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An Unexpected Champion

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It was Newt Scamander’s fourth year of Hogwarts. There was always a lot of excitement on the Hogwarts Express; friends reuniting after a summer apart, new students anticipating the adventure of school away from home and all that it entailed. Even shy and socially inept as he was, the crowds of people couldn’t dampen Newt’s enjoyment of another year at Hogwarts. The lessons were nearly always interesting, and the plethora of magical creatures that resided on the Hogwarts grounds and surrounding area meant that there were still new creatures for Newt to become acquainted with, even after three years of continuous wandering.

               Newt had been ignoring the general noise around him, but as the excitement increased, especially as everyone settled down in the Great Hall for the feast to begin, even he could not remain oblivious for long. The reason for the excitement was finally revealed as the last of the food disappeared and the Headmaster stood to make his customary beginning of year speech.

               “Welcome back to Hogwarts everybody. I hope you have all had a wonderful summer and are ready for a year of learning. As you are aware, this year the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place and it is Hogwarts’ very great honour to be the hosts of this marvellous event.”

At this announcement a great cheer went up around the hall, which was allowed for a few minutes before the Headmaster cleared his throat to regain the attention of the room. “I’m sure most of you are aware of what the Triwizard Tournament entails, but for those of you who do not allow me to explain.

               The Triwizard Tournament is a friendly competition held every five years, between the three largest European schools of witchcraft and wizardry – Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. A champion is selected to represent each school and they face three magical tasks, competing for the Triwizard Cup, the glory of their school and a thousand galleons prize money. Those students hoping to put their name forward will have the chance to once the representatives from the other schools have arrived. Selection of the three champions will be made by an impartial judge and once selected, the champions will be bound by a magical contract to compete. Anyone in their fourth year and above is welcome to enter their name for consideration but heed my warning; these tasks are highly dangerous and carry with them the risk of severe injury and even death. Many students have been lost in the past and while we hope to prevent that this year it is advisable to remember that before entering.”

               The room had fallen silent at the serious tone with which they were being addressed. But as the Headmaster informed everyone that it was time for them to go to their respective dormitories the students began to chatter excitedly about the upcoming event.

 

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               It was all anyone was talking about, everywhere that Newt went. However, the school was well into it’s second week of term before anyone addressed Newt on the subject. Unfortunately, the person asking was one of the current Seventh years that had taken to bullying him for the past year and a half. Newt was lining up in the corridor waiting to enter his next class when Sidney Pascon and his group noticed him and called out.

               “Hey, Scamander! We’re trying to find out who’s going to enter the Tournament. You’ll be putting your name in, won’t you?”

               Before Newt could reply one of Sidney’s friends laughed loudly. “Could you imagine? He’d be dead in the first five minutes! They’d be sending him home in a shoebox.”

               “True,” Sidney nodded. “Though it would probably be because you tripped over your own feet, right Scamander? You’d fall down a hole or knock yourself out.”

               For some reason that elicited laughter not just from Sidney’s small group but also some of the people from Newt’s class waiting in the corridor.

               “It would be funny to watch. Not sure it’s worth Hogwarts giving up their chance to win the cup.” Sidney walked off down the corridor with his friends, leaving Newt to be ignored once again.

 

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               Halloween approached and in the early evening of the 30th October, the whole school gathered outside to welcome their guests from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. That evening the Goblet of Fire was brought out and took its place in the entrance hall, with instructions given on how to enter. Newt gave it a curious glance on his way to bed that night but was otherwise preoccupied with the fox cub he had been nursing back to health for the last few days.

 

               After lunch the next day, Newt was on his way through the entrance hall with the intent of checking on the baby fox when he was faced once again by Sidney and three of his friends.

               “Scamander! Have you put your name in yet?”

               “Er, hello Sidney. No, I wasn’t planning to um, enter.”

               `Sidney seemed pleased to hear that. He pulled a slip of parchment out of his pocket and held it out to show Newt. It was Newt’s name. In the second that it took to realise what Sidney was planning, the older boy had already pulled the parchment back out of reach and started walking towards the Goblet.

               “N-no!” Newt lunged forward but was blocked by two of Sidney’s friends.

               “Please! D-don’t do this!”

               Sidney laughed turned to watch Newt’s reaction.

               “Please, Sidney!”

               The name disappeared into the blue flames. It was done.

