A/N: Sooooo, again, a very long wait for this chapter. I apologize; with the holiday season, I've been very busy with a lot of things, and some of the previous health issues I've been dealing with have resurfaced, so I've procrastinated a lot with this chapter. Nevertheless, I intend to finish this story, so thank you for being patient with me. I will only post new chapters on Mondays (probably, anyway), so there's that for a little schedule. Please enjoy!
May soon slid into June, and the excitement around the upcoming third task was reaching feverish levels. The hedges were nearly done growing. One evening, Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked down to the pitch to observe the hedges from the stands. The hedges were nearly twenty feet tall, rippling in the wind. Harry could see that the hedges were indeed magical, as he saw some hedges merge with others and others separate to open new paths.
Hermione was talking to herself, tapping her finger on her chin as she spoke.
"…will probably have some natural elements in the maze, maybe a wind storm or fire that could block some paths. It won't hurt to train a few more hexes and such, Harry."
"Good idea," said Harry, gazing around the pitch.
"Hagrid did a good job with these," remarked Ron. "And it looks like they're still growing."
"It's gonna be dark inside," said Harry, starting to feel a little nervous.
"Please, Harry, a little darkness shouldn't scare you," scoffed Hermione. "You'll be fine."
As June twenty-fourth approached, Harry was spending more and more of his breaks and off periods in empty classrooms with Ron and Hermione, practicing spells. After McGonagall had walked in on them for the third time in a row in one day in an empty classroom, she had given Harry permission to use the Transfiguration classroom during her break periods to practice in. Hermione had drawn up a list of spells that she had found out of several different spellbooks that she thought would be helpful for Harry to learn.
The first spell Harry had to master was the Four-Point Spell, a useful spell that Hermione had discovered and explained would point Harry's wand north when laid flat in his hand. Within half an hour of practicing, Harry was able to cast the spell quite easily.
"Point Me," said Harry confidently as his hand laid flat in his hand. It spun around once before facing the wall. "This'll be useful if I get lost in the maze," he remarked. "Nice spell, Hermione."
"Thank you, Harry," said Hermione, looking pleased with herself. She looked back down at her list of spells. "I think we should practice Stunning again, that's going to be one of the main spells you'll use against creatures and the like, I reckon."
"Are you sure we can't use some pillows for Stunning?" complained Ron after twenty minutes of Stunning. "I'm getting tired of falling onto my back."
"You're supposed to be falling on the pillows," said Hermione as she helped Ron to his feet again.
"It's hard to aim where you're falling after being Stunned, you know," said Ron. "Why don't you be the dummy for a bit, Hermione?"
"Point taken," said Hermione hastily. "I think Harry's mastered Stunning quite well now, so we can move onto other spells."
"If you say so," said Harry.
The Impediment Jinx was another simple jinx whose intended effect was to freeze an opponent in their tracks. It wasn't a permanent jinx, only lasting a few seconds, but it would be enough time for Harry to be able to counterattack, or flee the battle if necessary. After mastering the Impediment Jinx, he moved onto the Revulsion Jinx, which they had learned from Professor Lupin the previous year but was a spell that Hermione insisted would be useful in the maze if a creature of some sort grabbed onto Harry. He, too, quickly remastered the spell and from then on they moved onto the Reductor Curse, another new spell that would allow Harry to blast solid objects out of his way. He was still having trouble getting the hang of the Shield Charm, however, which was supposed to cast a basic shield in front of him that would block against moderate jinxes and hexes. Hermione was able to break it with a well casted Full Body-Bind Curse, and Harry laid motionless on the floor for a minute while Hermione quickly looked up the counter-curse and removed the Full Body-Bind Curse.
"Well, you're still doing really well with these charms," said Hermione, looking back down at a list of spells. "A lot of these are definitely going to come in handy in the maze."
"Good practice for us all too when we become Aurors," said Ron enthusiastically as he cast the Impediment Jinx on a large fly in the air that immediately froze.
Soon Harry had mastered a wide variety of spells, charms, jinxes, hexes, and curses, all of which Hermione insisted would be necessary and helpful for him in the maze. Harry was very appreciative of both Ron and Hermione's assistance, considering that they both still also had exams to study for, while Harry as a Triwizard champion was exempt from all of them. When he pointed it out to them, they waved it off, insisting that Harry's performance in the third task took precedence over studying. Harry was pleasantly surprised that even Hermione took this stance, and made a mental reminder to himself to do something nice for the both of them before the end of the year as a bit of a thank you for their help.
