So, I guess it's been a while huh? Well, I am back. Obviously. So, thank you for the reviews, the alerts, the favorites and even the views. All of that is much appreciated, and I hope that most of you appreciate the story as well. After all, why write if nobody likes your writings? It would be different for talking to myself because in that case I have the voices in my head who can talk back, but we all write as one so we can't all read it at the same time.
Anyways, ignore my slightly delusional ramblings. Enjoy Chapter 27!
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN HARRY POTTER
Carefully moving the fingers of his right hand, Harry was pleased to note that his hand had returned to 100% functionality. His astonishing knock-outpunch of Rick had been six days ago, but due to the fact that he had been forced to fly back to Hogwarts with a broken hand, he had aggravated his injuries. So when Pomfrey had finally gotten her chance to heal Harry, she had mentioned that he would have to stay for two nights in the Hospital Wing.
Immediately disagreeing, Harry had managed to persuade the nurse to simply have him check in daily for a potion or two. That meant that the healing had taken longer, but at least no useful time had been spent during the revalidation, as would have been the case if Pomfrey had gotten her way.
Now, Harry was moving to the Great Hall for dinner. Having been busy all day, Harry knew that the students who had left for the holidays would all have returned by now, even though he hadn't seen any of them yet due to the fact that he had spent the past six hours on the lake bottom.
Wherever he would have to go in the lake, he would be able to get there in 12 minutes at most. And that would be without using any of his abilities.
So know, having finally finished exploring the entire lake, Harry was looking forward to a relaxing dinner, and then an enjoyable evening read in his dorm.
Those plans were shattered the moment Harry moved into the Great Hall though, because the moment he set foot into the Hall, a redheaded menace popped up on either side of him.
Glancing to his sides, Harry noticed that Fred and George seemed rather enthusiastic about something. Harry himself was somewhat less pleased though.
"You both are aware that I want to be a silent partner to your shop, right?" Harry questioned emotionlessly, in a tone low enough so none other than the twins would hear him. The threat that came with his question remained unspoken, although both twins seemed to have picked up on it.
"Why good sir!" Fred exclaimed in a mock offended tone.
"Of course we are!" George yelled equally enthusiastic.
"But this is not to do with that!"
"We merely wish-"
"To know when-"
"You have time-"
"To meet with us!"
Wondering once again exactly how the twins managed to do the whole twinspeak thing to such a degree, Harry kept a normal expression.
"After dinner, Fifth floor, East Wing, the third classroom in the second corridor. You need to tickle the door under its knob to get in. Now let me eat in peace." Harry spoke calmly, not questioning for even a second that the twins would do as he commanded.
Getting a nod from both twins before they splintered off towards their own table, Harry could hear one of them mutter, "He isn't exactly the most friendly fellow around now is he?"
Not having bothered with an eavesdropping charm, Harry didn't manage to catch the reply of the other twin. He'd just tell them later, that if they were going to complain about someone, they should do so out of earshot.
Sitting down, Harry gave a nod at Draco and Neville before starting to fill his plate.
As Draco and Neville started bantering about publically acceptable topics, Harry simply enjoyed his dinner whilst throwing in the very occasional comment.
Scanning the hall, Harry smiled politely at Susan Bones when she looked his way, before continuing to look for oddities.
He spotted one at the Gryffindor table, where a blushing Rachel was being questioned by the other three quarters of the Fabulous Foursome.
Inconspicuously keeping an eye on the Gryffindors, Harry was surprised when he spotted the Foursome looking at him. Granger was looking at him calculatingly whilst Weasley 6 seemed envious and Max seemed unsure of something.
Rachel was looking at Harry with a clearly conflicted expression.
Deciding that he didn't like the stares he was getting, Harry looked up at the Four, before lifting an eyebrow and looking at the Gryffindors with a mixture of curiosity and 'ugh, inferior beings.'
That worked, as all four immediately averted their eyes.
Deciding that he couldn't be bothered with figuring out what went on in those of such… limited intelligence, Harry turned back to his food. He would have to meet with the twins soon after all.
Entering the room in which Harry planned on meeting the Twins, he was pleasantly surprised to see that both were already present. And they actually seemed willing to be serious for once.