 

               Newt ran all the way to his cupboard, where he had been caring for the injured creatures that he encountered. As soon as the door shut behind him, he sat on the floor and let the panic consume him. It was the feeling of soft fur against his hand some time later that distracted him enough to pull in some deeper, calming breaths and begin to think more clearly again. He gently lifted the fox onto his lap rubbing the top of its head the way he knew it enjoyed.

               “I’m being ridiculous William. What are the odds that my name will even be selected? There have already been dozens of others who have entered their names for Hogwarts. Anyway, it’s been done now. No sense in worrying about it. Worrying only means that you suffer twice.”

               Later that day, Newt took William back to the edge of the forest where he had first encountered him and, watching with pride and a little sadness, said goodbye to the now healthy creature. He turned back towards the castle and made his way to the Great Hall for the Halloween Feast.

 

               As always, the Halloween celebrations was spectacular. The food was amazing, and the decorations were always a sight to behold. The atmosphere was especially charged this year as everyone waited to find out who would be representing their schools in the coming tournament.

               Finally, the Headmaster stood and the room quickly fell into silence.

               “Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to announce the champions for the Triwizard Tournament.”

               Newt clapped politely as a tall girl from Durmstrang was selected, followed shortly after by a strong looking boy from Beauxbatons.

               “And finally, the student representing Hogwarts is…Newton Scamander!”

 

               Oh…oh dear.

 

              

Chapter Text

 

               This was a joke. It had to be a joke.

A quick glance at his classmates showed gobsmacked expressions. There was some polite applause from the visiting students and those from Hogwarts that had no idea who Newt was. But those that were aware of Newt were stunned, some looking disappointed that this was to be the student representing their school. Even the teachers that had taught Newt were looking confused at this turn of events. Only Professor Dumbledore wore a thoughtful frown on his face, already well on his way to working out what had probably happened.

As Newt walked up towards the staff table and the room beyond, he heard a disgusted “Well there goes our chances.” He kept his head down and didn’t stop walking.

 

The other champions looked up at him as he entered. It didn’t take them long to silently assess, and dismiss, him as being very little threat to the competition. He seemed to be the youngest there, the other champions in their 6th or 7th years at a guess. The girl from Durmstrang was tall with dark hair and darker eyes. She stood confidently, watching everything in the room with interest. The Beauxbatons student was also tall but athletically built, with fair hair. He stood leaning against the back of a chair with an air of ease that Newt couldn’t understand under such circumstances. Newt himself decided to stay out of the way by the far wall as the minutes stretched by, until finally the three headmasters, and two Ministry officials entered and proceeded to explain what was to happen next.

“Congratulation Champions,” one of the ministry officials stepped forward to address them. He was the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, though Newt hadn’t caught his name.

“You have the very great honour of representing your schools in the upcoming Triwizard Tournament. As I’m sure you’re aware the tasks ahead will be dangerous and do carry risk of injury or indeed death. But I would remind you that you have entered into a magically binding contract to compete and safety measures have been put into place to reduce those risks wherever possible.

Now, the first task is to be a test of daring. It will take place on the 24th of November. You will be told more on the day.” He looked around the room, bid everyone a good evening and then turned to leave, his colleague giving a congenial nod to the room at large before following.

Was that it? Newt felt the whole meeting to have been quite an anti-climax. He glanced around the room watching the Beauxbatons student and headmaster whispering animatedly on one side while the girl from Durmstrang was having a more focused discussion with her headmaster on the other.

As for Newt, “Well Scamander, I think it’s time you returned to your dormitory. I’m sure the rest of Hufflepuff will be waiting to celebrate with you.” Newt wasn’t so sure, but he chose not to reply. He simply left the room and decided to head to bed.

 

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The beginning of November held a despondency around the school as everyone quickly became aware of how hopeless the odds were of Hogwarts winning the Triwizard Cup. After a lesson with Professor Dumbledore, Newt was asked to remain behind. Since they both had time Dumbledore decided a chat and a cup of tea was in order.

“Well, Newt. I’d like to offer my sincerest congratulations.”

Newt was watching his tea, still swirling where it had been stirred and didn’t look up to respond. “Thank you, Professor.”

“It was a bit of a surprise to hear your name. I’m curious, what made you want to put your name into the Goblet?”

