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Chapter 6 : Nearing the Third Task
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“Harry, could I haff a vord?” Harry looked behind him to see Viktor Krum. They had all just learned about the last task on the Quidditch Pitch, and Harry was about to leave.
“Why?” Harry asked coldly. Viktor Krum wasn’t exactly his favorite person.
“Vell, I vant to talk to you about Hermy-own-ninny.”
“Who…Hermione?” Harry asked, figuring out what Krum meant.
“Yes,” Krum nodded.
Harry hesitated, but then said, “All right then.” He began walking with Krum, who then proceeded to speak.
“I’m sorry,” Krum apologized. “I did not know that you and Hermy-own-ninny vere going out.”
“Weren’t you at the Yule Ball?” Harry asked acidly.
“I left right after ve finished dancing,” Krum explained. “I don’t like social things very much.”
This did not surprise Harry, and Harry found himself feeling that he should accept Krum’s apology.
“It’s all right,” Harry sighed. “Just…” Harry looked up at Krum, who was much larger than her, and gulped. He didn’t want to sound threatening.
“I vill not ask her again,” Krum said, shaking out his hand as if making a pact. Harry shook it, but then leapt as someone came out from behind a tree.
“Mr. Crouch?” Harry asked in disbelief, staring at the man who looked as if he had just rolled in the mud. What was Mr. Crouch doing here?
“He’s dead?” Hermione asked, clearly in shock, as Harry explained how Mr. Crouch had gone insane, talked about something he had done wrong, and been killed when Harry went in search of Dumbledore for help.
“Yeah,” said Harry, while tying a letter he had written to Sirius onto an owl. “And Krum was knocked out when we came back.”
“So either Mr. Crouch attacked Krum or somebody else attacked both of them.”
“Or Krum could’ve attacked Crouch,” Ron said. When Hermione and Harry stared at him he said, “What?”
“Be reasonable, Ron,” Hermione groaned. “What do you think happened to Mr. Crouch? He melted?”
“Right…” said Ron, clearly embarrassed.
“He also said…” Harry hesitated, worried about how the two would react – especially Hermione.
“What?” Hermione prompted.
“He said Voldemort is getting stronger,” Harry said dully.
“No!” Hermione cried, gasping and placing a hand over her mouth.
Ron looked stunned, but then said, “Well, we knew it was going to happen, didn’t we? I mean, Wormtail escaped…all those mysterious deaths…”
“But we didn’t realize that it would happen so soon,” Hermione said weakly, leaning up against a wall to support herself.
“Are you okay?” Harry asked her, looking worried. “I shouldn’t have told you, I’m sorry.”
This made Hermione snap her head angrily. “Don’t you dare say that,” she told Harry. “Never try to protect me from the truth just because you think it might hurt me. You know I’m stronger than that.”
“I know,” said Harry, placing an arm around her shoulder. “I just…worry.”
Hermione gave a little laugh. “I think I have more of a right to worry, what with the Third Task and…and everything else.”
“I wish you didn’t,” Harry whispered.
“So do I,” Hermione replied softly. At this, Ron gave a little cough, clearly uncomfortable with the fact that his two best friends looked as if they were about to fall to the floor and snog.
“You were okay with us last night,” Harry told Ron. “A bit too upfront, actually.”
“I didn’t see anything then,” Ron told the couple. “I just saw Hermione’s hair.” He smiled evilly at Hermione.
“Cute, Ron,” Hermione said with a roll of her eyes, but also smiling. “Very cute.
“Now, Harry,” Hermione said, “I think that we should work on preparing you for the Third Task. We can look up spells you need and practice them in spare classrooms. I already talked to Professor McGonagall and McGonagall had given them permission to use the Transfiguration classroom during lunches and after school.”
Harry stared at her. “You already have this all figured out?”
“Somebody had to,” Hermione replied with a slight shrug. “So, I was thinking we’ll work on the stunning spells,” Hermione told the two as they walked back from the owlery. “And I also discovered a spell that will show you were north is.”
“You discovered a spell?” Ron asked in awe.
“A very simple one,” Hermione reassured him. She took out her own wand, placed it in the palm of her hand, and demonstrated. “Point me.” The want spun and then stood still, pointing to her right.
“That’s amazing,” said Ron.
“And extremely useful,” Harry pointed out. “Considering the next task is a maze.”
“I figured as much,” Hermione said, pocketing her wand. “We can also work on some curses I’ve been looking up while in the library.”
“Hermione?” Harry asked. “What about your exams? You have been studying for those, right?”
“Well, honestly, no,” Hermione told him. At Harry’s expression she exclaimed, “Well, I’m more worried about you, Harry!”
