*Hidden room*Hogwarts school*January 10, 1995*
'Think of transformation,' the smell of fresh fruit started to feel the room, bereft of anything save for a teen, 'Tell you aura what you want it to do, make it obey you conscious mind'
The words of the Alchemist's wife, Perenelle Flamel, the writer of 'Manipulating the Energies' floated through Harry's mind.
'The only limit for aura manipulation is how lively you are and how creative' young children could defeat old men in this field, if not for the one drawback.
'A strong mind and will is needed, something only the most headstrong, stubborn and simple minded children have, but that adults set in their ways have no problem to achieve.'
'It took a century for the Flamels to master this magic' Harry thought, 'they were pioneers, and I am indirectly learning from them'
Ancients would be better, nothing more effective than learning something from the creators, but most of them, according to the afterword of the book, lived in their own realms in the branches of the Yggdrasil, accessible only by contacting Hecate, the Ever Changing.
'Forcing your own body to change by using your aura is less risky than animagic, but no less hard, maybe harder' but he had a talent for that, already he could feel his lungs and neck changing.
'I only want gills and lungs, a diving suit stitched with my heating circle will keep warm' he would not change too much, not without delving deeper into his mind, not without first meeting his inner animal and making it submit.
'The hardest changes are inter-realm, from mammal to anything else, especially difficult when you try to go directly to animals with no bone structure,' He had been practicing for two weeks now, and only the barest of changes was possible, something hard to believe when he had mastered both alchemic brewing and alchemic circles in three years.
Not even the most basic of Aura Manipulation was available to him yet, he could not produce an energy bolt.
Harry was basically skipping half the book that Perenelle had written.
He would visit them after he finished this school year, Nicholas had added their address at the back of the last book, and they were currently living in Mexico City, where no one would notice them, one of the few Megalopolis of the world.
Harry would have to be fast though, as the last piece of mail he had sent to them, he sent them letters whenever he was confused by something in the books, each contained a different address, they moved neighborhood every two years, said that by the end of the year they would be moving to San Francisco.
That gave him a week during the summer if he managed to change his return tickets to something earlier.
'Think exactly of what you want to achieve; do you want wet air or do you want a thick mist? A fire for cooking or a fire for burning enemies? Water for drinking or water for swimming? Everything must be clear. Not thinking properly can be your downfall'
'Gills and lungs, gills and lungs' suddenly he felt as if he only had half his needed oxygen.
A giant pool, one half filled with seaweeds appeared in the middle of the room, and Harry jumped into it, feeling how the water that came into his mouth came out from the gills that had grown on his neck.
Good, he had it done, now he had to hold it for an hour and go back to an absolute normal.
He was not the only champion that had discovered what the second task would be, Longbottom had received a slimy package from his grandmother, Krum had been seen swimming in the lake with only his swimming trunks on, Diggory and Delaour were seen studying together in the library, pointing out things to each other.
He was sure that he and Krum would be first and second, depending on who had the best transformation and the fastest propulsion.
What would be better; self-transfiguration or Aura Change?
So now it was only stamina training for Harry as he doubted that Victor Krum, a participant in one of the longest quidditch matches of the world cup, was not able to swim for as long as an hour, especially at a respectable speed considering that he transformed into a tiger shark.
Coming out of the water, Harry wished for a diving suit with his personalized heating circle, the room providing, and once again thanking the founders of the castle for creating a room that displaced time, even if it was only to a rate of 0.5:1, meaning that half an hour outside was one full one inside.
So Harry could be practicing for six hours and still find his friends in the agreed spot, three hours after he left them.
Best part was that according to the manual of the room, pretty neat to get one when he asked for it, his own body clock was still tuned to the time passed outside the room, so he would not grow old prematurely.
Back to training.
Victor Krum considered himself very patient.
He had, after all, withstood a chase for the snitch for ten hours, taking no breaks except for taking a pepper up and a muscle loosening potion, then a two hour long press and autograph session, followed by the after party, and then the wait, unwarranted, for the portkey that would take him back to his home in Bulgaria.
However, even he had his limits, and through the week he had been dangerously close to breaking them.
Fangirls were a worldwide phenomena, he had encountered them everywhere, and while there were some fans he actually liked: the red-haired girl four years younger than him in the house of the red lion, with whom he discussed seeker moves, or the red-haired twins only a year behind him, who liked to play pranks on his school mates, using him as a alibi.
But fangirls were not something he liked, especially when he could hear them while he tried to train himself to stand the cold of the lake and two hours of surface swimming, and since he refused to speak to them since he needed complete focus.
It was not as cold as the waters that he had swam in back home, waters that were just below freezing temperature, whereas here there were two or three degrees above it, not even ice had formed.
Still, he was not above a human, he could not stand this cold without his fur coat, he was not a Russian, he had seen students of Durmstrang that ran around on their underwear during the winter for fun, and one who had sat in a tub of water on the outside of the fortress like it was a hot tub.
Still, he did not have it as hard as the French girl, who according to his knowledge was a fire creature, and would probably flunk out the task.
That made the Mexican boy and the older English one the biggest threats during their hour inside the lake.
Neville was not the smartest, but when he had, with a clue from Cedric Diggory, discovered that the second task would involve swimming under the black lake, he had referred to his personal herbs and fungi journal and looked for anything that might help him.
A whole day later he had found the entry he had done on gillyweed, a plant with the ability to turn the person that ingested it into a half-human-half fish hybrid, with the ability to be at home in the water, with the unfortunate side effect that he could not leave the water until the effects wore off, as that would lead to asphyxiation in the same way as a fish out of the water.
He was also not physically fit, but another effect was that during the effect he would get the metabolism of a fish that size, meaning that he would be able to swim at a good speed without getting TOO tired unless he pushed himself too much.
Still, if he had the same luck as when he had stumbled on Ginny when she was about to enter the second floor girl's bathroom, preventing her from opening the chamber again and throw herself in, or when he had discovered that Ron's rat was actually a traitor from the Order of the Phoenix, therefore allowing Sirius Black a chance, taken away, for freedom, he was sure he could make it through the task.
Too bad his grandmother hadn't been able to gather the support needed to get the man a trial, but he was out of prison, away from the government and willing to tell him stories about both his parents.
Maybe he should tell the man that Harry Potter was at Hogwarts.
Yeah, he probably should.
"What about the bubble head charm? If it works with potion gasses then it could work under water" Cedric pointed at said spell.
"It may work, but zhe, vhat's zhe word? Buoyancy? Zhe extra flotation would make it hard to go underwater," Cedric nodded at Fleur's words.
"But what if we put a weighting charm on our clothes to counter that?"
"Zhere still is zhe air supply to consider, vhat if we run out of air before we reach the hostages?"
"Maybe a freshening charm to keep the air inside the bubble fresh, with air on our faces we can still cast properly."
"Zhat may work," Fleur started to gather her stuff, "Until the next task," she said, leaving their table.
Cedric could not help but notice how her hips swayed as she left the library.
Good thing his father had taught him some basic occlumency.
"How is the plan going?"
"It goes well milord, the Potter boy and the Longbottom boy are doing well in their studies, they should have no problem reaching the end of the maze."
"Make sure one of them gets there first"
"I will master, I already have a plan to get rid of all but those too"
"Then see to it, I will be waiting."
"By your leave milord"