Chapter 12 - Under the Lake

The Yule Ball had been a success, at least most of the couples around the castle thought so. Ron and Hermione were on a very formal level after the blazing argument that had occurred after everyone had returned to the tower.

Neither Harry nor Ginny were getting involved and made it plain to both their friends that they would not take sides, this was for Ron and Hermione to work out and they wanted nothing to do with it. It was an uneasy truce, but was working.

The day after Boxing Day, Hermione asked Harry if he had worked out the clue to the egg yet. Harry had turned a little red and glanced at Ginny. Harry replied, "I've had other things to think about and not really worked on it since opening it after the First Task."

Ginny just smiled and recommended that they set aside some time before classes started to work on it. "After all, we helped you prepare for the First Task and this one will be easier if we prepare ahead of time."

Hagrid being revealed as a half-giant stunned everyone except for Ron, who confessed that he had overheard Hagrid talking to Madame Maxine at the Yule Ball while walking out in the rose garden. They had unsuccessfully tried to talk to their giant friend, but he would not open his door.

The quartet spent most of their free time, before classes started again, working on new ways to get answers out of the egg, but the shrill sound coming from the egg never changed. It wound up being a frustrated Ginny who found a solution.


"This is getting us nowhere!" shouted Harry over the sound coming from the egg.

He then closed the egg and everyone removed the earmuffs they had borrowed from the Herbology classroom to reduce the awful sound. The group had spent the past several days wearing them in an unused classroom far from most travel paths to work on the egg.

Hermione seemed the most put out, as all her research had so far returned nothing of use. She had tried a translation spell, but that did nothing but make the sound even worse. She then proceeded through a thick book of spells, trying each to no success.

Ron had tried screaming at it, but that had done nothing. Harry had even tried kicking it, but only succeeded in bruising his foot. Ginny had just stared at the egg, her eyes getting narrower as each attempt failed.

When the egg was secured again, she huffed out, "I say we just boil the dumb thing and be done with it."

Ron was the first to break down laughing; but the others soon followed. After a few minutes Harry calmed down and wiped a tear from his eyes. "We might as well try; I don't think we could hurt it."

After a quick trip to the kitchens, where an ecstatic Dobby had greeted them, they had retrieved a large cooking cauldron big enough to house the egg. They returned to the classroom and submerged the egg after filling the pot with water, using the Aguamenti spell.

Placing their earmuffs on again, Harry opened the egg inside the filled cauldron. There was almost no sound, so they removed the earmuffs and heard the unintelligible sounds coming from the cauldron. Taking a deep breath, Harry suddenly dunked his head into the water. A few moments later he emerged and said, "There are words now." He then dunked his head again and listened more closely.

After everyone had a turn, Hermione wrote down what they all agreed the words said:

Come and seek us where our voices sound.
We cannot sing above the ground.
And while you're searching, ponder this:
We've taken what you'll sorely miss.
An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took.
But past an hour - the prospect's black.
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back.

(Taken from "The Goblet of Fire", chapter 25)

Harry sighed, "It would have to be a riddle inside a riddle."

Both Hermione and Ginny gave him a look that clearly said nothing dealing with him was ever easy.

The quartet had decided to wait on solving the riddle as it was already getting late and classes were due to start in the morning.

For solving the egg clue, Ginny had received a toe-curling kiss from Harry that left her speechless and light-headed all the way to bed. Her dreams were all bright colors and rainbows.


Hermione copied out the riddle for everyone and they talked about it at mealtimes and whenever they had free time from homework. In the end they agreed that it probably meant that something that Harry cared for was going to be taken from him and he would have to retrieve it from under-water, most likely the Black Lake.

Privately Harry could guess what would be taken. Ginny had very quickly became someone who he would 'sorely miss'. The chances that it would be an object, like his Firebolt, were quickly dismissed; an object would not inspire the needed concern to retrieve it.


Watching Viktor Krum dive into the chilly waters of the lake one day reminded Harry of something very important; Harry Potter, "The Boy Who Lived", Savior of the Philosopher's Stone, Slayer of the Basilisk, and Tri-Wizard Champion, could not swim.

As soon as he admitted this to his friends they were more than ready to teach him. Ron was actually amazed that there was something that he could do that Harry couldn't. The only problem was where; the lake was much too cold for learning even if it was where he was destined to go for the Task.

It was Cedric Diggory who provided the solution, of a sort. He had told Harry about the Prefect's Bathroom thinking that Harry might need help with the egg clue; he was returning the favor after Harry had informed him about the dragons in the First Task. Harry did not have the heart to tell Cedric that he (and his friends) had already solved the egg clue.

