A/N: The bold italicized section is quoted from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, p. 463 (U.). Many thanks to my beta J!
February 23, 1995
The morning before "The Egg Task" as Ginny had taken to calling it, found most Gryffindors in the Great Hall at breakfast. However, four Gryffindors, most specifically Ginny, Harry, Hermione and Ron were still in the common room frantically searching all books they could lay their hands on for a way that Harry could survive underwater.
"Good morning all," Neville greeted them, exiting the boys' staircase. He crossed to the table, which was piled high with books and only very small spaces in front of each individual.
"Morning, Neville," the group chorused with tired voices. Neville took in his friends' disheveled appearances. All four of them looked like they had slept in their school robes. In fact, they really looked like they hadn't slept at all.
Seeing Harry run his hands through his hair, Neville asked, "What is it that kept you up all night? And don't tell me it was preparing for the next task."
"Okay, so we won't," Ginny answered, flopping her head onto her arms that were crossed in the small space in front of her on the desktop.
Looking around at his exhausted friends, Neville queried, "Well, is it anything I can help with?"
"I doubt it," Hermione muttered, the lack of sleep definitely getting to her. She tried to run her hand through her hair, only to meet up with tangles. She let out a sigh of exasperation.
"Wait," Ron said, "Ask him. Maybe he does know something that can help. It can't hurt."
Neville turned to Harry, waiting to find out what it was that had them searching frantically through books. Hermione, he could see staying up all night with books, but the rest showed that there was something desperate about their actions.
"Well," Harry drew out slowly. "For the next task, I've got to find a way to stay underwater for an hour or more. The problem is that I can't swim, plus I have to go down where the merpeople are. There's no way that I can transfigure myself well enough by tomorrow," said Harry plaintively.
"You just need some gillyweed," Neville responded.
"Gillyweed?" the foursome chorused.
"It's a plant," Neville stammered out. "By chewing it, which I'm told it tastes very nasty, you grow gills so you have to be in water, just like a fish."
"Great," Hermione moaned. "Just how are we, I mean how is Harry supposed to get his hands on gillyweed at this late hour?"
"What do you mean this late hour? It's morning," Ron asked.
"It's an expression, Ron."
Ginny sat up straight in her chair. "Well, which professors would most likely have some? I'm thinking either Professor Sprout or," she said the next name with a shudder, "Professor Snape."
"If I remember correctly, there's some gillyweed in Professor Sprout's private greenhouse," Neville responded, searching his memory. "I took care of some of her plants during parts of the first task since she was required to be there due to Cedric's participation." He looked over at Harry, sheepishly. "I was there for most of your part, Harry. Don't think I wasn't there to cheer you on, because I was, but I've always wanted a Mimbulus mimbletonia and well, the professor offered me a chance of taking care of one."
"No worries, Neville. Do you think that Professor Sprout would be willing to give you some gillyweed?" Harry asked, perking up at the possibility that their search might be over.
"I think so. I don't see why not. It's not a dangerous plant, after all," Neville replied. "I'll ask her at breakfast."
"Thanks, Neville," Harry stated, giving a sigh of relief.
Once Neville had disappeared out the portrait hole, Ron turned to Harry. "Okay, that part is taken care of. What's next?"
"Ron, we don't know for certain if that part will be taken care of yet," Ginny admonished her older brother.
"Still, Ginny, we need to prepare for the rest of it. What did the clue say exactly again, Harry?" Hermione rebutted, defending Ron as always when she wasn't fighting with him.
"Come 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 what you'll sorely miss?" Ron questioned.
Hermione looked perplexed for a moment before asking, "Harry, how are you planning on searching underwater? I mean, you can't exactly wear your glasses."
Harry froze, eyes wide. "I hadn't thought about that. What can I do? I don't have any goggles."
"Well," Hermione started. "I think I might have a solution for that, actually." She pulled out her ever present rucksack and opened it to grab a book out. "I found this potion recipe back toward the beginning of school." She turned to the bookmark and pointed to the recipe. "It's to improve eyesight. When I first saw it, I thought that maybe you could try it, but then with all the stress of the tournament and…" She shrugged. "Well, everything, I thought it might be best to hold off."
Ginny skimmed over the recipe. It seemed fairly straightforward until she read the next to the last instruction. The younger Gryffindor looked at Hermione. "Um, Hermione, what about the part where it says that the potion must simmer for three months?"
