The Third Task
The Third Task
'Dumbledore reckons You-Know-Who's getting stronger as well?' Ron whispered.
Everything Arabella and Harry had seen in the Pensive, and nearly everything Dumbledore had told and shown them afterward, they now shared with Ron and Hermione – and of course, with Sirius and Remus, to whom they sent an owl the moment they had reached the castle. Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione sat up late in the common room once again that night, talking it all over until Arabella's mind was reeling, until she understood what Dumbledore had meant about a head becoming so full of thoughts that it would have been a relief to ship them off.
'And he trusts Snape?' Ron said. 'He really trusts Snape, even though he knows he was a Death Eater?'
'Yes,' said Harry.
Hermione had not spoken for ten minutes. She was sitting with her forehead in her hands, staring at her knees. Harry thought she too looked as though she could have done with a Pensieve.
'Rita Skeeter,' she muttered finally.
'How can you be worrying about her now?' said Ron, in utter disbelief.
'I'm not worrying about her,' Hermione said to her knees. 'I'm just thinking…remember what she said to me in the Three Broomsticks? He betrayed Arabella's mother. She reported on his trial, she knew he'd passed information to the Death Eaters. And Winky too, remember 'Ludo Bagman's a bad wizard.' Mr. Crouch would have been furious he got off, he would have talked about it at home.'
'Yeah, but Bagman didn't pass information on purpose, did he?' Hermione shrugged.
'And Fudge reckons Madame Maxime attacked Crouch?' said Ron.
'Yeah,' said Arabella, 'but he's only saying that because Crouch disappeared near the Beauxbatons carriage.'
'We never thought of her, did we?' said Ron slowly. 'Mind you, she's definitely got giant blood, and she doesn't want to admit it-'
'Of course she doesn't,' said Hermione sharply, looking up. 'Look what happened to Hagrid when Rita found out about his mother. Look at Fudge, jumping to conclusions about her, just because she's part giant. Who needs that sort of prejudice? I'd probably say I had big bones if I knew that's what I'd get for telling the truth.'
Hermione looked at her watch. 'We haven't done any practicing!' she said, looking shocked. 'We were going to do the Impediment Curse! We'll have to really get down to it tomorrow! Come on. Harry, you need to get some sleep.'
Arabella and Hermione went slowly upstairs to their dormitories. As Arabella put on her night gown, she thought about the trial. She and Harry told Ron and Hermione all about it, except for Neville's parents. She will never know what it would be like to be Neville. Kassandra died remembering her face, and Sirius is alive. As much as she hates Bellatrix and the rest for what they did to Kassandra, she hated them even more for what they did to others. Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Rabastan, Barty Jr., they all deserved everything that's coming to they and more. Then she remembered that Barty Crouch Jr. had died a year later. It was all their faults, and Voldemort's. They just had to ruin everything.
Arabella, Ron and Hermione were supposed to be studying for their exams, which would finish on the day of the third task, but they were putting most of their efforts into helping Harry prepare.
'Don't worry about it,' Hermione said shortly when Harry pointed this out to them and said he didn't mind practicing on his own for a while, 'at least we'll get top marks in Defense Against the Dark Arts. We'd never have found out about all these hexes in class.'
'Good training for when we're all Aurors,' said Ron excitedly, attempting the Impediment Curse on a wasp that had buzzed into the room and making it stop dead in midair.
The mood in the castle as they entered June became excited and tense again. Everyone was looking forward to the third task, which would take place a week before the end of term. Harry was practicing hexes at every available moment with Arabella, Hermione and Ron helping him. Professor McGonagall had given them permission to use the empty Transfiguration classroom at lunchtimes. Harry had mastered the Impediment curse, Reductor Curse, and the Four-Point was still having trouble with the shield charm, though.
'You're still doing really well, though,' Hermione said encouragingly, looking down her list and crossing off those spells they had already learned. 'Some of these are bound to come in handy.'
'Come and look at this,' said Ron, who was standing by the window. He was staring down onto the grounds. 'What's Malfoy doing?'