June seemed to pass by just as quickly as May, and it was soon only a few days left until the third task. The anticipation in the air was palpable, and Harry was thankful to be receiving words of encouragement from many students in the school. The familiar butterflies that led up to the first and second tasks were starting to fill his stomach again, but Harry definitely felt far more confident in the third task than the other two tasks. For one, he knew exactly what the third task was, and had been preparing for weeks for it, so he was at least going into the task with an idea of what was to happen.
Sirius, too, was starting to send near daily owls giving him advice and tips on spells to master in preparation for the third task. He, like Hermione, seemed insistent on focusing on the third task and the third task alone, constantly reminding Harry that everything else that was happening was out of his control and that he needed to let Dumbledore handle it.
Whatever else might be going on at Hogwarts right now is none of your business. Dumbledore knows what he's doing; he's reading all of the signs and taking the necessary steps. Your main focus right now needs to be getting through that maze alive, as blunt as it may sound. Practice all of the DADA hexes I've suggested and work on those other ones of Hermione's, that list of hers you sent me has some excellent spells that will definitely come in handy for the task. I'd also study your Care of Magical Creatures textbook, it's a guarantee that the Ministry is bound to put magical creatures in the maze, so practice your aiming and Stunning and be ready to face whatever they may throw at you. We can turn our attention to other issues once this task is over.
"He seems more nervous about this task than I do," remarked Harry after the trio was reading his last letter in a private corner of the common room.
"Sirius just wants to make sure that we get you through this task unharmed," whispered Hermione, glancing around them to check for eavesdroppers. "He's right about everything else that's been going on recently, we have no control over any of it."
"Did he ever mention to you where he was staying?" muttered Ron quietly.
"No, but he said he was close," answered Harry. "Apparently Dumbledore set up a hiding spot for him."
"He's probably well hidden, then," said Ron. "Dumbledore knows everything about everywhere."
The Friday evening before the third task had yet another highly charged and excited atmosphere in the common room. The official notice of the third task had gone up that week, and many Gryffindors were coming up to Harry, wishing him luck and offering their own tidbits of advice for the maze. While none of them were particularly helpful, Harry appreciated it nonetheless, and was happy to know that he had his entire House and many other Hogwarts students behind him. He mostly kept to himself in his favorite armchair by the fireplace, tapping his fingers nervously as he ran through all of his new spells and jinxes through his head.
"You've got this one easy, Harry," said Seamus.
"Yeah, I reckon you're the best DADA student in our year," piped up Neville. "If anyone from our year could handle this, it'd definitely be you."
"Thanks, guys," said Harry, grinning nervously.
The entire common room slowly started to empty out as people went up to bed. Harry was one of the first few to go, thinking it would be good to try and get a good night's rest in preparation for the next morning. Hours later, however, Harry laid in his dormitory, still awake, as the other fourth-year boys were all fast asleep, with Ron and Neville's loud and rousing snores permeating the room. Harry was still thinking about the third task, his insides still squirming with nervousness as he thought about the task at hand. Not for the first time he wondered if he'd even had the necessary Defense training like the other older champions, and if he was going to be immediately starting off at a disadvantage because of his younger age. But, he'd made it this far, hadn't he? And he'd done pretty well up until now, so what was to be afraid of? Still, Harry couldn't shake off a foreboding feeling of something ominous as he slowly drifted off to sleep.
Breakfast at the Gryffindor table the next morning was a noisy affair. As it happened to be the last day of exams for students, many students had brought textbooks to the Great Hall, propping them up against goblets and attempting to get some last minute studying in. Harry, meanwhile was enjoying a large bowl of porridge while listening to Hermione recite a month's worth of goblin war notes at lightning speed to Ron, who was staring at her blankly, his mouth open and a piece of toast laying limply in his hand as he tried to follow her.
"…The Goblin Rebellion of seventeen hundred fifty two was yet another notable incident of strife between wizards and goblins, as a result of continued persecution of goblins by British Aurors in the matter of gold being looted from wizarding reserves. The ensuing rebellion continued through two Ministers of Magic, Albert Boot and Basil Flack, both of whom proved themselves incapable to suppressing the rebellion which led to a growing rebellion in which even werewolves were seen to join the side of the goblins – "
"Hang on, werewolves?" said Ron confusedly.
