So I know it's been about forever, but inspiration suddenly struck me, so here it is at last—the next chapter. This chapter picks up a few days later, shortly after Harry has been made aware that the First Task involves dragons. Enjoy!

Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock

Chapter Six

Harry wandered the corridors, feeling numb and strangely separate from the other students he passed; he didn't even notice the 'Potter Stinks' badges the Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and a few Ravenclaw students were wearing. Why should something so trivial bother him, when he wasn't even sure he'd be seeing the end of the month?

"Mr. Potter." A voice startled him from his gloomy reverie, and Harry looked up to find none other than Holmes and Watson standing before him. The doctor appeared to be holding on to his cane today, and the detective's hands were in his pockets, eyes scrutinizing Harry under dark brows.

"Oh, um, hello," Harry greeted them. "Er, can I help you?" He asked uncertainly when the two merely nodded.

"Quite the opposite," Holmes replied.

"We couldn't help noticing, Mr. Potter," Dr. Watson continued at Harry's bewildered expression. "Quite frankly, you look as if you've seen a ghost."

"I don't doubt that, old boy," Holmes interjected with a smirk. The mustached man seemed to realize his error in using the Muggle phrase, and merely shot a scowl the detective's way. "Perhaps we should reconvene elsewhere," the dark-haired man added, glancing up and down the corridor.

"Er, I've sort of got Divination soon," Harry told them, though he wouldn't be sorry to miss that class.

But Holmes merely smiled and clamped a hand down on his shoulder. "Well haven't you realized by now, Mr. Potter, that our rooms are located just outside the entrance to the good professor's tower? Do pay more attention to your surroundings, young man." With that, Harry was dragged off once again, with Watson following just as quickly, which he hadn't expected due to the man's cane. And of course, when they arrived Harry saw that Holmes was right; the stairs up to Trelawney's heavily perfumed classroom were barely a stone's throw away from the two guests' apartments. Holmes showed him in with a grand sweep of his arm. Fortunately, they stayed in the much cleaner sitting room.

"So, er," Harry began once the three of them were settled, "what's this about exactly? Is it something to do with the case?"

"Yes and no," Holmes replied, busy filling his pipe. "Mr. Potter, you are my client in this matter, and I have found that when my clients look particularly distressed, my investigations are about to go badly."

"Oh," was all Harry came up with at first. "Well, it's not that. I mean, it's about the tournament, but not—I found out what the first task is. I know I'm not supposed to know—"

Holmes cut off his hurried apology. "And how did you find out?"

"My friend, Ron Weasley, has a brother who's here to help with the task," Harry explained hesitantly, not sure if he was getting Ron and perhaps Charlie in trouble.

"Hm, building a network already?" Holmes raised his as-of-yet unlit pipe to him in a sort of toast. "Excellent use of resources."

"Er, right. Well Charlie—Ron's brother—is a dragon tamer. Dragons are the first task." Neither looked alarmed or even surprised. In fact, the detective sent a smirk Watson's way to which the other man only gave an exasperated shake of the head. As Holmes began to chuckle to himself, Harry decided he needed to make his point more clear. "I have to fight a dragon."

The dark-haired man stopped laughing. "Fight one? Good heavens, Mr. Potter, don't be ridiculous. You won't be fighting one—not if you go about it with any sense."

"Sorry?" Now Harry was beyond confused. He didn't have to fight a dragon?

"Dragons are an endangered species, my young friend," Holmes explained as he struck a match. "They aren't allowed to ask you to meet it in direct combat. And anyway," he continued, though the words were muffled as he clenched the pipe between his teeth. "everyone knows that a smart witch or wizard wouldn't dream of trying to fight a dragon." Pipe lit, Holmes breathed in and blew out a puff of smoke. Harry was feeling rather foolish, meanwhile, for it seemed he'd been worrying for nothing.

"We can only hope for that," Watson agreed, but asked, "Then how will it be a test of courage, Holmes? What purpose do the dragons actually serve?"

"Quite simple, doctor. What are characteristics or habits of dragons?"

"Aside from killing, you mean?" Watson asked dryly. When the other man only gave an affirming hum around his pipe, the doctor seemed to start actually thinking it over. Harry let him; he was already stumped, Norbert being his only experience with dragons. "Well, they're hoarders," the lighter-haired man said at last. He leaned toward Holmes with a shocked expression. "You don't actually mean they're going to have to steal from a dragon's hoard?"