Arabella, Harry, and Hermione went to see. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing in the shadow of a tree below. Crabbe and Goyle seemed to be keeping a lookout; both were smirking. Malfoy was holding his hand up to his mouth and speaking into it.
'He looks like he's using a walkie-talkie,' said Harry curiously.
'He can't be,' said Hermione, 'I've told you, those sorts of things don't work around Hogwarts. Come on, Harry,' she added briskly, turning away from the window and moving back into the middle of the room, 'let's try that Shield Charm again.'
Sirius and Remus were sending daily owls now. They seemed to want to concentrate on getting Harry through the last task before anything else. They reminded that whatever was going on outside the walls of Hogwarts were not Harry's responsibilities. They also kept encouraging him to do well and keep practicing.
On the morning of the third task, Arabella got up very early, unable to sleep the previous night. It was around five o'clock in the morning. Hermione was still fast asleep and she didn't want to wake her up. Arabella got dressed very quickly and headed down for breakfast.
The Great Hall was quieter than usual as not many people were up yet. The only people Arabella recognized at the Gryffindor table were Neville, Fred and George. She sat quietly next to Neville and ate some bacon.
'Excited?' said Fred, practically jumping up and down on his seat.
'Want us to paint your face?' said George.
'What?' said Arabella.
'Paint your face that says 'Potter' on your forehead,' said George. 'To show your support.'
'I could just be at the stands shouting Harry's name,' said Arabella.
'Yes, but with everyone shouting, Harry won't know whose name your shouting,' said Fred.
'Who else am I going to root for?' said Arabella.
'Black,' said a rough voice from behind them. It was Mad-Eye.
'Yes?' said Arabella.
'Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall wish to see you,' he said, nodding towards the door. 'It's about the third task.'
'Oh, I'll see you guys later,' said Arabella to Neville, Fred and George.
Arabella got up and followed Mad-Eye out the doors that lead to the Great Hall and followed him towards his office. They were walking quietly as Mad-Eye kept increasing his speed. He seemed to be in a rush.
'Why do they need to see me? Is it like the second task?' asked Arabella as they were getting closer to his office. They were by the One-Eyes Witch statue that was a couple feet away from Mad-Eye's office.
'Yes,' gruffed Mad-Eye. He opened the door to his office and held it for Arabella to get in.
Arabella entered his office but saw no one there. It was empty, except for Mad-Eye's things in there, which included the Foe-Glass mirror. Arabella looked at it and saw Mad-Eye, but… his features were changing? She turned around quickly and made a reach for her wand, but he was quicker.
'Where's Arabella?' asked Harry, looking around for her, just as Hermione left for the library.
'Moody said Dumbledore and McGonagall wanted to see her,' said Fred. 'Something about the third task.'
Professor McGonagall came walking alongside the Gryffindor table toward him.
'Potter, the champions are congregating in the chamber off the Hall after breakfast,' she said.
'But the task's not till tonight!' said Harry, accidentally spilling scrambled eggs down his front, afraid he had mistaken the time.
'I'm aware of that, Potter,' she said. 'The champions' families are invited to watch the final task, you know. This is simply a chance for you to greet them.' She moved away. Harry gaped after her.
'She doesn't expect the Dursleys to turn up, does she?' he asked Ron blankly.
'Dunno,' said Ron. 'Harry, I'd better hurry, I'm going to be late for Binns. See you later.'
Harry finished his breakfast in the emptying Great Hall. He saw Fleur Delacour get up from the Ravenclaw table and join Cedric as he crossed to the side chamber and entered. Krum slouched off to join them shortly afterward. Harry stayed where he was. He really didn't want to go into the chamber. He had no family - no family who would turn up to see him risk his life, anyway. But just as he was getting up, thinking that he might as well go up to the library and do a spot more hex research, the door of the side chamber opened, and Cedric stuck his head out.
'Harry, come on, they're waiting for you!'