This time Newt didn’t say anything. He knew that with Professor Dumbledore, he didn’t need to. A few minutes passed while Dumbledore and Newt sipped their tea in silence.

“I imagine your family are going to be very proud.”

A frown flickered across Newt’s face for a brief moment before an awkward smile took its place. “Um, yes well…I suppose they will.”

“Would you tell me who put your name into the Goblet?”

Newt’s gaze flicked to the side before returning to his tea. “No, Professor.”

“Hmm. No, I didn’t think you would, though I have my suspicions. I’m sure you’re already aware that you have to compete now that you have been chosen, regardless of how your name was entered.”

“Yes Professor. No way around it.”

“Indeed.” Dumbledore was used to the quiet nature of the teen in front of him, but he was still surprised by how calm Newt seemed about the whole thing. “I’m not allowed to help you with the tasks but if you ever need to talk Newt, my door is always open.”

Dumbledore was renowned for being approachable for any student that needed advice. “Thank you, Professor Dumbledore.” Newt looked up, his fringe hiding his eyes but a small smile on visible his face. “But I’m not going to worry about this.”

“No?” Dumbledore smiled, “That doesn’t surprise me so much.”

 

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A couple of weeks later Newt was called out of class to attend the Wand Weighing ceremony. He found himself in an unused classroom with the other champions, accompanied as always by the three headmasters and the ministry officials. Also in attendance was a man that Newt recognised as Ollivander; the wandmaker from Diagon Alley. And to Newt’s displeasure, a photographer who was introduced as being from the Daily Prophet.

Ollivander took each champion’s wand, looking it over for damage before using it to perform a quick spell to ensure it was in good working order. Then the whole group were jostled into position for the photographer, who spent a good five minutes trying to get Newt to stand up straighter. He became increasingly exasperated at the way Newt seemed incapable of looking towards the camera for more than a second but eventually took a usable picture thus ending the ceremony.

 

The next morning at breakfast, Newt was startled to have two owls land in front of him. They both bore letters; one from his parents and the other from his older brother, Theseus.

 

Dear Newton,

Your father and I were quite surprised to see you in the evening paper. We know how you are about writing to us regularly, always kept busy with school and other things, but I am a little disappointed that you haven’t written to tell us yourself.

We’re very proud of you Newt, your father especially. He tells me that this will put you in good stead to becoming an Auror after you’ve finished school. You can follow in his footsteps just like Theseus. It’s wonderful to see you taking part in such a prestigious event.

Please do be careful though. There are so many stories about how dangerous the Triwizard Tournament can be.

Make sure you eat properly and stay warm.

Love, Mother and Father

 

 

Newt,

What the bloody hell have you done! I saw the paper first thing this morning, they say you’re a Triwizard Champion? I never pegged you for such a thing.

Still, I can’t say I’m not a bit jealous. I would have jumped at the chance to have a go in the Tournament.

And I know you’ll be brilliant. You’ll finally be able to show everyone what you can really do.

I’m proud of you, little brother. Try and stay in touch.

Love, Theseus.

 

Newt grinned at Theseus’ letter. It was nice to have someone else who had confidence in his abilities. The letter from his parents however had left an uncomfortable weight in his stomach at the prospect of disappointing them with regards to his plans for the future. Newt put the letters away, giving each owl a treat before they flew off to the owlery.

Later while sat in his cupboard, Newt took the time to reply to his brother. He wrote honestly about how he hadn’t planned to enter his name, but since it had been, he was going to try and get through it without causing too much damage.

The reply the next day was not a surprise. Theseus had always taken his responsibility as a big brother very seriously, and Newt knew he would have something to say about his situation. It was a short note asking Newt to be alone in the Hufflepuff dormitory at midnight in one week. That was easily done, the dormitory was usually empty before midnight. It amused Newt how quickly Theseus had sunk into the clandestine lifestyle as an Auror, the dramatic meeting in the middle of the night, but then his brother had always been that way really.

 

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Theseus’ head sprang out of the flames, greeting Newt with a bright smile.

“Hello Theseus.” Newt found himself with an identical smile on his face. “It’s good to see you.”

“Likewise. You’ve had an interesting term so far. Tell me what happened.”

Newt let out a huff a ducked his head. He should have known Theseus would want to get straight to the point. “I, er, had some help entering my name and it was just my luck that it got selected.”

 “Help? That’s an understatement! Who was it Newt?”

