Again, I apologize for the lack of updates – I could say so many excuses, but I'd rather spend my time writing the next chapter :P
In answers to some queries saying Voldie would be the heir of Peverell – well, Harry's beaten Voldie in duels three times and according to many fanfictions this makes Harry the heir of Slytherin – so why couldn't it make him the heir of the house of Peverell too?
Please be kind to me for my absence, and I hope you enjoy this next chapter… TASTK TWO xD
N.B. I write these chapters then post them straight away, so I apologize for any typos :P
Although he now had a sound plan, knowing that Hermione would be at the bottom of the lake right now meant that Harry couldn't sleep at all. He didn't even bother going to bed, and instead sat in the window of the dorms once the others had gone to sleep, watching the black lake through the dimness of night.
He had received an acceptance letter from Madam Bones six hours after he'd sent it, with the assurance that she would personally be overseeing the questioning of the person who saw fit to place tracking charms on children without their parent's permission and dump them in the bottom of a Lake without any form of protection.
He knew that would go smoothly enough – he wouldn't even need to do anything but Hermione… He couldn't help but still be scared for her.
It was if Cassi was sending him a warning.
'Get a grip Potter – you're the boy who lived… well… this time… hopefully' He berated himself as he gathered up the plants from Snape, checking them one last time for curses or potions before putting them in his bag.
One hour to go now… the night had both dragged on and gone by far too quickly.
When the first of the others began to stir – Dean this time – Harry made his way out of the room, rushing past the common room, not wanting to glance at their sofa, knowing that Hermione wouldn't be there and feeling a pang in his chest he had never experienced before.
Passing through the corridors, he only stopped briefly at the Great Hall, waving to Luna before hurrying out to meet the other champions. There were no open hostilities this time, and Cedric smiled at him as they all sat down to wait for the Champions.
"You ready Harry?"He asked quietly, noticing the nerves on the other.
"Hermione wasn't in her dorm last night…" He whispered, glad that he didn't need to hide some things. Cedric had actually been a decent guy after all – he had never bragged about winning Quiddich against him or anything.
"Liz wasn't either." Cedric looked equally as nervous, although there was still a strength about him. "If I'd realized that this would happen for taking her… well I'd have protected her more. Are all our dates down there?"
Every Champion there knew that the others knew about the task so although they kept their voices down, Krum and Fleur made no attempts to hide the fact that they both knew and had been eavesdropping.
"I 'ave spoken to William last night. Apparently 'is muzzer refused to allow Dumblezdoor to take 'im." She smiled proudly at that, before her face darkened. "I 'ave no idea who 'e 'as taken to be my hostage though."
"My Headmaster refused to give permission to Dumbledore either – my date's family are not known for their kindness and Karkarof is a coward." He said bluntly. "I will take whoever is not for you three and bring them up."
They fell into a comfortable silence after that, each realizing that the others cared about saving the people taken rather than points. Fleur didn't have the curse put on her yet, so maybe Dumbledore would get distracted before he could.
"Will the Champions please come to the stands." Badman's voice rose out about above the general noise of the crowds, and the four champions made their way out in a line, Fleur, Cedric, Harry then Krum to the cheers of their schools. Although Cedric appeared to get the loudest cheer, Harry noticed that he also got far many more than he had last time as he checked his pouch for the extra plants, and Hermione's wand (that he had asked Parvati to fetch for him).
As they all walked past the judges seats, he couldn't help but notice that Amelia Bones was standing behind Dumbledore, a grim smile on her face.
"Inside the Black Lake we have hidden the thing each Champion will sorely miss. They have one hour to collect this item before time has run out." There were a few gasps from the crowd, but each champion was still, concentrating on the task that would come up next. "You will all enter on the count of three… three… two…"
Harry took the first handful of the plant Snape had given to him and began to chew, noticing that although the gills were forming slightly, they weren't active – as if they were waiting for the water to hit them before they worked.