Harry got up. He walked across the Hall and opened the door into the chamber. Cedric and his parents were just inside the door. Viktor Krum was over in a corner, conversing with his dark-haired mother and father in rapid Bulgarian. On the other side of the room, Fleur was jabbering away in French to her mother. Fleur's little sister, Gabrielle, was holding her mother's hand. She waved at Harry, who waved back, grinning. Then he saw Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Remus and a great black dog standing in front of the fireplace, beaming at him.
'Surprise!' Mrs. Weasley said excitedly as he smiled broadly and walked over to them. 'Thought we'd come and watch you. Harry!' She bent down and kissed him on the cheek.
'You all right?' said Bill, grinning at Harry and shaking his hand.
'Hello, Harry,' said Remus, also shaking his hand. Sirius got a playful bark and Harry gave him a pat on the head.
'This is really nice of you,' Harry said to all of them. 'I thought for a moment - the Dursleys -'
'Hmm,' said Mrs. Weasley, pursing her lips. She had always refrained from criticizing the Dursleys in front of Harry, but her eyes flashed every time they were mentioned.
'It's great being back here,' said Bill, looking around the chamber (Violet, the Fat Lady's friend, winked at him from her frame). 'Haven't seen this place for five years. Is that picture of the mad knight still around? Sir Cadogan?'
'Oh yeah,' said Harry, who had met Sir Cadogan the previous year.
'And the Fat Lady?' asked Bill.
'She was here in my time,' said Mrs. Weasley. 'She gave me such a telling off one night when I got back to the dormitory at four in the morning -'
'What were you doing out of your dormitory at four in the morning?' said Bill, surveying his mother with amazement.
Mrs. Weasley grinned, her eyes twinkling.
'Your father and I had been for a nighttime stroll,' she said. 'He got caught by Apollyon Pringle - he was the caretaker in those days - your father's still got the marks.'
'Fancy giving us a tour, Harry?' said Bill.
'Yeah, okay,' said Harry, and they made their way back toward the door into the Great Hall. As they passed Amos Diggory, he looked around.
'There you are, are you?' he said, looking Harry up and down.
'Bet you're not feeling quite as full of yourself now Cedric's caught you up on points, are you?'
'What?' said Harry.
'Ignore him,' said Cedric in a low voice to Harry, frowning after his father. 'He's been angry ever since Rita Skeeters article about the Triwizard Tournament – you know, when she made out you were the only Hogwarts champion.'
'Didn't bother to correct her, though, did he?' said Amos Diggory, loudly enough for Harry to hear as he started to walk out of the door with Mrs. Weasley and Bill. 'Still…you'll show him, Ced. Beaten him once before, haven't you?'
'Rita Skeeter goes out of her way to cause trouble, Amos!' Mrs. Weasley said angrily. 'I would have thought you'd know that, working at the Ministry!'
Mr. Diggory looked as though he was going to say something angry, but his wife laid a hand on his arm, and he merely shrugged and turned away.
Harry had a very enjoyable morning walking over the sunny grounds with Bill, Mrs Weasley, Remus and Sirius, showing them the Beauxbatons carriage and the Drumstrang ship. Mrs Weasley was intrigued by the Whomping Willow as Remus and Sirius stayed a good distance away from it.
'How's Percy?' Harry asked as they walked around the greenhouses.
'Not good,' said Bill.
'He's very upset,' said Mrs. Weasley, lowering her voice and glancing around. 'The Ministry wants to keep Mr. Crouch's disappearance quiet, but Percy's been hauled in for questioning about the instructions Mr. Crouch has been sending in. They seem to think there's a chance they weren't genuinely written by him. Percy's been under a lot of strain. They're not letting him fill in for Mr. Crouch as the fifth judge tonight. Cornelius Fudge is going to be doing it.'
They returned to the castle for lunch.
'Mum – Bill – Pro, I mean, Remus!' said Ron, looking stunned, as he joined the Gryffindor table. 'What're you doing here?'
'Come to watch Harry in the last task!' said Mrs. Weasley brightly. 'I must say, it makes a lovely change, not having to cook. How was your exam?'
