*December 1, 1994*Hogwarts*
The First Task passed and the school started buzzing with excitement after Harry's show of his skills on a broom, Delacour's talent of illusion and Neville's knowledge of plants, more the first two, as Neville, while liked in both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, especially after he helped rescue the Hufflepuff that had been dragged into the chamber of secrets along with Ginny Wesley, was not really news by anyone's standards.
Fleur Delacour was the daughter of a very important congressman in the French Magical Government, the first Veela to leave mainland and the safety of the wards that prevented the almost extinct race from being kidnapped, the youngest duel finalist in decades.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, was an unkown, the only thing the public knew about him was what had been taken from his own mouth during the few interviews he gave to the Runes and Alchemy Monthly about his tries at becoming a Master in the fields, or to the Quibbler, to whom he gave word of the educational system in magical creatures in Mexico against the one in Britain.
There was also rumors about both, how Delacour used the Allure to make all her opponents on the dueling tournament submit; how Potter had been kidnapped and taken to the New World; there was the rumor of Fleur's closer than proper relationship to her sister; rumors of Harry's experimentation with Dark Magics.
The other champions were no exception to the claws of the British reporters: Krum had supposedly been found while shagging a Ravenclaw in a supply closet; Diggory took regular breaks to use a relaxing herb; Longbottom spoke to plants as if they were actually alive rather than just that.
Rita Skeeter was the writer of every article that dealt with rumors regarding the five champions, concentrating more on Harry Potter because, as a celebrity since his second Halloween, and not being an active citizen, he was the easiest target, even if he could send his two friends to destroy the Prophet Printing Press.
She was also very active in writing why one would want either Longbottom, Delacour, Potter or Krum as a significant other, as all three were very wealthy, and were not lacking in the looks department, though perhaps Krum was lagging behind somewhat.
"I'm telling you, he spoke to that dragon, he's planning something" were the whispers that followed Harry for days after the first task, as even though they had all seen him speak to all animals during the COMC, almost always to calm them down when they were hounded by overzealous teens, they were still weary of the fact that along with mammals and birds, he could speak to reptiles.
There was a superstition, since Voldemort had risen to power, that anyone who could speak to serpents, or any reptiles, was sooner or later going to turn evil, or at the very least very much sadistic.
In other places, such as India, Australia, the Caribbean, Florida and the Amazons, the gift to speak to reptiles and get them to back away from an attack was very much celebrated, much more so in in the first two and in the last; the sheer number of poisonous snakes made it impossible to wander through the wilderness without finding at least one.
Places like Russia, Canada and the Nordic countries simply saw no point in the gift, and almost always totally ignored those that had it.
Back to the school.
The four Quidditch teams had been asking Harry to be a seeker in a pick-up game, but he really had no intention of doing so, as to him, flying was something like watching TV, or playing videogames; a way of getting distracted.
There had been many attempts, some pitiful, other forceful, one had threatened his manliness; another had insulted his relationship with Nicte.
Itzmin liked Nicte a lot.
The poor guy still had scars from the bite, infused with a bit of magic pushed through the Familiar bond.
"Shut up, it's just a bite" Had been the only thing that Harry said after the teen had started screaming bloody murder at the sight of his blood, "Really; it only just punctured the flesh, at worst you'll only have a scar to show off to girls"
And indeed, Madam Pomfrey had declared that unless he intentionally put untreated dirt and then had a centaur treat it, there was absolutely no risk of it getting infected, much less losing the limb.
It did stop the quidditch enthusiasts from trying to force him into a game.
It made no difference on his reputation, making the Slytherins even more uncomfortable around him than before.
This made Harry able to enjoy more silences, always enjoyable as long as they were not total nor awkward, and to concentrate some on the golden egg and the riddle it presented.
As far as he knew, only he and Delacour were on the right track, as both had already deciphered that it was a guttural language, and therefore the next task would probably involve some kind of astonishingly big creature.
They were, of course, wrong on the creature front, but as far as it went, not so bad, considering that only Krum spent time working on it.
Longbottom was too worried about the ball.
Diggory stared at it during meals, trying to get something. Couldn't blame him though, he WAS the only champion having to deal with NEWTs, as the British called their standardized test.
Krum had had to present his to enter the Bulgarian quidditch team and Delacour had been given a pass when she got to the semi-finals of the dueling tournament.
There was one thing that still bothered Harry, and that was giggling schoolgirls.
Rita Skeeter had gotten three things right in her many articles,probably more, but Harry usually gave the papers people gave him as a place for Itzmin to go on if he had to during the night.
Kaan usually stayed outside, hunting for the huge spiders he had seen during his visits to the dragon.
Back to Skeeter's articles. She had made mention of his wealth, which he was sure was making the Mexican coin value go down, of his looks, along with a photo of him, and of his more than considerable talent.
So, while most didn't like that he was a sarcastic smart ass most of the time, they were willing to try and work around the bubble that he put around himself, even if he was taken.
He was sure that all the third years and fourth years and half the fifth years had already asked him if he was going with someone during his times wandering the castle alone.
"Yes, with my girlfriend" was always his answer, and he would walk away, observing the moving suits of armor with more attention than in the girls that asked him.
*New Year's Eve*
Harry stared long and hard at the golden egg, the source of the stress he was feeling at the moment.
'And we will take something you will sorely miss'
Not the exact wording of the song, but along those lines.
The revelation had come as an accident of the oddest degrees: Nahil had managed to get tequila sent to him, and Harry, somewhat curious as he had never had anything but beer once when he had been over at Miztli's house when Mr. Zavala offered, had taken a couple of shots of the beverage. Not enough to really get him drunk, but enough to lower his inhibitions some.
After snogging Nicte in plain view he had gone to the lake for an early afternoon swim, and as the golden egg was in his backpack at the time, he had said 'What the hell?' and gone with it to swim.
Half an hour later, he had heard the riddle.
The shock of cold water, almost freezing, had gotten him completely sober, and so he had solved it three hours later.
He would have to go for a dive in the lake, search for a limit of an hour and rescue something or someone that he would miss a lot if anything happened to it.
Nicte, Nahil, Hedwig, Itzmin and Kaan were the only things he could thing about, as while his broom was awesome, he could probably get another one. There was his backpack, however…
There was also something, the same thing that had told him he could control the power inside him so long ago, that told him that it would be someone rather than something would be taken.
There was also something else in the song 'An hour to get them or you'll never see them' again, in his own words.
Friends were everything to him, having no family left, and he would walk into hell if it were to get them back, so losing them was not an option.
Research was needed, he had only three weeks to find the answers