Ron had agreed to teach Harry; mostly because he did not want Harry and Ginny to be alone together with so little clothing on, but also to make up for being a prat to Harry before the First Task. Ginny had agreed that it was probably for the best, even though the thought of seeing Harry in just his swim trunks was very appealing.

To avoid running into anyone, they went at night, using the invisibility cloak and the Marauder's Map to avoid detection. It didn't take long for Harry to learn, his natural agility in the air sort of translated into swimming. The only problem they had was finding a way for Harry to breathe underwater.

Harry was explaining Muggle air tanks to Ron and Ginny, while Hermione researched for magical solutions in the library. Neville, who was close by, asked them what they were talking about. After explaining the situation to him he responded, "What about Gillyweed? It allows you to breathe underwater for about an hour, it even gives you webbing on your feet and hands to help with swimming."

All four just stared at him. Turning red, he said, "It was in the book Moody gave me."

Thanking him, Harry decided that he should ask Professor Sprout about the plant.

After supper, he approached the Herbology Professor and explained his need. She told him that she had none, but that Professor Snape probably would have some. Reluctant to approach the man, Harry asked if he could purchase it somewhere. She later provided him with some catalogs where such things could be ordered. Harry sent Hedwig out with an order for the rare plant. He only hoped that it would arrive before the Task in a couple of weeks.


His fears were unfounded as the package arrived three days later. There was more than enough, at least according to the book that Neville had, for Harry to practice a little with and still have some for the actual task.

Harry found that after eating the Gillyweed that the water seemed warmer than it did normally. He was actually getting pretty good at swimming and was starting to enjoy himself. But as the time drew nearer he began to dread what everyone now knew was about to happen.

One week before the Task was to start, Harry approached Hermione about a possible way of finding Ginny sooner rather than later in the competition. Hermione seemed to think for a moment before snapping her fingers and running upstairs. As this was fairly common of an occurrence, Harry thought nothing of it.

Hermione returned with a couple of books. Sitting down at a table she opened one and had Harry read it. It was a story about a wizard in China who always became lost and couldn't find his way home. His wife, a witch, finally tired of waiting hours, if not days, for the man to return home, created a spell. She tied a piece of string to his little finger and one to her own and then cast a spell that magically tied them together so that he would always know in what direction his wife was.

Harry looked up at Hermione and said, "It sounds like a good story, but how does that help?"

Hermione, looking put out, replied, "There is a folktale in most oriental cultures about a 'Red String of Fate' or something similar. It is supposed to join two people who are destined to be together, this story is probably the origin of that myth."

Harry nodded as Hermione continued, "I occasionally look up some Muggle myths and legends to see if maybe there are actual magical connections. This was one that I found that is like that."

"While I haven't come across another reference like that story, I have found a spell that a wizard used on his dog that was always running away. It should work for you and Ginny."

Harry thought about it and said, "I should talk this over with Ginny. I'm not opposed to the idea, but at the same time it just sounds a little weird."

Hermione smiled and nodded her head. "It does, but it is one possible solution. I'll keep looking, but this is the best one I've found that meets what you are wanting."

Later that night, when Harry and Ginny were spending 'alone' time together, he brought up the possible solution to Ginny. While they rarely were alone, it was something that they agreed they should do even if just for a few minutes a day in a crowded room.

She, like Harry, could see both the positive and negative sides to such a spell. In the end they agreed that they would do it only if another solution didn't present itself by the day before the task.


The week passed a little too quickly for Harry's peace of mind; eventually the day before the task had arrived.

Hermione had outdone herself in research and had actually found three possible spells that might help Harry find Ginny. Unfortunately one of them required Harry's wand to act like a needle in a compass, and as he would be underwater this spell was deemed inappropriate.

Another spell acted like a metal detector of sorts but could be set to find just one thing, in this case Ginny, but after testing it Harry complained that the 'ping' sound coming from his wand traveled up his arm and was very distracting. In the end they went with the first spell that Hermione had found.

Lacking a red string, they used one of Ginny's long hairs instead. Tying it loosely around both of their pinkie fingers, Hermione touched it with her wand and said, "Obligamus Animas Simul."

The hair, and to a lesser extent Harry and Ginny, all glowed a pale yellow for a moment. The hair seemed to evaporate and the light faded. No one said anything for a moment.

"Well?" asked Hermione, a bit exasperated.

Ginny took a small step backwards and Harry frowned. "I sort of felt that."

"Me too," replied Ginny who was also frowning but in a curious sort of way.

