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Chapter 3 : The First Task
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Hermione stood in front of the mirror, brushing her hair the best she could. She still couldn’t believe it was hers and Harry’s first official date today. She briefly wondered what Harry had planned and was very anxious to see what it was.
It was a cool day outside, so she decided to wear a green pullover and a pair of jeans. She wanted to look nice, but feel comfortable as well. As she brushed her hair, she debated for a while whether to leave it down or put it up in a ponytail. Eventually she decided to put it up into a ponytail. She did, however, leave a strand of her hair out. One thing she has noticed about Harry is that he loves to put her hair back behind her ear.
She took a look in the mirror and thought of herself as plain. Harry kept telling her that she was beautiful, but she didn’t see it. She could only see herself as plain.
Taking one last look, she turned on her heel and walked out the door. She walked down the stairs and smiled as she saw Harry waiting there for her. She noticed that he looked nervous. She blushed when she saw him look at her outfit.
“Wow,” he said, “you look beautiful.”
“I mean it,” he added, pulling her face up to his. “You look good in green.”
“Thank you. Are you ready to go?”
“Let’s,” he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
They walked through the portrait hole, down the grand staircase and out the doors. They didn’t talk until they got outside.
“I’ve never seen you with your hair in a ponytail,” he said, flicking his fingers through her hair.
“I don’t usually put it up. I just didn’t want it to be in the way.”
“You look nice, you know.”
“Haven’t you said that already?” she laughed, pushing him away. “So where are we going?”
“Well, I was thinking about bout getting some butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks, then go wherever you want to go, then,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist, “we go back to the castle and spend some time together. What do you say?”
“That sounds nice,” she said, pecking his lips.
They continued to walk down the path to Hogsmeade. When they arrived, Harry’s attention immediately shifted to someone who was coming out of The Three Broomsticks. Harry quickly pulled Hermione into Honeydukes and closed the door right as the person passed.
“Harry? What’s going on?” Hermione asked, worry filling her voice.
“That woman that just passed us was that stupid reporter.”
“Oh no,” she said, looking out the window.
“She must be staying in the village. What a joy-I bet she’s coming to see the first task.”
“You have quick thinking. That was smart of you.”
“We’re on a date. I’m not going to let anything ruin that, especially her.” He looked out the window and said, “Coast is clear.”
They walked out of Honeydukes and into the Three Broomsticks. Harry pulled out a seat for her and waited until she sat down before saying, “I’ll go get us some drinks.”
“Thank you,” she replied, and she watched as he walked away. She wondered briefly how he could be such a gentleman before she remembered what he had to go through. Her heart broke for him, and worry grew as she thought about what he would go through in a couple of days.
‘Why him? He doesn’t deserve any of this!’
“Are you ok?” Harry asked as he returned.
“How are you feeling about Tuesday?”
He sighed, pulled out his chair and sat down. He took a sip of his butterbeer and said, “Bloody nervous. I have no idea what I’m doing or even what’s happening. All I can feel is my stomach twisting around.”
“I wish I could help you,” she said, taking his hand. “I really do.”
“Just be there for me. That’s all I ask from you.”
“I’m already here for you, Harry,” she replied, running her thumb across his hand. He smiled in thanks. Hermione looked past his head. “Harry, its Hagrid!”
“Harry! Hermione!” Hargid said, walking up to the table.
“Hello, Hagrid,” they replied in unison.
They talked for a couple of minutes before Hagrid bent down and whispered something in Harry’s ear. Harry nodded, and Hagrid bid goodbye to both he and Hermione. Just as she was about to ask what he said, Harry gave her a look that clearly said ‘I’ll tell you later’.
Not only did Harry buy the butterbeers, but he also bought the treats that they wanted from Honeydukes. Hermione objected, but Harry kept insisting.
They spent longer in Hogsmeade than she thought she would. After they finished their butterbeers they spent time looking around the different shops.
He didn’t want to admit it, but Hermione was right-it did feel good to get away from the castle for a while. Even though the tournament was less than a week away, and he was beginning to feel extremely anxious, it all just seemed to slip away as soon as they arrived in Hogsmeade.
They walked into the common room and found it empty. Harry was very thankful for that. Never in a moment would he mind more time alone with Hermione.
Putting his arms around her waist, he asked, “So how was the date?”