"Or the nest," Holmes replied casually and then turned to address Harry, who had gone very pale. "This Charlie didn't happen to mention what gender the dragons were?"

"Er, no," he answered. "But, this is still really bad, right?" He glanced from one man to the other.

"That all depends on what you have been doing to prepare, Mr. Potter."

"Oh, well, Professor Moody sort of helped me out—"

"Did he now?" Holmes had leaned forward in his chair, eyes alight.

"Yeah. Suggested that, since I'm a good flier, I could use that to get around the dragon. Only I need to be able to use the Summoning Charm on my broom, and I've been having trouble with it." Harry had spent hours in an abandoned classroom practicing the advanced spell with little success. He'd needed a break just to walk the corridors and think, so Ron had offered to keep Hermione off his back. Harry was sure he'd be getting an earful from the redhead during Divination.

Holmes, meanwhile, was surveying him with a strange expression. "Summoning your broom? What on Earth would you pull a ridiculously complicated stunt like that for?"

"Sorry?" Harry asked, not for the first time.

"If your entire plan hinges on the Summoning Charm, it seems more logical to simply summon the object you're told to retrieve, wouldn't you agree?" Harry's jaw dropped open causing Holmes to give a laugh that was practically a giggle.

"He didn't think he'd be retrieving an object until now, Holmes," Watson reminded, and Harry appreciated the effort to restore his self-confidence. "Honestly, don't be a child. I'm sure Mr. Potter's just been a bit preoccupied with his personal safety."

"Yeah," Harry agreed. "I mean, I feel way better about it now, thanks. But I think Professor Moody was right when he said whoever put my name in the Goblet is trying to kill me."

"Not completely," Holmes seemed to have sobered. "No, if this were simple murder, Mr. Potter, you would already be dead. Rest assured, the perpetrator will work to keep you alive—at least until the Third Task."

Harry felt his stomach give an uncomfortable flip-flop. "Why? What happens at the Third Task?"

"Can't say, yet," the detective replied. "However, it is the end of the tournament, which they obviously need you to compete in for some reason."

"Do you think," Harry began somewhat timidly, "it could have anything to do with Voldemort?" After all, adults had never believed him before.

But the detective barely seemed surprised and neither he nor Watson flinched at the dark wizard's name. "Well, of course, Mr. Potter, why else would someone wish to bring you to harm? Unless there are other motivations, which you really should have informed me of before now."

"There aren't, at least I don't think so," Harry hurried to say, as Holmes was giving him a rather critical look. "But, sir, you really think he could be involved? Even if he's, er, gone?"

The detective appeared to understand the distinction between 'gone' and 'dead', for he simply responded, "Either he or an agent of his, possibly wishing to seek revenge, possibly intending to use you for some other dastardly purpose. Again, I say, whoever the perpetrator is needs you alive- for now."

"If that's supposed to be comforting, it's not really working," Harry couldn't keep from pointing out.

"Well, you can't say he doesn't try," Watson sighed; clearly the experienced doctor had already given his friend up as a lost cause.

"I think it's perfectly comforting," Holmes argued, though not very heatedly. He took another puff on his pipe and said, "There's no better bodyguard than a criminal. They'll do anything to keep you safe—even kill."

"Er, great," Harry grimaced, deciding to steer the conversation elsewhere. "Sir, you keep saying I'm your client." The detective nodded, and so Harry continued, "Well, shouldn't I be paying you or something? How much do you charge, not that it really matters," he hastened to add, "I'd much rather know who's trying to kill me."

"Not to worry, Mr. Potter, the expenses are being covered by the Ministry of Magic," Holmes waved him off. At Harry's raised eyebrow, the man smirked slightly. "Something about compensation for your inconveniences, I believe. Madame Bones arranged it."

"Oh, I suppose I ought to thank her," Harry said, somewhat bemused. He had no idea who Madame Bones even was. "The way the judges were going on before I said something, I didn't think anyone was going to help me, and now you're here."

"Yes, well I want you to know, Mr. Potter, that I am here to help with any sort of trouble you have. Your situation intrigues me." Harry once again thought of Sirius, but chose not to say anything, still not quite sure about these two. After all, he wasn't about to risk his godfather's safety just because he was 'intriguing'. "Now, didn't you say something about your Divination class?"

