Director felt you should be included in this viewing too. The first memory is from Friend Longbottom.""

A relieved Goldskin thanked Barchoke for that news about his daughter's safety, and also The Director for considering him.

The memory started with Professor McGonagall introducing the champions, all felt a sense of pride at the way Sapphire confidently walked into that hall - only for Dumbledore to try and ruin her evening. While a surge of anger filled the room at Dumbledore's comments, all were impressed with the way Sapphire's many friends reacted - Harry especially.

Hearing Viktor offering to fight Dumbledore for his daughter's honour impressed Goldskin, Harry saying that he was registered as Sapphire's champion was a complete shock. No wonder the director was confident Sapphire wouldn't face a backlash inside Gringotts over this matter, letting that news filter out would certainly stop any challenges. The centurion had easily defeated him in Cairo, and had been holding back at the time.

Shapshard's laughter soon rang around the office. ""That old fool is going to fight the Hogwarts' Champion in his own room? This should be fun, that room did everything but outright attack me when we fought there.""

None of the quartet missed Dumbledore's expression of pain just as Hermione shouted fight, watching his body language told all of them where the old wizard was hurting. Dumbledore crumpled to the ground to much cheering, from those in the ballroom memory and everyone in The Director's office too. Ragnok, Sharpshard and of course Barchoke all knew they needed Dumbledore to remain at Hogwarts to pass information on to the dark one. Harry's solution neatly sidestepped any issues that would have resulted from a full-scale fight between these two.

After Dumbledore left, Barchoke stopped the memory and replaced the crystal. ""This is from Friend Patil, she thought we might like to see it.""

After their meal, the three champions started the evening's dancing off, again to much cheering. Sapphire was sparkling as she waltzed around the room as Viktor's partner, then they changed. In a move that appeared practiced, the three couples came together and all the ladies effortlessly and elegantly exchanged dance partners.

A clearly happy Sapphire was now dancing with Roger, Barchoke was explaining to everyone they had been friends since meeting in Cairo. The move was repeated and now she was in Harry's arms, before switching back to their original partners just before the first dance finished. Their display of unity earned a standing ovation from the other students and staff.

""I'm looking at this, and still I can't believe it.""

""Your daughter has sore feet this morning from dancing all night, she also has a smile as wide as a category one vault door. She was amongst friends all evening and the Durmstang Champion kissed the back of her hand in thanks for allowing him the honour of escorting her to the ball. All of them from Kingussie who attended last night enjoyed themselves, we're just waiting to see what the Prophet makes of this.""

Ragnok actually shared Goldskin's views on this ball, he too couldn't quite believe what he was watching. ""Even the Prophet can't dent young Sapphire's stunning success. Your daughter's victory will see a gift from a very grateful director heading her way, Goldskin. Barchoke, brilliant decision to apprentice her to your department. After this, your department may see a lot more applications to work or apprenticeship there. Sharpshard, I think this calls for grog…""

He would let his mate watch those memories later, Rainha would be as surprised and delighted to see this as Ragnok himself was.


With Harry not taking part in the wand weighing ceremony, the Yule Ball was really the press' first chance to get a picture of all the champions posing together - and what a picture graced their front page. Augusta and Madame Maxime were included too, standing at either end of the three champions and their dates. Roger was sitting in the middle, with Hermione and Sapphire at either side of him, the three champions proudly standing behind their respective dates. A description of how all three champions had exchanged dance partners during the first dance featured far more prominently in the newspaper article than the fact Dumbledore was forced to leave the ball early - he was apparently yesterday's news.

As Roger was sitting alongside Sapphire, and Viktor standing behind, this was certainly a picture that would make it into her rapidly growing scrapbook. That the press simply accepted Sapphire's right to be there, even on the arm of Viktor Krum, was a massive sign of just how far things had shifted in their country. This was also the signal for another celebration inside Gringotts. The British magical press talking in glowing terms about a picture that contained a French half-giantess, a French veela, a goblin, Centurion Crow and his mate alongside one of the country's most prominent purebloods, Madam Augusta Longbottom was beyond belief.

Today however, any pictures taken would be strictly for the family. Crow's Nest was once more bursting at the seams with people as Remus and Tonks prepared to get married.

Tonks had asked both Hermione and Padma to be her bridesmaids as she got married, leading Remus to select Harry and Neville. Remus had actually only made one request for today, he wanted to marry the real Nymphadora Tonks. His bride-to-be agreed to honour that request.

