The Second Task
Disclaimer: All Btvs and HP characters belong to their respective owners and as always I'm not making any profit from this fic.
Chapter 15: The Second Task
Harry's head slipped down from his hand and he jerked awake with a start, his eyes wildly searching the library where he was sitting, his arm resting on the desk.
He had been going to the library every night for the past two days, trying desperately to find something, anything that would help him with the task. Unfortunately all the time spent reading up had left him tired and exhausted, and he had obviously fallen asleep and wasted precious time.
A quick look to his watch told him that it was just before seven in the morning. He still had time.
Frantically he began flipping through pages, his desk seeming to disappear under the sheer amount of books he had piled up. Every so often he would check the time, trying his best to ignore how his heart sped up in fear each time.
He searched every book he could get his hands on, knowing that in his haste he was probably missing various pages but not knowing what else to do.
At half eight in the morning he resigned himself to his failure and with a frustrated cry slumped back in his chair, holding his head up in his hands. There was no way he could complete the task without knowing how to breathe underwater, so he would just have to give up...
The library doors swung open slowly and Harry sat up, hoping that it wasn't the librarian coming in, she would definitely have something to say about the mess he had made. But instead of a shrill cry of anger, he heard a soft, almost nervous voice call out.
The voice was familiar, and Harry stood up to see over the piles of books, quickly spotting Neville as he stood by the doorway, holding a single book in his arms.
“Oh, hey Harry. What are you doing here? Aren't you meant to be getting ready for the task?” He asked while stepping over various books that had been slung on the floor until he was standing next to his friend.
Shaking his head slowly, Harry answered. “I'm not going. I can't finish the task, I can't find anything to help me.”
“Help you with what? I was just bringing this book back for Mr. Silverthorn, but maybe I can help?” Neville said, sounding nervous as if he expected Harry to tell him he was too useless to help.
Harry turned to him sharply, “Well do you know any ways that I can breath underwater for an hour?”
“Oh, well you could use gillyweed.” Neville said with a shrug.
“Sure, it should let you breath underwater for an hour... I think...”
Harry shook his head in disbelief, in all this time he had been asking the wrong people, looking in all the wrong places. “Neville, that's brilliant! You are a genius!”
Not half an hour later saw Harry stood outside in the freezing morning air, wearing nothing but his swimming trunks and holding onto his wand and a small pile of gooey gillyweed.
Fighting back the exhaustion from spending so much time awake in the last few days, he shivered as he stepped onto the wooden walkway and joined the other champions.
Cedric was standing next to him, also in his swimming gear but he looked confident and calm, which wasn't helping Harry's own nerves any.
Madame Maxime and Igor Karkaroff were standing with their students, whispering in their ears and no doubt giving them hints and tips. Buffy was standing back with the crowd but Harry knew that she was silently rooting for him, there to give him support.
Over in the stands sat the eager spectators, all of them cheering and laughing as they watched, and Harry found himself growing jealous of them, wearing their winter jackets while he froze, half naked.
The judges were sitting at a long table in front of the spectator stands. Dumbledore sat right in the middle, with Madame Maxime and Igor Karkaroff on either side of him, and then Ludo Bagman on the end. Once again Bartemius Crouch had failed to turn up due to being ill.
Professor Dumbledore stepped up from his seat and waited until everyone had quietened down before opening the task.
“Welcome everyone, to the second task of the Triwizard Tournament! Champions, as you may well know, something dear of yours has been taken and hidden below the water's edge. You have an hour to find it. Now begin!”
A loud bang echoed through the air and the champions all dived into the lake, albeit hesitantly in Harry's case.
While the other three champions vanished under the surface, Harry took the gillyweed and hastily shoved it into his mouth, swallowing it as quickly as he could to avoid the foul taste.
Moments later he was forced to dip under the water, strangely enough so that he could breathe properly. He placed a hand to his neck, were shallow cuts were beginning to swell up, gills that let him breath under the chilly water. And then finally he watched in fascination as his hands and feet stretched, becoming webbed like long flippers.
Using his new feet, he pushed through the water with ease, swimming faster than he ever imagined he could.
The water had cleared and was strangely silent and still on the surface as the rest of the school looked on, wondering which of the champions would be the first to rise back to the surface.
Buffy had taken a seat down on the walkway with the other teachers and the school nurse, ready to grab the students as they surfaced. She waited patiently, but all the while she couldn't help the worry that nagged at her mind.
With a gasp a figure broke through to the surface of the water, spluttering as they tried to make it back to the walkway. Madame Maxime was instantly on her feet, helping to pull Fleur back onto the land. As soon as the girl was away from the water she was wrapped in warm blankets and dragged to a seat.
“I couldn't do it!” She cried out, “Z'ere was too many!” She was stopped from speaking as the nurse came over to her and once again the water stilled, the audience quiet in anticipation.
Another shot rang out through the air, making the majority of spectators jump in the process, as the time limit of an hour finally passed.
Looking to the water nervously, Buffy spotted a figure slowly making their way through the water. Cedric's head popped up through the water, gasping for air as he dragged Cho along with him.
Seconds later Viktor also appeared, his shark's head slowly transforming back into a humans while Hermione swam beside him.
As the four of them were tugged out of the water and were pounced on by the nurse, Buffy looked out towards the water again, wishing desperately that Harry would appear.
The next few minutes went by so slowly... But then, finally, Harry emerged from the water, dragging Ron and Fleur's sister with him.
Buffy was the first to hold out her hand, pulling the young girl up first, who was instantly grabbed by her sister. Ron was helped out by Hermione as Buffy grabbed Harry's wrists and pulled him up, noticing how exhausted he looked.
When he was sitting on the dry walkway she threw a blanket around his shoulders. “You done great, Harry.” She said while messing up his wet hair.
He let out an amused breath in reply, too tired to even glare at her like he normally would.
The judges were all talking quietly together at their table as the champions were slowly rounded up so that they were standing beside one another.
After what seemed like hours in Harry's exhausted mind, the judges turned back to give out their scores. They awarded Fleur the fewest points since she hadn't actually completed the task but had performed the bubble head charm well. Cedric naturally came first since he had been the first back to finish the task, and Viktor gained good marks even though he had been slightly over the time limit.
But Harry had not been expecting the marks he received. Forty five points, which earned him second place and put him in a great position for the overall tournament.