               Newt was looking at his brother again and it wasn’t hard to see just how furious Theseus was about this, even through the flames. “I’m not going to say,” he said firmly.

               “Newt, they’ve deliberately put your life in danger, they deserve to be hauled out of Hogwarts and thrown-“

               “Thes, it’s done. Besides, the joke backfired rather spectacularly. Everyone seems fairly sure that Hogwarts is out of the running for the cup.”

               Theseus frowned at that. “Well, I wouldn’t be so sure. We both know you are more capable than you let on.”

               Newt smiled again. It really was nice to have someone confirm that they believed he could get through the tasks in one piece.

               “I’m as ready as I can be for the first task. All there is to do is wait until the 24th.”

               “Worrying only means you suffer twice, right brother.” Theseus was looking fondly at Newt now. If his bother wasn’t going to hold a grudge then he could let it go, so long as his little brother stayed in one piece. “I know better than anyone you can look after yourself. Mother never did forgive us for ruining her favourite flowerbed that summer.”

               “Yes, well I didn’t expect you to get thrown quite so hard. It worked much better than I expected. Which is your own fault for showing me in the first place.”

               Theseus laughed at the memory, glad to see for himself that Newt really was ok.

               “I have to go; we’re not supposed to use the Ministry for personal correspondence. I had to call in a favour with a friend. But listen, I’ve been hearing some rumours about the sort of tasks you’re going to be facing and if they’re true then you can handle this.” Theseus looked at Newt with a more serious expression, but Newt could tell his brother was enjoying knowing whatever it was while Newt would have to wait for the surprise. “Just do what you do best.”

               Theseus gave Newt another bright smile before the flames suddenly diminished and returned to their usual flickering.

               Huffing out a laugh at his brother’s theatrics, Newt headed to bed.

Chapter Text

 

               The morning of the first task found Newt in a large white tent with the other champions. They were once again waiting on the arrival of others who would provide them with information about what they were about to face. Outside, hundreds of students were walking to the stands where they would watch the proceedings. The noise gradually began to fade as the last stragglers took their seats.

               There had been a chill in the air that morning, so Newt had decided to wear his familiar blue coat for warmth. No one had said anything to him, so he assumed there were no objections to it. The Beauxbatons boy was also dressed against the cold while the girl from Durmstrang seemed rather more at ease in a light jumper. Newt suddenly realised that he really ought to have asked their names by now, but before he had a chance to approach them the tent flaps flew open and the two gentlemen from the Ministry walked in.

               The lead ministry official addressed them as he did on Halloween. “Good morning.”

The three champions each gave a quiet good morning in response, eager for him to continue.

“I hope you’re all feeling ready for anything; this first task is certainly going to take some steady nerves.” He looked at each of them, scrutinizing their preparedness for what lay ahead. “You will each enter the arena one at a time and, using whatever means you see fit, retrieve a golden egg.”

               This statement was met by confusion from all three of the champions. There was obviously more to the task, but they were yet to gain any insight as to what it might be.

               The man continued, pulling out a white drawstring bag as he did, “Before I say any more, you will each need to draw one item from this bag. It will tell us in what order you shall enter the arena, as well as informing you of what you shall be facing. Ladies first?”

               He offered the bag around and they each dipped their hand in and drew out a tiny figure with a small label attached. Newt looked at his as he held it gently in his hand and couldn’t believe his luck. Standing there on his open palm, moving its head around to look up at Newt was a dragon. And not just any dragon, it was a Hungarian Horntail.

               “Oh,” he let out an awestruck sigh, “you are wonderful.” Newt took note of the number 3 written on the label, before lifting the dragon up to get a closer look.

               He was broken out of his astonishment as the other champions began asking questions. They also each held tiny dragons; a Common Welsh Green and a Chinese Fireball from what Newt could identify. Holding up his hand for silence, the Ministry official began to explain further.

“You will face the real version of your dragon in the arena. Each is a female guarding their recently laid eggs, but amongst them will be a golden egg which you must retrieve. Points will be awarded for how quickly you can get the egg and how well you’re chosen method works. Are there any further questions?”

There was silence as the information sunk in. They were to be facing dragons. Dragons that would be protective of their eggs, while they had to try to steal one from under their noses. The expressions on the other champions’ faces made it clear they were finding the idea more than a bit daunting. But all things considered, Newt didn’t look any more nervous than he usually did. This should have sparked suspicion to anyone watching because really, a dragon! And it was just Newt’s luck that he had chosen by far the most dangerous of the three.