For the next hour they tested it. Harry would close his eyes and Ginny would move around the room or go up the stairs. They thought it would feel like the hair would pull them in the correct direction but it was more a sense of just "knowing" where the other was.

They also discovered that distance was a factor. While they could not tell the exact distance, they both could feel the other as 'more solid' the closer they were. While they held hands the feel would be as solid as the hand they held. All in all it was not as unpleasant as they thought.

Although a bit annoyed, Ron did not say anything to Harry and Ginny about their constant hand-holding. He knew as well as they did that all too soon Ginny would be whisked away to be hidden in the lake.

About an hour after dinner Fred and George approached the four-some. For once there was no laughter in their language or demeanor. "Ginny, Hermione, Professor Dumbledore asks for you to come with us."

Turning to Harry, Ginny bends down and hugs him tightly, Harry holding on to her just as tightly but eventually they break apart. Reaching up, Ginny grabs Harry's head and pulls it down for a quick but desperate kiss. "I expect a quick rescue, Potter. No dallying with any mermaids or anything, you hear?"

Harry smiled and just nodded his head.

Squaring her shoulders, Ginny headed towards the door and was lost to sight with the closing of the entryway.


As the portrait closed on the common room, Ginny's shoulders slumped. She had full confidence in Harry and his ability to find her. After all he had found her in her first year and he had fewer clues then. But she was a little nervous about what was to happen.

Fred and George didn't really say anything on the way, but acted more like an honor guard. She was happy to have their support. They may be some of the silliest people she knew, but in the end they were family and she was grateful for them.

Hermione, on the other hand, was nervously rubbing her hands together. "Why does Professor Dumbledore need me?"

"No idea," Fred responded. "He just asked us to fetch both of you."

They led them, not to Dumbledore's office as Ginny expected, but to the Great Hall. George opened the door and they filed in. Inside were the school heads and Professors McGonagall and Flitwick. Cho Chang and a small girl who looked a lot like Fleur were also present.

"Thank you Misters Wesley, you may return to your common room," said Dumbledore.

The twins nodded and left the room, although Ginny noticed that they didn't quite close the door; she expected that they would be listening just outside the door.

"Now then," continued the Headmaster, "I will explain a little of what will be happening."

"Tonight you four," and here he pointed to the assembled young people, "will sleep down here in a guest room that we have prepared. You have been chosen as someone that each Champion will miss the most."

Everyone except Hermione nodded. She seemed a little stunned that she had been chosen.

"Tomorrow morning, we will all go down to the lake where each of you will be put under a spell that will put you in a state of hibernation. You will then be turned over to the Merpeople who will take you to their village under the lake to await the Champions."

"During this time you will be, for lack of a better word, asleep until you once again return to the air above."

At the look of doubt on the little girl's face Dumbledore added, "Do not worry. The Merpeople are not hostile unless provoked. They have agreed to help us, you all will be safe."

Hermione raised her hand. "Professor, what happens if a Champion doesn't get to us within the time limit?"

Dumbledore smiled. "Not to worry, Miss Granger; if your Champion isn't able to retrieve you and must retire, the Merpeople will return you."

With no further questions, the girls were led off to a room just off the main hallway. There were four beds and a change of clothes on each; it seemed that the house elves had prepared everything ahead of time. Hermione was not pleased, but as there was no one to complain to, Ginny refusing to listen, she let it drop.

Ginny grabbed her pajamas and started to change into them.

"You're Harry Potter's girlfriend, aren't you?" asked Cho to Ginny.

Ginny turned to the beautiful Asian girl. Cho, like Ginny, was changing and was currently only in her underthings. Ginny couldn't help but notice that the older girl had developed very nicely.

Puffing up a little Ginny replied, "I am."


"Why do you ask?"

Cho faced her after pulling on her nightdress. "I heard that he only asked you because no one else would go with him."

Ginny felt a spike of anger towards the girl, but replied instead, "Hardly. If you believe that there are NO girls who wouldn't jump at the chance of dating Harry, you're not as bright as you seem."

Cho scowled at that comment, but Ginny continued, "Believe me, he had choices. I just happened to be the one to prove the best choice!"

Hermione shot her a look, but Ginny chose to ignore it for now, she would ask about it later.

The sound of a beetle flying off could clearly be heard in the silence that followed.


The next morning Harry was very nervous; neither girl had returned to the common room and they were not at breakfast.

Harry had gone to bed knowing that Ginny was somewhere below him in the castle, but not much more. Upon waking, though, the first thing Harry noticed was that his sense of Ginny was quite faint, but also coming from a totally different direction, the lake. He also noticed that it didn't seem as vibrant or "alive" as before, he could only guess that it had something to do with whatever spell had obviously been put on her to allow her to be under the water without drowning.

