The Second Task
"Harry Potter, sir!"
Harry Potter was startled awake to find tiny fists tugging at his bedclothes, a pair of rather big eyes staring straight at him and two big, batlike ears accompanying the high-pitched voice that had shrieked his name. Blinking a couple of times, and searching for his spectacles on his nightstand with his left hand, Harry realised that Dobby the house-elf was standing above him.
The unruly raven haired teen pulled on his glasses as his inquired in a disbelieving voice, "Dobby? What are you doing here?"
The house-elf looked quite alarmed at this, and reached for the book on the floor, proceeding to whack him repeatedly on the head with it. Harry winced empathically- Neville's copy of Magical Mediterranean Water Plants and Their Properties was a thick book-
Harry stared at the book, gob smacked. How could he have been so blind? Neville's book on water-related stuff had been right in front of him the whole time!
'I wonder how Hermione missed it!' Harry thought quirking an eyebrow. He then turned to Dobby, snatched the book away and asked, "What time is it?" followed by a yawn and a smile; he was in good mood. Now that he had found Neville's book, he would be able to find a way to breathe underwater by tomorrow morning!
"Eight O'clock, Harry Potter, sir!" calmed the squeaky reply. Harry's smile grew bigger- it was only eight at night! He would have all night to get prepared…
It was only then that Harry noticed the beams of sunlight streaming through his dormitory window.
"Eight o'clock as in eight in the morning?" cried Harry desperately. Dobby nodded, and Harry cringed.
His good mood had just been ungratefully chucked out the window.
"Harry Potter! Anyone for Harry Potter, folks? Place your bets!"
Parvati frowned at the Weasley twins whom were walking around the stands, asking people to place bets on the four Champions. That was so careless of them! Of course, she already knew Harry was going to win. She had consulted Professor Trelawney about it yesterday.
Fred and George Weasley started to come down her aisle in the grand stands near the school lake, where the second Triwizard tournament would soon be starting. The redheaded twins came up to Lavender and Parvati, winked at them and George said, "Hello there, ladies. Harry Potter is a sure-fire hit to win this task, according to our trustful bookie." Fred jerked a thumb to his best friend Lee Jordan, the boy who did the Quidditch commentary, whom gave Parvati and Lavender a cheery wave. George then continued courteously, "So, would either of you beauties like to place a bet?"
Lavender blushed prettily and giggled flirtatiously, while Parvati rummaged in her jacket pocket, hiding her slight blush whilst fishing for some money. She pulled out seven sickles.
"I'll place seven sickles on Harry Potter then," she said firmly, handing over the silver coins to Fred, who raised an eyebrow at the small bet. Parvati challenged him by saying, "Don't look at me like that! I don't normally carry around bags of knuts!"
Fred seemed to mull this over before happily taking the money. However, Parvati was not finished. She had remembered what she had been thinking before, about them being so careless. "You guys should really be more careful and not be so public about the betting thing," she added in a quieter voice as though they were in some sort of conspiracy.
"Yeah," chimed in Lavender, flicking back her long brown tresses, "We heard some French girls had a betting pool and they got sooo busted. Like, totally busted."
The twins looked alarmed. Lavender Brown, according to Ron, who got it from Hermione, who shared a dorm with the pretty witch, always had the latest gossip, and at times could be a trustworthy source. The twins shared a glance, before turning to the girls, giving them another wink and saying, "Farewell, ladies. Thanks for the tip!"
Lavender turned to Parvati and sighed dreamily. "Twins are so hot!" she squealed. Parvati mimed gagging.
"Excuse, Lavender," she said exasperatedly, "Do you forget who you're talking to? I'm a twin!"
"Oh!" exclaimed Lavender, falling into a fit of giggles, which made Parvati laugh loudly.
"Oh, no! Dobby, what am I going to do?" cried Harry, as he quickly changed his clothes. He was in such a rush that he nearly put his sock over his shoe instead of his shoe over his sock. He glanced up at the house-elf, who cried out:
"Dobby is coming here to help Harry Potter! Dobby had Gillyweed, sir! Dobby is helping Harry Potter for he is the greatest and noblest of all wizards…"
Harry shot the ranting house-elf a quizzical look before interrupting him, "What's Gillyweed, Dobby? How's it going to help me?"
Dobby then (after trying to hit himself over the head again with Neville's herbology book for not telling Harry what Gillyweed was straight away) explained how the plant could help Harry.