Sitting down on the first available bench, Harry was amused to note that the twins were going to give him an actual lecture.
Leaning back, Harry spoke calmly, "You may begin. But do keep the whole finishing each other's sentences to a minimum."
Nodding, the twins started. As George showed designs and prototypes and drawings, Fred would explain what they were showing.
"Canary Cream. Eat it and you are transfigured into a giant canary for a few minutes. We have managed the transformation and the duration, but we are still looking for a way to let you keep your clothes." Fred spoke, whilst George held up a seemingly normal piece of candy.
"Fever Fudge. The name is self-explanatory. One half gets you a high fever. Leave class, get to the Hospital wing, eat other half and enjoy your free hour of not studying." Harry examined the candy closely, with the two separate halves, it was indeed a rather efficient product.
"How far are you with developing it?"
"We have gotten the required effect, but unfortunately not without side-effects that make flying very uncomfortable. We are looking to eliminate those and then this will be ready for sale." George explained.
Nodding, Harry gave his first real input, "Expand on that. Merely puking will get suspicious to soon and it is too easy to find a counter for only one effect. So make more. Nose bleeding, Fainting and Diarrhea come to mind."
Pulling out a notepad, George started scribbling whilst Fred continued with a few more products such as fake wands and Ton-Tongue Toffees.
As Fred finished up, Harry hummed thoughtfully.
"Well the products seem good and there is definitely a market for it. I would suggest you perfect your designs some more and then start testing the products on volunteers. Try the first years. If you keep this up you can start advertising and selling on a small scale. I don't know how happy the professors will be about you selling these things at school, so consider keeping it quiet or setting up an owl-order business. Do that and we'll meet up again sometime next month."
Getting nods from the twins, Harry left as soon as he could, not wishing to listen to the twins rapid back-and-forth discussions.
Stopping at the door, Harry turned around again, "Oh, and if you plan on betting on the Second Task, then I suggest you bet on me as the winner."
Two more weeks.
Two more weeks until the Second Task.
Some would think Harry to be tense and sleep-deprived like Max. Some would think Harry to look like Fleur, whose once radiant beauty was now covered by somewhat greasy hair and her normally beautiful complexion had gained an unhealthy pale color. One might even think Harry would be like Krum, isolated and spending his days and nights all alone with his food brought to him by a mute house elf up in the crow's nest of the Durmstrang ship.
Harry was none of these. If you looked at Harry, you wouldn't even realize that the task had gotten so close!
Of course, there was an explanation for the behavior of the other three Champions. The golden egg.
Whereas Harry had approached the problem with logic and diligence, the other three had all postponed. Max because that was part of his character, Fleur and Viktor because they had thought that their Headmasters would have helped them.
Fortunately for Harry though, all judges had been forced to swear far more strict oaths after the first task, due to the fact that the three Champions had been aware of the first task.
So now, with all his opponents stressed and having started their preparations way too late, Harry was enjoying a game of pick-up Quidditch with Draco and Neville.
They weren't really playing a game, as Harry would have smoked his non-Chaser friends too easily, but they were having fun and in Harry's case, working out.
Unleashing a devastating curling shot, Harry was highly amused when he could hear the wailing of a golden egg. Looking over towards the Durmstrang ship, Harry could barely make out a brooding Krum looking pensively at the golden object in his hands.
As Harry watched, he could see Krum tensing.
Realizing what was about to happen, and not willing to give his opponent even this chance at finally unraveling the egg, Harry shot off towards the lake.
Seeing Krum cock his arm back, Harry adjusted his course so that his following action would seem more like a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing instead of like a deliberate action, Harry watched as Krum threw the egg away and towards the lake surface.
Intercepting the egg easily, Harry caught it by leaning out on his broom and performing a Sloth Grip Roll with one hand on his broom, and one on the egg.
As he finished his spin, Harry flung the egg back at Krum, making clever use of his momentum to do so.
Not even bothering to talk with Krum, Harry merely flew back to the Quidditch Pitch. His competitors would find out about the Egg soon enough, even if he had delayed Krum for now. Max had Granger who was almost at the correct page in the book, Delacour had her half-Veela parent, who would immediately recognize a Mermaid's song when the girl finally swallowed her pride, and Krum had Karkaroff who was such a rotten bastard that he'd find a way around the stricter oaths soon enough.
