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The rest of the week dragged on unbearably slow for Harry. The school had gotten quieter about William and the test, but the change he saw in Ginny was even more obvious. Ron had told him that he noticed a similar change with Hermione as well. They both had the feeling that the girls were slowing drifting away from them with each passing day. And they had a good idea in which direction they were headed.

The crowd of girls that pursued William had subsided somewhat, but still lingered in his presence. As usual he did make every effort to stay away from them. Harry and Ron could only think of two reasons for his actions. Either he did not like girls, which was not likely for a boy like William, or his heart belonged to another. They were banking on the latter but worried just who had his heart.

William Black had made even more mention of himself as the time went by. Not only did his talents reside in the physical but also in the intellectual.

Ron had told Harry that History of Magic appeared to be a breeze for William. From what was said, there seemed to be almost no date or event that he couldn’t recall or give in depth detail about. Ron, who always struggled through History of Magic, began to start having an even bigger problem with William who it came so easy to.

Hermione also began to grow even fonder of him in Muggle Studies. For the first time it appeared as though she had a challenge in one of her classes. Then again, Hermione always liked a challenge. From the cheery smiles and late study sessions, Ron believed that it might just be more than friendly competition.

Ginny and Harry of course became partners in Potions class, which became the highlight of his day. Nothing seemed to shake his mood when he was next to her. Even if the class was making a potion that would confuse Merlin himself, nothing mattered to him except that he was with the girl he loved. After nearly dying, Harry was going to enjoy as many moments with her as he could.

Then there were the other times. Over the past week, Harry noticed that Ginny would drift off and look in William’s direction. As time went by he noticed that she had a certain look in her eye whenever she looked at him, a look he couldn’t quite place. Not knowing how she felt was slowly starting to eat away at him.

Once or twice he even thought she stopped loving him. Those foolish thoughts were quickly dismissed when she turned her head back and gave him that smile that captured his heart in the first place. Still, there was always that feeling William had her heart as well.

By Friday morning, Harry and Ron knew that they would have to confront their girlfriends about these feelings and know where they stood. It was either that or confront William about what he was doing and how he felt about them. Action had to be taken, and the sooner the better.

The first class of the day would be Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid. Today was the day that the class would be diving into the Great Lake to harvest Grindylows for Ruby. The majority of the students had already arrived at the dock on the edge of the Great Lake where Hagrid instructed everyone to meet him.

Of course everyone remembered to bring their bathing suits because it was a rare opportunity to venture into a world so different from the one on the surface. Harry and a chosen few had been the only ones to see just exactly what it was like down there. The one thing that everyone knew was that this was bound to be one hell of an interesting class.

“Anyone want a piece of gum?” asked William cheerfully as he walked with Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny down to the dock.

“What kind of gum?” asked Ginny who turned around from Harry’s side to see. Harry of course, was already on edge about anything William did in front her.

“It’s a very special kind of gum.” said William as he raised his eyebrows suggesting just how special it was. He then produced a green piece from the pack he had in his hand. The label was blocked by the way it sat in his hand.

Ginny then reached out and took the piece and began to chew it very slowly as if waiting for it to perform some sort of great trick.

“It’s just a piece of winter green.” replied Ginny as she continued walking closer to the docks. “I don’t see what’s so special about it!”

“Give it a second, it takes a moment to work!” said William as he tried to suppress a laugh. The reason that he was laughing was that the gum was starting to take affect.

Suddenly as Ginny took her next step, the instant her right foot touched the ground she started to jump ten feet into the air. The second her feet came back down, she jumped another ten feet.

Harry, Ron and Hermione watched in awe as Ginny continued to jump up and down. She was obviously enjoying the sensation as her contagious laugh began to break out. William then started to laugh as he was glad someone had broken the tension in the group.

Over the past few days he began to notice that things were starting to quieter around the castle. For some reason, Harry and Ron had started talking less and less to him. Ginny and Hermione remained their usual friendly selves. If he was going to be at their side for a year then he would have to find out just what exactly their problem was

“This is incredible! You guys should definitely try a piece!” cheered Ginny.