Harry snatched the gillyweed with a cry of "Thanks, Dobby!" before raced down his dorm staircase, out the portrait hole and sped towards the lake.
Harry was nearly out of breath as he reached the marshalling area. Cedric Diggory grinned at him. "Overslept, did you?" he asked cheerfully.
Harry nodded his mouth quirking into a smile. Ever since the first task, Cedric and Harry had become good friends.
"Let me guess," said Harry, "You're a morning person?"
"Yeah," replied the handsome boy. He then came closer to Harry and whispered, "Did the bath help you?"
Harry nodded. "Thanks so much, I would have been completely lost without you!"
Cedric waved away this comment, his grey eyes suddenly filling with worry. "I haven't seen Cho all morning, and she's not in the stands…I don't suppose you've seen her?"
Harry frowned, "No, I'm afraid I haven't seen anyone this morning, not even Hermione or Ron…"
"Do you think-?" started Cedric, but whatever he was about task Harry would never know, for suddenly Cedric was interrupted by the booming voice of Ludo Bagman.
"Would the four Champions please make their way towards the edge of the lake? The second Triwizard task starts in five minutes!"
Cedric, Fleur Delacour, Viktor Krum and Harry all walked over to the edge of the lake; where some important-looking officials were looking…well, official and important.
Cedric gave Harry an encouraging smile and a thumbs-up, and Harry nodded and smiled back. Cedric was actually a decent bloke. Maybe he and Harry could remain friends after this had all finished…
Harry looked up to where Mr. Bagman was seated in the stands. He scanned the crowd for anyone he knew…A little to the right Harry saw Seamus, Dean, Neville and Ron. He waved up at them, and they waved back. Along the same row, a little way away, Lavender Brown and Pavarti Patil were talking and laughing about something. Before Harry could get a chance to wave, although, Ludo bagman annoying encroached again.
"Silence, Everyone, the second task of the Triwizard Tournament is about to begin!"
There were a few cheers amid the hushing of excited whispers in the stands.
Harry gulped nervously. Mayhap he should not have eaten his breakfast so quickly this morning…
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls," Ludo continued in his thunderous voice, "Down at the bottom of the lake lies something the champions will miss most."
Ludo paused for dramatic effect, and the whispering in the stands grew louder. The air around Harry suddenly became thick with tension. He saw Fleur ask worriedly, "You don't theenk they 'ave taken our famille down zere, non?"
Ludo's next statement quelled Fleurs' questioning.
"Now, we could not just bring our champions family members without some sort of consent, so we used the Champions Yule Ball dates…of course, slipping them all a Sleeping Draught before they could actually realise what they were in for."
Many people screamed in outrage. The Triwizard Officials didn't even ask for people's consent to be dumped underwater?!
Harry was frowning, though. His Yule Ball date, Pavarti Patil, was up in the stands…
Ludo Bagman cleared his throat awkwardly, booming over the voices, "The Champions have one hour to regain what has been taken from them. Good luck!"
All of a sudden, a whistle blew, signalling the start of the task. Looking uneasily at the green seaweed-like substance in his left hand, Harry popped it in his mouth and began to chew, ignoring the rubbery wet taste. Once Harry had eaten the Gillyweed, he dived into the ice-cold water, swimming deeper and deeper, and his form began to change…
Harry realised a split second later that he could suddenly breathe underwater. He had gills! He tried to touch them, only to find he had webbed hands and feet.
"Wicked!" Harry exclaimed, but all that came out of his mouth was a bubble.
Suddenly remembering the task, Harry kept a swimming in the murky water. He dodged a few lingering Grindylows and fumbled his way through masses of long seaweed. It seemed to take an age to get to the bottom of the lake. Harry was scratched a few times from rocks he did not see, but they were only minor scrapes.
Finally, Harry made it. Ironically, enough, at the exact same time, Fleur, Cedric and Krum had also arrived. Fleur had performed some sort of charm on her face so she could breathe through a bubble, while Krum had transfigured his head into that of a shark, and Cedric had done the same as Fleur. The four of them were all standing in front of an army of Merpeople.
The mermaids and mermen were ugly creatures, stained yellow teeth accentuated by their beady yellow eyes with grotesque ashen skin and each glaring fiercely at the four of them. The Merpeople were holding spears, some threateningly. They were singing a mournful tune:
'An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took…'
Fleur tried to swim past them, but they held her back, almost stabbing her straight through her chest with their spears. Her expression was incredulous and horrified as she screamed (the bubble enabled her to speak and let them hear, somehow) in French, "Merde!" Harry had a fair idea what she had screamed aloud, and could not blame her- these mer-folk were downright creepy! A jagged rock suddenly caught his eye as the Merpeople continued singing.
