Hey everyone, it's been a long time. Before you start, this is the longest chapter I've ever posted for this fic, and this is only the first part. I am working on part two now, and if that gets too long, I might split it into three. Now, enjoy!
Harry set down his books with a thump at the last empty table. The library was filled with seventh years, if Harry had to guess, he would say the entire year was in the library. There was also all of the people that you would find in the library at any given hour, so the library was packed full. Harry would have normally walked away and come back to the library later, but he wasn't studying for a test. He was studying to try and save his life. If facing a dragon had taught him anything, it was that he couldn't procrastinate until the last minute like he had done last time. He was in a competition made for adults, and he was three years of schooling behind everyone else. He needed to do everything possible to catch up. If that included studying in a library that had more activity and noise then one of Gryffindor's parties, so be it.
Harry reached for the large stack of books beside him. He had gathered a very large stack of books that all had to do with the magical creatures that were found in the wizarding world. He had figured that if the first task involved magical creatures that it was very likely that the second one did too. He just had to find a creature whose language sounded like the screech of someone dying, and figure out how to defeat it, likely as the first task showed, to defeat it without injuring it. If he couldn't find a creature, then he was moving on to magical objects, which would be much harder as there were many more magical objects then there were magical creatures.
Harry's attention was diverted away from his book when he heard someone clear their throat behind him. "Hey, can I sit here" a familiar voice asked.
Harry turned around to see Cedric Diggory standing behind him. "Sure" he said, shifting his books out of the way.
"Magical Creatures essay or tournament prep?" Cedric asked.
"Tournament prep. I have no idea what this is, and I need all the studying I can get."
"Harry..." Cedric hesitated, chewing his lip. "In the rule book it says we can't get help from adults, no teachers or anything. It says nothing about fellow students or Champions. So, you want to work on this together?"
"Definitely! I have my friends working on it with me, but we are all 4th years and there is a large difference between a 4th year and a 6th or 7th year. I need all of the help I can get."
"Awesome. Do you want to see if the other Champions would agree to join us?"
"The more brains that we have working on this, the better." Harry told him. "Do you have any idea what this thing might be. I was thinking that they would continue with the theme of magical creatures."
"Well, it would have to be a creature that was sentient enough to have a language, and not many are."
And it's a really screechy language, one that's got to be hard to speak with a human throat." Harry added.
Cedric pulled a book out of Harry's stack, frowning. "It's probably something that either lives on the grounds somewhere, or something that can be brought here without many problems." He started paging through in index of creatures, frowning. He glanced up when someone said his name, and Harry saw a group of people waving at him. "They're some friends on mine, you mine if they join?" he asked.
"Sure." Harry said, glancing up from the book he was reading. He saw Cedric gesture for the group to come over, and Harry was glad that he had grabbed one of the larger tables and that no one else had asked to use it thanks to it's out of the way location.
The group of people, all with their arms full of various books made their way over, pulling up chairs. "What are you working on?" A Hufflepuff girl asked.
"We are working on the next tournament clue." Cedric said with a grin.
"Good." She said. "Because if it's anything like that dragon you need all of the studying and practice you can get."
Harry snorted, "You can say that again- I thought I was going to get eaten."
Cedric winced and looked green. "Don't remind me."
"You both could use all the help that you can get. Count me in." A hufflepuff boy said. "Oh, my name is James, and she is Anna."
"And I'm Charles." A boy in a slytherin uniform grinned. "Now what have you figured out so far?"
"We that it will like be a creature, because the first one was. The egg, when opened, screeches like something dying. So, a magical creature that has a screechy language." Cedric told them, running a hand through his hair. "Does that sound like anything you've heard of?"
"It sounds like mermish." Charles said. "I've never heard it in person, but I did some research into the magical creatures of the world in my second year, when I was deciding if I wanted to take magical creatures or Arithmancy."
Harry paged back to the index of the book he was reading, looking for mermaids. "Nothing here." he reported back, and put the book in a new stack.
"This one mentions wizards learning mermish, but nothing else about the language." Anna said, and stacked 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' on top of Harry's book. It took the five of them a large number of vaguely written books before James stumbled onto a promising entry.
"Mermish is a curious language that is specifically adapted for use underwater. When underwater it sounds much like English, or perhaps even like any other language; however, out of water the language changes to a screeching, harsh and raspy sound." That sounds promising, right? He asked.
"So you would just have to stick your head and the egg under water, and you should understand it." Charles stated.
"Well, we might as well try it." Cedric sighed.
"We should both do it, in case the messages are different." Harry said. "Do it tonight, and meet up to compare after class tomorrow?" he suggested.
"Sure, I'll see you then." Cedric grinned. Harry gathered up the stack of books that he gathered, and trudged to COMC section, to put them back.
The next day, the library was much quieter, but Harry could see Cedric and his friends in the same table that they were in yesterday. Harry moved towards the table, with Hermione and Ron following behind him. As he passed their normal tables, Hermione got confused "Where are we going?" She asked.
"Over there." He said, nodding towards Cedric's table. And kept walking until he got there, not listening to her sputtering behind him.