“Now would anyone else like a piece?” asked William producing four more pieces of the green sweet.

“What is that stuff?” asked Hermione not taking the piece he presented.

“Bullfrog Bouncers, one of the finer joke shop items of my time.” laughed William as he watched Ginny continue to bounce.

“How does she get down?” asked Ron stopped and watched his sister jump higher and higher with great concern.

“Do you want a piece and try?” asked William simply.

“No, I don’t want a piece. Just tell me how she gets down!”

“I’ll take one!” exclaimed Hermione who wanted to know just how much fun Ginny was having.

“Here try one!” said William as he handed Hermione the green stick. “You want one Harry?” asked the boy gesturing toward Harry.

“Just tell us how the fuck she gets down!” snapped Harry. He was looking at William with pure anger in his eyes.

William who was taken back by his outburst and simply replied with slight anger, “All she has to do is spit it out.” Nothing more needed to be said. It was quite obvious that Harry had a bone to pick with him and William decided against getting into it here and now with him.

Ginny who had heard the commotion on the ground spit out the gum and walked over to where the group had suddenly stopped. “Is everything alright?”

Harry looked over at Ron and Hermione and knew this was not the time to start a fight. William looked as if he might kill Harry with his stare. He would settle the matter later. “Everything’s fine Ginny.” lied Harry.

The remainder of the walk to the dock was spent in silence. No one dared speak in fear of a fight breaking out. The best course of action was to stay quiet and just get to the dock.

When the last five students arrived at the dock they began to disrobe. Most of the boys there were dressed primarily in board shorts and water shoes. The girls wore mostly one-piece suits that showed their house colors. Some of the more adventurous girls wore two piece swim suits that left little to the imagination, hoping to entice some of the boys; William was the main target in most cases.

Ginny and Hermione had each bought respectable one piece scarlet and gold bathing suits to show their loyalty to Gryffindor House. Harry and Ron’s eyes were glued to this beautiful site as they disrobed as well.

“Breathe Harry!” laughed Ginny as she noticed the look on his face. Harry then turned his smile toward her face.

“Sorry Gin. You know you look stunning, right?” Ginny then blushed the color of her hair.

“Blink Ronald!” snapped Hermione taking Ron out of his daze.

“Sorry love.” said Ronald innocently knowing he had been caught.

Harry and Ron then disrobed to reveal matching scarlet and gold board shorts. They then looked at each other in confusion, neither knowing that they had chosen the same outfit to wear.

“Looks like we had the same idea ladies!” added Harry laughing as he spoke. Ron, Hermione and Ginny saw the humor in the situation and began laughing as well.

William who had not said a word changed into his swim suit. It was a simple body suit that went from his knees to his neck. It did not have sleeves, which emphasized his muscles and tattoos then had now acquired a deadly reputation.

The group that had seen his scars knew that he only wore this particular suit because it covered them. William could have easily worn something like Harry or Ron but decided against it seeing as not to frighten the others.

Although they did not know, William had grown quite used to hiding his body after it was scarred. Still the feeling of the free air on his chest was something that he often missed. Any opportunity to do so was cherished time for him, if only for a short while.

When everyone was dressed and ready to dive in, Hagrid made his way down to the dock path. Over his shoulder rested thirty mesh bags. As he walked passed the group, each person received a bag. When Hagrid got to the end of the dock, he then conjured four large barrels, each baring one of the four house crests. With another flick of the wand, a double zero appeared floating over each barrel.

“Alright students, as you already know, today you are going into the lake to harvest Grindylows for our dragon friend in the forest.” said Hagrid as he began to address the class. “I will not be joining you as I cannot swim and the fact that no one wants to see this in a bathing suit." laughed Hagrid as he patted his stomach. The students saw the humor in this and laughed as well. 

"I trust you will all be on your best behavior.” Some new this might be a challenge for others, particularly for Malfoy who had regrettably made it.

