Omg guys I'm very sorry for such a late update, and for not keeping some of the individual promises I made you some of y'all in pm's. Well, here's the chapter, finally. I just realized this is chapter 13, so maybe this one was fated to be so late and kinda bad. The chapter kinda...just...happened over the course of several months. I didn't have much of a plan for it (read: no plan whatsoever) and I improvised. Anyway, after enduring several months of my friend's annoying pestering (it feels weird that my friend is reading my fanfic, no joke. I'll call him Water Pest lol) about updating, and me now finally getting something like a break in school work (I passed my super stressful senior presentation that determines if the past four years of suffering through my program were worth it, yay!) I decided to get off my butt (or onto it, seeing as I'm sitting) and finish this chapter. See bottom for final author notes.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything other than the random ass spell I came up with from old latin (I think) roots.

Chapter 13

Harry was disappointed. He hadn't gotten to see the ninja fight. He'd been saved by Omoi, but whatever he'd done had been too fast for him to comprehend was was happening. He'd come out of the tent to the varying expressions of his classmates, and everywhere he went, people were talking about Sakura's punch, or the hundred copies of Naruto. Of course, they also whispered about his own performance, but Harry was more interested in the guards. He'd heard enough about himself already to last him three lifetimes. Their abilities were also so different than wand magic.

Harry was nearly carried up to the Gryffindor common room. Fred and George spearheaded the celebration, and soon there was music playing from somewhere, food and drinks had somehow appeared, probably courtesy of the house elves (the Weasley twins may have had something to do with that), and the entire Gryffindor House was crowding him and shouting in congradulations. Harry enjoyed it, because things were starting to look up since his name came out of the goblet. Soon, though, he started getting tired of the noise and attention. Ron seemed to notice first (as Hermione had excluded herself from the main crowd of celebrators) and somehow got Harry out of the middle of the mob and to the corner where Hermione was sitting, cup in hand.

Harry sent his friends thankful smiles.

"I'm happy I survived," he said, quirking his mouth. Hermione rolled her eyes slightly and Ron barked a laugh.

"Mate, that seems to be the story of you life." Ron remarked. Hermione nodded. Her face lit up.

"They said the next clue was the egg, right? Why don't you go ahead and open it and we can start figuring out how to get you through your next task."

"Come on 'Mione, he's just only finished the first one. Why not give him a little break?" Ron said.

Harry intervened before they could start arguing.

"No, it might be a good idea to at least know the clue." Ron relented and Harry picked up the egg he'd taken from the Hungarian Horntail's nest.

As soon as he opened it, a screeching noise filled the common room, causing everyone to stop what they were doing and cover their ears with their hands. Harry scrambled to close the egg, immediately stopping the horrific noise. Those who had been partying were staring at the trio.

"What in the bloody hell was that!" George Weasley asked. Harry held up the egg.

"Sorry. Didn't know if was going to do that."

"Well, maybe don't open that thing again until you've figured it out." Seamus said.

Harry nodded.

Before long, the party kicked up again, courtesy of the Weasley twins, and the golden trio was left to their own devices once again.

"I wonder how that's suppose to be a clue?" Hermione's brow furrowed.

"Maybe it's the sound of the next creature Harry will have to defeat?" Ron suggested. His friends turned to him, their eyes wide.

"You're brilliant, Ron!" Harry exclaimed. Ron blushed.

"Not really. I overheard some of the shinobi talking and it sounded like there were other magical creatures involved in the second task."

"Still, it's a really good guess and if we can figure out what kind of creature makes that sound it may give us the clue to the next task!" Hermione burst. "I need to go get a book from my dorm. I'll be back down soon. Don't move." She raced away to the girls dorm, Harry and Ron staring after her.

"Does she think we're dogs maybe?" Ron asked. Harry barked a laugh.

"I think she's just really excited. To think that we may be even more prepared for this second task than this first one-" Harry shook his head, smiling widely.

At that moment Hermione came rushing down the stairs with a familiar, enormous book. It was the book that had served them greatly in researching the different types of dragons.

"When Ron said it could be another creature, I thought this book might be helpful, seeing as it's an encyclopedia on dangerous magical creatures. I'm presuming it'll be dangerous, at least, being in the Triwizard Tournament," She settled down in her chair and started thumbing her way through the book slowly, searching for any creature that created a screeching noise.

"Wait, I have an idea." Ron said, making Hermione look up. "Hermione, do you know how to do the quietning charm?" Hermione's face went red.