The witch in question was being led down the aisle by her father and still easily recognisable to the groom's party who stood awaiting her arrival. Her hair might be jet black and brushing her shoulders as she walked, and her nose stood a little prouder from her higher cheekbones, it was still Tonks though.

Her husband-to-be's request had also decided the bride's dress dilemma. Tonks was an auror, it was a huge part of who she was, therefore she chose to get married in her auror dress robes - her Order of Merlin, First Class, proudly displayed on the breast of those robes. This also neatly solved the problem of what the bridesmaids would wear too - Hermione and Padma choosing their marauder trainer robes, their silver epaulets and both medals shining brightly against the black dragon skin.

Harry and Neville were similarly attired to their mates, while Remus had gone in the complete opposite direction. With Tonk's robes so dark, his were snow white. He was hoping his wife-to-be appreciated the gesture, some might even say prank. The dark creature wore white while the bride was in black.

As Ted led his daughter past Sirius, only about half of those present in Crow's Nest heard the marauder's comment. "Don't worry, Tonks. They're not sheepskin - I wouldn't let him go that far."

All three witches had cases of the giggles as Ted handed his daughter over to the waiting Remus. The Reverend Richards soon had things back under control, though he was smiling himself as the ceremony began.

Neville claiming he had to make the last speech in the ministry saw Harry being elected to do it here. He wasn't nervous though as he stood to deliver the best man speech, this was all friends and family.

"Hi everyone, I hope you'll excuse me if I don't exactly follow tradition here, this is only the second wedding I've attended. I asked Dan, Sirius and Remus what a best man's speech is supposed to be, and received three totally different answers. Getting the feeling I was being pranked, I then consulted an expert. The first thing Reverend Richards told me to do was lose Sirius' joke about the one eyed witch and the stuttering barman…"

This led to a lot more laughter than telling the joke would ever have generated, Sirius' pretend pout helping that laughter along.

"Reverend Richards told me the normal procedure was to talk about the bride and groom, preferably telling a few funny stories…"

This time he was interrupted by three simultaneous groans, coming from Hermione, Padma and Neville.

"Unlike the reverend, these three have first hand experience of a goblin's sense of humour. I'm told it is an acquired taste so I'll spare everyone here that humour today."

All three nodding in agreement also got a few laughs.

"I met Remus on our island the first summer we holidayed there. It was Remus who taught me the pinky grip that put Lockhart on the ground in the bookstore, something I will always be grateful for. I have actually spent more time with Tonks though, or is that Auror Lupin now?"

"I'm keeping the name Tonks, and also taking the name Lupin, it's just the other one I'll be losing." Her mock glare a her parents was simply ignored, they were well used to it by now.

"Tonks Lupin, I like that. Anyway, Tonks was with us that terrible day we faced the basilisk, something we were incredibly grateful for. She has also been my ministry bodyguard for the last eighteen months, again something we're grateful for. This has given us a first hand view of the journey these two took to become a couple. Hermione and I were even along on their first date, I'm not too sure just whose body was being guarded by whom that day however…"

For some reason this really set Sirius off, his loud laughter soon had others joining in.

Remus was mock whispering to his new wife. "Now we know why Sirius didn't ask Harry to be his best man." The couple though were wearing wide smiles that nothing was going to shift today.

Harry also smiled at the marauder, though this was more predatory in nature. "I just hope my Uncle Moony knows what he's let himself in for? We've seen his wife charge death eaters and face down Master Auror Moody, I don't know which one was scarier…"

Without hesitation, Tonks chipped in with her answer. "Mad-eye!"

"I just want to wish the couple much happiness, and even though we've considered Tonks family for a while, officially welcome her to the craziest family in the world. I give you the bride and groom, Mr and Mrs Lupin."

At that, everyone stood and offered their toast to the couple.

It was later that evening when Sapphire found herself dancing with her boss. ""So, young Sapphire, did you discover why my son changed his mind over the ball?""


A delighted Barchoke waited on the answer, and waited… ""So, why did he change his mind?""

""Oh I can't tell you that, it's a surprise.""

""You do know you work for me now?""

""Yes, but one day it will be Harry. I could never let him down.""

This drew a deep chuckle from Barchoke. ""Outstanding answer, Sapphire. I'm delighted with your work so far, as is The Director.""

""I received a letter from my father, he said the entire family is proud of me - yet all I did was have a great time with friends. Sometimes I feel a bit of a fraud.""