“From the end of the dock is a rope you will all follow that will lead you to the algae beds. This is where you will find a majority of the creatures. In order to catch them you will use a simply stunning spell and then place them in the bags that have been provided. Take careful aim and don’t get to close to them, for they will tear you apart if given the opportunity. When your time is up I will send down a red light.”

The girls in the group shrieked at this prospect. The boys however tried to act like it did not faze them, but on the inside they were just as terrified. Harry could personally attest to it after nearly suffering the same fate during the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament.

The half-giant then turned to them with a look of complete seriousness in his voice. “Now if anything happens down there that any of you can’t handle, I want all of you to get your catch and make for the surface.”

Ron turned to Harry and said, “So basically, it’s snatch and run?”

“Looks like it!” laughed Harry.

“When you make it back to the surface, you will empty your bags into your house’s barrel. As a special bonus, the house with the most Grindylows will receive twenty points toward the House Cup. You each have a thirty minutes starting now!” yelled the half-giant as the students rushed to the end of the dock.

As each person put on the Bubble Head charm, they then jumped into the water and made their way to the bottom. It was clear that each house wanted an early lead in the point standings.

Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione were among the first in and started to make an immediate descent. All they knew was that those twenty points would be for Gryffindor.

William stayed behind and was the last one to enter the water. He did not know what was wrong with Harry or Ron, but decided to give them some space. William did however suspect just what they were mad about. He too had noticed the attention Ginny and Hermione were giving him and on some level it made him feel uncomfortable.

The descent to the lake bed was longer than Harry remembered from his fourth year. After following the rope Hagrid had left for nearly ten minutes, he and the others reached the end of the line.

The rope had been secured to a large stone on the floor but that was all that was near. There were no algae beds or any other underwater plant life that could suggest a presence of Grindylows. The spot was completely barren. None of the students could understand why the rope ended in this spot. Nothing was visible through the murky except the soft muddy floor of the lake.

Harry began to question whether Hagrid had made a mistake about where the Grindylows were nested. Ron and the girls had just landed beside him and looked around with the same notion.

The group then began to scatter as more students arrived. They each decided to look and see if the nesting grounds were somewhere near. Harry then started walking around the bed, trying to find some sign of life when suddenly the ground gave out beside him.

He then started to fall when suddenly Ron, who was walking behind him, had caught his arm. When realizing he was safe, Harry looked to see what he had fallen off of and in an instant all of his doubts about Hagrid’s spot where gone.

After Ron pulled Harry to his feet, they looked over the place he had fallen and saw the algae beds that Hagrid had described. It seemed that the rope was on top of a ridge that led into a deep valley of algae. The expanse of vegetation from the top of the cliff extended for what seemed like miles. Every few seconds, a green mass would pop up in and out of spots of the leafy lake bed. Surely they would have no problem finding their prey.

Ginny and Hermione came over to see what all the fuss was about and stared wide eyed at what they had discovered. Pretty soon more and more students came over until everyone including William was there on the edge of the ridge. The secret was out.

The gathered crowd then looked over itself, wondering who was going to make the first move toward the bottom. Deciding now was the right time, Harry jumped off the ridge and sank gracefully to the bottom and then made a dash for the algae beds. He was then joined by everyone else who wanted to take an early lead in gathering the Grindylows.

At the sudden disturbance, a whole cluster of the viscous water demons swam out and away from their cover. Harry was the first to cast a stunning spell and successfully hit one of the fleeting creatures. Soon, more and more flashes of stunning spells joined him and gave light and clarity to the once dense and murky water.

After collecting the stunned Grindylow, Harry looked off and saw numerous others doing the same. Hermione had already caught two and was moving on to catch a third. Ron was struggling to put the slightly wriggling one in his bag and Ginny had just hit her fourth. Everyone seemed to be hitting there targets and there were definitely more Grindylows to stun.

William had landed shortly after Harry and quickly joined the party as he looked over the ridge and saw numerous flashes appear in the algae fields. Deciding to get in on the action, he leapt over the ledge and began firing his stunning spells, and each one seemed to hit with deadly accuracy. From what he could observe, all of the other kids were hitting them and then putting it in their bag. William decided against doing so, but instead hit three of four at a time and then put them into his bag.