'Oh…okay,' said Ron. 'Couldn't remember all the goblin rebels' names, so I invented a few. It's all right,' he said, helping himself to a Cornish pasty, while Mrs. Weasley looked stern, 'they're all called stuff like Bodrod the Bearded and Urg the Unclean; it wasn't hard.'
'Where's Arabella?' asked Remus, looking around for her. Sirius was also looking around, while also chasing his tail a bit. Some third years were giggling at his antics.
Fred, George, Ginny and Neville came to sit next to them too, and Harry was having such a good time he felt almost as though he was back at the Burrow, he just wished Arabella was there. He almost had forgotten to worry about the evening's task, and not until Hermione turned up, half-way through lunch, did he remember that she had had a brainwave about Rita Skeeter.
'Are you going to tell us -?'
Hermione shook her head warningly and glanced at Mrs. Weasley.
'Hello, Hermione,' said Mrs. Weasley, much more stiffly than usual.
'Hello,' said Hermione, her smile faltering at the cold expression on Mrs. Weasley's face.
Harry looked between them, then said, 'Mrs. Weasley, you didn't believe that rubbish Rita Skeeter wrote in Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione's not my girlfriend.'
'Yeah,' said Neville, absentmindedly. 'It's Arabella. They were kissing in the common room.'
'What?!' said most of the people around Neville.
'Neville!' hissed Harry. 'You weren't supposed to tell anyone!'
'But I thought that was only something Rita Skeeter was making up,' said Remus, looking like a gapping fish. Sirius was temporarily stunned and was staring at Harry with big grey eyes.
'Is it true?' asked Ginny, smiling a bit.
'Why didn't you tell us?' said Hermione, looking quite furious.
'Well, technical she said no,' said Harry, uncertain, 'but we're not sure?'
'What does that mean?' said Ron, looking confused.
'I don't know,' said Harry, kind of hating Neville at the moment. 'We're not together, we're together. It's confusing.'
'Then why does Neville know before us?' said Hermione, talking fast. 'No offense, Neville.'
'He walked in when we kissed,' said Harry, not looking at anyone.
Beside him, Sirius growled.
'Where is she?' said Hermione, looking around the Great Hall for Arabella. 'I'd like to give her a piece of my mind.'
'Dumbledore and McGonagall wanted to see her,' said Harry, 'something about the third task. Can we please talk about something else?'
They, of course, ignored him and bombarded him with questions. Sirius refused to look him in the eyes and Remus was really quiet as he stared at his food with a small frown. Mrs Weasley was considerably warmer to Hermione but was quite mad at Harry that he didn't tell them. Hermione was also mad, but Ron, Ginny, George, Fred, Bill, and Neville were happily talking about the money they were getting from people and giving to others.
They ate through lunch and stay there for the evening feast. Ludo Bagman and Cornelius Fudge had joined the staff table now. Bagman looked quite cheerful, but Cornelius Fudge, who was sitting next to Madame Maxime, looked stern and was not talking. Madame Maxime was concentrating on her plate, and Harry thought her eyes looked red. Hagrid kept glancing along the table at her.
There were more courses than usual, but Harry, who was starting to feel really nervous now, didn't eat much. As the enchanted ceiling overhead began to fade from blue to a dusky purple, Dumbledore rose to his feet at the staff table, and silence fell.
'Ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes' time, I will be asking you to make your way down to the Quidditch field for the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the stadium now.'
Harry got up. The Gryffindors all along the table were applauding him; the Weasleys, Remus, Hermione and Neville all wished him good luck as Sirius licked his hand and barked happily. Harry headed off out of the Great Hall with Cedric, Fleur, and Victor for the third and final task.
Arabella suddenly woke up and gasped. She was tied to something hard and cold very tightly. She let out a scream when she tried to move against the ropes. Her left arm was broken and it seemed like her right ankle was broken or twisted, either way, it hurts. The sky seemed to be setting, so she was able to see her surroundings a bit. The first thing she noticed was the glowing trophy that was in front of her. It was glowing blue and the word 'TRIWIZARD CHAMPION!' was engraved on it. Then she noticed that she was in a graveyard and was tied to a very large headstone.
'Good, you're awake!' said a cheerful rough voice walking from behind her.
