Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any dragons for that matter. Though could you imagine how cool that would be?
Here be Dragons
"Well you certainly took your time," I murmured once Charlie finally made his way into the tent late that night.
"Sorry, Dragons were not happy when they woke up again," he replied, running a burnt hand through his smouldering red hair, "And Hagrid would've led his date right into the crossfire of it all if I hadn't stopped them."
"Hold up, did you just say Hagrid brought a date with him?"
"Yep," Charlie nodded as he peeled off his over-shirt, "Him and Madame Maxine took a lovely stroll conveniently close to the clearing."
"Oh, how romantic," I hummed, beckoning him over to where I was already waiting on our makeshift bed, "And you've got yourself another burn I see."
"Well, it's not my fault that the Hungarian Horntail was grumpy when she realised that she was in another cage," he murmured, wincing as I examined the fresh wound.
"Still, you should be more careful," I tutted, running the tip of my wand over the withering skin before it slowly yet surely knitted itself back together.
"But then how else would I get to spend time with my own personal Healer?" he asked.
"You're ridiculous," I rolled my eyes, batting his shoulder lightly before snuggling back into his side.
"Ridiculously in love perhaps," Charlie chuckled as he pressed a soft kiss against my temple, "But when it comes to you, who can blame me?"
A few weeks later...
That Sunday, Charlie and I woke up in the early hours of the morning. There was still so much to prepare for the First Triwizard Tournament task that we opened our tent to see that the sun wasn't even up.
"You can still sleep in," reasoned Charlie, running a hand through his sleep-mused hair as he pulled on a clean shirt. "I won't be too long. I only have to take the dragons down to the pitch and set up a few extra things for the task."
I raised a sleepy eyebrow as I sat up and yawned.
"And sleep through you clunking about the tent louder than an erumpent? Hard pass."
"Oi, I'm not that loud," Charlie replied, reaching over to poke my nose before he pulled up his jeans.
I snorted, "Oh sure, Mister 'I-talk-about-dragons-in-my-sleep'."
Charlie pouted, pulling a face as I shuffled over to kiss his cheek before he let out a soft chuckle.
"Take another fifteen minutes," he said, pressing his lips to my forehead as he wrapped me in a warm embrace, "The boys and I can handle things out there."
He nodded, "Positive."
Charlie gave me one last lingering kiss on the lips before he got up.
"Hmm?" he turned around.
"You sure you've got everything handled?"
"Of course, why?"
"Because you forgot to take your wand."
"You know, I could definitely get used to this." Charlie hummed, ducking into the tent before he leaned against one of the supporting beams while he watched me busy myself around the small kitchen.
"The view that good, huh?" I smirked, leaving the bacon to simmer for a moment before I reached out to leash him closer by the loop of his belt buckle.
"Uh-huh," he smiled; his chest flushed against mine as he bent over and pressed a heart-melting kiss to my lips, "Told you I wouldn't take too long and is that bacon by any chance?"
"Maybe …" I replied, pulling away to take the said bacon off the heat before levitating the still-hot frying pan to the small table where it divided itself into two separate portions.
Charlie grinned, his eyes sparkling like amber as he pressed his lips to my forehead.
"You're amazing, Cursebreaker."
Cedric Diggory entered the ring first, looking greener than ever.
To say that Cedric had changed was an understatement. True, he'd always been good-looking, even in his first year but Cedric Diggory had clearly grown to be quite the young wizard and a relatively handsome looking one at that.
"Ooh, narrow miss there, very narrow," Bagman's voice boomed over the loudspeaker as Cedric hit the ground behind a rock, dodging a blast of fire from the Swedish Short-Snout by a hair.
"He's taking risks, this one!" exclaimed Bagman, the crowd around us all gasping and yelling like a single many-headed entity as Cedric pulled out his wand, and I couldn't help but be impressed by his spell-work as he transfigured a nearby rock into a large Labrador. The dragon snarled, eyes immediately darting towards where the dog sat and bared its fangs and it seemed that she was getting ready to blast it before she decided that she'd rather go for Cedric instead.
"Clever move – pity it didn't work!"
He leapt to the side, the fire setting his robes ablaze and he swore as he struggled to extinguish it.
It took another fifteen nerve-wracking minutes until Cedric finally seized the golden egg and the crowd roared.
"Very good indeed!" Bagman shouted over the roar of the crowd. "And now, the marks from the judges!"
"One down, three to go!" yelled Bagman, as the whistle blew again. "Miss Delacour, if you please!"
It wasn't long until a slender blonde-haired witch walked onto the pitch, her head held high and her hand clutching her wand. The same process started again.
Fleur had taken to trying to bewitch the Welsh green dragon into an enchanted sleep. It seemed that she had almost succeeded when she chose the wrong moment to step out only for the dragon to let out a snore, breathing fire over her robes. "Oh, I'm not sure that was wise!" Bagman shouted gleefully as the witch leapt to the side, putting out the fire with a stream of water from her wand.
"Oh … nearly! Careful now … good Lord, I thought she'd had it then!"
