Author's Notes: This "story" is just a dumping ground for whatever Karkaroff-related one-shots come into my head; as such, each "chapter" is a different fic. Will randomly be updated if/as I write more.
Czarna Pantera, this is all your fault. Except the title. The title is my fault.
The exclamation woke Viktor abruptly. He had just enough time to wonder what on Earth was going on before flickering candlelight flooded the dark cabin, the lamps affixed to the wall and hanging from the ceiling instantly lit by magic. The ceiling lamp swayed slightly, following the rhythm of the gently rocking ship.
In the middle of the room stood Professor Karkaroff, fully dressed yet uncharacteristically disheveled, looking excited but winding his goatee around a finger, which always meant he was nervous. Viktor groped around the nightstand and found his grandfather's pocket watch as Karkaroff absently shut the door, which he had apparently just burst through.
"Viktor, I've just been outside," he announced. "The first task of the tournament is dragons."
Viktor, having sat up in bed, looked again at his watch to make sure it was working.
"Professor, it's two in the morning."
"I—yes, I realize that," Karkaroff replied impatiently, though it could not have been more obvious that he had forgotten this. "Nevertheless, this is important. I've just been—researching—and the first task is dragons. There are four, all different breeds—I think one for each champion."
Viktor considered this.
"And what do I have to do?"
"I've just told you, Viktor, there are dr—"
"Yes, but what do I do with the dragons?"
"I...er, I'm not sure." He extracted his finger from his goatee and added hastily, "I believe you must get past them somehow."
"And do what?"
"I...don't know. Yet."
An awkward silence fell, broken only by the lapping of water against the ship's hull and the occasional squeak of wood. Viktor noticed just how disheveled Karkaroff was; it looked as though he'd been crouched in a bush for half an hour.
"Professor, what have you been doing?"
Karkaroff glanced down at himself, then began plucking leaves out of his robes.
"Researching," he repeated irritably. "I also fell into a dog."
Deciding that he was probably happier without an explanation of any of this, Viktor scratched at the collar of his nightshirt.
"A dragon will be difficult," he mused aloud, but could get no further.
"Difficult, but not impossible," said Karkaroff at once. "You're very capable, and there are several spells that are effective against dragons, if you can hit them in a vulnerable place. I am going to go look some up, but you should also check the Hogwarts library—provided, of course, that they have a decent selection of curse indexes, which I very much doubt—"
"What?" Karkaroff snapped. "Viktor, this tournament is important. The honor of your school is at stake."
"I know," said Viktor flatly, "but the library is not open right now. May I go back to sleep?"
"Well, I didn't mean—That is—" He forced himself to regain his composure. "But of course. It is late. We will discuss this tomorrow; come to my office after breakfast." After a pause, he threw open the door and swept from the room, stopping to extinguish the cabin lamps with a flick of his wand. Viktor could hear him darkly muttering "Dragons..." as he disappeared down the corridor.