" – eventually, an Auror named Hephaestus Gore was able to suppress the rebellion, possibly after the death of the goblin leader Vargot who was finally struck down in battle after ten years of leading the goblin rebellion," finished Hermione as she rolled up one of her parchments of notes.
"Blimey, I'm going to do horrible on this exam," muttered Ron as he chewed on his toast.
"Maybe you ought to start taking more notes in History of Magic instead of relying on me to bail you out all the time," said Hermione with just the slightest air of snobbishness. "That goes for you too, Harry!"
"We just aren't as intelligent and capable of focusing as well as you, Hermione," said Harry. "Everyone knows you're the smartest in the class, anyway."
"Oh, please," said Hermione, blushing nonetheless.
Just then, Harry felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Professor McGonagall standing behind him. "Potter, the champions are meeting in the antechamber off to the side of the Great Hall right now."
"But the task isn't until tonight!" exclaimed Harry, frantically wondering if he had misremembered the time of the task.
"I know that, Potter," said McGonagall calmly. "It is only a chance for the champions and their families to be able to meet with each other. Surely you wouldn't refuse?"
"I mean, uh, I don't really have any family that would come watch me?" said Harry uncertainly.
"Ah, I think you're forgetting a few people, then," said McGonagall with a sly smile on her face. "Head to the antechamber. I will see you at the third task tonight." And with that, she turned to head back to the staff table.
Harry turned back to Ron and Hermione, who were both looking just as confused as Harry. "Who do you reckon it is that's come to watch me?" asked Harry. "Not the Dursleys, surely?"
"Those boorish idiots? Please, they wouldn't even be able to get onto the right platform," scoffed Ron.
Hermione looked down at her watch. "Ron! Our exam starts in ten minutes, we better get to Binns' class."
"Oh, right," said Ron, drowning the last of his pumpkin juice before scrambling to his feet. "Good luck!" called Harry. Ron and Hermione waved before hurrying through the Great Hall entrance and up the stairs towards the History of Magic corridor. Harry slowly got up to his feet, thinking of just who in the world would want to come watch Harry in the third task. Surely, the Dursleys wouldn't even want to step foot in Hogwarts, would they?
Harry stepped into the antechamber and looked around. To his left, Viktor Krum was standing with what appeared to be his father and mother. Both were slightly shorter than him, and Harry could see where Krum had inherited his facial structure from his father. Just beyond them, Cedric was chatting animatedly with his father and mother. He saw Harry enter and waved briefly at him. Harry waved back. Then he turned to the right and saw Mrs. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie, all with widespread grins and waving at him furiously.
"Surprise!" said Mrs. Weasley excitedly. "The three of us thought we'd come and watch you in the third task!"
"You were bloody brilliant against the Horntail, Harry," said Charlie, clapping Harry on the back. "Never in my life have I seen someone fly around a dragon like that!"
"Wish I'd gotten a chance to see it live," added Bill, shaking his hand.
"Thanks," said Harry, feeling slightly embarrassed but very pleased with himself nonetheless. "I thought for a moment that – well, the Dursleys, you know – but I mean – "
"Hmph," said Mrs. Weasley, pursing her lips in a very disapproving way as she always did when the Dursleys were brought up.
"It's been a while since we've been back here, eh, Charlie?" said Bill, looking around the antechamber.
"I'll say," said Charlie. "Never came up to the castle when I was helping set up for the first task, so this really is the first time back at Hogwarts since I graduated."
"Can't have been that long ago, could it?" asked Harry.
"Well, long enough to certainly feel different," said Charlie. "Fat Lady still the portrait keeper for Gryffindor?"
"Mhm," said Harry. "Save for one small period of time last year when they replaced her with that knight up in North Tower."
"Sir Cadogan? That crazy bastard?" said Bill.
"Yeah, he's a bit of a nutjob, but I suppose well-intentioned," said Harry.
A squeal came from the other side of the room. Harry turned to see that Fleur had entered the room, and was embracing her family, who had been keeping to themselves in their own corner of the antechamber. Fleur spotted Harry over her father's shoulder and smiled brilliantly at him before turning back to her father, who was jabbering away in fluent French.
"So, the rumors are true?" Harry turned to see Bill and Charlie looking at him with smirks on their faces.