She threw her arms around his neck, brought his head down and kissed him. He felt her smile against his mouth as he pulled her closer. After a couple minutes, though, she pulled away and said, “Amazing. Thank you for taking me out.”
“I’m sorry we didn’t do much,” he said, putting the strand of her hair that’s out from the ponytail behind her ear.
“Hey,” she said, pulling his head up to meet her eyes, “we don’t have to do anything to have a great date. As long as I’m with you, it’s an amazing date.”
He grabbed her hand and brought her over to the couch. They sat down and his arm immediately went around her shoulder.
“Hagrid wants me to meet with me tonight at midnight.”
“What about Sirius?” Hermione asked, sitting up to meet his eyes.
“I’m hoping to be back in time. I’ll just tell Hagrid that I can’t stay that long.”
“I’ll stay here and wait on Sirius. In case you don’t make it back on time then I could tell him why.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah. I’ll make it look like I’m studying so no one will want to linger around. I’m pretty sure everyone will be in bed anyway.”
“You’re the best, you know that?”
“What does Hagrid want that late anyway?”
“I have a feeling that it’s not good news, whatever it is.”
Hermione emerged from the dormitory at twelve-thirty. She knew that all the girls in her dorm had gone to bed and was just hoping that everyone else in Gryffindor tower had as well. Upon entering the common room she found that it was.
She had pretended to go to sleep at eleven. She drew the curtains around her bed and read a book until she knew everyone in her dorm had gone asleep. It was an easy way to trick and it helped her avoid the constant ‘Harry questions’ that she had been asked lately.
Sitting on the couch, she wondered if he had returned yet. She hoped so-she didn’t want to be the one to tell Sirius that Harry couldn’t make it.
“Hermione,” Harry said, rushing through the portrait. He sounded out of breath, as it he had ran all the way back to the castle.
“Shh, please let me explain before Sirius gets here.” He quickly took off the cloak and sat down next to her on the couch. “Hermione, the first task is battling a dragon.”
“What?” she almost screamed. He quickly covered her mouth. “I’m sorry. But how do you know?”
“Hagrid took me to see them. There are four of them waiting in the forbidden forest. I even saw Charlie Weasley down there trying to contain them.”
“Oh my,” she breathed.
“Mione, please say something.”
Her arms wrapped around his neck and her head buried itself in his shoulder. He gently rubbed her back.
“It’ll be alright.”
“Am I interrupting?” a voice sounded out. “You know I can always come back.”
“Sirius,” Harry said, as Hermione unwrapped her arms from around his shoulders.
“I don’t have a lot of time so let’s make this as quick as possible,” Sirius said, looking between them. “By the way, didn’t I say to be here alone?”
Harry and Hermione both blushed while Sirius smirked.
“No need, Harry. I’ve read the papers.”
And so they talked. Sirius quickly informed Harry about Karkaroff and how he used to be a Death Eater. He also believed that Karkaroff had put Harry’s name into the goblet. He also quickly warned him on how to get past the dragons before the sound of someone coming filled the room.
Before Harry could say anything, Sirius was gone. Harry and Hermione quickly climbed onto the couch just as the person came downstairs.
“I thought I heard voices. Should have known it was you two,” Ron said, staring straight at them.
“Ron-” Hermione started. He silenced her.
“Sorry. I’ll just give you some privacy.”
“Ron, sit down!” Hermione said, pointing to the chair next to the fire.
“Why should I?!” She quickly took her wand out and pointed it at him. He put his hands up in surrender. “Ok! I’m sitting down.”
Hermione sighed and looked between the two boys. “Now this has gone on long enough. You two are best friends and you’re acting like little children! This is ridiculious! Remember all the fun times you two have had together? And you plan on throwing all this away over this one stupid fight? You two disappoint me. Ron, you’re my best friend, but you started this and you need to finish this. Harry did nothing wrong and you know it.
“Harry, I know you’re going through a lot and you need both of your best friends to help you get through this. You both miss it each other; I know you do. Now both of you sit here and work this out and I will see you in the morning.”
She turned on her heel and walked up the stairs to the dorms. Harry and Ron stared at each other, wondering who was going to speak up first.
After a deep breath, Harry said, “she’s right, you know. I do miss talking to you.”
“I’m sorry, Harry. I shouldn’t have said the things that I did. I don’t even know why I said them. I didn’t mean them.”