Harry blinked, then glanced at his watch. "Oh, right," he stammered, realizing he had only minutes before class began, and feeling grateful that he happened to be so near the classroom. As he rose from the couch, he dislodged something from between the cushions that fell to the floor with a clatter. "What's this?" Picking it up, he saw it was a bracelet, some sort of sparkly bangle.

Holmes darted forward and snatched the accessory up. "Ah, I thought I'd spotted something earlier. It appears I shall be accompanying you to class for the moment, Mr. Potter. Lead the way. Watson, I wonder if you might be so good as to assure the good Professor Moody that his student is perfectly safe; you'll find him just down the hall."

"Wait, what?" Harry managed as Holmes began ushering him to the door. "What's Professor Moody doing out there, and how'd you know—"

"The simplest of conclusions, young man. One only has to listen," the detective explained, opening the door and guiding him out. "Good day, Alastor!" He called rather cheerfully, and with a distinct thump from every other footstep, the Defense professor did indeed emerge.

"Sherlock," the grizzled former Auror gave a nod, eye spinning in every direction. Watson skirted around them and joined the other man, the two walking off and making conversation. Holmes started for the tower, and Harry followed.

"But why—"

"It's not unreasonable to assume he was following you to make certain of your safety," the detective stated, though a frown tugged at his lips. "Yes, it'd be very like a retired Auror to do so, nothing too unusual in that."

"You sound disappointed, sir," Harry commented, but they had reached the top of the steps and were among the other students now, who eyed the strange man with great interest.

"Alright, mate?" Ron was brave enough to approach, and seemed to break the spell of silence and stillness over the others.

"Fine," Harry answered, "but I'll tell you and Hermione later." He turned back to Holmes, only to find the detective had gone to stand under the trapdoor, rapping on it with his knuckles.

"Afternoon, Madame! Is the good professor in?" He shouted, for all appearances, at thin air and a closed door.

But they all suddenly heard hurried footsteps and the door was yanked open, the ladder coming down like usual. But before any of them could make their way up, Professor Trelawney herself came down, which Harry doubted any of the other students had ever witnessed. He himself had only ever seen the Divination teacher out of her tower once, the previous Christmas.

"Mr. Holmes, what a pleasant surprise—though of course I foresaw your arrival," Trelawney greeted in her misty voice, a wide smile on her lips.

"Of course," the detective nodded, though he caught Harry's eye and winked with a rather wicked smile. "I'm afraid the Inner Eye chose to conceal this from you, however," he produced the bangle which Harry now realized must belong to the eccentrically dressed woman. "I'm afraid you left it behind during your visit."

"Oh!" Professor Trelawney held out her hand and allowed Holmes to slip it on her wrist, and the murmurs of the other students were growing even louder. Ron looked with raised eyebrows at Harry, but he merely shrugged. He hadn't even known the two adults were aware of each other's existence in the castle. "Thank you, how very kind."

"Was it? You must tell dear Dr. Watson, then. He hardly believes me capable of such a thing. Well, I best take my leave and allow you to begin instruction of these bright young minds." He gave a slight bow and retreated down the steps.

"Oh, yes, yes of course," the professor agreed, giving a little wave. Eventually she turned her bug-eyed gaze on them. "Very well, children, up and into the Beyond, shall we?"

Harry couldn't wait for class to be over. He had loads to tell Ron and Hermione. Of course, the redhead first wanted to tell their friend about the odd exchange witnessed between the professor and the detective, to which Hermione huffed and said, "I'd thought Mr. Holmes had better sense than to pay attention to that fraud."

"I'm pretty sure he was just playing with her, Hermione, not that Trelawney noticed," Harry disagreed. He had the feeling more and more that Holmes was really playing with all of them, and he wasn't sure what to think about that.

OoO

"Make way, make way, please!" Watson might have fallen over had he not had his cane to steady him. As it was, he and Holmes were roughly knocked aside by the short, stout Ludo Bagman, who had emerged from the Champion's Tent and appeared to be heading for the announcer's box.

They wouldn't have been in the man's way in the first place, had Holmes actually listened when he'd been trying to break the man from his contemplations this morning. As a result, they'd gotten here just in time to avoid being late, it seemed.

"Ah, sorry about that, Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson," Bagman did at least stop to apologize.

