Howdy again peeps! So, here's the next chapter, which is the first task. Fun all around. For those that are wondering/concerned, I will reiterate: this is not a romance. Yes, Harry does end up with some guy at the end of this story. No, it's not exactly romantic, and no, they don't exactly get along with the arrangement at first. I'm not even sure this could be called slash, except that Harry ends up with a dude. For those that are also wondering about the frequency of chapter updates…I happen to be working on a lot of things at the moment, a mother to a baby, and starting school back up in a week. (The 'other things' is actually a fanfiction arc that I've been working on for a while. A massive crossover—yes, Harry Potter is part—that is actually multiple fanfictions and quite fun to write. Only, they all have to be done before I can start posting…) Anywho, I love all you, my lovely readers, and I will now let you enjoy the chapter. Ciao!

Chapter Fifteen

Harry sat calmly in the Champion's tent, watching as his fellow competitors paced nervously. They all knew about the dragons from either their headmaster/mistress, or from Harry himself, who wanted to keep the game fair. The other three, however, were nowhere near as calm as Harry. They kept shooting him odd looks, but he ignored them, busy jotting down information on the strange lizard-birds that had mysteriously disappeared yesterday. The Ministry was up in arms on that, but they had no proof that anyone at Hogwarts was involved. The birds had wings, after all—perhaps they had just flown away.

Harry had drawn the Hungarian Horntail—the last dragon. He'd have to wait until all the other Champions had gone. He'd already laughed in Rita Skeeter's face when she had commented about true love after catching him and Hermione hugging. He knew to expect another scathing, untruthful article in the Daily Prophet from her, but really, he and Hermione? Really? She was practically his sister.

He heard the cheers as Krum and Fleur fought their dragons, trying to get to the golden egg. HE heard the enraged cries of Krum's dragon as it accidentally crushed some eggs, and due to Krum's spell, and he winced. The loss of a baby was generally devastating to a dragon, especially one separated from its mate. He made a note to visit her and try to help console the large reptile.

Then it was Cedric's turn, and Harry wished him luck before he was left alone in the tent. He absently thought on what Professor Moody had told him earlier—use your strengths. Moody had strongly hinted trying to out-fly the dragon. Frankly, even if he hadn't been a Tamer, Harry would have found that suggestion ridiculous.

His named was called, and harry stepped out of the tent and into the arena. "And our fourth champion! Harry Potter!" Ludo Bagman's voice echoed through the stands. "Dressed in…is that dragon hide?"

Harry rolled his eyes. Of course it wasn't. You didn't wear dragon hide when working with dragons. That would just enrage them. No, he was wearing a basilisk hide suit, its dark green (almost black) scaly hide sufficient protection from, well, just about anything. There was a bright, emerald green lightning bolt running down the length of one arm, outlined in gold, and the potter crest in red over his heart. Aside from that, it was a rather simple suit of armor.

Harry tuned Bagman out, focusing on the massive dragon in front of him. She was gorgeous, and staring directly at him. The stands were silent, nearly everyone holding their breaths.

He took a step forward, the Horntail following his movements. "Hello," he murmured, although he was sure that everyone could hear him. "You're absolutely gorgeous." The Horntail tilted her head to one side and then stretched forward.

The crowd gasped, a few screamed. Harry laughed. He scratched the Horntail's eye-plates, where Ramoth loved being scratched. The Horntail purred, a loud rumbling sound. "Alright girl, I need the fake egg out of your nest."

The dragon grumbled something, staring at the golden egg. Harry laughed again. "Yes, I know. It's completely ridiculous. Wizards tend to be that way." He stepped around the Horntail, grabbing the egg off the top of the nest.

The crowd cheered and Harry rolled his eyes. "Is there anything I can do for you, Shariq?" he asked, calling the dragon by name. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the trainers—Charlie included—startle. No one had told anybody the names of the dragons.

The dragon nudged one of her eggs, this one smaller and paler than all the others. Harry listened to the hisses, roars and grumbles, and then nodded, picking up the small egg. He conjured a pouch and placed the egg inside, attaching it to his belt.

Patting the Horntail on the nose, Harry said goodbye and left the area, ignoring the cheers of the crowd. The trainers, all except Charlie, were in a complete uproar over the fact that he had taken an egg from the nest. Charlie was just confused that Shariq had let him.

Harry bypassed the medic's tent completely, instead heading towards Krum's dragon. Again, the handlers started an uproar, yelling at the boy to stay away from the enraged dragon. Nobody would survive that encounter, and even they were staying a far distance away. Charlie shut them up, telling them to just watch, and then he followed Harry at a safe distance. He blinked at the sight of the Gryffindor consoling the dragon over the loss of the two eggs.

"Harry?" he called.

Harry looked up. "Oh hey, Charlie." He motioned to the dragon. "She'll be okay. It was pretty stupid to bring nesting mothers. They're endangered animals! Why would you risk the eggs like that?"

Charlie held up his hands in a pacifying manner. "I agree. In fact, I brought that up. But Fudge wouldn't listen. Said it had to be his way or I'd be out of a job."

Harry patted the dragon's head and then left the enclosure, rolling his eyes. "Of course. Fudge, at the best of times, is a complete idiot." No one bothered to point out that the entire stadium could still ehar them. Fudge bristled and blustered, especially when the majority of the crowd burst out laughing at Harry's words.

"Seriously," Harry continued, realizing that everyone was listening from the laughter. "Any man who would throw a man in prison for twelve years without a trail is not a man I want in charge."

"Twelve years? Without a trial?" Charlie asked, eyes wide. A hush fell over the stands, although Fudge ws trying to get the sonorous charm ended, to no avail.

"Yup," Harry said, casually tossing the golden egg in the air. "Turns out, Sirius Black was framed, and Peter Pettigrew is still alive. But Fudge tried to have him kissed—again—despite being told this."

Charlie eyed the boy and then sighed, shrugging. "Well, it's a rather well-known fact that Fudge can be bribed," he said.

The spell broke, Fudge bright red and quickly turning purple. He was demanding tht Harry be arrested, or expelled, but no one was listening. Instead, the majority of the crowd was glaring at the minister, wondering if what they had heard was true.

The other dragon handlers had joined Harry and Charlie, and the largest—a man named Sam—demanded that Harry return the Horntail's egg. Harry merely rolled his eyes. "You don't know much about dragons do you."

Sam sputtered. "W-what?! You're nothing but a little boy! I am a dragon handler!"

"Who doesn't recognize a familiar egg when he sees it," Harry said, shutting Sam up fast.

"A what?" a female handler asked, looking intrigued.

"A familiar egg," Harry answered, holding up the warmed pouch with the smaller egg. "They're smaller than normal dragon eggs, and could die without one-on-one care. Of course, there hasn't been a dragon familiar—as they tend to be True Familiars—in decades."

Sam was still sputtering angrily, and Charlie led Harry away, back to the main tent, the other handlers following. "So, this egg is your familiar?" the female handler—Susie—asked.

Harry laughed. "Mine? Merlin, no! I have my True Familiar. I'll know who this one belongs to after it hatches."

Charlie frowned. "Like you knew how Turtle belonged with Ginny?"

Harry grinned up at him. "Exactly!" He ran off to join his friends, who were waiting for him, not bothering to listen to the scores. (He was currently in second place behind Krum, as Karkaroff had given him a score of 2 for not using a spell against the dragon.)

The crowd watched as Harry joined Neville, Ron, Hermione, Luna and Ginny, wondering just what the Boy-Who-Lived was really about.

End Chapter