Arabella tried to turn around, but could see the person. He walked in her eye sight and her eyes almost popped out. It was Barty Crouch Jr.
'You!' she gasped.
'Me,' he said, smirking.
'You're supposed to be dead!'
'Change in circumstances,' he said shrugging.
'What do you want?' spat out Arabella.
He ignored her question and stepped closer to her, and closer and closer until their noses were almost touching. It was too close for her liking. The ideal distance Arabella thought they should be was her standing on land and he buried fifty feet under. She turned away as he kept staring at her, looking at every single inch of her. He made motions to touch her, but just hovered his right hand over her. It seemed like he was waiting to do this properly for a long time.
'You look remarkably like her,' he whispered, tilting his head to one side.
Arabella could feel his breath on her. He really needed to brush his teeth or something.
'Did you know that?' he said.
'Yes,' she said. 'Everybody always says that.'
'Not your mother,' he spat out, taking a step back. 'Her. You look exactly like her, except for the eyes, hers was blue.'
'I don't know who you're talking about,' said Arabella, turning back to him. 'Why am I here? What do you want? Why aren't you dead? Where's the real Mad-Eye?'
'You'll find out soon,' said Crouch.
He then started to talk, but not directly at Arabella. He seemed to be reminiscing about something. He was very vague.
'He did always have something of a sweet spot for your mother. She was quite ruthless, always willing to prove herself, didn't help that she also spread her legs, too' said Crouch, smiling.
'What the hell are you talking about?' said Arabella, furious.
'Nobody really saw her that much,' continued Crouch, ignoring Arabella. 'They usually talked to each other privately. We only saw her on occasions when we had to attack. She would have made a good Death Eater, if only she wasn't on Dumbledore's side, and pregnant with you. Shame really.'
'Are you done?' said Arabella. 'Cause it's getting kind of boring, listening to you blabber –'
Barty grabbed her jaw painfully and looked furious before smiling.
'Word of advice, Black, just say yes. Your life would be easier,' he said, letting go of her jaw and walking toward the glowing trophy.
'The chances of my life being easy are slim to none,' said Arabella.
Barty laughed before turning back to her.
'Just sit back, relax, and pray that somehow Potter manages to save your life,' he said. 'He'll just some waltzing in, save your life and live happily ever after,' he added mockingly. 'You'll be the damsel in distress while he'll be the knight and shining armour.' He then let out a barking laugh
'I don't need a boy handling my shit,' Arabella shot back. 'I am capable of being my own 'knight and shining armour'.'
Barty laughed again.
'Black, you're tied to a headstone, your arm's broken, so is your leg, and you don't have a wand. Tell me, how are you going to get out of this?'
Arabella said nothing, but just glared at him. She hoped that the longed she concentrated, the more chances of him bursting into flames.
'I'll see you in a couple hours, Black,' said Barty. 'Dead or alive, I'll see you later.'
Barty gave a mocking wave before touching the handles of the trophy and disappearing in front of her eyes. It was a Portkey.
Arabella was alone and was feeling chilly. She didn't know what was happening. All of a sudden, Barty Crouch Jr. is alive and pretending to be Mad-Eye. It was most likely on Voldemort's orders, but nobody knows where he is. Kassandra was definitely a Death Eater, but most likely in the early stages before they were branded, and she was close to Voldemort. This all made sense to Arabella, even if she didn't like it, but everybody kept talk about this mystery girl that she didn't know. All she knew was that Remus called her 'Arry', she looked like Arabella, but with blue eyes (if Crouch was talking about the same person) and something really bad happened to make people stop talking about her.
Arabella wanted to not be kept in the dark anymore. She just wanted answers, but now she just wanted to go back to Hogwarts. She stayed there silently, watching the sunset and hoped that her wishes were somehow answered.
Thank you for reading! The part with Arabella and Barty happens sometime before Harry goes and gets ready for the third task. So, while he's eating dinner with everyone, it happens. And I also wanted to thank because I couldn't think of a way for Arabella to get to the graveyard. Thank you so much!