Disclaimer: JK Rowling has Harry Potter copyrighted. Since no one's been sued for writing these yet, I guess it's okay.
Author's Note: Sorry, but the hint of Harmony I showed in the last chapter will not continue in this one very much. Real, true Harmony will come at the end of the story.
Chapter 13 Glub, glub
The day of the Second Task was drawing nearer. It was now nearly the end of January, and bitter cold. Harry was walking back from Potions wearing his coat and gloves, while Hermione and Ron shivered. After a particularly violent spasm, Ron complained, “How come you don't seem to feel this cold, Harry?!” Hermione carefully hid a wince, but she didn't need to. Harry already had a good excuse ready.
“Because I've already lost all feeling in my body. In fact, the only reason I know I'm standing on the floor is because I can see it below me,” Harry responded easily. Dumbledore heard that and sneered.
“No, the real reason Potter doesn't feel the cold is because he's frozen inside,” the Headmaster cut in. Ron was watching Harry as Dumbledore said that, and he saw the pain in Harry's eyes before he could cover it up.
“Do you so hate Harry, sir?” Ron asked simply. Harry already knew the answer to that question, but he hadn't told anyone about it.
“Yes. He's a sorry excuse for a human being, and I'd rather his parents had never met. Then I wouldn't be stuck with him,” Dumbledore replied nastily. Hermione and Ron exploded. Hermione turned to comfort Harry while Ron drew his wand.
“YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT ONE! CRUCIO!” Ron bellowed. He may not like Harry himself, but he was sure that even Voldemort would take Dumbledore to task for that one. All his hatred and anger at Dumbledore's statement came through, and Dumbledore writhed on the ground in considerable agony. Ron was actually starting to like causing the pain, until the spell was interrupted. Harry actually threw himself in front of the spell, taking the full force of it. The suddenness of it knocked Harry out cold. Dumbledore stood up slowly and saw Harry on the ground, Hermione crouching at his side.
“You bastard! He took a Cruciatus Curse for you! Can you still say you hate him?” Hermione screeched as Ron stood looking dumbly at Harry on the ground. He couldn't believe he'd actually used an Unforgivable Curse at all, let alone in defense of someone he hated. Dumbledore answered Hermione's question, but she didn't like the answer. She stood up and kicked Dumbledore in an area he never wanted to be kicked. He fell to his knees as Ron turned his wand accordingly.
At that moment, Moody and Snape appeared. They had heard the screams and were coming to investigate. They looked over the situation briefly, and then Moody asked, “What has been going on here?” Dumbledore simply looked up at them, a look of exquisite agony lining his face. Snape saw where Dumbledore was holding himself, and snickered. “Who did that?” he asked with a barely concealed grin. Hermione raised her hand, looking proud of herself. Moody stumped over to Ron and used Prior Incantato. A ghostly image of a sinister-looking spell floated out and held in place for a moment before abruptly disappearing. Moody whistled, “Woah, boy, I never thought you had it in you. Casting the Cruciatus Curse on someone is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban. But why did it vanish so abruptly?”
“Because Harry threw himself in front of Dumbledore. I'd never cast that spell on my friend, not for any reason,” Ron answered numbly. Moody realized the significance of what Ron said and replied, “The last person who held onto so much hate became the Dark Lord.” Snape nodded and cast a spell to return Dumbledore's ability to walk, though Dumbledore did stomp away bow-legged. “We'll let this slide, you two. Now get out of here,” the greasy teacher muttered. Hermione and Ron helped Harry stand, as he had just woken up, and they all left.
“Ron, you do know Dumbledore's going to want revenge for that, don't you?” Hermione asked.
“He can do what he wants, as long as he doesn't transfer his hatred to you,” Ron answered. He didn't know, but that was exactly what Dumbledore would do.
The week of the Second Task arrived. Harry had already solved the clue in the Golden Egg by filling the bathtub in the boys' bathroom in Gryffindor Tower and sticking his head in when he first heard the thing wailing incomprehensibly.
Harry opened the Golden Egg in his dormitory three weeks before the Task, figuring he'd better get a move on and solve the clue. It started wailing immediately, and he tossed it away in surprise. It closed when it hit the wall, but the sound still reverberated in the room. Harry looked thoughtful, because he thought he could recognize a slight tune to the wailing. He crossed the room and picked the egg up again, and opened it. After a moment, he closed it again, and definitely heard a tune to the wailing. He stood there, thinking about sound waves, and thought about how a terrible singer can sound good in a shower because of the acoustics. That gave him an idea and he went to the bathroom. He filled the sink with water and stuck the egg in. The tune was much more pronounced, but he couldn't hear any song. He tried to stick his head in the sink, and could hear words, but the sink was too small.
He filled the tub and stuck the egg in after climbing in himself, fully dressed. He submerged his head and listened. While he was listening, he heard a door open and close, and Ron call out to him. “Harry, you here?” Harry couldn't answer with his head in the water, then Ron came in the bathroom. “Harry...” Ron saw him in the tub and jumped to the wrong conclusion. “Christ, Harry!” he swore before dragging Harry out of the water and throwing him on the floor. “What the hell were you doing?!” Ron yelled, spit flying. Harry breathed deeply and said, “I was solving the Egg's clue.”