Fleur had to keep ducking and diving as the sleeping dragon let out a yawn, fire spilling from its jaws as it curled itself around its eggs. Ten minutes later, Fleur had reached the egg and the crowd erupted into applause once more. There was a pause, while Fleur's marks were announced … more clapping … then, for the third time, the whistle.
"And here comes Mr Krum!" cried Bagman as Krum slouched out.
I watched it all fold out in slow motion, Krum's Conjunctivitis jinx hit true to its mark.
"Very daring!" Bagman yelled as the Chinese Fireball emitted a horrible, roaring shriek, while the crowd drew its collective breath.
Past memories from when I'd cast the exact same spell back in the underground vault came rippling to the surface as the Chinese Fireball roared, thrashing out blindly with puss protruding from its reptilian eyes while Viktor Krum made a dive for the golden egg.
"That's some nerve he's showing – and – yes, he's got the egg!"
Applause shattered the wintery air as the dragon screeched, stumbling back towards its eggs.
"No, no, no, this is not happening," swore Charlie, leaping out over the railing with his wand out as he joined the other dragon tamers who were all hurrying over the edge into the arena.
I stood up, running over to the side as I watched the Weasley dive headfirst into the rampage, using his body to protect the eggs as the dragon's tail swiped across the rocks and my heart froze as a resounding thud resonated throughout the stadium.
No, no, no …
Silence hung over the crowd as the dust cleared, revealing Charlie on his feet relatively unscathed holding the remaining dragon eggs under each arm.
"Thank Merlin," I sighed; relief washing over me as Marius and Barb appeared, subduing the dragon with a series of well-aimed stunning spells before going to help Charlie.
Charlie seemed to be yelling at them, saying something that was inaudible from this distance as he cradled the eggs in his arms though I didn't need to be able to hear what he was saying to know that he was angry.
And so he should be.
He'd told them not to put the eggs out with the mother hadn't he?
I shuddered, wondering just how furious he was as I pushed my way through the crowds and hurried down to the pitch where Charlie was still cradling the eggs like a mother carrying her baby.
Charlie didn't respond, his attention solely focused on the eggs as he examined them for any cracks.
Barb looked up, shaking her head as if to signal for me not to come over; sweat beading her wrinkled forehead as she began talking to the Weasley who was still fussing over the two eggs.
"How's the Chinese Fireball doing?" I asked gently once he reapproached the stands.
"She can see again, but she's still in a lot of pain," Charlie grumbled writhing his hands as if he was trying to strangle somebody, "And her eggs were destroyed." He shook his head, "I told them that we shouldn't have put any real eggs in the ring, but would anybody listen to me? Of course not! We're lucky that I managed to salvage two but we lost two unborn dragons today Bethany, two, and everybody else is cheering about it …"
"Would a kiss help?"
"Absolutely," he replied.
I smiled, cupping his cheek in the palm of my hand as I went on my tiptoes to kiss him softly, and he responded, tentative at first until I slowly yet surely felt him relax against me.
"We should probably find our seats if we don't want to miss the action."
Charlie smiled slightly, his eyes still tinged with sadness till he let out a sigh before he took my hand in his and pressed another kiss to the base of my knuckles.
"Lead the way."
There was another pause as Krum's scores were shown before the whistle sounded for the fourth time.
"And next is Harry Potter!"
We made it back to our seats just in time to see Harry step out, legs shaking as he walked past the trees, through the gap into the enclosure fence. I couldn't even begin to imagine how he must have felt, having hundreds and hundreds of faces staring down at him from the stands before he looked up to see the Horntail, at the other end of the enclosure. She snarled, crouched low over her clutch of eggs, her wings half-furled and her yellow eyes watching him intently as he made his way through the arena. She growled, thrashing her spiked tail, leaving yard-long gouge marks in the hard ground and I couldn't help but wince.
The crowd around us was making a great deal of noise now; some friendly while others from another part of the stands yelled loud boos. I recognised one of them to be Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy. He looked just like his father, long-faced with white-blonde hair and the same jeering smirk.
Harry raised his wand.
"Accio Firebolt!" he shouted.
We all waited with bated breath before it came speeding through the air behind him and I turned to see his Firebolt hurtling towards him around the edge of the woods, soaring into the enclosure and stopping dead in mid-air beside him, waiting for him to mount and he did.
He swung his leg over the broom and kicked off from the ground before he shot up into the sky. He kept flying, becoming a mere dot above the Quidditch pitch where he stayed; seeming to gather up the nerve to do whatever it was he was planning …
He dived. The Horntail's head followed him as he pulled out of the dive just in time; a jet of fire being released exactly where he would have been if he had not swerved when he did, acting as if it were as easy as dodging a Bludger …
"Great Scott, he can fly!" yelled Bagman, as the crowd shrieked and gasped. "Are you watching this, Mr Krum?"
Harry soared higher in a circle; the Horntail still following his progress; its head revolving on its long neck.
"Brilliant!" grinned Charlie, the previous mishap with the Chinese Fireball seemingly forgotten as we watched Harry hover over the pitch.
Harry plummeted just as the dragon opened its mouth, but this time he was less lucky – he'd missed the flames, but the tail came whipping up to meet him instead and he swerved to the left, one of the long spikes grazing his shoulder, ripping his robes.