Shrugging, Harry returned to his friends. He would win either way, whether his competitors would know about the task or not.
Taking a deep breath of the cold February air, Harry allowed a pleased smile to appear on his face.
Harry's eyes fell on his competitors. Fleur was anxiously looking at Bagman already, clearly waiting for the start of the task. Her entire body was rigid and she kept shooting looks at the lake.
Krum was his usual brooding self, even though he seemed somewhat more tense then usual as well.
Max was looking doubtful. His eyes kept darting towards the stands where Rachel was seated. Weasley and Granger seemed to be missing though. Curious
Looking towards the judges, Harry saw Karkaroff and Maxime both staring empathically at their respective champions, whilst Dumbledore was happily twiddling his thumbs. Bagman was summarizing the first task again whilst warming up the crowd, and next to them was Percy Weasley again.
Harry paused his thoughts, which had been on three different subjects at the same time, and focused his considerable mind on the curious case of Percy Weasley.
What's he doing here? I can understand Crouch having been sick once, but there is no way that the Barty Crouch would be sick for this long. And even so, why would he keep Percival as his replacement? The boy is highly inexperienced and there are far more qualified individuals for such a position.
Something isn't right here, and as it seems to involve the Tournament, it would be prudent for me to find out.
Let's see, other bizarre events during the past months. Well, the logic start would be Pettigrew escaping and fleeing to lands unknown.
Attack at the World Cup by Death Eaters, and the appearing of an actual Dark Mark.
Max Potter being selected as Triwizard Champion, having been entered by an unknown third party.
If there are more, then they are not public knowledge.
So let's see, what unites these events.
Pettigrew is a Death Eater, which ties in with the appearing of the Dark Mark, but Pettigrew has not been seen, and due to the Anti-Animagus wards around the stadium, there is no plausible way for him to have been there. So, a second Death Eater, one who still supports Voldemort.
The attack was unrelated, seeing as they fled the second they saw the Mark appear.
So, we now have a loyal Death Eater who still actively follows Voldemort. We also note that Barty Crouch, one of the strongest opponents of Voldemort, mysteriously falls ill and he leaves his duty to an under qualified rookie.
Is the Death Eater responsible for Crouch's disease? And how does he tie into Max's selection?
I'll have to talk to Dumbledore about this. After the task.
Deciding that he'd done all he could, Harry put the subject aside and started paying attention again, and not a second too soon, as Bagman put up his wand and let off the loud bang that served as the starting signal.
Now, seeing as the champions weren't allowed to directly fight each other, Harry simply ignored his opponents as he took a running start towards the lake, whilst pulling his wand out of its holster, and a simple marble out of his pocket.
Transfiguring the marble into a surfboard, Harry jumped into the water with the board under his body.
Using the board to stay afloat, Harry put his wand under water and bellowed "Aguamenti!"
Rocketing off towards the center of the lake, Harry took the opportunity to look over his shoulder.
He could just see Fleur disappearing into the waters with a telltale Bubblehead Charm to provide her with fresh air. Viktor was knee-deep in the water, slowly morphing into a shark. Max was stumbling towards the water whilst clearly gasping for air, the gills on the side of his neck would explain the gasping.
Grinning happily when he realized that he was already ahead, Harry kept up the Aguamenti until he was in the middle of the lake.
Casting a Bubblehead Charm, Harry dove into the water before using another Aguamenti to reach the bottom of the lake. Using his elemental powers wasn't an option seeing as there were indeed small orbs following each champion, that transmitted what was happening onto large screens that had been placed for the crowd to watch.
Rapidly nearing the lake bottom, Harry was displeased when he had to dodge a swordfish of all things.
So they added non-native creatures? Interesting.
Seeing a first chance at hindering his competition, Harry decided that Krum would have the hardest time defending himself against this creature.
So, a compulsion charm later, Harry set the swordfish on its way to attack any sharks it might encounter.
Continuing his descent, Harry soon saw his target, the merman village.
Touching the lake bottom, Harry cancelled his Aguamenti before moving towards the village center. He soon spotted his target, a large rock with four unmoving shapes tied to it.