“Are you just saying that cause you’re afraid she’ll hex you otherwise?”
“No I’m not. I’m being serious. She is bloody scary with that wand of hers, though. Really, though, mate. I’m sorry. And I understand if you don’t forgive me.”
“Let’s just forgive and forget, ok?”
They both grinned, got up and gave each other a hug. In the background, you could hear someone saying, “awww.”
They both jumped back as Hermione became visible. She was smiling, and Harry could swear there were tears coming out of her eyes.
“You left your cloak down here,” she said. She put the cloak down. “Come here, you two.”
They all three gave a group hug, and Harry was glad that things were back to normal.
The next morning Harry caught Ron up on everything that had happened. He told him when he and Hermione had gotten together, the first task and Sirius’ warning about Karkaroff.
“So, Sirius believes that Karkaroff put your name into the goblet?”
“Yeah. He believes that Karkaroff’s working with Voldemort.”
“He said that Karkaroff used to be a death eater. Sirius still doesn’t understand how he escaped getting sentenced in Azkaban.”
“So the first task, what exactly are you planning on doing? I mean you just can’t walk past a dragon.”
“I have no idea. I wasn’t even supposed to know what it is exactly. By now, though, I’m sure Victor and Fleur do. Karkaroff and Madam Maxine were both there.”
“What about Cedric?”
“He doesn’t know.”
“Are you going to tell him? It doesn’t seem fair that three out of four know.”
“Yeah, you’re right. The problem is that he’s never alone. I would have to tell him when he’s alone.”
“You’ll think of something, I’m sure.”
“I’m sure Hermione’s in the library trying to find something that would help me. She’s been freaked out about it since our talk with Sirius last night.”
“She really cares for you, you know. She’s been more protective of you since you two have gone out.”
“I know she does,” he said with a smile. “I care for her a lot, too.”
“There’s nothing in the library that tells you how to defend yourself from dragons,” Hermione whispered.
It was lunchtime now. Hermione told Harry that she had spent all morning in the library trying to find something that might help him out.
“Thanks for the help, though.”
“I’m really worried for you, Harry. What are you going to do if you can’t find something to help you?”
He grabbed her hand and said, “Do what I do best-improvise.”
“That’s not funny, Harry.”
“Hermione, this isn’t the place to be talking about it,” Ron said, watching as more people came walking in.
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Where’s Harry at?” Hermione said, as Herbology class started. She stared at the pot between her and Ron in worry.
“I’m sure everything’s alright, Hermione. He’s probably running late.”
The class was now ten minutes in and there was still no sign. Even Ron was beginning to look worried when Harry came rushing in, apologizing to Professor Sprout along the way. He took a spot next to them and got to work.
“Where have you been?” she asked.
“I need to talk to you two after class.”
After class, Harry found an abandoned classroom they practiced the accio charm. Harry was getting frustrated with himself. He just couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t come to him.
“You just need to concentrate.”
“I am concentrating, Hermione! This is hard!”
“Hey,” she said, walking up to him. She grabbed his arm pointed it to Ron, who was holding his wand in his hand. “Just relax, and focus on what you want.”
She let go of his arm. He relaxed, closed his eyes, and said “accio wand!”
Harry heard a gasp and opened his eyes. He had done it. He had gotten the wand.
“Good job, mate!” Ron said, clapping him on the back. Hermione threw her arms around him and hugged him.
“I think you got this. Just keep practicing tonight.”
“Thank you, guys.”
“You’re ready for this, Harry. We know you are,” Ron said.
“You’ll be alright,” Hermione said, taking her hand in his. Harry squeezed back.
They were on their way down to the stadium. Harry felt like his heart was going to pound out of his chest. He was not ready for this.
“Relax, mate. You’ve got this,” Ron assured him.
“I’m fine,” Harry assured them, even though his voice was shaking.
They reached the champions tent and gave Harry one final hug.
“I know you can do this,” Ron assured him.
“Just concentrate on the spell. If you can do that then you’re good.”
Harry kept looking at her. For some reason her presence always made him feel safer. He didn’t want her to go sit down. He wanted her to be next to his side.
“Can I have a moment with Hermione, Ron?”
Ron nodded and walked away from the tent. Harry quickly pulled her inside.
“Please be careful,” she whispered, looking away from him.