Ron was also subdued; he only had two helpings at breakfast instead of his usual "grab and eat everything in sight" approach. Neither boy said much, nor did those around them question them. It being obvious that neither wanted to talk about the coming event.

After a small eternity of waiting, the Champions were heading down to the lake. They were all dressed in swim trunks and had thick robes on to keep out the cold. The one stray thought in Harry's mind was what idiot held an outdoor swimming event in the middle of winter?

After a small briefing from Dumbledore, the four Champions prepared to enter the water. Harry pulled out the Gillyweed, while the others pulled out their wands. As the canon sounded, the three older champions disappeared under the water, while Harry started eating the last of the Gillyweed.

As the effects of the plant started, Harry dove down. With a gentle tugging leading him on, Harry made an almost straight line towards Ginny. It only took him about fifteen minutes to reach her.

There wasn't much light this far down in the lake, but what little light there was seemed to be caught in Ginny's beautiful red hair. The way her hair floated away from her, combined with the reflections from the light gave her an angelic view. Harry almost wished he had a camera to capture the scene.

Even with the words from the egg being repeated now, Harry knew that the other 'hostages' would be safe. Both Ginny and Hermione had made it clear to Harry that Dumbledore wouldn't let any student under his watch to be harmed in any way.

Finding a sharp rock, as Harry had discovered during his practices that using his wand underwater didn't have the desired effects; he cut the rope that was holding Ginny to the statue. Harry was temporary mesmerized by the beautiful girl just floating there.

Shaking his head, Harry gently grabbed his girlfriend and swam towards the shoreline where he knew everyone had gathered to watch. Since Ginny was still enchanted after he got her, Harry suspected that she wouldn't awake until they reached the surface. Since it was easier for him to swim with her than try to break the surface, he swam well above the weeds and waited until he could vaguely see the people waiting on shore before he took them all the way out of the water.

He immediately regretted that as the effects of the Gillyweed hadn't worn off yet; Ginny came awake as soon as her head broke above the waves, but Harry had to stay in the water. They were in shallow enough water that she was able to walk out of the water and into the waiting arms of Madame Pomfrey, who immediately wrapped her in a thick robe and forced her to drink Pepper-Up Potion.

After what seemed a very long time, Harry could feel the Gillyweed wearing off. He broke the surface and walked to his waiting girlfriend and the school nurse. He was given the same treatment as Ginny. A few minutes later, Victor Krum and Hermione came out. A few minutes later Cedric and Cho left the water.

Harry started to frown, Fleur hadn't returned yet and the time limit was over. A hushed murmur from the waiting crowd could be heard. About fifteen minutes later, two blonde heads and many more of the Merpeople broke the surface. It was obvious that Fleur was hurt as she was moving slowly and had many cuts and scratches all over her.

Dumbledore and Madame Maxime both waded out the girls, and Fleur leaned heavily against her headmistress. Madame Pomfrey waved her wand around the girl and then produced a goblet of something and ordered the girl to drink. Color started coming back to Fleur's cheeks and she was able to stand on her own quickly.

Dumbledore meanwhile was talking, in Mermish, to one of the Merpeople who seemed to be their spokesman. Dumbledore nodded and then turned to the other judges, who all gathered to hear what he had to say.

After a couple of minutes, Ludo Bagman had cast the Sonorus charm and started speaking.

"After learning of what happened under the water, we award the following: To Mr. Harry Potter, who used Gillyweed to great effect, and who returned just 31 minutes after entering the water with his hostage, both of them unharmed, we award full marks: 50 points!"

The cheering was especially loud from the Hogwarts students but ended quickly.

"Mr. Victor Crum, who used an incomplete form of transfiguration but was nevertheless effective, returned just one minute outside the time limit, but with his hostage and himself unharmed. We award him 45 points!"

The cheering this time was loudest from the students of Durmstrang.

"To Mr. Cedric Diggory, who used the Bubble-Head charm and returned with his hostage, but five minutes outside the time limit, we award him 40 points!"

Again there was cheering form Hogwarts.

"And lastly, to Ms. Fleur Delacour, who also used the Bubble-Head charm. Ms. Delacour encountered Grindylows, which delayed her enough so that she reached her hostage well outside the time limit. She nevertheless returned with her hostage and will receive 30 points!"

There was a ring of applause from the Beauxbatons students.

"Thank you all for coming out and supporting your Champion!"

He then removed the amplification spell.