A/N: Haha! I bet you weren't expecting another update so quickly, what with my absence for the past two months! I'm going to put this story as a top priority for the next month or so before school starts, so you can probably expect 2, maybe even 3 updates a week. Oh, and for next chapter, I'd just like to clarify that I made the announcement of the Yule Ball a week later than it is in cannon so that the trio would have more time to bond. I'm actually really looking forward to the Yule Ball, though.
Disclaimer: I forgot to do a disclaimer last chapter, so here it is. In cannon, Voldemort isn't a drag queen and Lucius Malfoy isn't his/her pimp. 'Nuff said.
Harry, Hermione, and Luna made their way to the Gryffindor common room without any troubles. Luna had become such a constant presence there that when all three of them went through the portrait hole, there was hardly so much as a glance spared in their direction from the student body. The trio sat down in some armchairs by the fire and got to work. Of course, by 'getting to work', it meant that Hermione started to speed read the book that they had found on languages while the other two settled down to do homework; only the occasional question interrupting the comfortable silence.
About an hour had passed in this fashion before Hermione found what they had been searching for for all those weeks. "Here it is!" She exclaimed happily. "Mermish is a very beautiful language when heard in its natural habitat; underwater. When heard on land, however, it sounds like loud, high pitched screeching to the human ear."
"So... I have to take the egg underwater and listen to it? Then what?"
"Well, that depends on what the egg says." Luna said reasonably. "They did say that it was supposed to be a clue as to what the third task is. Maybe you have to fight mermaids this time?"
"No, I don't think so." Hermione said thoughtfully. "I mean, they had the champions fight a dragon last time, that would be too predictable. He probably will have to retrieve something, though. Almost every task that we've read about from previous tournaments had something that the champions had to retrieve."
"So... what?" Harry asked no one in particular. "Am I just supposed to steal something from the merpeople?"
"Well, in any case, we need to decode that egg." Hermione said briskly as she got up. "What are you waiting for?" She asked when she saw that neither of her friends were following suit. "Let's go."
"Umm... Hermione?" Harry ventured, "There are no baths in the boys dorm, and even if there were, there's no way that the other guys would let you into our bathroom."
Hermione began to pinken slightly as she realized what it sounded like she was going to do. She sat back down with a small sigh. "Now what?"
"Well, we can't very well go down to the lake. It's the middle of November, and it's getting dark." Luna said simply.
"We could fill up one of the sinks and open the egg in there." Harry suggested.
"The sinks aren't big enough to fit the egg, let alone the egg when open and a human head." Hermione said defeatedly.
Luna sighed. "We can't go down to the lake, either. It would attract too much attention to go swimming in November, and that might alert the other champions as to what the egg's clue might be."
"We need a swimming pool, or at least a large bath." Harry said simply.
"But where are we going to find a-" Hermione's eyes widened as she abruptly cut off. "I'll be right back!" She called out to them already climbing up the stairs to the boys' dormitories.
Hermione came bounding down the stairs a few minutes later with a smile on her face and an old piece of parchment in her hands. "I just spoke with Fred and George; they said that the map has the Prefects' bathrooms and their current passwords on it!"
"And that's relevant because..." Harry prodded.
"Oh, Harry, don't you see? The Prefects' bathrooms have huge bathtubs in them, in fact, you could even call them small pools!"
"How did you know that?" Luna asked.
Hermione smiled. "Professor McGonagall took me aside earlier this year to speak with me about being Prefect next year. She said that since I was a shoo-in for the Gryffindor girls' Prefect, I should know some of the responsibilities and privileges that came with it."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Harry asked, a look of hurt confusion prominent on his face.
"She asked me not to."
"Does she do that for everyone who is to be a Prefect?" Luna asked curiously.
"Well, that's actually part of the reason she wanted me not to tell you." Hermione admitted sheepishly. "She said that she only did that when it was certain that someone was going to become Prefect. She didn't want me to tell you because she was still deciding who the boys' Prefect would be. She said that it was really between Neville and, well, you, Harry."
Harry blinked. "Me?"
"Yeah. She said that she knew that both of you would be impartial and fair, but she was torn because she didn't know if Neville would be confident enough to do the job properly, and you get into so much trouble every year." Hermione giggled. "When I pointed out that I was there along with you every time that that happened, she muttered under her breath 'Well, Mr. Potter is a trouble magnet. You get dragged along for the ride.' I really don't think she meant for me to hear that." Luna had started giggling along with Hermione, and both of them were full out laughing by the end of it.
Harry just looked at them, torn between acting indignant and joining in on the laughter. He internally shrugged and joined them. After all, it was kind of true.
The next day was a Thursday, and, luckily enough, all three of them had a free block before lunch. They all met up outside the Prefects' bathroom and Harry spoke the password. "Pinefresh." He said to the fourth door to the left of the statue of Boris the Bewildered. The door swung open and as the three students walked in, their jaws dropped open in shock.
"This place is bloody huge!" Harry exclaimed.
Hermione didn't even scold him for his language because of how true that statement was. The bathroom, if it even could be called that, had a row of gleaming, sparkling, gold toilets on one side, each with their own massive stall. The toilets were adjacent to a row of sinks made of the same faux gold material. The room's dominating feature, however, was a small swimming pool in the center of the room. It was sunk into the ground, with steps leading down to the bottom. Surrounding the entire goliath were what had to be at least a hundred taps, each with a different jewel on the faucet.
"Why is this place a student bathroom? Why does this place even exist?" Hermione gaped at her surroundings, totally at a loss.
"I have no idea!" Luna said cheerfully as she began to strip.
Harry did a double take before turning around and covering his eyes. "Luna!" he called out in shock.
"Harry!" Luna called back.
Hermione turned from the ridiculously opulent pool to face her friends, then promptly did a face palm. "Harry, it's okay. Luna is already wearing her bathing suit under her clothes."
"Oh." The red faced boy turned back around. "Well then, um, I'll just go change." He mumbled as he made his way over to the oversized bathroom stalls. Hermione proceeded to do the same. When the two students emerged, they saw Luna standing in the already half full tub, with all of the taps letting out different kinds of water. Some were bubbly, others bright colored, still others with different scents, there was even one tap that was letting out water with rose petals!
Hermione walked down the steps into the pool while Harry set the golden egg on the tub's edge. He cast several Ennervate spells on his clothing, along with a warming charm for good measure, before he carefully wrapped the real dragon egg in them. He had discovered, completely by accident, that the dragon egg didn't cling to him, it clung to his magic. That meant that if he put his magic on another object, he could, for a certain amount of time, take the egg of off his person. This discovery had been extremely helpful when Harry had to shower and change. He preferred to use Ennervate spells because they were almost entirely pure magic energy, so he could go longer without the egg without draining his core as much. As soon as the egg was secure, he hopped into the already full tub, and they proceeded to get to work.
"Are you ready?" He asked his companions. They each nodded, took a deep breath, and submerged. Harry quickly opened the egg, and, instead of the screeching noises that they had heard before, a mesmerizing mezzo soprano serenaded them.
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
To recover what we took
But past an hour, the prospect's black
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back
"Well," Harry said, "That was ominous."
"Very much so." Luna agreed.
"I get what they mean in most of it," Hermione said with a frown. "You have an hour to get something back from the merpeople, but what would be worth going to all that trouble to get?"
"Uh, Hermione?" Harry asked, "I think the more important question is how the bloody hell am I going to breathe underwater for an hour?!"
A/N: You should all leave lots and lots of reviews; they inspire me and make the plot bunnies inside my mind multiply... like rabbits... Huh, that did not work like I thought it would.