"What rumors?" said Harry innocently, although he already knew where this was going.
"Don't play dumb with us, Harry," said Charlie, waving his hand. "We've seen the articles, and Ron's told us enough in his letters. How long have you and her been in a relationship?"
"Not too long," said Harry. "Just a few dates here and there."
"Must've been a hell of a few dates from the way she looked at you," remarked Bill.
"I'm sure a goblin will find you just as attractive as Fleur does me one day, Bill," said Harry. Charlie laughed heavily while Bill pretended to feel hurt.
"Fancy giving us a tour now, Harry?" asked Mrs. Weasley.
"Of course," said Harry.
The four then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the grounds of the school and reliving old Hogwarts memories. Harry listened, fascinated as Charlie told him of his old Gryffindor team captain, a burly fellow by the name of Regis Stonewell. Apparently Stonewell and Oliver Wood had a lot in common, mainly by way of their manic Quidditch practices and schedules. Mrs. Weasley also was fascinated by the Whomping Willow, which had been planted after she had left Hogwarts.
"I wonder what type of jinx or charm would cause it to act in such a violent behavior," she mused.
They then stopped by Hagrid's hut for some tea, as Hagrid had no classes given that every other student was taking exams. Hagrid and the Weasleys talked amicably for quite some time, but when Harry thought he'd take a hopeful stab at getting Hagrid to reveal obstacles in the third task, Hagrid clammed up and wouldn't say anything else to Harry relating to the tournament.
"Gotta keep it fair, you know," said Hagrid, shaking his head.
"As if Karkaroff or Maxime would ever keep the Triwizard Tournament fair," muttered Harry, feeling a little slighted.
They then returned to the Great Hall for the dinner before the task. They were one of the first people to arrive for dinner, and had already loaded their plates with roast beef and boiled potatoes and started eating them when Ron and Hermione appeared in the doorway, looking slightly fatigued and carrying their exam papers.
"Mum!" exclaimed Ron as he sat down next to Harry, who started filling Ron's plate with roasted lamb. "Bill! Charlie! What're you all doing here?"
"We came to watch Harry in the final task!" said Mrs. Weasley, who also started filling Ron's plates with vegetables. "You two must have just finished your exams then?"
"Yes, we had History of Magic today," said Hermione.
"And how did you do, Ronald?" asked Mrs. Weasley sternly as she looked at Ron.
"Uh, I think I did alright," said Ron, laughing nervously as he started devouring the food on his plate. "I forgot a few goblin names but I got the time period of the eighteenth century wars right. Don't worry," he said as Mrs. Weasley glared at him. "I used names like Bodrod the Bearded and Grendel the Greedy, it's all believable names."
Soon Fred, George, and Ginny joined them as well, and Harry was having such a good time, he nearly forgot that there was even a task that evening. Of course, that changed when Professor McGonagall called for silence in the Great Hall after nearly everyone had finished eating.
"It is time for the third task. Would the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the Quidditch pitch," she announced.
Harry got up from the table to a roaring applause from the Gryffindors, many of whom shook Harry's hand and clapped him on the back as he made his way down the Gryffindor table to the doorway of the Great Hall, where Mr. Bagman was standing with a jovial smile on his face. Cedric came from the Hufflepuff table, and Krum from the Slytherin. Fleur was the last to arrive from the Ravenclaw table, again giving Harry a radiant smile as she stood next to him, making Harry blush slightly.
"Well, now that we're all here, off we go!" said Mr. Bagman, turning and walking through the entrance hall onto the school grounds. No one spoke as they headed towards the Quidditch pitch; Harry had a feeling they were all running spells and jinxes through their head, but if the others were feeling anything like Harry was, they weren't having a very good time doing so.
Soon they arrived at the Quidditch pitch and stepped onto the field. Harry had to give Hagrid props; the hedges had truly grown massively; they were all nearly twenty feet tall, rippling in the slight summer breeze and looking tall and intimidating. Several Aurors were standing near the entrance to the maze closest to them.
"Here we are!" said Mr. Bagman. "There is one entrance on each side of the maze where each of you will start from. The maze is a perfect square, so each of you will be starting at the same distance from the center of the maze, where the Triwizard Cup awaits the winner! While we have Aurors outside of the maze patrolling, there are also a few Aurors within the maze that are Disillusioned. Their main job is to assist any champion should any one of you find yourselves in a fatal situation. You will not feel their presence otherwise."
