Break Me, Shake Me

DaggersBloodPain

Chapter Twenty-Six

Keep Your Head Up

Dragons. They were going to have to face a full grown, fire breathing, mother dragon. Yes, Harry knew it was coming, still on the morning of the First task, all he could see was glittering scales, all he could smell was burned hair and skin, and all he could think about was giant talons and teeth ripping into his skin. At least this morning he wasn't the only one looking pale with worry. He could see Fleur surrounded by her housemates, being encouraged to eat, and looked to muttering spells under her breath. Viktor was in his usual seat across from him, and he showed his nerves by being even more silent than usual, doing nothing more than sharing an understanding nod with the panicking Boy Who Lived.

At least he got to walk next to Viktor while heading towards the Champion tent. He felt a little more confident with the solid mass of the Bulgarian next to him, a sense of safety he wasn't used to feeling from people beyond his small group of family he had found in Severus, Adam, and Draco.

He tuned out the instructions from Bagman, he was not in the mood to deal with the lackey. He probably should have been listening, but couldn't bring himself to care over top of his fear. He only managed to pull his thoughts together when the Ministry wizard extended a silk bag towards Fleur.

Inside the bag was the type of dragon, and a little number around its neck showed which order they would go in. Fleur first, Harry last, and he had another moment of pure panic when he drew out the miniature Hungarian Horntail.

When Fleur had left Harry and Viktor alone to face her dragon, Harry was shocked to feel strong arms surround him immediately, but relaxed into the hold when he realized the muscles in Viktor's arms and shoulders were just as tense as his own. "It's really happening isn't it?" Harry couldn't stop himself from mumbling against the cloth covered shoulder he pressed his face against.

"Yes, but it will be over soon, one way or another," Viktor replied, doing his best to calm down the younger wizard.

"Don't say it like that, I know things might not end well, but I don't want to think about it." Harry objected.

Viktor pulled away slightly to look Harry in the eye, "Could you really stop thinking about it if I hadn't said anything? It wont do any good to avoid it, but admitting it and dealing with the possibility can help manage the fear."

"How do you know what to say?" Harry didn't want to talk about what might happen, even if Viktor was right and it was all he could think about.

Viktor laughed slightly, his chest rumbling with the sound, "I'm only saying what I have been telling myself for the past few days. Don't think you're the only one who is scared, I just knew what I was getting into when I entered my name, you didn't have a choice."

He wasn't sure how to answer that, instead Harry asked, "How do you deal with it? The fear? I feel like all I ever do is feel afraid, but I have no idea how others deal when they are scared."

"Honestly? I try to forget everything but the reason why I am doing it in the first place. Whenever I start to think too heavily on the dragon, I remember how much I want to show I really am a good wizard, and not just a Quidditch player." Viktor attempted to answer, but having trouble finding the right words to explain himself. He was good at English most of the time, but these weren't words that came up in interviews much.

"I don't think that would work for me," Harry replied, "I don't have a reason to do this beyond having to fulfill a contract I didn't make in the first place."

"I think you're wrong, you do have something to focus on. Controlling your fear, that is your goal, and what you should try to do." The star athlete tried to get Harry to see what he could, but knew it would take some time to build up Harry's confidence.

Harry didn't have time to respond before their was a loud shout from the arena, and Fleur's turn was over. Knowing they only had a few moments before Viktor would be called, Harry couldn't stop himself. Taking advantage of the fact Viktor had never pulled completely out of the hug, he leaned up and kissed his cheek softly, "Stay safe out there."

He had just enough time to see the surprised smile on Viktor's face before the older boy had to leave when his name was called. He at least had something to think about now rather than what it would feel like to be roasted alive by a dragon. He had smiled, not pushed him away, or yelled at him. Harry felt that was a good sign. He had also made a good point right before Harry's bold move, he did have something to focus on, not the fear itself but controlling it. If he could just focus on pushing all his fears to the side, he might not be as nervous about the dragon, and the less nervous he was the better off he would be in the task.

When he heard the groan of the watching crowd, he felt his heart clench. There had been shouts and gasps during Fleur's performance that the two boys had ignored in favor of talking, but being alone he could only listen and worry about the man he was falling in love with. His worry for Viktor was lessening his fear without him even noticing, and when his name was called, all he could think about was getting this over with so he could check on him.