Seeing his newest recruit wear a frown had Barchoke worried that he might have inadvertently been the cause of it. ""Did you tell my children you were now working for me? I would hate Harry or Hermione to think I had you spying on them, this was just a bit of fun.""

""They know that, sir, and you might have some others applying for apprenticeships too. Padma and Neville seem keen on leaving Hogwarts after they marry next summer, but not as keen on the university option that Harry and Hermione have their hearts set on. An apprenticeship is something they can at least understand.""

""I have heard Master Pitslay say Padma has a natural talent for potions, that might be an option she would consider. With both of them having Friends status, Padma and Neville's options inside Gringotts are extensive - especially with those two awards they wear on their robes. I shall have a chat with them to ensure they fully understand what options are available to all three of them inside Gringotts.""

This had Sapphire smiling, and saw her boss gently coming back at her. ""You have no reason to feel like a fraud. I too am enjoying myself tonight, it doesn't mean we ever stop learning, or working to further our cause. You would be happy if Padma and Neville chose to apprenticeship inside Gringotts because you would get to see more of your friends, Gringotts though would also benefit greatly from that. It is also an idea none of us had even considered before you mentioned it. Padma Longbottom apprenticing under Master Pitslay sends out all the right messages, and the name Longbottom should ensure her mastery would be accepted anywhere in the country.""

""Thank you, sir, for explaining that. My apprenticeship means I get to see more of my friends, I love working for you, Ambassador. Viktor has invited me to Hogwarts for his quidditch match, and again for the second task. Hermione is asking Madam Longbottom if I can stay in the castle again, returning home the following day.""

""My son has been asked many times why he puts himself in certain situations, he replies it's because only he can. You are now in the same position, who else but you could do what you just said? Perhaps now you may understand your worth to us, and why your family, your nation, are so proud of you. I want you to one day be able to stand at my son's side and be treated as an equal, we both know Harry won't accept anything less. You are well on your way to achieving this already. Harry as Ambassador and you as his Assistant Ambassador will be a proud day for all of us.""

""I promise to work my hardest to make sure that happens...""

As the music finished, and in a rare show of affection, Barchoke took Sapphire's hand and kissed the back of it. ""I know you will, Sapphire, I know you will.""

Harry meanwhile had spent the same dance with the new Mrs Lupin, confirming for the hundredth time that they would be fine - and wouldn't leave Kingussie without an escort. This saw him receive a kiss on the cheek.

"What was that for, I hope Moony's not the jealous type?"

"That's for everything, Harry. Hosting our wedding, arranging the honeymoon, being my friend..."

"Tonks, if I had to start listing all the things we had to thank you for, we'd be here all night - something your new husband would certainly object to. We're family, Tonks, no thanks is ever necessary. I know The Nation are trying everything to get you in there with us at the end, how could I possibly even begin to thank you for that?"

With his arm around her waist, Harry started leading Tonks over to where Remus was standing when an idea struck. "The final confrontation is coming but we can't let that rule our lives. The four of us intend to spend the weekend before the final task on the island, I'd like to invite you and Remus along too."

The auror thought she understood what was being said here, Harry confirmed that with his next sentence. "That is currently a secret between just the six of us, we want to keep it that way until a lot nearer the time - like the day before!"

"My husband and I accept, I'll even help by saying you four need a break. Normally I would say you were too young, we know that's not the case here. Having that weekend to look forward to might help us focus on what needs to be done, so we can all enjoy many more weekends like that."

"We intend to be training harder than we ever have before. This is the final push, Tonks, and we will be ready..."

"This seems rather an intense conversation for a wedding, and you're hogging the bride."

"Sorry, Sirius, just confirming to Mrs Lupin here we'll manage without her while she's on the island with Moony."

Sirius danced off with Tonks in his arms, it was another hand on his shoulder that caught Harry's attention. "That answer didn't wash with either Sirius or me."

"Sorry again, Remus, but I can't say anymore. Tonks will tell you everything later."

"You really do know her better than you know me, something I'm really sorry for, Harry."

"Henrica teaches us the past is there so lessons can be learned from it. Let it go, Remus, and concentrate on the future you have with Tonks. She really is a special lady..."

"What age are you again, Harry?"

This drew a wry chuckle. "It's not the years, Remus, it's the experiences. That day in the chamber changed all of us. Henrica was proposed marriage to the same day, Padma and Neville bonded a few days later while Tonks began to look at what she really wanted from life. I think that's when she started looking in your direction."

