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Chapter 5: The Second Task

"You're kidding me right?"

"Ssh, Harry, not so loud", whispered Neville.

"Sorry.", Harry mumbled. "So you're absolutely sure that it's the only way?"

"As far as I know."

" It's not impossible, it has been done before.", Cedric said.

"Yeah, I know. Hermione did it back in second year.", Harry said.

"Hermione?" Cedric smirked. "Not the good girl she'd like you to believe, eh."

"Never mind. Is it worth the risk though? I mean, we could just use the Bubblehead Charm." Harry sighed. After hearing about the other option he didn't feel like using the Bubblehead Charm at all, but it seemed like they had no other choice. "Even if I get in there I wouldn't know how to look for it, I don't even know what it looks like." He turned to Cedric. "Do you?"

"Nope", Cedric replied solemnly. "It's the first time I hear about it. I've never been great at Herbology."

"I could go with you.", Neville proposed.

"I don't think we would all fit under the cloak", answered Harry. "We've gotten a lot bigger and Cedric isn't that short either."

"Well, you and I go then", Neville said. "I could find the Gillyweed immediately. We'd be out of there in no time."

Harry knew how frightened Neville must be, considering what they were planning. But the fact his friend was determined to accompany him so he could help him, struck him as extremely loyal. A trait Neville never hesitated to show.

"Alright", Harry said. "We're going to break into Snape's office."

 

That night Neville and Harry departed on their little quest. They were both under the Invisibility Cloak, so they couldn't be caught. That thought didn't calm Harry, he knew this was the easy part. "Okay, we're here", Harry whispered. "There's no light, let's hope he doesn't like to hang out in the dark." Neville let out a nervous laugh.

"Alohomora."

The door opened with a soft cracking, but in the silent dungeons it seemed extremely loud. Harry and Neville stayed under the cloak while they went inside to be sure. Once it was clear the office was empty, they closed the door and slipped of the Invisibility Cloak.

"Here's the cupboard", Harry said. He opened it and saw dozens and dozens of boxes. How would they ever find what they needed. Than he had an idea. "Accio Gillyweed." A little cardboard box came flying out of the closet in Harry's hand. He grinned at Neville.

"I can't believe we didn't think of that before."

Neville grinned too. "Let's just take enough, so Snape won't notice too fast something is missing."

"I think he'll figure it out Saturday anyway, Neville. If both me and Cedric use Gillyweed, he will know we didn't get it out of our backyard."

Neville paled.

"Don't worry. He won't be able to prove anything. If we get back to the common room without being caught, that is."

Harry and Neville returned to the common room. The only things they encountered on their journey was the Bloody Baron, who was moaning softly when they passed him and Peeves the Poltergeist, who had apparently just locked Mrs Norris inside an armour.

"Quickly", Harry hissed, when he heard the shuffling footsteps and the angry muttering of Argus Filch coming from around the corner. They ducked behind a tapestry that hid a secret passageway that was a shorter route to the corridor of the Fat Lady.

"Been out again?", she reprimanded them. "You know, in all the years I'm doing this job, there's not one student who I had to let in after curfew as much as you, Harry Potter. One of these days, I'm going to have to report you to Professor McGonagall, surely you realize that?"

"Flibbertigibbet.", Harry said with a sweet smile.

"Oh alright, come on in", the Fat Lady said.









Next Saturday brought a new task for the champions of the Triwizard Tournament. Although Harry didn't look forward to eating slimy Gillyweed and going into the Black Lake looking for merpeople who stole something from him, he looked forward to this task with more confidence than the first one. First of all, although the cold water may be very uncomfortable and the merpeople a bit scary, he didn't have to fear a fire breathing creature trying to kill him this time. Harry and Cedric had done some research on merpeople. They might look violent and aggressive, but in fact merpeople were apparently quite peaceful creatures. And maybe most importantly, he wouldn't be alone this time. Cedric had meant it when he said he wanted to form a team with Harry. Not only did they work together on the solution for the second task, they also agreed to stay together at all times in the lake. He would never admit it to anybody, but the thought that Cedric would stay with him and they would watch each other's backs was a huge reassurance for Harry.

In fact, Harry had been happier for the last couple of days than he had been in a long time. He was perfectly prepared for the second task, or as prepared as he would ever be. And on top of it he was dating Ginny Weasley, an amazing young witch who could still surprise him every day.

When the morning of the second task came, Harry awoke in an empty dormitory. When he came downstairs he saw there was no one in the common room as well. Panicking slightly, he looked at his watch. It was a quarter to nine, still and hour and fifteen minutes until the test started. Where was everyone? He wouldn't have gotten the time wrong would he? But no, Bagman had clearly said ten o'clock in the morning. He went downstairs to the Great Hall by himself. When he walked through the doors, the Great Hall erupted in applause. Harry saw that whole Gryffindor house was in the Hall and they had all jumped out of their seats when he entered. They waved with flags, scarfs and banners, saying things like 'Potter for President', 'They won't tame the lion' and 'Hogwarts For TWC'. Harry was overwhelmed by all the support and he just stood there for a few moments until he realized he was standing in the middle of the Hall. He went to sit with his friends and said: "Thanks guys, this really means a lot to me." He saw a lot of people beaming at him. When he looked over at the Staff Table, he saw Dumbledore looking at him with the characteristic twinkle in his eye and McGonagall was beaming, obviously very proud of the unity her house showed. Harry quickly glanced over to the Hufflepuff table. He caught Cedric's eye and he gave Harry a wink.