As it was, no-one was paying attention to Newt. The two men left to take their places at the judges’ table, while the two other occupants of the tent drew very much into themselves as they tried to come up with some kind of strategy.

 

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When the whistle sounded, calling the first champion to the arena, the Durmstrang student stood. Failing to hide her anxiousness, she nevertheless walked out with her head held high. The crowd cheered and the unmistakable roar of a dragon could be heard. There was a commentary, but the words were unclear to those still in the tent.

Twenty minutes later, the whistle sounded to call for the next contestant and Newt was left alone with his little dragon figure. It really was a marvellous replica and he got so caught up with watching it that in what seemed like no time at all, it was his turn to retrieve an egg. Far from being apprehensive at what he was about to do, Newt was more disappointed to have to leave the tiny dragon behind, and he hoped he would be able to return for it later.

 

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The Hungarian Horntail was led out into the arena ahead of the final champion. The commentator was describing every terrifying feature; from its flame that could reach fifty feet to the tail with spikes the size of a small child. It was fast, ferocious and ready to defend the eggs that it had been temporarily separated from. Moments later Newt emerged. At the sight of the shy and awkward boy stood before the dragon, everyone fell silent.

Poor sod, he was going to die out there.

 

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“You are beautiful aren’t you.”

Newt took in the sight of the most powerful and stunning creature that he had ever seen. Her large black body was crouched low over her eggs, wings half unfurled in warning as her intelligent yellow eyes watched every move of this new threat before her. Newt kept his hands clearly visible and ducked his head, making himself appear as non-threatening as possible. The Horntail let out an ear-ringing roar followed by a short burst of flame that didn’t quite reach Newt. He was fully aware that if she had meant to, the fire would have completely consumed him. She had given him a single chance to run and had made it clear that she would not allow any menace near her or her nest. He was scared, he wasn’t stupid, but he was the danger here. She was a mother protecting her young and was well within her rights to defend them from him. Newt lowered his head further and began to slowly move towards the Horntail, his low crooning the only sound to echo faintly off the walls and rocks around them.

He made his way across the arena carefully, somehow managing not to trip on the loose rubble lying haphazardly around. As Newt reached the Horntail, she lowered her body to better protect her eggs, bringing her head down to meet him with a growl.  At this point Newt stopped, raising one open hand towards her while his eyes remained firmly lowered and to the side.

The Horntail moved her head closer. Her yellow eyes had yet to leave this strange blue creature that looked and smelled like those that had been causing her grief. It had approached her despite her warning, but it had yet to act in any way like those who thought to tame her.

Newt remained motionless with his hand in the air, waiting for the Horntail to make her decision. His whole world had shrunk down to the sensation of hot, acrid air hitting his hand and the growl that was filling his head and rumbling in his chest.

               The crowd, entirely forgotten by both boy and dragon, held their collective breath as they waited for him to be eaten or engulfed in flames. But as his hand made contact with the dragon Newt finally allowed himself to move, sliding his hand up and stroking her snout. When this was allowed without sign of compliant, he moved his hand up further to gently stroke between her eyes, causing a complete change to the dragon’s demeanour.

               Whereas before, her spiked tail had been gouging huge marks from the ground, it now swung lazily side to side through the air in the relaxed manner of a purring housecat. Newt began again to talk to the Horntail in soothing tones, now stroking her snout and horns with both hands. He had changed his posture so that he was stood straighter, taller, reaching higher to scratch a soft spot on the side of her head just below the jawline. The dragon became more and more docile, a low rumbling beginning to emit from deep within her chest that was a far cry from the terrifying sound she had produced before.

               The judges and audience were struck dumb at the sight of quiet little Newt Scamander, shy and awkward and so unassuming, cooing and stroking the dragon like it was nothing more dangerous than a kitten. Nobody could quite believe it.

               A few minutes passed before Newt finally looked her in the eye, and gently said, “Now, one of your eggs is fake. I would like to remove it, if you’ll let me. I daresay it simply isn’t as beautiful as your gorgeous clutch, hm?”