"I've already brewed some. I have the vials up in my room. You just have to add it to your pumpkin juice," she told Harry.
"Do you think it's safe?" Harry asked tentatively, not wanting to upset his friend.
"Well, I've followed the instructions exactly. I didn't have to worry about adding someone's DNA to it, so you should be fine," Hermione informed him.
"All right, then, grab a vial and let's go get some breakfast before it's too late," Harry instructed.
Once they were situated at the table, Harry poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice before starting to fill his plate with food. Hermione reached her arm across the table to grab Harry's glass. She dumped the contents of the vial into the cup before placing it between Harry and Ginny.
The group had just started eating when Neville slid onto the bench on Harry's right.
"It's a no-go, guys. Professor Sprout won't let me have any gillyweed." Leaning closer, he continued, "Actually, I think she was suspicious as to why I was requesting that particular plant." He looked dejectedly toward Harry. "I'm sorry."
Harry patted him on the shoulder. "It's okay. At least you tried. I'll just have to try something else."
"But what else can we do?" Ron asked, leaving his food untouched in his concern for his friend.
"I have an idea," Ginny exclaimed, lowering the glass of pumpkin juice she had been drinking. "I say we use Harry's cloak and nick some from the greenhouse." Her eyes started to glow with excitement.
Hermione looked at Ginny, then at the glass that Ginny's hand was still resting on, before settling her eyes back on Ginny. Her mouth dropped open and she pointed at Ginny, unable to say anything for a moment.
"What's wrong with you, Hermione?" Ron asked. Hermione's mouth went up and down, but no sounds came out. "Okay, who's broken Hermione?" Ron questioned.
"Sh-she drank the pumpkin juice with the potion in it," Hermione stammered out.
Harry shrugged. "It's just a potion to improve eyesight. It shouldn't be a problem, should it?"
"Well, I don't know what the repercussions might be to someone who has excellent eyesight to begin with," Hermione retorted.
"It's too late to do anything about it now. I suggest we don't worry about it and plan how we're going to sneak into the greenhouse tonight with what little time we have left here at breakfast," Ginny declared.
With that, the discussion turned to the secret mission that night.
Ginny entered the Great Hall for dinner after a very long day of classes. Letting out a yawn, she crossed to sit in front of Hermione as usual. Placing her rucksack beside her, she glanced to her right, expecting to see a messy head of dark hair. She frowned when she saw that there was nothing but empty air between her and Neville.
"Where's Harry?" she asked her brother and friends.
"Oh, he's upstairs lying down. Apparently right before we left breakfast this morning, he poured the rest of the pumpkin juice down his throat as fast as he could. Within about thirty minutes, he was complaining of an upset stomach," Ron responded with food in his mouth.
"Manners, Ron!" Hermione scolded. "I asked Harry what he expected when he downed a drink with a potion in it so quickly." She shook her head briefly before muttering to herself. "Maybe the potion didn't have time to take effect because of how quickly he drank it." She stopped for a second before turning to Ginny. "Have you felt any effects from the potion?"
"Not that I'm aware of. I feel fine," Ginny answered. "Wait, if Harry's not feeling good, then what about the plan for tonight?"
"I guess we'll just have to cancel," Neville said without a hint of remorse in his voice.
"Neville Longbottom! Are you or are you not a Gryffindor?" Ginny scolded.
"We were going to get caught. I don't want another detention in the Forbidden Forest." He shuddered at the memory.
"But lots of things have changed since that time. We have ways now of getting around without being detected," Ginny answered. Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of another badge on Malfoy's chest. "Oh, that ferret! That's it! I'm going after him," Ginny exclaimed heatedly, surging to her feet.
Neville grabbed her arm and refused to let go, slowing her down while Ron quickly scooted under the table to help hold her in place. Hermione turned to look toward the Slytherin table, but couldn't find where Malfoy was sitting.
"Ginny, what are you talking about? What has Malfoy done now?" Hermione asked.
"That stupid badge of his. Don't you see it? It says Pig-Sty Potter Stinks in bright green letters now. Oh, he just infuriates me with what he's allowed to get away with," she stormed.
"Gin," Ron said before cringing at the glare his sister threw his way at the shortened version of her name. "I don't see anything on the ferret. How can you read it from here anyway?"