“She could fail all the exams and they’d still pass her,” Ron said.
“True,” Harry said, “but I still want you to study. Both of you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Hermione said. “I’m more concerned about you.”
“I wasn’t planning on studying that much anyway,” Ron reassured Harry. Harry’s solemn face broke into a grin.
“Just breathe Harry,” Hermione told Harry at breakfast the day of the first task. “You will be fine. All right?” Hermione bent over and was about to give Harry a kiss when an owl flew in and dropped the Daily Prophet on her head.
“Ow,” she said, rubbing it. She opened the newspaper, took a sip from her goblet, looked at the front page, and then spat out her pumpkin juice.
“What?” Ron asked.
“It’s nothing,” Hermione said, trying to move the newspaper away, but Ron was too quick for her and grabbed it out of her hands. He stared at the paper and burst out, “How dare she!”
“What is it?” Harry asked annoyed. “It’s Rita Skeeter again, isn’t it?”
“No,” said Ron immediately. Harry snatched the paper from Ron before he could hide it and read:
‘Disturbed and Dangerous’
The boy who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is unstable and possible dangerous, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. Alarming evidence has recently come to light about Harry Potter's strange behavior, which casts doubts upon his suitability to compete in a demanding competition like the Triwizard Tournament, or even to attend Hogwarts School.
Potter, the Daily Prophet can exclusively reveal, regularly collapses at school, and is often heard to complain of pain in the scar on his forehead (relic of the curse with which You-Know-Who attempted to kill him). On Monday last, midway through a Divination lesson, your Daily Prophet reported witnessed Potter storming from the class, claiming that his scar was hurting too badly to continue studying.
It is possible, say top experts at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, that Potter's brain was affected by the attack inflicted upon him that You-Know-Who, and that his insistence that the scar is still hurting is an expression of his deep-seated confusion.
"He might even be pretending," said one specialist. "This could be a plea for attention."
The Daily Prophet, however, has unearthed worrying facts about Harry Potter that Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, has carefully concealed from the wizarding public.
"Potter can speak Parseltongue," reveals Draco Malfoy, a Hogwarts fourth year. "There were a lot of attacks on students a couple of years ago, and most people thought Potter was behind them after they saw him lose his temper at a dueling club and set a snake of another boy. It was all hushed up, though. But he's made friends with werewolves and giants too. We think he'd do anything for a bit of power."
Parseltongue, the ability to converse with snakes, has long been considered a Dark Art. Indeed, the most famous Parselmouth of our times is none other than You-Know-Who himself. A member of the Dark Force Defense League, who wished to remain unnamed, stated that he would regard any wizard who could speak Parseltongue "as worth of investigation. Personally, I would be highly suspicious of anybody who could converse with snakes, as serpents are often used in the worst kinds of Dark Magic, and are historically associated with evildoers." Similarly, "anyone who seeks out the company of such vicious creatures as werewolves and giants would appear to have a fondness for violence."
Albus Dumbledore should surely consider whether a boy such as this should be allowed to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Some fear that Potter might resort to the Dark Arts in his desperation to win the tournament, the third task of which takes place this evening.”
Harry tried to make the best of the situation and joked that she was being better than normal. Ron and Hermione, however were worried, and immediately questioned how Rita Skeeter had seen him when he had collapsed a week before from a horrible dream in Divination.
“I opened the window,” Harry shrugged, trying to see if his stomach could handle a bit of toast.
“She couldn’t have heard from the ground!” Hermione protested.
“You’re the one who’s supposed to find out how she’s magically bugging Harry,” Ron told Hermione.
“I’ve been a bit busy,” Hermione snapped. “I've been helping Harry, remember? But I…but…” Hermione’s face went oddly blank as she ran her fingers through her bushy locks.
“What’s up?” Ron asked.
“I…” Hermione started, but stopped immediately as she put her hand to her mouth, as if holding something to it. Harry and Ron looked at one another in disbelief. Even Harry was getting a tad weirded out.
“I think I know what she did…” Hermione whispered. “I think…I mean, no one would be able to…Moody said…this is great!…I know it’s not allowed…I think I have her! I just need to go to the library…to be certain…” Hermione jumped up, gave Harry a kiss, and bolted out of the Great Hall.
“Well, that was helpful,” Ron said with a roll of his eyes. “I hate when she does that. Anyway, I hope she realizes that we have an exam in ten minutes. Honestly, I think she’s gone mental.”
“Yeah,” Harry said absentmindedly, thinking about the task that would start in merely six hours. How had he gotten himself into this?
Thank you so much for reading and hopefully my next update will be MUCH sooner!
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