"Hey guys, these are my friends Ron and Hermione." He greeted the group, dropping his textbooks on the table with a thump.
"Hey Harry." Charles glanced up from a very large Arithmancy book with a smile. "It's nice to meet you two, I'm Charles, she's Anna, and he's James. I expect you know who Cedric here is. Go ahead and grab a seat."
"So, what did you get with the egg last night?" Harry asked Cedric.
"A poem. It was "Come seek us where our voices sound/ We cannot sing above the ground/ And while your searching, ponder this: we've taken what you'll sorely miss/ An hour long you'll have to look/ And to recover what we took/ But past an hour- the prospects black/ Too late, its gone, it won't come back" Cedric quoted.
'Mine was the same." Harry told him. He had waited until all of his roommates were asleep, then cast half a dozen silencing charms on the bathroom, before he had dunked the egg beneath the water along with his head and opened it. "Did you talk to the other Champions?"
"I managed to catch Victor when we were both on the quidditch pitch, he's coming, and said that he'll handle talking to Fleur." Cedric told him, running a hand through his hair.
"That's good- they probably have less friends to help them then we do." Harry grinned. For him, any other upper years who were willing to join in was a good thing. Especially since it was Fleur and Victor, who likely had different education the he and Cedric had, and were knowledgeable about different areas of magic then he, and likely Cedric were.
"Can we talk about how dark and ominous that poem was?" Charles said, glancing up and shuddering.
"I particularly don't like the line "we've taken what you'll sorely miss/ An hour long you'll have to look" because there are very few things that I would actually risk my life to get. Almost everything can be replaced, so why bother?" Harry winced. He would be very pissed if anyone took the few things that he would actually try and save- his father's cloak, the marauders map, and the firebolt- purely because it was the first thing that Sirius gave him. If it was his old Nimbus, he wouldn't of bothered. A broom wasn't worth potentially injuring himself, but the few mementos of the family he had ever had were.
"I can't think of anything of mine that I would die to save." Cedric agreed
"Neither can I." A heavily accented voice said from behind him. Harry glanced up to Victor Krum standing behind him. He wondered how a man so ungainly on the ground could walk so quietly. Then he remembered how graceful Krum was at the World Cup, and how graceful he was anytime Harry had seen him practicing since then, and guessed that it was an extension of that.
Charles grimaced, shaking his long black hair out of his face. "Go ahead and take a seat." He said to Victor then continued to the group "I hate to say it, but do you think they would take people?"
"Definitely." Hermione said, then blushed when everyone's faces turned towards her. "I mean, they already made you face nesting dragons. Dragons are one of the most dangerous magical species in the world, but nesting mother dragons with eggs to protect? That's overkill. Extreme overkill. I think you should jump to the worst possible option and prepare for that."
"Which means all of us need to be preparing for being kidnapped." Anna sighed. "They aren't going to pull someone random out of the audience, they will take close friends, girlfriends, siblings, family."
"So, we need to know how to counter mermaids first, and every single other creature in the lake as well." Cedric sighed. "That's a very long list."
"As well as actually getting to the mermaids, along with coming up with multiple ways to do it, so it isn't too overtly obvious that we all came up with ideas together." Victor heavily accented voice chimed in. He looked just as happy as Harry felt about the idea of this- which was not happy at all.
"And it's going to be February. I haven't seen the lake ice over before, but it's probably possible. I wouldn't bet against it snowing the day of the task, either." Harry grimaced.
"So we need something to prevent hypothermia, something to protect from the various creatures of the lake, something to save whoever needed to be saved, and back up plans for every eventuality, along with a comprehensive plan A." Hermione said, taking notes. Harry peered over her shoulder to discover that each point was in bullet point form, with plenty of room underneath each point to write more notes about each thing.
"We should start with various ways of traveling underwater. That's likely to be the main thing, and we can't start anything else until we know how our method of travel interacts with the lake." Cedric pointed out.
"We also need to practice long before the tournament comes. If we don't know our method works, and how to do it quickly, well, I don't want the line " But past an hour- the prospects black/ Too late, its gone, it won't come back." to come into effect." Harry winced.
"But that would cause much of a scandal, if innocent wizarding people died because they were chosen as hostages for a school tournament." Victor argued.
"Yeah, but think of the death toll this tournament has already had! Two out of every three champions die in this stupid thing die. And that's not mentioning the judges who have died, or the spectators!" Hermione ranted shoving a lock of hair out of her face.
"It has happened before, though, so we all need to be prepared for the possibility that we may have to fight for our lives." Charles said grimly.
"We should get all friends that might be hostages in on this."Anna agreed.
"I am so sorry, guys." Cedric said, looking guilty.
"Don't be." James said firmly, looking like he would punch his friend if the words came out of his mouth again. "We all put our names in for the tournament anyway, so we could of gotten chosen instead of you, and it would be you in this position."
"And Harry, this wasn't your choice, so don't say sorry to us either." Ron said, looking just as fierce. Cedric and Harry looked at each other, rolling their eyes and conceding the battle to their friends.
"Ok, well we might as well get to work. How about each of us choose something to study, and take notes on whatever we find?" Hermione suggested.
"I'll take the books on the past tournaments." Cedric volunteered.