"Um, well, I may have learned it...Lavender snores, okay?" Hermione flushed hard as Harry and Ron raised their eyebrows at her and then started laughing at her admission.

When they had stopped laughing and Hermione's face had lessened in color, Ron instructed her to cast the charm on the egg.

Once she had done so, Ron turned to Harry.

"Open it slowly now." Raising an eyebrow at Ron, Harry opened the egg again. This time the screeching was at a more tolerable level of sound. Ron took out his wand.

"Exscribo!" He chanted, pointing his wand at the egg. As he did so, a light drew away from the egg and settled into a small ball at the tip of his wand. He then pointed his wand, and the ball of light at the book in Hermione's hand and chanted "Repperio."

The book opened by itself, settling on a page. Hermione leaned over and read the page.

"Banshee. It is the duty of the banshee-"

"Hermione just read the part about the noises they make." Ron interrupted, eyeing the length of the passage. She nodded and scanned the words before continuing reading.

"The screams of the banshee are fatal to the ears, and are echoed by professional mourners or keeners, bhean chaointe, who were engaged to maintain high piercing cries and moans or ochone at a funeral wake."

There was a silence between them before Ron spoke up.

"Well the downside of the spell is that it usually has to be repeated."

"What was that spell?" Hermione asked, Harry nodding in agreement at the question.

Ron turned pink.

"I uh...well I was having trouble researching some things, and then Sen started talking to me, and she suggested I try to come up with my own spell to help speed up the process. Well, I've been working on it for a little while, and Sen and some of the other shinobi have also been helping me a little, even though they also don't really know much about magic, and well I wasn't sure if it would work, but I knew this was going to take a long time and I thought I might as well try and-"

"RON!" Harry and Hermione interrupted him to stop his rambling. He closed his mouth and stared at the floor, looking sheepish.

"Ron, did you seriously create your own spell?" Harry asked, incredulous. Ron nodded.

"Ron, you're brilliant!" Hermione exclaimed. "Even I haven't tried that yet!"

"Thank you, but the shinobi helped me a lot, even though they don't really know that much about magic. Actually that might be why they were so helpful; they could come up with ideas that we never would have thought of."

"Bloody hell they even made you humble!" Harry exclaimed, and the three of them dissolved into laughter at Ron's affronted expression.

"Okay, you are going to teach us that spell, but right now lets just have you perform it so we can try to figure out the clue."Hermione instructed once they had recovered their ability to speak without cracking up again. The two boys nodded and they got to work.

Several trials later, and a couple evasions of parting teens and red headed twins, they arrived at a passage that caught Hermione's eye.

"Here, listen to this, 'Merpeople do not much resemble the Muggle idea of mermaids and mermen. They are very thin, with very long arms and a fish's tail; some are armed with spears. They have high-pitched voices, and seem to be able to speak, or at least parrot, some English words; however, among themselves they generally speak their own language, Mermish. Above water their singing or speech sounds like a screech, yet underwater it is eerie and hypnotic.'"

"That could make sense," Ron said thoughtfully. "I mean, if this was supposed to be a clue, it could be more than just the sound of the creature, since there are a lot of creatures that can screech like that. For mermish, there could be more to the clue that we can't understand right now because we aren't in the water." Harry and Hermione stared at him for a couple seconds before they both nodded. Hermione moved her finger down the passage.

"And- here. It says that there is a large village of merfolk living in the Hogwarts lake, and Dumbledore was one of the first humans they were willing to attempt communication with," she paraphrased.

"So, I'm going to be fighting...merfolk for the next trial?" Harry asked. Hermione frowned.

"Well, technically, you didn't and weren't supposed to fight the dragons; you just had to avoid them to steal this egg from them. I'm also presuming that since the relationship between merfolk and the wizarding world are still a little stressed, neither side would agree to a full on battle. And the merfolk would most definitely have a say in being a part of the tournament." She took a deep breath after her stream on consciousness was almost completed.

"You think they will be guarding something, like the dragons were guarding the eggs." Ron finished. Hermione nodded.

"Maybe a clue for the last tournament."

"Well, no matter what I'll have to get from the merfolk, I'll have to figure out some way to breath underwater! I highly doubt that they would make it so convenient for me to come out on shore." Harry pointed out.

The productive energy the three had been running on till then slithered out of them.