"I notice you didn't mention your name there, Harry. How did it change you?"

It took a moment for Harry to answer. "Remus, I've never been so scared, before or since. Counting Parvati, there were six people relying on me getting them out of there alive. I didn't have the luxury of considering myself twelve, I was a centurion with a mission that needed to be tackled. That all seven of us got out of there might qualify for one of those miracle things I've heard Hermione mention."

The dance had finished but Sirius arrived back with a different partner. "You two look far too serious, I brought someone to at least cheer one of you up."

As the music started for the next dance, a now smiling Harry slipped into Hermione's arms as they took to the dance floor. Both marauders watched the happy couple weave their way around the ballroom.

"I swore an oath I would protect that boy, Remus, it really doesn't sit well that I can only watch as he prepares for the fight we both know is coming."

"We also know my wife is going to do everything she can to be right beside them. I intend to pour everything I've got into those wards, Sirius, leaving nothing behind for any fight. Let Dan, Frank or Barchoke shoot the bastards dead, we just need to give them that chance to do so."

Sirius could only nod, having little else to offer on the matter.

Apolline thought her decision was made, today just confirmed that decision was the right one. They had been accepted from the moment the Delacour family had set foot in Kingussie, with every new arrival just treating them the same.

This wedding was easily the biggest gathering yet but both her daughters were still having a good time with the friends they were making. Henrica had also confirmed the Blacks would be in Hogwarts for a good few years, both she and Sirius were pushing through new courses and would want to see them well established before even considering a move.

Seeing how her youngest daughter was being treated here, and with a veela as one of her professors, they really couldn't send Gabrielle anywhere but Hogwarts. It was something Gabrielle had been dropping broader and broader hints about, Apolline would discuss with her husband about the best time to tell her. Preferably before her new friends headed off back home.


They were getting ready for bed when Luna just had to ask her friend something. "Sapphire, why is Harry having such a tough time with me having a boyfriend? I can see he's trying hard but I thought he liked Colin?"

Thinking back to the Ambassador's words earlier, Sapphire thought this was a perfect example of what Barchoke meant. All she was doing was hopefully trying to make one of her best friends understand their culture a little better, that it might inch goblin-wizard relations along another notch she considered nothing more than an added bonus.

"Harry certainly likes Colin, and you're right - he is trying hard. It's a culture thing, Luna, we goblins don't have boyfriends or girlfriends. Hermione told me when they got together, Harry had to ask Sirius for advice. He couldn't offer her a formal courtship, otherwise it would have been seen as him choosing to be a wizard. He hadn't considered asking her to be his girlfriend because that's just not something a goblin would do."

"If you don't form those type of relationships, how do you know someone is the one you want to marry - and spend the rest of your life with?"

Both girls were now in their beds, though it would be a while yet before they were ready for sleep. This was important to Luna, her relationship with Harry had become one of the cornerstones of her life. She needed to understand him better so they could both preserve something that was very dear to them.

"Well, you've seen that we have friends - that's just the same. We can also be attracted to those friends, Roger is one of the nicest people I know - Fleur is discovering that for herself. When we goblins find our mate though, it goes way beyond any attraction. I'm told it feels like that person becomes part of you, that you simply must have them in your life. We then have the bonding ceremony, so everyone can see exactly how compatible the couple are."

"It seems a bit like you leave everything up to chance, what if you never find your mate?"

This saw Sapphire shrug her shoulders in answer. "There are a few people who do that, but they seem happy enough. We goblins are what you would consider a monogamous society, Luna. We have one mate, and that mate is for life. Our own bodies will tell us when we've met that mate, the bonding ceremony will confirm that this is really the one. Even although they are younger than we would consider normal, Harry and Hermione are proof that the system works."

Luna couldn't really argue with that, Padma and Neville could also be placed in the same category too. "Okay, I understand that, but not why Harry's struggling with me having Colin as a boyfriend."

"You must know that Harry considers you family?" This brought a smile and a nod from Luna, that was the very relationship she was determined to protect.

"A goblin male has protecting family instilled into them since birth. Harry wasn't born a goblin but he certainly is one at heart. We are both lucky enough to be considered family by him, that means Harry will do everything in his power to protect us - for the rest of our lives. Him being a centurion just magnifies that inbuilt trait, something Hogwarts herself was first to recognise when she made Harry her champion. He's there to represent and protect her students."

