"Come seek us where our voices sound,
We cannot sing above the ground,
And while you're 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, it's gone it won't come back."
"Well I usually find that the best way to deal with riddles, which in a way this is, is to take it one line at a time." Draco said matter-of-factly, leaning over to read the bit of parchment upside down from where he sat across the library table from Harry.
Harry took a deep breath, "Come seek us where our voices sound- okay so I'm going to be the one going to them, I have to find these merpeople. We cannot sing above the ground- we already decided that that's an indication of the fact that I'll have to go in the black lake. And while you're searching ponder this: we've taken what you'll sorely miss- so they're going to take something from me. What? Something important. When? No idea. An hour long you'll have to look- well that's pretty self explanatory. But past an hour- the prospects black, too late, it's gone it won't come back- so whatever they take I won't get back if I don't find it within the time limit."
"Hold up there on that last one," Draco said slowly with a furrowed brow. "Do you think they would take a 'sorely missed' possession from each champion and not give it back? I wouldn't say that their allowed to do that. No, I think that that's just more incentive to get there on time.
Harry looked at Draco doubtfully, "You don't think that they can do whatever they want? This 'magically binding contract' that I got myself dragged into basically says they can do whatever the fuck they feel like doing and I have to deal with the situation."
Draco raised an eyebrow at his friend's irritation, "You're just psyching yourself out, you know that right?"
"What do you think they'll take?" Harry asked dropping the topic in order to avoid an argument.
"Well, what's the most important thing in the world to you," Draco questioned almost nervously, biting his lip in anticipation of the answer.
"Maybe it'll be my Firebolt," Harry mused blithely.
"Nice," Draco muttered, "I get outclassed by a flying stick."
"Don't be ridiculous," Harry cajoled, nudging Draco's leg with his foot under the table, "they wouldn't take people to the bottom of the lake."
A whole crowd of merpeople was floating in front of the houses that lined what looked like a mer-version of a village square. A choir of merpeople was singing in the middle, calling the champions toward them, and behind them rose a crude sort of statue; a gigantic merperson hewn from a boulder. Four people were bound tightly to the tail of the stone merperson.
Harry's aggravation at Draco for being no where in sight this morning when his nerves had been at a breaking point completely dissipated as his breath caught in his throat. So to speak, seeing as he happened to have gills so he wasn't exactly breathing at the moment. The gillyweed that Draco had goaded Harry to ask for from Snape was doing its job perfectly.
Draco floated, motionless, anchored only by the rope around his ankles. Harry would've thought him dead if it wasn't for the stream of bubbles continuously flowing from his slightly open mouth. Harry wanted to kick himself; of course no broom could be more important to him than Draco. Nothing was more important to him than Draco, nothing.
He unclipped the pocket knife Sirius had given him for Christmas from his belt loop and set to work sawing at the rope that tied Draco to the stone. He glanced sideways as the rope began to fray, Diggory's girlfriend was tied next to Draco, after her was that damn mudblood that had been parading herself around on Krum's arm, and on the end was a girl who look to be at the oldest ten years old and could only be described as Fleur's sister, with the same delicate Veela features.
He turned back to Draco as the rope broke at the same time the crowd surrounding them looked to something in the distance. Realizing for the first time that the fact the three other hostages were still there meant that Harry was in the lead, he figured that what the people were looking at the was the next Champion.
Acting instinctually Harry took hold of Draco, holstered his pocket knife, and whipped out his wand. Pointing at ground he shouted 'relashio!', predictably, as he has learned from the grindylows, from his mouth came only bubbles and from his wand only a stream of boiling water, but it served its purpose. All the broken rock pieces and bits laying around the base of the statue that could possibly used as cutting tools went flying, scattered in the low murky weeds and muck pools. He wasn't sure if any of his competitors had thought to bring something to cut with but he wasn't taking any chances.
As the form of what was now recognizable as Cedric, with his head surrounded by a large air bubble, came closer Harry decided it was time to start heading back. He wrapped an arm around Draco's back so they were chest to chest and used his other hand to cradle the other boy's head still to prevent any whiplash that might occur with Draco's head lolling back and forth. The blonde may hate it when Harry treated him like a fragile china doll, but he hated the thought of Draco in pain, almost as much as dealing with Draco's whining.