Harry spotted silvery hair, which probably belonged to somebody who was family of Fleur. The next thing Harry spotted was the trademark Weasley hair, Max's target. Then Harry spotted Granger, who would be Krum's to retrieve.
Finally, Harry turned his attention to his own hostage. And really, Harry had to admit that he would indeed miss this guy if he lost him.
Moving towards his cousin, Harry was unpleasantly surprised when 5 mermen barred his path to Dudley.
Pointing their spears at him threateningly, the message was clear: 'You'll have to get past us.'
Letting out an annoyed sigh, Harry did the only logical thing he could.
Taking aim at the rightmost merman, Harry managed to hit him with a strong banisher before his opponents realized what was happening.
As the merman got knocked into the side of the second mermen from the right, the two got tangled up and even made it to the middle merman. So Harry had just two opponents to worry about for now.
Acting quickly, Harry conjured a shield to block the thrown spear of the leftmost merman. Using his elemental abilities to make the jab that the remaining merman threw at him, miss, Harry shot his shield at the spear wielding merman, before rushing forward and putting his wand to the neck of the unarmed merman, who had been busy with pulling a knife from his… belt? It appeared to be a belt at least.
Turning the merman so that he served as a meat shield, Harry slowly moved to the hostages. Using the knife he had taken from the merman to cut the ropes that were holding Dudley, Harry did the simplest thing he could, he combined the Bubblehead charm with an Engorgio. Placing Dudley in the Bubble, Harry was surprised to see his cousin wake up.
Realizing that Dudley was now in grave danger if the Bubble were to pop, Harry stabbed the merman he was using as a shield in the stomach. A non-lethal blow, but one that required immediate medical attention nevertheless.
As the remaining merpeople focused on their wounded, Harry pushed the merman away before casting an Aguamenti to catch up to the rapidly ascending Dudley.
Deciding that what he was about to do couldn't constitute as hindering his opponents, Harry cast a subtle Notice-Me-Not charm over the remaining hostages whilst climbing. After all, he was merely protecting the hostages from the now enraged mermen!
Okay maybe that wasn't his goal, but it was a valid excuse never the less.
As he got nearer to the water's surface, Harry stopped paying attention to his surroundings for a second, instead preferring to look downwards, where he could just spot a trail of red blood.
Seeing as mermen had greenish-blue blood, Harry dared to wager that Krum had indeed found his way to the village, after having been wounded by the swordfish Harry had so lovingly sent his way.
It therefore came as quite a surprise when Harry suddenly felt something coiling around him before clamping tight around him.
Immediately looking for the cause of his current predicament, Harry was more than displeased when he spotted one of the enormous tentacles of the Giant Squid.
Looking at the creature, Harry couldn't tell why the beast had chosen today of all days to become aggressive, but he did know that he wasn't planning on ending up like supper for a squid of all things.
Cursing, Harry tried to free either of his arms, only to come to the conclusion that those were both pinned to his body.
As the Squid started tightening its grip on him, Harry noticed how he had a progressively hard time to breathe. He could literally feel the Squid constricting his ribcage.
Keeping his calm, Harry decided to try and scare the Squid off. Barely having any air left, with how the squid was now threatening to break his ribs, Harry resorted to a non-verbal Lumos Maxima.
As an enormous part of the lake was lit up by Harry's spell, he was most displeased when the Squid reacted by not only tightening its hold, but also squirting a load of ink at him.
Now officially panicking, Harry suddenly had a brainwave.
'HEDWIG! I need cold and lots of it!' The young wizard thought as hard and frantically as he could.
Fortunately, his mighty familiar obeyed his call, and the entire watching crowd was treated to the sight of Hedwig dive-bombing the lake.
As Harry's familiar leveled out just above the lake surface, she started circling progressively faster, creating a blizzard within the circle she was flying. The crowd was treated to the sight of a rapidly freezing Black Lake as Hedwig kept speeding up and cooling down.
Sensing the cold, the Squid tried to withdraw away from the rapidly growing glacier that Hedwig was creating not fifty feet away.
As the Squid moved its tentacles to start moving towards the deeper parts of the lake, a now completely breathless Harry saw his chance.
In its instinctive movements, the Squid had moved itself so that Harry now had his legs pointed at the Squid's head. And coincidentally, Harry's wand was pointing in the same direction.