"Right, let's get started! Harry, you'll be starting here. The rest of you, come with me and I'll place you around the maze.
"Good luck," said Harry to Fleur. She smiled at him again. "And the same to you," she said. Harry watched as Fleur, Cedric, and Krum left with Mr. Bagley down one side of the hedge and disappear in the distance around the corner of the maze. He then took a deep breath and stepped up to the entrance, where two Aurors were standing on either side. Harry then started to look around the Quidditch pitch and at the stands, where students and Hogsmeade villagers were starting to fill into, many of them carrying signs or flags supporting the champions.
Within a few minutes Bagman's booming voice echoed around the stadium.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to announce the beginning of the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament!"
Bagman paused as cheers rained throughout the sky.
"Each champion has a simple objective in this task. The Triwizard Cup sits at the center of the maze. The champion that reaches the Cup first wins the Triwizard Tournament! Should a champion feel unable to continue in the task, they will simply need to shoot red sparks in the air, where they will be safely taken out of the task, but disqualified from the tournament. Now, onto the current standings; Mr. Cedric Diggory and Mr. Harry Potter, both of Hogwarts school, are currently tied for first place, and so both of them will enter the maze first."
Hogwarts cheers rained the air as the students applauded Harry and Cedric. Harry grinned.
"In third place is Mr. Viktor Krum of Durmstrang Institute – " Again, Bagman paused as more cheers rained the air. " – and in fourth place is Miss Fleur Delacour of Beauxbatons Academy. Both will enter after Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory."
"Now, on my whistle, both Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory will enter the maze first!"
Harry stretched his arms out quickly before standing up straight in front of the entrance. The tunnel before him seemed to stretch so far that Harry couldn't make out the end before it was enveloped in darkness. For a moment, there was silence. Then Bagman's whistle pierced the air, and Harry raced into the maze.
Soon, after just a few steps, Harry took a glance behind him and realized that the maze had sealed itself shut. There was no going back now. He looked in front of him, took another deep breath, and continued down the straight tunnel.
As he reached the first crossroads, another whistle pierced the air. Krum had entered the maze. Harry had an option of going left or right. Neither seemed to offer an advantage over the other, so Harry took a guess and headed down the tunnel to his left. Almost immediately, he hit a dead end. Silently cursing, he turned and ran down the tunnel to the right, hoping that he wouldn't hit too many dead ends while in the maze.
Harry took a turn down the first tunnel to his left as soon as he could, and came across yet another crossroads where he took a chance and continued straight. He was slightly perturbed by the fact that he hadn't come across anything yet. Surely he should have encountered an obstacle by now? Almost as soon as this thought came across Harry's mind, he entered yet another crossroads, and as soon as his foot hit the center, the world started to spin around Harry. Harry stumbled and fell onto the ground, his glasses dangling as the world continued to spin. Just as soon as Harry thought he was going to throw up, the world started slowing down and soon came to a halt, with the familiar crossroads staring at him. Harry sat there for a second, momentarily shocked, before clambering to his feet. He then realized that he had no idea which tunnel he'd come from and had no sense of direction to know where to go.
For a moment, Harry stood there, feeling slightly lost as to what he was going to do. Then he cursed himself for being so stupid. He had the perfect spell to know what to do. He laid his wand out on the palm of his right hand and whispered, "Point Me!"
The wand spun in his hand for several rotations before coming to a halt facing down the tunnel to Harry's left. That way was north, and Harry needed to go east to get towards the Cup. Harry sprinted down the tunnel directly in front of him, hoping he hadn't lost too much time.
Twice more Harry ended up at dead ends, and he was getting slightly frustrated. It seemed almost as if the maze was teasing him, shifting to dead ends as soon as Harry would head down a tunnel. He was also rather uneasy about the lack of obstacles in his path. Surely by now he would have met another obstacle? Almost as if the maze was listening to him, Harry turned down a right and a few meters in front of him was an almost dog-like creature that Harry recognized as a hodag.
Harry had never encountered a hodag before, but he was aware of what they were, having read about them in his school textbooks and the various other books Hermione had checked out for him. They were deceptively fast creatures, with large, sharp fangs that Harry did not want to find out how strong they were, along with its trademark horn on top of its head. Harry remembered that the head's horn had magical abilities that if stung by it, would render Harry asleep for an entire week, easily disqualifying him from the tournament.