"What do you mean?" she parried. "It's right there on his chest on his left, our right."
Hermione let out a quiet "hmph" of acknowledgment. "I guess the potion does work on Ginny after all. That's an incredible distance that you're reading from. Normal eyesight wouldn't be able to read anything that far away." When Ginny turned to meet Hermione's eyes, Hermione let out a gasp. "Ginny, your eyes, they're glowing."
"What?" the younger Gryffindor asked, confused.
"Your eyes are glowing like a cat's," Hermione stated, amazed by the discoveries she was making.
"I beg your pardon?" Ginny asked exasperatedly.
"Your eyes are glowing. I wonder if this means you can see exceptionally well in the dark. Hmm," Hermione thought aloud.
"Hermione, we don't have time for this. If you people won't let me at the ferret, then we need to focus on helping Harry get through this task," Ginny almost growled out.
"Well, Harry did give me his cloak and map to let you two borrow," Ron told Ginny and Neville.
"All right," Neville sighed. "But how are we going to make sure that Professor Sprout won't be going to her greenhouse during that time?"
A dreamy voice came from just over Ginny's head. "I can distract her if that's what you need," Luna Lovegood suggested.
"Luna? You would do that for me?" Ginny said.
"Why, of course. You're one of my best friends. Besides, I need to see if Professor Sprout has any mistletoe. The infestation of Nargles is extremely high this year."
"Well, then, let's do this," Ginny said to Neville.
Luna skipped off to engage Professor Sprout while Ron handed the map and the cloak over to Ginny in a small alcove just past the doors to the Great Hall.
"Be careful," Ron cautioned them. "Why am I not going with you two again?"
"Because you're too tall. Harry would have fit with us because I have no qualms with cuddling up close with him under the cloak. You, on the other hand, I have no desire to be as close as we would have to be since you're getting so tall!" Ginny answered.
Ron started to pout. But then Neville spoke up.
"You know Ron, I would be more than happy to let you go, but do you know what gillyweed even looks like?" When Ron shook his head, Neville continued, "I'm the only one that does. That's the only reason why I'm going. I can't let Harry face that task tomorrow without doing everything I can to help him."
"Oh, all right," Ron said grumpily. "Just let me know when you return."
Ginny and Neville walked out the front doors and turned toward the greenhouses. Fortunately, they didn't run into anyone on the way there. Pausing outside the door, they both looked around stealthily to make sure no one saw them going in.
"And you're positive that the professor doesn't have a shield or an alarm of any sort on the greenhouse, right?" Ginny whispered to Neville, her hand hovering over the door handle to the glass structure. Seeing his vigorous nod, she placed her hand on the handle and whispered, "Here goes." She opened the door quietly and after hearing no alarms, stepped inside. Neville crowded the doorway behind her, urging her further inside.
Ginny's eyes took in all the details of the variety of plants that surrounded her, simply amazed that so many existed. Her mother's garden in the spring and summer were full of beautiful and astounding plants, but this… this greenhouse looked lush and rich. It was how she imagined Beaumont Marjoribanks' garden must have looked. She wanted to investigate all the different plants, but knew that time that night was limited.
Lighting the torch Hermione gave him, Neville cupped her elbow and directed her down the center aisle past several unusual plants. The Fanged Geranium snapped at the duo. When the Venomous Tentacula reached out a vine toward them, Neville just pulled Ginny out of the way. A little further down the walkway, there was a vibrant green plant with little gold flowers. The leaves flowed out from the center in arches like rainbows. Ginny paused to look at it. She tugged on Neville's sleeve.
"What's this? I've never seen it before," Ginny questioned, completely enthralled with the plant. Neville shined the torch onto the plant.
"Oh, that's Pyritius Leipreachan. When the sap of the plant touches human skin, it turns the person into a leprechaun for a day," Neville said with a laugh. "Look, there's the gillyweed."
Ginny turned her head to look at the plant that Neville was pointing the torch toward. There was a greyish-green ball that looked like a bundle of worms. She was extremely glad at that moment that it was Harry that would have to eat it and not her.
"How do we collect it? Does Harry have to eat the parts that look like worms?" Ginny asked, with a look of disgust on her face.
"Here, hold this bag open for me and I'll take care of it," Neville suggested, tucking the torch under his chin. Ginny grabbed the rucksack that Neville had brought specifically for this purpose. She turned her head when the ball of worms came even closer to her. Her mind brought up images of the pictures she had seen of Medusa's hair. She shuddered at the thought as Neville brought the flap of the rucksack back to the front.
