All too soon, it was February and Sirius was taking his seat at the stands set up at the lake bank with the other governors.
Soon the champions were lined up side by side. Sirius gave an encouraging smile to Harry when he met the boy's eye, getting a nervous smile in return.
Once Bagman was done with his spiel, the cannon went off.
The audience gave out gasps of appreciation and awe as the water of the lake became magically clear to those sitting in the stands. It was like looking into a large bowl filled with liquid glass. Zooming in with his Omnioculars, Sirius could see the hostages tied at the centre of the village.
Immediately, Diggory, Delacour and Krum started wading into the lake before diving into what to them was murky water. The audience saw as Diggory and Delacour cast Bubble-Head Charms while Krum performed an impressive feat of partial transfiguration and gave himself a shark's head.
Harry, in the meantime, raised his wand and shouted, 'Accio.'
'And our youngest champion has opted to cast a Summoning Charm. Well, Mr Potter, there is no way you can fly out of this one!' Bagman's loud voice cut through the air eliciting a few laughs.
Suddenly, one of the boats used to transport the First-Years materialised, gliding to a stop in front of Harry.
Kicking off his shoes, Harry clambered onto the boat barefoot. Once he was inside, he tapped the side of the boat and cast the propulsion charm.
Sirius was proud of the plan that Harry had come up with. Instead of swimming all the way there and running into all sorts of obstacles, Harry had the bright idea to drop in on the Mermish village from above.
Since there wasn't anything in the rules of the Tournament forbidding this, Harry dove into the lake one cool day at the end of January, with the help of Gillyweed. He located the village where he had a hunch the hostages would be. Once he reached that area, he marked the position from the surface.
He then looked up a few other charms, mainly the propulsion charm that he remembered Hagrid using to get them across from the rock on the sea to mainland.
Sirius watched along with the rest of the spectators as Harry’s boat glided across the lake. He, along with the rest, were mesmerised by the stunning effect of the vessel moving through what looked like liquid air as the other champions and various aquatic fauna moved underneath. Sirius was glad that this was being recorded from the stands as it had been done with the first task. Harry would definitely be interested in seeing this.
Finally reaching his destination, Harry raised his wand and cast another Summoning Charm, calling for a rock from the shore.
Once that was done, Harry quickly removed his robe, revealing a pair of green swim trunks underneath. Conjuring a piece of rope, the youngest champion tied the rock to his waist and prepared to dive, Gillyweed in hand.
Just as the boy was about to take the plunge, the spectators noticed Fleur Delacour being besieged and shortly overwhelmed by a swarm of Grindylows. Unable to handle the water demons, the part veela was forced to surface, gaining the notice of the fourth champion as she took herself out of the race.
Sirius couldn't help but think that he should be worried at the way Harry was staring at the sobbing hysterical French girl as she was wrestled into the medical tent. Her plaintive cries for her little sister were heart-rending.
Seeming to shake out of it, Harry sat on the edge of the boat, popped the Gillyweed into his mouth and leaned backward.
Thanks to the extra weight, Harry dropped like a stone before the magical plant did its work. Once transformed, Harry kicked his now powerful flipper-like feet and powered down towards the lakebed.
Sirius watched with a sense of victory and pride. Thanks to thinking outside the box, Harry was the first one there.
But then he frowned. While Harry was quick to cut the chords tying Neville down, he did not make any move to leave with his hostage.
It was only when Cedric came along for his hostage, did Sirius realise why the boy had decided to stick around. Sirius groaned and put his head in his hands. Harry had taken the warning seriously. That silly, brave, child. He actually thought that the hostages would be forever lost if their rescuers did not reach them on time. He did not know whether he was proud or exasperated at this. After a moment's thought he decided that he definitely was proud.
Then again, Sirius couldn't exactly blame the boy. After all, Dumbledore and Barty Crouch were the driving forces behind the Tournament. They really couldn't be trusted.
Once Krum had spirited the Granger girl away, Harry swam towards the last hostage that was no doubt Fleur's little sister.
The Merpeople swam forwards to intercept the champion. They were quick to back off when they saw the wand being pointed at them. Sirius could only smile as he saw them scatter after Harry started counting off with his free hand, making his intentions very clear.
Once he was in the clear, Harry cut the chords, releasing the little girl from her bindings. Severing the rope tying him to the rock, he began to swim to the surface, dragging two hostages with him.
Listening to the reactions of the crowd and the comments made by Bagman, Sirius could tell that people were impressed by Harry's show of heroism. Going to rescue your hostages was one thing, but making sure that no one was left behind? That was something else.