"Keep your distance," muttered Harry to himself, aiming his wand at the hodag. For a moment, the hodag sat still, unmoving, staring at Harry. Then, just when Harry wondered if this hodag would let him past without fighting, the hodag screeched and launched itself at Harry, its horn glowing slightly and its claws unsheathed, ready to attack. Harry dodged and rolled past the hodag, whom immediately got back to its feet and let out another screech.
"Stupefy!" cried Harry, aiming at the hodag. The spell shot quickly at the hodag, but the hodag dodged the beam of red light almost instantly, jumping onto the wall and launching itself at Harry with another screech. Harry barely managed to duck and roll underneath the hodag, finding himself once again with his back to the crossroads.
"You're fast, aren't you? Stupefy!" yelled Harry. Again, the hodag managed to dodge the red light and jumped directly over it, its claws aiming for Harry's shoulder. Harry was not as lucky this time, as although he managed to dodge the hodag's arms, its leg claws managed to slice Harry's shoulder, causing Harry to yell in pain as he rolled away from the hodag once again.
The hodag recovered quickly and was once again leaping onto a wall and getting ready to jump when Harry aimed his wand quickly and shouted, "Impedimenta!"
The jet of blue light did what Stupefy could not and hit the hodag squarely in his chest. The hodag froze and fell to the ground, its body parts immobilized. Harry quickly ran down the tunnel towards his next crossroads; The Impediment Jinx was not permanent.
As soon as Harry felt he had reached a safe distance from the hodag, he knelt down on the ground and used his right hand to feel the cut on his left shoulder. It wasn't quite as deep as Harry thought it might have been, although it still stung when Harry touched it. Harry cursed himself silently for not asking Hermione to teach him some basic healing spells before the tournament. Still, the cut didn't look quite as bad as it might have been, and Harry could still move around perfectly fine. He stood back up and continued down the tunnel, hoping that there weren't any more hodags in the maze.
The final whistle blew and Fleur rushed into the maze. All of the other champions had a head start and were already deep in the maze, so Fleur needed to do her best to try and catch up. She took a peek over her shoulder as she ran down the pathway, watching as the maze sealed itself. There was no going back at this point.
She rushed down another tunnel, the darkness of the maze closing in on her from all sides. After taking a left and reaching a dead end, she was slowly starting to panic. How many dead ends would she face, and was she even going the right route? She knew that she needed to go north starting from the entrance of maze in order to reach the Cup, and she was now fairly certain she'd gotten herself stuck in the southwest part of the maze. The best she could do was backtrack and hope that there was a path that led north.
After a few more minutes of running down paths, Fleur was slowly starting to feel anxious. She hadn't run into any obstacles yet. Surely the maze wasn't that empty? Almost as if the maze had been reading her mind, about twenty yards in front of her, the path she had been heading downwards immediately started to close, with branches growing out of the walls and blocking the rest of the path. Fleur sprinted to try and beat the growing wall, but ended up running straight into the new wall and falling down onto the ground. Wiping some leaves off of her, Fleur scrambled to her feet and looked at the new wall in front of her. It didn't look very strong, yet Fleur knew there was no way she was going to climb or break through the wall on her own. Luckily, she knew just the right curse to break through this.
Fleur stepped back, aimed her wand dead center at the makeshift wall, and said, "Reducto!" A bright flash of blue light shot out of her wand at the wall, and blasted a small hole in the branches. It wasn't very big, but it was just large enough for Fleur to push her way through, knocking down branches and leaves as she clambered through the hole. She got to her feet, brushing leaves off of her before turning to see that the hole had disappeared, and there lay nothing but a solid wall behind her. The maze had sealed itself once again.
She continued through the maze, turning every once in a while and keeping track of which direction she was going. After a few more minutes of roaming through the maze, she turned the corner and a few yards in front of her was what appeared to be a massive serpent-like creature, with frontal legs and small wings. Immediately Fleur was reminded of the dragons from the first task, however this dragon was much smaller and nowhere near as intimidating as the dragons from the first task. She assumed the creature in front of her must be from a smaller and younger species of dragons, probably from North America. Then the creature roared at her and Fleur realized that while it was smaller than the other dragons, the chances were still high that the dragon could knock her out of the task.