"Where's Ginny", asked Harry, after he had looked up and down the table for a second and third time.

"I don't know Harry", Hermione said, looking slightly worried. "She hasn't come down for breakfast yet.

"Maybe she's sick", offered Ron.

"Oh honestly Ron", Hermione snapped. "Ginny could be dying and she wouldn't miss the task."

"Oh well" Ron shrugged. "She'll come out."

Hermione rolled her eyes. Harry felt a great part of his confidence disappear. Yesterday evening and even now at this very table a few moments ago, Harry had been boasting with self-esteem. But now that Ginny was nowhere to be seen, he found himself doubting himself again. It seemed only a couple of seconds later Professor Dumbledore stood up from the staff table and announced it was time for the champions to head to the Black Lake. Harry saw many students look at each other with puzzled looks of their faces when the headmaster mentioned the lake. He joined Cedric at the entrance of the Great Hall and side by side, they headed to the lake.

"You seem nervous". Cedric sure had a thing with stating the obvious. "I thought you were more confident for this task?"

"I was", Harry said. "I mean, I am." After a short pause he added. "I didn't see Ginny this morning."

Cedric frowned. "Hm, I didn't see Cho this morning too." He hesitated. "Do you think they're using them?"

Harry looked at him. "You mean like hostages?"

"Well yeah. I mean, it makes sense doesn't it?", Cedric answered. "They would both want to be here and neither of them are. Kind of a big coincidence isn't it?"

"I guess so. But wouldn't that be dangerous?"

"Of course not", Cedric reassured him. "They would be safe of course. Dumbledore wouldn’t permit it if it put them in any danger.”

Harry nodded. The headmaster might be eccentric and incomprehensible sometimes, but Harry knew he would give his own life before endangering one of his students. They arrived at the lake.

"Gather round, gather round", Ludo Bagman said, his face flushed with excitement once more. "Alright, lady, gentlemen. I'm sure you have all figured out the clue that was in your golden egg?" They all nodded. "Very well. So you know you have one hour to recover the treasure they took from you. Get on your marks."

Harry stood between Cedric and Fleur. When the signal was given, Harry saw Fleur perform the Bubblehead Charm and dive straight into the water. Krum had also disappeared, though he didn't see what he had done. Harry and Cedric simply walked into the water, quickly chewing on the Gillyweed. The spectators were watching with puzzled looks on their faces. Suddenly Harry wasn't able to breathe and instinctively he dived head first underwater. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cedric do the same.

They were searching for the merpeople for about half an hour when they encountered Moaning Myrtle. They were panicking slightly, because the task only gave them an hour and the Gillyweed wouldn't work much longer than that. Moaning Myrtle grinned as she saw them struggle. "I'd try that way"*, she said. She pointed to her left. "Quickly."

Harry and Cedric swam together through the village of the merpeople. They attracted a lot of curiosity, many merpeople came out of their small houses to look at them as they passed. They arrived at a public square of sorts, where four people were tied up to wooden poles. Harry immediately recognized Ginny and Cho, apparently sleeping. Next to them, there was a small girl with silver hair, which probably was Fleur's little sister and a foreign looking boy.

Harry suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He startled, but relaxed when he saw it was just Cedric. ‘Are you okay’, his face asked and Harry realized he had been staring at Ginny for a long time. Seeing her bounded there, away from the world and helpless, brought back memories to him he’d rather forget.

Harry pulled out the knife he received from Sirius out of his pocket and cut down the robes that were holding Ginny. When he wanted to do the same with Cho, the mermaid next to him stopped him and shook his head. "Only your own hostage.**"

Harry stared at him and shrugged. Then he simply gave his knife to Cedric who smiled and released Cho. Together, they were making their way back to the surface. When they had just left the village, they met Fleur, who smiled at them. Krum was nowhere to be seen. The Gillyweed stopped working when they were about to resurface.

"Now that's what they call timing.", Cedric grinned.

They were met by a deafening noise. Now that they were in the fresh air again, Ginny and Cho woke up.

"You did it!", Ginny yelled. She hugged Harry closely, while Cho was doing the same with Cedric. "Not going for anything less than first place, huh?"

Harry and Cedric were grinning broadly. They finished first and Harry was leading the Tournament, closely followed by Cedric. They didn't know what the third task would be, but at the moment, they couldn’t care less.








"We shall win only by working together." – Gnassingbe Eyadema

* Quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 26: The Second Task by J.K. Rowling

** Quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 26: The Second Task by J.K. Rowling

 

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