"Let's get out of here," Neville muttered.
On the way out, Ginny stopped once again by the leprechaun plant. With payback for the twins in mind, she pinched off several leaves, taking care not to let the sap touch her skin. She pulled out her rucksack and slipped the stalks in.
A noise from the doorway froze the pair in their steps. As Neville extinguished the torch, Ginny pulled the cloak out and over the duo just before the door opened to reveal Professor Sprout and Luna. The blonde Ravenclaw pointed to a bush down the left side. Using Luna's diversion, Ginny grabbed Neville's elbow and guided him out of the door as fast as she could.
Neville breathed a huge sigh of relief once they crossed the threshold of the main castle. "I was so scared that we were going to be caught."
"Caught doing what, Mr. Longbottom?" Professor McGonagall's voice sounded from behind them.
"Oh, Professor, we were just flying around outside. I was practicing some Quidditch speed trials," Ginny responded.
"Miss Weasley, your presence is needed in my office. Would you come with me?"
"Certainly," Ginny replied in bewilderment. She handed the bags over to Neville. "Make sure that Harry gets these, please, Neville?" With that, Ginny turned to follow her head of house up to her office.
The next morning Harry was awakened by a house-elf jumping up and down on his bed.
"Dobby! What are you doing?" Harry hissed as he slid his glasses onto his face.
"Harry Potter must wake up. Harry Potter must retrieve his Wheezy," Dobby exclaimed.
"What do you mean, retrieve my Wheezy? Ginny? Where is she? Is she hurt?" Harry demanded.
"Her is part of your task today. Have Harry Potter figured out how to go underwater?" Dobby queried.
Harry held up the ball of gillyweed, but answered, "I don't know how I'm going to see underwater though. I don't have goggles."
"Wills Harry Potter sir let Dobby restore his eyesight?" Dobby suggested, hands clasped in front of him.
"Hermione gave me a potion to improve my eyesight. It didn't work," Harry told the house-elf.
"That's because her gave Harry Potter sir potion to improve eyesight, not restore eyesight. Dobby's knows a charm to fix your eyesight for a day. Should Dobby does it?" Dobby's big bulbous eyes looked pleading at Harry. The wizard squeezed his eyes shut tight before answering.
"Yes," he croaked out, hoping that he wouldn't regret his decision. Dobby pointed toward Harry's eyes and a blinding flash shot directly through them. When Harry's vision cleared from the flash, all he saw around him was fuzziness.
"Dobby? Dobby!" Harry yelled. "Now I can't see at all!" Then Dobby pulled the glasses off his nose. "Oh, sorry. Thank you so much, Dobby for my eyesight, but what was it you were saying about Ginny?" Harry coaxed.
"Just that her's what was taken that Harry Potter will sorely miss," Dobby responded.
Harry remembered the rest of the rhyme and shot up out of his bed. He dressed quickly and hurried down to the lake, only to discover that he was early for the task by about an hour.
"Seeing in the dark without the aid of a torch is a very useful skill, Gin," Harry commented as they were sneaking back into the Gryffindor common room after setting up the charm on the twins' seats on the bench at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.
"I know. I can't believe I didn't notice it in the greenhouse. It's so strange. I could see perfectly, but it didn't seem any different than normal. And Neville didn't say a thing!" Ginny shared.
"Well, he probably was worried about getting caught. I'm just glad that you managed to nick some. I think the last time I was so worried about you was in the Chamber. I certainly hope that this doesn't become a regular occurrence," Harry said, slipping his cloak from around them. He pulled Ginny over to the couch by the fire before swinging her feet up into his lap once they were seated. The wizard slipped her shoes off and started to rub her feet.
"Harry, you don't have to do that, you know," Ginny said, "but I won't stop you."
"Well, it's just for a few minutes. Then it's bedtime. You've gotten Lee to help guarantee that the twins will sit in their spots, right?" Harry inquired.
"And Alicia, Angelina and Katie. Don't worry, we're covered. When the twins turn into little leprechauns with green hair and skin tomorrow, they won't know what hit them," Ginny said. "Once again, Mr. Potter, you fulfill your promise."
"I'll always fulfill my promises to you, Gin."