We gasped as Harry continued, teeth gritted as he zoomed back around the Horntail, who, though she writhed and twisted, furling and unfurling her winds was too afraid to move away from her eggs. Harry flew in a zigzag, keeping just out of reach of her fire but still posing a sufficient enough threat to ensure that she kept her eyes on him. The dragon's head swayed to-and-fro, watching him out of those vertical pupils, her fangs bared …
He flew higher and the Horntail's head rose with him, her neck now stretched to its fullest extent, still swaying, like a snake before its charmer. He rose a few feet more and she let out a roar of exasperation. He was like a fly to her, a fly that she longed to swat; her tail thrashed again, but he was too high to reach now … she shot fire into the air, which he dodged … her jaws opened wide …
After a few moments of taunting, she finally reared, spreading her great black leathery wings at last, as wide as those of an aeroplane – and Harry dived. Before the dragon knew what he had done, or where he had disappeared to, he was speeding towards the ground as fast as he could possibly go, towards the eggs now unprotected by her clawed, front legs – he had taken his hands off his Firebolt and seized the golden egg.
And, with a huge spurt of speed, he was off again, soaring out over the stands with the heavy egg safely tucked under his uninjured arm as the crowd erupted, screaming and applauding as loudly as the Irish supporters at the World Cup.
"Look at that!" Bagman was yelling. "Will you look at that? Our youngest champion is quickest to get his egg! Well, this is going to shorten the odds on Mr Potter!"
Charlie leapt out of his seat for the second time, rushing forward with the other dragon-keepers to subdue the Horntail as Harry landed at the entrance of the enclosure where a gaggle of his closest friends were already waiting for him.
Each contestant so far had been given marks out of ten from each of the five judges. The first judge – Madame Maxine – raised her wand in the air. What looked like a long silver ribbon shot out of it, which twisted itself into a large figure, eight.
Mr Crouch came next. He shot a number nine into the air.
Next was Dumbledore. He, too, put up a nine. The crowd was cheering harder than ever.
Ludo Bagman – ten.
Yells and applause erupted from the crowd. And now Karkaroff raised his wand. He paused for a moment, and then a number shot out of his wand – a four.
"What?" Fred and George both bellowed in unison behind me. "That's rubbish!"
"You're tied in first place, Harry!" exclaimed Charlie excitedly, hurrying down from the stands as we came down to meet the others as the students set off back towards the school. "Listen, I've got to run, I've got to go and send Mum and owl; I swore I'd tell her what happened – that was unbelievable! Oh yeah – and they told me to tell you you've got to hang around for a few more minutes … Bagman wants a word, back in the champion's tent."
Ron said he would wait as Harry re-entered the tent.
"They are just so stupid," continued Hermione as we joined her on the way back to the castle, "I mean they refuse to talk to each other for weeks on end and then suddenly POOF! They're best friends again!"
"I'm just glad that the two of them patched things up … oh Merlin," I groaned, as a certain reporter came frolicking down from the stands. It was Rita Skeeter. She was wearing acid-green robes today; the Quick-Quotes Quill in her hand, blended perfectly against them.
"Quick, hide me!"
Charlie nodded, automatically draping his jacket over my shoulders as the two of us bid Hermione a quick farewell before darting out of the way of the reporter who had just leapt out from behind a clump of trees near Ron and Harry who had re-emerged from out of the tent.
"Congratulations, Harry!" she beamed as she hurried towards them. "I wonder if you could give me a quick word? How you felt facing that dragon? How you feel now about the fairness of the scoring?"
"Yeah," I heard Harry reply savagely, "You can have a word: Goodbye."
"It's been ages since we last came up here," Charlie murmured as we climbed up the spiral staircase till which reached the top of the Owlery.
"Yeah, one of Talbott's favourite hiding places," I recalled, my breath coming out in small gasps of ice as I gazed up towards the large statue of the stone owl in the middle. Charlie paused, "Speaking of which, how is Talbott?" he asked, his voice gentle as he approached.
"If only I knew," I replied, leaning back against his chest as he hugged me from behind.
I hadn't heard from Talbott since the Death Eater attack at the Quidditch Cup, heck, not even Tonks had seen the auror since that night …
I bit my lower lip, silently praying that he was okay.
"You could always send him a letter?" suggested Charlie, his voice tickling my ear lobe as he rested his chin on my shoulder.
"For that, I'd have to find him first," I murmured.
"Well if anybody can find him, it's you," he said, rubbing his exceptionally warmer hands over mine and kissing my forehead before he reluctantly let go to pull out the letter that he'd promised to send to his mother as soon as the first task had ended.
"You always seem to know exactly what to say," I smiled as I watched him select a school owl from the perches and tie the envelope to its leg before we let it go off the balcony.
"I'm only saying the truth," he shrugged, scanning the skyline as he leaned against the railing of the balcony.
"Still," I replied, our shoulders bumping against one another as I sidled up next to him, "It helps."
"Well, I'm always happy to be of service to you, Cursebreaker," Charlie grinned.
How was that for the First Task? Exciting enough?
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xoxo - S.G.