Once he was near the surface, Harry dug into the pouch tied around his waist and ingested the counter to the Gillyweed, negating its effects. Once he was gill-free, he surfaced, joining the hostages.
'Moral fibre … Not bad,' Sirius said later that evening.
'Don't remind me,' Harry replied sourly. He was still sore about the whole incident. Now that he was on dry land, with the task well behind him, he realised that perhaps he shouldn't have taken that warning literally.
'Oh cheer up,' Sirius said brightly. 'At least the judges think it was worth full marks. Well, except for Karkaroff. But then, it really didn't matter anyway. You are in the lead! And the French champion is falling all over the hero that saved her little sister.'
Moaning, Harry threw his head back, covering his face with his hands to hide the blush. Fleur had undergone a complete character overhaul. From being a conceited, arrogant frog, she was now all over Harry. His cheeks still burned at the remembrance of her … enthusiastic gratitude.
Of course, that was nothing compared to the nine year old who he had "rescued". The moppet had clung onto him all the way to the lake shore, needing to be physically pried from him by the matron. Harry could only imagine her reaction when she found out his name. At least he had been able to pull on his robes and cast drying spells at himself and the girl before she had decided to impersonate a particularly hungry four-limbed octopus.
Neville had been a load of help. The blond had quite accommodatingly laughed his arse off all the way to the shore, and had sniggered for the rest of the day. Harry was sorely considering rewarding his friend's kindness by chucking him off the boat and making him swim to shore.
'Where were you anyway?' Harry suddenly asked Sirius. 'I looked all over for you afterwards, but couldn't find you.'
'Oh,' said Sirius. 'I had something I needed to retrieve.'
Harry looked at him for a long moment. 'What was it?'
Sirius smiled, 'Something rather important.' Seeing the look on Harry's face, he continued. 'I will tell you in due time. Just trust me for now, OK?'
Harry stared at him for a long moment before nodding. 'OK,' he said.
'Did you find out why I was entered into the Tournament and who did it?' Harry finally asked after several minutes of staring into the fire.
Sirius, who thought that his son had fallen asleep and was about to do the same jerked awake. 'Hm? No, no idea.' He replied.
Sitting up properly, he continued. 'I do know that Karkaroff is a Death Eater. He managed to escape Azkaban by squealing on his comrades, though, so I don't see him going back to Voldemort. And I am reliably certain that Pettigrew isn't involved, at least actively. I have been watching that map like a hawk, and nothing out of the ordinary has cropped up. Then again, I did start doing that only after you became a dayboy, so no one can tell if he was there in the school beforehand.
'So that leaves Karkaroff. And his behaviour isn't the type of behaviour I would expect of a man who had put your name in. After all, he was quite vehemently against your participation and was quite reluctant to give you marks. His behaviour does not fit the profile.'
'Speaking of which,' Harry mused out loud. 'Crouch confuses me. Both he and Bagman have been quite generous with their marking. And considering your history with the man, I kind of expected him to be strict about it. And Bagman actually offered me his help! Twice!'
Sirius looked at the ceiling in thought. 'Bagman's behaviour isn't alarming,' he finally said. 'I know for a fact that he tends to bet a lot. Rumour has it that he is in major debt with the goblins thanks to his gambling. I wouldn't put it past him to bet on you.
'As for Crouch…' Sirius shrugged. 'I think he might be trying to curry favour with me. Perhaps he thinks that I will get off his back if he gives you full marks. The man has tried many times to contact me, but I have rebuffed him at every turn. I do not want anything to do with him.' He said with a dark look that sent chills up Harry's back.
The days leading up to the final task went by. Once Harry found out what the final task would be, Sirius upped the ante, making sure that Harry was comfortable using both wands and could do the spells in his sleep. He also went so far as to wake the boy up in the middle of the night on occasion to duel with the sleepy lad, working on his son's drawing, casting speed and alertness.
Harry was also tasked with dual casting, a skill he showed a moderate aptitude in. However, that was in controlled conditions, Sirius knew that Harry's mettle would be tested in real battle.
Sirius also had Harry strap the penknife he had bought the boy to his ankle. It might come in useful.
On the last day before the third task, Sirius bought Harry a mokeskin pouch that could be attached to his waist.
'This is very rare,' Sirius explained as Harry looked at the furry pouch. 'The hide is such that if something were to be hidden in it, nobody but the owner could find it. I want you to keep your invisibility cloak in it.
'Thanks, dad,' Harry said.