"No need, Mr. Bagman," he replied with a slight nod. "We know how busy you are."

"We do, indeed," remarked Holmes at his side, speaking up before the former Quidditch star could start off again. "How goes the search for Bertha?"

"Oh, that," Bagman sighed, shaking his head. "No sign of her since Albania."

"Yes, I very much doubt you'll find her—"

The other man now nodded enthusiastically. "I've been saying precisely the same thing!"

"—alive," his friend finished. Watson turned to him in astonishment, and Bagman paled.

"Well," the Triwizard judge gave a nervous laugh. "Let's not jump to conclusions, eh?"

"I can assure you, I've given the matter much thought," Holmes countered.

"And maybe you can discuss it with Mr. Bagman at a better time," Watson interjected pointedly. The other man jumped.

"Yes- Galloping Gargoyles, the Task!" And Bagman raced off to begin announcing. Watson and Holmes made their way into the stands.

"That woman, Bertha," he said as they found a couple empty seats. "You mentioned a Bertha before, I remember. Who is she, Holmes?"

"A better time, you said, my dear Watson," Holmes dismissed. "Right now, we've a Tournament to watch. Though I do hope you steer clear of the Weasley twins, doctor, I do feel some responsibility to Mary to keep you out of trouble."

Watson glanced over at another section of the stands to find the two infamous students organizing what was unmistakably a betting pool. Frowning a bit, he leaned back into his seat and folded his arms. "Of course you do," he retorted, rolling his eyes.

The First Task began shortly after, with each Champion trying his or her luck against the various dragons, to varying degrees of success. He winced when first Mr. Diggory and then Ms. Delacour received some injury from the beasts, but also when Mr. Krum's poorly thought-out plan caused a dragon to trample several of its own eggs. Watson certainly did not envy the dragon tamers.

But when Mr. Potter's turn came about, he surprised everyone except perhaps them and his two friends Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger. Instead of attacking the beast or attempting to distract it, the boy merely pointed his wand and shouted, "Accio Golden Egg!" In seconds, the object in question shot from the nest, under the dragon's legs, and into the Champion's waiting hands. Mr. Potter then ran back through the tunnel he had emerged from, as the Hungarian Horntail gave an enraged roar, narrowly missing a shot of flame.

"And—my word—Mr. Potter's done it!" Ludo Bagman seemed almost too stunned to believe it. "The youngest champion utilized the tricky Summoning Charm, retrieving the Golden Egg with easily the most efficiency! Why, I scarcely have anything to announce, ladies and gentlemen!"

"Mr. Bagman no doubt thinks himself a very lucky man," Holmes remarked. "Though he might have difficulty finding anyone who will bet against Mr. Potter after this."

"He might indeed," Watson agreed. When the scores were given, he found it rather rude of Headmaster Karkaroff to give the boy a four for 'lack of effort or performance', though of course his friend didn't seem perturbed.

"The Headmaster is acting under purely selfish, short-sighted interests, my friend," he explained. "It is his desire for his Champion to win, thus he must endeavor to assist Mr. Krum either by boosting his score or lowering the others'. Very simple, and very pathetic."

"Oh, you're a treat," Watson sighed, standing up. "Mightn't we join the celebrations, seeing as it was your idea that put Mr. Potter in first place?"

"We might," his friend nodded agreeably, a smug smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. So it was that they made their way down to where the rest of the crowd was congregating outside the arena. The Champions began to arrive, but Mr. Potter bypassed everyone, accepting quick smiles and thanks and handshakes from the public that suddenly adored him, and coming to a stop before them.

"Thanks," he said simply, obviously aware of the possibility of them being overheard. Holmes merely nodded, and so the famous young man allowed himself to be swept away by the spectators.

"Rather clever, that," spoke a familiar voice, and Watson turned slightly to see Alastor Moody just a little behind them, leaning heavily on his cane.

"Oh, I simply took your idea and expanded on it, Alastor," Holmes stated in a rare show of modesty.

"Should have expected that," the ex-Auror grunted, before limping up to the castle.

"Yes," Holmes frowned slightly. "You should have."

So Harry received a bit of extra help with the first task! Holmes is following a suspicion but coming up against frustrating obstacles. I know it's literally been over a year, but I hope you guys enjoyed the chapter and if it isn't to much to ask, I'd love a review!