Sapphire tried to ensure Luna understood the next bit. "If it had been you Marko had gotten into that cupboard, Harry would have slit open his gut and spread his entrails all over the corridor. Nothing or no one would have been able to stop him, Hermione wouldn't even have tried. She would understand his honour could accept no other result. There seems to be a gender imbalance in your culture where witches who have a few boyfriends are frowned upon while a wizard with lots of girlfriends would almost be revered. In our society, both would be shunned equally. Being in a relationship and still dabbling with another is one of the biggest blunders you can make in our community. You forgo your honour and no one can trust your word, what is there left?"

Luna's voice was barely above a whisper as she answered Sapphire. "Colin would never hurt me..."

"I know, Luna, and so does Harry. You said yourself Harry's trying hard, we can all see that. He's trying to walk the thin line between letting you live your own life as a witch, while protecting you as his goblin honour demands. In many ways, I'll have it easier. When I meet my mate, that mate will understand and accept Harry's position in my life - just as Harry will accept him as my mate."

"I've been so wrapped up in getting to spend Christmas with Colin I never realised I was hurting Harry - in his own house too..."

"Luna, any fool could see how happy you've been over the holidays, and Harry is certainly no fool. Seeing you so happy is the one thing that will have Harry accepting Colin as your boyfriend, your happiness will be Harry's first concern. Colin leaves tomorrow, try and find some time to sit down with Harry and talk about this. Remember, all this is as new to Harry as it is to you. You'll also be helping Natalie, Pauline and Orla too. Pauline already has a big brother but you told me how Harry reacted to her after the attack last New Year, she's definitely someone he considers family too."

"Harry keeps saying goblins are a simple race but I agree with Hermione, this is bloody complicated. Thanks, Sapphire, I don't know what I would do without you."

"We're friends, Luna, that's what friends are for..."

Both girls chatted away for a while, glad they had that out in the open.


While Christmas had been wonderful in Kingussie, effortlessly extending to cover the wedding too, New Year had fallen a bit flat. The McDonalds, Creeves and Abercrombies had left the day after the wedding, leaving those staying in Kingussie rather reflective of what happened at this time last year. It really was quite difficult to celebrate on the anniversary of the biggest battle fought against the dark in decades. That everyone at Kingussie, bar their French visitors, had fought in that battle left the celebrations rather muted.

Harry was drawing comfort from his chat with Amelia, it would seem as if their strategy was working. While the trio of criminals were busy working on this, they weren't attacking anyone else. His talk with Luna had also provided comfort. Luna had sat and explained as best she could how relationships worked in her society. Starting off with meeting someone you liked, becoming boyfriend-girlfriend and taking that relationship along slowly to see if it led any further as they got older. Neither had any idea if this relationship would grow past the stage it was at now, both she and Colin were just taking things as they came for the moment - simply happy to be in each other's company.

It was with heavy hearts though they boarded the Hogwarts express to return to the castle, and it wasn't really because they were saying goodbye to their families - they would see them again shortly at the second task. The train speeding toward Hogwarts was more a symbol of the final confrontation rushing at them, yet the summer holidays seemed such a long way away. The four understood that if they didn't defeat Voldemort, they might never see Kingussie again.

Harry was counting the second task as nothing more than a mechanism which would allow them to celebrate their father's birthday. While he would be careful during the task, he trusted those around him not to let anything untoward slip through their defences. In the meantime, they would be training like never before. Their extra defence lessons would now see them fight three aurors twice a week, everything was now being tailored to helping them survive the final conflict. The next five or six months was going to be brutal, both in terms of training and what was waiting at the end of it. More and more, it was beginning to appear as if their special weekend away on the island might be the only thing they had to look forward to this term.


If anything, Dolores was in a worst state than when Albus saw her last. Again they were in a private room inside the Hog's Head.

"They came again, and that bitch Lestrange was in a rage because I didn't have everything they'd asked for. You have to help me, Albus, otherwise I have no other choice but to approach Bones. I won't survive another visit if I don't have everything they want..."

Sliding a package over the table to the distraught Dolores, Albus used his most calming voice. His entire demeanour broadcasting that she had nothing to fear while Albus Dumbledore was on her side.

"Here is the last remaining book they requested, and all the details for the second task. While Krum is now a Hogwarts student, he's still representing Durmstrang. They had to give me all the details, and they will have to do the same for the final task too."