“I will, I promise.”
Ignoring the fact that there were three other champions in the tent, Harry quickly bent down and gave Hermione a kiss. She could detect fear but pushed it aside. There was nothing she could say that would calm him down.
A flash going off caused them to break apart. Harry looked to his right and glared at the woman standing there.
“What a cute couple,” Rita said, walking up to them. “You must be Hermione.”
“And you must be the witch who is writing lies about Harry.”
“Oh, temper,” Rita said, taing out her notebook.
“Excuse me,” Cedric said, walking up to them. “Are you a champion?”
“Of course not,” she replied.
“Uh huh. Do you know that both Harry and Hermione are underage, and if they don’t give consent, then you may not write nor take pictures of either of them.”
“And we don’t give consent,” Harry replied bitterly.
“Then you must not publish that picture or write a story about them. Harry’s already going to have a hard enough day without your help.”
“Hmph!” Rita said, turning and walking out of the tent. Harry smiled.
“Thanks, Cedric. We really appreciate it.”
“Anytime. I wouldn’t want Cho’s and I’s private business in the paper, either.”
“I gotta go. It’s about to start,” Hermione said, giving him one last hug. “Good luck.”
She walked out of the tent and found Ron standing there waiting for her.
“Took you long enough,” he replied, grinning.
“That reporter took a picture of me and Harry kissing.”
“Oh, I bet Harry loved that.”
They walked up the stand and found a seat about midway up. Hermione kept feeling anxious. She was tired; she didn’t sleep at all last night. She kept thinking about Harry and if he would get hurt. That same feeling was occurring once again and seemed to amplify as the competition gets started.
“Attention!” Ludo Bagman’s voice rang out. The crowd fell silent. “Welcome to the first task of the Triwizard Tournament! Just a few moments ago our champions were informed of what was to come. In this task, each champion will have to face a different breed of dragon to collect a golden egg that the dragon will be securing. Mr. Diggory will start the competition with a Swedish Short-Snout. Ms. Delacour will be second with a Welsh Green. Mr. Krum will be third with a Chinese Fireball. Finally, Mr. Potter will finish the competition with a Hungarian Horntail.”
“Of all the dragons he could have gotten,” Ron said, looking worriedly at Hermione.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Charlie always talks about those things. He says they’re nasty; they do quite a bit of damage to some people.”
“Oh, Merlin,” Hermione sighed. Ron gently patted her back.
“Without further ado, let’s get this competition started!”
He blew the whistle, and Cedric emerged from the tent. As she watched Cedric attempt to take on his dragon, her fear for Harry grew even more. She wished she could go to that tent and comfort him. She wished she could be out there next to him, fighting that thing with him, but she couldn’t. He was on his own.
When Cedric had finished, they quickly switched the dragons and prepared for Fleur. She wondered briefly how each champion was feeling before they went in and took on this challenge. Did they feel as nervous as Harry did? Did they have a game plan going before they went in there?
“Cedric did really well,” Ron said.
“Yeah, he didn’t do too bad.”
“Stop thinking about it, Hermione. Harry will be fine.”
“I can’t stop thinking about it, Ron. I just can’t.”
“Hermione,” he said seriously, right as Fleur had been called out and had started, “do you love Harry?”
“Of course, Ron, he’s my best friend.”
“I mean-as something more, Hermione.”
The crowd was now screaming, just as they had with Cedric. She stayed silent for a moment as she watched Fleur attempt to collect her prize. Did she love Harry? She knew that she cared deeply for him, and she might worry about him too much, but love?
She loved the flutters that came in her stomach every time they touched, or the comfort she felt when he was around.
Did she love him?
“I think I do,” she replied, turning to Ron. For a second she swore she saw disappointment flash across his face, but it vanished quickly and was replaced with a smile.
They continued to watch the match. Fleur had just finished up and they were now setting up for Krum. Just two more champions and this task is over.
“I wish he could have gone first,” Ron said. “He’s probably nervous as can be.”
“Me too,” she replied. “He’d be done by now.”
The Chinese fireball was now set up and the whistle had been blown. They watched as Krum emerged from the tent and began to battle for the egg. He was quick at it, throwing spells to try and distract the dragon. It wasn’t too much longer and he had received the egg.