               The Horntail crooned, moving away from Newt as she looked over her eggs. The fake stood out from the rest, a gaudy golden flash amongst the other cement-coloured eggs. She gave a snort and began nosing the fake away from the nest. Newt remained where he was, patiently waiting as she brought the egg to him. Once within reach Newt smiled up at her and gave her another scratch on her snout, cooing at her again as he did.

               “You really are amazing, aren’t you girl. And a lot cleverer than everyone here. Such an amazing mummy, looking after your babies. I bet you can’t wait to meet them. I’m sure they’ll be as strong as you when they’re grown. You’ll teach them everything they need.”

               The Horntail gave him a nudge, reminding him that he had a task to complete. So, finally and reluctantly, he disengaged and took a step back, picking up the egg as he did.

               “Thank you, Daphne. I’ll come see you again, hey?” Newt grinned as he received another gentle reminder that he really should be going. He nodded decisively and, carefully holding the egg, he turned to leave the arena.

 

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               It was only after the last glimpses of his signature blue coat disappeared that the crowd exploded into cheers.

               The judges on the other hand, all slumped slightly in relief. Really, that boy was not good for one’s blood pressure.

Chapter Text

               For the next couple of weeks after the first task, Newt found himself with a sudden increase in respect shown towards him. He had not only surprised everyone by walking away from an encounter with a dragon completely unscathed but had also managed to complete the task with the highest score so far. Ok, so his technique had been lacking in flare compared to the other champions but there was no denying just how impressive it had been to watch the young Hufflepuff simply walk up to a Hungarian Horntail and ask for the egg, seemingly taming her in the process. There had been accusations that his dragon had been pacified before the task to reduce the risk of any fatal incidents, but these were quickly disputed by anyone who had been to see the dragons since.

               Now that it had been revealed that there were dragons being temporarily housed on the grounds, many of the students and staff had been to see them. The large paddocks where the dragons and their handlers were staying had been modified so that they could be observed from a very safe distance. There weren’t many who wanted to miss the opportunity to see dragons again. The handlers had been having a hard time of it; nesting mothers had even shorter tempers than usual, which was saying something for a dragon. Ideally, they would have been left alone at this time, allowing the mothers and their young plenty of space. The Hungarian Horntail had been especially ruthless towards anyone who tried to get too close. Two of her handlers had experienced near-fatal consequences when she had unexpectedly let loose a blaze of fire and they had momentarily forgotten about the anti-apparition wards on the grounds. Thankfully, the other handlers had been able to assist them in escaping the dragon’s wrath, allowing them to get out of range before she was able to catch anybody in her inferno.

               All the new attention Newt was receiving was becoming increasingly difficult to handle, so he had taken to hiding in his cupboard with his creatures whenever possible. Still, he had to emerge for lessons and meals. Leta had pulled him out a few times and resorted to bringing him something to eat if she had to. It had also been made clear to him by the Head of Hufflepuff House that if he wasn’t in the Hufflepuff dormitory by curfew then he would find himself with a lot of detention and his permission to go to the paddocks revoked.

               That was the only thing that made all the new attention worthwhile; seeing the dragons. Newt had been to see them early one morning, when there were very few other people gathered. One of the Horntail’s handlers had recognised his coat and called him closer for a chat. They had been impressed with the way Newt had gained the Horntail’s trust, this handler especially since he didn’t particularly like the way the dragons were being forced to be a part of the Tournament. Newt could relate to that, and he found himself having a brief but interesting conversation about the dragons nearby, before the handler had invited him back for a closer look later when there were no other students;  as long as he could get permission from a professor who would also be willing to supervise. Naturally, Professor Dumbledore agreed instantly.

 

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               It didn’t take long before the novelty of Newt’s success wore off, what with his lack of social skills and general aversion to interacting with large numbers of people or indeed people in general. But while they were beginning to ignore him again, there had also been less instances of students hassling him. Newt hadn’t seen much of Sidney and his friends lately either.

               Newt had wasted no time in looking at the egg he had collected from the first task. He soon found the hinges and realised that it must open. Except that when he had finally opened the egg, the wailing that filled the room was so piercing that he had shut it again and not opened it for another two days. The next time he heard the sound he was ready for it but couldn’t understand what it was or what it meant. There were no other markings or identifying features that could provide a clue. It was odd, Newt felt like he should know what the sound meant, but he had no idea what it was.