"I'll take the books on herbology, to see if we can find anything to help with swimming." Anna said, and with everyone's nods of agreement, got up and vanished into the herbology section.
"I'll look into what might be in the lake." Ron said. Harry was grateful, as Ron was never the most bookish of people and it was rare for him to volunteer to do any studying that he didn't have to do.
"I'd go ask Hagrid what's in there before delving into the books, as he probably knows what's in there better then a book that may be out of date." Harry told him. Ron gave him a grateful look, and got up, presumably to go down to visit Hagrid.
"Remember to take good notes!" Hermione called after him. He gave a wave of acknowledgement, and continued out.
"I'll take ways to prevent hypothermia, I'll go talk to Pompfrey, she likes me and give me at least a direction to go in.' Anna volunteered.
They continued dividing up tasks, and Harry ended up with figuring out how to defend against the various creatures of the lake. When Ron came back, he helped and they decided, with how cold the lake is, they could shoot a jet of hot water at whatever creature, and that would at least buy them enough time to use a heavier powered spell. Also, it likely wouldn't injure the creature, which means that there would be less points taken off their score. Harry really didn't care about his score, and he had a feeling that the other champions could also care less now that they had discovered first hand how dangerous the tournament was.
Harry and Ron's looking into other ways to defend themselves was interrupted by Cedric letting out a stream of swearwords. Harry was surprised, he didn't think that Cedric was that sort of person "What?" he asked.
"There's a ball." Cedric sighed.
"Like a dance?" Harry said, horrified. He knew exactly what would happen. His legion of fans for the terrible tragic event that he couldn't even remember would hound him until he picked someone, and then would likely bully whoever he picked.
"And guess who has to open the ball, dancing in front of everyone?" Cedric said sarcastically, glaring at the book in front of him.
"The champions." Victor growled.
"This is going to majorly suck." Harry sighed.
"And the ball is in the middle of winter break, on Christmas Eve!"
"Which means we can't go home for the break. Not like I might have wanted to go home, to my own country, and see my family and friends that I haven't seen in months." Victor said sarcastically, still looking angry. Harry felt bad for him, he was surrounded by people talking in a language that wasn't his, in a country that wasn't his, in a tournament that had a high possibility of destroying his quidditch career. And was being followed by fans at every second of every day. Harry could see some, a few tables away, giggling whenever any of the champions looked their way, but especially Victor. When he thought about it that way, Harry wondered why Victor even put his name in. He was already rich and famous from quidditch so what was the point of him risking injuries for something like a school tournament, even an international one.
"The hostages." Charles groaned. Everyone looked at him questioningly, and he explained "Your dates are going to be your hostages, unless you are clearly only going with them to the ball and won't talk to them after.
"Shit." Harry said. "How do we have a date, then, if we know they'll likely get taken?"
"We pick someone who can defend themselves, tell them what will likely happen, and include them in all of the planning." Cedic said firmly.
"And how will we get them to continue to go with us? If I were them, I would run away, as fast as I could." Victor said.
"No you wouldn't, you signed up for this tournament in the first place." Harry said bitterly. He wouldn't have chosen this if he had a choice, he would run, but the only place he could run was the Dursleys, and even the Tournament was better then the Dursleys.
"I was told it would be a lot less dangerous then it has proven itself to be." Victor said. "Or I would still be at Dumstrang, and focusing on my Quidditch career and not this tournament."
"What I wouldn't give for a year in which my main concern is Quidditch and school."
"Does that mean the rumors are true?" James asked "About the troll, and Quirrell, and the Chamber, and Black?"
"Every last bit of it, depending on what rumors you hear." Ron rolled his eyes.
" I thought it was just the over exaggerated rumor network!" Charles said, wincing.
"Well, some of it is exaggerated, and a lot of it is just completely false, but some of it is true." Hermione sighed. "And trust me, I wish it was completely false."
"Yeah, I could have lived without all of that, except the troll, that had some positive things." Ron grinned, Hermione blushed.
"How could a troll be positive? That was terrifying and I didn't even see it." Charles asked, shocked.
"Easy, we became friends when Ron and I saved Hermione from the troll." Harry grinned.
"You have the weirdest life ever." Cedric sighed.
"That we do." Harry grinned and agreed. While he hated all of the dangerous situations that he got into, he would do it all again for the safety of his friends. He would rather be risking his own life then his friends. That was the reason he hated this task so much. The thought of his friends in danger because someone forced him into a contest trying to kill him was horrifying. He'd rather that if someone wanted to kill him, they just come out and do it. However, based on the pattern of the previous years, they would try to kill him at about June. It was so nice of Volde to wait until the school year was over and finals finished to try and kill him. It was like he was trying to give Harry as much time to actually learn things first. Whatever, Harry was going to study as much as possible and Volde was going to get a nasty surprise.
Hey everyone. Merry Christmas! It's been a long time, but I'm back. I'm sorry it's taken me so long, but I've been struggling to find time between college and my two jobs. I'm already working on the second half of this fic, and I hope to have it up soon, but if its as long as this one is, it's going to take me a while! I'm going to try to have up by the new year! Please review!