He sank down so he was resting on the tail of the stone form and then bent his knees and pushed off with a mighty whoosh that propelled the both of them toward the surface. Using his still webbed feet he kicked with all his might to bring them to the light of day, the water around them was still a dark green, almost brown. He hadn't realized how deep he had swam; he didn't even want to think about how far from the shore they were. Merlin, Harry thought, aren't people supposed to float in water? But Draco's weight was trying to pull him down like an anchor as the inertia of his push started to wear off.
Using his feet, which still doubled as flippers, he kicked with all his might and watched as the water around them grew slowly lighter and lighter. After a few agonizing minutes in which Harry thought time could have been standing still they reached the surface. Harry burst through first, happy that this ordeal would soon be over; only to realize, as he gasped for air, that he still had gills.
Once again he submerged himself and swam towards the sandy shore he could see in the distance, keeping a safe meter in between himself and the surface, Draco still clutched to his chest. Thankfully, as the water got shallow, with a slight pain the gills melted from his neck and he felt each finger and toe separate into independent digits.
When his head finally emerged, the muffled vibrations and voices he had been hearing turned into the thunderous cheers of the cheers, as everyone was on their feet shouting and clapping. Harry figured in the lighter water they must've been able to watch his approach.
He side stroked the rest of the way to the bank while Draco coughed and sputtered into consciousness. He tried not to blush but felt his body temperature rise when Draco's thin arms wrapped around his middle as Harry pulled them to shore.
The judges stood waiting for them; all but Madame Maxime who was trying to restrain Fleur as she tried to claw her way out of a blanket and back to the water, yelling something about Gabrielle.
Harry stumbled and tried to regain his footing at the same time carefully supporting Draco, he wasn't sure if the other boy had quite regained all of his strength back. The arms around his waist disappeared as Madame Pomfrey bustled towards them with blankets and a pair of steaming goblets, Harry almost mourned the loss.
"Come here, you two," she said in her normal fussy tone, wrapping a blanket tightly around each of them and shoved the Pepper-Up Potion into their hands. She trotted away to gather more supplies in preparation for the arrival of the next champion.
From behind them he heard one of the professors shout something along the lines of 'not allowed down here' followed by a familiar affronted voice, "Like hell I'm not."
He turned to see Pansy jogging unsteadily down the damp sandy bank towards them. "Oh, Draco," she cooed as she got closer to them, "If any of those disgusting creatures touched a hair on your head, I'll filet every last one of them." Harry found that he agreed whole heartedly with the sentiment.
"Its okay, Pansy," Draco smiled at Harry over the girl's shoulder as he was wrapped in a hug that was as tight as the blanket, "Dumbledore put us to sleep last night, Snape came to the dorm to get me. He told me what was going to happen and I don't even remember actually being in the lake."
"You there!" a very peeved looking Professor Vector called, spotting Pansy, "Young lady, I'm sorry, but you'll have to come with me, only those involved with the challenge are allowed to be down here."
Pansy pouted and blew Harry a kiss as she was dragged away by the professor with a hand tightly attached to her upper arm. "She's insane," Harry commented good naturedly, watching as their friend decided to put up a fight.
"Yea," Draco smiled, sitting down next to Harry to wait for the arrival of the other champions, "that's why I love her."
Harry's hand tightened into a fist where it lay on the bench and he gave a strained smile in return. I love her. The words played over again in Harry's head accompanied with the feeling of being hit in the stomach with a cannonball.
The feeling soothed over into something decidedly more comforting when Draco's hand covered his own that lay in between them. He glanced at the other boy through the corner of his eye only to find him staring determinately out over the lake's surface. Harry slowly turned his hand over interlocking their fingers and giving a squeeze for good measure, secure in the thought that he had won this challenge.
A/N: You know that feeling when your computer crashes, you lose all of your saved files, and your little sister spills hot chocolate all over your copy of Goblet of Fire?
I've kind of been put off writing for a couple of months due mostly to the shock of losing all of my WIP files. Because, you know, why would I be smart enough to back up the files on a disk, right?
Sorry it's so short, mostly a way of getting myself back into the swing of writing.