"One! And they're off!" Bagman cheered as the four jumped in, each using their different transfigurations. At least Krum chose to be some breed of shark with slightly less sharp teeth and arms as he made his way down, whereas Fleur and Cedric both chose the Bubblehead charm again.
Point me Hermione. Seeing as no one could see him Harry used wordless magic to find the location of Hermione, keeping a firm eye out for hostile creatures as his webbed feet helped him to power down to the depths, the practice in swimming doing him wonders.
He would definitely need to keep his fitness levels up to help in both the tournament and in duels – who knew what he would be facing this time around – and he needed to live in order to not meet Cassi for a long, long time… Well, at least a Cassi in a bad mood.
Reducto! One curse later and he had blasted through the locked gates to the mer village and was prepared for battle. None of the others had arrived there yet, thankfully, and so as the first mer man came towards him, Harry sent a quick plea of help up to Cassi to not kill him if Reg's plan went horribly wrong.
'Great Merpeople of the Black Lake' He stopped by the gates, keeping his wand out for safety while speaking mermish – a skill that Dumbledore only had a primitive grasp of. The mother tongue of the mer people was something far more sophisticated and beautiful.
It was only a pity he had had to spend hours in the afterlife learning it by wrote, instead of reveling in the pleasure of hearing it under the sea.
'Who are you human to speak our tongue?' The nearest called out, clearly still hostile towards him, but less so than he had expected. 'What are you doing in our peaceful village?'
'I am here with three others to right a great wrong that has been done to both the people we care about and your peoples.' Pointing to the hostages, Harry made a step closer, not moving any other part of his body, but allowing him to then begin to drift in that area. 'These four innocents had been kidnapped and put under your protection without the permission of their parents or those responsible for them, with provisions in place to ensure they didn't last the hour.'
The last bit Harry hadn't known about until he had died for the latest time, but apparently Ron and Gabrielle had also been to visit death (although different Reapers) during that task.
'We are here to take them away from you, and also the cursed statue that you were given by the current Headmaster of these lands.' It was obvious that the curse was rooted in the statue of Dumbledore's Phoenix – the whole thing was pulsing with magic, and the mer people were constantly gravitating towards it. He couldn't touch it to destroy it without the permission of the mer though.
'How do we know that you speak the truth human?' Another spoke out, one much nearer to the hostages, jabbing his trident in the air. 'The Headmaster has only ever been kind to us!'
'Why have you been getting weaker over the last fifty years then?' He asked quietly, using their thoughts to move nearer to Hermione, untying her bonds and embracing her tightly. 'Ever since he started bringing gifts down to you.'
He was bluffing now, but if it worked… well, it would help make these waters a safer place.
Within a minute the statue was thrown down at his feet.
'Take this, and your human, and leave.' The chief (well, that was whom he assumed the man to be) called out, raising his trident. 'We will not stop these humans being rescued, but if your Headmaster or his representatives come down here again, then they will be destroyed.'
'I will pass your words on to him.'
Harry had no intentions of doing any such thing.
Grasping Hermione by the hand, he begun to kick his way up, constantly checking around him.
But then it happened.
Hermione had allowed him to place protective charms around her, but he could feel the magic swell around them both as they snapped apart, and he could hear the thrashing of the girl he loved, as she began to drown.
'Hermione!' Grasping her by the shoulders, Harry tried to cast any spells he could think of to save her, desperate to do anything he could.
Then he realized there was only one way.
Only one thing he could do to try and save her life, the pain he felt at watching her brown eyes wide with fear spuring him on.
He kissed her.
He kissed her with all his breath, pushing Oxygen through he lungs, not breaking it up as they drifted to the surface, his gills helping him to keep them both alive.
He knew one thing for sure though as a silver protective layer grew around them, warding off creatures and filling them both with warmth and love.
Dumbledore would pay for this.
I hope you enjoyed, dear readers.