'…you time's half-gone, so tarry not
Lest what you seek stays here to rot…'
Harry's eyes widened as he picked up the rock with his webbed hands clumsily. 'I hope that they weren't serious when they said that they leave them to rot!'
Harry aimed the rock and threw it, grinning as he heard the dull thunk of it hitting a merman's head. Taking Harry's lead, Cedric and Krum started to pelt the Merpeople with rocks.
Their plan of action was working, it seemed, for the mermaids and mermen were backing away, unsuccessfully shielding themselves from the stones as they hissed in their odd language. Harry, Cedric, Fleur and Krum then darted forward towards what the sea creatures had been hiding from them.
There, unconscious, tied with flimsy pieces of rope, were the captives: Roger Davies, Hermione Granger, Cho Chang and…
Harry pushed his glasses further up his nose. Maybe he really did need his prescription checked! Harry dog-paddled forwards over to Padma, ignoring Cedric bumping into his shoulder as the handsome boy tried to undo the ropes binding Cho.
Upon closer inspection, Harry confirmed that it was Padma, Parvati's twin sister. She had a smaller, finer nose than Parvati and a tiny beauty spot above her lip. Harry could also see the Ravenclaw crest on her Hogwarts uniform.
Using another sharp rock, Harry cut his way through the ropes and grabbed the floating Padma around her waist. Beside him, Cedric had gotten to his girlfriend Cho, Fleur had gotten to Davies and Krum had somehow managed to use his shark teeth to get through Hermione's ropes without biting her in half.
Something inside of Harry did a funny jolt. Without another moment to lose, Harry, Cedric, Krum and Fleur, holding onto their Yule Ball dates, raced each other to the surface, the thrill of the chase pushing Harry to go faster and faster…pushing Harry to win.
Ron clapped Harry on the back good-naturedly, grinning.
"I can't believe you won!"
"I tied Ron, with Cedric, it's a complete difference!" Harry replied, although he too was grinning. They were back at their dormitory, and it was now well past midnight; the Gryffindor's had put in a marvellous celebration in honour of Harry's victory. Harry was quite tired from all the day's events.
Ron got a dreamy look in his eye. "It would have been so cool to be down there," he muttered wistfully, shooting Harry a glance.
The green-eyed-teenager smiled. "I don't think Hermione would agree with you."
Hermione had been teased mercilessly by the Weasley twins for being the one that Viktor Krum would miss until she'd finally snapped. She had retorted to them coolly, "Well, if you insist on teasing me so much, I'll just have to give the tickets for Bulgaria's next game that Viktor gave me away…which is quite horrible for you two, as there's only two tickets left in the world."
Fred and George had then proceeded to try and suck up to Hermione all night, making her feel quite smug indeed.
As Harry mulled over the day's events, a silence had come between his redheaded-best-friend and he.
"So," started Ron into the silence, his tone awkward, "You and Parvati, eh?"
Harry frowned. "Parvati and I what?"
"Well…" replied Ron, "You guys went to the Yule Ball…and you guys kissed…" As Ron said his next statement, he laughed, "And her twin sister got mistaken as her for the person you'd miss the most…"
Harry raised an eyebrow. He deliberately had not told anyone so word would not get out. If Rita Skeeter the Daily Prophet reporter found out about his relationship with Parvati, all hell would break loose. "What's your point, Ron?" he asked impatiently.
"I - erm - well - " Ron stuttered, his ears going red in embarrassment as he lowered his voice, "Do…do you fancy her?"
Harry was genuinely shocked by this question. He and Ron had never had this type of conversation before!
The green-eyed-teenager thought about Ron's question before answering.
"I'm not quite sure if I fancy Parvati."
"Do you fancy Cho Chang?"
"I don't think so…You know what? No, I don't fancy Cho anymore. I just think I liked her for a bit because, well, she's very…pretty…"
"She's also got huge knockers."
"What? Can't a decent bloke notice these things?"
"Well…I suppose so…"
"Parvati's also got huge-"
"RON! FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN, WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT UP?!"
Ron suddenly grinned broadly, before collapsing into peals of laughter. "You do fancy her!" he cried, holding his sides as he laughed.
Harry did not know whether to smile, frown, agree, or object.
Maybe he really did fancy Parvati Patil.