“Harry’s up,” Ron commented as they were putting Krum’s scores up. He had lost points for damaging some of the dragon’s real eggs but still received a pretty good score.
Now her heart was beginning to pound in her chest. There it was, being pulled into the stadium. Like Ron had said, it looked nasty. It was trying to breathe fire at the crews bringing it in. she didn’t want to imagine what it would do to Harry when he came out here.
The Horntail was set up and they were blowing the whistle. Ron and Hermione both held their breath as Harry emerged from the tent. He looked nervous, but determined at the same time. He started walking towards the dragon, who immediately blew fire out at him.
“Accio firebolt!” he cried, throwing his wand out. He moved out of the way as the dragon once again blew at him.
‘C’mon,’ he thought, continuing to dodge the dragon. He saw something fly towards him and immediately grabbed for it. He hoped on and flew away just as the dragon was going after him again.
“You’ve got this, mate,” Ron muttered.
Harry zoomed over the dragon, trying to find a way to get it away from the eggs. She seemed like she didn’t want to move. He had to think of a way to get it away from the eggs without getting it to attack him.
He zoomed around her, hoping that she may move if he continued to get closer. However, he was unprepared when her tail came whipping around. He tried to fly up but she ended up hitting his left side.
The crowd gasped. Hermione immediately looked away and held back her scream. Ron put his head down and immediately brought it back up. Harry flew away from the dragon and quickly grabbed his side.
“He’s alright, Hermione. He’s still going.”
Harry flew even further away from the dragon and thought for a moment. How on earth was he supposed to get her away from her eggs? The first plan didn’t work, so why would the other plans he came up with?
He had one more idea. He flew over to the dragon again and started flying around in a circle. She kept cranking her head to see him. He kept flying higher and higher. Eventually, she moved up and tried to swing at him again. Seeing his chance, he immediately flew behind her, grabbed the golden egg, and flew away. He held it up to prove he was done.
The whistle blew, and the crowd erupted in applause. Hermione let out that breath she had been holding in since he started. It was over. He did it.
“C’mon, they’re taking him to the tent,” Ron muttered. She nodded and they quickly exited the stands. They went over to the first-aid tent and found Harry laying on one of the cots. His robes were off and there was a towel covering his left side.
“Hey,” he said, cracking a smile. Ron grinned, and Hermione felt tears coming to her eyes.
“You did awesome, mate! You were the fastest to get the egg!”
“Thanks,” he replied, looking up at Ron. He looked over at Hermione, who still hadn’t moved from the spot. He held his hand out to her. “Hey, come here. You won’t hurt me.”
“Not any worse than that dragon did,” Ron replied. Harry hit him upside the head. Hermione felt a tear slide down her cheek.
“Seriously, Mione, I’m ok. Please come here.”
She walked towards him and grabbed his extended hand. He smiled at her.
“See? You didn’t hurt me.”
“You got hurt, Harry.”
“I’ll give you two a minute. I’m going to wait on his scores.”
They waited until Ron left the stadium before they started talking. Harry reached up and wiped the tear that came out of her eye.
“You know, this is the first time you’ve seen me without a shirt on,” he joked quietly, grinning. Hermione sighed and smiled.
“That’s not funny.”
“How do you feel?” she asked, looking at his towel-covered side.
“I’m fine.” She gave him a stern look. “Really, Mione, I’m alright. It stings, but that’s only because Madam Pomfrey put something on it to stop the bleeding and make sure it doesn’t get infected. She’s going to be right back and keep working on it.”
“How deep was it?”
“Deep enough for it to bleed. Wasn’t too bad, though.”
Madam Pomfrey returned. She took the lifted the towel before she noticed Hermione was sitting next to him.
“Miss. Granger, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Why can’t she stay?” he asked, a little annoyed.
“No arguing, Mr. Potter. Miss. Granger.”
Hermione quickly kissed his cheek and walked outside. She stood outside the tent and waited for Ron to return.
Seeing Harry in lying in that bed, injured, made Hermione realize something: she was in love with him. That image, bound into her head, made her realize that. She loved Harry.
“Hey,” Ron said, returning. “He did amazing. His lowest score was a five. He even got a ten!”
“That’s wonderful,” she replied, her mind still focused on her newest thought.
She loved Harry. She loved him a lot.
But did Harry love her?
Next up: Figuring out the egg and the Yule Ball.
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