The dragon immediately starting charging at Fleur, who backed up into the crossroads she'd emerged from and slid to the right, avoiding the dragon who stumbled into another tunnel and quickly repositioned itself. The dragon snorted and then opened its mouth, where a jet of fire immediately shot out.
"Protego!" screamed Fleur.
She'd barely casted her Shield Charm when the jet of fire met it, testing the strength of Fleur's charm casting. Luckily, Fleur had always been at the top of the class when it came to charms. Fleur then quickly ran to the right of the dragon, which had crawled forward into the crossroads, aimed her wand at the dragon and shouted, "Stupefy!"
The red light shot out of her wand and hit the dragon squarely in the face. The dragon stumbled backwards for a moment before shaking its head and roaring once again at Fleur, who was starting to panic again. Stunning didn't seem to be doing much against a dragon.
The dragon had crouched down and seemed just about to launch itself at Fleur when she raised her wand at it and shouted, "Fasonavit Altuma Somnumos!"
The sleeping charm Fleur had used in the first task hit the dragon squarely once more in the face, and almost immediately the dragon fell to its knees and started snoring. Fleur used this time to quickly sprint down the tunnel that had been guarded by the dragon, taking a peek over her shoulder to see the dragon already stirring and starting to clamber to its feet.
Fleur sprinted down tunnels, eager to put space between herself and the dragon. But as she turned a corner, she ran right into none other than Viktor Krum, who was emerging from a tunnel and hadn't seen Fleur either.
There was a loud oof! as Fleur and Krum ran into each other. Fleur fell onto the ground, rubbing her head slightly as she looked up at Krum. "Oh, I'm sorry, Viktor," she said. "I didn't see you there."
Krum didn't respond. Fleur thought his eyes looked rather odd, almost glassy and unlike his normal piercing brown eyes. "Um, are you alright, Viktor?"
"My competitors are my worst enemies," said Krum, almost in a monotone, bored voice. "I must eliminate my enemies."
"What are you even – " began Fleur before her heart stopped as Krum raised his wand and pointed it straight at her.
Harry was just running from an encounter with a nasty pack of Doxies and was rubbing his right arm, which had suffered a few cuts, when he stopped dead in his tracks by a voice that was very nearby.
"Crucio!" came Krum's voice.
The air was suddenly full of piercing screams that Harry knew could only belong to Fleur.
"Fleur?" yelled Harry. "Fleur, where are you?"
Her screams continued to pierce the air and it sounded very close to Harry, just beyond the left side of the tunnel he was currently in. Harry turned around and sprinted down the path he'd come from, trying to find a path that connected to where Fleur's screams were coming from. He came to a fork in the road and took a right and then another right. Down the path he could see Fleur on the ground, motionless, while Krum stood over her, his wand point right at her and his face looking oddly lacking of any emotion. Krum looked up to see Harry coming after him and immediately turned to start running.
"Stupefy!" roared Harry, aiming his wand directly at Krum's back.
The Stunning Spell hit Krum squarely between his shoulders, and he fell to the ground, Stunned. Harry immediately rushed over to Fleur, who wasn't moving.
"Fleur!" said Harry, kneeling down next to her. "Fleur, are you okay? Talk to me!"
Fleur didn't say anything. Her eyes were closed and there were several nasty gashes on her arms. Harry checked and was relieved to see that she did have a pulse still. But there was no way she was going to be able to continue the tournament, in this condition.
Harry then looked over at Krum, shocked by what he had just witnessed. Over the course of the tournament, he had grown to respect Krum, both as a Quidditch player and a person. Krum had never done anything to warrant Harry to dislike him. Yet Harry had just witnessed him use an Unforgivable Curse on a fellow human being, enough for a life sentence in Azkaban. Surely, Krum didn't want to win the tournament that badly.
Harry stood to his feet, raised his wand, and shouted, "Periculum!"
A red spark shot out of his wand and flew into the sky, bursting into several smaller red sparks. Harry dragged Krum's Stunned body next to Fleur before starting to move down the tunnel. At the end of the pathway he took one look back at Fleur, who was still unconscious next to Krum. Harry felt so hopeless at that very moment, but knew that there was nothing more he could do for her or Krum. He just had to push forward.