When Harry noticed that William had joined the hunt, he was slightly impressed by his ability to hit the scurrying creatures. Although they were accurate, some of them narrowly missed other classmates who were distracted by their own targets. At the risk of someone getting hit, Harry swam over to William to discourage him from doing so.

Harry tapped him on the shoulder as he put his seventh Grindylow in his mesh bag and did his best to signal that he should slow down and pace himself. William seemed reluctant to agree but did so after seeing Harry’s point.

Then hunt seemed to go on and on for what seemed like hours. It did not continue to be just as easy though. The Grindylows, who had become aware that their numbers were superior to the humans, began to fight back. Several students decided against staying after receiving numerous slashes or bites. One thing was certain; this would not be a winning fight if they stayed any longer on the lake floor.

Luck seemed to be on the students’ side as a sudden burst of red light erupted underwater and signaled them to come back to the surface. Knowing relief was there; the crowd then took their final catch and began the gradual, yet speedy return to the surface. It took all of five minutes for them to reach the water’s edge as it was easier to float than sink.

After taking in the fresh air, the class climbed up onto the deck with their bags. Hagrid, who had been waiting aptly, helped a decent majority of them up, most of which had scratches and bites all over. When they were all standing on the wet wood of the dock, Hagrid made his announcement.

“I see you all have done well in the hunt. Those of you with bites or cuts can go see Madam Pomfrey if you like or you can stay if you want to see which house gets the twenty points.” said Hagrid motioning toward the barrels.

The prospect of medical attention seemed like a good idea as ten students left the bags with fellow members of their houses. Once the bags were situated they promptly left the dock and headed toward the Medical Wing of the school.

Malfoy was among them but only had a minor cut on his arm. As usual a standard injury was turned into a life or death dilemma. It seemed he couldn’t get away from the water any quicker. Harry, Ron, and Hermione guessed the Grindylows had really gotten to him.

“Everyone, empty your bags into your corresponding house barrel and wait for the final tally.” As the students emptied their bags into the barrels, the floating numbers above them quickly changed like points on a scoreboard when more Grindylows were dumped in. The current standing were; Ravenclaw 39, Hufflepuff 34, Slytherin 48, and Gryffindor 47. The buckets at this point were not completely full.

“How many did you have Hermione?” asked Harry after he had emptied his bag.

“I had about 12. You?” replied Hermione.

“15 I think. I lost count after ten. What about you Ron?”

“I think I had something like 9 or 10.” added Ron who was slightly disappointed at coming in behind them.

“What about you Ginny?”

Harry waited for an answer but looked around after receiving none. He then looked all over the dock, but with no luck, couldn’t he find her. He hadn’t been with her on the way up and was getting very worried.

“Hermione did you see Ginny come up?” Hermione shook her head and looked around after realizing she had not seen her either.

Ron looked all over the dock as well and was starting to get the same feeling as Harry and Hermione.

“The last time I saw her was in the algae beds before Hagrid sent down the signal to come up.” interjected William who had been listening to the conversation. “That was the last time I saw her.”

Harry knew Ginny still had to be down there. The only thing he could do was get there as soon as possible and find her before something terrible had happened. He then rushed over Hagrid to tell him the news.

“Hagrid, Ginny’s still down there! I can’t find her anywhere on the dock!” exclaimed Harry urging him to do something. The sound of concern flooded his voice upon saying this.

Ginny was one of his favorite students and friends and immediately made an announcement. “Everyone be quiet!” yelled Hagrid. The students promptly shut up. “It seems that someone was left down there, Ginny Weasley. I need all of you who are able to swim, to go back down and find her as soon as possible. As soon as you do, use your wands and cast a blue spark to alert everyone that the search is over. This is very important that you find her.”

The worry was evident in his voice and all of the students could see this. Knowing his conviction, they all jumped into the water, (Harry, Ron, Hermione and William were first) and made their second descent of the day, this time their task was to find Ginny Weasley.

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