"Perfect, so we still have more research…" Ron groaned. "And I don't think I can use that spell for research like that…"

They sat in silence for a couple minutes, thinking about the upcoming task, and the daunting assignment in front of them.

"You three should get some sleep." A cheerful voice spoke. The Golden Trio jumped and turned to see Sakura lounging on the thick arm of the couch where Harry and Ron were sitting. She smiled at them, a hint of mischief glimmering in her eyes.

"What time is it anyway?" Harry wondered, rubbing his suddenly heavy eyes.

"About one in the morning," she replied casually.

"You're joking!" Hermione exclaimed, eyes wide. Sakura chuckled and shook her head no. "Merlin's beard! I need to get to sleep!" Hermione turned to the boys, smiled, collected her book, then turned around a scurried up to her dorm, shouting over her shoulder, "we'll do more research tomorrow-oh! Today! Oh Merlin…!"

Harry and Ron shared a glance, before folding over, tears escaping from their eyes. It was probably the sleep deprivation. It couldn't have been Hermione's reaction; no definitely not.

"We should get some sleep too, mate," Ron managed after a while. "You had a big day today-eh… yesterday. You especially need rest." Harry nodded and the two got up from the couch.

"Hey, where did Sakura go?" Harry asked, realising the pink haired shinobi had disappeared during their fit of hysteria. Ron shrugged, and the two continued up the stairs to their room.

Naruto waited in the Headmasters office for only seven minutes before the eccentric man himself swept in through the door.

"Ah, good, you are here. I hope you didn't wait too long?" Naruto shook his head.

"The portraits kept me company as well. It seems that Kakashi-sensei's painting has been evading questioning." Dumbledore smiled.

"Hmm, I do wonder how long it will take for them to realize that it is highly unlikely that a shinobi, especially one of his calibre, would give up information." Naruto matched the smile.

"Now, on to business. I first wanted to thank you and your whole team for your timely assistance today."

"We did our jobs. That is the reason we are all here, after all." Dumbledore nodded.

"Yes, and you proved today especially that hiring you all was the correct decision. How is the rest of your team?"

"No one is badly injured, though a couple are currently recuperating from extensive chakra usage and avoiding the students." Naruto replied, standing up straighter. It surprised even him how being the leader of this mission and working with the other ninja and wizards had made him so professional now. At necessary times, of course. He wouldn't be loosing that child-like streak any time soon if he could help it.

Dumbledore nodded.

"Now, the other reason I wanted you here was so that I could brief you more in detail about the next task. I will be briefing the other captains as well, but I heard that your team had the most experience with magical creatures."

"Is he calling us mere magical creatures?!" Kurama intervened, causing Naruto to crinkle his eyes a bit, in what he, Sakura, and Sasuke referred to as "the Kakashi smile." Naruto cleared his throat.

"Um, I guess you could say that. It's a little different, but it shouldn't matter too much. Animals do tend to like Sakura and I naturally, even without our experience. Is the next task also involving magical creatures like the dragons?"

"Well, not like dragons, but magical creatures, yes. On a related note, do any of you have an ability to breath underwater?"

Naruto's mind did a quick "uhhhhhhhhhhhh" before being more helpful and scanning through the known abilities of his fellow ninja. "I can't think of anyone right now, but I'll ask them anyway. If not, then we have time to figure something out. Between all of us, we have a fairly large knowledge of ninjutsu, even if we haven't tried to use them before." He explained.

Dumbledore nodded again.

"Very well. Let us continue this discussion tomorrow."

Naruto discerned that that meant they would have to come up with a vague idea on underwater breathing techniques by then as well. He also took that statement to be one of dismissal, so he bowed to the Headmaster before exiting the wild room.

Once he made it back to the shinobi living quarters, he sat down in a meditative position and began to rejuvenate himself and have a conversation with Kurama until the rest of the ninja were ready to talk.

He hoped nothing bad would happen for the next couple of days, at least.

Does that count as a cliffhanger? I don't know. Especially considering I don't know what the cliff is hanging over. Basically, I've been suffering from severe writer's block (and some senioritis, which is seriously an actual thing) and the reason this chapter was shorter than normal and kinda bad.

So PLEASE! Review with constructive criticism (I love you guys; y'all are so nice compared to what I've seen other fanfic authors mentioning about their reviews), general love ;), and then any suggestions y'all have. I need suggestions. A lot. Also, idk if this helps, but I reply to reviews and pm's pretty quickly, provided it's replyable.

I'm rambling, sorry, review and be awesome!