“By drowning yourself? Come on, I'm not that stupid. I know what Dumbledore said two weeks ago hurt, but killing yourself is not the answer,” Ron griped. Harry shook his head in wonderment.
“I wasn't trying to kill myself, Ron. The Egg's clue can only be heard properly underwater because it's Mermaid song. The Second Task is to go into the lake and recover what I'll sorely miss,” Harry calmly told his friend. Ron finally looked in the tub, and saw the Golden Egg still laying there open.
“Oh, oh. Sorry about that, mate. I know you can be pretty high-strung, so I guess I just assumed the worst,” Ron apologized. Harry smiled and nodded. “It's alright. Thanks for worrying.”
Ron had kept an especially close watch on Harry after that, as though worried his jumping to the wrong conclusion may have planted the idea in Harry's head. He doesn't know it, but he doesn't have to worry, Harry thought to himself as he thought once again what he'd miss the most. It was a very short list. There was Sirius, Remus, and McGonagall, of course, but Harry doubted it would be one of them. He rather thought it would be one of his friends. So that left only Ron and Hermione. He guessed it would be Ron; that way, Dumbledore could try to kill two birds with one stone. Harry could swim quite well, but Dumbledore didn't know it, and the Headmaster would want revenge for Ron's cursing him. If Harry conveniently failed to rescue his hostage, Dumbledore would conveniently forget to get Ron out of the lake after the task, and he would drown.
Finally, the day before the Second Task dawned. It was bright outside, and not as frigid as it was a month ago. Harry had already had a vision showing four people tied to a statue of a merman. Those people were Ron, Hermione, Cho Chang, and Fleur Delacour's sister. The vision had ended with a man with a shark's head nearly biting Hermione in half. Harry swore to himself that would never happen.
The next day, he went down to the lake with the other champions. Cedric and Fleur smiled at him and Harry looked back at the stands. There, he saw Sirius and Remus waving at him enthusiastically. He hadn't looked for them before the First Task because he was roiling inside after pulling out four Horntails. Ludo Bagman came around and assured Harry, “There are no cheap tricks this time. I made sure of that.” Harry took his watch off and asked, “Could you hold my watch for me while I go down there, sir?” Bagman nodded with a smile and pocketed Harry's watch. When the whistle sounded, the four champions dived into the lake. Harry saw Cedric and Fleur cast Bubblehead charms on themselves while Krum attempted to transfigure himself into a shark, but only managing the head. Harry just dived in and struck out for the bottom.
Harry used his enhanced senses to tell the direction he was going, and where he needed to go. It was only about ten minutes before he saw the merpeople village. He immediately swam for the stone statue and, drawing the pocketknife Sirius had given him, cut the seaweed ropes binding Ron. Ron floated there, asleep, while Harry went for Hermione. The merpeople lunged for him, but he glared at them, and they retreated. Harry realized a little too late, that he had unconsciously showed them his fangs. He went back to cutting Hermione's ropes. When the merpeople turned suddenly, Harry looked and saw Krum approaching, but the Durmstrang champion was caught by Grindylows. He saw Cedric and Fleur arrive together and both of them retrieved their hostages and swam back up after smiling at Harry.
Harry made to follow them, but he heard strange sounds coming from Krum. He turned to look and saw that the older student's Transfiguration skills weren't quite good enough. The spell had worn off when Krum tried to use his wand to fend off the Grindylows. Simply, the Durmstrang champion was drowning. Harry swam over with a few quick beats of his feet and chased the Grindylows away with a quick spell, then grabbed Krum. The merpeople watched as Harry dragged three people up to the surface.
When Harry reached the surface, he dragged his friends and Krum up. Hermione and Ron woke up and Harry said, “Nice of you to join me. Could you help me with him, I think he must be a little rusty at swimming.” Hermione and Ron both helped tow Krum to the beach. Once on the sand, Harry coughed and said, “Thanks for your help.” Sirius and Remus ran over to Harry, while Percy Weasley ran over to Ron.
“Harry, are you all right?” Sirius asked, concerned. “You were down there for a while,” Remus confirmed.
“Yeah, I'm fine. But Krum drowned,” Harry answered.
“He'll be fine, Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey broke in. McGonagall was beaming at Harry alongside Hagrid and Maxime. Dumbledore, however, was scowling as he walked towards the merpeople who had risen out of the water. He conversed with them for a moment, and then they descended beneath the waves once more.
Cedric and Fleur were both given sixty points for returning first with their hostages. Harry was given sixty points for showing moral fiber in retrieving two hostages and another champion. Everyone clapped at that, with Dumbledore's scowl deepening. He glared so coldly at Harry, it was a wonder his blue eyes weren't boring into the back of Harry's head. After Harry's points were awarded, Krum was given twenty points for going in the lake in the first place. Krum and Karkaroff scowled at that, and Bagman returned Harry's watch, congratulating him in the process.
“The Third Task will take place on the grounds at seven in the evening on the 24th of June. The details of the task will be given to the champions precisely one month beforehand,” Cornelius Fudge announced in a booming voice before everyone filed back up to the castle.
“Great work, Harry,” the Minister of Magic said before Harry walked away.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Well, there you have it. Thanks for reading, please review.