The gratitude Dolores was displaying might have been embarrassing to anyone else on the receiving end of it, but not Albus - especially since he had engineered the entire situation. Dolores certainly wouldn't have been so grateful if she'd known he'd had the final book in his possession for weeks, or that he'd deliberately withheld it from her. He needed Dolores to understand she had no other option but to rely on him, Albus Dumbledore always got the job done.

After she had gushed for at least five minutes, he was forced to intervene.

"Dolores, you need to listen carefully. Everything so far points to you being given another job to do before the final task. What you need to impress upon them is you might not get a great deal of warning of exactly when this task will take place. Their security is also very tight, you will need to know precisely what this job is in order to plan your way around that increased security..."

"Albus, I don't think I can..."

"My dear Dolores, all you will be doing is handing the entire job over to me. Even so, you need to buy me the time needed to accomplish whatever they ask you to do. Riddle and Rockwood are extremely clever wizards who have obviously been working on this for a very long time. They will understand you need some of that time to hold up your end of their scheme, otherwise the entire thing could be for nothing. They daren't risk being caught out if the organisers call the final task at very short notice."

"It's Lestrange, Albus, she terrifies me. That witch would kill you as soon as look at you..."

"...and the other two will keep her in check. You are vital to their plans, Dolores. Without you, they have nothing. Remind them of that if you have to. I promise when this is over, you'll never have to see them again. If they survive the battle and are captured, the ministry has already sentenced all three of them to death."

This seemed to strengthen Dolores' resolve, though there was one more thing she needed to know. "What about Crow?"

"I have studied this problem from every angle, yet still see no way of saving the boy..."

It was a once more resolute Dolores who nodded her acceptance of that. To see the end of Crow and Lestange, she would do as Albus suggested. Her body carried scars that could be accredited to both of them, Dolores Umbrige though in the end would have her revenge.


The three champions were in the High Inquisitor's office at Hogwarts, along with the task setters and their advisor, Henrica. Tonks, now as the ministry's main organiser for the tournament, was giving the champions the rundown on just what the second task was.

"Due to some quite blatant bias amongst some former judges, this task will be slightly different. Half your marks will still be awarded from the judges, the other fifty percent being determined by the time each contestant sets for completing the task. The quickest will automatically receive twenty points, seventeen and fifteen being awarded for second and third. Each of the judges can then award a maximum of five points, meaning there are forty points available for the winner while third could still see themselves earn thirty five."

All three champions already thought this was a fairer system and said so.

"Now the task is in two distinct parts, needing you to nominate two volunteers. It will be up to each individual champion what order they tackle each part in, let's just call them ground and air at the moment. You will start on a small platform in the stadium and each route leads you to the castle. On the ground, each champion will have to fight their way through various obstacles to reach their volunteer waiting at the castle for them."

Tonks was deliberately staring at Harry as she said the next bit. "There will be a clearly marked safe passage at the side of the course, you and your volunteer will use this to make your way as quickly as possible back to the stadium. The flying obstacle course is basically the same idea, only you need to pick your volunteer up from atop the astronomy tower and fly back along the other safe passage to the stadium. Only when you and both your volunteers are back on the platform does the task end. Like the first task, you will go individually. Fleur, Viktor and then Harry will be the order. Any questions?"

Viktor was thinking he would need a volunteer who was a fast runner, and another who was light. Two names popped into his head. "I vould like to choose Cedric and Sapphire."

Understanding at once why Viktor had made his choices, Fleur used the same method to make her own. "I will 'ave Roger and Gabrielle."

"Hermione and Padma. Can I ask if the rules state whether a broom is allowed?"

Harry's question was met by puzzled looks from those not in the know, Madame Maxine was first to answer. "Of course a broom is allowed. 'Ow else would one do zis?"

"Forgive me, Madame, I just wondered if the rules specified a broom, or could they mean each champion was allowed one additional object of their choice?"

The largest person in the room just shrugged her shoulders at that. "All champions must pass zzrough certain points at each challenge, using somezing like a portkey would disqualify you. Providing you do zis, I have no objection to ze rule being one item."

This saw Harry smile. "Thank you, Madame Maxime. I was penalised in the first task for not putting on a show, I intend to rectify that this time. I can do no less, since it will be my father's birthday."

"Merde, we are in trouble!"

Fleur found agreement from her Bulgarian counterpart. "Exactly vhat I vas thinking..."

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