Not thinking rational any longer, due to his sever lack of oxygen, a rapidly fading Harry put all of his considerable power into a one-shot knockout blow.
'Bombarda Maxima!' The young wizard thought, not even taking into account the fact that he himself was very close to the Squid's head.
As the Squid got struck by the spell, and almighty shockwaves rippled through the lake, Harry was immediately released as a now terribly wounded Squid fled towards the lake bottom.
Harry however, wasn't out of trouble just yet. The enormous blast generated by the Bombarda, had not only blown a crater into the head of the Squid, it had also broken Harry's right leg and the subsequent shockwaves had given him a severe concussion.
Fortunately, adrenalin in and of itself is a wonderful thing. Combine it with magic, and Harry didn't even notice his wounds as he rocketed upwards towards the lake surface.
Literally flying out of the water, Harry got some big air to survey the lake surface.
Hedwig had stopped circling, and had been hovering in the air above him, ready to intercept Harry if he showed up, which he now had done.
So just as Harry was about to start his descent, Hedwig offered her tail feathers and Harry grabbed them without even thinking about it.
As Hedwig glided towards her self-created glacier, Harry was pleased to spot Dudley on the glacier as well, and his beloved cousin didn't seem to be having a good time for some reason.
"Harry you bastard get me off of this thing and onto dry land or so God help me I'll break your nose next time we spar!"
Amused, Harry considered leaving Dudley on the glacier, only to realize that he wouldn't get his points until his cousin had actually touched dry land.
Ah well, he could have his fun some other time.
Letting Hedwig speed up, Harry grabbed Dudley by the scruff of his neck as they passed him.
Having a hard time to hang on to Dudley's considerable weight, Harry was pleased when Hedwig's innate magic relieved him of most of his stress.
As they reached the shore, Harry unceremoniously dropped Dudley onto the ground before having Hedwig set him down gently and having his beloved bird land on his shoulder.
Only then, to the thunderous applause of the crowd and the screams of Delacour to please go back and save her sister, 'as if I would ever do that. Save her yourself you silly girl,' did Harry realize that he was wounded. And so, he didn't protest as the rapidly approaching Pomfrey pulled out her wand and threw blankets over himself and Dudley.
Ignoring all the others, Harry thanked Hedwig before turning to his cousin, "So Dud, I didn't know you liked swimming?"
So, I do hope you liked this. After all, it finally held the in my personal opinion somewhat uncool second task. But hey, there really isn't that much that can be done with this Task that hasn't been done before, without changing it completely. So, just be happy with what I got you and if you don't like it then sell it on E-bay! (that's probably spelled incorrectly? innit?) Eugh, anyway. No Harry-Rachel interaction in this chapter, which is realistic, seeing as they don't really have any contact out of their Master-Apprentice meetings. I did notice that opinions on Rachel are quite split. Which is unfortunate, but also expected, after all, I'm going with the whole: 'They're only 14 gosh darn it!'-approach.
Now, please ignore my clearly delusional ramblings, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and that you please leave me a review. So, with that out of the way, I politely bid you Adieu.
Unexpected extra which is unexpected:
Harry was enjoying a nice cup of lemon tea, when he had a vision. In it, he saw himself as a Gryffindor. He didn't have elemental powers and he didn't have any advanced knowledge. His vision showed him moments of friendship with Weasley and Granger, there was even a flash of himself kissing Weasley 7. There was a flash of himself getting mistreated by the Dursley's during a summer vacation, he could impossibly know when this was, as the Harry he saw looked far younger than he actually was. This judging from the fact that the boy had gotten his Hogwarts letter when he seemed to be a mere eight-year old. There was a flash of himself crying over his dead parents, crying over a dead Sirius, crying over a dead Lupin, crying over a dead Dumbledore.
Finally, Harry's vision ended. Shaking his head for a second, he took another sip of his lemon tea. "Huh. Interesting."
Hi again, I would like to point out that the unexpected extra which is unexpected is not a part of the actual story, and it will not be talked about again. You may view it as a parallel universe in which Harry is a Seer on top of all he is in this universe. This will not be talked or written about again, it was merely a spasm of a brain that seems to have gone slightly beyond mad. I wonder what the word is for mad+1?