Of course once he was in the arena facing the towering reptile, his calmness went running quickly in the other direction. He gripped his wand in a suddenly sweaty palm and summoned his broom, just like they had been practicing since Viktor had come up with the plan of Harry flying his way through the task. A strange thing happened when he got in the air. Instead of the dragon, he was flying with Viktor again, over the grounds and the pitch, he felt his heart swell and the butterflies attacked his stomach again.

Thinking only of him, their flying, the short kiss, and his budding feelings; he swooped and swirled through the air. Tempting the dragon to fly and leave the golden egg open for him to snatch. He was almost there, when the spiked tail of the defending mother caught him in the shoulder, ripping his robes, and biting deeply into his skin and muscle.

Fighting through the pain he scooped up the egg in his good arm, flying off to let the dragon handlers come forward and calm her down with repeated spells.

He wasn't sure where to go from there, until he saw Adam waiting for him at the edge of the arena, waving him down. His feet were barely on the ground when the Professor who helped look after him all these years pulled him into a hug. "You scared me half to death again", He complained, before releasing Harry, looking at the injury. "Come with me, Madame Pomfrey has a tent sent up for healing, I'll take you there, and we can come back for your scores."

Harry just nodded, and adjusted the egg in his arms, following the Astronomy Professor docilely feeling a little woozy from the blood loss and the roller coaster of emotions. They weren't quite to the medical tent when Viktor found them, "I was worried about you," Harry told him immediately after seeing him.

Viktor shook his head, and motioned at his injured shoulder, "I wasn't hurt, a few of the real eggs got damaged though, I'm sorry about that. You are the one who got hurt, don't scare me like that, I'm only glad it wasn't worse." They had kept walking after he joined them, so they were now at the tent, Pomfrey ushering him inside.

She didn't bother to try sending the men away, one look at their faces was enough to realize they weren't going anywhere. "You are going to have to remove your robes Mr. Potter so I can heal you."

He complied without complaint, glad that the scars he had carried from his childhood of bullying by his cousin had faded in the years since he had been living with Severus and Adam. "Other than the smashed eggs, how did your turn go?" He asked Viktor to distract himself from the Medi-Witch's prodding.

"He was really good, not many can affect a dragon with a single spell, even if it did cause a few problems, it was still impressive magic," Adam complimented before Viktor could answer for himself.

"Thank you Professor," He answered gratefully, "I really am sorry about the eggs though, dragons are so rare. I wonder why the handlers even allowed the real eggs to be here."

"Entertainment." Adam responded with derision, Poppy nodding along with him. "A full gown dragon on its own wouldn't cause the danger they needed, a nesting mother is the most vicious thing you will ever come across. There is a reason the death toll for the Tournament is so high, this year's challenges are considered tame when compared to past years. Yet you are still all in danger."

"I think there are better ways to promote unity," Harry complained, as Pomfrey finished up healing his wound.

"Of course there are," Adam agreed. "But showmanship and grandstanding will always be a part of politics, and unfortunately this tournament is all about politics. Now we need to go get your scores, Viktor are you staying with us?" He figured it was only polite to ask, considering he was pretty sure what the answer would be.

"Yes, I'm not leaving him yet," Viktor responded predictably, and Adam noticed the slight blush cross Harry's cheeks, hmm something had happened between the boys.

Harry was paying more attention to Viktor's shoulder brushing against the arm that wasn't hurt than to his scores, that was until Viktor leaned closer to be heard over the cheering crowd, "We're tied."

"Is that going to bother you?" Harry was worried that might harm whatever was managing to grow between them.

A shake of his head, "No, is it going to bother you?"

"Of course not." Harry replied, as Fleur rejoined them, and the final instructions were given. The eggs were a clue to the next task, if they worked it out they would be able to prepare in advance.

The crowd almost pulled them apart before Viktor caught him up again, "Harry I would like to talk about what happened in the tent earlier but this isn't a good place. I'll find you later all right?"

"I'll look forward to it," Harry admitted, the butterflies were back with a vengeance, and he felt a smile spread on his face that had nothing to do with the task and everything to do with Viktor. They were separated soon after that, Viktor being herded towards the Durmstrang ship by his school mates for a celebration, much as Harry was pulled towards the Slytherin common room to the part held in his honor.

One task down, two to go, and he had gotten the courage to take the next step with Viktor. It had been an interesting day, but he couldn't wait to see him again and know what was really going on with the older wizard.