               A week later, as he was walking around the lake seeking some peace and quiet, he was suddenly struck by inspiration. He had read about merpeople in his second year after he had found out the Hogwarts lake had a large colony living somewhere in its depths. They could only be understood underwater, while above water their language became a high-pitched screech.

               Bolstered by this sudden revelation, Newt hurried to the cupboard to collect his egg and dashed back outside across to the bank where he had been moments before. He took the time to remove his coat, shoes and socks before wading out into the murky lake. Once the water was as high as his midriff, Newt fumbled with the egg and finally opened it. As the wailing filled the air, Newt took a deep breath and submerged himself and the egg into the lake.

               Singing. Newt was surrounded by singing. It was a beautiful, ethereal voice. As Newt focused on the words, he realised that he had missed the first part and would have to wait for it to begin again. Eventually, after resurfacing a few times for air, Newt had the song memorised in full.

Come seek us where our voices sound,

We cannot sing above the ground,

And while you’re searching, ponder this;

We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss,

An hour long you’ll have to look,

And to recover what we took,

But past the hour – the prospect’s black,

Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back.

 

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               Newt made his way back to dry land. The egg was slippery and he nearly dropped it, but he didn’t want to linger in the water. The song had attracted the attention of several beings in the lake. They hadn’t come close enough for Newt to make out clearly, but he had a fairly good idea of what they were, and he had opted to leave his wand in his coat pocket. The sun had begun to set and now that he was leaving the water, he realised just how cold it was.

               “Newt Scamander!”

               Newt froze where he was, still ankle deep in the lake. He recognised the voice as his Charms Professor, a middle-aged man with long greying hair and an impressive moustache, who was generally good tempered but who had little time for nonsense or fools.

               “What do you think you are doing!” Professor Stump’s voice rang out as he marched across the lawn towards him. As he neared, Newt could make out the disapproving scowl aimed at him. “Well? Get out of the lake boy!”

               Newt continued out of the lake and collected his things. “Good evening, Professor. I had a theory that I needed to test regarding my egg.”

               Professor Stump looked at Newt, taking in his sodden appearance and the golden egg that Newt was carrying. “Swimming in the lake is strictly forbidden, not to mention an exceptionally stupid idea given it’s December! Fifty points from Hufflepuff, and you’re to go straight to the Hospital Wing to ensure you aren’t going to get ill from this excursion, before returning to your dormitory for the rest of the evening.”

               Newt trudged off back to the castle, dripping as he went, but confident that his newfound knowledge had been worth the trouble.

Chapter Text

               Dear Newt,

               I heard what happened in the first task, everyone is talking about it! I knew you would get through it in one piece but to go up against a Hungarian Horntail. I wish I could have seen it. Although its probably better for my sanity that I hadn’t. I would have paid a month’s wages to see everyone’s faces though. I hear you nearly gave the Headmaster a heart attack!

               I hope everyone is starting to see your worth as the Hogwarts champion now. Any more trouble just let me know.

               Look after yourself, Brother.

               Love, Theseus

 

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               Dear Theseus,

               The first task was the most amazing experience of my life. I had no idea we would be facing dragons. The Horntail was beautiful. I named her Daphne. She was understandably nervous when I showed up, but she was very understanding considering I was there to pilfer her nest.

               I never thought I’d get to be so close to a dragon like her. Her wingspan was immense, though I never got to see them open all the way. I can only imagine how graceful she must be in the air.

               The handlers invited me to visit Daphne a couple of times before they had to leave. They told me I had a natural way with dragons, and if I should ever want to work with them in the future, I could contact them. I’m not sure if I like the idea of a job that included confining dragons, not even for studying. But they assured me that their main objective is keeping the dragons safe and releasing them back to their natural homes. Most of the dragons they have were rescued from captivity or illegal smuggling. They also occasionally rescue injured dragons but try not to interfere too much unless absolutely necessary.

               The egg that Daphne gave me in the first task turned out to be a kind of music box. Though it was a song sung by a merperson, so I had to take it underwater to understand it. I might have gotten into some trouble when Professor Stump caught me climbing back out of the lake but at least have an idea of what the second task will involve now.

               You’ll be happy to hear that while I’ve found myself with more attention than I’m comfortable with, its all been good natured and supportive. I’d still rather be left alone though.

               I hope all is well with you.

               Love, Newt

 

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               Merlin’s beard Newt! Why didn’t you just use a bathtub?

 

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               That actually never occurred to me.