About fifteen minutes later, Harry was running down a pathway, having escaped a scrap with one of Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts (They were absolutely enormous now) and blowing air onto his left arm, which had suffered a burn from the Skrewt. But Harry didn't care; he was so close to the Cup, he could feel the sensation of raising it in front of the entire school, being crowned Triwizard Champion, receiving the thousand Galleons as a prize…
Harry took a left and saw it. At the very end of the long tunnel, a lone Cup stood shining on top of a stone pedestal.
He took off, sprinting down the path, ready to seize the Cup and win. But just as he was halfway towards the Cup, another figure emerged from another path in front of Harry and also started running towards the Cup. It was Cedric.
Harry forced his legs to move faster than they'd ever moved in his entire life, but he knew it was useless. Cedric was taller than him, faster than him, and he was already nearly at the Cup. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw movement in the center, and yelled, "Cedric, look out!"
Cedric turned his head slightly before ducking and jumping to the side as a giant bat swung where his body was just a second ago. Harry emerged in the center of the maze next to Cedric where they both faced their final challenge.
It was a forest troll. Harry noted its similarities to the mountain troll he had faced in his first year. They were both massive, nearly twelve feet tall. They both had weapons that looked blunt and dangerous, with the forest troll holding onto a wooden bat and swinging it as it glared down at both Harry and Cedric. Unlike the mountain troll however, this troll didn't seem particularly dumb to Harry.
"ROOOOOOARRRR!" roared the troll.
"Ah, shit," Harry heard Cedric say next to him.
The troll charged. At first the troll seemed to be aiming for Harry, but midway through its charge it seemed to change its mind and instead started charging at Cedric, who immediately started sidestepping.
"Stupefy!" yelled Harry, aiming for the troll's head.
Harry might as well have poked the troll with a toothpick and it would have done more damage to the troll than his Stunning spell. The troll simply shook its head like it was getting rid of an annoying fly and continued its charge on Cedric, who dived between the troll's legs to dodge the troll's swinging bat.
"How the hell are we supposed to incapacitate this thing!" yelled Cedric, shooting his own Stunning spell at the troll.
"Pray!" said Harry. "Impedimenta!"
The Impediment Jinx his the troll's arm and seemed to work more effectively than the Stunning spell. The troll stopped moving for a moment, temporarily frozen and seemingly defeated.
Cedric was the first to talk, turning his back on the troll and clapping Harry on his shoulder. "Well, I must say, I owe you again. Saved my life with this troll, you did."
"I'm sure you would've done the same for me," said Harry, laughing nervously.
Just when Cedric was about to open his mouth to say something again, Harry noticed that the troll had slowly started to move again, and had picked up his bat and turned to face Harry and Cedric. "Cedric, run!" yelled Harry.
Cedric only had time to turn his head before the massive bat that the troll had was thrown and knocked Cedric right into a hedge. Cedric slid onto the ground, not moving. Harry swore loudly.
The troll then roared loudly one more time before charging at Harry, who slid through the troll's legs and aimed his wand at the troll's arm, yelling, "Diffindo!"
The Severing Charm opened up a gash on the troll's arm. The troll yowled in pain before glaring angrily at Harry and charging once more. "Can you do anything but charge at people?" muttered Harry as he dodged the charge once again. "Impedimenta!"
This time, Harry aimed his curse squarely at his chest. The troll froze for a moment and then fell onto the ground, immobilized by the jinx and finally seeming to be defeated.
Harry then rushed over to Cedric, who hadn't moved since the troll had thrown its bat at him. There was a nasty lump on his head, but luckily Harry still felt a pulse on his arm. Cedric was just unconscious.
Harry stood up, raised his wand to the sky, and shouted, "Periculum!"
Again, red sparks shot into the sky where he was, and Harry took one last look at the unconscious Cedric before turning to see the cup still on the stone pedestal at the center, gleaming brightly. For the first time since he'd entered the maze, Harry was ecstatic. As much as he felt bad for the other champions who had been incapacitated, he couldn't help but feel the excitement building inside him as he truly realized what just happened. He was the last one standing; him, Harry Potter, was the Triwizard champion!
Harry slowly walked towards the cup, which seemed to invite him forward to grab onto one of its handles. He stopped in front of it, taking a deep breath.
"Here we go, Harry," he whispered to himself. "One…two…three."
Harry grabbed onto the cup, and almost immediately, Harry felt his feet leave the ground and the world start to spin. His hand seemed permanently attached to the cup, and the world continued to spin, blurring and swirling around him as he held onto the cup.